News:

At the end of our life, we shall all be judged by charity. —St. John of the Cross

Main Menu

Recent posts

#31
Theology / Re: «Amoris Lætitia» cites St....
Last post by Geremia - February 26, 2024, 11:39:35 AM
Quote from: Geremia on April 07, 2018, 08:26:49 PM
  • Quote from: ch. 8It is reductive simply to consider whether or not an individual's actions correspond to a general law or rule, because that is not enough to discern and ensure full fidelity to God in the concrete life of a human being. [St. Thomas says that conscience is the act of applying abstract principles (e.g., "Thou shalt not commit adultery") to concrete situations in one's life (cf. Summa Theologica I q. 79 a. 13 c.). Thus, Francis says conscience "is reductive;" it's something we need to move beyond!] I earnestly ask that we always recall a teaching of Saint Thomas Aquinas and learn to incorporate it in our pastoral discernment: "Although there is necessity in the general principles, the more we descend to matters of detail, the more frequently we encounter defects... In matters of action, truth or practical rectitude is not the same for all, as to matters of detail, but only as to the general principles; and where there is the same rectitude in matters of detail, it is not equally known to all... The principle will be found to fail, according as we descend further into detail".* It is true that general rules set forth a good which can never be disregarded or neglected, but in their formulation they cannot provide absolutely for all particular situations. [So, God has called us to do the impossible by giving us the "general rules" of the Ten Commandments (natural law)‽ God does not "suffer us to be tempted above that which we are able" (1 Cor. 10:13), as the Council of Trent reiterated in its Doctrine on the Sacrament of Matrimony.] At the same time, it must be said that, precisely for that reason, what is part of a practical discernment in particular circumstances cannot be elevated to the level of a rule. That would not only lead to an intolerable casuistry, but would endanger the very values which must be preserved with special care.**

    *Summa Theologiae, I-II, q. 94, art. 4. ["Whether the natural law is the same in all men?"]
    **In another text, referring to the general knowledge of the rule and the particular knowledge of practical discernment, Saint Thomas states that "if only one of the two is present, it is preferable that it be the knowledge of the particular reality, which is closer to the act": Sententia libri Ethicorum, VI, 6 ["Wisdom, the Principle Intellectual Virtue," ¶1194] (ed. Leonina, t. XLVII, 354.)
For an excellent refutation of Amoris Lætitia's specious argument here—that the speculative intellect must agree with the practical intellect (prudence) for there to be moral certitude (or, conversely, that their disagreement implies God's laws have exceptions)—see: Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., The Order of Things: The Realism of the Principle of Finality ch. 6 "Moral Realism: Finality and the Formation Of Conscience".
#32
Philosophy / Practical Wisdom: Prudentia
Last post by Geremia - February 25, 2024, 09:15:38 PM
An interesting article regarding prudence (= practical intellect) can be found in Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., The Order of Things: The Realism of the Principle of Finality, Chapter 6 "Moral Realism: Finality and the Formation Of Conscience". See this post (click the "Quote from" link) for
Quote from: Geremia on February 26, 2024, 11:39:35 AMhow this relates to the errors of Amoris Lætitia.

Also: Yves Simon, Practical Knowledge:
Quote from: editor's noteYves R. SIMON (1903-1961) was one of the greatest modern students of the ancient virtue of practical wisdom, called phronesis by Aristotle, and prudentia by his great Latin commentators in the Middle Ages, such as St. Thomas Aquinas.
#33
General Discussion / Re: New Members
Last post by Luc - February 24, 2024, 06:28:11 PM
Hello,

I am interested in learning about Catholic philosophy in general and Thomism in particular, "Especially where it makes my brain hurt most" (as Aristotle put it), since this is precisely where I have yet to understand it. To this end, the ebook library here is already helping: I have already found enough to keep me busy for at least a year, though I also feel a urgent need to share what knowledge I already have, however imperfect, with others. Scholasticism cannot exclude evangelical zeal without degenerating into vain sophistry, and yet there is no such thing as charity without truth. Indeed, the 'ecumenist' belief that global moral unity ought to be pursued at any cost, even if it means suppressing the truth of the Gospel, is one of the principal errors of our time.

"Thomism corresponds to the profound needs of the modern world because it restores the love of truth for the sake of truth itself": if this is what Thomism is all about, then count me in.

Luc
#34
Dogma & Doctrine / Ockhamian nominalism & sedevac...
Last post by Geremia - February 23, 2024, 08:44:56 PM
Quote from: Luc on February 23, 2024, 07:33:43 PMI immediately wondered whether it could possibly be a coincidence that the same man who is known for denying that we can know the essences of things by abstracting their intelligible species from their sensual 'vicars' was also, apparently, the first to deny the validity of the putative Vicar of Christ. If his nominalism was indeed intended as a philosophical justification of his sedevcantism, then it surely is no coincidence.
Thomist semiotician John N. Deely's shows the relation between Ockham's nominalism and papal politics in Four Ages of Understanding pp. 385-402:
QuoteWilliam of Ockham (c.1285–1349)
    The Second Florescence of Nominalism
    Ockham's Problem with a Doctrine of Signs: There Are No "Generals"
    "The Only Difficulty There Is in Understanding Ockham"
        A Terminological Advance Marred by Conceptual Incoherence
        How Politics Lent to Nominalism a Factitious Following
The Thicket (i.1349/1529)
    A Thicket within the Thicket, 1309–1417: the Papacy, First at Avignon and Then in Schism
        The Papacy at Avignon, 1309–1377
        The Papacy in Schism, 1378–1417

Quote from: CoomaraswamyThe error — it is one shared by virtually all modern "philosophers" and psychologists — is that nominalists confound the individualized image of the imagination [phantasm?] with the concept or idea which resides in the Intellect.
CP 1.19:
Quote from: C. S. Peirce19. In short, there was a tidal wave of nominalism. Descartes was a nominalist. Locke and all his following, Berkeley, Hartley, Hume, and even Reid, were nominalists. Leibniz was an extreme nominalist, and Rémusat [C. F. M.?] who has lately made an attempt to repair the edifice of Leibnizian monadology, does so by cutting away every part which leans at all toward realism. Kant was a nominalist; although his philosophy would have been rendered compacter, more consistent, and stronger if its author had taken up realism, as he certainly would have done if he had read Scotus. Hegel was a nominalist of realistic yearnings. I might continue the list much further. Thus, in one word, all modern philosophy of every sect has been nominalistic.
#35
Dogma & Doctrine / Re: Was William of Ockham the ...
Last post by Luc - February 23, 2024, 07:33:43 PM
When I saw Ockham's proto-sedevacantist argument in True or False Pope, I immediately wondered whether it could possibly be a coincidence that the same man who is known for denying that we can know the essences of things by abstracting their intelligible species from their sensual 'vicars' was also, apparently, the first to deny the validity of the putative Vicar of Christ. If his nominalism was indeed intended as a philosophical justification of his sedevcantism, then it surely is no coincidence. Ironically, the same sedevacantist who revived Ockham's argument, Rama Coomaraswamy (in The Destruction of the Christian Tradition, credited in True or False Pope), also bitterly criticized, in his essay on "The Fundamental Nature of the Conflict Between Modern and Traditional Man", Ockham's influence on Western philosophy:
Quote from: CoomaraswamyBorn in 1290, Ockham is one of the earliest of those who misunderstood the nature of the soul. He not only denied free will, he also denied that the Intellect was capable of forming universal concepts. He and his followers — usually labeled "nominalists" — claimed that all ideas were really images, that is, impressions on the imagination originating in sensual perception. The error — it is one shared by virtually all modern "philosophers" and psychologists — is that nominalists confound the individualized image of the imagination with the concept or idea which resides in the Intellect. According to St. Thomas, the difference between images and ideas consists in the fact that images are representations of things in their singularity, particularity and concreteness, whereas ideas are representations of things in their universality. Despite his denial of "universals", Ockham continued to believe in God. But he held such belief to have no objective character and the nature of his faith was "blind". I would ask you to remember that Faith requires our assent to what the intellect tells us is Truth, and it is the nature of this faculty to "see". The acceptance of nominalism precludes such "vision" and inevitably results in a bifurcation between what can be observed and measured, and what is believed. It is but a short step to envisioning the measurable as the totality of reality, and the relegating of concepts such as the "good" and the "beautiful" — to say nothing of Revelation — concepts beyond measurement and hence seen as having no objective measurable reality — to the realm of private and subjective convictions where they become whatever we feel or want them to be. It is not surprising that Ockham lived his life in rebellion against the Church and died, as far as we know, without the consolation of her sacraments.
If Coomaraswamy disapproved of Ockham's "rebellion against the Church", it is presumably because he thought that Ockham was wrong about John XXII, even though a heretic pope was always possible and is now actually the case with the Vatican II popes.
#36
Philosophy / Re: Analogy
Last post by Luc - February 23, 2024, 04:39:58 PM
Quote from: Geremia on February 23, 2024, 03:46:11 PMFormal signs certainly do signify of themselves ("immediately signify"), but the fundament or signified of an instrumental sign needn't be itself a sign, does it?
No, I suppose it needn't. What is signified by the footprint of an ox, for example, is not another sign of an ox, formal or otherwise, but the ox itself. What I should have said, perhaps, is not that instrumental signs "directly signify only other signs", but that they lack the intrinsic certitude of formal signs. The 'footprint of an ox', after all, might not be the footprint of an ox: it could have been left by a man using a simulated ox hoof. Smoke, similarly, can be produced without fire. It seems that insofar as a sign is merely instrumental, there is a gap between it and what it signifies which can only be bridged by conjecture. To mistake formal signs for instrumental ones, then, is to erroneously ascribe the inherently conjectural and probable nature of the latter to the former.
#37
Philosophy / Re: Analogy
Last post by Geremia - February 23, 2024, 03:46:11 PM
Quote from: Luc on February 23, 2024, 03:05:30 PMIf there is a relevant difference between the ox example and the fire example
No. He simply gives a natural instrumental sign as an example elucidating instrumental sign.

Quote from: Luc on February 23, 2024, 03:05:30 PMbetween signs which immediately signify things and those which signify other signs
Formal signs certainly do signify of themselves ("immediately signify"), but the fundament or signified of an instrumental sign needn't be itself a sign, does it?

Quote from: Luc on February 23, 2024, 03:05:30 PMif there are no natural, formal signs, then the connection between a sign and what it signifies is probable at best.
John of St. Thomas, in his Tractatus de Signis (pp. 80 "Whether There Exist on the Side of Mind-Independent Being Intrinsic Forms Which Are Relations" ff.) does an excellent job refuting those who deny that there are real relations in the extra-mental universe.
#38
Philosophy / Re: Analogy
Last post by Luc - February 23, 2024, 03:05:30 PM
Quote from: Deely's Rediscovery, p. 105[...]both natural and stipulated signs, formally speaking belong to the same species; both represent something other than themselves to a cognitive power. They lead the intellect to a knowledge of something other, whether this awareness is based on natural relation or stipulation is inconsequential.
So, according to John of St. Thomas, all stipulated signs are instrumental signs, but not all instrumental signs are stipulated signs and, in particular, ox-footprints and smoke are instrumental and non-stipulative (natural) signs of an ox and a fire respectively. Is this correct? If there is a relevant difference between the ox example and the fire example, I don't see it.

If such is the case, then it would seem that my first distinction, that between signs which immediately signify things and those which signify other signs, is closer to the formal-instrumental distinction than my second, which overlooks the distinction between the distinctions(!) between formal and instrumental signs, on one hand, and natural and stipulative intrumental signs on the other. The point, however, remains the same: if there are no natural, formal signs, then the connection between a sign and what it signifies is probable at best. The analogical understanding of the world is replaced with an equivocal one; faith is replaced with conjecture, which, according to Clement of Alexandria, counterfeits faith as a flatterer countefeits a friend.
#39
Philosophy / John of St. Thomas's division ...
Last post by Geremia - February 23, 2024, 01:47:04 PM
Quote from: Luc on February 23, 2024, 09:41:00 AMformal signs, which immediately signify actual things, and instrumental signs, which directly signify only other signs.
Tractatus de Signis, Summulæ ch. 2, p. 27 (Deely's transl., my reformatting/rearranging):
Quote from: John of St. ThomasHence arises the twofold division of the sign [divisio signi]. For insofar as signs are ordered
  • to a power [ad potentiam], they are divided into
    • formal signs
      • the formal awareness [notitia] which represents of itself, not by means of another.
    • instrumental signs;
      • represents something other than itself from a preexisting cognition of itself as an object, as the footprint of an ox represents an ox. And this definition is usually given for signs generally.
  • to something signified [ad signatum], they are divided according to the cause of that ordering into
    • natural [naturale]
      • represents from the nature of a thing, independently of any stipulation and custom whatever, and so it represents the same for all, as smoke signifies a fire burning.
    • stipulative [ad placitum]
      • represents something owing to an imposition by the will of a community [ex impositione voluntatis per publicam auctoritatem], like the linguistic expression "man."
    • customary [ex consuetudine].
      • represents from use alone without any public imposition, as napkins upon the table signify a meal.
See Teixeira, 21st Century Realism: John Deely's Recovery of Poinsot's Doctrine of Signs (2018) pp. 94-105.
#40
Philosophy / Re: Analogy
Last post by Luc - February 23, 2024, 12:25:25 PM
Your recommendations are appreciated.

Quote from: Geremia on February 23, 2024, 11:57:24 AMThat seems to be too simplistic a difference between formal and instrumental signs. Upon what are you basing this distinction?

Admittedly I can't point to a passage of St. Thomas in which he makes this distinction. My intention was to distinguish between those signs which resemble and are, so to speak, transparent to what they signify (as our visual perception of a solid object like a water bottle is transparent to the water bottle even though it fails to capture the essence of the water bottle as a solid body which exists independently of our viewing it and which retains its essential properties regardless of the angle from which we view it) and those which signify only by some kind of linguistic convention (as the written words 'water bottle' signify a water bottle despite bearing no resemblance to the latter). It seems to me that when we confuse one kind of sign with another, then we begin to whether wonder our senses are not deceiving us even as words sometimes deceive us, resulting in Cartesian skepticism and its sequels.