My article “Aquinas on the Human Soul” appears in the anthology The Blackwell Companion to Substance Dualism, edited by Jonathan Loose. Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide (Beginner’s Guides) eBook: Edward Feser: Amazon .in: Kindle Store. Edward C. Feser is an American philosopher. He is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Philosophy of Mind, Locke, The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism, Aquinas, Scholastic Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction .
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The comment section is not as bad as some others. The comments made by all the self-proclaimed “free thinkers” are so similar that you’d swear someone had sent them to a reeducation feeser and programmed them to repeat the same arguments in lockstep. In a sense they were all programmed.
All of them have probably aquinnas the same gnu tomes Dawkins, Hitchens et. That’s why “gnu” is such an appropriate appelation for them. They are members of a herd that blindly follow each other. But hey, it’s easier than thinking right? Any idea where I could get Christopher Martin’s book for pretty cheap? For the Thomist, the real, the true, the good, and the beautiful are all really the same thing looked at from different points of view. Our intellects and our capacity for moral action and aesthetic experience are thus all at the end of the day directed toward one and the same reality.
And ultimately, this is God, who is the most real, the most good, the most beautiful. Thomas says, God is our first cause and last end.
In my view, everything else is commentary. I agree with it wholeheartedly, but in my view, the “everything else is commentary” part applies to Thomas’ philosophy and what can be known by reason alone, not to his aquina, and what can be known by faith.
For Thomas, “everything else is aquinass, are the preambles of faith where revelation takes you the rest of the way into the mystery of God’s inner life. If Thomistic metaphysics are correct, how do Thomists explain the success of science after those metaphysics were abandoned? Not trying to be challenging or antagonistic, I just don’t remember ever hearing Thomist responses to edwatd objection.
Bascially because the success of Science you speak of, doesn’t quite depend of having the correct Metaphysics. The same way that a throughly morally incoherent person can still be a good person in the end of the day. Or sailing can achieve round-the-bloge travel without knowing the best way to move through the water.
Feser has posted about that subject sowewhat, aquiinas if you search for the word Science in the bar I understand that you can come up with the right answer to a specific question even if your total view of the world is very far from accurate. But if final causes and substantial forms and the like really exist, why is it that science became most successful when scientists decided to operate as though they did not exist?
Or is it a coincidence that there was an explosion of scientific knowledge after AT assumptions sdward dropped? IOW, fese ignoring AT assumptions seemed to make people better at finding correct scientific answers.
So it’s not just a matter of happening upon the right scientific answers even though you have the wrong metaphysic. It’s a matter of the “wrong” aqiinas improving your ability to find scienific answers. Hello Chad, It’s not a coincidence and it’s not analogous to becoming morally better in practice by being morally incoherent in theory.
The short answer is this: Modern physical fesfr, particularly physics itself, focuses exclusively, or near exclusively, on the quantitative side of nature, those aspects which can be described mathematically. Those happen to be the aspects most conducive to predicting and controlling nature.
By contrast, the medieval Aristotelians, though aaquinas did not deny the quantitative aspects, did not focus on them or regard them as most important. The reason is not that they thought other aspects were more important for predicting and controlling nature. Rather, the reason is that they were not so interested in prediction and control in the first place.
They were more interested in questions of ultimate explanation and purpose. The main reason they did not attain the predictive and technological successes that modern science has is that they were not trying for that in the first place, but preferred to fry other fish. Aquians it’s just a aqyinas in focus. Not necessarily better or worse by itself, but just different.
What’s bad is not the new method itself but rather the ideologizing of the new method — insisting that aquiinas is the only legitimate way of studying nature, that there is nothing to nature except what can be captured by the method, etc.
Hence deploying the method is not per se analogous to becoming morally incoherent. The early modern philosophers and the first empirical scientists were contemporaries, but not otherwise associated. Neither school, when you look at them closely, had more than a superficial influence on the other. Teser weren’t there some areas in which the medievals were trying for predictive and technological control, for example, medicine, astronomy, etc?
Couldn’t it be argued that in those areas their metaphsycial presuppositions worked to lead them away from ceser answers? For example, “natural place” physics seem to come from the concept of final causality. That doesn’t seem to merely be a case of misplaced emphasis. Chad Feser argues in another post that many physicists unwittingly rely on the transferability between truth and beauty when devising their theorieswhich is very Thomistic.
So no, it isn’t obvious that physics has succeeded without the usage of correct metaphysics. Aquuinas, as evidenced by their tendency to cluster around the INTP personality type, rely on intuition, and many of these intuitive notions need a non-materialistic metaphysics to make sense.
The use made of that idea in part reflected the philosophical notion of final causality, but it also reflected empirical assumptions to the effect that different fundamental edwwrd governed the edwarr realm and the super-lunar realm. The same can be said for other mistaken empirical assumptions that affected the way the general principles got applied.
There is a tendency to run all these things together as “Aristotelianism” and then judge that “Aristotelianism was refuted by modern science” or “Aristotelianism was less effective than modern science” or what have you. But the feeser principles, differences in emphasis, mistaken empirical assumptions, etc. Not everything that is labeled “Aristotelian” is inf act essential to the core Aristotelian philosophical notions.
There is also the consideration that a greater interest in the mathematical side was already growing in Aristotelian circles before Galileo and Co. Plus there is the fact that differences in empirical and predictive success were not in fact as stark as they are now made out to be. So it’s not a matter of dropping Aristotelianism and then suddenly having tremendous empirical successes that weren’t occurring before.
Feser is there a particular book you would suggest which defends an Aristotelian worldview? I find the scholastic arguments edwarrd but I’m not too sure that the Aristotelian worldview is correct. Chad, my 2 cents Metaphysics doesn’t focus on the achievement of predictive results, indeed achieving predictive results doesn’t involve the full working that means coherent with anthropology and ethic metaphysical framework.
Scientists qua scientists do not care about metaphysics. If anything metaphysical assumptions have hindered the advancement of science. On the other hand the mathematical order we know exists in physical phenomena does have frser implications. So, for example, we have good reason to believe that concurrency makes no sense, that physical quantities are discrete and not continuous, that physical reality is non-local, that physical reality is not deterministic, that there are uncaused events aauinas is nothing that causes a radioactive atom to decay at the particular time it does.
In my mind we already have good grounds for disbelieving in physical realism, but historical fashion hinders our free thought in this matter. Not to mention that without physical realism atheists are kind of left hanging in the void.
It is a mere propaganda: I have no doubt that it was believed that the metaphysics they were offering was indeed correct, but aftee centuries of elaboration it is easy to show that it is incoherent, even with the results of the science, nevermind internally. Hobbes is laughably bad. Bacon is laughably bad. Descartes is laughably bad. Hume is laughably bad. Locke is laughably bad.
Kant is laughably bad. Both continental and Anglo positivism is laughably bad.
The best books on the Existence of God – Ed Feser on Five Books
What’s left for you? This is why Ed can simply pick low-hanging fruit all day, and it is why pragmatism and instrumentalism and every sort of anti-realism has off and on been periodically attractive since the 19th century. The myth of scientific metaphysical progress is just untenable as soon as you scratch aquinaw surface, but the political pressure to accept it in some even anti-realism form is so high that a man can lose his career and be laughed out of town on the basis of just pointing out that the emperor has no goddamn clothes.
No one in this community is anti Science. I spend a lot of time trying to get a handle on what a tomistic scientific methodology would be. The Catholic Church has fully reconciled itself with modern science a long time ago.
No amount of bullying evangelicals from the 80s will ever show otherwise. This all seems a bit quick and prematurely dismissive. We don’t need to adopt any scientistic myths to see that when scientists explicitly decided to proceed as if feder and final causes did not exist, they started experiencing unprecedented success in explaining the natural world. Success their Scholastic predecessors did not experience even when they were studying the same phenomena with the same goal.
I fully acknowledge that A-T beliefs can be reconciled with modern science, but could it have produced it? It seems like it could not have, or at least, it didn’t.
A thousand years of believing in formal and final causes produced not much technological advancement, even in areas where this was the goal. A thousand years after those ideas were mostly abandoned, and we have vaccines and satellites and people walking on the moon. I think Scholastics need a strong case as for why their metaphysical approach should be favored despite this; stronger than any I’ve seen here.
This is a myth, though; the successes provably began first, and the extent to which scientists proceeded as if final causes did not exist is very inconsistent into the nineteenth century. Nobody can read Harvey, or Boyle, or Leibniz, or Maupertuis, and hold that they are proceeding as if there are no final causes. I was watching a lecture by Jay Richards on the subject a few years back, in which he mentioned Newton’s defense of teleology in his mechanistic physics. I believe it is the “General Scholium” to the third book of his Principia that Richards mentioned.
Chad, the mistake is in thinking that there was some clear and definitive break in the methods of scientists in the early modern period that accounts for the “revolution” in so-called technological science. There is no such thing. There were medieval scientists whose work was importantly developmental to the later work by Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton, for example. Jordanus de Nemore worked in algebra necessary predecessor to calculus and mechanics. Mondino de Liuzzi promoted dissection for medicine.