12.30.2010

Possible Being Is Caused Being

That which can possibly be need not actually be. In this way, possible being has a certain indifference towards both actual being and non-being. From this, we can see that possible being must necessarily be caused being. Remember that what something is is separate from whether or not it exists. If the definition of something is simply that it exists, we do not search for a cause of such a being, for it does not receive its existence from another but exists in itself. Possible being, since it is not a being such that its definition is that it exists, if it was it could not be possible being, must be caused by necessary being. From this, we see that necessary being is prior to possible being.

All material being is possible being since matter is, by nature, in potency towards some form or act. This composition of matter and form, potency and act, is just what material being is. All material being as such is being caused.   

12.26.2010

Christmas Day

"To restore man, who has been laid low by sin, to the heights of divine glory, the Word of the eternal Father, though containing all things within His immensity, willed to become small. This He did, not by putting aside His greatness, but by taking to Himself our littleness."

- St. Thomas Aquinas, Introduction to The Compendium of Theology

Sometimes it is easy to forget that Christmas is a celebration of God coming to earth. This idea alone can provide a lifetime of meditation for anyone who desires to take it seriously.

12.24.2010

So Aristotle is Wrong...

So Aristotle is wrong. His philosophy has been disproved by modern science, whatever that means. We should discard what he says and everything built upon it. Away with all of this ridiculous talk of matter and form, nature and art, act and potency, motion and rest, and definitely none of this talk of essence or what-it-is-to-be something. 

What now? Can we continue on with modern science and modern life as if we have outgrown such primitive thought? Absolutely not! The only thing we can do is say, "You were right, Parmenides, being is one." 

What, did you forget why Aristotle was spending his time thinking about motion and how we can make sense of it? If we throw him out, we cannot continue on with anything, for we are forced back to Parmenides' metaphysics. And since, without Aristotle, his philosophy goes unchallenged, we must all become his followers. In this way, the rejection of Aristotle is the single most regressive movement in human knowledge ever. In fact, our knowledge of the world would not regress at all, it would vanish, or, more precisely, it could never be.

12.16.2010

The Treason of Philosophy

The philosophical act is nothing less than a revolutionary call to transcend the world of utility, productivity, and work. The men of business ask "Where can I get this item," or "How can I come to possess this thing that I need for this purpose?" The men of science ask "How can I obtain power over that which I have not made? How can I predict nature and exert my will over it?"

The philosopher asks "Why is there anything at all? Why is there something rather than nothing?" Against the world of utility this question is at least disturbing and at most treasonous. Inasmuch as the modern world sees itself as a world of "workers," a world in which men only know how to conform things to their own will with the power of machines and know-how and inasmuch as men see their own imaginations as the only arbiters of what can or cannot be, philosophy will always stand as the mortal enemy of our world.  

12.12.2010

Social Notes

Perhaps I will devote longer posts to some of these...

-Modern conservatism, as a species of liberalism, is positively obsessed with politics. The most prominent writers and speakers waste their time discussing electoral politics and polls and policies. It used to be that only liberals were insufferable at the dinner table.

-Tolerance can only follow division or diversity. When will it be time to speak of the virtues of unity?

-Imagination is more often used to obscure reality than to reveal it. People call something 'old' in order to create an image of that which is dying and decaying. We could, however, use the same word to create the image of something powerful, enduring, lasting, and wise.

-Pop culture is created by business. Culture is a people's way of life: tradition, memory, song, and behaviors. Business creates our traditions, memories, songs, and behaviors.

-Proper conservatism can never be such if it is combined with ignorance of history. Many young people today assume that moving in with your girlfriend is a mature step on the path to adulthood. They do this out of a type of conservatism, a devotion to a particular way of life. That this is pure nonsense is evidenced by the fact that the practice is only decades old.

-In America, activism is encouraged before thought.

-Politics grows from history, morality, religion, biology, and philosophy. People define themselves politically only after they have defined themselves according to these prior standards, so those who view politics as the proper conduit for substantial social change have it exactly backwards.


12.07.2010

Imaginary Warning

Children are often admired for their ability to imagine. With the acknowledgment of imagination's beauty, though, must also come the realization that it is a power that is essentially limited by particularity. If imagination were a power of abstraction then children would be the most brilliant of philosophers. And inasmuch as we fail to transcend our own imagination when understanding reality, our thinking will remain stagnant and marked by a gross immaturity. In this way, the empiricism of a Hume or a Locke is a philosophy fit only for perpetual children.

12.05.2010

Physics: Book VIII

In the Physics Book VIII, Aristotle begins his argument by defining motion as the “actuality of the moveable insofar as it is moveable” (Phys. 251a10). The moveable as moveable must therefore contain within itself some potency determined to some act. That which is altered must first be alterable, for instance. The second principle for which he argues is that whatever is in motion is moved by something. This premise is proven through a consideration of both act and potency. Potency as such cannot be in act or else it would not be in potency. That which is what it is cannot at the same time become what it is because something cannot become what it already is. No potency can bring itself to act without first being in act, which would mean that it was not in potency.

What we now have is a series of movers being moved by something or a series of potentialities being brought into actuality by something which is already actual. According to Aristotle, this series cannot go on infinitely because if it did there would be no first mover and, hence, no motion at all. The series must cease or, more accurately, begin with some first mover that actualizes potentialities without itself being brought from potency to act. In other words, the series must begin with some mover that is itself unmoved. “For it is impossible to have an infinite series of movers each of which initiates motion and is moved by the agency of something else; for there is no first term in an infinite series” (Phys. 256a15-20). Even in what Aristotle calls self-movers, living things, it is more precise to say that motion is initiated in one part by another part. These self-moved movers are also subject to generation and corruption and therefore cannot be the unqualified first movers in any series since, for Aristotle, motion is continuous. The motion of self-moved movers, then, must also regress to some unmoved mover.

12.03.2010

Philosophy For Death

Early in the Phaedo, Socrates briefly elaborates his assertion that philosophy is “to practice for dying and death” (Phaedo 64a). The body, he says, impedes a man’s true acquisition of knowledge. Sight, hearing, and sensation in general are not sources of truth because they are deceptive and cannot accurately yield any truth. Examination through sensation, then, will never yield true knowledge. Socrates then explains that this is because the Forms are not material and cannot be perceived through the senses. Knowledge of the Forms can only be reached trough thought, pure thought that is both unmixed with and uninfluenced by material sensation. The body and its senses can only hinder the soul’s approach of the Forms, so man must only utilize his reason, which for Socrates is an activity of the soul. It is after death that the soul is finally and utterly without any material obstruction because at death the soul is separated from the body and thus free from the senses (Phaedo 64c). Death, then, is not something to be spurned by the true philosopher, rather, it should be accepted and even invited when it comes because the philosopher will be able to do more perfectly what he has been doing during his earthly life.