Don’t always distinguish

In the (corrupted?) Scholastic tradition, “distinguish” has become a fraternity password or cheerleader-slogan. All problems and paradoxes are seen as mechanically calling forth the need to “distinguish!” The irony is that what is most loveable in the great Scholastics is not their distinctions but their syntheses and unifications. Distinction itself is purely ad hoc, arbitrary and hateful unless it can reduce to some evident principle that allows for the distinction itself.


  1. E. Milco said,

    April 20, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    A few classmates were joking earlier today (here at the Dominican House of Studies in DC) about the core principles of a Thomistic education:

    1. If something is difficult, you either give a vague answer relating to “analogy” or comment that “X is said in nine ways”.

    2. The Franciscans ruined everything.

  2. thenyssan said,

    April 20, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Distinguo ergo sum! 🙂

  3. thesonneteer said,

    April 23, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    That’s weird. In my dealings lately and analysis of men’s minds, what I have noticed above all is a failure to distinguish and make necessary distinctions, resulting in confusion, frustration then finally either anger or apathy (they just give up). That giving up becomes habituat and impulses to contrary are even resisted. For me, this is the reason most men are unbelievers: even though their instincts tell them there must be a logical reason or explanation for everything; nonetheless, the innumerable difficulties and contradictions they are exposed to make it almost impossible for them to end in any sort of wholistic synthesis. They cannot make any sense of this world. Hence, they choose not to care and busy their minds with other, seemingly more practical or important matters, others known as distractions. “Good evening, my dear Television! I must say I missed you today.”

  4. theofloinn said,

    April 23, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    There are “lumpers” and “splitters.” The former fails to make distinctions that are useful and important; the latter fails to see the unifying principle between apparently contradictory things.

    But this can be said in nine ways……

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