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Monday, January 30, 2012

0210: Pope Benedict XVI on Aquinas (XVIII)

Entry 0210: In his reflections on prayer in the General Audience of 11 May 2011, Pope Benedict XVI refers to Saint Thomas Aquinas as follows:

Man bears within him a thirst for the infinite, a longing for eternity, a quest for beauty, a desire for love, a need for light and for truth which impel him towards the Absolute; man bears within him the desire for God. And man knows, in a certain way, that he can turn to God, he knows he can pray to him.

St Thomas Aquinas, one of the greatest theologians of history, defines prayer as “an expression of man’s desire for God”. This attraction to God, which God himself has placed in man, is the soul of prayer, that then takes on a great many forms, in accordance with the history, the time, the moment, the grace and even the sin of every person praying.

Indeed in the Summa Theologiae (part II-II, question 83, article 9, corpus) Aquinas writes: "For since prayer interprets our desires, as it were, before God, then alone is it right to ask for something in our prayers when it is right that we should desire it." (Oratio est quodammodo desiderii nostri interpres apud Deum, illa solum recte orando petimus quae recte desiderare valemus.)

Monday, January 23, 2012

0209: The Self-Evident Connotation of the Actus Essendi (VII)

Entry 0209: The Self-Evident Connotation of the Actus Essendi (VII)

Remarks by Douglas B. Rasmussen

"We do not ever really have to wonder whether we are in cognitive contact with reality—that is a given. It should be noted that the Aristotelian approach to this issue does not confine knowledge to strictly that of knowing propositions. I have used the term ‘cognition’ here to indicate an intentional union or contact with reality. This certainly includes but is not confined to the propositional." [1]


[1] Douglas B. Rasmussen, “The Aristotelian Significance of the Section Titles of Atlas Shrugged,” in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged: A Philosophical and Literary Companion, Edward W. Younkins, ed., (Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2007), p. 36.

Monday, January 16, 2012

0208: Remarks on the Principle of Non-Contradiction (V)

Entry 0208: Remarks on the Principle of Non-Contradiction (V)

Remarks by Thomas D. D'Andrea:

“For both Aristotle and Aquinas, the first principle of understanding [is] the metaphysical principle of non-contradiction. Of this, Aristotle says:

The most certain principle of all is that regarding which it is impossible to be mistaken; for such a principle must be both the best known (for all men may be mistaken about things which they do not know), and non-hypothetical. For a principle that anyone must have who understands anything is not a hypothesis… Evidently then such a principle is the most certain of all; which principle this is let us proceed to say. It is, that the same attribute cannot at the same time belong and not belong to the same subject and in the same respect… This then is the most certain of all principles, since it answers to the definition given above. For it is impossible for any one to believe the same thing to be and not to be, as some think Heraclitus says. For what a man says, he does not necessarily believe… (Metaphysics IV, 1 005b12-25, Ross trans.)

“Aquinas glosses these remarks by referring to the principle as ‘the axiom of all axioms’ (Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, para. 604), and adds that, ‘evidently this principle is not based on an assumption. Indeed, insofar as it is by nature a starting point, it clearly comes unsought to the one having it and is not acquired by his own efforts’ (para. 605). Aquinas can plausibly be taken to hold here that the first principle is embedded (implicit and presupposed) in all human thought as such, from which it does not follow that all humans know that the principle is true (even philosophers such as Heraclitus seem confused about it), or that they know, moreover, that it is necessarily true, and even the most basic of necessary truths (i.e., as the truth presupposed by all other necessary truths).” [1]


[1] Thomas D. D'Andrea, Tradition, Rationality, and Virtue: The Thought of Alasdair MacIntyre, (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2006), 413.

Monday, January 9, 2012

0207: Remarks on the Principle of Non-Contradiction (IV)

Entry 0207: Remarks on the Principle of Non-Contradiction (IV)

Human action presupposes the principle of non-contradiction:

People who act do something indicating that they have a goal and think that certain means, which they are undertaking, is the way to reach that goal.

We act because we believe certain things and have certain goals, which is to say that we do not believe the opposite things and have the oppose goals.

In any particular action, we do not act as though things were anything or everything.

Accordingly, action itself presupposes the principle of non-contradiction. [1]


[1] Trudy Govier, Socrates' Children: Thinking and Knowing in the Western Tradition, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada: Broadview Press, 1997, pp. 68-69.

Monday, January 2, 2012

0206: Remarks on the Principle of Non-Contradiction (III)

Entry 0206: Remarks on the Principle of Non-Contradiction (III)

According to Franklin Perkins, Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646-1716) “distinguishes between the explicit grasp of truths of reason or logic and an instinct for logic that everyone possesses. This instinct appears primarily in the avoidance of obvious contradictions. The capacity for reason depends [in part] on this instinctive use of the principle of non-contradiction.” [1]


[1] Franklin Perkins, “Interpreting China,” Chapter 4 in Leibniz and China: a commerce of light, Cambridge: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, 2004, p. 160.