Showing posts from October, 2011

A Good Book to get concerning Aquinas and modern Protestant thought

The book is called Aquinas, Calvin, & Contemporary Protestant Thought, by Arvin Vos. Arvin Vos is a protestant (in the reformed tradition) professor of philosophy. The purpose of the book is to show that there is a current trend in modern protestant thought to misinterpret Aquinas' thoughts. He therefore sets out to show what the misinterpretations are, and to compare the two great thinkers - Calvin and Aquinas.
Every christian who is the least bit interested in theology should read this book.
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A Quote Concerning Naturalism and Knowledge

Robert J. Henle, in the footnotes to his Aquinas Lecture Method in Metaphysics, quotes the following words from a book called Science is a Sacred Cow by Anthony Standen.

    "Mr. Sidney Hook has seriously wondered (in Education for Modern Man) whether man is intelligent. He says this is an empirical question on which considerable evidence has accumulated...But how does evidence accumulate? Does it lie around in a sort of dustpile, or does it accumulate in minds, and if so, don't the men have to be intelligent in order to take in the evidence? Perhaps it would not be too outrageously daring to conclude that 'at least some men possess at least some intelligence.' (p.62-63)"

    This quote points to what C. S. Lewis has called the "self-contradiction of the Naturalist." (see title for chapter 3 of Miracles: A Preliminary Study, 1st edition.) In the second edition of the same book he rephrased the title to say, "The Cardinal Difficulty of Naturalis…

Final thoughts from C. S. Lewis's "A Grief Observed"

My wife and I finished reading A Grief Observed today. I would advise anybody who wishes to speak about suffering, who needs to comfort somebody who is suffering, or who is suffering, to read this book. I'd like to quote some final thoughts from the last chapter. (My previous post included quotes from the other parts of the book.)

    "Praise is the mode of love which always has some element of joy in it. (p. 62)"

    "Not my idea of God, but God. Not my idea of H., but H. Yes, and also not my idea of my neighbour, but my neighbour. For don't we often make this mistake as regards people who are still alive - who are with us in the same room? Talking and acting not to the man himself but to the picture - almost the précis - we've made of him in our own minds? And he has to depart from it pretty widely before we even notice the fact. In real life - that's one way it differs from novels - his words and acts are, if we observe closely, hardly ever quite …

Some thoughts on God and Evil from C. S. Lewis's "A Grief Observed"

My wife and I are reading through A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis. It is the record of C. S. Lewis's thoughts about his grief after the death of his wife. When he married her, she had already been diagnosed with terminal cancer. After their marriage she had a brief remission and then died. This is an amazing book to read, written by the man who also wrote The Problem with Pain. He deals with the problem of pain in this book as well, but from a different perspective. I would encourage you that as you read these words, you remember that these are the thoughts of a man who has just lost the person he loved the most in this world, and is dealing with the loss. Some of the things he says, if they had been said by anyone else, would seem inconsiderate and insensitive.

    We have both, and I'm not ashamed to say it, cried and laughed because of what he says. Sometimes his thoughts are difficult to take. The book has been very pertinent for us as my wife is frequently plagued wit…

Outline of the Book of Romans

Biblical commentary is not a subject that I have, as of yet, chosen to write about. However, I love studying the Bible and particularly the book of Romans. So, I decided that I would post my thoughts on how the book of Romans should be outlined. I have studied, in depth, for the last 6 years or so, the book of Romans, and in seeking to understand Romans I became dissatisfied with the traditional 3 part structure of Romans. The traditional structure of Romans has a hard time interpreting Romans 5 and 7, and the more I study it, the more that I am convinced that the way in which we interpret Romans 5 will determine how we understand the entire book of Romans (I am not saying that it is a hinge chapter, or anything like that; I think that you will see what I mean as I procede to unpack this outline of Romans.). 
    In the traditional 3 part structure of Romans, some authors put Romans 5 in the first part - Justification, while others put it in the second part - Sanctification. It see…

The Rationality of Believing

I've been fairly busy lately, however I have been reading an article by Joseph Raz, "Reasons: Explanatory and Normative"in New Essays on the Explanation of Action(a link to this paper can also be found on his personal website). In this paper he makes an interesting comment on the rationality of belief. He says, "The rationality of believing depends on one's openness to critical evaluation of the belief, one's ability and willingness to revise or reject it were the evidence to point that way.(p. 189)"
   It seems to me that he has a certain point, however, there is more to the rationality of a belief then the agents willingness to be open to a critical evaluation and potentially change his belief. It seems that more importantly a belief is rational when it is based upon valid reasoning, or, we could say, when it is logical. It also seems to me that a belief that is true is rational in the sense that it is rational to believe it, even if one did not ar…

Article on Aquinas and Reformed Theology

A friend of mine, Doug Beaumont, has recently published an interesting article on Aquinas and Reformed Theology entitled, "Was Aquinas Reformed?" I would encourage anyone interested in predestination, free-will, and other related issues to check it out.

A Thought on the Importance of Discussion

Socrates, in the Protagoras, notes that it is important for us to discuss our ideas for the simple reason that we "see" better when we pass our ideas off on others.

   Quoting Homer he says, "Going in tandem, one perceives before the other (348d)." This is easily illustrated by the tandem bike. When one is riding a Tandem, the one in front sees what is coming before the other. However they both participate in the movement of the bicycle. Socrates goes on to explain why he quoted Homer. He says, "Human beings are simply more resourceful this way in action, speech, and thought. If someone has a private perception, he immediately starts going around and looking until he finds somebody he can show it to and have it  corroborated (348d)."

  Regardless of the subject we need to test our ideas on others as to their coherence, and truth. In order to do so, we must be ready to acknowledge that we may be wrong.

Socrates in the Protagoras on Being a Wise Student

In today's society there is no shortage of teachers, each proclaiming to possess the truth in one form or another. One need only go to University or College to realize that such is the case. As is often the case with today's students, many people simply eat up everything they're given without giving a second thought to whether or not it is good for them. In the Protagoras, Socrates gives the following lesson to a young man, named Hippocrates, who wished to go hear Protagoras - a well-known Sophist.

   "So if you are a knowledgeable consumer, you can buy teachings safely from Protagoras or anyone else. But if you're not, please don't risk what is most dear to you on a roll of the dice, for there is a far greater risk in buying teachings than in buying food....But you cannot carry teachings away in a separate container. You put your money down and take the teachings away in your soul by having learned it, and off you go, either helped or injured (313e-314b).…

How to Decide: Majority vote? or Specialist Opinion?

In some prior articles (here and here) I wrote about church government, and one of my points was that it is not up to the majority to decide on any given issue. Rather, it is the qualified person who should decide. I gave an example, something along the following lines: If you have a problem with your liver, are you going to post it on facebook and ask what you should do? Whatever the majority agrees upon, that is what you will do? No. At least I hope not. You will most likely go to a doctor, a specialist, a person who knows the subject in question and who can make the appropriate decisions based upon his knowledge of Medicine.

   I was reading the Laches by Plato today and came across an interesting quote by Socrates. The Laches begins with a conversation between two men who are trying to decide upon what is the best way to educate two boys that they are responsible for. They approach Laches, Nicias, and Socrates is included in the mix. After having heard the preliminary opinions …

Socrates on knowledge in the Charmides

Some random thoughts on Socrates and the question of knowledge in the Charmides.

    In the Charmides Socrates begins by trying to discover what temperance is by questioning a young man, Charmides, who is said to possess this character trait. Socrates assumes that if Charmides possesses it he must know what it is. (We will not be considering whether or not this assumption is true.) The discussion leads to a definition of Temperance borrowed from another. The definition given is: "minding one's own business (161b - all quotes from the Charmides can be found in "Plato: Complete Works, edited by John M. Cooper.)." Charmides could not say what was meant by this definition, so Critias, Charmides guardian, is called upon to explain and defend this definition. The questioning of Socrates leads Critias to change, ever so slightly his definition to, "the doing of good things (163e)," and the temperate man as, "the man who does what he ought (164b)." Te…

Prouver que Dieu Existe à partir de la Changement

Dans un publication précédent nous avons donné un introduction à des éléments qui sont nécessaire à comprendre pour pouvoir suivre l'argument suivant. Je vais cité, premièrement, les prémisses de l'argument, et je vais, ensuite, expliquer ce que Thomas d'Aquin est en train de faire ici. 
    La première voie de Thomas d’Aquin est comme suit :
(1)« Il est évident, nos sens nous l’attestent, que dans ce monde certaines choses se meuvent. »[1] (2)« tout ce qui se meut est mû par un autre. »[2] a.« rien ne se meut qu’autant qu’il est en puissance par rapport au terme de son mouvement, tandis qu’au contraire, ce qui meut le fait pour autant qu’il est en acte. »[3] i.« car mouvoir, c’est faire passer de la puissance à l’acte. »[4] 1.« et rien ne peut être amené à l’acte autrement que par un être en acte. »[5]

A quote from the Charmides by Plato

"The question at issue is not who said it, but whether what he said is true or not." A good piece of advice that Socrates, in a discussion on what it means to be 'temperate', says to the young man Charmides. This principle is a precursor to the early churches saying, "All truth is God's Truth." The question is not where we find it, or who said it, but whether or not it is true.