Tuesday, October 25, 2022

It’s an overdue open thread

We’re long overdue for an open thread, so here it is.  Now you can post that otherwise off-topic comment that I deleted three days, three weeks, or three months ago.  Feel free to talk about whatever you like, from light cones to Indiana Jones, Duns Scotus to the current POTUS, Urdu to Wall of Voodoo.  Just keep it civil and classy. 

Previous open threads can be viewed here.


  1. Hello, I read your criticism of libertarianism and it looks for me that you addressed left-wing libertarians. What do you think about such thinkers like Hans Hoppe or Gerard Casey? It seems for me that their moral/philosophical foundations are very different from other libertarians.

    1. Perhaps this would be interesting: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/06/meyer-and-fusionism.html?m=1

    2. I like "argumentation ethics." It's the "presuppositions apologetics" of libertarianism.

      The Virgin rationalist vs. The Chad circular logician

    3. WCB

      With the recent take over of the official U.S. Liberariam Party by the crazed, Mises Caucus, the question should now be, where does Libertarianism go from here?

      If Libertarians cannot even form a viable, stable, political party, does Libertarianism even mater any more?

      Or will Libertarians devolve into empty splintered theorizing like Monty Python's Judean Peoples Front type squabbles?


    4. @ Infinite_Growth,

      "I like 'argumentation ethics.' It's the 'presuppositions apologetics' of libertarianism.

      The Virgin rationalist vs. The Chad circular logician"

      If you think that putting down a thought in a vague and cloudy way makes a good case for it, you have done well.

      But you are joking, I can tell, because you put a period at the end of "argumentation ethics" even though it is not a sentence and "ethics" is not a known abbreviation.

      Kudos for the sly clowning around.


      Tom Cohoe

    5. @Tom Cohoe

      But you are joking, I can tell, because you put a period at the end of "argumentation ethics" even though it is not a sentence and "ethics" is not a known abbreviation.

      According to the Chicago Manual of Style, if the last part of your sentence is a quotation, you put the period inside of the quotation, not outside.

    6. @ Infinite_Growth,

      "According to the Chicago Manual of Style, if the last part of your sentence is a quotation, you put the period inside of the quotation, not outside"

      Ha ha ha.

      You've done it again. You did not quote a sentence, so it does not take a period, period.


      Tom Cohoe

    7. According to the Chicago Manual of Style, if the last part of your sentence is a quotation, you put the period inside of the quotation, not outside.

      I strenuously and aggressively resist this "rule". It's a bad rule, and should be shouted down by right-thinking writers. If the quotation you are citing has the period, the period should go inside the quote. If the passage you are quoting does not have the period in it and your sentence is larger than merely the quote (i.e. has substantive words and phrases besides the quote), then the period belongs to YOUR sentence and NOT to the quote, and it should go outside the quote.

      Putting the period always inside the quote obscures content, without any offsetting benefit. The "rule", therefore, offers no value to writing. (Notice the comma, back there?)

      I applaud anyone who fights back against this (one in a long line of arbitrary and abusive) assertions of "rules" that would never have become "rules" at all except for the insistence by yet earlier arbitrary and abusive grammarians.

    8. @ Tony,

      I'm not too fond of style manuals in general. When it comes to periods, I too "fight back". I criticized IG's inclusion of a period, but I was actually joking. However, the joke was knowingly near a "danger line" that I have defined for myself, and that is to not criticize grammar (or speling) because you are just asking to get criticized on some arguably gramatically incorrect expression that you will inevitably make yourself. Who wants a meaningful conversation to degenerate into argument about grammar, spelling, whether or not propositions should be used to end a phrase with, etc? (The use of ".?" when "etc." appears at the end of a question seems ugly to me. Sometimes I include the "." and sometimes I don't. I am not settled on it. I also wonder about parenthetical comments that are independent of any sentence. Etc., etc., etc., ad infinitum)

      Tom Cohoe

    9. but I was actually joking.

      Right. Got the joke.

      If this wasn't an open thread, I wouldn't have jumped on that. Since this is an open thread...I guess I thread-jacked your joke?

  2. Ed, in addition to your rebuttal of Mullins, I thought you promised an additional rebuttal to Schmid. Will one be forthcoming?

    1. Hopefully we see a response to Schmid's book length treatment of Ed's five proofs. (Existential Inertia and Classical Theistic Proofs coming out in a few months)

  3. I have a question about the phrase "natural right", as used by Straussians. I'm not sure I remember anyone else using it. What is the actual term Aristotle uses, and how is it translated/quoted by those in other camps.

    To Straussians, it's continuous. Just today there is an Anton column up in which he cites it as more basic than "natural law" or "natural rights".

    This has always puzzled me. And I haven't gotten an answer from Straussians yet.

    - George LeSauvage

    1. WCB

      I don't know about the source of Straussian naturl right theory, but I am fond of John Lilburne's take on it.

      From Wikipedia
      John Lilburne (c. 1614 – 29 August 1657), also known as Freeborn John, was an English political Leveller before, during and after the English Civil Wars 1642–1650. He coined the term "freeborn rights", defining them as rights with which every human being is born, as opposed to rights bestowed by government or human law.

      Lilburne's theory on inalienable rights has been cited in the U.S. supreme court. Lilburne was a dissenter. Lilburne spent years in exile or prison for his opinions.

      Google for John Lilburne. A very interesting character and true champion of human rights.


    2. I more than half suspect that anyone who uses "natural right" as being "more basic than natural law" simply doesn't know what natural law really is. The only thing more basic than natural law is eternal law , and any attempt to call that "natural right" would be utter nonsense.

      Possibly some Straussians have been told of certain parts of the "natural law" which are then upheld by explicitly stated government & human law, and I have seen some dumb people make the illogical leap that "if it's made by the government, it's not natural law" or something silly like that. But I can't imagine what motivation a Straussian would find to accept such a dumb position.

    3. I've read Strauss's "Natural Right and History" at least four times, very carefully. I think in a nutshell his "natural right" is basically "right of the strongest" -- but as a hidden puppet master. It's sure not "right of the individual."

    4. Tony, I tend to agree, but I think they have SOME idea of a distinction. I'm curious exactly where they get "natural right". Again, I'm curious what they are citing from Aristotle, and how others used it.

      As it happened, I was specifically looking at a point on which Strauss and C S Lewis differed. So I checked Lewis. He refers to "objective judgments of value", "axioms (or maxims) of practical reason", and famously, "the Tao". Also "traditional values", a choice which should send Claremonsters into a fit. (Maybe it was an Irish Protestant thing.)

      I have trouble seeing just what they have in mind.

      Don Jindra, I don't see where you get that from Strauss, at all. I suspect it's what you think it really comes down to, but that's irrelevant to what Strauss and his followers mean.

      WCB, since I'm referring to "natural right" rather than "natural rights", I don't see the relevance of Lilburne here.

      - George LeSauvage

    5. George LeSauvage,

      Nowhere in "Natural Right and History" does Strauss make an argument for "a body of unchanging moral principles regarded as a basis for all human conduct." We should dismiss the idea that the book is about what we would consider natural law. Nowhere does Strauss make an argument for individual rights generally, or any individual right specifically as we would understand those rights as listed the US Bill of Rights or our Declaration of Independence. He doesn't even argue that such a right exists in the most abstract sense. Even when Strauss mentions a document in what appears to be a favorable light, be careful to scrutinize what he really says about it. It's probably not what one thinks on first reading.

      Strauss writes as he asks his students to read -- esoterically as well as exoterically. One must be very careful when one reads Strauss because he writes to intentionally pander to those who want to interpret his words in a superficial context. He does not want the unwashed masses to know what he really believes.

      The question was about the meaning of "natural right" as used by Straussians -- how can it be more basic than natural law. The answer is very simple. A Straussian who really understands Strauss would deny natural law is a real thing. It's a myth created to achieve an end. And it's "right" that someone in the "know" should do that.

  4. Professor Feser, I don’t mean to be that annoying drone that makes the same comment every time. Nevertheless, I am very curious about your thoughts about recent attempts (by Slavoj Zizek, Adrian Johnston, and the like) to forge a “non-reductive materialism.” Johnston in particular tries an Aristotelian hylomorphism where teleology emerges contingently through clashing and conflictual substances. How do you go about responding to these more sophisticated forms of materialism?

    1. James Ross' argument against materialism still works against a non-reductive materialism.

    2. Could you further elaborate on this argument about teleology?
      By the way I appreciate you bringing Zizek to Ed's attention. Not that he's that great but in my experience one of the few smart leftists that might be of interest to the contra academicos crowd.

  5. Dr. Feser,

    Do you know of any good commentaries on Aquinas’ De Potentia Dei Questions 3 and 5?

    I feel like this is a hidden gem of Classical Theism that is virtually never discussed.

  6. Dear Dr. Fesser,
    Do you know where Gotham City is? It's in New Jersey. So Bruce Wayne probably sounds more like Tony Soprano than Kevin Conroy. Do you find this unsettling?

  7. Replies
    1. WCB

      "If you really want to improve yourself, I recommend becoming pure energy."
      - Jack Handey


    2. @Infinite_Growth,

      "I desire self-creation"

      Just pretend you created yourself immediately after you desired it and your desire will have become pretend-true. This will be amusing to all.

      Tom Cohoe

    3. @Tom Cohoe

      I need to transition into a higher being. This current version of myself needs to die.

    4. @ Infinite_Growth,

      "I need to transition into a higher being. This current version of myself needs to die"

      What's the name of the computer game you are playing?

      Tom Cohoe

    5. "Transition" is a NOUN, not a VERB.
      If you accept this truth you will be a higher being than so many other people today who abuse the English language.

  8. I love Dr. Feser cosmological arguments to God existence, but they have the difficult of depending on metaphysical thesis that some non-theists would not be willing to accept, one being that there is good and bad, these not being relative. I even remember a guy who posted here who did believe in a First Cause but not really in God. This made me think of this:

    Suppose that one believes in a First Cause that has something like a intellect and a will, even being omniscient, but who also is a moral nihilist, so this Cause is not considered divine.

    To this view to work, the Cause would need to choose to create this world, of course, but how would this happens? To make a choice, one needs to intend something, but if there are in reality no good or bad things them why would the First Cause intend anything?

    It can't be because the Cause make the mistake of thinking that somethings are good, for we are dealing with a omnipotent being.

    It can't be because the Cause has a tendency to choose this or that, for our own tendencies are caused by our bodily constitution and by our intellect limitations, both things the First Cause is free from.

    It seems to me them that if one is willing to accept a First Cause them either there are better goals than others, so things are better or worser than others or them the First Cause could never intend anything, so we would not exist.

    Do this reasoning makes sense, guys?

    1. WCB

      Check out Pew Research,"What Americans Believe About God".
      80% of Americans self identify as believing in God. 19% as not believing in God. Of those who self identify as believers, 23% claim to believe in God as a higher power or spiritual power. 9% of nonbelievers believe in a higher power or spiritual power. I can find very few surveys that tell me anything about what thee people mean, or where they are getting this. Spinozian pantheism? Panentheism? What then any of this means in terms of first cases, final causes or axiology, values, good and evil is hard to say. Google also, "Ietsism". Specultions about first causes ae sensative to initial assumptions. Maybe "first cause" itself is a misleading concept.


    2. Why couldn't this first cause have created all logically possible worlds as an expression of its omnipotent creativity, so ours would be just an infinitesimal microcosm in a vast multiverse. The first cause would not then have preferentially selected any particular world at all.

    3. I agree and I even came up with a very similar argument myself. I think that if there is an intelligent first cause that is free, then creation can only make sense as a choice for that being if it is truly valuable. Otherwise the first cause has no reason whatsoever for choosing to create anything. It can't be lonely, bored, etc. If it acts, it does so rationally. So there must be true value, and then our ordinary claims of moral knowledge would fit pretty well.

    4. To Anonymous "Why couldn't" etc: how are you using "create"? If by create you mean actualize, then your question seems to rest on the presupposition that there can be more than one actual world. But if the "world" is all that is the case, then there can be only one actual world. I think the notion of multiple actual worlds is incoherent. If you don't mean "actualize" when you say "create", then I think you're better off changing your terms.

    5. Talmid, it makes sense. I like how you’re sticking to God’s choice even though the same point might be more easily made regarding human choice but in a different context (ethics, psychology). I’m not sure if those who deny good or evil have another route that they’d take though. It seems that an intelligent materialist would believe our choices are for survival or determined by brain synapses. They could push back by saying choice is a fictional concept and thus cannot be applied to the first cause. In all, I really don’t think someone who comes to believe in an immaterial higher power should have a tough time believing in good and evil as materialism is already moot.

    6. Ficino4ml at 11.45AM

      In my scenario the 'actual world' would consist of causally disconnected 'regions' , each of which would have its own laws, constants, initial conditions etc. The actual world would therefore be a multiverse in which all logically possible scenarios play out.

    7. @WCB

      Interesting. I imagined that the number of theists there would be a bit lower.

      And yea, a lot of non-religious theists would probably not have a well defined concept of God. I know that my younger self did not.

      @Multiverse Anon

      That is actually a very good reply. Sounds like Spinoza take on creation.

      I guess that one dificult would be that this leads to there being no contigent truths, the classical bullet Spinoza bited, for them the FC can't not create the multiverse.

      Another dificult would be with the multiverse part. For instance, if all possibilities are true them there probably would exist a universe were there is a galaxy or a solar system exactly like our owns but with nothing else,, it just happened that, say, a solar system exactly like our own exists there alone and that is it. But we live in a universe where there is way more, so we observing so much seems improbable if a multiverse exists.

      One could also asks if the idea of a FC that has a sort of mechanism to create this or that is coherent, for we don't have things like a body here.


      Nice. That is my reasoning as well. It is cool to find another one who thought on that!

    8. (Cont)

      @Journey 516

      "I like how you’re sticking to God’s choice even though the same point might be more easily made regarding human choice but in a different context (ethics, psychology)."

      It is harder to make this point with humans, for we have a lot of natural inclinations independent of our wills, so a nihilist could reject the claim that we need to intend a good to act. And we also can err, so we could think that there are good things and act by this belief and still be wrong.

      "It seems that an intelligent materialist would believe our choices are for survival or determined by brain synapses. They could push back by saying choice is a fictional concept and thus cannot be applied to the first cause."

      Here is the thing: these things only apply to a bodily creature, which FC is not, so the materialist would need to find another mechanism which is compatible with Actus Purus or find a way of preserving His choices while rejecting FC beliving in goodness existence.

      "In all, I really don’t think someone who comes to believe in an immaterial higher power should have a tough time believing in good and evil as materialism is already moot."

      Besides the guy who used to post here, i only remember that he was english, there are some that reply to cosmological arguments with something like " Oh, this FC could be bad for all we know, so why think it is God?".

      Besides, cosmological arguments are getting more acceptable to secularists, so perhaps the "ok, there is a First Cause, but i don't think we could call it God" route is going to become popular on the future.

      Besides, i find it a cool argument XD

    9. @Multiverse Anon: my intuition is that your multiverse, in which all possible (sub)worlds are actual, would seem to posit an actual infinite, if there are an infinite number of possible worlds. And it seems that there are an infinite number of possible worlds. So are you running into trouble when you posit that they are all actualized? E.g. although the number of rooms in Hilbert's Hotel is not infinite, it would seem there are an infinite number of possible Hilbert's Hotels.

    10. @Multiverse Anon: adding, unless I am misunderstanding your terms, the thesis that the First Cause could have created all logically possible (sub)worlds seems to founder on the PNC. E.g. in possible world A, Cassius is an assassin of Julius Caesar. In possible world B, Cassius is not an assassin of Julius Caesar. But if both A and B are actual, then the same proposition will be both true and false. It won't help to say, it's true in world A and false in another world, B, since you're positing that both subworlds are actual and you seem to agree that the Urworld - your multiverse - is all that is the case.

    11. Ficino4l

      I agree that an infinity of (sub)worlds could not be created by consecutive addition, but do not see why it could not be actualized 'all at once' so to speak. I am of the view that such an actual infinity can exist and challange you to provide a logical demonstration that it cannot, in oppose to one that relies upon personal intuition.

    12. Ficino4ml

      Sure, it would not be logically possible for (sub) worlds to be actualised in which Cassius both killed and did not kill Julius Caesar IF human identity is tracked by a unique immaterial 'soul'. If it is not then the PNC would not be violated as of course the Cassius and Caesar in different (sub) worlds would not really be the same ones.

  9. Talmid

    I guess said Cause could intend something in the very same way god is supposed to intend something;
    God cannot intend something bad, but he can intend several different good things. How can God do that?
    By your reasoning he couldn't.

    1. Walter! Well, i don't think i understood you very well but i do think that we only intend what we take to be good in some sense, so a omniscient being would, barring weakness, only intend what is actually good because he can't falsely regard something bad as good, so God can't intend bad at all, except as on the old "taking good out of evil" thing.

    2. Talmid

      A hypothetical morally nihilist first cause does, by definition, not only intend what it takes to be good. 'To be good' has no meaning for this first cause.
      Why it intends X and not Y cannot be answered, but God has the same problems. Why He intends a good world X instead of a good world Y cannot be answered either.

    3. @Walter

      I guess that the diference here is that the question "why the Nihilist First Cause choosed x?" Can't be answered because if i'am right, it is not possible that it chooses.

      On God case it at most can't be answered by us, for He at least has the possibility of choosing. You need more leg work to stablish that the situations are equal.

      And notice that perhaps we could say more in God case. Some libertarians on free will could defend that God reasons to find our world good are all that is needed to explain His choice and leibnizians could argue that God choosed our world because it is the best of all the possible ones. I personaly do not find these persuasive, i just notice that, lets face it, how would we know God world-choosing criteria? Our ignorance is compatible with a reason existing.

    4. Talmid

      If it's possible (for god) to choose between two equally good worlds, it is also possible for a nihilist first cause to choose between two worlds. He(it) can even choose more worlds because he (it) doesn't care about whether it's good or bad.

  10. I'd like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Harry J. Gensler, who
    passed away earlier this year.

    His books on Logic and Ethics are popular and are distinguished by their clarity and conciseness. I particular admire his Introduction to Logic for its breadth of topics and accompanying software, although long time readers of this blog may remember a series of posts titled On some alleged quantifier shift fallacies, in which Prof. Feser criticizes Gensler's interpretation of arguments made by Aristotle, Aquinas, and Locke.

    Gensler's final book, published in August this year is titled Reasoning about God : An Introduction to Thinking Logically About Religion. Gensler finds Aquinas' "Five Ways" and other classical theist arguments wanting, although he doesn't elaborate much on why. A theme of the book is that there are "many paths to God", with one of these being science, which Gensler argues is increasingly friendly to religion (at least, the Abrahamic religions).

    So in that sense it's a nice complement to Ed's books, or for those looking for more diverse (and non-metaphysical) arguments in support of the existence of God.

    RIP Father Gensler.

  11. Question: As a Catholic philosopher, what is your take on William James and pragmatism?

    1. According to the James–Lange theory of emotions, emotions correspond to physiological states of the brain. That means that, according to William James, when a transgender girl feels like a girl, there is something in the brain that is generating that consistent, stable feeling.

    2. @ Infinite_Growth,

      "when a transgender girl feels like a girl, there is something in the brain that is generating that consistent, stable feeling"

      High probability of suicide is not stability!

      Imagining that you are what you are not and believing it is not consistency!

      It is risible to advance such ridiculous thinking.



      Tom Cohoe

    3. @Tom Cohoe

      Does transgenderism falsify the James-Lange theory of emotions?

    4. @ Infinite_Growth,

      "Does transgenderism falsify the James-Lange theory of emotions?"

      What has been falsified is your words that transgenderism is "stable" and "consistent".

      I am not trying to falsify some theory of mind by some other person, but nice attempt to deflect the attention from yourself onto someone else not actually responsible for your words.


      Why are you running from your words? Are they not funny enough for the big time?


      Tom Cohoe

    5. That means that, according to William James, when a transgender girl feels like a girl, there is something in the brain that is generating that consistent, stable feeling.

      Good gravy, that's not sound logic at all.

      It is admitted by all that SOME feelings of "being" this or that gender are not stable, but are passing. (Various subgroups explicitly trade on the moral right to change their gender identity as they feel). Therefore, it is a simple datum that "when a trans (or any) girl feels like a girl" does not imply that this feeling is stable. He or she may feel like a girl for an afternoon, for a week, a year, or 5 years.

      Nevertheless, it is a given that there is some brain state that correlates WITH his or her conscious feeling. THAT she is feeling that way may or may not be caused by the brain state, and (even more likely) there are MANY causes and some of them are more originating in the brain while some are more originating in other parts of his or her person. Tracking all of the causes is unlikely to ever be fully solved. But it is implausible that ALL of the causes originate in the brain.

    6. He or she may feel like a girl for an afternoon, for a week, a year, or 5 years.

      Now we enter into the Sorites paradox. How long does a transgender girl have to feel like a girl before we conclude that it is a stable feeling?

    7. Granted, "stable" does have a sorites problem. It always does.

      But it's irrelevant to the point I was making: some feelings of "being" this or that way are ephemeral. That some other feelings are stable is yet another datum.

    8. The so-called "transgender" has an intellectual problem, not one of "feeling" something, because, as I already explained to you IG, no one knows what it "feels" like to be someone of a sex other than one's own. You can only imagine it, but the imagination is not a cause of simple truth about reality.

      So all so called "transgender" people are intellectually confused for varied and complex reasons. The evil transgender industry relies upon and encourages this confusion.

      A person very close to me had a "sex change" operation. I tried to stop him. Years later, he said that he had made a mistake (this is actually common). He thanked me for having tried to stop him. Years after that, he killed himself as a response to the barren life he had set himself up for in his confused choice to follow the evil industry's guidance (suicide is also common in so-called transgenders).

      You have dodged my true comment on your use of "stable". And of course it is not in the slightest "consistent" with reality to act as if you can become a normal woman, attractive to a normal male, by emasculating yourself and going from there without actually entering into a barren and relatively lonely life, cats and other animals, for the most part becoming your intimate companions.

      Tom Cohoe

    9. @Tony, Tom Cohoe

      When I was in high school, sex ed class did not teach me that the brain is a sexually dimorphic organ. I had to learn this on my own. The brains of fœtuses develop according to the gender of the baby unless something disrupts this.

      Logically speaking, when nothing disrupts the development of the brain, it is impossible to desire to be the opposite gender.

      The reason we know that gender dysphoria is not due to intellectual confusion is because animals exhibit gender confusion due to the influence of environmental contaminants on the sexual differentiation of the brain. Why are humans beyond that?

    10. @ Infinite_Growth,

      What you conveniently call "gender confusion" in animals is certainly not a phenomenon dependent upon reason and intellectual ideas, because animals do not have reason or ideas dependent upon reason. They do not think, so their thinking cannot be confused.

      Humans tricked into believing false things are tricked through their intellects. Human behavior is controlled, one way or another, by what we arrive at through thinking and what we think can be confused and incorrect, especially when others are trying to confuse for their own purposes. A person given a false argument that convinces him that he can drive up a ramp at a certain speed and leap his car over a big rock might try it and consequently hurt himself based on the false idea that the argument was correct, and this would be a mistake or confusion of his intellect, not of his feelings.

      Animals kill each other too so I guess that means it is OK to kill another person if our feelings are all that it takes to justify action.

      What a funny way to express yourself!

      I would like to add my appreciation for your expression of sorrow at the sad story of my brother.

      Tom Cohoe

  12. Tadeo brought up materialism in another thread. I have not seen the debate, but I am told that William Lane Craig once had a debate with someone who was a materialist who provided arguments for his materialism. Craig (hereafter "C") calmly listened and when he spoke asked the materialist (Hereafter: "M"):
    C: "So you are making arguments that materialism is true?"
    M: "Yes, that is correct."

    C: "Now these arguments are they objectively true such that everyone here should accept them?"
    M: "They are objectively true."

    C: "Okay so they are not just based on contingent processes or chemicals in your brain, but are based on objective rules of logic, is that correct?"
    M: "Yes that is correct."

    C: "Okay so these objective rules of logic, are they material?"
    M: "How could rules of logic be material?"

    C: "That is what I was just about to ask you?"
    M: [silence]

    At this point, of course, the debate was over.

    And, of course, the truth of the point doesn't depend on the niceties or even the existence of the exchange. The dialogue shows the absurdity and self-refuting nature of arguing for materialism.

    1. Quite a few people take logic and their own reason for granted, as if they were exempt from the very totalizing metaphysics they espouse.

    2. @Michael

      Is that not Greg Bahnsen? I remember this coming up in one of his debates.

    3. Michael

      "At this point, of course, the debate was over".
      How do you know that the debate was over if you haven't seen it? No materialist I know of would say that the rules of logic are material. Rather, a materialist would say that the rules of logic do not exist as such. They are not seperate entities, so a materialist doesn't have to explain them.
      In fact, the saem holds for theism. theism cannot explain the rules of logic either and cannot take them as seperate entities because there are no entities that are truly seperate from God.

    4. @Walter

      " Rather, a materialist would say that the rules of logic do not exist as such. They are not seperate entities, so a materialist doesn't have to explain them."

      You look like someone found guilty in the court that refuses to apply your defense because you don't have to explain why you were on the crime scene on the first place.

      "In fact, the saem holds for theism. theism cannot explain the rules of logic either and cannot take them as seperate entities because there are no entities that are truly seperate from God."

      Are you for real?

    5. Tadeo

      yes, I am for real.
      It's not just that a materialist (or a theist for that matter) dos not have to explain what the rules of logic are, it's that the rules of logic are inexplicable. Nobody can explain why they exist. The materialist will probaly deny that they really exist as prescriptive rules but no materialist is going to say that the rules of logic are material. So, if this truly was the end of the debate, which i doubt, but I haven't watched it so I can't be sure, it was a very shallow debate on the part of Craig as well as on his opponent's.

    6. @Walter

      I know that it was over in the same way that I know about the debate: via the testimony of a trustworthy witness. This is the same way that juries "know" that things occured that they themselves did not see. It is the same way that the doctor "knows" that the vile of blood from your arm drawn by his nurse and sent to a lab is in fact blood that came from his arm. It is the same way that scientists drawing from research in academic journals "know" that the experiment went the way that it was presented in the journal. And, finally, it is the same way that you know who your mommy and daddy are. Or would you have us believe that your remember your birth or demanded a paternity test from daddy? And if demanding a paternity test, do you know firsthand how to read the data or are you relying on the testimony of the person performing the test?

      We rely on testimony for lots of things Walter. The key is that the testimony is credible in order to be believed. The witness must have good judgment and good will in order for the testimony to be credible and such testimony is credible to precisely the degree that the person has a good intellect and a good will. I will vouch for my friend who is an honest man, an adept philosopher, and an attorney who was editor of the law school for his university.

      I would wager a guess that, given these credentials he might even be more credible that your mommy and daddy. Yet, you trust them now don't you. If not, would you produce in your response the results of the paternity test and also let us know how you are sure that the results were correctly interpreted. We are all on the edge of our seats.

    7. "A materialist would say that the rules of logic do not exist as such."

      If they do not exist, then you cannot make arguments utilizing them as though they do exist. That is the little old point that has not worked it's way into your chemical processes yet.

    8. "No materialist I know"

      Well, this discussion was not about your (limited?) circle of friends now was it?

    9. "so a materialist doesn't have to explain them"

      And he can't use them if they don't exist, now can he? Yet he does at least try to use them, just as you are struggling to do, so he presupposes that they exist while denying them. That is quite a feat. While you are accomplishing such marvelous absurdity for all the world to see, why don't you use your non existence keyboard to explain to me how you type without it.

    10. "the saem holds for theism"

      Did you mean "seam"? If so, you inverted your "e" and "a". Have we transitioned to discussing sewing?

      If so, your argument has fallen apart at the seams. You had better find some fig leaves before others recognize that the emperor's little bottom is showing.

      Regarding the theism reflected in figures like St. Augustine, St. Thomas, and Edward Feser, it is ornately garbed. For some very odd reason, you have confused it with pantheism. Perhaps you have had difficulty distinguishing credible and uncredible witnesses. I have laid out some principles above that should help with this in the future.

    11. That materialist had not thought through his position. I would not have agreed to Craig's first question, "So you are making arguments that materialism is true?" It's not that materialism is true. It's that there is no good reason to believe something exists for which there is no evidence, and there can be no evidence for the supernatural, so there is no reason to believe in anything supernatural. Even if it exists we can't know it, so there is no reason to act as if it affects us. Then the materialist in Craig's debate makes another mistake I would not make. Rules of logic are indeed material. We use "logic" to describe the mechanics of how our brains react to certain inputs, like we describe muscle mechanics as power, or what I feel for my wife as love. Logic is a description of a process and that process is wholly material as far as we will ever know.

    12. Don Jindra,

      Materialism is a metaphysical doctrine the person is putting forth, so of course the question is whether it's true. The 'supernatural' is irrelevant in this context.

      "We use "logic" to describe the mechanics of how our brains react to certain inputs"

      No we don't. You're describing something more like neuroscience. Merriam-Webster defines "logic" as:

      "a science that deals with the principles and criteria of validity of inference and demonstration : the science of the formal principles of reasoning"

    13. @ the emperor with no clothes

      Okay, Walter, now that we have established that the emperor is walking around in the buff, let's try to put some clothes back on him.

      You wrote:

      "theism cannot explain the rules of logic either and cannot take them as seperate entities because there are no entities that are truly seperate from God."

      As I pointed out above, theism is not pantheism, so you need to work on that distinction between credible, reliable witnesses and non-credible witnesses in order to have better discernment about who to listen to about what is or is not "Theism". Now that we have cleared this up, we can address the final false statement in your response (You squeezed in quite a few in that little post).

      You claimed that theism has no means of accounting for the rules of logic. Well, you got that one wrong as well. Theism is the *only* means of accounting for the rules of logic. Let's recap on where we have gotten so far. It is clear, for reasons noted above, that the laws of logic exist. Anyone making an argument presupposes this. It is also clear, for reasons noted above, that the laws of logic are not material. Walter does not have them buried in his basement (In fact if they were anywhere, it is clear from the foregoing that they are not at Walter's house).

      So, we have laws that exist and are immaterial. Along with this, these laws do not change from place to place or over time. They are eternal. They are not contingent on change in the material world. Yet these laws, just like numbers, have real implications in the material world.

      The principle of non-contradiction is not *merely* a principle of thought. It also permeates material being. It is for this reason that no one has ever seen a non-chair-chair or a square circle or a married bachelor. They are impossible to conceptualize and they are impossible to be (or exist).

      So, if these principles effect being and yet seem also to be mind dependent, how else do we account for them except by an eternal mind? Now Mr. Walter, if you have read your Edward Feser, you should be having flashbacks at this point because Dr. Feser makes precisely this argument with regard to numbers and other abstract objects in Five Proofs. He aptly refers to it as the Augustinian argument. Now we have cleared up the last of your string of misunderstandings. In the future, perhaps you might pause and reflect on whether or not it is cogent to try to convince us that your keyboard does not exist by means of typing on it.

      Now, Mr. Don Jindra. I hope to address your proposal sometime soon.

      Michael Copas

    14. Mr. Jindra,

      You are spot on that the materialist had not thought through his position, but you are mistaken in thinking that you have thought through yours. Dr. Yogami offers you some help above, some of which I am going to reiterate by explaining the difference between a debate and a lecture.

      At a debate you consider whether a particular proposition is true or false. A debate such as the one noted above would normally be in a form such as: whether or not materialism is true. That would be the proposition under consideration and one person would take the affirmative side (i.e. Yes, it is true) and another would take the negative side (i.e. no it is not true).

      In such a debate, it is important that the terms are defined. Otherwise, equivocation can occur and the debaters will talk past one another. So, it would be important to clarify that materialism is the assertion that matter is all that there is. Once that is established and the questions are established, folks then make arguments for their positions. That is the way a debate works.

      Now what you describe is a situation where you refuse to participate in the debate and stand with your hands crossed. Well, that is not a debate. That is a lecture wherein, in this instance, you sit and listen to Dr. William Lane Craig and learn from him. Now that would be very good for you, but the point is that such a situation is not a debate.

      In fact, it would be very awkward for you to stand in front of a crowd with a podium next to Dr. Craig and just gawk at him. You are going to have to say or do something. Now if you say something, you are doing to have to either: a. utter complete non-sense (perhaps you might simply repeat the letter Q over and over again), or b. make an argument for your case. Either way you end up looking like bafoon who cannot offer the slightest support for your position without showing your behind (here you and Walter and Dr. Craig's opponent have something in common).

      Now, there is an alternative. Rather than saying something, you could do something. For example, you could do interpretive dance while Dr. Craig makes his arguments. You could do ballet and offer a rendition of the nutcracker. Or you might simply do the macarena. All viable options.

      Or, perhaps, you might sit in the audience and learn from Dr. Craig. This last option seems to me the wisest alternative. But, then, we would not have a debate now would we? You would be the wiser and maintain your dignity, but this would be a lecture from Dr. Craig and not a debate.

    15. "It's that there is no good reason to believe something exists for which there is no evidence."

      Well, now Mr. Jindra, why don't you tell us what counts as evidence and how you arrived at the conclusion that your proposal is true. What I suspect you mean by evidence is "empircally verifiable". In other words, it has to be something that you can see to count as evidence. Or put in the terms of the debate it has to be material to count as evidence. So for someone to show you that the immaterial exists, you need them to show it to you in material form. Well that makes about as much sense as you standing behind the podium doing the macarena, now doesn't it.

      In philosophy 101 and basic logic, students learn that this is called "begging the question". You are assuming the very thing that needs to be proven and you are requiring that this assumption also be taken by others as the only means to show you that it is not true. Oh what a wicked web we weave.

      So the assertion that "knowledge requires empirical verification" is itself *not verifiable by its own criteria*. Those insisting upon it are either unreflective or like to impose heavy burdens on the backs of others that they themselves don't have to carry. Reminds me of some folks in the Gospels that get criticized quite regularly.

    16. DrYogami,

      Yes, I am describing something more like neuroscience -- as a matter of fact, exactly like that or electronic logic gates. I have no problem defining logic as "a science that deals with the principles and criteria of validity of inference and demonstration: the science of the formal principles of reasoning." That definition doesn't imply logic is extra-material any more than Merriam-Webster's definition of biology implies living organisms are extra-material ("a branch of knowledge that deals with living organisms and vital processes"). IOW, "formal principles of reasoning" are based on materialistic processes that even a simple computer can execute.

      One cannot talk about materialism without a super-naturalism making its metaphysical entrance. It needs a dichotomy to be meaningful.

      Merriam-Webster defines materialism as: "a theory that physical matter is the only or fundamental reality and that all being and processes and phenomena can be explained as manifestations or results of matter." I don't need to prove that this is metaphysically true to use it as a basis for understanding chemistry. But I can still use it as a tool for that understanding, even while formally unproven. I guess an analogy to what I'm saying would be this: I don't need to prove a hammer exists before I use it. I don't even need to prove it's the best tool for the job before I use it. That's why I say I don't need to make arguments that materialism is true. It does the job and that's enough. It helps that I have not yet seen a working explanation by any other means.

    17. @ Michael Copas,

      "Reminds me of some folks in the Gospels that get criticized quite regularly"

      Well thanks for being here because you are doing a mighty fine job!

      Tom Cohoe

    18. Don Jindra,

      I have no problem defining logic as "a science that deals with the principles and criteria of validity of inference and demonstration: the science of the formal principles of reasoning." That definition doesn't imply logic is extra-material any more than Merriam-Webster's definition of biology implies living organisms are extra-material ("a branch of knowledge that deals with living organisms and vital processes").

      I don't know what you mean by 'extra-material' here, but if you're trying to say that definitions don't inherently imply a metaphysics, that's a pretty trivial point to make. My only point in bringing up the definition was in showing that you're conflating different categories.

      "One cannot talk about materialism without a super-naturalism making its metaphysical entrance."

      Not sure where you get this, but okay.

      "Merriam-Webster defines materialism as.... I don't need to prove that this is metaphysically true to use it as a basis for understanding chemistry."

      Why would you use this as a basis for understanding chemistry? Chemistry's there to study, regardless of which metaphysics out there is correct.

      "I don't need to prove a hammer exists before I use it....That's why I say I don't need to make arguments that materialism is true. It does the job and that's enough."

      I don't even understand this analogy. Who is denying that the theory of materialism exists??

    19. Thank you Tom. This is a meaningful place for discourse and I am grateful to be able to participate. I have more to say to Mr. Jindra. I bet he's excited.

    20. Michael Copas,

      "There is no good reason to believe something exists for which there is no evidence" -- That sentence should not be controversial. You take issue with what I allow as evidence. You call my present insistence on "empirically verifiable" evidence a begging of the question, but you have no reason to make that claim. For it to stick you would have to know a considerable amount about my upbringing, what I believed in stages of my life and what grappling with "metaphysics" I've had in the past. That knowledge is unavailable to you.

    21. Michael

      Your argument (and Feser's) is that the laws of logic (or numbers) necessarily depend on God's eternal and necessary mind.
      But therein lies the problem I mentioned.
      If it is true that the laws of logic are necessary parts of God's mind, then that means there is a law of logic that says the laws of logic are part of God's mind, but that particular law of logic that says this, is not part of God's mind, because God's mind necessarily having those laws depends on the laws of logic.
      IOW, this position is self-defeating and it's in fact your emperor that has no clothes.

      If you don't believe me, just answer the question why the possibility of square circles cannot be a part of God's eternal mind.

    22. Mr. Jindra,

      I have to know none of those things to know that the claim that knowledge requires empirical verification is nonsense as the claim itself cannot be empirically verified. And no, we don't have to know every detail of a person's past to be able to communicate. Otherwise communication would be entirely impossible. And by the way, why do you assume that you understand what I am saying when you know as little about me as I know about you? You are looking more and more like those folks criticized in the Gospels with each post. If you would like to clear up what you think counts as evidence and why you think it alone counts as evidence, the floor is all yours. That should give you enough rope to hang yourself. Or enough space on the floor to do the macarena.

    23. Mr. Jindra,

      I have been giving some thought to this situation. It seems I can have no understanding of your assertions without knowing much about your upbringing and background. Yet, you seem to think that you perfectly understand what I was communicating to you. This leads me to the conclusion that someone has taped my upbringng without my knowledge and has passed the tapes on to you. That is of course the only way that you could claim, without being a sheer hypocrite, that you understood what I have said.

      So, in light of this knowledge, would you mind telling me how you got these tapes? I would like to know who betrayed my confidence and who had the skill to tape me without knowing. And even more disturbing, are they still taping me? Am I on the Truman show? And how did you view all the tapes before writing to me? Have you taken such an interest into my life before this that you viewed them before this thread was introduced? And all the other folks that you are communicating with and seem to understand quite well, are they on the Truman show on a different channel? You must watch alot of Truman shows to understand so many people on here.

    24. Michael Copas,

      "Theism is the *only* means of accounting for the rules of logic. ... The principle of non-contradiction is not *merely* a principle of thought. It also permeates material being."

      You agree non-contradiction permeates material being. Material being includes life and us. Our brains were formed in a material universe out of material and, from birth, we observe a non-contradictory environment ("no one has ever seen a non-chair-chair"), so it's hardly a surprise non-contradiction is a basis of right thinking, or a pillar of logic. There is no need to import an outside, non-material "it" to explain our need for non-contradiction in thought. You are right, Walter does not have a law of non-contradiction (or laws of logic) buried in his basement. He doesn't have to dig for it. It's buried in his very being. Principles do not effect being; being effects principles. You are confusing cause and effect.

      Even if I accepted your argument, it still does not follow that an eternal mind is the cause. When you make that leap it shows me that logic is a wasted step. You are really asserting that our minds need an eternal mind to function as a mind. That is obviously dubious.

    25. A notice to all readers of this blog:

      I have discovered from the above that Mr. Jindra has access to all of our lives, including our upbringings. We are all on the Truman show on his private channel. So, if you write something to him, be aware that he will understand it and respond. However, be aware that since his life is not on the Truman show we must be silent when he speaks because we have not seen his upbringing. I know that this scenario seems far fetched, but we must trust that he understands us and that we don't understand him based on the principles he has laid out and acted upon above. Again, the only way this is possible is through his private channel wherein we are all on the Truman show.

      @ Mr. Jindra

      I think I have prepared everyone well for you to now be able to pontificate to all here how you understand them, but they could not have possibly understood you. And if they can't understand you, I wonder why you would take the trouble to write to them. After all, we don't have access to your Truman channel and based on your principles have no means of understanding you. Now that you are locked in your solipsistic cage, perhaps you might stay there until you attain wisdom. For this to occur, you must learn that you are the one that needs to stop writing and to start learning.

    26. DrYogami,

      I use "extra-material" to indicate an extra dualistic "substance" that is not material, not physical. Nobody actually knows what we're talking about when we use soul, spirit, form, etc. Practically any vague term will do for me. If you have a preferred term I will try to use it.

      "My only point in bringing up the definition was in showing that you're conflating different categories."

      My point is that there is not more than one category to conflate.

      "Chemistry's there to study, regardless of which metaphysics out there is correct."

      Exactly. Now extrapolate this to anything you wish to study.

      "Who is denying that the theory of materialism exists?"

      It's not the theory I'm talking about, but its use. I don't have to even believe a theory before I use it as a tool. The questions then become, Does the theory work? Does any other theory work better?

    27. @ Mr. Jindra,

      While you are stuck in your solipsistic cage, let's give you some questions to think about. You made the claim above that principles or laws of logic are material. Now this leaves me with some questions. Now keep in mind that if you try to communicate back, I will not understand as I have not seen your Truman show. However, since you have seen mine, I know that you will understand the points I am driving at by my questions. This will give you some food for thought while you are in your cage.

      The first question is: could you tell us what study has identified the three movements of the intellect (understanding, judgement, syllogism) with particular elements on the periodic table? And, which elements are associated with which movement? And if not elements, perhaps compounds? If so, which compounds are associated with which movements? And is it that the compound has to be located in the person, or in the brain, or in a particular place in the brain at a particular time to have a particular thought? And if the compound present in one person when they think that thought, how do you know that this compound is *causing* the thought? Or are you identifying it with the thought? And how do you know it does not merely correspond with the thought rather than causing it or being identified with it? And if it were causing the thought or identified with it in *this person* how do you know that the same occurs in all people? If a certain element, compound, or process is associated with a thought in person A, how do you know that this occurs in all people in the world? And if it does not occur with all people in the world, how can you reduce understanding of some concept or some judgement with a particular element, compound or process?

      These are just a few questions for you to chem on in your cage. Given how important evidence is to you, I am sure that you have evidential answers to all of these questions. If not, that would again show you to be a complete hypocrite and from your posts and our interaction, I know that this cannot be so....

      Or perhaps you would tell us that you know none of the answers to these questions and that we just need to trust you that you are correct anyways. Well, given your omniscience about the upbringing of everyone on here that you interact with, that makes all the sense in the world. Just like you can know about everyone you interact with and they can't know about you, so you can require evidence of others but don't have to give it yourself. Well, that's quaint little thought, now isn't it.

    28. @Mr. Jindra,

      You have already forgotten your principles. Is your memory really that short? Why are you writing to me if I cannot understand you? Only a short memory or sheer hypocrisy could account for attempts to communicate while claiming that one requires knowledge of your childhood to understand you. So, which is it?

      Ah, there must be another explanation. You have attempted to send me recordings of your childhood so that I can understand you. Since you have seen me on the Truman show you have my e-mail address and sent it over. Well you must have mis-keyed something, because it did not arrive.

    29. @ Walter

      It takes courage to walk out in the open in the buff to engage in discourse and I admire courage. However, if you would like for me to answer your questions, don't you think it would be courteous to first attempt to answer the ones that I have asked you. After all, if you and your arguments have not been de-robed, you should be able to address such questions (and points) I made above. It is extremely discourteous to expect me to answer your questions while you ignore mine, don't you think? Does it not remind you of those folks criticized in the Gospels that I noted above? It seems that you and Mr. Jindra have much in common. Are you brothers? If you are unsure, just ask Mr. Jindra. He has seen your Truman show video and knows all about your youth.

      Well, even though it is quite rude to ignore my questions while expecting and answer to your own, I will address the attempts to formulate a sensible question on an occasion when I have a bit more time.

    30. Walt (I hope you don't mind, but it fits you better while you are walking around naked):

      You wrote:

      "Your argument (and Feser's) is that the laws of logic (or numbers) necessarily depend on God's eternal and necessary mind.
      But therein lies the problem I mentioned.
      If it is true that the laws of logic are necessary parts of God's mind..."

      Thank you for granting me a glimpse into your confusion of theism and pantheism. If you are going to expose your parts to the world, might as well expose the confused parts of your philosophy and theology. So, to clear things up for you: the laws of logic are not a part of God's mind. How could they be a part of a being that is not composed of parts? Why don't you chew on that little old question for a bit rather than skimming past it like you did the other questions. In fact, while we are on the topic of ignoring the points and questions I made above, why don't you try to go through and systematically address in a cogent way the points I made above that have exposed your fanny to the elements.

      So, returning to the point, neither numbers nor principles of logic are part of the Divine Intellect as God is simple. Yet, they are eternal and eternally dependent upon the Divine Intellect. That dear sir is quite different than your pantheism. In the first place, it is cogent. In the second place, it is the actual position of figures like St. Thomas and our kind host, Edward Feser.

      Now it is clear that you have made no more effort to understand those figures than you have to consider the questions and points that I have made above. Had you done so, you would not be walking around exposed to the elements having these sorts of conversations. More for you later when I have time.

    31. Don Jindra,

      "Nobody actually knows what we're talking about when we use soul, spirit, form, etc."

      Maybe, but the same could be said for the idea of "matter" or "material".

      "My point is that there is not more than one category to conflate."

      You were talking about two completely different subjects. Akin to talking about geometry and biology.

      "Exactly. Now extrapolate this to anything you wish to study."

      Your point is?

      "It's not the theory I'm talking about, but its use."

      Well, you compared materialism to a hammer and said you didn't need to believe the hammer existed. You can see where the confusion would originate.

      "I don't have to even believe a theory before I use it as a tool. The questions then become, Does the theory work? Does any other theory work better?"

      On that, we're going to disagree, I suppose. You think materialism is useful and explains things better than any other theory. I say it is completely useless and only creates conceptual confusion.

    32. Oops, I accidentally published as 'Anonymous' to Don Jindra. Sorry about that.

  13. Hi Dr. Feser. First of all, sorry for my english, not my fist language. I was talking to a friend the other day about the immateriality of the intellect, and I passed him your paper "Kripke, Ross, and the Immaterial Aspects of Thought". He´s an atheist, and doesn´t believe anything survives the death of the body. He (suppossedly) read the paper and made the following obejection: Because we don´t actually know how the brain works, we can´t say for sure intellect is immaterial. Is this the demolishing objection he thinks is? Thank you very much.

    1. This begs the question against the paper since the conclusion of the paper's argument is precisely that thinking cannot even in principle be a material process, and thus cannot be carried out just by a material thing. There must be more to the story - a power that is not constrained in the way matter is, to be able to carry out thinking with determinate semantic content.
      The current state of brain science doesn't change that. The argument is for the in-principle impossibility of reducing thinking to a material process. Material things and processes are semantically indeterminate and particular, whereas ideas and thinking are universal and semantically determinate, etc.

    2. No, because Ed's argument shows that the materiality of the intellect is impossible in principle, not based on any current level of understanding of the brain.

      For example, you can say that it is impossible for the number 6 to get married to a pineapple. This has nothing to do with our current level of scientific understanding of pineapples and nothing new we may find out is going to change that. It is impossible, in principle, and we know it just by knowing and understanding what a number is.

      So, your friend's response is just lazy. If he thinks that any new understanding could show the mind to be material, he needs to show that Feser's argument is false.

    3. The problem is that we may know and understand what a number is, but we do not know and understand what a mind is.
      We know that a number is an abstract object, e.g. and we know abstract objects cannot marry, but a mind is not an abstract object. It is concrete.

    4. People don't agree on what abstract objects are, just like people don't agree about the nature of the mind; the first are not any less mysterious or controversial in their nature than the second. The example I gave with the numbers was to highlight the difference between something being impossible based on current, provisionary, empirical knowledge and something being impossible in principle. Feser's argument, if correct, shows that the materiality of the mind belongs to the second category. You may dispute that by showing where the argument goes wrong, if you can. You can't do it by begging the question.

  14. Is getting a bachelor's degree in philosophy (for someone already with gainful employment) worth it? Or is it better to keep reading and learning on your own?

    1. In terms of professional use - money coming in from use of the degree - a bachelor's in philosophy is practically useless. Nobody that I have ever heard hires people with a bachelor's in phil. Unless it's to sweep floors, I guess.

      In terms of personal goals, it's different. There could be some value in getting not just the knowledge of several phil. classes, but an ordered, organized body of knowledge. But in most universities they have pretty much outlawed the very IDEA that there is some organization to knowledge, and this is more aggressively pursued in the non-STEM disciplines. So, unless you could find a very, VERY Thomistic university, (good luck on that) such a degree would imply pretty much just a collection of various courses, anyway.

      You would be better off getting a bachelor's degree in a Great Books college program. That's my 2 cents - obviously all opinion and no proof.

  15. Here's a question that I've been waiting for an open thread to ask: I like to play social deduction games with friends (i.e. Secret Hitler, Mafia, One Night Werewolf), and these games definitely involve lying (i.e. telling an untruth knowingly and voluntarily). Would playing such games be considered lying? Pastorally, I've been assured that such games are not sinful, but I was curious about how such games would stand from a philosophical viewpoint.

    1. Telling tales within the game is, I think, not lying as to its telos: Lying is telling an untruth with the intent to deceive. Everyone's intent for the game is to (eventually) have the truth come out. I would call this a global intent for the truth. And everyone AGREES to the method of the game, which is to tell untruths about specific elements, but NOT to tell untruths about whether X is or is not according to the rules - so it's not an unlimited writ to lie. So the untruths you tell might be called locally a lie in a limited, qualified sense. But they are not lies simply speaking because all along the other people know that any one of the things you said might be untrue, (so they retain always a reserved belief about them) and that the truth (or falseness) of those statements will be revealed later.

    2. Can you play while,say, giving evasive answers or telling the truth in a way that sounds false?

      Because if you truly need to lie them, yea, things are bad.

    3. Tony, to lie you don't need to tell an untruth

    4. Jaime: to deceive, you don't need to tell an untruth. It is my understanding that "deceive" and "lie" are distinguished precisely in this: when you tell a lie, you assert a proposition that is contradicted by what you hold in your mind as true - you tell an untruth. You may deceive by telling truths in a misleading way, and that's not exactly a lie, but it may still be wrong.

  16. Cyberpunk is based. Tranhumanism is for snowflakes.

    I have spoken.

  17. I've been reading through the complete works of C. S. Lewis for the past 7-8 months. (Reading through his works by genre). When I got to his non-fiction "popular works" (such as Mere Christianity, Miracles, etc.), I was surprised that his descriptions of God sound similar to the Classical Theist understanding of God. (At least in some cases). Below are a few quotes from Lewis's books (possibly) showing this.

    For each quote, the name of the book (and chapter) comes first.

    In this first quote when Lewis uses the word "Dualism" he means "Cosmic Dualism" (the belief in 2 equal opposite powers that control the universe, one good and the other evil), not "Substance Dualism". In this article he's responding to C. E. M. Joad, a British philosopher who was arguing in favor of Cosmic Dualism. (Lewis wrote this essay while WWII was happening).

    (God in the Dock, Part 1, Chapter 1 "Evil and God")
    "We are left then to choose between monotheism and dualism—between a single, good, almighty source of being, and two equal, uncreated, antagonistic Powers, one good and the other bad. Dr. Joad suggests that the latter view stands to gain from the ‘new urgency’ of the fact of evil. But what new urgency? Evil may seem more urgent to us than it did to the Victorian philosophers—favoured members of the happiest class in the happiest country in the world at the world’s happiest period. But it is no more urgent for us than for the great majority of monotheists all down the ages. The classic expositions of the doctrine that the world’s miseries are compatible with its creation and guidance by a wholly good Being come from Boethius waiting in prison to be beaten to death and from St Augustine meditating on the sack of Rome. The present state of the world is normal; it was the last century that was the abnormality.
    This drives us to ask why so many generations rejected Dualism. Not, assuredly, because they were unfamiliar with suffering; and not because its obvious prima facie plausibility escaped them. It is more likely that they saw its two fatal difficulties, the one metaphysical, and the other moral.
    The metaphysical difficulty is this. The two Powers, the good and the evil, do not explain each other. Neither Ormuzd nor Ahriman can claim to be the Ultimate. More ultimate than either of them is the inexplicable fact of their being there together. Neither of them chose this tête-à-tête. Each of them, therefore, is conditioned—finds himself willy-nilly in a situation; and either that situation itself, or some unknown force which produced that situation, is the real Ultimate. Dualism has not yet reached the ground of being. You cannot accept two conditioned and mutually independent beings as the self-grounded, self-comprehending Absolute. On the level of picture-thinking this difficulty is symbolised by our inability to think of Ormuzd and Ahriman without smuggling in the idea of a common space in which they can be together and thus confessing that we are not yet dealing with the source of the universe but only with two members contained in it. Dualism is a truncated metaphysic."
    (End quote)

  18. (From 2 of Lewis's other books.)

    (Miracles, Chapter 11 "God and 'Religion'") (By 'Religion' Lewis means Pantheism).

    "The error which I am here trying to correct is one of the most sincere and respectable errors in the world; I have sympathy enough with it to feel shocked at the language I have been driven to use in stating the opposite view, which I believe to be the true one. To say that God ‘is a particular Thing’ does seem to obliterate the immeasurable difference not only between what He is and what all other things are but between the very mode of His existence and theirs. I must at once restore the balance by insisting that derivative things, from atoms to archangels, hardly attain to existence at all in comparison with their Creator. Their principle of existence is not in themselves. You can distinguish what they are from the fact that they are. The definition of them can be understood and a clear idea of them formed without even knowing whether they are. Existence is an ‘opaque’ addition to the idea of them. But with God it is not so: if we fully understood what God is we should see that there is no question whether He is. It would always have been impossible that He should not exist. He is the opaque centre of all existences, the thing that simply and entirely is, the fountain of facthood".
    (End quote)

    The last quote is from Lewis's commentary on the nature psalms in the O.T.
    All of the Scripture references in the beginning of the quote are from the Psalms.

    (Reflections on the Psalms, Chapter 8 "Nature")
    "But of course the (Jewish) doctrine of Creation leaves Nature full of manifestations which show the presence of God, and created energies which serve Him. The light is His garment, the thing we partially see Him through (104:2), the thunder can be His voice (29:3–5). He dwells in the dark thundercloud (18:11), the eruption of a volcano comes in answer to His touch (104:32). The world is full of his emissaries and executors. He makes winds His messengers and flames His servants (104:4), rides upon cherubim (18:10), commands the army of angels.
    All this is of course in one way very close to Paganism. Thor and Zeus also spoke in the thunder; Hermes or Iris was the messenger of the gods. But the difference, though subtle, is momentous, between hearing in the thunder the voice of God or the voice of a god. As we have seen, even in the creation-myths, gods have beginnings. Most of them have fathers and mothers; often we know their birthplaces. There is no question of self-existence or the timeless. Being is imposed upon them, as upon us, by preceding causes. They are, like us, creatures or products; though they are luckier than we in being stronger, more beautiful, and exempt from death. They are, like us, actors in the cosmic drama, not its authors. Plato fully understood this. His God creates the gods and preserves them from death by His own power; they have no inherent immortality. In other words, the difference between believing in God and in many gods is not one of arithmetic. As someone has said ‘gods’ is not really the plural of God; God has no plural. Thus, when you hear in the thunder the voice of a god, you are stopping short, for the voice of a god is not really a voice from beyond the world, from the uncreated. By taking the god’s voice away—or envisaging the god as an angel, a servant of that Other—you go further. The thunder becomes not less divine but more. By emptying Nature of divinity—or, let us say, of divinities—you may fill her with Deity, for she is now the bearer of messages."
    (End quote)

    1. Wow, he does sound very much like a classical theist. He even seems to touch on St. Thomas* distinction between essence and existence.

      Very cool stuff.

      *i do feel like the distinction started with Avicenna

  19. Hey all, the full recording of the Russell-Copleston Debate on the Existence of God has been uploaded to Youtube:


    We finally get to hear the whole thing.

  20. Dr Feser, a while ago you mentioned something about a possible second edition of Locke, which has been out of print for some time now. Are there still plans for it?

    Huge fan of your work :)

  21. I read that Catholic commentator Adrian Fonseca urged women in abusive marriages to stay in the marriage, enduring more abuse if it comes, and offer up the abuse for the salvation of souls, especially for the soul of the abusive husband.

    Can someone specify the degree of magisterial authority that attaches to this teaching? Obviously, since Catholic spouses can still receive the sacraments after separation, it is not forbidden to separate from an abusive spouse. But what is the status as moral teaching of the counsel that the abused spouse continue to endure abuse for the prospective sake of the abusive spouse's soul?

    1. Well to be fair I would need to see what the man actually said and in what context. Because leftist anti-Catholics lie like Devils and right wing anti-Catholics are just mindless rage machines with low intelligence.

      That advice might work if by "abusive" it meant unfaithful. Or if the husband speaks cruelly to the wife. Physical abuse is against the law and they should call the police on such a spouse. Especially if young Children are involved. This advice has no magisterial authority. It is advice take it or leave it.

      That seems obvious.

    2. The Catholic folk wisdom that suffering, humiliation, and poverty are something holy is sick. Did Abraham suffer? Generally speaking, no. Was Abraham humiliated? Not that I'm aware of in any portion of Genesis. Was Abraham poor? He was the wealthiest man alive. He was one of the holiest men who ever lived and went against everything the Catholic Church says is good for your soul.

    3. "The Catholic folk wisdom that suffering, humiliation, and poverty are something holy is sick."

      By that logic, Jesus Christ is "sick." See Matthew 5:1-11.

    4. @Son of Ya'Kov et al.
      Hey J! I hope things go well with you and your family.
      I haven't found Fonseca's remarks directly. Citations from them are on this blog on Patheos Catholic:


    5. "The Catholic folk wisdom that suffering, humiliation, and poverty are something holy is sick."

      These are not good by themselves. But accepting they with humility and seeing they as a way to unite with Christ sufferings and offer it to help yourself and others is cool.

      But notice that this is not cool because of the suffering itself,, it is the resignation that is good. The kenosis is good.

    6. Here is a link I found on that blog.

      That some Saints stayed with their husbands and put up with their abuse till they converted them is laudable. But to be realistic those women lived at a time where there where no social services or women's shelters.

      Back then either yur husband took care of you or your family or the woman would have to sell herself on the street. So what choice did they have? I am not sure today that would be a prudent choice if one has the opportunity to go to a shelter.

      Ye can do that and still say a Rosary fur yer man to stop being a yob and ye would be safe.

    7. @ Infinite_Growth,

      "The Catholic folk wisdom that suffering, humiliation, and poverty are something holy is sick"

      That is not a Catholic idea at all but an untrue distortion of Catholic thought.

      It is funny that you think attacking the false is attacking the true and I cannot help laughing about it.

      Ha ha ha!

      But perhaps you are a comedian and your feelings are not hurt.


      Tom Cohoe

    8. @Tom Cohoe:

      Given that our model is Christ, and above all His passion into which He entered willingly, I am not sure it is distortion; I would just say that it is not the Catholic Church that is the "sick" one here.

    9. Anonymous,

      Taken charitably, Infinite Growth is attacking the Sermon on the Mount, specifically the Beatitudes.

    10. @ Godrigues,

      "Given that our model is Christ, and above all His passion into which He entered willingly, I am not sure it is distortion; I would just say that it is not the Catholic Church that is the "sick" one here."

      No, suffering is a terrible consequence of the fact that we are a fallen people and the fact that we live in a fallen creation. What is holy is to accept it and endure it in the right way, modeling our suffering after the way Jesus suffered on the Cross.

      It is possible to suffer while screaming out a true rejection of God. Thus it is not suffering, per se, that is holy. It is how we act in our suffering.

      Tom Cohoe

    11. @Mister Geocon

      What about Abraham? I guess he was an unbeliever, because he was happy, healthy and wealthy.

    12. I have never heard of any authoritative assertion that an abused wife should stay with the husband, and especially not say it as if it represented a rule. Adrian Fonseca is just a news & commentary purveyor, has no authority to hold forth on "a teaching". So, absent any new datum, it's "just some guy bloviating". Like me, here.

      The Chrisitan doctrine on suffering is multi-layered, and should not be reduced to a simple sentence. That said, 4 points are at the heart: (1) not all suffering can be avoided while staying on the right side of the line of good action. (2) When suffering can be avoided by a morally licit choice, it is often prudent (i.e. good, right action) to so. (3) In spite of (2), there are ALSO many situations where some part of suffering can be avoided, but willingly taking on and accepting the suffering (taking the suffering yourself, not subjecting another to the suffering) can be spiritually valuable, and in general a good Christian should expect to accept AT LEAST SOME avoidable suffering along his life. (4) Accepting avoidable suffering is never done for its own sake, and therefore it can generally be accounted as being accepted for some other thing, a good that (will) more than offset the evil suffered. This is not intrinsically different from doing (troublesome) exercise to make the body (and soul) stronger - and there is little debate about that kind of "accepting suffering".

      Infinite_Growth appears to be a moral toddler who has just discovered the word "no". Indeed, there is much room for growth.

      So to apply: there is no possible one-size-fits-all rule for abused women. For some few (if the abuse is not severe), maybe they can achieve more good in the long run by staying. Maybe. For others, they have few or no real alternatives. But for some, getting out and getting a separation will be prudently the best choice to make - and not just "best for them", but best for others as well.

    13. @Tom Cohoe:

      "No, suffering is a terrible consequence of the fact that we are a fallen people and the fact that we live in a fallen creation. What is holy is to accept it and endure it in the right way, modeling our suffering after the way Jesus suffered on the Cross."

      I do not have much to add to what Tony has said; I will just say that even granting all that is in the quote above -- and I do grant it -- it still does not explain all the facts. For example, there are purgation disciplines which Catholics submit themselves to voluntarily, involving fasts and all other sorts of abstinences; there is a lenten season; there are monks and nuns, there are ascetic practices, the glorious Fathers of the Desert, etc. and etc. What we have here are not examples of a suffering that one accepts and endures (because say, any means of avoiding it would be sinful or morally hazardous or what not), but rather a privation, and a species of suffering, that one *chooses*, not qua suffering but for the sake of God; choices that are counted as most pious and holy.

    14. @ godrigues,

      The original question was asked by ficino4ml. His question seemed vague, especially since it referred at the end to "the status as moral teaching of the counsel" where what "the" counsel means is not specified; in Christian terms "counsel" refers usually to the fruit of of the cardinal virtue of prudence, not to the magisterial councils of the Church.

      Ficino's question, vague or not, was answered by Tony in a comment of some complexity. I have no argument with what he said. My goal was to deal with IG's response to Ficino's question. Tony referred to IG as a "moral toddler" (heh!) and it is his moral toddlership that motivated my comment. So what I aimed at was simplicity. Beyond doubt IG was distorting true Catholic doctrine in order to support a falsehood. If I change my response to him to something vague it essentially gives him a pass. If he were not a mischievous moral toddler, the nuance you suggested and Tony expanded upon would be better, but since IG is a MMT I absolutely refuse to change my initial reply to him.


      It spanks where spanking is needed where the goal is to defend the Church from mischief.

      Otherwise, I completely agree with you and Tony.

      Tom Cohoe

    15. @Tom Cohoe:

      inquirers into the fine points of a system may not be up on all the nuances of terms of art used within the system. Your characterization of my question as "vague" was gratuitous and not helpful to anyone on here. And your talk about spanking, apparently directly at what IG wrote, is bizarre and to my mind, creepy.

    16. @ ficino4ml,

      Your question was vague for the reason given. Why not clarify instead of getting insulted?

      People who hate the Catholic Church think of its defenders as "bizarre" and "creepy" in general. They also use terms against Catholicism, like "sick", as IG did. I was not talking directly at IG when I wrote of "spanking", but to godrigues. Recognize that "spanking" is used metaphorically, as such terms usually are. My usage was obviously metaphorical because I used it of my earlier speech, directly above, in which nothing but words were expressed.

      I have no beef against you and am not herein characterizing you as someone "who hate[s] the Catholic Church".

      Tom Cohoe

    17. @Tom Cohoe:

      "It spanks where spanking is needed where the goal is to defend the Church from mischief."

      Fair enough. I am not particularly interested in responding to puerile provocations, and rebuking the devil is a task best left for exorcists, but I can surely understand why someone else would.

    18. @Tom Cohoe I don't hate the Catholic Church. I was baptized and confirmed Catholic. And yes I attend mass and still practice. I hate foolish notions that became popular among Catholics.

    19. and rebuking the devil is a task best left for exorcists

      I'm in good company.

      "It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the goodman of the house Beelzebub, how much more them of his household?" (Matthew 10:25)

    20. @ Infinite_Growth,

      Where did I say or imply that you hate the Catholic Church? Answer - nowhere. Such a funny, off-target comment suggests that you are not a person who could know when a popular fashion among Catholics is foolish.

      Also, quoting a Bible verse doesn't give you a pat on the back.


      Tom Cohoe

  22. Pope Francis recently said "you are not
    a ‘disciple of Jesus’ if you try to convert non-believers”, which appears to be the most anti-gospel statement ever made by a pope. What is going on here?

    1. More than likely, the Holy Father's words are being taken out of context.

    2. By "convert" i suppose he has in mind the idea of trying to force or manipulate people to believe or in trying to convert people while not really listening to they.

      It is a strange meaning to "convert" but i do follow the Vatican on Instagram and the pope does say a lot that christians should change people and show Christ to they, mostly with example and dialogue.

      Could we have easier to understand phrases? Yea, but we should be happy with what we have.

    3. They pretty much are being taken out of context.

    4. At some point the "taken out of context" explanation becomes the abolition of reason and logic. It is equivalent to the Facebook 'fact checker' explaining how something is 'false' because clear as day statements were taken 'out of context'. I heard the pope say what he said with my own ears. It becomes a form of gaslighting to suggest otherwise. As usual with this pope, it's spiritual warfare through deliberately ambiguous language. The pope said what he said and it cannot be explained away no matter how tight the knot is.

    5. As Kurt suggests: it may indeed be possible to "read" Francis's words in a charitable light in which "what he meant" was to castigate the nasty proselytism that uses bad means (and motives) to push people into the Church, and not to throw stones at the kinder, gentler persuasion by which we justly bring others to appreciate the true Church of Christ. But at the same time, Francis used highly ambiguous phrasings to convey that, and - like he has ever so many other times - he INTENDS to be ambiguous, that's is precisely his operating method.

      In this case, for example, there is, in addition to the negative-connotation word "proselytism" in the second sentence, the word "convince" in the first sentence. There is no reason, outside of Francis's choice to put them next to each other, to imagine that "convincing someone of your faith" amounts to "proselytism". Even if one might have (before this) thought he was strictly avoiding the impermissible "proselytism" types of action, and merely speaking so as to "convince" a listener of his faith, now he has to second-guess whether even that is allowable. And so, Francis chose to cloud up the matter.

      It would be silly to look at all the hundreds (at this point) of occasions in which he has done this, and somehow imagine that they come out evenly divided between a traditional and a progressive view of Christianity. They do nothing of the sort: the confusion and obscurity sown is very decidedly in favor of one angle, and that's the progressive view. He's never accidentally confusing in a way that promotes traditional, standard Catholicism. So, it's not accidental at all, it's intentional.

      (And by the way, in that video by Mike Lofton is FAR from being wholly exculpatory: take, for example, this quote from a 2007 doc. by BXVI's curia:

      The term proselytism originated in the context of Judaism, in which the term proselyte referred to someone who, coming from the gentiles, had passed into the Chosen People….More recently, however, the term has taken on a negative connotation, to mean the promotion of a religion by ujsing means, and for motives, contrary to the spirit of the Gospel that is, which do not safeguard the freedom and dignity of the person. It is in this sense that the term proselytism is understood in the context of the ecumenical movement: cf. The Joint Working Group between the Catholic Church and the World Council of Churches…”

      Sure, the World Council of Churches take the term "proselytism" that way, precisely because many of them think evangelization is a sin. And so the push on the idea of "proselytism" = bad, and try to eliminate the meaning of the term which was just fine until they came along. Trying to control the language to win the debate. And shame on the Vatican for accepting their improper constraint on the term. If you want to shame those who proselytize wrongly, SAY that "they proselytize wrongly". Don't change the language just because it makes you uncomfortable.)

    6. An essential part of the interpretative context is surely Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation 'Evangelii Gaudium': 'On the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today's World' - considered a keynote document of his pontificate, and running to 288 numbered paragraphs. Less authoritative and isolated statements should be interpreted in the light of more authoritative and extended statements such as this.

      A few quotes:

      ‘Throughout the world, let us be “permanently in a state of mission”.’ (25; cf. passim)

      ‘All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization.’ (120)

      ‘All revealed truths derive from the same divine source and are to be believed with the same faith…’ (36)

      ‘Of course, we will never be able to make the Church’s teachings easily understood or readily appreciated by everyone. Faith always remains something of a cross; it retains a certain obscurity which does not detract from the firmness of its assent.’ (42)

      ‘Proclaiming the Gospel message to different cultures also involves proclaiming it to professional, scientific and academic circles. This means an encounter between faith, reason and the sciences with a view to developing new approaches and arguments on the issue of credibility, a creative apologetics which would encourage greater openness to the Gospel on the part of all. When certain categories of reason and the sciences are taken up into the proclamation of the message, these categories then become tools of evangelization; water is changed into wine.’ (132)

      ‘Evangelization with joy becomes beauty in the liturgy, as part of our daily concern to spread goodness. The Church evangelizes and is herself evangelized through the beauty of the liturgy, which is both a celebration of the task of evangelization and the source of her renewed self-giving.’ (24)

      ‘As the bishops of the United States of America have rightly pointed out, while the Church insists on the existence of objective moral norms which are valid for everyone, there are those in our culture who portray this teaching as unjust, that is, as opposed to basic human rights. Such claims usually follow from a form of moral relativism that is joined, not without inconsistency, to a belief in the absolute rights of individuals.’ (64)

      ‘Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenceless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this. Frequently, as a way of ridiculing the Church’s effort to defend their lives, attempts are made to present her position as ideological, obscurantist and conservative. Yet this defence of unborn life is closely linked to the defence of each and every other human right… This is not something subject to alleged reforms or “modernizations”. It is not “progressive” to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.’ (213)

      ‘A facile syncretism would ultimately be a totalitarian gesture on the part of those who would ignore greater values of which they are not the masters. True openness involves remaining steadfast in one’s deepest convictions, clear and joyful in one’s own identity, while at the same time being “open to understanding those of the other party” and “knowing that dialogue can enrich each side” (John Paul II). What is not helpful is a diplomatic openness which says “yes” to everything in order to avoid problems, for this would be a way of deceiving others and denying them the good which we have been given to share generously with others. Evangelization and interreligious dialogue, far from being opposed, mutually support and nourish one another.’ (251)

      All this may not resolve all the issues with things Francis has said and done, but it needs to be taken into account.

    7. @Tony

      It should be mentioned that the quote on the understanding to be given to the term 'proselytism' when it appears in Church documents, taken from a 2007 CDF document under Benedict XVI ('Doctrinal Note on some Aspects of Evangelization'), is a footnote (49) from a text whose main body is entirely devoted to the legitimacy of sharing one's faith.

      Even in ordinary language, the term 'proselytism' does have a vaguely negative connotation these days, so it is fair enough that the Church has chosen to deploy it to denote negative ways of promoting the faith, while giving this clarifying definition in the 2007 document.

      The same magisterial document explains: ‘Everywhere and always, each Catholic has the right and the duty to give the witness and the full proclamation of his faith. With non-Catholic Christians, Catholics must enter into a respectful dialogue of charity and truth, a dialogue which is not only an exchange of ideas, but also of gifts, in order that the fullness of the means of salvation can be offered to one’s partners in dialogue. In this way, they are led to an ever deeper conversion to Christ…The work of ecumenism does not remove the right or take away the responsibility of proclaiming in fullness the Catholic faith to other Christians, who freely wish to receive it.’ (12)

      ‘…Love and witnessing to the truth are aimed above all at convincing others through the power of the word of God. The Christian mission resides in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the truth itself which is proclaimed.’ (12)

    8. Even in ordinary language, the term 'proselytism' does have a vaguely negative connotation these days, so it is fair enough that the Church has chosen to deploy it to denote negative ways of promoting the faith, while giving this clarifying definition in the 2007 document.

      Fair enough. While giving the clarification. But then again: Not fair enough absent the needed clarification, and certainly not when the clarification is being more or less actively undermined by other ambiguity.

      And for particulars: one specific example used, of preaching for the "gospel of prosperity", I would argue is not a sound example. The pope argues that their interpretation of the gospel is in error, and their manner of persuading is unjust. As to the latter - maybe so, although I would want to see specifics to see what, precisely, is unjust. As to their erroneous interpretation - that is so, but (in many cases, though admittedly not in all) the preachers are sincere in their misguided grasp of the gospel. So their error on this is in no way more damaging to the mere fact of their trying to persuade others, than is that of mainline Protestant churches, who also are in error in their interpretation of the gospels. The pope's singling out the mainline Protestants as being "OK", and the gospel of prosperity preachers being mean nasty "proselytizers" is - on this score - not consistent.

      The real problem with the BAD kind of proselytism is that it uses as persuasive forces things that should not be used so. It may use false premises. Or false logic. Or appeal to emotional "motives" that are not founded on reasonable bases. Or unreasonable threats of bad outcomes "if you don't convert". But mainline Protestants have used these tools also: e.g. they have used false premises in falsely characterizing the Catholic teachings from which they depart. (E.G. "Catholics worship Mary".)

      These kinds of tools are wrongly used in Catholic hands, too, so it's not the true proposition on account of which they are employed that is the problem with them, it is the manner in which they act on the hearer to cause belief.

      Like with all the other times Francis has played funny games with the truth: it's not that his words cannot be understood - with added clarifications - that makes them fit well with Catholic teaching overall. It's that he persistently chooses to present so many of them in obscuring, confusing, problematic ways, and he rarely bothers to clarify later himself, leaving it to other organs of the Vatican to suggest clarifications, while he goes on blythely generating more confusing commentary. The issue with "God intends a plurality of religions" stuff is a perfect example: he went beyond appropriate bounds in a public document, his curia "corrected" the sense of the passage so as to mitigate the problem, and then later he again in signing yet another public document with the same sort of obscurantist language.

      Francis has publicly "justified" his so-called "carelessness" in these confusing sayings / teachings, by saying that he is careless. But from the fact that the errors and obscurantism all plays to one angle, it isn't truly an accidental kind of carelessness. And anyway, if a person knows he is careless in off-the-cuff remarks, (a) that does not excuse him from not refraining from making such remarks where he could sow problems, and (b) it does not excuse him with respect to written documents published after (what should be) careful consideration. Francis can easily evade charges of heresy by pointing to his carelessness. He cannot easily evade charges of negligence by pointing to his carelessness.

    9. My concern is not to assess Francis' personal responsibility or guilt (which we would best leave to God), or even to decide where he would stand in a ranking of popes from best to worst.

      Rather, I think our aim should be to defend magisterial statements (albeit non-infallible) from charges of error or inconsistency as far as possible.

      Quite a number of Francis' difficult statements are non-magisterial, so for these purposes it suffices to point that out in the particular instances.

      With magisterial statements, I realise there is the last resort of withholding assent from non-infallible teachings, by someone who is sufficiently qualified and who has sufficient justifiying reasons. But once someone takes that step in one case, it does seem to easily become a habit, and a bottomless pit of doubt and dissent.

      The typical Catholic trying to be faithful, and trying to learn more about their faith from Church documents, isn't in a good position to make these assessments, and they would end up with diminished confidence in a vast range of teachings if they became too easily habituated to having to exercise 'private judgment' upon each one.

      So to me it's worthwhile, for the sake of both myself and others, to try to find another way if possible.

      In this specific matter of whether we should try to 'convert others' - if we too easily take the most 'anti-evangelizing' interpretation of Francis' words, there will be those who will feel obliged to 'obediently accept' his teaching thus interpreted, with detriment to their own evangelizing efforts. So again, it's worthwhile trying as far as possible to avoid that outcome.

    10. "The real problem with the BAD kind of proselytism is that it uses as persuasive forces things that should not be used so. It may use false premises. Or false logic. Or appeal to emotional "motives" that are not founded on reasonable bases."

      It seems to me that the use of ambiguous language in the service of one's own view ought to qualify for this as well.

  23. Dr. Feser,

    I have a two-part question. First, I work as a data scientist/statistician in the field of solid organ transplantation, and I recently learned that living uterus donation is possible. As far as I can tell, the Perverted Faculty Argument (which you lay out in your lecture at Princeton University) would apply to living uterus donation just as it does to contraception, and therefore from a Natural Law perspective (and Catholic perspective) living uterus donation would not be permissible. Is that correct?

    Assuming so, I'm thinking about what that implies regarding my role in organ transplantation, and whether it would be wrong of me to engage in research that could promote that practice. In other words, if I were asked to do some kind of analysis regarding living uterus donation, is that proximate enough to the act itself that I should avoid participating in it?


    1. This is a new idea that I had not heard of. And I admit that there's room for more understanding, but I would hazard this:

      By "living uterus donation" do you mean Jane, who is healthy, giving over her uterus to Sally, whose uterus is damaged and cannot be healed, so that Sally can conceive a and bear a child?

      If we assume that Jane is not offering her uterus in order to avoid conceiving, the contraceptive aspect of the perverted faculty argument is not applicable. If, for example, Jane is single and expects to stay that way, and stably has not been engaging in sexual relations, she can be presumed not to enter into this for contraceptive reasons. She is not perverting her faculty of reproduction.

      Nor is Sally perverting her faculty of reproduction: her faculty is being impeded by a damaged organ, which (apparently) can be worked around by medical means. So far as "faculty" arguments go, this is morally licit.

      The real weight of the moral difficulty is in Jane effectively maiming herself: it is not generally reasonable to take away a functioning major body part. However, the "generally" I added there does imply reservations on how far that applies: it is (by most ethicists) considered moral for a person to donate one of his 2 kidneys to another whose kidneys have failed. This is even laudable: the donor can (for the most part) "get by" on one kidney - though they will live a life of increased risk, because they no longer have a "back-up" kidney to take over if one is not functioning.

      Arguably, Jane can use the same approach to justify donating her uterus to a woman whose own uterus is damaged: if Jane isn't going to "use it", she can offer its use to another. However, I see potential quagmires here, and I don't think it's that simple. On the one hand, if Jane is single, on what basis is she certain she will not marry? If she is married, on what basis is she able to definitively decide she won't be "needing" that uterus any more? (On the other hand, what if Jane has taken permanent vows of celibacy in a monastic order, and knows she will not be using her reproductive faculties for reproduction?)

      Secondly, the reproductive organs are highly inter-related, and it is absolutely not a given that "because Jane won't be using the organs for reproduction" doesn't altogether imply the organs have no health function in the body. This is manifestly true of the ovaries, and hormonal activity that regulates tons of other body functions than JUST reproduction. I don't have any knowledge of whether the uterus, like the ovaries, is involved in other activities for health. I suspect that (a) the medical system claims those health risks are minimal, and (b) that they may be oversimplifying the case in saying so, but I don't actually know.

      As to being involved in "the system": since there seems (to me, indicated above) that there is a plausible argument that the underlying donative action is morally licit in some cases, it comes down to a prudential judgment whether the overall activity is nearly always a donation precisely because Jane wants to avoid the possibility of pregnancy, i.e. whether working for it is supporting something that almost always is being done immorally, or not. If it is nearly always being done immorally with a contraceptive intent, it might be imprudent to support the medical practice by aiding the research. If not, i.e. if there seem to be plenty of cases (even if still in the minority) that are not donations for contraceptive intentions, then I think you can use a general presumption of moral licitness of the individual cases, and this would seem to permit being involved in "the system" of medical support / research in the activity. But that's just my opinion.

    2. I also read of a possible donation being "temporary": apparently, Jane giving her uterus to Sally for Sally to bear a child, and then Jane getting her uterus back later. While this level of medical interventionism seems (to me) rather appallingly blythe about risks, it also (seemingly) would greatly reduce the weight of the argument about Jane "maiming" herself: it's not permanent. She gets her faculty back, intact.

      Maybe this is all not reasonably "worth" the financial costs to the system of two such heavily invasive procedures with ongoing risks (e.g. immunosuppressive drugs to prevent rejection), but that's also probably not a hill to die on: if Sally has the money for whatever reason, spending it to produce a child "by natural means" (so to speak) is not, per se, a wrongful use of wealth. And (of course) the cost will come down if the practice gets more common.

      However, if any of the process also involves in vitro fertilization, that's immoral and would vitiate the entire plan of the medical process. IVF as currently practiced involves at least 2 intrinsically evil acts, so that it is inherently wrong, and any larger process that requires this (or presumes it) would be wrong also. (My comments above were premised on the idea that conception could happen normally.)

  24. I'd like to discuss the Scholastic distinction between potency and act. It is often alleged that without this distinction, it is impossible to make sense of change. I'm not so sure about that.

    Surely we can account for change simply by positing different levels of actuality. Thus an actual piece of gold (a substance) may acquire the higher-level (accidental) actualizations of roundness and flatness, when hammered by a goldsmith. There's no need for talk of mysterious potencies here - just different levels of actuality.

    Consider also the fact that every potency, whether passive or active, is grounded in some actuality. A boxer, for instance, has the passive power to be bruised because his body is actually covered with flesh, and he has the active power to hit and knock out his opponent because his body actually contains bone and muscle, enabling him to punch hard.

    Readers might ask, "What's the difference between the account you're proposing and the Aristotelian account? And couldn't simply we define 'potency' as a lower level of actuality?" The practical difference between the two accounts is that if every potency is grounded in some actuality, then the existence of prime matter, or pure passive potency, becomes a metaphysical impossibility. It's actuality all the way down, until we finally get to some ultimate physical forms (quantum fields, perhaps?) underlying the everyday objects we see.

    What do readers think?

    1. First, what's so mysterious about potencies that makes your account of change more reasonable?

      Second, why is the fact that every potency is grounded in some actuality evidence in favor of your account of change?

    2. Vincent, can you rephrase and elaborate on your last paragraph? I'm having a hard time following what you're suggesting. Are you saying that the traditional Aristotelian metaphysical model of act and potency cannot allow a bottom layer of physical reality?

    3. @Vicent

      "then the existence of prime matter, or pure passive potency, becomes a metaphysical impossibility"

      I mean, i think that no aristotelian believe that prime matter can exist, it is more of a theoretical concept, for every material thing has a form.

    4. 'Levels of actuality' just seems to be verbiage for saying 'actualities potential to actualities'. Potentiality is not some random thing that Aristotelians posit; it indicates the fact that in change things that stay the same have to be capable of things that don't stay the same. If you have that, the capability is what people are calling potentiality, regardless of what words are used for it.

      Thus your real argument just seems to be a rejection of prime matter as being identified with passive potentiality. Prime matter is a conclusion arising from two lines of argument, (1) no infinite regress in material causes, and (2) something must be the subject of change in substantial change. Both of these arguments still go through on your account: there are first material causes (your 'ultimate physical forms') which remain the same in substantial change. You just are arguing that prime matter consists entirely of immaterial forms (= actualities without material causes) that are eternal and unchanging (because otherwise they would require a subject of change).

    5. @Brandon: FWIW some people who work on Aristotle professionally deny that the Stagyrite had a doctrine of prime matter. I think Lindsay Judson is one. I assume you may say that Aristotle does have a doctrine of prime matter. If so, and if it won't take up too much space (!), can you propose some texts that support the "yes, Ari has a doctrine of prime matter" position? Tx

    6. Hi everyone,

      What I'm saying is that if potency has to be grounded in act (as Scholastics themselves acknowledge) then the existence of a bottom layer of pure passive potency is impossible, because there's be nothing actual to ground it.

      On top of that, the traditional Thomistic picture of a thing as composed of three elements (or essence [=prime matter plus substantial form] plus existence), is ridiculously artificial. Time for some metaphysical pruning. Cheers.

    7. What I'm saying is that if potency has to be grounded in act (as Scholastics themselves acknowledge) then the existence of a bottom layer of pure passive potency is impossible, because there's be nothing actual to ground it.

      Your conclusion does not follow from your premise, for the simple reason that you are treating prime matter as a substance in its own right rather than a (co-)principle of substances.

      There is no "standalone" prime matter, true. But every substance is composed of prime matter and substantial form. It's just that whenever you have an instance of prime matter, there is also an instance of substantial form conjoined to it, hence their being co-principles.

      To put it another way, when things "bottom out," at least with respect to natural substances, that bottom rung will always have two things: prime matter and substantial form.

    8. WCB

      @Vincent Torley
      "What do readers think?"

      Let us consider the nature of time as per Augustine, Boethius, Aquinas and others. God is outside of time and sees the past, present and futur. Past and future are illusionary for us, but not God. God experiences everything as a vey real Big Now. There is thus a very real, infinite stateof reality, immutable and unchanging,even for God. Thus everything in the Big Now is necessary.
      Thee then is no potency, even in principle. All is necessay and actual.

      God is immutable. Reality is immutable. Everything is immutable. These are necessary truths.

      This is of course the simple, bumpersticker version of this version of theological fatalism.


    9. Vincent, I fear your new theory is just the same as the Aristotelian thesis but in different words. You still have levels of being and now some actualities are grounded in other “actualities.” Form is the source of a things defined properties, matter is the source of its ability to have other properties. If you scrap matter for just another kind of form then you have a Parmenedian static universe. If this conclusion doesn’t follow from your new conception of “levels of actuality” then you’re really just describing potency.

      Potency is not mysterious, it’s almost the exact same meaning as when average men say something has “potential.” And I highly disagree that essence and existence are artificial.

      The ancients like Plato and Aristotle were much better at being in touch with intuitive knowledge and deepening their understanding of what is already implicit in our mind (I.e. growing of wisdom) rather than the contemporary philosophical practice of over-analyzing to the point of doubting the obvious. The contemporary philosopher is rigorously trained to over-analyze and cut himself off from the original source of information (e.g.Descartes, Kant, pansyschism, etc.), so I caution against the accusation that Plato, Aristotle, or Aquinas were mysterious or artificial in their thinking when it is probably us who are blind. I recommend Maritain or Gilson as good reading on the subject. Cheers.

    10. ficino4ml,

      My point doesn't depend on whether Aristotle had a doctrine of prime matter, since the discussion was about Aristotelians, who historically do. But for the Aristotelians historically, 'prime matter' was just the term for things to which Aristotle certainly refers: the matter underlying elemental change (e.g., 305a), that of which even substance is predicated (e.g., 1029a), that which is the first in the order of material causes because of the impossibility of an infinite regress (e.g., 994a-b). (The last of these is what led people to talk of 'prime matter' at all.)

    11. @Brandon, thank you for your response. The texts you cite talk about matter but not, as far as I can see, about "prime matter" in the way that construct was treated by later commentators. Your response leaves me with the sense that "prime matter" was not a part of Aristotle's system but was a notion formulated by later commentators or others in the Aristotelian tradition. Do I understand you aright?

    12. I don't know what you mean by "the way that construct was treated by later commentators". There wasn't one way that prime matter was treated, because the commentators argued about the best account to give it, as they argued about everything else. 'Prime matter' was the term that they came to use to indicate the first in the order of material causes, given that there is no infinite regress in material causes; it was also taken to be what Aristotle was talking about when talking about the matter for generation and corruption of elements.

      If you merely mean that later commentators developed this in ways that Aristotle did not, on the basis of arguments that Aristotle did not consider, then, yes, but this is just what commentators do. Even if you think they got the interpretation of Aristotle's account of matter wrong, commentators, being commentators, are generally interpreting the actual texts, applying them to new situations, extending them, etc.

    13. @Brandon, thanks for reminding me that to posit prime matter forestalls an infinite regress of/in material causes. I should have remembered that from what I typed in my notes from Aquinas' commentaries a few years ago!

      Since this is an open thread, I asked whether Ari himself had a doctrine of prime matter because some people, among whom Judson is one, deny this. Other deniers include the late Sarah Broadie, Wm. Charlton, Mary Louise Gill. Theirs is not the majority view, though.

      Since it's a question of interest many to specialists on Aristotle, I'll leave it here. Thanks again for your replies.

  25. Someone explain "measure" to me in Aquinas. Like I'm five. Well maybe 25. This section of De Veritate for example:

    Note, however, that a thing is referred differently to the practical intellect than it is to the speculative intellect. Since the practical intellect causes things, it is a measure of what it causes. But, since the speculative intellect is receptive in regard to things, it is, in a certain sense, moved by things and consequently measured by them. It is clear, therefore, that, as is said in the Metaphysics, natural things from which our intellect gets its scientific knowledge measure our intellect. Yet these things are themselves measured by the divine intellect, in which are all created things—just as all works of art find their origin in the intellect of an artist. The divine intellect, therefore, measures and is not measured; a natural thing both measures and is measured; but our intellect is measured, and measures only artifacts, not natural things.

    Is a measure, measures, is measured...what is happening? I think "measure" and I picture someone with a ruler walking up to a sofa or whatever and thinking: I wonder if that will fit in my living room. Hm. I will measure it and then we will see. That's it. But Aquinas is taking some basic meaning of this word and extending it to a host of other things, and I can't quite grasp what that is. "Measure" turns up in a lot of his writing, and whenever it does, I just think: Oh no, not that again. There's a lock on that term in my head and I can't find the key.

    1. To "Meansure" seems to mean to define, order or organize something. For instance, my speculative intellect receives the concept of cats and is transformed by it in having the form of catness, so it is mensured, ordered, in a certaun way be the concept.

      Someone with five years probably would not get it, but you seems older...

    2. A measure is a standard for something. Thus the passage says that when our minds makes things, it is the standard for what is made; when our minds knows things, things are the standard for what it knows; but all natural things have God's mind as their standard; God's mind is a standard that has no further standard, natural things can both be standards and have standards, but our mind mostly has a standard and is only a standard for things it makes.

    3. That makes sense. What throws me is how exactly things set the bounds (or standard or measure) of the created intellect. Even in Aquinas it says "in a certain sense". Well...what sense? That God does this makes sense. Job 38 comes to mind, e.g. "Tell me, since thou art so wise, was it thou or I designed earth’s plan, measuring it out with the line?" And so on. But the things made are already "lined"; they don't draw the lines. And St Thomas talks about how they "measure" our (created) intellect--measure in the active voice (mensurant). I guess I have difficulty with the idea of a non-intellectual being measuring anything in this active sense. Creation I get, artifice I get. It's that middle ground where I get most confused.

    4. I'm not sure I see the difficult; non-intellectual beings are causes, and it's precisely as causes of our cognition that they are the standards for it.

      Alice Ramos has a brief discussion of Aquinas on measure that you might find useful:


  26. What is forgiveness?

    If an injustice has been committed, then is revenge not just? Could we even cancel a debt by fiat without having received justice? If a man burns your house, and you forgive him, what have you accomplished? Justice has not been delivered for you are still homeless.

    But if forgiveness does not cancel the debt of injustice, then what is it? The injustice remain, so either it does not matter, or we are unworthy to receive it and perhaps even deserve what's happened to us.

    Can we forgive a man who does not repent? Do we always forgive?

    What is forgiveness?

    1. "Could we even cancel a debt by fiat without having received justice?"

      Sure. If i own you 10 bucks and you say that i do not have to pay them i do not own you anything anymore.

      One must them notice that a particular can forgive in the sense that he does not really has a problem with the other person, he can agree that the action was injust but do not care anymore, but he can't make the situation be just again, only someone like a judge, who has authority about justice, could cancel the "debt" that the agressor is owing.

    2. WCB

      Luke 6
      34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
      35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.


    3. Forgiveness comes from mercy that goes beyond justice, as God has mercy on us all.

    4. Right: it is Good's delight to spread good, not solely when and because it is "owed", but even where good is not owed. Thus, God's act of creation is spreading good where no good is owed - no thing deserves to be granted existence, so for every thing, its existence is a gift to it.

      And just as a good person can give goods to others where they are not owed, out of kindness, generosity, or mercy: so also a person can relieve debt as a kind of gift to the person who owes. To show this more easily: if John owes me $100, and Bill kindly pays John's debt to me, I am paid off, and John no longer owes me. If Bill does this as a gift, nobody is HURT and my debt is satisfied.

      Similarly, if I decide to "pay off" John's debt to me by considering it paid, I make a gift to John like Bill does above. Gifts are not contrary to justice, they are BESIDE it. It's just that I am both the giver and the one whose receivable is "paid off" by my gift.

      For moral wrongs, we cannot forgive the part of the wrong that lies in the sin against God, because that is a debt owed toward God, not us. But we can forgive the part that is owed to us.

      Broadly speaking, it may be either prudent or imprudent to easily forgive some debts against us: too easily forgiving money debts could cause some people to become spendthrifts and wastrels. Similarly, too readily forgiving offenses against us might have a similar result. But aside from that measure of prudence, Christ tells us to be willing to forgive any and all offenses against ourselves, and indeed the examples of both Christ and the saints shows them forgiving persecutors right in the midst of those acts of persecution - where clearly no remorse exists.

      Perhaps someone can clarify distinctions about granting forgiveness of the offense (qua guilt) while not relieving the debt of some kind of restitution? That, it seems, is part of what Oktavian is raising.

  27. Dr. Feser, I was wondering if you would consider doing a blog post book review of "The Epistemological Skyhook: Determinism, Naturalism, and Self-Defeat" by Jim Slagle.

    It's a book-length defense of the Argument from Reason. From what I have read on the argument from reason, this book appears to be the most thorough defense of this argument that I've come across. Slagle also traces the history of the argument, and shows that it has been used by numerous people in the past 150-200 years. (If someone wanted to, they could read through the historical development of this argument by going through Slagle's sources in the bibliography).

    I should just mention one thing about the book; whenever, he uses the phrase "natural law", Slagle is not referring to the Natural Law tradition, but rather the laws of nature (physics, chemistry, etc.).

  28. Is the argument from reason and the transcendental argument basically the same ?

    1. Not that I know of. It seems to be similar in structure to the moral argument; in that it tries to argue from the existence of human rationality towards the existence of a supernatural source/grounding of the reliability of our rationality. Just as the moral argument reasons from the existence of moral laws/norms in the world towards a supernatural source/grounding of the Moral Law.
      In that sense, it seems to be similar to the Moral argument.

      Feser has written at least one blog post (that I know of) on a specific version of this argument.


    2. Some versions of the transcendental argument for God(TAG) can be similar to the argument from reason but others can focus on things like ethics or casuality.

      A TAG is a argument that says:

      God is necessary for x


      Therefore, God

      If the user of TAG focus on certain features of reality that the defender of the argument from reason also focus them they would sound similar.

      Trent Horn did argue on his debate with Jay Dyer* that his TAG is very similar to classical arguments to God existence, just changing the starting point. I admit that i did think the same since knowing it.

      *a debate i just saw, probably the last one to watch XD

  29. Has anyone read Weigel’s new book on Vatican II? Any initial thoughts? I’m about to start it myself.

    1. I read his recent column on the topic (presumably to shill for and provide a teaser to raise some interest), but not the book. I have long admired Weigel's basic take on certain matters, but I fear that he has been captured by the "the Church of Vatican II can do no wrong" crowd. Not entirely, surely, but he no longer seems to me to be able to project an unbiased observer status, and his bias is that of rosy glasses about all the changes wrought after VII.

  30. What would Aquinas and other Scholastics have to say about the difference between being and existence? Its my understanding they don't refer to the thing but I am not sure.

  31. Imho the aris-thomist view is like a ordered garden, everything seems to be neat and orderly, and if you ask you get "a god inbetween", which actualizes potentiality. And if you further ask you get the knockout-argument (logic, modus-ponens etc). No one sees the fertile soil and whats it about.

    My bet is on whitehead and panpsychm.

    Any thoughts?

  32. Elon Musk now owns Twitter. Will this result in people like me who got suspended permanently for defying the Woke Censors being reinstated? What should happen to Twitter under Musk? Is it an important tool that Catholic Christians can use to speak truth or is it something to be avoided?

  33. Question to all: are zebras really as pretentious as they look, or do they deserve our utmost respect?

  34. I have been reading Aquinas's Commentaries on Romans and I and II Corinthians from The Aquinas Institute. I have to say, I'm totally blown away by these books.

  35. Hi Dr. Feser,

    I am curious regarding the Christian approach in the following situation: a church-wedded couple in which one partner is (out)growing rapidly and/or their priorities change significantly. Assuming that the partners' competences are correctly assessed, can divorce (initiated by the growing person) be considered a reasonable strategy in such situations? In general, what variables/circumstances can make a marriage pact become void from a Christian point of view?

    Many thanks.

    1. No, as the Catholic Church teaches that a marriage between Christians which was ever valid at all can only dissolved by death.

      The slightly longer answer would say that "growth" is the _normal_ course of spouses in marriage, they grow old together, such that even into old age you "rejoice with the wife of thy youth" (Prov 5:18).

      There is no guarantee, of course, that growth will be equal and concurrent for both in all ways at all times, but each still has their part to "bear with one another, forgiving one another."

      As St John Chrysostom says (speaking to husbands, but the idea remains mutatis mutandis): "Your obligation is to love her; do your duty! Even when we don't receive our due from others, we must always do our duty."

    2. I would add: if one is growing, and the other is not, that very growth should imply you exercise patience and understanding toward the one lagging behind. If you have been given a gift more than another person, do not cast off the other as unworthy: it was a GIFT to you, not your own merit that brought it. Why, therefore, would you despise the person who has not received the gift, in which state you would still be if you had not been granted the gift?

      And further: by patiently asking God that He also shower your spouse with comparable gifts of growth, mayhap you will merit God granting such growth. So: your observing a lack in your spouse is reason to do something to help your spouse (by prayer and sacrifice), not reason to leave.

      And further: do not let pride deceive you: if you see that you have grown in one way (where your spouse has not), never forget that perhaps your spouse has grown in 3 or 4 ways less visible, where you have not. There are a thousand different avenues of growth, not one or two. God works at a different pace in each area, for each person. And not all growth is manifest to either the person growing or to those around.

      Never imagine that "incompatibility" due to one person growing and the other not constitutes a basis for believing the marriage is "void". God's will for marriage is that it persist through life, even in difficult times, even in the difficulties of difficult personality clashes. Growth, alone, is not incompatibility, and even if there were some incompatibility - even if (in spite of charitable efforts) one spouse becomes impossible to live with, (say, you became a Catholic and your spouse simply could not stand that) and a legal separation is necessary, that does not void or break the marriage, it merely means that you should live apart from your spouse for some time. He or she remains your spouse, until death, just a spouse separated from you. (Which is a good reason to think seriously before a permanent separation - it doesn't end the marriage.)

  36. ¡¡¡Cavete!!!
    What on earth is going on! Am I the only one to notice this?!
    Under the cover of "upstanding" right wing politics, various authors are promoting occultism, while spouting edifying Christian vocab left right and centre.

    Here's one example. Michael Warren Davis has done the rounds about Catholic places, having been published quite a bit - in First Things, Crisis Magazine, the Catholic Herald. He is out and about elsewhere too - in The Imaginative Conservative, where he declares he can only slightly disagree (on an issue of art and beauty) with the late Roger Scruton. He recommends Scruton's work "On Hunting" as "an account of tradition from the living heart of that tradition". The living heart of Idealism, more likely! This is the work that defines God as "the subjectivity of the world"!

    This is not what concerned me the most (I've mentioned it here before, but almost nobody seemed to think it of much interest - no doubt they were too busy reading the ST to notice).

    Davis has authored a couple of articles at The American Conservative that are extremely dangerous to politicised Catholic conservatives. One of them "When Witchcraft was Right-Wing", depicts the witch Gerard Gardner and his followers as typically right wing. Davis doesn't defend devilry, but the article is bizarrely non-committal on this issue. Davis only gets a little emotional when pointing out how modern leftist witches are not true successors of Gardner!

    His most recent article in TAC ("War Against the Modern World) definitely joined the dots. It is a shameless defence of "Traditionalism", well-known for occultism and virulent anti-Christianity in all its forms.. The only criticism he allows is that Evola is not so nice because Mussolini and Dugin like him, so Evola - bad. But Guenon - good! And looney tunes King Charles loves Guenon, so he's great too. Steve Bannon is somewhere between Guenon and Evola, so Davis says he ain't perfect.

    These "Traditionalists" are now producing such volumes of material that those with doubts - real Thomists included, must feel it is useless to respond. It shouldn't be so difficult. After all, the dressing up of esoteric ideas with religious imagery is not new. Though Jonathan Pageau's defence of the Kabbala, and the occult, if only as a "concept" or aspect of "Christianity" was really going a bit far, even for one of "them".

    The minds of well-meaning readers, including Catholics, need to be warned about Davis and authors like him. How can the conservative media remain silent and obsequious when faced with these characters who are far more dangerous to the faith of conservative readers than Marxism and CRT, etc., which they are obviously not interested in?

    A post on this issue would be timely.

  37. Dear @Talmid and @Michael Copas

    I don't even know how to start this without sounding strange (to say the least) but based on what I was saying in the latter post about my OCD and depression, and the friendly incentive from Michael to talk about this in some way... so I am here trying to expose the arguments that I try to make my OCD go away with this topic off buddhism.

    To understand the buddhist position I make an extreme amount of effort (due to how I felt every time I came in contact with it and due to the fact that I'm just a normal guy) and based myself on some works but most specifically: Jay L. Garfield "engaging buddhism: why it matters to philosophy" and Mark Siderits "how things are: an introduction to buddhist metaphysics"

    Things to notice about buddhism, in general, is the thesis that they subscribe to mereological nihilism, momentariness (nothing exists more than an instant), nominalism (or conceptualism depending on the 'school'), and what they call "anti-substancehood".

    If someone is a philosopher (a true philosopher, not a continental one) I do recommend reading the Mark Siderits one since it is a defense of buddhist metaphysics positions in all its aspects (the book cover even says that it is ''buddhist philosophy for philosophers", so let's commit the fallacy of authority here). So a literate philosopher (not some random guy like me) could see the full picture i.e how far can the arguments go in a necessary way and if they were to be coherent at all at the end of the day. Btw, Ed, I hope that you're reading this.

    So, the major differences between their position and ours are that:

    1 - they collapse the distinction of act and potency (e.g for something to exist is for it to "keep producing" its effects in some way continuously, they use the example of a sprout saying that if the sprout is permanent and not momentary it should keep producing its effect continuously).

    2 - they take universals to be "abstract" and "causally ineffective". Their idea of causality resembles a lot a proto-humean one (like its some kind of idea of the mind conjoining things together).

    3 - they do not even address the Aristotelian sense of substance at all and collapse its position with bare substrata. Since this is a "serious charge" I will quote a footnote from the Siderits book: "I am here using “substance” in the Lockean sense of the “something know not what” that underlies and supports an object’s properties. This usage is common to both Aristotle and Nyāya." (footnote 16, page 65 of the book I've mentioned above).

    (I will continue)

    1. (Continuation)

      So not just it's unfair and wrong to say that "this usage is common to Aristotle" but one thing that I noticed in the book of both authors is the somewhat intentional sidestep or "shell game" of problems - like they were trying intentionally guide the book in a way to evade potential questions to their points. To be fair, Siderits tried to address some points of that (I do recommend the reading of the Chapter 4 since the most relevant discussion of points that could be related to our philosophy concentrates there). But his position simply gives me the impression that he tries to misplace the substance into its parts (like a shell game) and then comes to the conclusion that the substance could not exist. In responding to how accidents are always found in the substances (he does not use the term accidents, I'm using it to simplify) if they do not exist, he says:

      "Consider the water atom as an allegedly indivisible substance in which inhere the qualities of color, shape, wetness and mass. Resistance to the notion that these qualities may be thought of as its parts comes from the intuition that qualities do not simply float freely in the air, that they must be tethered to something that then explains their occurrence together with other qualities. Bundle theorists are typically asked to provide the principle of qualitative unity that would explain the co- occurrence of many qualities in the absence of a substance in which they inhere. The Buddhist bundle theorist says this is the wrong question to be asking. Instead we should ask why, in the absence of empirical evidence for the existence of substances as distinct from their properties, we nonetheless have the intuition that substances are required to explain qualitative unity." (pp. 59)

      To say that "in the absence of empirical evidence" is just to beg the question. but he goes on to say:

      "By hypothesis, color, shape, wetness, and mass tropes are compresent at a certain spatio- temporal location. This much both sides can agree on. Here is a possible explanation of the fact that we commonly take these to all be properties of a single thing, the water atom. When we wish to specify the location of this mass trope, it is easier to indicate it by using the term “water atom” than by indicating each of the three other tropes present at that location. This makes the communication process more efficient. It also relieves us of the burden of ascertaining just which other tropes are present at that location, given that we know from past experience that mass tropes are generally accompanied by other tropes in a certain range. “Water atom” functions as a convenient designator for a certain bundle of tropes (TS 832– 34; TSP ad TS 581– 83). That they make up a bundle has as much to do with us and our interests and cognitive limitations as it does with how things are in the
      world. The world as it is anyway contributes the fact of their compresence. The rest— their being unified by their joint inherence in a substance— is our doing. The Buddhist doctrine of the two truths is their answer to the bundle theorist’s problem of unification."

      Basically, he uses their conventionalist position to "explain" how we construe substances from things that are nothing but tropes.

      (I will continue)

    2. (Continuation)

      It's important to note though that "Dharmas are just tropes" and for them "The ultimate ontology consists entirely of tropes. But these, together with the facts about human interests and cognitive limitations, explain the more familiar world populated by persisting composite substances with their various properties. Among the substances in this more familiar world are things that we also call water atoms. But these, it turns out, are a many masquerading as a one" (pp. 60). And if it was any doubt left between humean bundle theory and buddhist position I think this will suffice.

      Siderits then brings up this purported answer to the problem of "smuggling substance back in": "One might wonder whether the Buddhist reductionist is entitled to bring facts about human persons into their explanation, given that humans are themselves substances. But these substances are, they will reply, reducible to systems consisting of bundles of tropes behaving in accordance with causal laws. Among the behaviors explained by the relevant causal laws are the use of convenient designators by such systems. So the reductive explanation of the intuitions behind the posit of substances does not illegitimately smuggle substances into the explanans."

      And this brings yet another problem with them: the handwaving appeal to "sciences". It's not hard to find these guys arguing that there are "stone-wise arranged atoms" or that natural selection somehow vindicates the idea of impermanence (Garfield appeals a lot more for these kinds of things, that's why I'm not using his work that much). But that does not seem right, because that turns your metaphysics hostage to the scientific findings - the same findings that may overthrow your own view.

      But if we come to focus on other points like their appeal to nominalism, they suffer from the same problems that Ed emphasized in TLS and Scholastics meta. The points like how they can even communicate with themselves if there are no universals - or even worse if there are just "momentary beings". But I think that their denial of universals has some relation with their momentariness thesis. And that's what I can't even understand in the first place. How can someone think that something analogous to the Heraclitean position is right in the first place? It's illogical. And someone might even say that, correctly, that the "buddhist logic" is very different from "Aristotelian logic". Fair enough. But that doesn't explain why someone might think that something so absurd as "impermanent beings" (let alone mereological nihilism, nominalism) is plausible in the first place. To affirm that "there are no pots that last longer than a moment" and that "there is just a series of ephemeral pots one after another" is not to disprove permanence, but to evade the problem altogether.

      (I will continue)

    3. (I will continue)

      And to be fair, this all has to do with the doctrine of momentariness (and once again, read the chapter 4 from the Siderits book I've just mentioned or the Jay Garfield one, which has a chapter just for that).

      But it's important though that for buddhists things have no motion since motion would imply substances or something that survives. And that's where I collapse because I'm not so good in A-T meta to explain all the problems with the argument that Siderits sets out in the book. Unfortunately - but sincerely - I can only feel that something is very wrong (and I'm not proud of not pointing out what is it). But I can at least think that is by making seriously controversial claims like "things produce their effects and them go out of existence" that the argument supposedly has some weight. But even if that's so, it's not clear that that could not be interpreted as an ephemeral substance (the ones that Ed exemplifies when talking about when explaining prime matter in Scholastic's Meta) for example.

      But one thing that puzzles me a lot about buddhism - without even mentioning their purported attempt to show that they are "not eliminativists" about persons, but that persons just are "useful fictions". Is how they square to the fact from impermanence of all phenomena with things like semantics, language, or words. After all, they wrote a book arguing that people do not exist (or exist just conventionally because nothing lasts for more than a moment) exactly in a language that exist (with modifications, of course) since the 5th century i.e English. And that's what makes me puto ('pissed') with it because the evidence against their position it seems to be everywhere but they never want to look at it. And to say that since all phenomena are impermanent, so language and semantics are just conventionally true but not ultimately true just raises the question of how it is even possible in principle for something that is impermanent and shouldn't last for more than a moment gives the impression of permanence in the first place? To put it simply how could impermanent and momentary things could even in principle brought up the illusion of permanence if they are impermanent? Because if they want to salvage their position they would necessarily argue that the idea of permanence in the conscience, memory, and objects from everyday life are just illusions.

      (I will try to make a last part)

    4. (last one)

      But at the same time, there is a problem with me I couldn't help but think that what if I got them all wrong? What if their arguments are plausible at all? I'm not a philosopher, just a normal guy. And I want to confess something: even though I do not think that something like that (buddhism) is plausible at all, I am afraid of the possibility that it could be because I am ignorant and my OCD does not let me go through this. It was a lot hard to write all these comments - since I am struggling with myself to even conclude a thought. There were a lot more - and a lot more detailed criticism - that I want to write but I simply can't (especially a topic at 4.5 that's the most important part of all it but I don't have the necessary strength and a point that I tried to make à-la Aristotelian retortion in the sense that they must presuppose permanence and can't get rid of it in making their arguments in the same way that Alex Rosenberg can't get rid of intentionality when trying to 'naturalize intentionality').

      And for those of you who think: "why buddhism bothers you that much?" The answer should be self-evident by now (and for reasons that make simple materialism looks like a weekend at the beach): look at the consequences of all that. There would be no persons, no things, and in some way just suffering. Life would be just horrible. There would be illusions all around us. All persons would be substances per accident - and that's just awful and I can't believe that there are people who find this idea pleasing. And the other reason is OCD. Looks like nothing that I could present by myself is ever sufficient to disprove them. Looks like my arguments are never enough - and since I'm just illiterate in philosophy there is a wall I could never cross.

      Unfortunately, I came across buddhism by chance when I was fixated on the experiment of Benjamin Libet on free will (at least his sense of "free will") and stumbled across the work of Sam Harris arguing that since there was no free will there is the illusion of the self. Since I have OCD things don't 'go out' of my head that easily (like in the case of normal people). Since the idea per se is insane I tried to understand why people think that it's plausible in the first place. And by their paradoxical 'reductio' way of arguing and the abuse of science that they always propose (bearing in mind that I didn't know that there is such a thing as A-T Meta at the time) that stuck in my head and only got worse through the years.

      So, I appreciate it if someone could help me with it. Even though it's not apparent, I tried to put a lot of effort into solving it. But I simply can't take it anymore and just reading something from that topic just brings me a lot of pain.

    5. Tadeo,

      Thank you so much for all the time and work you put into communicating this. I plan to respond after tying in some loose ends above. I am very hesitant to give a new friend unsolicited advice, but I think it would be beneficial to soak your mind in the coming months in the writings of the great and holy realists like St Augustine and St Thomas and their contemporary disciples. When I first read St. Thomas, I had the sense that I was engaging a supremely sane mind. Through reading him closely, that sanity rubs rubs off via osmosis. The converse is true with the writings of those who haven't the slightest grip on reality (including Buddhists). One of Kant's friends had to stop reading his work because he felt he was going crazy. If the philosophy makes a person less sane, this is a good cue that it is neither good nor true. I hope to say more about this when there is time. In the meantime, you have laudably laid out the position. Since you have read the literature this will be helpful as naming the demon is the first step in expelling it. May the love and peace of Christ fill and keep you.

    6. @Tadeo

      Hi! You offered a good description of these buddhists and pointed out some true problems with it. I just would notice that the momentariness thesis is not necessarily what all buddhists defend, Nagarjuna argued against it. A argument of his i remember:

      if things last for a moment and them are gone would not this triple process of start existing-acting-ceasing to be generate a infinite regress? The existing action itself would have a start existing-acting- ceasing to be process and so its three parts, and the start of this process would have one as well and... you know that this does not ends, quite a good reading(but only read Nagarjuna with commentaries!)

      Also: if Nagarjuna is my reference again his principal reason for negating substances existence would be that he conceptualize substance as the indian Atman: something unchanging, and did not accept that a substance and its acidents could be diferent while the acidents depended on the substance(for him, either you do not depend on the other thing at all, like a man and his girlfriend, or there is just 1 and not 2 things). Aristotle was needed there.

      And my principal problem with any buddhist worth the name: how exactly things change orderly if there is no substance ordering acidents? Why the color acidents aways generate the visual perception and not a auditory one or pain? Saying that things act on law-like patterns is just to describe things; there is no explanation at all.

      This position fails to explain evdn the continuity of my supposed illusions. I disagree that a buddhist outlook leads only to suffering, one can still pratice detachment; but the view kinda sucks when you think about it.

    7. (Cont)

      And Michael is right: go read something better, man. You say you are not very competent in scholastic thought yet. Well, why not fix that? It is truly better to not waste too much time with bad ideas.

      And, of course, read what i posted on the other thread, you can do it, i know that. Se lembre que estamos aqui e gente bem mais competente que nós, reles Igreja militante, também! Que o Senhor lhe guarde, rapaz.,

    8. Dear @Michael and @Talmid

      The point Michael made about sane mind is true. Because when you read all that deplorable doctrines (I am using doctrines for the other philosophical views like reductionism, buddhism, etc.) there's no way your mind not being affected. Not because they are too counterintuitive - even though that is true - but because of the derailment of reason and the bizarre (to say the least) conclusions.

      When I found Ed's blog and learned a little bit more about act and potency (keep in mind that we don't have that in Brazil, at least I never found it anywhere through my youth or academic life) there is a certain beauty in the doctrine of Aristotle - not in the sense of "wow, after all that bullsh*t I found across the internet like reductionism and etc. there is finally something sane" - but most especially in the way that the doctrine fits with itself i.e in the way that is constructed (the careful appreciation of every matter and etc.). But most importantly that gave me hope. And that is something I can't forget. Because at least it seemed plausible at the time.

      But I want to confess something. Even though I never was an atheist throughout my life, I never had strong reasons to believe in Our Father. That's no surprise that I became a skeptical pseudo-atheist through my 19's. In a sense, I think my skepticism is a disease that I can't get rid of and that grow to the point that made my life in the miserable condition that I am now. That's hard to say but I swear to God that that's true.

      The one (and the only one to be honest) reason for all of that is the fact that I am afraid of believing some falsity and dying without knowing the truth. I know that sounds really dumb for a motive but on closer analysis, I'm pretty sure that 99% of atheists and co. minds work like that too. That's why I am that way. The origin of that was the fact that part of my family is ''Espirita'' (if you guys don't have that crap religion there is a mixture of cartesian res cogitans plus the movie ghost from Patrick Swayze) and for a long time I was surrounded by 'palatable' ideas like: "after death, there is a soul in the same form as your body that will come out of it and live forever". I know that sounds stupid but as a kid in my 14-15years, I thought that that was true. It 'tasted' good because, you know, nobody wants to die. But the point is my intellect was so suffocated by that that I truly believed that in some way I "was a soul".

      (I will continue because I can't believe I'm finally feeling good to talk about it)

    9. (continuation)

      But the more I grew up, the more I saw how bullshit and make-believe that idea was. That's why I was very (and still am in some way) very afraid to believe or take something for granted. I don't want to believe in something because of how it tastes (i.e good or desirable), but because that's the truth. That's why I (wrongly as I can see now) take the road of "naturalism". Not only because of the overwhelming appeal that has today but because it was "science" and "science is the truth" and "science is the only thing you can trust that is rational" because "it is founded on empirical data" [I can go on ad nauseam but I will stop here]. But the problem is that at the time I didn't knew that "science" was so problematic and not that all-powerful being that is painted today, and full of theories and all that dogma behind it - I simply took it for granted like the average XXI century atheist.

      But the problem with skepticism though is the fact that you never get anywhere with it - and in fact, it seems more reasonable to "believe" in absurdities that defy reality than something that sounds plausible or good at all. That's why I'm afraid of "taking sides". I must say the theory of act and potency, substantial form, the doctrine of the four causes is the most beautiful (and it sounds a lot saner than the rest of the competition out there) that I found since then. And I do believe that when I am reading it that it tends to reflect the truth. It's so good to be true. It reflects a God as the cause of the world and even grants our status as real beings.

      But the problem with me, I'm afraid, is having the same 'faith' I had in the 'espirita' way (i.e the fact that being desirable and all of that) in the same sense with the A-T Meta. I know it sounds ridiculous to compare that crap doctrine of espiritismo with the A-T Meta (and I AM NOT DOING SO). What I am trying to say is that I am very afraid of *having faith* in something that it turns out to be false. I know I must sound like an idiot but I am opening my heart by saying that. That experience back then broke me in some way. That's why it is still hard for me to "take sides". But at the same time, this limbo is like hell because just look at the radical ways I went too. I hope you guys do understand what I mean.

    10. As I said what really guts me is the fear of dying or believing something that is false. I know I may sound like a hypocrite or a fool (because I never gave up my faith in God). But that's just how I feel. And I admit that I think that I am only that way not just because of the overwhelming OCD that keeps triggering that thought and fear of being wrong in my mind but because I am too stupid and dumb to get things right (I'm not ashamed of saying that because it is true). If you ask me why metaphysical ideas are not affected by empirical conclusions I don't know what to say because I am simply too illiterate to understand the 'why question' and the difference between the two in the first place (even though I read Ed's blog posts about that e.g that one about the philosophy of nature). And I am afraid that someday some "discovery" may overthrow all of this.

      I know that by the way the empirical sciences are derived today i.e that mathematized and abstract way it has nothing to do with and can't even scratch the A-T Meta at all. But my fear is what if there's some change in the methods or what if some way they could someway turn the tables against us? I admit that is not very clear to me how Metaphysics is separated from empirical matters.

      But I remember seeing videos on youtube where Ed explains his road from atheism to theism (i.e by the way of philosophical reason and a lot of time studying those matters) and I think to myself: "look at the certain look in the eyes of this man and how he defends the arguments he exposes". I know that for a philosopher a straight face and seriousness don't mean that the argument is, in fact, good, but for the average joe like me, the impressions mean a lot (especially from a guy that comes from the other team i.e the atheist side because there must be some serious argument that made him change his mind in the first place). I think that you guys may understand what I want to say now. At the end of the day, every man wishes to learn the truth and die with it.

      I don't know what to say. At Ed's blog, I somehow feel at home - even though I feel a lot of shame and fear of people mocking me and not taking me seriously, for example - it's hard to talk about that at least for me. But I swear to God that that's how I feel and in some way, that's why I'm somehow tied to buddhism because it ''ties'' my intellect into it i.e "what if that insane ideology is true at the end of the day?" But the fact is still I'm too stupid and incapable of wrapping my head around it alone (keep in mind that I do not believe in buddhism, as I said, I'm just afraid of something bizarre as that is true).

      So, @Michael and @Talmid - I don't even know how to ask it without sounding, even more, idiot but I need to - there is a way to know for certain that nothing that may come in the future or whatever may affect the doctrine of Act and Potency, Substance, etc.? There is something that might turn all of that wrong or its stands or falls without being affected ever by the outward disciplines of science? Because it sounds like something we could know for sure but that's what afraid me: is there something that might be "discovered" that might falsify all of that beautiful work?

    11. To finish and put an emphasis.

      I just want to die assured that I believed in the truth. I hope in the Truth of Christ - but as I said my faith is very weak, and even though I'm disappointed with myself for saying that, I am not ashamed of it. Because in a long time I feel that I'm speaking with people that do understand me and wish me the best. That's why I brought up that point.

      It just seems that philosophical arguments are different i.e they seem to be perpetual truths because at least for me seems to be the reason why Ed changed his mind in the first place i.e they seem to stand by themselves no matter what (that's why not only Ed but other atheists might change their minds based on them). So I want to know for sure: there is anything that might someday or somehow put in check what we metaphysically posit? Or in some way, I can (finally) rest assured that I am dying with the truth by my side? In fact, that's all I want to know in my life. So please guys help me with this.

      Sorry if this sounded so cringe to the point of the Reddit village idiot but that does have a lot of weight to me.

      May God Bless Us All.

  38. Is there any sense in which the intellect can be called free in a way analogous to the will? For the will's freedom to act follows upon the intellect judging something to be good. And while I understand that the will can at times force the intellect to (re)think something, what leads the intellect to judge something good in the first place? Is the intellect free to judge something true or false, or is there a necessity in the intellect or outside it that forces it to issue a certain judgment? Can the intellect freely refuse to assent to some proposition before the will even gets involved?

    Much has been written about the freedom of the will, so I am wondering if it makes sense to think about the freedom of the intellect, something which I don't really see talked about in that way.