Posts tagged ‘Aristotle’

December 12th, 2013

“The Suitability of Aristotelian Metaphysics for Theism” EPS 2013 Paper

by Max Andrews

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 11.52.42 AMI recently coauthored a paper with Dave Beck (Liberty University, Department of Philosophy): “The Suitability of Aristotelian Metaphysics for Theism”  presented at the Evangelical Philosophical Society in Baltimore, MD (November 2013). We primarily focus on critiques of Aristotelian/Thomistic metaphysics offered by Richard Swinburne and Lydia Jaeger. Dave primary contribution was the body-soul discussion and I focussed on Christian thought and science and our Thomistic cosmological argument. This version of the argument is something that we’ve developed over the last year or two. He also worked with my contributions as well. It was a mixed and shared effort by both of us.

Swinburne actually sat in and listened to the presentation. Afterwards, he said the critiques were fair and accurate. Likewise, he agreed that Jaeger should be read and discussed more in Christian philosophy/theology and liked our critique of her as well. He has since offered for us to send him our paper so he can review and critique it. That is certainly an honor and privilege. We haven’t finalized plans for a journal submission but I suspect we may plan to do that in the near future.

Here is our introduction to the paper:

Not just a few current philosophers and theologians have asserted that the metaphysics of Aristotle, even after it was transformed and adapted by Thomas Aquinas, will not meet any or all the requirements of a robust Christian Theism. There is nothing new about that. Both among the Patristics and the Medievals were those who for various reasons rejected Peripatetic metaphysics, primarily for its alleged physicalism. Of course the Condemnations of 1277 didn’t help things either. While directed principally against Averroistic Aristotelianism that was infecting the University of Paris, 20 of the 219 condemned theses were Thomistic. Nevertheless, Thomas would prevail, not only to sainthood, but to become the patron of education and the Teacher of the Church.

September 8th, 2013

What Does it Mean to Live the “Good Life”?—Counterpoints with PZ Myers

by Max Andrews

Summa TheologicaAtheist biologist PZ Myers recently shared his thoughts on how an atheist is to live the good life. He constructed his opinions as counterpoints to many Christian disciplines and virtues. In the end, the happy atheist is the one who is free from religion, whose ethics are framed around societal responsibilities. Sure, helping and loving one another is good but Myers lacks a purpose or end goal for the good life.

Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas are the leading thinkers when it comes to answering the question, “What is the good life?”  Both Aristotle and Thomas agreed that the good life is fulfilling one’s purpose in life but Thomas was the one who grounded the good life in divine love and purpose.

One of the common misconceptions of Christianity is that the goal of human life is happiness.  The chief end of man is to love and know God—fulfilling God’s purposes for each individual. Man’s end is not happiness in this world, but the knowledge of God, which will ultimately bring humanity to it’s intended purpose and end.

April 28th, 2013

The Eudaimonistic Ethic

by Max Andrews

Aristotle’s ethic was eudaimonistic, which was later developed by Thomas Aquinas.  Evil is the negation of good and requires no ontological grounding and it is the case that everyone always acts according to what they believe is good.  Thomas’ meta-ethic was that being and goodness are the same in reference but differ only in sense.  He follows Aristotle in making the connection between goodness and desirability.   “The formula of the good consists in this, that something is desirable, and so the Philosopher [Aristotle] says that the good is what all desire.”[1]  Although all things desire goodness, not all things capable of pursuing goodness and pleasure with understanding understand what really is good; it is possible for creatures with intellect and will to desire an apparent good as a real one.[2]  Thomas states that something is desirable in two ways, either because it is good or because it appears good.  Of these, the first is what is good, for an apparent good does not move by itself but insofar as it has some appearance of good; but the good moves by itself.[3] Desirability and pleasure is an essential aspect of goodness.  The perfection of anything is goodness and perfection is attained in actuality, “As regards nature the good of anything is its actuality and perfection.”[4] 

July 5th, 2012

Teleology in Science

by Max Andrews

Many scientists believe teleology involves human action. The role of necessity and contingency are vital. Phrases like, “In order to…” and “It just so happens that…” are contingencies.  Before proceeding I’ll make a quick distinction between metaphysics and epistemology. Metaphysics includes being and becoming. Each have respective higher and lower forms. Being’s higher form is beauty, justice, etc. The lower form is triangularity, humanity, etc. Becoming’s higher and lower are sensible things and images, respectively. Epistemology includes knowledge and opinion. Knowledge pertains to understanding and reasoning. Opinion refers to perception and imagination.

Teleology refers to final causation.  Aristotle’s science included four different causes: material, formal, efficient, and final. For instance, consider a marble statue of a man. The material cause is the stuff, the marble.  The formal cause is the whatness/sort, the statue.  The efficient cause is that which brings it into being, the sculptor.  The final cause is the end purpose, David.

Can teleology simply be an implication? Information has origin in mind but we know minds act in accordance to purpose, thus teleology is an implication and not a direct conclusion.  Natural causation cannot bring about directionality or intentionality. Many philosophers of science, i.e. Alex Rosenberg, want to get us as close to nomic necessity as possible. Simply put, many philosophers, including Rosenberg, believe efficient causation is not satisfying.

May 21st, 2012

Eudaimonianism

by Max Andrews

Aristotle’s ethic was eudaimonistic, which was later developed by Thomas Aquinas.  Evil is the negation of good and requires no ontological grounding and it is the case that everyone always acts according to what they believe is good.  Thomas’ meta-ethic was that being and goodness are the same in reference but differ only in sense.  He follows Aristotle in making the connection between goodness and desirability.   “The formula of the good consists in this, that something is desirable, and so the Philosopher [Aristotle] says that the good is what all desire.”[1]  Although all things desire goodness, not all things capable of pursuing goodness and pleasure with understanding understand what really is good; it is possible for creatures with intellect and will to desire an apparent good as a real one.[2]  Thomas states that something is desirable in two ways, either because it is good or because it appears good.  Of these, the first is what is good, for an apparent good does not move by itself but insofar as it has some appearance of good; but the good moves by itself.[3] Desirability and pleasure is an essential aspect of goodness.  The perfection of anything is goodness and perfection is attained in actuality, “As regards nature the good of anything is its actuality and perfection.”[4] 

February 3rd, 2012

Natural Law and Theonomy

by Max Andrews

The following is a paper I completed three years ago for a course of Jurisprudence.

________

Epistemology may perhaps, be the most foundational thought process to humankind. Without knowledge, nothing may be accomplished or known. Governmental organization is inevitable in this world, and arguably by human nature. Because not everyone has the same view on every issue there was, is, and ever will be, perhaps through the epistemological, philosophical, and theological approach to government may humankind obtain more knowledge of human jurisprudential thought.

Natural law may be the most common view of jurisprudential thought because it is observable in society and has a great deal of evidence in its favor. This case is supported by the idea that humankind knows what is right because it is written on the heart of every human being. Theonomy, which may be viewed as a more radical step above natural law for a Christian is the applicability of God’s Law to today’s society. The cases for natural law and theonomy may seem naïve without any epistemological, philosophical, and theological evidences, but through meticulous study of these schools of thought, the goal of better understanding these ideas become more tenable.

December 23rd, 2011

Thomistic Ethics and the Evil God Challenge

by Max Andrews

I finally weighed in with my thoughts concerning the evil God challenge set forth by Stephen Law.  My original post argued for two primary principles: 1) evil is the negation of good and requires no ontological grounding and 2) that everyone always acts according to what they believe is good.  (1) Certainly may appear as a mere assertion and it may be reversed and hence the problem of good.  I won’t be defending (1) in this post but I would like to explicate (2) more because I believe it is much stronger and (1) follows from (2) logically later on.

Thomas’ meta-ethic was that being and goodness are the same in reference but differ only in sense.  He follows Aristotle in making the connection between goodness and desirability.   “The formula of the good consists in this, that something is desirable, and so the Philosopher says that the good is what all desire.”[1]  Although all things desire goodness, not all things capable of pursuing goodness with understanding understand what really is good; it is possible for creatures with intellect and will to desire an apparent good as a real one.[2]

Something is desire in two ways, either because it is good or because it appears good.  Of these, the first is what is good, for an apparent good does not move by itself but insofar as it has some appearance of good; but the good moves by itself.[3]

Desirability is an essential aspect of goodness.  The perfection of anything is goodness and perfection is attained in actuality, “As regards nature the good of anything is its actuality and perfection.”[4]  Again, following Aristotle, goodness appears in the notion of that which desire culminates:

June 20th, 2011

Ancient Texts Compared to the Bible

by Max Andrews

Below is a chart that compares popular ancient texts with the Bible in when it was written, the earliest copy we have, and the number of copies there are.  This information is about a decade old so the number of NT manuscripts has most likely increased by now.  This may serve as a simple illustration of a component to the textual reliability of the Bible.

Author Book When Written Earliest Copy Time Gap No. of Copies
Homer Iliad 800 BC 400 BC 400 yrs 643
Herodotus History 480-425 BC AD 900 1,350 yrs 8
Thucydides History 460-400 BC AD 900 1,300 yrs 8
Plato   400 BC AD 900 1,300 yrs 7
Demosthenes   300 BC AD 1100 1,400 yrs 200
Caesar Gallic Wars 100-44 BC AD 900 1,000 yrs 10
Livy History of Rome 59 BC – AD 17 4th Cent. (Partial)Mostly 10th Cent. 400 yrs1,000 yrs 1 Partial19 Copies
Tacitus Annals AD 100 AD 1100 1,000 yrs 20
Pliny Secundus Natural History AD 61-113 AD 850 750 yrs 7
New Testament   AD 50-100 AD 114 (fragment)AD 200 (books)

AD 250 (most of NT)

AD 325 (complete NT)

+50 yrs100 yrs

150 yrs

225 yrs

5,366

Josh McDowell, The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict, 1999.