Current Reading

Reviews, recommendations, books to avoid. What have you been reading?
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Reviews, recommendations, books to avoid. What have you been reading?

Re: Current Reading

Postby Pondero » September 25th, 2017, 11:29 pm

My interests lie in philosophy and today I am reading Edward Fraser's book Aquinas, which I borrowed from the local library.
Etienne Gilson's books were all Reserved, except for one about the spirit of Medieval Philosophy, which I placed on Hold.It should be there within a week.If I don't pick it up when ready,the library will charge me a dollar :)
“ignorance of the fact that man has a wounded nature inclined to evil gives rise to serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action, and morals” (#407).
Catechism of the Catholic Church.
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Re: Current Reading

Postby Pondero » November 17th, 2017, 6:13 pm

On Wednesday I ordered from Justin Press, Ottawa , two copies of a book , Why Good is Hiding , one for each of my grandchildren in University. It is about God (as is obvious ) and critical of atheism.Dawkins once indicated in an interview that in intelligent designer could be behind it all, but the designer has to be an alien. Now really , how ridiculous.And he still doesn't answer the question of how life began in the first place.These books are not Christmas gifts, but ordinary gifts.
I received them yesterday and am reading one of them. A great book which is written by Patrick Meagher, which I s not on Amazon.
“ignorance of the fact that man has a wounded nature inclined to evil gives rise to serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action, and morals” (#407).
Catechism of the Catholic Church.
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Re: Current Reading

Postby Pondero » January 20th, 2018, 2:26 pm

I am currently re-reading a book called "God and Philosophy" by Etienne Gilson.It was mandatory reading for a university course at St.Michael's College, University of Toronto.back in the late sixties or early 1970s.Etienne Gilson was founder of the Pontificial Institute of Mediaeval Studies , affiliated with the college at the time (not now) and controlled (if that is the right word) by the Basilian Fathers in Toronto. Gilson taught at Harvard before that, and won a Croix de Guerre in the First World War.Quite a life if you read Wikipedia.
I will edit this to include a passage from the book on Descartes.later on .

What the Cartesian world of science was everybody knows. It is an exclusively mechanical universe, wherein everything can be accounted for by the geometrical properties of space and the physical laws of motion. If we look at God as the only possible explanation for the existence of such a world, his main attribute must necessarily be not the self-contemplation of his own infinite Being, but his self causing all –powerfulness, source of his creative causality. Instead of the self –sufficient and self knowing Being of Thomas Aquinas, we now have a self-causing energy of existence. Were we to resort to metaphors, we might say that whereas the God of St.Thomas was an infinite ocean of existence, the God of Descartes is an infinitely powerful fountain of existence. And it is not difficult to see why. Since the ultimate philosophical function of his God was to be a cause, the Cartesian God had to be possessed of any and every attribute which was required the creator of a Cartesian world. Such a world being indefinitely extended in space, its creator had to be infinite; such a world being purely mechanical and devoid of final causes, what was true and good in it had to be such because God had created it by a free decree of his will, and not conversely; the mechanical world of Descartes rested upon the assumption of the conservation of the same quantity of motion in the universe; hence the God of Descartes had to be an immutable God and the laws established by his will could not be allowed to change, unless this world itself be first destroyed. In short, the essence of the Cartesian God was largely determined by his philosophical function, which was to create and preserve the mechanical world of science as Descartes himself conceived it.
Now it is quite true that a Creator is an eminently Christian God, but a God whose very essence is to be a Creator is not a Christian God at all. The essence of the true Christian God is not to create but to be.”He who is” can also create, if he chooses; but he does not exist because he creates, nay, not even himself; he can create because he supremely is.
We are now beginning to see why, and in what sense , the metaphysics of Descartes was a decisive moment of natural theology.Evolution , however, is not always synonymous with progress; and this time it was destined to be a regress. I am not arguing here on the dogmatic assumption that the God of St Thomas is the true God.What I am trying to make clear is that the objective fact that, even as a philosophical supreme cause, The God of Descartes was a still born God……….pp86-89.


I will continue without missing a word.
“ignorance of the fact that man has a wounded nature inclined to evil gives rise to serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action, and morals” (#407).
Catechism of the Catholic Church.
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Re: Current Reading

Postby Pondero » January 21st, 2018, 10:57 pm

He could not possibly live because, as Descartes had conceived him, he was the God of Christianity reduced to the condition of philosophical principle, in short, an infelicitous hybrid of religious faith and rational thought. The most striking characteristic of such a God was that his creative function had integrally absorbed his essence. Hence, the name that was hereafter going to be his truest name: no longer “He who is” but rather “The Author of Nature.” Assuredly, the God of Christianity had always been the Author of Nature, but he had always been infinitely more than that, whereas, after Descartes, he was destined progressively to become nothing else than that. Descartes himself was too good a Christian to consider Nature as a particular god; but, strangely enough, it never occurred to him that to reduce the Christian God himself to no more than the supreme cause of Nature was to do identically the same thing. Metaphysical conclusions so necessarily follow from their principles that Descartes himself reached at once what were to be the ultimate conclusions of his eighteenth-century disciples when he wrote the following sentence: “By Nature, considered in general, I am now understanding nothing else than either God, or the order and the disposition established by God in created things.” The most immediate historical effect of this Cartesian natural theology has been again to dissociate God as an object of religious worship from God as a first principle of philosophical intelligibility. Hence the famous protest of Pascal:”The God of the Christians is not a God who is simply the author of mathematical truths, or of the order of the elements; that is the view of the heathens and Epicureans … : but the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, the God of Christians, is a God of love and comfort, a God who fills the soul and heart of those whom he possesses.” In a sense it can be said that the greatest among the immediate successors of Descartes did all that was humanly conceivable to restore the unity of natural theology on the basis of Cartesian principles. If they failed, as I am afraid they did, the reason for their failure probably was that such an undertaking was in itself a contradictory one, and consequently, that such a thing could not be done at all. pages 89-91.


There is much more in this book on Descartes (Gilson wrote his thesis on Descartes) and also on Kant and the conflicts of modern philosophy between God and Science.
“ignorance of the fact that man has a wounded nature inclined to evil gives rise to serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action, and morals” (#407).
Catechism of the Catholic Church.
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Re: Current Reading

Postby Pondero » January 22nd, 2018, 6:51 pm

Today our only choice is not Kant or Descartes; it is rather Kant or Thomas Aquinas. All the other positions are but halfway houses on the road which lead to absolute religious agnosticism or to the natural theology of Christian metaphysics. Philosophical halfway houses have been pretty crowded, but never more than they are in our own times, especially in the field of natural theology. This fact is not a wholly inexplicable one. What makes it difficult to go back to Thomas Aquinas is Kant. Modern men are held spellbound by science, in some cases because they know it, but in an incomparably larger number of cases because they know that, to those who know science, the problem of God does not appear susceptible of a scientific formulation……….p.115. Pascal did not make much of the so-called proofs of God’s existence. To him it was incomprehensible that God should exist, and it was incomprehensible that God should not exist; Then he would simply wager that God exist – a safe betting indeed, since there was much to gain and nothing to lose. Thus to bet is not to know, especially in a case where, if we lose, we cannot even hope to know it. p.117…------
Similarly, after proving in his “Critique of Pure Reason” that the existence of God could not be demonstrated, Kant still insisted on keeping God as at least a unifying idea in the order of speculative reason and as a postulate in the moral order of practical reason.---p.117.
Whatever our final answer to the problem of God may be, we all agree that God is not an empirically observable fact. Mystical experience itself is both unspeakable and intransmissible; hence, it cannot become an objective experience…..p.119.

There is an interesting criticism of the views of Julian Huxley in this book. In another book called "Elements of Christian Philosophy" he demolishes the argument against causation by Hume, in a masterly way. It is similar to the way Dr. Johnson demolished the argument by kicking a can and saying "I refute it thus". Unfortunately, I don't have the book here with me in Florida.
THE END of BOOK REPORT.
“ignorance of the fact that man has a wounded nature inclined to evil gives rise to serious errors in the areas of education, politics, social action, and morals” (#407).
Catechism of the Catholic Church.
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Pondero
 
Posts: 12155
Joined: October 25th, 2007, 11:03 am
Location: Etobicoke,Ontario, Canada

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