On CausesA cause is a

On Causes

A cause is a positive principle on which a thing really depends for its existence.

principle: the genus of cause. A principle is something from which something is comes in any way.

positive: as opposed to negative, for things are sometimes said to come from their negation, or even from non-being, e.g. the shape came to be from something with no shape.

really depends: really as opposed to merely in thought.

for its existence: cause is understood in relation to something dependent, to something with derived existence. This is the most formal part of the definition of cause.

We cannot think of cause without thinking of a radical dualism of a dependent thing upon the thing which it depends.

When cause is understood in this way, the denial of causality most formally will involve a denial that there is any dependency of anything on anything else for existence. Such a denial is impossible. Wooden chairs need wood (as do wooden trees). Three sided figures need three sides. The word being spoken needs a speaker. Dog food is made for dogs.

Considerations of FreedomFreedom is distinguished

Considerations of Freedom

Freedom is distinguished into freedom of exercise (to do something or not to do something) and freedom of specification (a determination of whether something is good or evil/ right or wrong). Freedom of specification, for example, pertains deciding the speed limit or a curfew time or a homework due date, freedom of exercise pertains to whether we will follow something. Our freedom of specification extends as far as our authority, our freedom of exercise extends to all that we do not desire by nature. We have neither freedom of specification nor of exercise as regards our final end: i.e. beatitude.

the Divine Essence is beatitude itself, the intellect of a man who sees the Divine Essence has the same relation to God as a man has to beatitude. Now it is clear that man cannot willingly be turned away from beatitude, since naturally and necessarily he desires it, and shuns unhappiness.

It is evident that we have no freedom of specification as regards the natural law, and we have freedom of exercise only to the extent that we view a particular aspect of the natural law as separate from our final end.


The Other meditation that came

The Other meditation that came out of remembering Chartes cathedral.

If I lived in the culture that built Chartes, I most likely would have been a serf, illiterate, with no medical care, running water, books or any of the other benefits that come with modern liberal democracy. I wouldn’t have this blog, there would most likely be no indication that I even existed.

But you can’t build something like Chartes cathedral, where they built it, without demonstrating that your town, as a town, cares a great deal about leading people to God. The same seems to be demonstrated by the products of their universities. That we are better at political organization and medical care is inarguable, but it also seems arguable that they were better at ordering their lives to eternal things than we are.

A blogpost that began as

A blogpost that began as a meditation on the memory of Chartes Cathedral

If we were doing a historical dig, and we uncovered some building that was the largest and most majestic building in the whole city, we would reasonably conclude that this building held something that was of supereminent importance to the people of the city.

The largest and most majestic buildings in our cities are centers of commerce and money making.

Two Notes on Evolution.-The present

Two Notes on Evolution.

-The present account of the origin of the species is a mess. Tne present theory of evolution is the cause of nothing less than a mass hysteria- regardless of what one says about it, his words are seen as partisan and polemical. The cause of all this hysteria is the fact that men want answers to profoundly difficult philosophical questions, without having to do philosophy.

First, let’s not kid ourselves- the evolution debate is primarily philosophical. Mike Behe, Richard Dawkins, Gould, and many other Darwinians and Anti- Darwinians writing bestsellers and landing big professorships, and getting written up in the New York Times because they are talking about something that touches to the root of our own understanding of who we are and what our life means. Ordinary language calls such profound questions about ultimate meanings and purposes “philosophical”*. It is maddening to see a guy who insists that his opinions on the evolution debate are merely scientific in the sense of being unconnected to an ultimate meaning of life- I feel like telling those guys it’s only because of this philosophical aspect that people are buying your books, watching you on TV, arguing over what you say, and giving you that big grant/endowment/chair/book deal.

– Almost no one bothers to give proper reasons for the theory of evolution, as Darwin did. Darwin argued:

Whenever things reproduce at a geometric rate (exponentially), they struggle for existence.
All living things reproduce at a geometric rate
So all living things struggle for existence.

Struggling for existence is then proposed as the cause for the evolution of the species**.

One difficulty is that one can hold that species evolve without holding that there is a struggle for existence. It is never quite clear what one means when they say they believe in evolution: do they hold that exponential increase of animals leads to mass extiction and the accidental and unintended survival of individuals with certain traits? I am not aware of a single textbook that gives the exponential increase of animals as the cause of natural selection. Pepper moths, finch beaks and whale flippers are all evocative analogies, but have we simply given up on Darwin’s reasons? Unless one gives a reason for what they say, they have no science. Darwin had science. What do we have?
*One aspect of this debate is over who exactly gets to answer these ultimate questions: what should have primacy over answering these profound questions (e.g. “science” or “religion”)? But this question is itself a philosophical one (notice I do not say that it is only a philosophical question, but that it is necessarily a philosophical one)- and so we do not escape the need to philosophize.
**The Chapter on Stuggle for existence, which is largely an extension of the population theories of Malthus, can be found here.


The most profound error shared

The most profound error shared by the Atheist-for-evolution crowd and the IDers is that neither side thinks nature is particularly creative. IDers see developing nature as essentially passive to the work of some intelligence, Evolutionists see nature as wasteful and stupid-certainly “blind”. Come to think of it, both sides would have reason to call nature “blind”: one side says another sees for it, the other says that nature doesn’t see at all.

The alternate theory would be to see nature more as, well, alive. Both as moved and moving, as devoloping to higher and higher states of being though the activity of an intrinsic principle.

Jottings on Reason-To reason means

Jottings on Reason

-To reason means to go from one thing to another in order to attain truth. Augustine divides reason into the higher and the lower: higher reason “seeks to know divine things and to take counsel from them”, while lower reason turns to temporal things. Because both are kinds of reasoning, they can both be called science in a general sense, but Augustine says that higher reason is more properly called “wisdom” and lower reason is more properly called “science”.

– Reasoning is done perfectly through demonstration. Demonstration begins with the apprehended (the major) then it extends the apprehended to something less universal (the minor) and in both of these, it discerns a conclusion in light of its causes.

Two Meanings of ProofThere are

Two Meanings of Proof

There are many meanings of the word “proof” but it is important to distinguish two:

a.) The proof that gives a proper cause,
b.) The proof we would expect to manifest something.

For example, one could prove that man had immortal life by saying

All spiritual forms are immortal
Every human being has a spiritual form

This argument gives a proper cause, but one would not expect it to manifest the immortality of man, either to a friend of the position, or an adversary of it. Both the major and the minor are too disputable- especially the minor.

Nevertheless, giving this syllogism gives us a solid point to stand- it gives us something to explain with a another argument, and then perhaps another. Sooner or later, every proof has to find a bedrock in either the self-evident, or the absurd.

The Five Ways as a

The Five Ways as a Five Short, Absurdist Q and A’s.

(the normal questioner speaks first, the irrational premise against the five ways is the response)

1.) Can you hang this picture for me?

What do you need me for? Just get an infinite number of hammers!

2.) These pictures are beautiful. Who took them?

Why are you asking such a stupid question? Can’t you see that there are an infinite number of these pictures?

3+4.) Turn off the range, the water is boiling.

No, actually, this pot has been on the range for an infinitely long time! It has always been on the range- this pot is necessarily hot!

5.) Do all natural things act for an end?

No, most natural things simply stop changing when they finish a determinate process!


Man as Dignified and DegradedIt

Man as Dignified and Degraded

It is absolutely impossible to deny the dignity of human intelligence: even if we claimed that man knew nothing, or even if we claimed not even to know if man knew nothing, still, in this statement there is an inescapable grasp of all things, regardless of whether they are grasped as unknown or uncertain.

It is also given by experience that human intelligence is a very low and degraded form of knowing. We understand the first things only by negation, and this is only if we are very wise- most people would not even think to ask about “the first things”. We acquire good habits only with struggle, for even when we see what the right thing to do is (not often) our minds do not have enough force to impel us to do it. Even after man comes to know that God is most worthy of love, and virtue is most worth pursuing, even then these truths rarely seem real to him until he acts on their truth. As a rule, men prefer being unique to having truth, platitudes to wisdom, vulgar productions to noble art, etc.

And yet man’s intrinsic nobility will always rebel against the vanity of his vulgar self. Our present society might gorge itself on degraded music and vain art- but no particular artist will be preserved for long enough to count as history. We will toy around with bogus spirituality and fad religions, but none of these religions will claim more than 2% of the population for very long.

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