9.28.2009

What Counts as Reason?

Many people today think that, through reason, we can all see that man does not have an immortal soul. The Medieval philosophers thought that, through reason, we can all see that he does.

Many people today think that, through, reason, we can all see that there is no such thing as God. The Medieval philosophers thought that, through reason, we can all see that there is.

Reasoning is hard work and it is essentially a movement from one thing to another. The famous maxim is "to follow the argument wherever it leads," and if it leads us to the knowledge of the existence of God and our own immortality we must assent to these things. There is no real split between faith and reason in the modern sense; there is only good reasoning and bad reasoning which leads to false conclusions. Just because a man believes in God does not mean he does so despite what his reason tells him. If he is truly wise, he has come to this knowledge precisely because of his reason. Let No One Afraid of Thought Enter.

9.23.2009

The Never Ending Story II

According to many philosophers, both professional and amateur, the veracity of the cosmological argument, in its various forms, always hinges upon whether or not the universe began to exist. This idea is odd, though, since the two most famous proponents of the argument, Aristotle and Aquinas, did not hold that the temporal finitude of the universe could be rationally demonstrated. Aristotle, in fact, held that the universe did exist from eternity, yet it is his argument from motion that Aquinas adopted and used in order to demonstrate that God exists. Aquinas held that the world was finite, but this view was held in light of revelation, meaning that it is not logically contradictory to say that the universe began to exist in time, we cannot prove by reason that it did, though, and since revelation holds that it did then we are to believe it as well.

One of two things is happening here: 1) Anybody with common sense and who reads the argument with even the slightest diligence will immediately see a contradiction in the opinions of arguably the most brilliant philosophers who ever lived or 2) We do not understand what either Aristotle or Aquinas are actually saying. Which should we pick?

9.20.2009

Wonder and Awe, Again

"It is through wonder that men now begin and originally began to philosophize; wondering in the first place at obvious perplexities, and then by gradual progression raising questions about the greatest matters too, e.g. about the changes of the moon and of the sun, about the stars and about the origin of the universe. Now he who wonders and is perplexed feels that he is ignorant (thus the myth-lover is in a sense a philosopher, since myths are composed of wonders); therefore if it was to escape ignorance that men studied philosophy, it is obvious that they pursued science for the sake of knowledge, and not for any practical utility. The actual course of events bears witness to this; for speculation of this kind began with a view to recreation and pastime, at a time when practically all the necessities of life were already supplied. Clearly then it is for no extrinsic advantage that we seek this knowledge; for just as we call a man independent who exists for himself and not for another, so we call this the only independent science, since it alone exists for itself."

-Aristotle, Metaphysics, Book I