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Chit-Chat » What was the biggest shift in your worldview and the reasons for it? » 11/04/2018 7:04 pm

Greg
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I became Catholic after spending my adolescence and teenage years as an atheist.

My 'reasons' included the witness of some Catholics I knew and of the Church throughout history, as well as a general dissatisfaction with my secular ethical outlook, which 'combusted' as it were as I was reading War and Peace and Ulysses.

Religion » Question about the resurrection » 10/29/2018 2:45 pm

Greg
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I think not. Faith is of things unseen. The evidence is precisely less than compelling.

Theoretical Philosophy » Are there any scholastic writers on epistemology? » 10/29/2018 2:43 pm

Greg
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James Ross's Thought and World and John O'Callaghan's Thomist Realism and the Linguistic Turn are both in part (or both can be read as) Thomist commentaries on some later analytic responses to skepticism (engaging with folks like McDowell and Putnam).

Chit-Chat » Should we update to new forum software? » 10/11/2018 4:46 pm

Greg
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John West wrote:

Do we really need some of these rules? I understand that, as a classical theism forum, we have to safeguard the freedom to speak of controversial topics dear to classical theists part of traditional religions (most classical theists). But do we really need the line about it being okay to talk about certain racial characteristics? I mean, that's not exactly philosophically substantive stuff. . .

I think the Rules' intention could be not uneasily accomplished without explicitly naming each controversial topic. (I gather that the Rules' intention is to communicate that it is permissible to discuss here some of topics that would get you chased off of a modern university campus.) That is, this is a philosophy forum, and generally speaking, it is not our policy to ban discussion by subject matter, though uncivil or incendiary discussion will as a rule be prohibited. The staff should simply reserve the right to make judgments about what is beyond the pale (so you cannot defend the extermination of Jews by the Nazis, however sincere you make yourself out to be).

Chit-Chat » Christine Blasey Ford is a liar » 10/04/2018 7:56 pm

Greg
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I think many conservatives relish the opportunity to say that they think she is wrong but not lying, because they genuinely esteem liberal’s attitudes toward sexual assault allegations and fear condemnation. I honestly was originally inclined to read the situation that way, but in light of the evidence, I find it likely that she has lied. (In this respect I think they’re like the bishops on the death penalty.)

The assault moved from her “late teens in the mid ‘80s” to “15 in the summer of 1982” in her account. Her therapist notes, which she refuses to reveal, are being discussed as though they corroborate her account, but they do nothing of the sort. They tell a different story. Her only piece of evidence to place the assault in 1982 is her story about running into Mark Judge at the Safeway; that story is told to exclude any witnesses, and his employment there is public record, since he wrote about it in his book.

I haven’t followed over the last few days, but it seems that her ex-boyfriend has sworn that she has no fear of flying and is familiar with polygraphs. It seems that she lied on those points.

I think the Democrats have treated her as a pawn and don’t care about her, but at this point I think it’s most likely that she has lied.

Theoretical Philosophy » Imagination as a perfect guide to possibility » 8/30/2018 10:18 am

Greg
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Greg wrote:

(Though it should be possible in non-Euclidean space.)

(As I think about it, though, when we typically imagine it, we are imagining it in Euclidean space.)

Here are some other candidates for impossible yet imaginable things. I can imagine that the Morning Star and the Evening Star were not identical. I can imagine that human beings speak unsystematic gibberish instead of their usual languages, yet go about their lives just as we do. I can imagine that water lack some of the chemical properties it has (say, those due to its polarity, like its cohesiveness--I can imagine, for instance, that water were more like non-polar liquids in not forming or forming less stable droplets).

Theoretical Philosophy » Imagination as a perfect guide to possibility » 8/29/2018 9:05 pm

Greg
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When you imagine a Penrose triangle, what are you imagining?

On the one hand, clearly you can imagine that the world is such that you see such a thing. For this world is such a world. But then "such a thing" is just a particular two-dimensional image. So this isn't what we mean when we put forth the Penrose triangle as something imaginable but impossible.

What is meant is that if we see the Penrose triangle as a three-dimensional object--as we are inclined to see it, by seeing the shading as suggesting variations of depth and shadow, and by seeing each of the acute (in the two-dimensional representation) angles as right angles--then we are seeing it as something which is impossible. And that seems to be correct. The three "sides" of the Penrose triangle could not each be perpendicular to the others and form a triangle as the image impresses they do. (Though it should be possible in non-Euclidean space.)

Practical Philosophy » What counts as perverting a faculty? (NSFW) » 8/10/2018 9:47 pm

Greg
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RomanJoe wrote:

However, what about instances of physical sexual pleasure that don't result in premature climax or climax outside of the vagina? For instance, crossing one's legs a certain way because it feels good, direct stimulation of a faculty without ejaculation, or even (though perhaps rare) sexual intercourse and stopping deliberately before climaxing. In these cases is one acting contrary to the natural end of the sexual faculty? If semen has not been ejaculated in aat all, if there was no redirected climax, say, in a condom or tissue, then would the non-climactic stimulation just be seen as using a faculty in a way "other" than its natural end rather than contrary to its natural end?

The trouble I have always thought the argument faced was spelling out the relevant sense of "use contrary to end" in a manner neither too inclusive nor too exclusive. I think there are also more significant problems of the character of Thomistic ethics generally--and whether "good is to be done and evil avoided" has the sense necessary to be both a) defended in the manner Feser defends it and b) applied in the manner Feser applies it.

But the sense of use at issue is I think clearly supposed to be one according to which the reproductive faculty is used even when one does not reach climax. Intuitively, the sexual organs are still being used in such a case, for pleasure or whatever else. I don't have the article on hand at the moment and haven't read it in a while, so I can't say whether it is phrased in a way that anticipates this possibility, but I suspect that it is, and even if not, it should be.

I don't think that is the tough part of the argument. The argument isn't that sperm is wasted when it isn't used for procreation, so that the wrong enters principally at the stage of non-marital ejaculation. However one winds up claiming that ejaculating into a condom is using the reproductive faculty contrary to its natural end, it should also be the case that usi

Theoretical Philosophy » Evolution and Proportionate Causality » 7/25/2018 10:19 am

Greg
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I don't think that will work. There are lots of powers that all animals have in common with humans, but not all of them. Oysters lack locomotion, in Aristotle's view, and from our standpoint it should probably look like there is even greater variation in the possession of various senses among animals. (I am not familiar with the details of Aristotle's biology at all, but I understand that he does count sponges among animals rather than vegetables, and holds that they at least have perception/sensation--or, at least, a quick search seemed to show this, but he certainly thinks it's true of oysters.)

However, I think it is also not going to be correct to characterize the difference between the prefections of two animals which do have all of the same powers (say, a horse and a dog) as a difference in degree rather than kind, unless all animals with the same set of powers are specifically the same, which they are not.

Chit-Chat » Recent reading » 7/25/2018 9:56 am

Greg
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I recently read Stephen Mulhall's The Great Riddle: Wittgenstein and Nonsense, Theology and Philosophy. I thought it was an excellent little book, and it struck a chord with me, since one of my recent preoccupations has been the status of philosophical language and Thomists' (as well as lots of medieval philosophers') failure to take their qualifications about philosophical language seriously.

Mulhall's primary training is in Wittgenstein, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Heidegger. He just came across the grammatical Thomist tradition in the last several years and became curious about the claims, chiefly of David Burrell, to be the rightful inheritor both of Aquinas and of Wittgenstein. That project evolved into the 2013-2014 Stanton Lectuers, of which the book is a republication. It is both an updating of Burrell's work with superior Wittgenstein scholarship and a reading (or rereading) of Aquinas's Summa theologiae as articulating and meditating upon the grammar of the word 'God' ("Grammar tells what kind of object anything is. (Theology as grammar)," PI §373).

It makes use of the work of Cora Diamond, who (rightly) disputes whether 'nonsense' is always a term of opprobrium in Wittgenstein. (The philosophical understanding which the Tractatus helps one toward, for instance, is achieved only when its reader comes to understand that its sentences are nonsense.) The basic idea is that our language contains perfective terms which allow us to formulate riddles, to which God is the only answer--but our only way of expressing the way in which God is the answer is, as it were, by breaking our language and uttering the formulations of divine simplicity to which Aquinas is inclined. (It therefore rejects two major approaches in Wittgenstein-inspired philosophy of religion, the one to regard traditional formulations of divine simplicity as nonsense and therefore bad and useless, the other to deflate and domesticate religious language

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