Last Word On Idealism vs.

Last Word On Idealism vs. Realism.

(a selection from “Hegel’s Dialectic and the Motion of Motion” By James Donaldson, some edits added)

The origin of [Hegel’s] dialectic is really quite simple. It is merely a matter of following out the particular theory of abstraction which results when we posit that the thing in itself, or primary substance is unknowable. Its difference from Aristotle on this point is profound in many ways.

First, Aristotle does not deny our knowledge of things, and hence the knowledge we have of them, though partial and incomplete in itself, can be used to signify the whole as existing in reality. In this manner, for Aristotle, the enunciation depends for its unity not on the abstract, formal unity of the concept, but on the real underlying unity of the thing in reality. This is why Aristotle distinguishes between the modus rei, and the modus rei ut cognita (the thing known from the thing inasmuch as it is known) . The thing as existing in reality is composed of integral parts, but the parts of the thing as existing in the mind are concepts which are knowledge of the whole thing, although separately taken they only give a partial knowledge of the thing explicitly. Thus the whole as known through one partial concept can be combined with the whole known through another partial concept.

For Hegel, however, the correspondence between our partial knowledge and the whole thing in reality is denied, and our concepts are all taken as integral parts. And so for Hegel the the distinction between the thing in reality and as known falls down, and the mode of the thing existing in reality and in the mind are equated. The thing in reality is exactly as it is known. Hence, mental composition, like material composition, is of integral parts joined by the copula “is”. Of course, a concrete enunciation involving a difference between subject and predicate immediately involves a most resounding contradiction (ed. note: one part can never be said of another, e.g. “a hand is a foot”)…

Hence Hegel holds that there is a contradiction involved in in every sentence in which there is the least difference between the subject and the predicate, and he pushes his his point to say that even the enunciation of the sentence “A is A” involves a contradiction, because “A” as a subject is different from “A” as a predicate.


Why is there Something Rather

Why is there Something Rather than Nothing?

This question only has meaning for things that do not exist by definition. If we posit or prove the existence of a being whose very definition is to exist, it is meaningless to talk about why such a being exists- it would be like asking why triangles have three sides, or why an angle less than a right is acute rather than obtuse.

The question implicity limits the extension of “something” to those beings who do not exist by definition. These beings are called creatures.

I think the question is profound, but I don’t ever seem to have the same idea of what “profound” means as the Philosophers I tend to converse with. Most of them seem to think that “profound” means “unanswerable”. This has never been my experience. The profoundest things are usually the simplest things; the words we all know and use a thousand times a day. Something isn’t profound because you can never find a reason for it- this is more typical of irrational and silly things. A question is profound because you can contemplate the answer forever, and always find new things to it. It is a sham profundity that can never begin to know- the true profundity is the kind that never ceases to know something new.

The universe of the minds

The universe of the minds is more real than the cosmos. This world is as a cloud put next to it. This world, typified by its essential homogeneity of extension and duration, by its comparative undifferentiation, un-uniqueness, by the nothingness that all things are mixed with and resolve to. ..

We are the composite of being and nothing, prone to think that the Trinity is a contradiction. But we are infinitely more like contradiction than the Trinity. We imagine heaven as clouds. But it is the cosmos that is a cloud- mutable, temporary, homogeneous, uniform, subject to chance, full of formlessness and void, giving no light of its own, but only visible in the light of another.

DeKoninck for Memorization:…And if we

DeKoninck for Memorization:

…And if we do not seem able to follow the Angelic Doctor, is it not because we have excluded from the universe the efficient and sufficient cause moving the cosmos and pushing it upwards? Our timerous attitude is only too easily explained. Since Suarez we have resolutely put a plug on the world’s top side: we wish to explain everything in nature by means of intracosmic causes. Suarez, in denying the apodictic value of the arguments presented by saint Thomas for demonstrating on strictly rational lines the existence of pure spirits, cut every essential link between the cosmos and the created spiritual universe. Let us add to that his hybrid notion of prime matter, and we arrive logically at the barbarous creationism of our philosophy manuals. It is obvious that if we sterilize the world from its outset, nothing more can come forth. Creationism, which from all angles opens the world directly on God, passing to one side of the universal hierarchy, implicitly rejects what is essential to the universe: unity of order.


Univocism (as opposed to the


(as opposed to the doctrine of analogy)

(some parts here are hypothetical- I wouldn’t stand by all of them)

If being were only one thing with one account, then all science would be mathematical science. The reason is because science must begin with what is most known, the most known thing is the root of any respective science, and the most known science is mathematics. Neither is it an objection to distinguish what is most knowable to us, and what is knowable in itself, for in mathematics they are the same.

It is also the case that when science is seen as essentially mathematical it propounds a single method for all sciences; as is seen in the modern insistence that there is only one scientific method. This position reduces to the univocism of Duns Scotus, but it was made mediocre, but popular, by Descartes.

Now it is the case that the science that calls itself modern is mathematical, yet there is another element: the world that it applies it mathematics to. But this world- in the eyes of one who believes in univocism– is viewed as being essentially receptive of mathematics- the world becomes pure potential for the mathematical form.

Sooner or later mathematics will be unable to bear the weight that formerly rested on metaphysics. At this point, mathematics itself will collape under its own groundlessness, and become a mere extension of logic- logic now understood as an art that follows intrinsically arbitrary rules governing unknowable objects. At this point, all fades into silence.

One not on that silence, for it is present even now. For example, it is very common to see people who are very talented at math go up to some monsterous eqation, and with a few flicks of a pen, a very simple equation falls out with a simple answer. Whenever they are asked how they did it, they usually begin their explanation by saying “you just…” and then there are a few prefunctory pieces of jargon, and a general confusion as to why anyone can’t grasp the thing they are doing. This is what happens when something that is essentially scientific and artistic becomes wholly artistic.

The Principle of Efficient

The Principle of Efficient Causality.

The principle of efficient causality speaks to the unity of a thing with its efficient cause. Three properties describe an efficient cause:

a.) It is exterior, as opposed to being an intrinsic part of the thing being caused, like its parts or its definition.

b.) It is active, as opposed being passive.

c.) It possesses the thing it it confers before the being that receives it. This priority is sometimes temporal, and always causal. This possession is must be an intrinsic one, for if not the agent cause is a mere instrument of some other agent, and requires that agent.

And so there are several ways to articulate the principle of causality:

1.) Everything that does not have some property intrinsically receives that property from something containing it intrinsically.

2.) What does not come forth from the nature of a thing, if it is possessed, comes forth from the nature of another thing.

3.) All that does not inhere in something in virtue of itself, inheres in it by participation. See here for one of the great “I never knew/ forgot that that was there” moments you get from reading books.

At times, the principle of efficient causality can seem almost indistinguishable from the principle of exemplar causality/ finality. Both are put in the language of participation.

The Man That Was Not

The Man That Was Not Created.

It is very common to view the relation between nature and grace, or reason and revelation, as separate and autonomous. When we say “grace builds on nature”; or “nature is redeemed by grace” it is easy to get the idea that man is born in a natural state, or even a state of wounded nature, and grace is added to that. There is some truth to this, but there is a danger we need to avoid in this account too.

The danger might best be seen by thinking about a man that was never created: natural man. This man would be subject to death, and pain, and the tension between what his senses told him was good, and what his intellect told him was good. These privations would be consequent to his nature.

But such a man was never created. Instead, a being was created in a state of supernatural elevation, bearing a nature that was intrinsically ordered to a supernatural life, dependent on supernatural gifts. The gifts were lost, and so death, pain and concupiscence were experienced not merely as Consequent (per accidens) to his nature, but as punishments. We are born not simply as a nature, or even as a nature that lacks a natural good, but as a nature that lacks a supernatural good that it was created to have. To give an example, the purely “natural man” who was never created would have been like a peasant, who grace could freely make a king. We are like a king who through folly lost his whole kingdom. We are not simply born in a lower class (like any peasant) we are born dethroned and disgraced. A peasant has a chance of enjoying his life simply as it is, but a dethroned king must always experience his life as something degraded, lower, and lacking his due dignity.

Purely natural man could still have faith, and he could still be granted beatitude. But he would not need revelation of the supernatural in order to understand his own innermost life-dare we say, his nature– in the same way that the disgraced supernatural man needs revelation in order to understand himself, in the way he comes forth from the womb and walks through life.


Effects of Television1.) Television lets

Effects of Television

1.) Television lets us see things far off, and makes us feel as though we have a connection with them. This leads to a greater sense of connection with people far off. This greater sense of connection necessarily imples a greater sense of responsibility for things far off.

2.) Television gives us a sense of actually being present at a certain place, when in fact we are observing it from a safe distace, apart from the reality of the situation.

3.) Television makes it possible for people to endure life without having to talk to their neighbours.

4.) Television consumes someone’s daily leisure time in hour-long bites. How many hours of daily leisure time do we get?

5.) One of the original hopes for television is that it could bring culture into every home. Perhaps that’s exactly what it did.

6.) The visual image on television is ordered to having someone make a final decision on an event after the first look.

7.) Television is ordered to the tastes of the multitude. The tastes of the multitude used to be called “vulgar”. We still believe something similar to this, for we all have some sense that becoming popular is connected with “selling out” or becoming less authentic. Certainly there must be some truth to this. Who, after all, would dare to suggest that the most popular art of a culture was always, or even usually, its best art?

8.) Television is ordered to presenting a set of irregular and unusual images on a regular schedule. This makes unusual events seem more common.

9.) Television over stimulates the eyes, leaving us with an underproportioned access to the world through hearing, smell, touch, and taste.

How do We Miss this

How do We Miss this Stuff in Scripture?

Psalms 17:15.

The wicked have their repayment ‘in this life”, but the Psalmist is content that “he shall awake” with the “likeness [of God]”. This is the beatific vision.


In case I ever were

In case I ever were asked…

The greatest passage in all literature is- and the competition here is very steep-

Confessions, Book Nine, Chapter Ten

The passage narrates a conversation that Augustine had with his mother several days before his mother caught an acute sickness and died. The best account I’ve ever heard of the passage came from a very holy monk, who said quite matter- of- factly: “If you read this passage, you will have a mystical experience”.

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