Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mind, Metaphysics, and Value

I recently acquired a book edited by John Haldane called Mind, Metaphysics, and Value in the Thomistic and Analytical Traditions at the Notre Dame $5 booksale. I thought I would post controversial quotes from the volume from time to time, to generate combox controversy/discussion. Here's one to start out:

Fergus Kerr, "Aquinas after Wittgenstein," p. 1

Anthony Kenny once suggested that 'the points on which Aquinas differed from his medieval critics are precisely the points on which Wittegenstein, in his later philosophical writing, was at variance with positivist thought.' On several important issues, 'Aquinas was opposed by Scotus in a way remarkably similar to the way in which Wittgenstein was opposed to the positivists'.


...there are, on the other hand, four topics about which Aquinas and Wittgenstein may be regarded as being on the same side against Scotists and logical positivists respectively. Aquinas favoured analogy, Scotus believed in univocity. Wittgenstein deployed 'family likeness' over against verificationism. Scotus misunderstood Aristotelian hylomorphism; Wittgenstein mocked logical atomism. For Scotus the mind had direct knowledge of particulars; Wittgenstein attacked the notion of the primacy of ostensive definition. Finally, for Aquinas intellectual knowledge was an active process, whereas Scotus regarded it as receptive, like sense-perception; logical-positivist epistemology made a similar mistake, while Wittgenstein strove to elimante sense-datum theories.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Scotism and Phenomenology

A snippet from an article the abstract of which I posted some time ago.

William E. Tullius, "Haecceitas as Value and as Moral Horizon: A Scotist Contribution to the Project of a Phenomenological Ethics", ACPQ 87 (2013), p. 462.

In this paper, I will argue that a phenomenological elucidation of the Scotist notion of haecceitas can further contribute to the development of the phenomenological ethical project, particularly in the way in which the individuality of one's personal essence can become thematic for us as a unique being representing a unique moral calling to each individual...
It is my hope that, through a phenomenological investigation of haecceitas, phenomenology might obtain a more complete articulation of its ethical insights,which are based so heavily in the problems of individuality. Scotus, having paved the way in philosophy for a cogent discussion of this theme, might be able to provide certain insights into the primal data of the phenomenon of individuality by reenacting the Scotist insight into the originary basis for the individuality of the person. At the same time, it is my hope that phenomenology will provide something of an expansion of the Scotist project into new fields of investigation, particularly the field of moral vocation.To that extent, this paper is attempting to make a concrete contribution to a growing body of literature that recognizes in Scotist thought a peculiar openness to phenomenological modes of investigation that would make of phenomenology itself a method of doing philosophy within which the Scotist tradition can readily find a home for the continuation of its philosophical research within a contemporary setting.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Scotists in the News

The co-director of the Scotistic Commission of America is interviewed about the Pope's twitter account here.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Thomism After Vatican II

So apparently there is a "Renewal of Thomism" conference going on in DC right now. Here is a link to one of the papers, 'Thomism after Vatican II", by fr. T.J. White OP. I found it a very encouraging read, if it is representative of the younger Thomists. He expresses some interest in Aquinas' contemporaries, eschews the pratice of accusing all medieval thinkers save Aquinas of  Heideggerian ontotheology, and even argues that Thomism and Catholicism are not synonyms, that one can be the latter without being the former. Somewhere in the past few days I read a report of a conference in Prague devoted to Thomism that took place a few years ago; they said over 100 professors of Thomism where present. In light of that fact, and the encouraging sings in the linked paper, I think we can safely pronounce that Thomism has been renewed.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Boehner on Logic and the Decline of Scholasticism

Philotheus Boehner, Medieval Logic, 92-93:

Medieval Logic in its stage of maturity in the 14th century has become an essentially consequential logic. A consequential logic, however, is a highly formalistic logic.

Unfortunately, this peak of the development of medieval logic was reached at the beginning of a rapid decline of scholastic philosophy in general. To interpret this chronological coincidence as a causal relation, and to blame the high standard of 14th-century logic for the ruin of scholastic metaphysics, appears to us extremely ironical. We are not convinced that scholastic metaphysics has to be afraid of an inexorable logic. On the contrary, scholastic metaphysics, in contrast with modern metaphysical systems, has called for logical rigour and has always been averse to any kind of intuitionism. We are rather convinced that scholastic logic in the 14th century finally reached a stage by which it was in a condition to justify its basic metaphysical inferences. For it is a fact that the proofs of the existence of God developed during the Middle Ages, and definitely the proofs of St. Thomas, cannot be sufficiently developed and justified with a logic content with syllogistics. This has been shown by Salamucha as regards the first of the five ways of the Common Doctor. It was likewise stated already in the Middle Ages as regards the proof of the existence of God advanced by Scotus. Petrus Thomae, an immediate disciple of the Subtle Doctor, expressly states that consequences holding in virtue of an extrinsic means, and hence not reducible to syllogisms, are used the construction of his proof.

Historically speaking, then, medieval logic had finally caught up with metaphysics, when, for well-known exterior reasons, a general decline of scientific culture began.