Friday, May 10, 2024

Let’s open it up

If we had a new open thread post, what would you talk about?  Current events?  That off-topic philosophical or theological question you vainly keep trying to bring up in other threads?  Or perhaps one of the Postliberal Order articles of mine that you were unable to access before, but are now out from behind the paywall?  Let’s find out.  From vocalese to Daniel Keyes, from temporary intrinsics to temporary insanity, from Eisenhower to Einstein to Eisenstein – here, everything is open for discussion.  Just keep it civil and classy.  Previous open threads archived here.

163 comments:

  1. Please pray for me. It looks as though I have a tumor in my head. It's probably "benign", but may still need removal. I'm married and have several young children. I hope this isn't *too* off-topic.
    - EC

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. EC
      I promise I will pray for you every day. Pray yourself for the intercession of St Peregrine and St. Michael of the Saints. I hope others on this blog will also pray for you. God be with you.

      Delete
    2. Thanks. I won't take up much more space with prayer requests -- but please pray the tumor is "burned out", meaning not growing any more. Then I can avoid surgery, at least for now.

      I comment here from time to time under another name.
      -EC

      Delete
    3. I have prayed for you, and will do so.

      Delete
    4. I will too, and I would urge other readers to do the same.

      Delete
    5. The Benedictine monks have a long tradition of praying for others. You can email one of their monasteries here
      https://christdesert.org/about/

      Delete
    6. Thank you everybody for the prayers. A more detailed scan revealed that it was not a tumor but something less serious. The doctors seemed sure that it was a tumor based on the first scan -- they were wrong. Deo Gratias.

      - EC

      Delete
  2. I’ll bite. Got a few questions as to how Thomists today understand themselves with regard to tradition.

    A) Most Patristics read and understood Aristotle quite well. They actually appear to have had significantly more of Aristotle’s works than we do currently. In spite of this, they rejected him in no uncertain terms as real heresy. To the point that even the term “Aristotelian” appears frequently as a type of thoroughly vicious epithet one interlocutor will hurl at another. What do Thomists make of this?

    B) The Condemnations of 1210-1277. Seems like most people just ignore these entirely, but surely Tempier was delegated real authority by the pope to both excommunicate and define doctrine? How do Thomists justify rejecting these teaching?

    C) It was only late in life I discovered that Thomas never learned Greek and his only access to Plato were but fragments of the Timaeus in translation. I certainly have my own opinions about how that influenced his thought, but it strikes me as really important. Do we similarly have a record of which patristic works he did and didnt have access to? Obviously, we can infer certain things from his citations, but I’d really like to find a historical treatment of this question. At minimum- so I can see which omissions were necessary and which were intentional.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @ANON.

      A. You really need to avoid sweeping generalizations and take the time to get specific. Which fathers? How many and in what periods? Which Aristotelian points were rejected?

      Augustine certainly did not reject Aristotle in any sort of wholesale fashion. His acceptance of the categories is explicit and employed in his work On the Trinity. He accepted the cardinal virtues that were mediated to him through Cicero and also found in Aristotle. Like Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero (and others), he understood justice as "right order" in the soul wherein reason rules over the passions. So, you need to get more specific because your claims as they stand are misleading and uninformed.

      2. Why have you dated Tempier's condemnation to cover a 67 year period? The condemnations were in 1277. The condemnation was not an act of the Pope. It was an act of the Bishop of Paris. The Pope asked Tempier to look into certain matters and Tempier did this hastily and then hastily condemned certain positions. So, the Pope didn't even command that condemnations occur, much less did he direct what specifically would be condemned.

      3. His three most quoted figures in order are: Augustine, Aristotle, Pseudo Dionysius. He also refers throughout the Summa to John Damascene and, if memory serves, to: Origen, Chrysostom, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, and Maximus. (He also had access to various Fathers through Peter Lombard's Sentences.) There is an edited volume on Aquinas and the Greek Fathers that should provide some help looking into this.

      Delete
    2. A) I’d actually argue it’s a generalization grounded in real fact, despite this or that counterexample. But I’m hardly going to prove it here- Thomists can respond merely suppositively (“If X…”) if they desire. Or not.

      B) Tempier’s 1270 and 1277 Condemnations in the Collectio Errones are the only ones subject to delegated papal authority in the traditional narrative. But usually the immediately preceding condemnations are included as the appropriate context. My understanding is that Tempier was believed to have been delegated and acting on papal authority for a rather long time before this was ever called into question.

      C) Thank you. I’ll take a look.

      Delete
    3. A. If it were grounded in "real facts" and you actually knew those "real facts", it should take you know more than a few strokes of the keyboard (which you have already taken the time on in your response) to present an example or two with specifics from memory. The "real fact" is that you picked up a trope somewhere that you haven't bothered to actually look into.

      B. "Usually the immediately preceding condemnations are included as the appropriate context." Included by whom? And "appropriate" for what? Again why not take the time to get specific and ask yourself some difficult questions about what you mean before taking to the keyboard?

      It was Aristotle's Physics that initially prompted the concerns in the 1230s and 1240s and the full corpus of Aristotle was not being taught in 1200 which is why this date is completely irrelevant for this question.

      "Believed to be delegated and acting on papal authority." Once again, believed by whom? The condemnations received some criticism from theologians even within a few years of being published (I believe it was Giles of Rome, but can find it if you like) for being hasty and poorly formed within a few years of the condemnations. This would have been unthinkable if they were thought to have been the acts of the Pope.

      Likewise there was discussion regarding the scope of the condemnations. Where they only applicable at Paris as the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Paris extends only to Paris? Even considering this question would have been unthinkable if it were an act of the Pope as his jurisdiction extends to the Universal Church and the whole world.

      Duns Scotus did think that the condemnations were true which greatly limited his ability to receive certain teachings of previous figures who were renowned for their brilliance and piety (Bonaventure and Thomas). The condemnation created a wall that cut him off from those figures which is part of the reason he felt compelled to create so many new philosophical positions on so many points (e.g. on individuation, formal distinction, contrast between nature and will, etc). This is regretful because not only were the condemnations hasty and poorly formed, many were patently false as the canonization of Thomas in the 1330s suggested which led to pressure that the later Bishop of Paris overturn any condemnations that touched on positions of St. Thomas. By this time, Scotus had died and the damage of the hasty condemnations had been done.

      Delete
    4. A) Alright. If you want examples:

      Gregory of Nazianzus, Basil, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Epiphanius, Didmyus, Eusebius, Cyril, and Theodoret all identify Aristotle as the root cause of various early church heresies including- but not limited to- Anomoeians, Aetians, Eunomians, and a certain sect of Macedonians. Their arguments converge remarkably well into saying that Aristotle gives way to heresy by a type of over-subtle sophistry that elevates the worldly over and against the divine things highlighted by the wisdom of Plato.

      Beyond those accusations of heresy in the most explicit form, there is also enormous concern on the following themes:

      -A rejection of God’s providence by way of positing the divine principle orders nature by a type of indifferent teleology without even having a knowledge of nature per se.
      Clement of Alexandria, Basil, and Hippolytus critique this at length

      -Gregory of Nazianzus has a pretty damn mature read of the Nicomachean Ethics, and he points out extensively how the highest virtues and ends posited by Aristotle require the sort of material or social circumstances subject to “fate” and “luck” that excludes the most humble possessing the highest virtue. ie: eudaimonia through contemplation and political participation in all these activities presume of contingencies. He and Tatian particularly despise the way Aristotle claims there is no eudaimonia for those without beauty, wealth, bodily strength, and noble birth.

      -Origen, Clement, and Hippolytus each reprimands Aristotle for an account of the soul in De Anima they believe obfuscates man’s essentially spiritual and immortal nature.

      In general, early Patristics were ashamed to identify with an Aristotelian position in public, despite having access to his writings.


      Delete
    5. Anon,

      Thank you for your extremely detailed response to point A and please forgive my unjust accusation. Grateful to have been tutored by you on this point. I have a book by Mark Edwards entitled Aristotle and Early Christian Thought that was published by Routlege in 2021. I am beginning to work through it and may have some follow up in the coming days. Thank you again.

      Delete
    6. Alright. If you want examples:

      In context these are all odd examples for your purposes, though, since all of the criticisms of pagan Aristotelianism listed here are accepted in some form by Thomists, particularly in their rejection of Averroism, and similar kinds of criticisms are made by the Church Fathers of every pagan philosopher, including Plato, despite the Church Fathers usually being what we would we call, on the basis of their vocabulary and patterns of argument, Platonists. Perhaps you need to clarify what you were actually intending to ask in your original (A); at present, it seems to have reduced down to, "The Church Fathers were critical of pagan elements in Aristotle that are rejected by Thomists, as they are critical of pagan elements in other philosophers; what do Thomists say to that?" And the only possible response to that seems to be, "Yes."

      Delete
    7. This completely misses the point. They critiqued Plato as a friend, not the formal cause of heresy. In fact, they were *more* willing to critique Plato at length precisely because they saw little- if any- danger in the contemplation and correction of his works.

      But Aristotle was regarded in the way of “fruit of the poison tree”. When anything of truth was granted in him, it was only by exception and expedience that one must know heresy to refute it. They talk about him less not because they had less access or because “What hath Athens to do with Jerusalem?”. Rather, Aristotle represented actual heresy per se. So- as one example among many- they would be horrified that Thomas believed the eternity of nature was a defensible philosophical position only to be excluded after the fact of revelation.

      Delete
    8. Since your question to No. 1 was "What do Thomists make of this?" I can answer.

      The Thomistic---and the medieval approach in general---is to accept all authorities and engage all available opinions. It is a different method in a different context. Far from being dogmatic, it is liberalminded to a fault. Thomas also quoted Maimonedes and Averroes, remember.

      Some Scholastics, especially Franciscans, didn't like the Thomistic approach. Contention between Franciscans and Dominicans likewise hinged on an accusation similar to the accusation you're attributing to the Greek Fathers, in their case that it was some flavor pagan corruption. This dispute is an old one, it seems, and crops up a lot in Church history. I'm sure examples of this basic dynamic show up in many other contexts.

      So it appears that there has always been a strain of the Christian community in which some voices say, "What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?" while others to be irenic, even irenic to a fault. It would seem that the broad-minded liberal Thomas represents one of many options which has never gone away and has never died out. A Thomist should be able to easily affirm this while also affirming that he believes his use of Aristotle is safe, has not been condemned for centuries, and has even promoted by popes. I do think it's possible to do too much logic-chopping and careful subtleties, but then that's right back to where scholasticism ended up when it birthed modern philosophy.

      Delete
    9. Brandon,

      Thank you for your helpful comment.

      ANON,

      Although you have laid out the critique the Church Fathers offered of Aristotle admirably, you haven't noted a single thing that the Fathers universally rejected in Aristotle that Thomas accepted. In light of this, the shoe is on the other foot: you have missed Brandon's point making all of your patristic digging into comments on Aristotle completely unrelated to the Thomistic acceptance of Aristotelian points that are NOT universally rejected by the Church Fathers.

      Along with this, you have devolved back into sweeping generalizations that are not supported by the points you made above. The Church Fathers don't universally reject Aristotle in a wholesale fashion like you are suggesting. They don't even use the language of "formal cause of heresy" as that is a later scholastic lingo and they don't refer to him as a tree from which only poison comes. Otherwise they would not quote him positively for anything and that suggestion is patently false. So you are laboring under the false premise that the Church Fathers universally rejected Aristotle entirely and this is just not the case. If it were neither Augustine nor Marius Victorinus would have even considered drawing from Aristotle's Categories and yet they did so.

      I think it would also be helpful for you to consider the role that one's reading of Aristotle has on whether or not one accepts him. Brandon alluded to this above. An Averroist reading of Aristotle was rejected by Aquinas. This was a more materialistic understanding of Aristotle. Aristotle as he was received by scholastics like Bonaventure and Aquinas and Albert the great was mediated through neoplatonism which was itself a sythesis of Plato and Aristotle. This is reflected in the development of the Divine Ideas in conjunction with an Aristotelian account of abstraction. If need be I can show you receipts on these claims and get you some further references (if that would be helpful) when I have a bit more time.

      Delete
    10. “…not one…”

      I thought I left you (intentionally) with the obvious example, right? Thomas’s view on the eternity of the world. That he takes Aristotles position as legitimate from the perspective of natural philosophy? That it is only after revelation a philosopher could ever rule it out? And that the Patristics obviously critiqued Aristotle as a *philosopher*?

      How about instead of listing out the fathers on that one (I can indeed), I just point to the 85th condemnation of 1277? The one that tracks Thomas’s argument in I-I, Q.46, A.2 directly. The one that- indeed- represents the Fathers plenty well.

      But my point from the outset wasn’t to prove Thomas a heretic, even as I think he does commit heresy. It was much more basic: I was asking- even suppositively- for an understanding of what type of authority the Fathers carry, whether there is any rejection they could make that would not simply be defined away as “accidental” after the fact, etc etc.

      My impression so far is that- in your unwillingness to even entertain generalizations of the sort that are hardly controversial outside thomistic circles and are obvious to me after studying these matters for quite some time- there is literally nothing a Patristic could say you wouldnt qualify or dismiss after the fact.

      Delete
    11. ANON,

      "not one..." Is this supposed to be a quote from someone?

      On the eternality of the world: Although you seem to have spent a good bit of time in patristics, your understanding of scholasticism is confused. St. Thomas does not hold that the eternality of the world is philosophically demonstrable. And he certainly doesn't use the language of "legitimate from the perspective of natural philosophy". If you have studied the Fathers in an academic setting, you understand the importance of understanding them *on their own terms*. This means you have to enter into their language and conceptual framework to actually understand them. You clearly haven't done this with Aquinas. He does not think that the arguments of Aristotle on the eternality of the world are demonstrations. He held that they are inconclusive. So you have gotten Aquinas wrong on that point.

      He does think that you cannot *philosophically* demonstrate that the world began in time. Bonaventure disagreed but did not for this reason--unlike you--think that something like this made Aquinas or anyone else a heretic. Aquinas believed revelation and like Bonaventure and all other scholastics and Church Fathers, held that there are limits on what reason can know. In this instance, Bonaventure held that reason can know *more* than what Aquinas thought it could know. He held that reason could know that the world is not eternal. There you have it. All cleared up. Now you and Aquinas can be friends.

      (N.B. If you think that the origin of the universe in time can be philosophically demonstrated with knowledge accessible to the scholastics or Church Fathers, why don't you produce an argument to that effect? Folks here would find that quite interesting. Perhaps you could locate and reproduce Bonaventure's argument. He was brilliant and rivals St. Thomas as one of my favorite scholastics.)

      Regarding your claim that the Patristics critiqued Aristotle as a philosopher: Again, you are getting sloppy. Many Church Fathers disagreed with Aristotle on certain points and others drew from him on certain points. I am working through Mark Edwards monograph that I mentioned above and he shows how Aristotle was increasingly assimilated by the Church Fathers and was NOT universally rejected. He notes the work of several other scholars who have increasingly called attention to the positive use of Aristotle by the Church Fathers (hint, hint: it is not limited to Victorinus, Augustine, and Boetheius). Such positive use includes the Cappadocians and other Greek Fathers. I can provide you the quotes if you would like to see some receipts. So, even though they critiqued Aristotle on certain points just as they critiqued Plato, they did not reject him in a wholesale fashion. One thing that is *extremely* important in all of this is how neoplatonism via Plotinus and Porphyry mediated a synthesis of Aristotle and Plato to the Church Fathers. So, while it is clear that you have spent some time with the Fathers considering this point, I recommend that you get Mark Edwards recent book. It will help you to drop off the sweeping generalizations and to have a more nuanced account of what you are talking about.

      Delete
    12. "I can indeed" "the one that--indeed--represents the Fathers plenty well".

      In the words of a noble commenter on Feser's blog: Okay, I'll bite. Show your receipts. Give the exact quotes from the Fathers with references and support your claims.

      Regarding 1277: haven't we talked about this? The condemnations are not infallible. They were not an act of the pope. They were hasty and were themselves erroneous on certain points. And when Thomas was canonized in the 1330s, it was recognized that the condemnations needed to be amended. So quote the condemnations til you are red in the face. Whatever you think they prove (this point is unclear to me. Are you appealing to their authority to show that Aquinas is a heretic? Do you then think that the condemnations are infallible proof of heresy?), you are laboring under a cloud of confusion.

      Delete
    13. "In your willingness to even entertain generalizations". Now you are catching on. Sweeping generalizations are false because they claim too much. If you studied Aristotle's organon, you would be aware of this.

      Although you might not like this cheeky comment, it points to the deficiency of your claims in two ways. First, sweeping generalizations are in fact fallacies just as Aristotle noted. Second, it is precisely the logical works of Aristotle that were widely accepted in Christendom once they were known. Porphyry’s eisogoge became the standard text for introducing logic to later thinkers. As noted above Aristotelian influence on the Fathers was earlier, more positive, and more widespread than is generally acknowledged as Edward’s book shows. However, this single point about the acceptance of his logical works shows that your sweeping generalizations are patently false. So why not do the logical thing and be more like Aristotle and the Church Fathers by abandoning such sweeping generalizations?

      Delete
    14. When offered as a supposition, a generalization is not a claim of fact, it’s a simple “If X, then Y” statement used for expedience of investigation. In this case, I was asking “If x as a fact of tradition, then what/how y?”

      In truth, I spent most of my time in the Church as a Thomist before realizing how misled I had been by the idea the Patristics didnt have access to Aristotle. In almost all cases, they did. On the whole, they actually had more texts of Aristotle than we do today because Sulla and Andronicus had ensured as much.

      And I was actually shocked to discover- in my own views and readings- how decisively they rejected him over and against Plato *when they chose to speak about him at any length*. Sometimes, they did not. And sometimes, they even indicate their motives for not discussing him at all.

      Now, if you diverge from me in your reading of the history and the Patristics, that is well and good. That is and remains an argument in its own right over which people can and should disagree like any historical argument. Scholars can and should argue their case like the one you recommend, whose argument I am familiar with. In fact, the *best* argument for your contention isnt even Augustine, but Maximus the Confessor. Who strangely enough still ended up thoroughly Platonist by using Aristotle as one sharpens a knife. I cannot shake the very strong conviction that even the epistemic inconsistencies of Thomas would have been resolved if he had access to Plato in translation other than mere fragments of the Timaeus.

      But put that aside, let’s return to the eternity of the world and 1277.

      Are you familiar with Aristotle’s argument for the impossibility of a vacuum? It is no small thing in my mind that physicists today- both Catholic and otherwise- tend to define a singularity, a Planck length, and cosmological expansion in precisely the way Aristotle presupposed could not be the case as a possible fact of reality. They tend to talk about space itself changing in precisely the way Aristotle conceived it could not. And yes, this conditioned his metaphysics greatly.

      It comes up in the larger argument because he saw even space itself as “matter” in a certain way- it represented a type of potency to him. And he imagined that- conceived thus- potency in the sense of “prime matter” was eternal. Inasmuch as that itself was the underlying principle necessary to explain anything of a substance coming to be or ceasing to be, it could not itself have come to be or cease to be or undergo change in its own eternal existence.

      Yet, of course, it does. How else does cosmological expansion occur if not for space itself changing? Or- if it does not change- then surely it comes to be continuously? For how else could you possibly explain even- to say nothing of the rest- mere cosmological expansion?

      So yes- whether you posit it as change or coming to be- space most certainly does do one or the other. It is a fact of reality to be explained in precisely the way metaphysics ought to explain scientific observations rather than dismiss them. So yes: the Aristotelian presupposition that space cannot come to be because it presupposes its own space to come to be can be rejected confidently. And thus you’ll end up refuting the argument itself because that premise was required to demonstrate that matter per se could not come to be.

      Hence: you’ll conclude- contra Thomas- the argument didn’t follow and the position may thereby be excluded without reference to revelation. And if you think I’m bullshitting, I recommend reading Thomas’s De Aternitate Mundi, where you’ll see precisely where this principle and premise arises in his larger dialogue with Aristotle.


      Delete
    15. And to clarify further:

      I’m not suggesting the Patristics would have arrived at the analysis I just did or even that they would have offered a map to it. But they did offer this:
      “Wherever Aristotle has gone awry in this argument, it is not a philosophical position compatible with the faith.”

      In fidelity to that, Thomas ought to have argued he did not know where the argument fell apart. Instead, he affirmed that natural reason could not exclude Aristotle’s argument and thereby committed (material) heresy. I doubt hes really culpable, as I haven’t reviewed his Florigelia in full. Even so, people should be reading be reading the Patristics long before Thomas for precisely these sorts of reasons. Take it from one who made the mistake of studying Aristotle and Thomas first.

      Delete
    16. As for the receipts-

      I cross checked which Fathers reject Aristotle’s position on the eternity of the world in *both* statement and actual analysis, not just a passing word. These are as follows:

      Justin Martyr, Origen, Basil, Augustine, Theophilus, Arnobius, Diodorus Tarsus

      Delete
    17. I’d like to take you to task on whats been argued here re: the Condemnations if 1277. You assumed a narrative I dont- in analysis- find tenable. Since I studied this years ago, I’ve now taken time to review it at length, especially in the relatively recent works of Wippel, Wielockx, and Hijjsen. A few things are notable.

      A) Contrary to insinuations here, I was correct in suggesting there is a general narrative of the events establishing a chronology that was broadly accepted until -roughly- the 19th century. All three of those authors acknowledge this narrative as received, even as they attempt to- in their views- correct it.

      B) Skepticism toward the use and fidelity of numerous philosophical sources warranted the concerns of the papacy long before Tempier. I would refer you to numerous statement made by Pope Gregory IX. Not only does he mandate certain academic prohibitions, he repeats them and extends their scope throughout his papacy. And this concern didnt only apply to the University of Paris. It applied to studies at Oxford just as well. This wasn’t- as has been argued- a merely “local” matter.

      In short, the “process” frequently argued to have begun hastily at the behest of Tempier himself is- in my view- wildly implausible. It had already begun in full long before him. Everyone, indeed, had their opinions and priorities in the matter. It was precisely because the University of Paris had chosen to ignore Pope Gregory IX’s mandate that he repeated and expanded its scope thereafter.

      C) Thereafter, it has been argued that two letters sent by Pope John XXI indicate such an investigation had only just begun shortly before the 1277 Condemnations. But this is incorrect and remains a glaring omission in even current scholarship: the emphasis throughout both letters is that he would continue to report back errors identified “anew”, “again”, “further”, etc. In short, the letters presuppose an investigation and authority having already been delegated to him. Wippel does not even seem to acknowledge this. Wielockx takes- in my view- the only tenable position of showing how the letters read in the context of numerous faculty statements indicates the existence of an *additional* set of condemnations against Thomas by name to have been executed, but for Pope John XXI’s death.

      Hence, Tempier was aware of the conflicts taking place and had begun drawing up his own list long before those *specific* letters were exchanged. Why? This is what ordinary philosophers charged with managing a church do. They take interest in the arguments of their day. Hence, there is nothing of contradiction- so poorly maintained- that the letters were sent quickly to Rome and back. He had already drawn up his list of expectations beforehand in good faith and expectation.

      Further, after the condemnations you’ll find that many theologians acknowledge explicitly they are heeding the Condemnations due to their fear of Tempier’s legitimate power to excommunicate. That this power was largely ignored there just as Pope Gregory IX’s mandate was similarly ignored was genuine defiance, not a disputation of Tempier’s authority.

      Delete
    18. D) Lastly, this is probably the poorest argument I’ve seen so far: that none of the Condemnations had Thomas Aquinas in mind. This is ridiculous. First of all, Thomas published his thesis in 1274, and the Condemnations were issued 1277 only 3 days after Thomas’s death. But even more importantly, just *read* some of them and compare them to the very sequence of argument Thomas makes on the matters:

      89. “That it is impossible to refute the arguments of the Philosopher unless we say that the will of the first being embraces incompatibles.”

      -Now, what is Thomas’s position on the Aristostelian argument and why does revelation help him refuse it thereafter? *Because revelation indicates there is no incompatibility in God creating ex nihilo.*

      131. “That the speculative intellect is simply eternal and incorruptible; with respect to this or that man, however, it is corrupted when the phantasms in him are corrupted.”

      -Are you aware of the hard stance St. Thomas takes that the activities of the intellect *cannot* be compromised by even defects of biological organs? The generation of phantasma, on the other hand, are the starting point of all future intellection. Hence, he can maintain the incorruptible nature of the intellect proper while still using the phantasma to explain certain deficiencies thereafter.

      In fact, those are only two of many such condemnations that clearly include Thomas. There’s an entire section of them drawn directly from his commentary upon Aristotle’s de Caelo.

      In all of this, I hardly *fault* Thomas. I don’t know that he had each relevant Patristic passage in his Florigelia. His heresy is *material*, not formal.

      But the reason I bring this up is because I’m asking for an account of how doctrine defined through delegated papal authority can be revoked. Because surely you acknowledge this is the way most ecumenical councils happen, correct? To deny this would be denying the very basis by which to say Florence met the conditions enumerated by Second Nicea to be a legitimate council in the first place. Etc. etc.

      Delete
    19. "If X, then Y". Yes I am aware of what it is to work from a supposition. The problem is that your supposition is PATENTLY FALSE. The Church Fathers did NOT universally reject Aristotle in a wholesale fashion. That is the whole point that is not making it's way into your noggin. I think I have given you too much credit in both your knowledge of patristics and your understanding of logic. No one would or should grant you a patently false supposition upon which you would build a patently unsound argument. If I have time to address the remaining verbal vomit, I will do so later.

      Delete
    20. ANON-

      "As far as receipts" You seem to misunderstand what I am asking for. Any Joe blow with a familiarity with the names of a few fathers from a basic introduction to Patristics can throw those names around.

      What I am asking for is quotes and references. So again. Show your receipts rather than showing only that you know the names of a few fathers. To show the latter when I am asking for the former is to show your back side.

      Delete
    21. ANON,

      "I cross checked which Fathers reject Aristotle’s position on the eternity of the world in *both* statement and actual analysis, not just a passing word."

      It is so great to hear that so many Fathers agree with Aquinas that Aristotle's argument for the eternality of the world is non-demonstrative.

      Delete
    22. There is a group of 20th century scholars always credited for their surveys of the Patristics and the convergence of their accounts to the effect of “Patristics during the 2nd through the 4th century are- as a rule- hostile to Aristotle.”

      This is not an exaggeration. It is literally the standard narrative accepted by Patristic scholars as either a presupposition of fact or a claim to be disproved. It is never ignored or dismissed. And I would wager that some of these scholars- if not all- will be cited even in the book you’re currently reading. That group of scholars commonly cited includes:

      Festugière 1932
      Luzatti 1938
      Waszink 1950
      Clark 1977
      Runia 1989
      Frede 2005
      Lilla 2014

      And guess what? Some of those are even *Thomists*. So yeah, its not absurd in the least. In this field, like any other, there is a “classic” narrative and then there are “revisionist” narratives. There is nothing wrong with arguing for the latter sort of narrative. But arguing that the former is “absurd” betrays you’ve never even bothered to sample academic literature on the subject.

      Delete
    23. Sloppy Joe (the faux academic formerly known as ANON),

      Not even sample academic literature? And what is Edward's work published by Routlege if not academic? And what is my reading of it, if not my personal sampling?

      Along with this, I have read fairly broadly in the Church Fathers myself including: Ignatius of Antioch, Irenaeus, Polycarp, Cyprian, Athanasius, Basil, Jerome, Cyril of Alexandria, Clement of Rome, Origen, Justin Martyr, Hippolytus, Eusebius of Caesarea, Victorinus, and an extremely broad reading of Augustine and I don't recall any father rejecting Aristotle in the wholesale way that you suggest.

      So, again, why don't you throw a few quotes my way big boy?

      Along with my first hand reading of the fathers (some of which was in Latin and Greek), I have spent time in secondary literature including the histories of Pelikan, Carrol, and Gonzalez. I have read these multi volume, standard Church histories through the patristic periods and I don't recall any of them making the claims you are making. I have also read much of Quasten's multi volume work (I have it too) and don't recall his standard work making the sorts of generalizations you are making. I have Jurgen's work that I have looked at and don't recall him making such claims. These are standard treatments and certainly not "revisionist" and they don't make the sweeping generalizations you make.

      So instead of giving the last names and dates of publications, why don't you provide QUOTES with page references where any reputable scholar suggests that the Church Fathers universally rejected Aristotle as you have suggested. Perhaps there are scholars who are as sloppy as you that might say that, but I would at least like to see a quote or two. Better yet, since you are an honest man, why don't you provide quotes from every figure you mentioned: Festugiere, Luzatti, Waszink, Clark, Runia, Frede, and Lilla. Where do any of them make the sort of sweeping generalizations you have made here? Are you being anonymous because it enables you to be sloppy and think that no one is going to hold your feed to the proverbial fire?

      Delete
    24. Only a few of the scholars you mentioned were in Edward's bibliography. Festugiere and Runia's works with the publication dates you mentioned were noted and Runia's article in 1989 was a revisiting of Festugiere's early work on Aristotle and the Fathers. It seems that what you are presenting as the "classic" narrative might also be called the "Festugiere thesis". It doesn't sound so authoritative when you rename it does it?

      Delete
    25. Sloppy Joe,

      I just wanted to let you know that the Festugiere thesis is so 1932. You really need to keep up with current research on this topic.

      Delete
    26. Sloppy Joe (the commenter formally known as ANON)

      What publication of Michael Frede is relevant for this discussion and would you mind providing the quote where he makes the sloppy suggestions that the Church Fathers universally rejected Aristotle?

      Delete
    27. Sloppy Joe,

      It seems you have either not read Festugiere and Runia or you have a very bad memory. According to Ewdard's, the claim is NOT that the Fathers rejected Aristotle in a whole sale fashion. It is that they did not often refer to him and yet Aristotle's influence is detectable on them even when they did not quote or reference him (Runia's point). I will be providing quotes when I have some time. It seems you are good at name dropping, but you don't seem to know much about what the men behind the names actually said (This explains why you can't provide me with quotes of even a single scholar stating what you have said). What is pity. I thought I was interacting with someone who had a clue what he was talking about.

      Delete
    28. Sloppy Joe,

      As an example of receipts:

      "It was in 1932 that Andre-Jean Festugiere compiled his exiguous catalogue of references to Aristotle in early Christian literature, thus illustrating, to his own bewilderment, the failure of the Church Fathers to see the merits of a system which was to bring such rigour and clarity to the disputations of the middle ages. David Runia, augmenting and refining this enterprise hald a century later, cannot deny the paucity of named citations from Aristotle, but argues that his influence is detectable even where it is not acknowledged, and adds that it may have been purposely concealed for fear of seeming to grant authority to some other source than the Scriptures." Mark Edwards, Aristotle and Early Christian Thought, viii.

      Now, according to Edwards, both Festugiere and Runia confirm MY READING of the Fathers. Aristotle is not commonly mentioned by name. For that reason alone, any claim that he is universally rejected is sheer non-sense.

      If it weren't non-sense, this is the sort of historical claim from which you could create a contradiction between the universal consensus of the Fathers and broad consensus of medieval scholastics of high scholasticism. It would look something like this: The church Fathers universally held that Aristotle is evil. The medieval scholastics held that Aristotle is not evil. These positions are contradictory as Aristotle cannot both be evil and not evil. The Church Fathers are earlier and have a priveleged claim to represent Catholic Tradition. Therefore, Aquinas and other scholastics are wrong and out of step with Chrisitian Tradition. However, since it is nonsense, we needn't waste time on hypothetical syllogisms that work from a patently false antecedent. There we have it. Now can we move past the silly efforts to suggest that the Church Fathers universally rejected Aristotle?

      Regarding your suggested academic consensus (now what is that worth really?), it appears from Edwards' quote that Runia argues that Aristotle has influenced the Fathers even when that influence is not recognized. THAT is the same thesis broadly accepted by Edwards. And you referred to Runia as though he supported your silly suggestion that the Fathers universally REJECTED Aristotle. Did you think no one would actually look into what these scholars actually said if you didn't furnish the titles? That is a cute little trick, sloppy Joe.

      Delete
    29. Sloppy Joe,

      I notice you don't mention the work of either Richard Sorabji who has almost single handedly brought into english translation the works of the commentators on Aristotle that were working from 200 to 600 AD. Nor do you mention the work of David Bradshaw's Aristotle East and West "which plots the narrative from the times of Aristotle himself to those of Thomas Aquinas and Gregory Palamas." This is a curious omission as Bradshaws work "fill(s) the lacunae in previous histories" (Edwards, viii). It seems you are not current on your scholarship, sloppy Joe. Get with the times.

      So let's take stock. None of the scholars you have name dropped say that Aristotle was univerally rejected by the Church Fathers. None of these scholars say this because unlike you, they are nuanced and reputable scholars. More than this, Edwards work that you assume is some sort of minority report sees itself as in continuity with the scholars you named (e.g. Runia) in noting that Aristotle DID IN FACT INFLUENCE THE CHURCH FATHERS.

      Do you go by ANON so that you don't have to publicly have egg on your face under your real name?

      Delete
    30. "...to the effect of “Patristics during the 2nd through the 4th century are- as a rule- hostile to Aristotle.”"

      Do you put your own words in quotation marks because you can't find a real patristics scholar to say what you want? Does that make you feel like you are quoting something authoritative?

      If you are going to do this, at least provide references. It might look something like: “Patristics during the 2nd through the 4th century are- as a rule- hostile to Aristotle.”" (quoting myself--sloppy Joe--when making up crap on Edward Feser's blog in my pajamas on May 21st, 2024).

      Delete
    31. "And that the Patristics obviously critiqued Aristotle as a *philosopher*? How about instead of listing out the fathers on that one (I can indeed)"

      Okay, do it. Give me all the quotes that say *precisely* what you are saying and provide the references.

      "But they did offer this: “Wherever Aristotle has gone awry in this argument, it is not a philosophical position compatible with the faith.”

      Who are you quoting? Yourself again? If not, provide a reference.

      "people should be reading be reading the Patristics long before Thomas for precisely these sorts of reasons. Take it from one who made the mistake of studying Aristotle and Thomas first."

      I have done this. I read some of the Fathers before I read some of Aquinas and I studied the Fathers closely (particularly Augustine) before I studied Aquinas and that is the reason I am aware that your sweeping generalizations are nonsense. I regret that you were disillusioned to find that the early Church Fathers don't appeal to Aristotle as an authority in the same way that Albert or Aquinas does, but that isn't a good reason to abandon Thomism.

      "I’d like to take you to task on whats been argued here re: the Condemnations if 1277."

      I bet you would. I'd like to have shrimp for dinner every night but that wish is just not going to come true any more than your little ole wish is going to be fulfilled.

      "You assumed a narrative I dont- in analysis- find tenable. "

      Sloppy joe, would you mind, on occasion, not living up to your name? What narrative are you talking about? I made specific assertions and you haven't taken the time to refute even a single one. I didn't tell you a bed time story. I pointed to facts related to the condemnation of 1277. You haven't even nay said any of the facts, because that would result in more embarrassment on your part as what I said is factually accurate and supported in secondary literature and from my own first hand familiarity with the relevant Latin texts.

      More to come in another post. Just you wait for it.

      Delete
    32. "Contrary to insinuations here, I was correct in suggesting there is a general narrative of the events establishing a chronology that was broadly accepted until -roughly- the 19th century. All three of those authors acknowledge this narrative as received, even as they attempt to- in their views- correct it."

      Listen, if you have a fetish for stuff from the 1800s, that is your business. But if you are going to present that fetish as some sort of authoritative account of the condemnation when all you are doing is selecting your own pet scholar from the period of your fetish, then you are not going to be taken seriously here.

      "Skepticism toward the use and fidelity of numerous philosophical sources warranted the concerns of the papacy long before Tempier."

      I never denied this. I made reference to the concerns in the 1230s and 1240s. Did you actually read what I wrote? Did you actually read the Church Fathers you name drop? Did you actually read any of the scholars that you refer to (i.e. scholars whose work provides precisely zero support for the claim that the Church Fathers universally rejected Aristotle)?

      What I denied was the suggestion that there was a set of condemnations that began in 1200 that related to Tempier or Aquinas as your quotes above falsely suggested. Get it together Sloppy Joe.

      "Pope Gregory IX. Not only does he mandate certain academic prohibitions, he repeats them and extends their scope throughout his papacy. And this concern didnt only apply to the University of Paris. It applied to studies at Oxford just as well. This wasn’t- as has been argued- a merely “local” matter."

      Oh sloppy Joe, sloppy Joe. Of course Pope Gregory IX's prohibitions were not limited to Paris. Who said or even remotely suggested that they were? And if no one suggested this, why are you making such a great song and dance? (The title to your song is entitled: "silly songs with sloppy joe"). The point is that the Gregory's prohibitions for Arts faculty in their study of the Physics is not a condmentation at all. Much less is it Tempier's condemnation. Can't this obvious point make its way into your noggin?

      "Pope Gregory IX’s mandate that he repeated and expanded its scope thereafter."

      What PRECISELY are you referring to here? If this is a reference to Tempier's condemntations, then it is flatly false. Tempier's condemnations were not an act of the Pope, sloppy Joe. It was an act of the Bishop of Paris.

      Delete
    33. "Hence, Tempier was aware of the conflicts taking place and had begun drawing up his own list long before those *specific* letters were exchanged. Why? This is what ordinary philosophers charged with managing a church do. They take interest in the arguments of their day. Hence, there is nothing of contradiction- so poorly maintained- that the letters were sent quickly to Rome and back. He had already drawn up his list of expectations beforehand in good faith and expectation.

      Further, after the condemnations you’ll find that many theologians acknowledge explicitly they are heeding the Condemnations due to their fear of Tempier’s legitimate power to excommunicate. That this power was largely ignored there just as Pope Gregory IX’s mandate was similarly ignored was genuine defiance, not a disputation of Tempier’s authority."

      That is mildly interesting historical speculation. Why don't you put your theory out for publication and see if you might get one or two people to accept it?

      Even if your historical speculation were accurate (on the supposition as you like to work from suppositions), it would do no more than add a bit of time to his consideration of precisely what should be condemned if anything. So your conclusion is: "Well it was not quite as hasty as you seem to think." Very well. Not quite as hasty, but still too hasty, not universally binding, not infallible, and patently false in hastily--a little less hasty mind you-- condemning the positions of someone who would be canonized a few decades later. (I think 1277 also condemned positions of Bonaventure on individuation, yet nothing is made of that for some reason.)

      Delete
    34. "But even more importantly..."

      Oh no! Please stop! I just can't take it anymore! Too many devastating arguments packed into a single blog post! Please stop before you break the internet or crush the spirit of Thomists everywhere!

      " Lastly, this is probably the poorest argument I’ve seen so far: that none of the Condemnations had Thomas Aquinas in mind. This is ridiculous."

      No one said this. So why are you swinging your fists in the air? Fr. Wippel argues that certain condemned positions touch on Aquinas. This is perhaps most clear related to individuation. That was a problem at the University of Paris in the late 1200s that sparked the focus on individuation, but the condemnations now serve as a wonderful case in point that the acts of single Bishops are not infallible. It is nice of you to call our attention to this point, but no one here (other than you?) thinks that the acts of single Bishops are infallible, so you aren't really providing any useful information here.

      "the Condemnations were issued 1277 only 3 days after Thomas’s death."

      Ah. A devasting point. Just devastating. I just hope you don't also point out that 3 + 2 = 5. That would for sure prove that Aquinas is a heretic. For sure.

      "just *read* some of them and compare them to the very sequence of argument Thomas makes on the matters: 89. “That it is impossible to refute the arguments of the Philosopher unless we say that the will of the first being embraces incompatibles.”

      I have read several of them and done so in Latin. This quote in particular has no correspondence to anything said by Aquinas which is why you don't quote Aquinas. Looks like we are all being served more sloppy Joe. The same is true about the following quote you provide. St. Thomas wrote against those affirming the unity of the Intellect, so it is extremely strange that you selected that point as one that condemned Aquinas. You should go back and read Wippel's article in the Blackwell Companion more closely.

      Well that is all the sloppy Joe cleanup I can do tonight. Quite a bit of work cleaning up after sloppy Joe.

      Delete
    35. "the Condemnations were issued 1277 only 3 days after Thomas’s death."

      I made fun of this for being irrelevant. Now I will also make fun of it for being untrue. Thomas died in 1274. Perhaps you are confusing the word "days" with the concept commonly associated with the word "years." You are a wet hot mess sloppy Joe.

      Delete
  3. I've been pondering Catholic teaching on mortal sin recently, and I'm looking for ideas on a rapprochement between the Traditional Thomistic account and the current account one finds in, say, the Catechism.

    To wit, the Thomistic notion of mortal sin, as I understand it, centers on making a created good one's final end.

    By contrast the presentation in the Catechism puts it in terms of:
    - Grave acts
    - Done with sufficient knowledge
    - Under the deliberate consent of the will

    Now, the latter two conditions (on knowledge and will) are simply necessary for perfect human acts. So I have no issue with those. My difficulty lies in figuring out the relationship between "Grave acts" and "Making a finite good one's final end."

    Simply put, it's not clear to me how to derive one "list" from the other. We could merely stipulate that any of the grave acts traditionally recognized are such that they choose finite goods over God as one's last end. But I don't actually see why that stipulation is true. For any given "grave act" why is it determinative of a created last end in a way that non-grave acts aren't.

    Any thoughts?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not a complete response, just a start: take the traditional acts that are usually considered grave and mortal (if fully consented), e.g. adultery, premeditated murder, perjury. One can propose that whatever it was that the person chose as his end in making these choices, he could not have had that end as an intermediate end without also having a finite good supplant God as his final end. Adultery: he wills to pursue pleasure above God. Murder: he wills something else (some creaturely good) in a manner in which he is willing to reject very God's image in that other person. Perjury: he wills some good in a way that he repudiates Truth Himself.

      I suspect that what is critical here is not that he is consciously adverting - at the moment of choice - in a form like "well, it's this here good or God, but not both", but rather in his will he is adhering to a finite good in a way that simply leaves no room for adhering to God as your final end, the finite _as_willed_ is incompatible with willing God as your final end.

      Delete
    2. I would say that even more fundamentally the Thomistic conception of mortal sin is of sin that leads to death, that is, spiritual death, that is, the death of the principle of the spiritual life, that is, the loss of charity. Aquinas's argument that charity can be lost by a single mortal sin invokes the claim charity cannot subsist alongside disobedience to God's will. Mortal sins require grave matter, then, because grave matter is just what transgresses the commandments. Love of God cannot subsist alongside rejection of God's law.

      That seems to me to be Aquinas's own way of linking his generic conception of mortal sin to the particular sorts of acts that are now thought of as grave matter, namely those expressly prohibited by the Ten Commandments. The trick in spelling this account out is then to see how venial sin, sin which does not destroy charity but merely introduces some disorder into one's orientation toward God, is possible.

      Delete
    3. Tony and Greg,

      Thanks, both those answers are very helpful. Not a whole lot more insight on my end to add, as I think you pretty much satisfied whatever lingering questions I had on the matter.

      Delete
  4. I would like to know what are your thoughts on Hegel and Heidegger. Do you think they were good philosophers ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Funny, Dr. Feser finished his book on the soul that seems to do touch on Heidegger on the subject. Perhaps it is a must read now?

      And this is truly a interesting view. Being very non-kantian, Dr. Feser probably is quite away from the german idealists. I dont remember seeing he dedicating much time to they, but i doubt that there is much contact. Being more thomist myself, what i found more interesting in they is the emphasis on human sociability to ethics and self-development.

      Delete
  5. Re your last Postliberal Order post:

    Liberalism does not need to support itself on philosophical terms. It is essentially a political decision. It is a cease fire, meant to protect the state from internecine conflict. Even when the US and European states were far more socially conservative, there were "culture wars" between Catholics and Protestants (including Bismark's famous kulturkampf). These seem quaint now because hey, no gay marriage or feminism, but they were very significant at the time.

    Liberalism exists not because Locke or later Rawls got the theory right, it exists because the protestant reformation happened, neither side was able to crush the other, and eventually people got tired of having Catholic confessional states where Protestants were executed sharing borders and engaging in trade in diplomacy with Protestant confessional states where Catholics were executed. After 100-200 years of this years, it just seemed weird.

    There is no way out of liberalism. Its the only way to structure a modern society apart from totalitarianism. When the US prohibited gay marriage, it was still liberal, it was neutral and individualistic in all sorts of ways, its just that there was a widespread public consensus in favor of traditional marriage. But then public opinion changed.

    If you don't like gay marriage or abortion, and you can't convince a large enough majority of the population to your side through persuasion, the only ethical recourse remaining to argue that your position is "reasonable" in the Rawlsian sense and you shouldn't face adverse consequences for your opinion.

    Unless there is a mass grassroots reconversion back to traditional moral norms, a confessional state in a modern Western country would in practical terms resemble Iran or North Korea. If your string of reasoning ends up in "well maybe Iran or the DPRK have a better system of government than we do", you screwed up and need to go back and check your work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This reminds me of an old Soviet political joke: "Under Capitalism, man exploits man, while under Socialism it's vice versa.".

      So, you claim that without Liberalism Catholics or Protestants would be persecuted.

      And what happens with Liberalism? Actually, both Catholics and Protestants get persecuted: "If you don't like gay marriage or abortion, and you can't convince a large enough majority of the population to your side through persuasion, the only ethical recourse remaining to argue that your position is "reasonable" in the Rawlsian sense and you shouldn't face adverse consequences for your opinion.".

      Yep, "adverse consequences for your opinion"...

      So, the difference is that under Liberalism the Liberals like you get to persecute Catholics like us.

      That does not really persuade me of advantages of Liberalism.

      And, of course, it is completely false that we have to choose between Liberalism and Totalitarianism.

      For example, Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was neither Liberal (Liberalism still had to be invented at that time) nor Totalitarian. It had Catholic Church as state religion, and yet did not persecute Protestants.

      And, of course, when we read how you argue for Liberalism, we find out that it does not differ from Totalitarianism all that much. "Under Totalitarianism, man persecutes man, while under Liberalism it's vice versa."

      Delete
    2. @MP: Smith takes something away from Jones. There will be a host of principles and details to parse before evaluating the action as just or unjust. Suppose Smith takes away Jones' employment after learning that Jones falls under some LGBT category. Suppose Smith later on pays a penalty for this according to statutary and/or case law. It is contentious to say that Smith is being "persecuted" in a strict and historically grounded sense of persecution.

      Suppose Smith is a practicing Christian in an area controlled by ISIS. Jones is an ISIS leader. Jones causes Smith to be driven out with property confiscated or even to be killed because Smith is a Christian. That's persecution.

      Delete
    3. (1/X)
      FYI I'm Catholic, I agree with the Church's moral teaching, and my defense of liberalism is consistent with like, 95% of living Catholics, including the bishops.

      "And, of course, it is completely false that we have to choose between Liberalism and Totalitarianism."

      The alternative to liberalism is a society where the state is not neutral on the "Life Questions" (religion, morality, etc.), to borrow Brad S. Gregory's term. The US in 1950 was liberal, it was neutral on the Life Questions. An illiberal US would not have had a giant Catholic school system operating side by side with the public schools, it would've been a Protestant confessional state (as some individual states were as late as the early 1800s). There were simply exceptions to the general rules of neutrality in certain areas where there were widespread public consensus (i.e. gay marriage). And note that even these exceptions to liberal neutrality rested on public consensus, not authority.

      In contrast, Sweden in 1700 was not liberal, it was not neutral on the Life Questions, you had to belong to the state Lutheran Church or face persecution. I would probably put the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the category of proto-liberalism, like Cromwell's Commonwealth or the Dutch Republic. The COE remains the state religion in the UK, it is still liberal. Iran allows some historical Christian minorities to practices their faith but if a Muslim converts he is killed, and Shia orthodoxy is maintained (or defined) by the state. Iran is not liberal. Its not neutral on the Life Questions. If the problem is secularists trying to turn the US into a sort of bizarro-Confessional state were religious conservatives are persecuted, then the obvious move is to appeal to liberal principles.

      Delete
    4. (2/X)
      The problem I have with Dr. Feser's writings on this topic is that it exists in a sort of la la candyland fantasy divorced from political reality, which makes sense as he is from a philosophy background and a not poli-sci or history background. Modern society is radically different than society 400 years ago. If you are arguing for an alternative to liberalism, modern illiberal societies are our best gauge of what these will look like in practice. This is similar to the analysis of alternatives to capitalism-look to the USSR or PRC or Yugoslavia or the Nordics if you want to gauge what a given non-capitalist theory would look like in practice, don't look to pre-capitalist societies 700 years ago. We have trial and error to complement the theory. The best socialists take these examples seriously, others ignore all the bad examples and pretend Stalin did nothing wrong or that a world of totally non-hierarchical hippy communes could exist alongside modern technology. Feser is like a socialist who ignores the USSR and Mao and the millions dead and writes about primitive communal societies in the South Pacific, as if these can tell us how we can structure our present society.

      In the modern age, illiberal societies, unified on the Life Questions, look like Nazi Germany, or Fascist Italy, or Francoist Spain, or the USSR, or Communist China, or Iran, or North Korea. The so desired unity is won by a totalitarian state apparatus that crushes all opposing forces in society or otherwise brings them into the state. It ends the existence of civil society organizations. The Nazis, PRC, and USSR all crushed labor unions and replaced them with a psuedo-union controlled by the state/party. They all crushed independent churches and religious movements and replaced them with pliant pseudo-churches controlled by the state/party. In the case of religion, the merger of authoritarian state power with the Church basically destroys religious devotion and turns the country atheistic, as the faith is tied in the minds of the public with an unpopular, repressive government (what happened in Spain).

      The problem is even worse because now social conservative positions are held only by a minority in Western countries. To get unity on the Life Questions in the social conservative's favor, it seems the only possibility, once persuasion in a neutral public square fails, is jackboots (though this begs the question of how the social conservatives ever get in a position of power if they are this unpopular).

      Delete
    5. "Suppose Smith later on pays a penalty for this according to statutary and/or case law. It is contentious to say that Smith is being 'persecuted' in a strict and historically grounded sense of persecution." - under Roman Empire or Revolutionary France Catholics were also persecuted using courts, under some sort of laws, for some "crime" (not sacrificing to Caesar, being against Revolution) that was not formulated as "being Catholic".

      Sure, there is a difference between USA or EU and ISIS. But then, there is a difference between Iran and North Korea, China and Cuba, Vietnam and Taliban. States are not precise copies of each other.

      And the problem is that Liberalism does not promise "milder persecution", "well deserved persecution", "persecution with a rule of law" (after all, we can get those without Liberalism). It promises that no one will be persecuted. It promises a difference in kind, not merely a difference in degree (or target). And that is "false advertising".

      "In the case of religion, the merger of authoritarian state power with the Church basically destroys religious devotion and turns the country atheistic, as the faith is tied in the minds of the public with an unpopular, repressive government (what happened in Spain)." - and is the Church doing much better under Liberalism? Is everyone holy? Is everyone orthodox? Is the Church universally respected? Or are the things even worse than under non-liberal regime?

      And isn't it interesting that you didn't make an actual comparison?

      So, when you write "The problem I have with Dr. Feser's writings on this topic is that it exists in a sort of la la candyland fantasy divorced from political reality", I'd say that it fits you and not him.

      In your "la la candyland fantasy" Liberalism might be neutral on "Life Questions", but in the real world it is not. It merely pretends to be neutral. After all, it is not really possible to be neutral on them. For example, what would even be a "neutral position" on abortion? It being legal on even years and illegal on odd years? So, if there is no other solution, some position becomes "default", and it usually ends up winning. That's how "Life Questions" are solved under Liberalism. It is pretty much the same as under alternatives to Liberalism, only with less honesty.

      It is just as with "lack of belief atheism" - in "la la candyland fantasy" it might differ from older kinds of atheism, but in reality it is pretty much indistinguishable from them, only less honest.

      "The problem is even worse because now social conservative positions are held only by a minority in Western countries." - and what did majority think about homosexuality mere 30 years ago? If things like that can change in one direction, why can't they change in a contrary direction? There is no reason to give up without a fight.

      Delete
    6. To argue that it is good to tolerate an evil in order to prevent a greater evil requires no presupposition of liberalism. You'll find Aquinas saying that:

      _Accordingly in human government also, those who are in authority, rightly tolerate certain evils, lest certain goods be lost, or certain greater evils be incurred: thus Augustine says (De Ordine ii, 4): "If you do away with harlots, the world will be convulsed with lust." Hence, though unbelievers sin in their rites, they may be tolerated, either on account of some good that ensues therefrom, or because of some evil avoided. [...] [T]he rites of other unbelievers, which are neither truthful nor profitable are by no means to be tolerated, except perchance in order to avoid an evil, e.g. the scandal or disturbance that might ensue, or some hindrance to the salvation of those who if they were unmolested might gradually be converted to the faith. For this reason the Church, at times, has tolerated the rites even of heretics and pagans, when unbelievers were very numerous._

      What he presupposes here is a whole system of natural law for determining good and evil (as well as lesser and greater goods and evils), and it in no way leads to liberalism. On the contrary, as it recognizes that the goal of the state is to maximize virtue rather than some directionless, unreflected "freedom" which is an end in itself as liberalism does. So under liberalism the only "greater evil" that justifies withholding toleration is that which positively threatens its conception of "freedom". But liberalism therefore grants vice to be as free a choice as virtue, so the Christian who proposes a policy that curbs vice wouldn't be able to justify it under liberalism _even if_ the policy is otherwise perfectly effective and has no other side-effects, if only because it would deny people a supposed right to choose vice. But it would be perfectly justifiable under natural law, which subordinates freedom to virtue, and indeed regards vices as a kind of enslavement of the will.

      Then what "greater evils", exactly, are we avoiding by advancing LGBT and abortion "rights" that threaten the institution of the family? For the liberal the answer is a no brainer: these are to be regarded as _rights_ because they're personal choices, not merely evils to be tolerated. So if you don't accept it as a right, you must at least make a concession for the sake of "freedom", _even if_ it does harm the family. But the follower of natural law doesn't recognize easier access to enslaving vices throughout society as an increase in freedom, and you'll have a hard time demonstrating under his own standards what exactly would be worse than undermining the very foundation of society. What, then, is preventing catholics and protestants from both recognizing that they don't need to persecute each other precisely because united on common moral (and much religious) ground they stand stronger against liberalism? That liberalism is a greater evil than the state not confessing their own denomination? And going no further than what Aquinas, hardly a liberal, perfectly expressed? This realization is, in fact, precisely what's happening right now across the postliberal right. It is clear, both in terms of principles as well as in practice, that liberalism is _not_ essential to prevent interdenominational conflict; and, moreover, that it is a massive hindrance for the denominations to politically advance what they _do_ have in common. Natural law is a greater basis for common ground between Christians than liberalism can ever be.

      Delete
    7. Why do you assume that government must be some massive, united superstructure? Why can't it be local and personal, with a healthy subsidiarity? What if the world were governed by friendship, not fear or coercion or force? This is not candyland---this is the Kingdom of God, which is among us, though we have forgotten our allegiance to it.

      The most convincing postliberal arguments are those which make the state, and which make large-scale politics, completely unimportant in day-to-day life. Tyranny is weak. Family and charity are the transforming elements of society, not political power.

      Check out New Polity's YouTube series on the Politics of Tyranny. Best postliberal stuff out there about this right now.

      Delete
    8. @ OP Anon

      What criteria exactly there is to diferenciate a Life Question from a question where the State can do its thing? For instance, some in the EUA want to prohibit that parents stop their children from doing cirurgies and take drugs in order to deal with gender dysphoria and some see abortion as a health question, wanting it to be financiated by tax payers. Some argue against these exactly by appealing to freedom, self-ownership etc, see several right-wing libertarians, so where is the criteria?

      And besides, what stops, say, a hypothetical State from using classical natural law as its basis for law and dealing with rebels like secular states do?

      Delete
  6. Hi dr. Feser. When will your book about the soul be published? I am really looking forward to that book, and after I have bought it I will probably delete my Amazon account because I have already too many books I don’t have the time to read. But first I have to buy Feser’s new book :-)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Altgeld Eisenstein, the incredible affordable imitation, ready to publish his theory of wrongativity.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Anyone have any reading suggestions concerning the epistemology of classical and medieval metaphysics, e.g. especially in light of Humean and Kantian criticisms?

    Obviously, historically speaking, many philosophers found some of those criticisms compelling, but I'm wondering how Aristotle or Aquinas might respond.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Frederick D Wilhelmsen - Man's Knowledge of Reality: An Introduction to Thomistic Epistemology

      Delete
    2. "Philosophy of Knowledge" by Vincent Potter, S.J. You can read it free online at link below, borrow on interlibrary loan from your local library or order a used copy at bookfinder.com
      https://archive.org/details/philosophyofknow0000pott

      Delete
  9. Only a couple things other than that drum I have been repeatedly beating, challenging the pope 'splainers and religious wokists. The one saying they need to describe how the mechanics of preserving a rule of law polity as an available refuge from the earth's chaotic social s#itholes, while actively undermining and subverting those very principles that make it a refuge in the first place, is supposed to work.

    Other than that, your decision to set up an X account was and remains a good one.

    Of course you provoke the waspy religious soyboys, the neurotically niggling didacts, and the Ultra Fideist Guard but that's a good thing, not a bad thing.

    This one on X was a particularly good recent take:

    "[@ Edward Feser says] In other words, they [ those alarmed] want the Church to be what it always has been and what makes it worth bothering with in the first place. For if it is not "an island of unchanging certainties," then, obviously, it can make no claim to deliver to us the revelation delivered to it by Christ.

    'Quote
    Heidi Schlumpf
    @HeidiSchlumpf
    ·
    May 8
    Halik lamented that "some Christians, alarmed by the rapid changes of the world, want to make the church an island of unchanging certainties." From @cwwhiteNCR
    https://ncronline.org/node/271076 via @NCRonline'


    "What makes it worth bothering with in the first place"



    ReplyDelete
  10. The philosophy of exorcism and, more broadly, the preternatural.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Re your last Postliberal Order post: Thank you for your thoughts Dr Feser.

    I definitely hear you around the natural law and certain obligations being incurred because of it.

    Given where we are with the current cultural and societal structure, the centralized state with it's corporate and media cronyism whether they call it liberal or anything else is the main problem facing men of God. The prudential solution is to push for decentralization as much as possible. This is the strategic move for now.

    To do that, since everyone "speaks in this language" anyway, let us ally with the strongest advocates for classical liberalism. How about about the anarcho-capitalists - especially Hoppe?
    They clearly see the democracy isn't the right answer.

    If we can win against the centralized state, perhaps then we can argue amongst ourselves what the proper order ought to be. I am pretty sure it's going to be a much better mix of all sorts of "public" and "private" institutional structures that can to some degree balance each other.

    Related to that, one final thought, I do not think anyone arguing against classical liberalism has much sense of the ordering properties of markets.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Given what the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church (https://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html#Concrete%20indications) says about "Social Assistance State" (or "Welfare State", as it is called elsewhere) and Subsidiarity, it might be that anarcho-capitalism is closer to the what the Church envisions than what currently exists in the West.

      Not very close, as, of course, Church affirms that the State as such is natural and necessary.

      And markets do need some regulation, as in completely free market, for example, pornography will be widely produced and marketed.

      But we are far from the point where we'd have to fight over such questions. And until then, yes, for example, Milei's efforts in Argentina would seem to be laudable.

      Delete
  12. Why is it a sin for a celebrate priest or monk or nun to masturbate? They aren’t going to have children anyway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why is it ever a sin for a nun - or for women in general -to masterbate, as doing so does not thwart the reproductive process?

      Delete
    2. More self-control is preferable to less self-control.

      Delete
    3. SacredKnowing at 12.06AM

      You could say that about anything. My question is, why is it sinful in principle for a nun, or for women in general , to masterbate. Or isn't it?

      Delete
    4. Someone with a name that has the word "think" in it, should know how to spell the word "masturbate" correctly.

      Delete
    5. Anonymous at 3.42PM

      You must feel so self satisfied and superior pointing out a spelling infelicity, as though anything at all rides on it. Now how about answering my question? Why is it contrary to the natural law - and therefore wrong - for a women to masturbate, nun or not?

      Delete
    6. Anonymous HippopotamusMay 13, 2024 at 6:23 AM

      The pleasure of sexual acts is directed toward the unity of partners, which is in turn directed toward procreation and the care of children. Masturbation is contrary to this end because it directs the person toward either sexual attraction to themselves or toward whatever material they are using, frustrating both the primary and secondary ends of sexual acts.

      Feser has talked about the perverted faculty argument a lot on this blog and elsewhere if you haven't read those. If you have read them and disagree, then you can make a more specific objection.

      Delete
    7. With celebrate people there is no longer any such ends, though.

      Delete
    8. "for a women." That should be the singular "woman." And the Church teaches masturbation is wrong for both sexes.

      Delete
    9. Anonymous HippopotamusMay 14, 2024 at 6:28 AM

      The purpose of a tree saw is to cut limbs off of trees. If I choose to leave my saw in the shed and never use it, that doesn't change the purpose of the saw. It has the same purpose.

      Similarly, a vow of celibacy doesn't somehow change the purpose of sexual activity for the person making the vow. The end of sexual activity is the same for celibate people and sexually active people.

      Delete
    10. True, but not using a saw is "contrary to its purpose".

      Delete
    11. When you're not using your reproductive organ, you are acting like a human being who is not using his reproductive organ.

      When you're pleasuring yourself, you're acting like an organism that reproduces with itself. Such as a tapeworm.

      Delete
    12. Did Aquinas or someone say that?

      Delete
    13. @Anonymous

      No, kind human being. It came from the result of private reflection. There exists no authority who stated it.

      Delete
    14. Anonymous HippopotamusMay 22, 2024 at 9:08 AM

      @Anonymous 5/16, 6:31

      You wrote, "True, but not using a saw is "contrary to its purpose"."

      That objection is different than the previous post, which argued that "With celebrate (sic) people there is no longer any such ends, though." Let's settle that first objection before moving on. I don't know if you are the original poster, but do you agree that a vow of celibacy does not change the purpose of sexual acts?

      Delete
  13. A makes a natural law argument against B's behavior.

    B: Yeah, so?

    What reply from A will demonstrate that B is OBLIGATED to obey the stricture adduced by A?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. None at all of course, without the addition of god to the mix, who you might argue we have obligations to and will punish transgressions. That is why those who do not believe in your god are not impresssed by your attempt to control our lives by wielding the stick of 'natural law'.

      Delete
    2. Obligation on natural law is simply a species (or perhaps byproduct) of practical reason. If one desires X, then one does/does not do Y.

      Do you want to be integrated around the good and thereby happy? Then do good and avoid evil. B's behavior is evil and thus inimical to integration around the good and its attendant happiness. Since human beings necessarily desire the good and happiness (irrespective of how inchoate or poorly developed such notions are in their mind), then B is obligated to stop the relevant behavior inasmuch as it is a practical necessity to achieve what is desired at B's most foundational level.

      Delete
    3. IMO, at that point it's time to step back and say that if B is going to reject out of hand the argument, it's up to them to demonstrate that they're having this discussion in good faith by proposing what framework they use for determining moral behavior.

      It's B's turn to make a positive argument. Otherwise continuing the discussion is just not worth A's time.

      Delete
    4. What reply from A will demonstrate that B is OBLIGATED to obey the stricture adduced by A?

      Request that you dis-ambiguate:

      Did you mean (1) "what reply from A will convince B that B is obligated...";

      or (2) "what argument establishes that B is obligated ..." ?

      The problem with (1) is that convincing a specific person's of a truth implies that it is even remotely possible to do so because the person is listening and open to being moved by argument or evidence. There is a saying in poker: you can't bluff players who aren't even looking at your cards and actions. Similarly, you can't persuade someone who isn't willing to engage with openness to valid argument.

      The valid argument here is that men really do have a nature, an essence; that said nature implies that men are social beings meant for society, meant for living in mutual sharing of life and resources; that mutual living requires cooperation; and that because man is rational instead of driven merely by instinct, he is a moral being and so his nature obligates him to cooperate. Without his being a moral sort of being, the prior points would dictate that
      "if you want to be happy, you must do X". By being (by nature) both moral and social, nature obligates men to conform to actions that fulfill their nature. There cannot be an ought without there being a moral being, so demanding "what obligates me" requires accepting that at least in principle there might be an argument which establishes that man is a moral sort of being, and requires that you listen to that argument. Otherwise, exclaiming "what obligates me?" is a tantrum, not a real pursuit of truth.

      Delete
    5. What reply from A will demonstrate that B is OBLIGATED to obey the stricture adduced by A?

      There seems to be some assumption attached to the question that isn't being stated. If the argument at the beginning was a good one, it already demonstrated it. What you seem to mean is "What can A say that will force B to believe the argument?" And the answer, of course, is that nothing anyone can say can force anyone to believe any argument.

      Delete
    6. With my A says, B says question, I had in mind Elizabeth Anscombe's view that "morality" is a post-Reformation period concept stripped of what was the notion of obligation inherent in the concept of law. FreeThinker above seems to hold that it is necessary that God be the lawgiver for natural law to have obligatory force. Is that true? Does the conclusion, "you are obligated to do X," follow on natural law if there is no God or if there's a deist god that has no concern for rational, embodied agents? I would think Aristotle would say that if you are to to live a good life, you must actualize your human nature, but that conditional necessity seems somehow to lack the "Thou Shalt" element that we feel is part of God-given law.

      Delete
  14. Something worth wider distribution is Michael Augros' response to some attempts to claim Aquinas' arguments for the immortality of the soul are not valid (such as the incompetent book written by Adam Wood)

    https://www.thomasaquinas.edu/news/dr-michael-augros-aquinass-proof-human-souls-subsistence

    ReplyDelete
  15. All good, even if some suggestions are less plausible than others. I have an idea that may also, by now, be stale. In philosophy there are eternal topics. Time. Reality. Truth. Ethics. Morality. The list is long. I 've been hashing out a fairly non-complex theory or postulation concerning *reality*, which interweaves tighty with "belief". I have dubbed this Contextual Reality, which in essence says: reality is whatever I/we say it is. This goes back to my thirty-year experience in administrative law, as investigator and judge.that is all for here and now. thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  16. WCB

    A (Jesus Christ) "Sell all you have and give to the poor."

    B (A self described Christian) "A didn't mean ME!"

    WCB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @WCB, you write:

      A (Jesus Christ) "Sell all you have and give to the poor."

      B (A self described Christian) "A didn't mean ME!"


      Do you really believe this is what you're supposed to do, or are you attempting to highlight what you think is an inconsistency in a Christian's interpretation of the Bible?

      Delete
    2. You really don't listen, do you? Jesus never, ever, not once, told a single Gentile to sell all that they have. Never. You can't find it, because it didn't happen.

      Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, sent by Jesus to the Gentiles to preach that Christ died for their sins, never once told Gentiles to sell what they have. Never. Not once. What he did tell them was to gather funds and resources to feed the saints at Jerusalem - the Jews who DID sell what they had, because that's what THEY were told. At most Paul told them that God loves a cheerful giver.

      You really shouldn't boast about things of which you know nothing. Christians today are nowhere commanded to sell what they have. Please stop repeating lies for your own reputation's sake.

      Delete
    3. Source: "just trust me, bro"

      Delete
    4. WCB

      See Mark 10, Luke 12, 14, 18, and Matthew 19.
      Sell all you have and give to the poor. Plus supporting verses. You cannot serve God and Mammon. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to go the heaven. Etc.

      Why? The goal was to have nothing objectionable when the Kingdom Of God at the second coming occurred. Jesus has not returned, nor has the coming of the Kingdom Of God with the great sorting of the sheep from the goats of Matthew 25.

      So these commands still stand. Yes, I know the Bible and the gospels and the commands of Jesus. And why Jesus demands that we sell all we have.

      And when did Paul outrank Jesus?

      WCB

      Delete
    5. Read your Bible again.
      Matt.19:21-24. Jesus tells a rich young man to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor if he wants to be perfect.

      Delete
    6. WCB

      Jesus commanded that. The Bible proves it. That settles it.

      Jesus was not speaking to "gentiles" or non-believers. Jesus was speaking to his followers. Paul's unfamiliarity of the gospels does not negate the commands of Jesus.

      WCB

      Delete
    7. And when did Paul outrank Jesus?

      When did Paul receive the authority from Jesus to go to the Gentiles? Somewhere around Acts 13. When did Paul tell the Gentiles, under the authority of Jesus, to sell everything they had? Never. Not once.

      I'm waiting for your proof that Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, ever commanded a single Gentile to sell everything they had. His letters are the bulk of the New Testament. There are thirteen epistles he wrote, and he covered a vast range of doctrine for Gentiles. Surely, if selling everything they had is as important for Gentiles as you seem to think, you could find me a single verse. You have yet to provide it, so I ask again.

      Please provide it. One verse, from Paul whose authority and doctrine were granted by Jesus. One verse. I'll wait.

      Delete
    8. WCB

      Mark 10, Luke 18, Matthew 19. Jesus recommends following the ten commandments. That is why Christian Nationalists insist on having the The Commandments posted in all school classrooms. However the punchline, "Sell all you have and give to the poor" gets left off. I don't know if that is amusing or cringe worthy. Maybe both.

      WCB

      Delete

    9. Trying to gibe Christians, WCB the apostate says,

      "Sell all you have and give to the poor. Plus supporting verses."

      "Jesus commanded that. The Bible proves it. That settles it."


      More, not of Jesus, WCB, but of your perseverating, rockheaded, duplicitous fundamentalist cultist-now-turned-apostate subversion, again.

      Are there not enough Seventh Day Adventist, or Assemblies of God websites where you can manifest your infestation?

      No, that's not what Jesus commanded those who wish to enter into life, to do.

      It was a response to an individual who was quite apparently testing the limits.

      We have been over this repeatedly.

      https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2024/02/the-heresy-with-thousand-faces.html?showComment=1707690363956#c8288025678889065038

      Delete
    10. @WCB, though you didn't directly answer my question, your other comments imply that you do indeed affirm the idea that we should sell everything that we have and give it to the poor.

      So, are you living what you preach? Is the computer you typed that on yours? If so, why haven't you sold it? Are you wearing clothes right now? If so, why haven't you sold them? Have you sold your car? How about your home? What about all the food you bought. Do you eat it or do you do what Jesus said and sell it so the poor make have the money? Or, better yet, why don't you just give your food to the poor?

      Delete
    11. How many times do we have to go over this? Guys, WCB is not amenable to reasonable argument. He insists on his own way of interpreting the Bible, and won't even entertain that some other way of interpreting might be more appropriate, or that Christians might legitimately interpret it using different ideas than he has on how to interpret it. And you can't dent that fixed position.

      For example, you can spend all day pointing out that Jesus, in Mt 19, is answering a specific pair of questions. First:

      Good master, what good shall I do that I may have life everlasting?

      and then

      All these I have kept from my youth, what is yet wanting to me?

      In both cases, the question Jesus is responding to comes from the young man using the first person pronoun: "I". When Jesus answers, there is no presumption based on a literal interpretation that his answer automatically extends beyond the scope of the question posed by the questioner, "I". But you won't make any headway.

      Delete
    12. You all can spin the words of Jesus, but He did say that if you want to be " perfect, " (and shouldn't Christians strive for perfection?) ,we should do as He told the rich young man. Of course, we can choose to do the bare minimum and just try to squeeze into heaven, but I think that kind of laxity will cost us some time in purgatory, in order that we may be purified, especially those who were rich and didn't help the poor.
      Yes that is a hard teaching, but so is 1st Corinthians 7:8-9, where Paul says that if someone is unmarried or widowed it is better to remain that way.

      Delete
    13. WCB

      Matthew 19
      And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

      If you are claiming Jesus was speaking to one person and that his command to sell all extended only to that one person, well, nonsense.

      Luke 12:33-34
      33 Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.
      34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

      WCB

      Delete
    14. WCB
      @Bill May
      "So, are you living what you preach? Is the computer you typed that on yours? If so, why haven't you sold it? "

      I am an atheist. I am not obliged to follow such commands of Jesus as "Sell all you have and give to the poor". I just find it notable that most self described Christians do not intend to follow the commands of Jesus.

      Especially in this day and age of rising Christian Nationalists. Who demand everybody follow their brand of strident Christianity. And are intent on tearing down the Wall Of Separation between church and state. And more.

      WCB

      Delete
    15. @WCB, you write:

      I am an atheist. I am not obliged to follow such commands of Jesus...

      Okay, but your interpretation entails the things I raise, which is clearly not what Christ meant. Categorical statements are common in the Bible, and they are qualified by local and general contexts. You don't have to believe in the authority of the Bible to see that basic hermeneutical point.

      Christ was not calling for nudity, self-imposed starvation, the elimination of savings accounts, cars, shelters and tools. That would reduce his statements to absurdity which at the very least is an uncharitable interpretation of the text. And given your apparent desire to be uncharitable, you undermine your credibility. You would rather distort the text rather than assess it objectively. No honest person would want to interact with somebody who argues in bad faith.

      Delete
    16. WCB

      Yes, these commands of Jesus are absurd. Don't worry about what you will eat, drink or wear. After all the world as we know it will end soon, soon, soon! "Some standing here...", etc.
      In that context, these commands are not absurd. Except the promise that soon the Kingdom of God will come and all want and need will be gone forever.

      The problem here is, so many Christians chop all of this up into pieces and do not consider these commands as a whole, in the context of these commands.

      Mark 10
      29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's,
      30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

      See also Matthew 13.

      WCB

      Delete
    17. @WCB, actually Christians do indeed consider the local and general contexts. He isn't commanding all fathers everywhere to, right now, abandon their children, their parents or their wives. And we know this not merely because we say so. We know this because there's a wealth of other passages which instruct us on the regulation of property, the rearing of a family, and our duties to the same.

      You cannot give financial support to the needy if you're starving yourself. And you cannot even have a job if you show up naked. If you have no means to sustain yourself, you'll be incapable of doing good to anybody else. Your desire to twist statements into some sort of hypocrisy litmus test is remarkable.

      Anyway, I'm out.

      Delete
    18. Some guy online: Jesus said that everyone needs to give all they have to the poor!

      Zacchaeus and the wealth centurion: *exists*

      Delete
  17. Could you respond to the phylobotanist critic of the god of classical theism.
    http://phylobotanist.blogspot.com/2015/02/classical-theism-and-simple-god.html?m=1

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a pretty bad critique tbh, since it straight up admits that it's not actually engaging with the actual arguments.

      Who cares what 99% of people believe on a subject if they've not spent time studying it?

      The only substantive argument in that article is the assertion that divine simplicity necessarily entails impersonality, and that a simple being is therefore unworthy of worship, and posits "vacuum energy" as a plausible candidate: without giving any justification for that assertion and without engaging with the arguments that Feser and others have made to explain why a simple being cannot be material (and therefore why the kind of explanation the author wants to choose for the first cause can be categorically ruled out), nothing more is necessary than to point out that the "critique" targets neither the premise nor the structure of any of Feser's arguments, and is therefore not a good rejoinder.

      Delete
  18. Dr. Feser,
    I wish your wife a Happy Mother's Day.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Dr. Feser, after reading the histories, it seems that in the past Roman Catholics did believe that the Fathers of Nicea1 and Constantinople1 actually included the Filioque in their original formulation of the Creed, and that the Orthodox later deleted it. Now, of course, both Westerners and Easterners accept that the Creed did NOT originally include the Filioque, and was a added later by the West. So why does the West still insist to call the Creed with the Filioque the Symbol of Faith as promulgated by Nicea1-Constantinople? Why not call it what is, something like "the Modified Symbol of Faith"? The nuances of the double procession aside, it was clearly added centuries later. Why not defend the mechanism by which is was added and the reasons for it with a title that identifies it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hoping for a cogent reply here, as I have yet to receive one from anyone, ever, at any time ( with apologies to St Vincent of Lerins). Does that mean the Filioque is in fact, indefensible from a truth in advertising POV?

      Delete
  20. Hi Ed,

    I mentioned this before in an open thread, but I would love to hear a detailed account of how and why you moved from classical theism to catholicism, specifically -- similar to your "The Road From Atheism" post some years back.

    Your blog, among other things, has moved me from a New-Atheist devotee to a tentative classical theist. However, believing that Jesus really rose from the dead, and that the Roman Catholic Church really embodies God's message still seems beyond my comprehension, and I'm very skeptical.

    Thank you,
    A. Kruger

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do something like that in my essay "The God of a Philosopher," in the anthology Faith and Reason, edited by Brian Besong and Jonathan Fuqua

      Delete
    2. Hi Ed,

      Got it, thanks. I would love to see something similar on the blog, but I understand how busy you are. Thanks for the reply and be well.

      - A. Kruger

      Delete
  21. im Flanders (One Peter Five, 6/7/24), has unfortunately given voice to the conservative errors conflating Church with civil society:
    "Before the Liberal revolt, “the Church” was the community of all the baptised, and the laity governed the Church according to the temporal sword, and the clergy governed the Church according to the spiritual sword. This is why we should reject the Liberal phrase “Church and State,” for the very terms negate the Two Swords dogma. No, 'The Church' is all the baptised. 'The State' is merely the lay rulers of the Church"

    But this would be a "two swords" heresy. Secular authorities do not govern the Church. The two societies are distinct and autonomous. Unity and collaboration between the two is not identity. Identity is the theory of Edmund Burke, Kirk and Scruton. This idea originated with the Enlightenment and its forerunners. Saint Thomas Aquinas, Saint Augustine, Bishop Hosius, the architect of Nicaea, papal social teaching, the social theorists of the Baroque, Bellarmine and Suarez; all agree that Church and state are two distinct things. Making them one thing will not make civil society more religious; it would end the Church.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. WCB

      Papal Bull Unum Sanctum of Pope Bonaface VIII, 1302

      However, one sword ought to be subordinated to the other and temporal authority, subjected to spiritual power. For since the Apostle said: ‘There is no power except from God and the things that are, are ordained of God‘ [Rom 13:1-2], but they would not be ordained if one sword were not subordinated to the other and if the inferior one, as it were, were not led upwards by the other.

      Bonaface asserted as spiritual head of the church he also was secular head of all.

      Naturally, the secular rulers of Europe heartily disagreed.

      WCB

      Delete
    2. Boniface didn't say he was the head of secular society. Two different societies, existing in their own right; this has always been the Catholic approach. Of course, secular society is not absolute with regard to universal principles from beyond, and it pertains to the Church to have the ultimate say over what these are, and secular society must listen. That's all.

      I'd rather not have another boring discussion about what Unam Sanctam said, but the issue here is that there are two different societies, which Flanders denies, going against all Catholic tradition.

      Delete
    3. WCB

      I quoted Unum Sanctum above.

      "...but they would not be ordained if one sword were not subordinated to the other and if the inferior one, as it were, were not led upwards by the other."

      This was a great power grab on the part of Boniface VIII.

      From HistoryToday:
      "The pope went on in 1303 to confirm the disputed choice of Albert of Hapsburg as Holy Roman Emperor and announce that the emperor was overlord of all other rulers, including the king of France. Under the ultimate supremacy of the pope."

      WCB

      Delete
    4. Your quote from Unam Sanctam backs up what I was saying - there are two different societies.

      Delete
    5. The two societies are distinct and autonomous. Unity and collaboration between the two is not identity. Identity is the theory of Edmund Burke, Kirk and Scruton.

      I agree that the two are distinct. I am puzzled about saying that they are "autonomous". Are you sure that's the right word?

      Here's the problem: Even if you were to have a single government governing the entire civil order, (just for example, say all other peoples died off leaving only Catholic Lithuanians alive, and they are one civil society). It would still be the case that the Church and the civil order are distinct orders. But they would have, as their earthly corpus, the very same people. The Church also holds Christ, the Church Triumphant, and the Church Suffering, of course, so would still be larger than just the remaining living people, but the visible Church would only consist of Catholic Lithuanians, and nevertheless that body considered as civil and considered as ecclesiastical would be distinct because their organizing principles are distinct.

      And yet, precisely because those to distinct orders must regulate the lives of the same people, it cannot be said that they are "autonomous" simply speaking. They are distinct but not wholly separable. They must inter-relate for two reasons: their subjects are the same; and their ends are intertwined. They must not intertwine so as to lose their own natures into some melded soup, but they must (in the ideal condition) so relate that they each make their rules coordinate with those of the other.

      I have never heard it suggested that an identity of the people, organized with respect to civil order, and organized with respect to sacral order, are "identical", as a theory urged by Burke, Kirk, and Scruton. Can you point me to some citations where they say that? (Not to say I have read deeply of their ideas, that never seemed to me all that beneficial).

      Leo XIII put it that they each were supreme in their own spheres. Valuable, but I think even this needs to be clarified with layers of qualification to be understood rightly.

      Delete
    6. It's true that, even if the subjects of these two societies were the same, on earth, it would not make them anything less that two distinct societies. Indeed, as you say, the non-temporal dimension can never be part of civil society, which is, by definition, only the society of those who are alive. The Church also has a soul and a mind, which is God, making it properly comparable to an organism, with existence in itself, like a man. Civil society does not. Of course they should collaborate, which is the Catholic understanding of not separating two distinct things.

      On the other hand, Burke declared, “in a Christian commonwealth the Church and the State are one and the same thing, being different integral parts of the same whole” (Speech on a Petition of the Unitarian Society, May 11, 1773). Russell Kirk endorsed Coleridge, “The Church… lives not merely in partnership with the state, but with it constitutes a unity”, and his idea of a “clerisy” as functionaries of the state (The Conservative Mind). Scruton described the Church as a bonding agency for civil society, whose doctrines were useful fictions if they contributed to social solidity, and dangerous extremism if not (The Soul of the World). These quotes are just a sample.

      Delete
    7. Michael, thanks for the quotes. Now I know even better why my Catholic teachers never bothered to push Burke, Kirk, or Scruton for much consideration.

      Delete
    8. So, if it is a given that the two orders are distinct but must rule over the same subjects, there is always the problem of ordering between them. The simple answer is that because the ecclesial order has an end that is ultimate and perfect, but the civil order has an end that is temporal and imperfect (not wholly perfective of man as man), the latter must be subordinate to the former. So far, that's easy.

      The implications are the trouble. Popes in past times have offered the view that the ecclesiastical order - an in particular, the pope - can order around the heads of civil bodies as to their civil order. At least, to the extent of deposing some rulers and erecting others to be rulers of their respective principalities.

      Insofar as I understand Catholic thought, this is best described as a theory or perhaps a theological opinion. For example, when popes have intervened to depose rulers, sometimes this simply did not take, and not because the entire country (or at least it's ruling class) were heretics or apostates condemned and persistently held to have been condemned by the Church thereafter. That is, the attempt was not effective, the ruling class ignored it, and the Church appears to have gone on without making a permanent issue of it. (E.G. King John I of Portugal.) Leo XIII's specifying that they are each supreme in their own spheres lends support to the idea that the visible Church on Earth does not by nature have the authority to intervene by deposing (or erecting) a ruling person or regime. Obviously, Christ himself does have such authority, because all authority comes from God. But it appears that God has (in some sense, at least) bound himself to respect the choices of men as to the civil governments they erect. And while Christ also has all authority over the Church, he did not give over all of that authority to the Apostles: for example, they had no authority to add or delete from the list of the sacraments, and they cannot alter the foundational constitution of the Church (with its priesthood and hierarchy, for example).

      Delete
    9. I think you are making the issue unnecessarily complicated. Temporal society's end is not imperfect even if it's temporal, so it's not its temporal nature that allows the Church to intervene, to the point of deposing rulers (whether or not this has always been honoured makes little difference). This happens when civil society is manifestly unable to be true to its nature, or when divine law is outraged. The Church has authority to speak when there is a serious breach of natural or divine law, because it is the ultimate arbiter of these things.

      Secular society is not subordinate to the Church in its temporal sphere. But its perfect temporal ends are subordinate to the supernatural ends of its members, and these are ends it can favour but not obtain. Here the Church has authority. Therefore, as you say, in an ideal world these two societies should collaborate.

      Delete
  22. What is with all the Anti-Semitism arising in Catholic Circles and how do we get rid of that Satanic BS?

    It is starting to get on mae nerves. I feel like going the full Scottish..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with you, Son of Ya'kov. Although there is some old fashioned anti-Semitism in certain rad trad Catholic circles, some of which I witnessed at the last Society of Biblical Literature meeting in November, most antisemitism now seems to be coming from Critical Theory advocates and their followers. Protestant elites have been guilty of this also, but most evangelicals are not woke and have avoided this particular problem. Pamela Paresky writes on this from a Jewish perspective in "Critical Race Theory and the 'Hyper-White' Jew."

      Delete
    2. "Son of Ya'Kov
      May 13, 2024 at 2:05 PM
      What is with all the Anti-Semitism arising in Catholic Circles and how do we get rid of that Satanic BS?


      Emotion. Probably.

      But - and now to ruminate - there are a fair number of strands that need to be teased out in untangling that question.

      Switching metaphors, I guess it depends to a considerable extent on what it is that the antisemite himself imagines he is zeroing in on.

      And there will be the ideological and emotional drives both, I suppose.

      And among the "ideological" expressions will be found personal motivations masked by ostensible doctrinal oppositions: oppositions which might in a few old Trads of a few generations back, have sufficied in the form of Feeneyism.

      On the "pure" doctrinal level? Just how much emotional hostility could practically be ignited in a person as his Supersessionism rubbed up against any cynicism he might see in Talmudism, or the effectual atheism, self-reference, and "social restructuring" focus of Reform Juadism, is another question.

      Then there is the entire problem of what exactly it is that constitutes anti Semitism itself, or makes or qualifies a Jew as a Jew.

      Whether most of the instances now observed are opportunistic manifestations of underlying and preexisting pathology, or are impromptu and triggered by current political events alone, I couId not say.

      My guess is that the fewer chaffing social encounters one has ever had with Jewish persons, however the Jewish persons are imagined to qualify as or represent as "Jews", the less likelihood of a disguised personal animus working its way to the surface, and the more likely it is to be purely ideological as in some super extreme Supersessionism, or proximately emotional as with Gaza, personal bigotry, or resentment.

      I worry a bit about Jewish Christians [Messianic Jews such as One for Israel] and Jewish Catholics [e.g., Mother Miriam, Roy Schoeman etc.] as well as Israelis becoming targets.

      Tough question.


      Delete
    3. Is what you're describing actually that, or is it simply people waking up to the reality of overrepresentation and misuse of power?

      Delete
    4. Son of Ya'Kov
      May 13, 2024 at 2:05 PM asks:
      "What is with all the Anti-Semitism arising in Catholic Circles ...?"


      Anonymous
      May 14, 2024 at 6:44 AM, asks regarding the asking:
      "Is what you're describing actually that, or is it simply people waking up to the reality of overrepresentation and misuse of power?"


      By and large, it's actually that.

      Delete
    5. It's pattern recognition and a new awareness of political problems of an ethno-sectarian nature. Groups come into conflict all the time, and sometimes it looks like what is happening now with the backlash against Jewish political activity.

      Delete
    6. Just in case there is a perceived ambiguity in my previous comment resulting from my over-quoting the responent to Jamie's son:

      "It's actually that", refers to the soundness of, and my concurrence with, the Scotchman's observation.

      Delete
  23. Hi Feser,

    Could you recommend any Catholic philosophers (or specific books) that analyze Post-Modern* philosophy?

    (People like Derrida, Deleuze, Lyotard, Foucault, etc.) *
    Nietzsche, Husserl, and Heidegger were significant influences of Post-Modern philosophy.

    I'm currently reading DBH's "The Beauty of the Infinite", and in the 150 pages, he covers the Post Modern criticism of metaphysics, and that section is mind-bogglingly confusing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Angela Franks will soon be publishing a two volume work on The Body and Identity. The first volume is sub-titled: Liquid bodies and empty selves. The second volume is subtitled: Theological and Philosophical Anthropology. Her work begins with the premise that "classical" modernity is "structured modernity"
      (with a focus on and value of permanance) and post-modernity is liquid (with a focus on and value of change/movement). It is unclear to me what she thinks is common between modernity and post-modernity. She analyzes the nature of movement using Aristotle and asks the question: what is the good sought in postmodernity in its love of change and movement? The problem is that post modernity values this movement for its own sake and movement is never a good for its own sake. You can move away from what is good to what is evil and this is a movement but not good. Her work is influenced heavily by Balthasar, but she also draws from figures like Aristotle and Aquinas. She is an excellent speaker and I believe her efforts to engage post-modernism both critically and with some level of sympathy is important. In the end, postmodernism is a wreck of a worldview and academic work of Catholic philosophers need to note the incoherence of the relativism of postmodernism and then invite people to sanity.

      Delete
  24. The most puzzling Aristotelian-Thomistic topic for me is the mode of existence of Prime Matter (PM). It is said, PM is pure potency, formless. How then PM can exists? Some can answer "PM can only exist conjoined with a form. In a material substance, form and matter are co-relative principles". Ok, I can get it, however to me this seems just moving the problem when we have to face the substantial change. Change where PM seems to link the change from one form to another, therefore must have a mode of existence without a form. Where am I wrong?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree... it seems a very clever idea to seperate PM and Substantial form but it seems to just beg the question well where do 'they' come from.

      Delete
  25. After blogging faithfully and consistently for the past fifteen years, I'm hanging it up, figuring the golden age of blogging is now behind us. To be honest, I don't even know any other regular Catholic bloggers out there aside from Dr. Feser, Boniface at Unam Sanctam Catholicam, and myself (Pater Familias). If anyone does, please let me know in reply.

    Take good care now.

    https://fatherofthefamily.blogspot.com/2024/05/take-good-care-now-la-fin.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a new-ish blog! I am but an up-and-comer (if that is not too presumptuous to say), but I like to think that I have some decent content.

      https://catholicareopagus.blogspot.com/

      Pax Christi in Regno Christi,
      Colin

      Delete
  26. What good books/resources are there for learning more about the natural law as it relates to higher order things like justice and society? I'm convinced of the perverted faculty argument but want to learn more about natural law as it relates to more abstract things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aristotle book on politics and St. Thomas Aquinas commentary on it would probably be very helpful.

      Delete
  27. Well. It was a good idea, Doc. I am not sure many were ready for the premise.Much (or most) of what I read in comments on this post conveys usual church doctrine and dogma and interpretations thereof. I did not understand your intention as being more-of-the-same of what is usually argued here. Maybe I just misunderstood? Or is it only equivocation, of which I read more elsewhere today? Just wondering...

    ReplyDelete
  28. I presume the Thomistic response to this debate would be to focus on difference between the will and the intellect? (The issue is if people are judged on their morality which in turn is linked to certain genetic ;gifts; it's not fair to judge all equally) https://www.aporiamagazine.com/p/is-human-worth-normally-distributed

    ReplyDelete
  29. Are there good catholic thinkers or books that interacted with left-libertarians or market anarchists? While they are completely wrong in metaphysics, antropology etc, i'am pretty sympathetic to they in general, they seems to critique classical liberalism while understanding the value of the market economy.

    A great thinker here remarked that the left biggest mistake was choosing Marx over Proudhon, a critique i agree with. It seems a path that could work well with distributivism, but it is a position i do not tend to see in catholic places.

    ReplyDelete
  30. https://twitter.com/60Minutes/status/1791188112518881684

    “I heard he’s going to speak 60 minutes ex cathedra.”

    ReplyDelete
  31. Johannes here. Questions about actuality and potentiality in the act of creation for anyone who can help:

    To change from the situation where nothing was created (ie God existing alone) to the new situation where something has been created, there has been an actualisation of something into existence by God. In such a change of situation, (a) was there an actualisation of some passive potential or (b) was there an actualisation but without any passive potentiality involved because there is no passive potential in God?

    If this change in situation is an actualisation of something into existence without any passive potentiality involved, then would this kind of change be an exception to the idea that “change is an actualisation of a passive potential”?

    If instead this change in situation is still a case of “an actualisation of passive potential”, then where is this passive potential located, since there is no passive potential in God (and in the original situation before any creation, passive potential would then not exist at all)?

    Thank you.

    Cheers!
    johannes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Every actualization of a potential needs first that here is a being that has this potential who them changes to having this potential actualized.

      Since on the hipothetical scenario where only God exist there is no being with any potential, there is no actualization of potential at creation. In fact there is no moment before creation, for time only begins to exist with it!

      Delete
    2. As Talmid said.

      then would this kind of change be an exception to the idea that “change is an actualisation of a passive potential”?

      Yes, except that it is still confusing to even call this "change" at all. It is better phrasing NOT to refer to there being any change with regard to creation, precisely because the event does not involve a prior "state" of some being (or even a quasi-being) which then undergoes an alteration into some other state. So, there's "change" and there's "creation" and they do not overlap. Creation ex nihilo is meant to express this fact, that it's not a change to something. It's LIKE an exception because the categories don't overlap, but it's really a non-intersection of the two concepts because they are inherently disjoint.

      Delete
  32. Professor, please consider reviewing Randall Sullivan's newest book "The Devil's Best Trick". In the book Sullivan - an investigative journalist - reports on the investigation into murders in central Texas in the late 1980s attributed to Satan worship while also purporting to present an authoritative account of belief and non-belief in the existence of the devil in philosophy and theology. I'm curious as to the accuracy of his account of the opinions of major philosophers and theologians.

    ReplyDelete
  33. The new Vatican Norms (17/5/24) for discerning alleged supernatural phenomena have caused unwarranted controversy. One peter Five (17/5/24), seems only to prove that it should be even more closely vetted for orthodoxy than Fernandez: "the local bishop no longer has the authority to declare an apparition to be 'of supernatural origin'. That power will be reserved to the Holy See"; "Apparitions, it seems, now do not exist, and will not exist, including the Second Coming itself". OPF says it's disastrous, "even if Jesus Christ Himself appears in the flesh – which, as it turns out, will certainly happen eventually... no bishop or Pope will be allowed to declare His Coming to be of “Supernatural Origin.” The Second Coming, an "apparition"?

    But the Church does not "certify" supernatural events now. And its usual nihil obstat is surely not required for the end of the world.

    Of course, the reservation of approval of private revelations to Rome might result in fewer approvals (which will do NO harm), but the argumentation used by Fernandez is in itself valid. Local bishops have indeed made mistakes, and are subject to worldly considerations like the Vatican. But only one episcopal See enjoys what Vatican I defined as dogma that every Catholic must believe; that the See of Rome will confirm the faith until the end of time.

    OPF worsened things by dropping the Church into Dostoevsky's unChristian soup: "But I think [Dostoevsky's] Grand Inquisitor is still our hermeneutical key". It compares Fernandez, and the Pope, to the "Legend of the Grand Inquisitor" in Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov. But the whole lesson of that story is Dostoevsky's unChristian belief in continuing revelation coming from a collective social consciousness. Dostoevsky is outraged by the Inquisitor telling "Christ", "Thou hast no right to add anything to what Thou hadst said of old". What Dostoevsky leaves unsaid is that the "adding" he refers to is not done by Christ but by society, in a continuing "revelation". This idea of continuing revelation and false mysticism, and its social, corporate validation, was continued by Soloviev (an occultist gnostic, who was never an orthodox Christian, even by Russian Orthodox standards) and resurfaces out here in the West through Congar on the left, and the Communio journal (de Lubac, Von B. and R) on the "right". It is sad to see a continuing misunderstanding of Dostoevsky's profoundly dangerous notions.

    ReplyDelete
  34. How would you judge on moral grounds the behaviour of France and UK towards Poland in September 1939 ? It's a common thing in Poland to refer to it as the western betrayal. Is it justifiable or maybe no other course of action was pościele?

    ReplyDelete
  35. Dr. Feser,
    I re-read your post on the Three Chapters Affair of Vigilius, and I found it lacking in a number of ways. I’d like to highlight two of them:

    A) Pope Vigilius was obviously an antipope until - minimally - the death of Pope Silverius. Some have attempted to argue that Silverius desposed himself, but this view is entirely untenable. To your credit, you do not make any pretense to that stance. Rather, you take as a given the claim (originally Bellarmine’s IIRC?) that Vigilius went from antipope to pope-pope after Silverius’s death in view of type of broad recognition of clergy. At least, that is how I read the Bellarmine claim that I *believe* you are appealing to. You can correct me on this if I’ve misread either you or him. And, indeed, I’ve never found evidence of a distinct “ecclesial act” proclaiming him as such. Hence, most Catholic theologians continue to maintain his succession was “irregular”.

    Now, if I have read you correctly re: his legitimacy being grounded in a type of (implicit?) recognition after the death of Silverius, this is rather problematic. Why? As I’m sure you’re aware, to assert a man is pope against the clear (explicit, in this case) claims of a sitting pope to the contrary is de facto schism. It is the grounds for any formal pronouncements thereof to be true or even intelligible. And truly- it appears Silverius attempted preciselt that!

    Now, if we follow out the Bellarmine claim, suddenly we have to vindicate a number of other schismatic antipopes throughout history *following the death of their competitors*. After all, such antipopes frequently rose to historical significance as schismatics to be addressed authoritatively precisely *because* they held a type of broad recognition that became a real danger to the faithful, left unchecked.

    So we’re left with a number of scenarios in which an antipope line would be vindicated over and against the “true” pope succession by virtue of recognition in the absence of counter claimants after the death of the competitor. Nor could he be deposed by whatever otherwise “legitimate” successor is chosen later.

    Thus, it seems to me that the Bellarmine argument is either self-defeating or question begging. If the latter, it might be asked: how are you qualifying “recognition”? By whom and to what extent? Etc. Etc. Getting clear about what you mean here is the grounds for offering any defense of Catholicism on the matter for anything of productive conversation on it in the future.

    B) You briefly take up the fact of Vigilius having made in his First Constitutum what- minimally- *appears* to be an ex cathedra proclamation of the sort well described in the First Vatican Council. Then he later rejected it in compromise. For the most part, Catholic apologists don’t deny that the First Constitutum *appears* ex cathedra, right down to its grammatical form. Whatever else you make of the case, the man’s *intention* was obvious.

    Vigilius, of course, clarified his authority repeatedly and defined his conclusion even to the point of explicitly stating the decree could never admit of correction or revocation. Even common translations today frequently misrepresent just how decisively he spoke in the Latin, taking pains to exclude any possible misunderstanding of his words. I truly don’t see any other plausible interpretation of the text. But most will grant this much when pushed.

    Which brings us more directly to your arguments. You suggest that the conditions for an ex cathedra statement weren’t met in two ways:
    A) he misinterpreted the Three Chapters themselves
    B) he was under duress

    ReplyDelete
  36. Now, I find both of these (quite common) arguments to be exceptionally weak. To the first point, authoritative doctrine of the Church almost always presumes something of historical facts. Councils do so constantly, and they are sometimes incorrect about precisely who believed what and when. As an obvious example, we can confirm - whatever theological conclusions were drawn there after- Nestorius himself acknowledged the truth of Mary as “Theotokos” explicitly in numerous written statements! Even though a number of authoritative council statements in isolation misrepresent this, the relevant conclusion still holds at the level of doctrine. This is fine. But as applied to Vigilius, it is no good to appeal to a historical misinterpretation to suggest- as some do- that his proclamation was not “doctrinal”.

    Nor is it remotely reasonable to suggest as- still others do- (I dont necessarily accuse you of this- it is more commonly seen in Ybarra’s work ) that he saw himself to be offering a proclamation in continuity with previous councils and is reducible as such. Of course, a pope would see any such statement that way and likely speak in such a way as well. But what is defined as doctrine thereafter stands on its own two feet. To suggest otherwise is simply to duck the argument from the outset that it’s an actual falsification of papal infallibility.

    But your second argument as to how the conditions weren’t there is even more common and even worse. You highlight the fact that Vigilius was under duress. I think that is a reasonable assumption of the case I don’t dispute. I’ll start by remarking here that duress is not excluded by the text of the First Vatican Council. The only clause of the text I have ever seen used to argue this merely- in analysis- presupposes the simple capacity to communicate with the Church. And Vigilius obviously possessed this, or we wouldnt havent numerous statements appearing to conflict with one another.

    But there is a much more serious difficulty with the claim of duress; it actually proves the opposite in this case. Why? If he was under duress, it was duress in the opposite direction. Is a martyr under something of duress or coercion? *Certainly* so. That is precisely why we believe their witness to the faith is all the stronger. They were offered every incentive down to their life to choose other than what they did. In spite of everything, they chose the faith alone and spoke all the more clearly therein. So what you’re missing here is that whatever of duress in this case (and I hardly quibble about the degree therein) actually confirms- prima facie- the authority of what followed at every point therein.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I recently read through Gregory Nazianzus's* "5 Theological Orations". I didn't know until I read the 2nd Oration that Gregory affirmed Divine Simplicity. He probably didn't affirm it to the same strictness as Aquinas did, but he did affirm some version of DS.
    Dr. Feser, would you consider making a blog post about Gregory's 2nd Oration, giving your assessment of it? (Whenever you have the time to do so).

    (He's also known as Gregory the Theologian) *

    ReplyDelete
  38. Pope Francis in the 60 Minutes interview on blessing same-sex unions:

    "What I allowed was not to bless unions. That cannot be done because that is not the sacrament...but to bless each person, yes. The blessing is for everyone...To bless a homosexual-type union, however, goes against the given right, against the law of the Church. But to bless each person? Why not? The blessing is for everyone."

    That should about settle things. Same-sex unions can't be blessed, but individuals can be.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lets face it, if they just said that them things would not had gotten so messy.

      Delete
    2. Except that Francis demonstrates repeatedly that what he takes away with one hand he gives out with the other (and vice versa). Neither he nor anyone in his bureaucracy will make one effort to restrain the priests who WILL bless the unions, and he will continue to place such men in high favor. And when a priest makes an effort to bless the individuals and not the union, none of these will make one iota of effort to correct publications which declare that the priest blessed the union. None of these will make clear that the Church always had approved giving blessings to individuals who reasonably requested them, and that nothing had changed about that.

      Delete
    3. All true, but this complaint marks out the post-Vatican II Church. Two conclusions can be drawn: Pope Francis is a true successor of Popes Paul to Benedict; despite the neo-Lutheran so-called traditionalists of the Kwasnewsky/Lazu Kmita ilk, as Vatican I defined, the See of Rome will not lose the faith.

      Delete
    4. This seems very unfair to Peter Kwasniewsky and Dr. Robert Kmita, who are both known to be outstanding defenders of traditional Catholicism.

      Delete