Parts and WholesIf we consider

Parts and Wholes

If we consider the parts of a definition, There is one way in which both the individual and the species are in the genus. The species is divided from the genus, and is in this sense a part. Man is divided from “animal” by “rational”; and “green” from “color” by “distinctive to grass and other foliage”.

If we consider the parts of a definition in another way, the genus is in the species and in the individual. “Animal” is contained in the account of man and “virtue” in temperance.

To say that John, or a man, is an animal does not simply make animal a set of which John is a material part. The relation of part an whole in natures, universals, sets, and individuals is not as simple as that of hogs in a pen, or switches flicking in a microchip.

If to be in a

If to be in a class means to be contained in an idea the way that hogs are in a pen, or marks are upon a page, or electrical flashes are in a microchip, then the first sense of “man” does not name a class, nor of “five”, nor of “two”.

Even after the theory of

Even after the theory of evolution was proposed, people continued to believe in the idea of spontaneous generation. That living beings might come from non-living things was a philosophical commonplace at least until Pasteur showed the origin of bacteria, etc.

No sooner do we refute the last belief that life comes from non-living matter (flies from rotting meat, lice from hair and urine, etc.) , then we walk into a controversy about whether life comes from non- living things.

Notes on Chance and DivinityIf

Notes on Chance and Divinity

If beings that come to be by chance are not caused by God, then they are not beings.

So too if beings come to be by chance, then there is no account of why a thing is a sort of thing, only why it is an individual.

Chance can make a man only as another man can make one, he cannot account for the fact that his offspring is this human as human, only for the fact that it is this human as this.


The monkey and the typewriter

The monkey and the typewriter argument “an infinite number of monkeys…” illustrates exactly the difference between the per se unity of a word being typed, and the per accidens quality of the word being “an arrangement of letters”

Chance can account for any arrangement of letters, but if a word is only an arragement of letters, there is no difference between “cat” and “hjm,ZDSV” (I just banged the keyboard). The unity of order can only proceed from intelligence. An irrational cause creates order only as a carpenter might do heart surgery, or as a musician might build.

Meditations on the argument for

Meditations on the argument for intellectual activity after death.

1.) Given it belongs to reason that there is a personal existence of the soul after death, does it follow that there is an operation of the soul? St. Thomas argues yes, because

Nothing acts except inasmuch as it is actual,

The way which something acts follows the way it exists. Given that the soul exists apart from the body, so also it acts. After this, we are answering objections.

2.) The difficulty is that the soul’s operation by nature requires phantasms, and phantasms corrupt with the body. The soul is not the act of the body, yet it requires a bodly thing that it might operate- but how is even this so? Don’t we establish immortality on the basis of an operation that is seperable from sense? (see the sed contra of the article)

3.) Modern thomists have picked up on the fact that St.Thomas says that it is almost impossible to prove immortality where the ressurection is denied, but the emphasis shoul be on denied, it is possible to precind from the cinsideration of the possibility of ressurection.

4.) In what way could operation stand to existence as act to potency?

How is existence related to its operation? Not as round is to circle, at least not in us.

5.) While the state of union with the body and the state of separation are the different, they admit of a certain more and less: St. Thomas claims in a number of places that:

the more our soul is abstracted from corporeal things, the more it is capable of receiving abstract intelligible things. Hence in dreams and alienations of the bodily senses divine revelations and foresight of future events are perceived the more clearly.

ST 1 q.12 a.11

6.) IS theattempt to sever existence from operation simply wrong- headed? The very proof for immortality is taken from the fact that the soul has an operation proper to itself. Again, the sed contra.

7.) Whatever the truth of the matter is, it must be conducive to human happiness.

8.) The mind knows itself in this life through another, in the next life it does not know through another see here.


Jottings on The First Principle

Jottings on The First Principle of Relativity

-Einstein grounds his theory of relativity on a developed idea of what “simultaneous” means, which necessarily defined simultaneity in relation to an observer. In the classical system of physics, one could meaningfully speak about two events happening “at the same time”, without reference to an observer, but one cannot on Einstein’s account, or according to the truth of the matter.

-Consider an easier example: Are thunder and lighting simultaneous? We must in some sense truly say “no”. Things are simultaneous which we see happen at the same time. The man next to a cannon holds that the smoke and the bang are simultaneous, the man he is shooting at does not. Did the flash and the banghappen at the same time? In one sense, obviously not- the one occured six seconds later, an obsever would say. He could even show you a video of the things occuring six seconds apart.

-Simultaneity has always been understood in reference to an observer, because it is time. All measurements are essentially observer- dependent.

-Einstein certainly is trying to understand nature, but in order to get a clear idea of what he is doing, we need a clearer idea of the way in which measurement reveals the nature. Galileo, for example, took an ingenious route and said measurement revealed nature because nature simply was subsistent quantity. This is ingenious, but untenable, as it involved a sort of divinization of nature (eternity, immutability, pure intelligibility) and a strange sort of divinization at that (mathematics, like logic, is essentially human- it subsists in the imagination. Angels do not need mathematics to understand quantity)

Christianity, Jerusalem, and Athens.Christianity is

Christianity, Jerusalem, and Athens.

Christianity is necessarily tied to events that happened in first century Jerusalem, and for this reason it is tied to the great accomplishments of Athens. The essentially Jewish character of christianity is taken for granted these days- and it should be- but not only is christianity essentially Jewish, it is also essentially Hellenistic. It can even be seen as hellenistic because it is first- century Jewish. Consider a few points:

– If we assume the Apostles wrote their own writings in the language they survived in, five of the original apostles spoke Greek fluently.
-“Christ” is a Greek word, as is the name for the new sect, “Christianoi”
– The whole New Testament survived as a Greek document.
– The first evangelists to spread the word out of Jerusalem are Hellenized Jews- Jews that had spoken greek for at least one generation, and who had Greek names- Stephen, for example (see Acts 6)
– The epistle is a distinctively Greek mode of discourse.
– The Old Testament references in the new testament are taken, as a rule, from the Septuagint. – The Septuagint itself contains many books that are blatantly hellenic: Wisdom, Sirach, Maccabees. Consider a phrase like we find in Wisdom that says God “made the world out of matter without form.” or the mother in Maccabees who tells he son that the universe was created out of nothing.

A good deal of Apostolic Christianity is simply Greek speaking Hellenized people speaking to other Greek speakers in Greek modes of discourse, quoting from a Greek text. I is for this reasons, and others, that I say that Christianity is essentially Greek- It is no more possible to ignore its Greek than its Jewish character. A Christianity without Athens would literally be a christianity without “Christianity”- the word would be something different.


Nothing can acquire a form

Nothing can acquire a form it already has.
Intellect can acquire the form of any body.

(intellect is given as existent- this is admitted by all as self evident)

The argument seems to have been abandoned by Thomists of late. If you replace “body” with “immaterial thing”, it seems to prove that the intellect is a body.

The argument does work, when undertood properly. It’s found in De Anima, III, c.5.


Evolution is a rational

Evolution is a rational account of where the species came from. The ancients did not seek a rational account of where the species came from, because they did not know they needed to give one. Through the middle ages, scholars were still puzzling over whether the world was eternal or not- the main debate for them was whether all species simply went back forever in time, or not. Christianity forced people to believe that the world had a finite beginning in time, but a dispute still raged over whether this could be known rationally. It is impossible, however, to give an account of the origin of the species in time until it is given rationally that species had an origin in time.

It was not until science sufficiently developed its experimental part that people could know that the universe was finite, because as St. Thomas shows, the origin of the world in time cannot be known philosophically. Darwin’s answer is that species come to be from other species. What is the alternative? We can dispute the mechanism, but not the principle. Species either come to be from other species, or they come to be from nothing.

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