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Philosophy in the Eyes of Theologians: Friend or Foe? (Part 3 of 3)


NOTE: Today we conclude our three part series from Tamer Nashef on the relationship between philosophy and theology. Tamer's previous piece at Strange Notions, "I’m a Muslim But Here’s Why I Admire the Catholic Church", remains one of our all-time most popular posts.

The third and last segment of the essay will shed light on the brilliant theologians of the cathedral schools and 12th-century Renaissance. The theologians in question include Peter Abelard, Adelard of Bath, William of Conches, Hugh of Saint Victor, John of Salisbury, Peter Lombard, and many others. I will conclude the essay with a brief discussion on Thomas Aquinas whose philosophy constitutes the culmination of harmony between reason and revelation.

Peter Abelard (1079-1143) stands as one of the most eminent champions of reason and logic in the Middle Ages. He was a French philosopher, theologian, and logician who taught in the schools of northern France, particularly Paris and Laon, and “extended the rationalist program begun by Anselm” (Lindberg’s Beginnings of Western Science 208). He advocated the use of reason and doubt as a means of reaching the truth, stressing that “the first key to wisdom is assiduous and frequent questioning….For by doubting we come to inquiry, and by inquiry we arrive at the truth” (Durant 939). He is also reported to have told his students that “nothing can be believed unless it is first understood,” suggesting that understanding precedes faith (Hannam 43). In his view, “truth in search of itself has no enemies” and “truth cannot be opposed to truth” in the sense that the truths of revelation and the truths of reasoning are compatible because their source is one and the same, namely God (Huff’s Rise of Early Modern Science 141).

Abelard’s most famous work Sic et non (Yes and No or Pro and Con) assembled perceived contradictory or conflicting statements by Church Fathers on theological issues and sought to solve these contradictions through dialectical or Scholastic method. He also advocated the unfettered pursuit of knowledge irrespective of its source, as all forms of knowledge are beneficial, including knowledge of evil: "All knowledge is good, even knowledge of evil...the study of all knowledge is good" (141).

Like Saint Anselm who felt obliged to bring forward rational proof of God’s existence due to his fellow monks’ repeated requests, Abelard applied reason and logic to the articles of faith because his students “were asking for human and philosophical reasons and clamouring more for what could be understood than for what could be said” (Grant’s Science and Religion 156). He had little patience with blind faith that was not grounded in reason and understanding because in his view “the utterance of words was superfluous unless it were followed by understanding, and that it was ridiculous for anyone to preach to others what neither he nor those taught by him could accept into their understanding” (156). In his book on the Trinity, Abelard acknowledged that this article of faith surpassed the boundaries of reason, but the powers of reason could still be harnessed to counter arguments claiming the Trinity was false (Hannam 49).

Despite his commitment to reason and doubt, Abelard’s conviction in the truthfulness of Christianity never wavered as evident in the following moving words: “I do not wish to be a philosopher if it means conflicting with Paul nor to be an Aristotelian if it cuts me off from Christ" (Huff’s Rise 141).

For his part, Peter Lombard (1095-1160), who served as archbishop of Paris for a brief period and may have been Abelard’s student, played a key role in turning theology into a systematic discipline by organizing the opinions of Church Fathers in his famous Four Books of Sentences. This work, which had served as the primary textbook in the Western schools of theology until the 17th century and generated over a thousand commentaries in response, ranged over several theological themes such as God and His attributes, the creation, the Incarnation, the sacraments, etc. As evidence of the popularity of Lombard’s work, Grant points out that “[b]etween 1150 and 1500, only the Bible was read and discussed more than the Sentences” (Science and Religion 159). What is particularly notable about Lombard’s work is the combination of “reliance on authority with a willingness to employ reason in the explanation of theological points” (Woods 62).

Adelard of Bath (1080-1142) played a prominent role in the European translation movement between the 12th and 13th centuries, which guaranteed the transmission of Greco-Arabic learning into the West and brought the treasures of Islamic (and Classical) civilization within the purview of Latin scholars. During his travels in Palestine, Syria, Salerno, Sicily, and Cilicia, this English scholar learned Arabic and came into possession of Arabic manuscripts. He later translated Al-Khwarizmi's Astronomical Tables, Abu Ma'shar's Shorter Introduction to Astronomy, and Euclid's Elements (Lindberg’s “Science in the Middle Ages” 62). He pioneered the important distinction between empirical inquiry, concerned with how things work, and theology, concerned with why things are as they are (Howard 25). Therefore, it was the duty of the natural philosopher, rather than theologian, to investigate the causes at work in nature: “For the functioning and interconnection between all the senses are manifest in all living things…but which forces come into play in what connections with which method or mode, none except the mind of a philosopher can make clear” (Huff’s Rise 101). He is also said to have been among the first in Europe to have performed experiments, demonstrating that “water does not flow from a hole in the bottom of a closed vessel until a hole is made in the top to let air in. This contradicted Aristotle's theory of natural place" (Howard 25).

Adelard of Bath viewed reason as the hallmark of human nature, seeing that "[i]t is through reason that we are men" (Woods 87). It is this attribute, namely “the gift of reason,” that sets humans apart from beasts and compensates for their physical disadvantages: "Although man is not armed by nature nor is he the swiftest in flight, yet he has that which is better by far and worth more -- that is, reason. For by possession of this function he exceeds the beasts to such a degree that he subdues them...You see, therefore, how much the gift of reason surpasses mere physical equipment" (Huff’s Rise 102). He also denounced blind, unthinking subservience to authority: “For what should we call authority but a halter? Indeed, just as brute animals are led about by a halter whenever you please, and are not told where or why, but see the rope by which they are held and follow it alone, thus the authority of writers leads many of you, caught and bound by animal-like credulity, into danger” (Grant’s Science and Religion 161). He mocked readers and students who blindly trusted the conclusions of ancient scholars and “who require no rational explanation and put their trust only in the ancient name of a title” (161).

Adelard perceived order and harmony in the make-up of the universe, emphasizing its "amazing rational beauty” (Woods 87). While seeing God as the ultimate and primary cause of all things, he urged naturalistic and rational, rather than supernatural, explanations of natural phenomena, saying that "we must listen to the very limits of human knowledge and only when this utterly breaks down should we refer things to God” (87). Only after exhausting naturalistic accounts of nature’s operations, should the natural philosopher have recourse to miracles and divine intervention. Andrew of St. Victor endorsed a similar view, arguing that exegesis should consider all natural explanations of events in the Bible and only when such natural possibilities are ruled out, should the miraculous and supernatural be invoked: “…in expounding Scripture, when the event described admits of no naturalistic explanation, then and only then should we have recourse to miracles” (Huff’s “Science and Metaphysics” 189).

Hugh of Saint Victor (1096-1141), like Peter Abelard, called for the unlimited acquisition of all forms of knowledge, urging his students to "[l]earn everything” because “nothing is superfluous" (Watson 330). He also advised them to "[l]earn willingly what you do not know from everyone. The person who has sought to learn something from everyone will be wiser than them all. The person who receives something from everyone ends by becoming the richest of all" (Pope Benedict 220). He further stressed the necessity of studying logic, seeing it as a prerequisite to the study of philosophy: “…logic came last in time, but is first in order. It is logic which ought to be read first by those beginning the study philosophy, for it teaches the nature of words and concepts, without both of which no treatise of philosophy can be explained rationally” (Grant’s Science and Religion 150). Like his contemporaries, Hugh saw the universe as a “machine” and as an orderly and interconnected whole: "The ordered disposition of things from top to bottom in the network of this universe...is so arranged that, among all the things that exist, nothing is unconnected or separated by nature, or external" (Huff’s Rise 99-100).

John of Salisbury (1115-1180) argued that human reason could lead only to probable and incomplete knowledge and objected to its use for the elucidation of divine truths beyond the grasp of human comprehension. At the same time, however, he believed that human knowledge gradually increased through discussion and experience from one generation to another, but could never attain to perfection. Only God’s knowledge is perfect and is revealed through religion. Despite his qualms about the application of reason to revelation, John was not opposed to the use of reason per se, but saw it as a useful instrument. In fact, he hailed the “tremendous power” of logic and said those opposed to its use were “presumptuous” and “foolhardy” (Grant’s Science and Religion 150-1). Logic is necessary “to discriminate between what is true and is false, and to show, which reasoning really adheres to the path of valid argumentative proof, and which [merely] has the [external] appearance of truth” (151).

Like Adelard of Bath, William of Conches (1090–after 1154) made a distinction between the roles of theology and natural philosophy/science. The Bible and Church Fathers were the authority as far as moral and doctrinal issues were concerned but this was not the case when it came to natural philosophy: “In those matters that pertain to the Catholic faith or moral instruction, it is not allowed to contradict Bede or any other of the holy fathers. If, however, they err in those matters that pertain to physics, it is permitted to state the opposite view. For although greater than we, they were only human” (162-3). He also separated Biblical studies from science by charging that “it is not the task of the Bible to teach us the nature of things; this belongs to philosophy” (Huff’s Rise 101). William criticized priests who ruled out the study of fields of knowledge that were not addressed in the Bible and defended the legitimacy of studying natural philosophy, saying: “They don’t realize that the authors of truth are silent on matters of natural philosophy, not because these matters are against the faith, but because they have little to do with the strengthening of such faith, which is what those authors are concerned with. But modern priests do not want us to inquire into anything that isn’t in the Scriptures, only to believe simply, like peasants” (Grant’s Science and Religion 163).

William of Conches was one among many 12th-century theologians and natural philosophers who viewed the world as a rationally structured domain operating on the basis of consistent and fixed laws independent of God: "I take nothing away from God. He is the author of all things, evil excepted. But the nature with which He endowed his creatures accomplishes a whole scheme of operations, and these too turn to His glory since it is He who created this very nature" (Woods 87). His approach to the interpretation of the Biblical text favored discarding the literal meaning if it appeared to contradict reason or natural philosophy: "’He divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament.' Since such a statement as this is contrary to reason let us show how it cannot be thus" (Huff’s Rise 101).

Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) is far and away the most influential Christian philosopher and theologian of the entire Middle Ages. He is particularly renowned for his grand project aimed at establishing rapprochement between faith and reason or synthesizing Christianity and Aristotelian philosophy. As part of this project, he presented a number of proofs of God’s existence (the Five Ways) by means of reason only and without appealing to Scripture. Like his predecessors such as Clement of Alexandria and Justin Martyr, Aquinas was more than willing to embrace the truths pagan philosophers had reached merely by reason, saying that "...sacred doctrine makes use also of the authority of philosophers in those questions in which they were able to know the truth by natural reason" (Albl 49). He particularly admired Aristotle whose ideas he believed were the best product of human reasoning unaided by revelation or divine inspiration, and he ultimately led to “ending the official Church's fears about the challenge which Aristotle's thought appeared to present to Christian faith" (MacCulloch 412).

Aquinas distinguished between truths of faith and truths of reason. The former, such as the Trinity and Resurrection, are not provable by reason and can only be believed or accepted on the authority of Scripture, while the latter, such as the existence of God, lie within the grasp of human reason and can be demonstrated through rational argument or reasoned analysis (Craig 32-3). Two points, however, should be made about the truths of faith.

First, though the truths of faith transcend the boundaries of human rational capacity, Aquinas argued that reason could still be utilized to respond to objections against articles of faith. In other words, the Christian theologian cannot prove the Trinity, but he should be able to answer by reason alone objections that this article of faith is illogical. In the words of one scholar, "[s]ince faith rests upon infallible truth, and since the contrary of a truth can never be demonstrated, it is clear that the arguments brought against faith cannot be demonstrations, but are difficulties that can be answered" (Albl 48). Therefore, “Aquinas thought that Christians should never hesitate to ask a reasonable question about their faith -- an answer could always be found" (48). Second, while the truths of faith are not rationally provable or empirically demonstrable, there are signs, such as the fulfilled prophesies of the Bible and reports of miracles, indicating that the Scriptures are divinely inspired and since the truths of faith are part of the holy text, they are to be accepted on its authority (Craig 32-3).

Christian, particularly Catholic, theology is stigmatized by many misconceptions that continue to permeate public discourse in the West. One does not have to be a Catholic or Christian to appreciate and even admire the work of theologians. Hopefully, this essay has succeeded in puncturing the myth that these theologians, especially in the Middle Ages, were anti-intellectual, superstitious, and hostile toward secular knowledge, philosophy, and reason.


Works Cited

Albl, C. Martin. Reason, Faith, and Tradition: Explorations in Catholic Theology. Winona, Minnesota: Saint Mary’s Press, 2009. Print.

Craig, Lane William. Reasonable Faith. 3rd edition. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway. 2008. Print.

Durant, Will. The Age of Faith: A History of Medieval Civilization – Christian, Islamic, and Judaic – From Constantine to Dante: A.D. 325-1300. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1950. Print.

Grant, Edward. Science and Religion 400 BC- AD 1550: From Aristotle to Copernicus. Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 2004. Print.

Howard, P. Ian. Perceiving in Depth, Volume 1: Basic Mechanisms. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.

Huff, Toby. The Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China and the West. 2nd edition. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Print.

_________. 2000. “Science and Metaphysics in the Three Religions of the Book.” Intellectual Discourse 8, no. 2: 173-98. Print.

Lindberg, C. David. The Beginnings of Western Science: The European Scientific Tradition in Philosophical, Religious, and Institutional Context, Prehistory to A.D. 1450. 2nd edition. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2007. Print.
________________. "The Transmission of Greek and Arabic Learning to the West.” Science in the Middle Ages. Ed. David C. Lindberg. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1978. 52-90. Print.

MacCulloch, Diarmaid. A History of Christianity. London: Penguin Books, 2010. Print.
Pope Benedict XIV. Great Christian Thinkers: From The Early Church Through The Middle Ages. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2011. Print.

Watson, Peter. Ideas: A History of Thought and Invention, From Fire to Freud. New York: Harper Perennial, 2005. Print.

Woods E. Thomas. How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization. Washington: Regnery History, 2012. Print.
(Image credit: The Planisphere)

Tamer Nashef

Written by

Tamer Nashef is an Arab freelance researcher and translator from Israel. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in English literature from the University of Haifa. Nashef is interested in a broad range of topics, especially Western philosophy, intellectual history of civilizations, Christian and Islamic theology with particular emphasis on the relation between science/reason and faith, and English literature. He is planning to write a book on the intellectual, scientific, and legal developments in the Middle Ages that led to the scientific Revolution and the rise of the modern world, and on the status of reason in the Catholic tradition. Nashef speaks three languages: Arabic, Hebrew, and English.

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  • Jim (hillclimber)

    I am happy to see Peter Abelard put forward as both a champion of reason and a representative of the Catholic tradition, but I'm afraid it is going to look more than a little disingenuous to mention him without mentioning the treatment he suffered at the hands of (Saint!) Bernard of Clairvaux and Pope Innocent II.

    I do think a case can be made that "the heart" of the Catholic philosophical tradition includes great (censored, excommunicated) thinkers like Abelard, but I think more work needs to be done to show how it makes sense to claim these great heretics as our own.

    • Lazarus

      One may then also have to remain silent about Abelard's seeming adherence to three gods, a unique position on the atonement, and of course making pregnant the niece of a prominent priest could not have counted much in his favor.

      • Jim (hillclimber)

        I don't think it would entail remaining silent about those details. I just think one just needs to make the necessary distinctions, such as:

        One can be a great thinker and have some bad ideas (as well as some moments of indiscretion), and:

        One can represent the Catholic tradition well even while having some heretical ideas (and/or heated disagreement with saints and popes).

        It also depends a lot on what "Catholic thought" is understood to refer to. If one views "Catholic thought" as an intellectual river of sorts, complete with eddies flowing back upstream, diverted streams which may or may not eventually reconnect, marshy edges, and so forth, then there is less of a need to strictly dichotomize either thinkers or ideas as either strictly Catholic or non-Catholic. One can identify themes that appear to characterize the "center of the river", and then speak in terms of distance or proximity to that center. This more nuanced argument is harder to make, of course. Maybe not possible in brief blogs.

        • Lazarus

          That is well put.
          It also helps, in my view, if a tradition or group, when claiming an individual as "theirs", do so in toto, not just the positive parts.

  • VicqRuiz

    Why am I not surprised that theology, in this series of articles, ends in 1274??

    • Darren

      “Everyone knows Rock & Roll attained perfection in 1974. It’s a scientific fact.”
      ~ Homer J. Simpson

      • Ignatius Reilly

        '69-'73 were all better years. ;-)

        • Jim (hillclimber)

          I don't usually get excited about syllogisms, but in certain cases they can be applied effectively:

          Major premise: Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II, Led Zepelin III, Led Zeppelin IV, and Houses of the Holy were all released during the years 1969-1973.
          Minor premise: Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II, Led Zepelin III, Led Zeppelin IV, and Houses of the Holy include, objectively speaking, the greatest rock and roll ever produced.
          Conclusion: The greatest rock and roll of all time was released during the years 1969-1973.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            We can be friends.

            It's possible to skip over '74 entirely and go to '75 for physical graffiti. It's tough to pick a favorite, but I'd choose 3 by a small margin.

          • No. As I have insisted in my on-going satire: Don McLean's 'Bye Bye American Pie' is the 'a priori' dogma. The 'age began in 1959 and ended in 1972. That is the 'final word'!!! It was accomplished through the revelation and subsequent resurrection of the verse: That will be the day that I die - to - This will be the day that I die. "What a difference a day makes"

          • Also What a difference a day makes - was released in 1972, following the release of American Pie!!!
            (Edit: So yes! The tradition carries on!!)

  • Paul Brandon Rimmer

    Great article. If this were to be extended, I'd like to see:

    How these Catholic philosophers interacted with their contemporaries, esp. the Muslim and Jewish philosophers.

    How the Catholic Church interacted with philosophers after Aquinas, like the modern philosophers, existentialists, positivists, present-day Thomists, etc.

    • Well I looked for years before I could find info on Israel. Then I found the (for me) incomprehensible Kabbalah and now Chabad, same tradition I think. So perhaps I can wait for a 'translation' here too. But even my Iranian friends on FB often speak in the Islamic dialect, which of course you know is necessary for an appreciation of the Koran! I 'know' that Aquinas, definitely objected to Avicenna, Averroes, etc. but I think Islam was definitely responsible for the switch to Ontological proofs, over cosmological proofs, even from Anselm...I will keep attempting to understand these structures, which I still believe are more fundamental than any 'logics'....But at least I can give you some 'evidence'...hope all articles are included - from Academic website: (I hope this is of interest to you.)https://www.academia.edu/20138646/%C3%82lim_ve_Filozof_Kutbuddin_%C5%9E%C3%AEr%C3%A2z%C3%AE_Scholar_and_Philosopher_Qutb_al-Din_al-Shirazi_Do%C4%9Fudan_Bat%C4%B1ya_D%C3%BC%C5%9F%C3%BCncenin_Ser%C3%BCveni_ed._Bayram_Ali_%C3%87etinkaya_%C4%B0stanbul_%C4%B0nsan_Yay%C4%B1nlar%C4%B1_2015_VI_961-975 Edit: Hey- I've got to have more patience. There is one on Modern philosophy, and in English!!!! So......maybe later? P.S. And of course, to use a 'bit of logic' the philosophy of Aquinas/Aristotle is surely not 'ontological'....would you say?

      • Paul Brandon Rimmer


      • Paul Brandon Rimmer

        For medieval Jewish philosophy, you have the giant, Rambam. Wikipedia's article on Jewish philosophy actually divides the philosophers before Rambam, and after Rambam. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_philosophy . There are dozens on both sides. Henry Abramson gives excellent lectures on select figures in Jewish history, if you wish to learn more ( http://jewishhistorylectures.org/ ).

        As for Muslim Philosophy, I'd probably start with the Wikipedia article on Islamic Philosophy, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_philosophy , although it sounds like you are already getting somewhere on this front. It is interesting one of the most famous versions of the cosmological argument, the Kalam argument, has Islamic roots. I'm not aware of the Islamic version of the Ontological Argument, and didn't know that Islamic philosophers preferred rationalistic arguments over empirical arguments.

        • Thanks Paul. Why do I always forget to consult Wikipedia! There is the constant 'language barrier' with respect to these studies. I also hesitate to make definite 'conclusions', because I know from experience that some hours, days, months, years, later that perhaps even a single comment will overthrow my previous 'theory'. Like Copernicus. Sure, of course he was Jewish. Why didn't I think of that? And Mendelssohn, well I thought he had joined up with the Catholics, as a 'smart' thing to do. There is always so much 'hearsay', or even 'heresy' even among 'academia'. I also get to understand more and more the 'dominance' of Christianity within the world order, since about the 12th century. (!!)
          I do believe that ontological arguments might be associated more with introspection/a la beauty than with 'rationality'. (language based; edit!!!) (which for me would actually make them more 'empirical'!!!) (edit: and a la Augustine - theological. rather than philosophical/rational???) Still exploring the relation between beauty and truth. Indeed, can we not be 'empirical' within the study - self-reflection of our interior, esoteric, and perhaps what can even be labeled as our 'metaphysical' thoughts, -beyond the external perceptions of the external world..(yes another 'edit' here!) (I guess I mean it's the experience that would be important. Yes, empirical has a definite meaning).

          And yes, I'm expanding on the Trinity. After all, the Credo does include the apostles, so why not follow this pattern, (with the modalities of Kant as another example of a fourth term) and allow for maybe 'secular society', 'nature', 'secular government' or what not for the fourth category. All the rest fits into Heidegger's fourfold, including the four divisions of Mathematics, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division - right? have I got it?. If so I think I can 'extend the thesis'.....Yeah it can work, the pairing off of opposites, on two different levels, which can possibly work in the same way that the ( heliocentric? What? )(Correction. Lost word for a moment. Yes I was right hylomorphic- what was I doing here, a sub-plot-conscience association with Copernicus?) hylomorphic synthesis works for Christianity??? per se??? Well, I try anyway. Unlike those that don't like being caught in a 'matrix' --- well I like 'structure'. or 'need structure!'

          Thanks so much again... The best. (And have faith. Yes! That is 'different' from 'belief'. and it doesn't matter what you think, it can indeed pay to be 'crazy'...) (Edit: I have eliminated my 'advice' 'reference' etc. to ongoing- dialogue. I'm not always that 'crazy' after all....am I?

    • Hi Paul. Just to let you know that I am finding my exploration! fruitful; here is but one talk I have just listened to. I'm still following these discussions, but believe I shall find the 'strength' not to indulge. Thanks again for your concern. Perhaps you will have time to listen to some Rabbinic counsel! Take care. http://www.meaningfullife.com/mlc-tv/faith/ Oh yes, and Hassidic, Chabad, and Kabbalah (the mystical) are all 'related'.

  • Certainly one of the things I have learned by being involved with Strange Notions is

    that a number of Catholic clergy were involved in various early scientific discoveries and philosophical endeavors. If the point of this series was to show that this was the case, it has done a fantastic job.

    Needless to say, this was not all that the Catholic church or Catholic followers were engaged in during the middle ages. While education certainly seems to have been a practice, we cannot ignore the volume of human energy the church and followers spend on monasticism, prayer, the construction of churches, geopolitics, determining and policing heresy.

    We are also not discussing these individuals in the context of their fields and the greatest breakthroughs of philosophy and science.

    Indeed Thomas Aquinas was and is hugely influential many others to a lesser extent. But when we review the list of hugely influential philosophers we find no more prominence of Catholics than any other religion or lack of religion. See this listing for example http://www.mohamedrabeea.com/books/book1_10592.pdf

    • Rob Abney

      That's a good synopsis of the article, and the article is not provocative or controversial.
      I don't think we should expect the list of influential philosophers to be prominently Catholic or else it would be a theology list after awhile. Philosophy is often about making distinctions so contrasting views are needed. My Catholic view is strengthened when I read the contrasting view and then decide the Catholic understanding makes more sense to me logically.
      That looks like an interesting book you linked to, it will require a lot of historical knowledge to also assess why at times some voices are more influential than others.

    • Ye Olde Statistician

      Alas, the entry therein regarding Hypatia does not give one much hope regarding the remainder of the contents. Any article that states that none of her works survive and then provides two spurious quotes from them has got to be a little wobbly.

      Besides, the post was about the reconciliation of Western religion with philosophy, so no matter how influential Mencius was in Chinese thought, it's a little beside the point.

      • Will

        I found this:

        Nevertheless, statements attributed
        to her, such as “Reserve your right to think, for even to
        think wrongly is better than not to think at all” and “To
        teach superstitions as truth is a most terrible thing,” must
        have incensed Cyril, who in turn incensed the mob.

        Statements attributed to her...you know what that means, right?

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          Yes. It means they were made up.

          • Will

            Just like everything attributed to Jesus? He never even wrote anything to begin with.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            His sayings were collected within the lifetimes of his hearers. This is rather like Socrates or Plotinus, who likewise after the custom of the day, wrote nothing themselves. The sayings attributed to Hypatia were made up in 1908, more than half a millennium later.

          • Will

            I agree about what was "attributed" to Hypatia, that was a comedy of errors that has been turned to history by more than one author quoting Hubbard (who wrote what amounts to historical fiction).

            It would have been great if Jesus had actually written something, many Rabbis and other apocalyptic prophets did (though often the works were anonymous or pseudonymous). I'd be careful related Greek philosophical traditions to men like Jesus, as often Jews (at those actually in Israel) of the time basically hated anything to do with Greek culture.

            Of course, we don't even know if Mark the Evangelist actually wrote Mark...it is technically anonymous and we have to believe Papias and ignore Justin Martyr calling the gospels "Memoirs of the Apostles" to get there. I'm fine with historical skepticism, I just like to see it evenly applied :)

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Yes. No one hesitates to apply it to Mark. But why not elsewhere, where the authorship is even less well established? We have little doubt for example that the Enneads represents Plotinus' teachings, even though we know it was written by Porphyry.

            In any case: philosophy vs. theologians?

          • Will

            In any case: philosophy vs. theologians?

            I guess it depends on the philosopher and the theologian. In some cases it might make for a good UFC cage match ;P I tend to doubt Aquinas and any Muslim theologian would have seen things eye to eye, but the fact that various faiths are on much friendlier terms now is quite positive in my mind. Maybe eventually we'll see some additional religious convergence and I'm sure philosophy will be a great aid. I prefer to just stick with philosophy myself, though. Maybe there is a theology allergy that hasn't made it to the medical textbooks yet ;)

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Yes. No one hesitates to apply it to Mark. But why not elsewhere, where the authorship is even less well established?

            It is applied to Mark, because the genre traditionally has pseudonymous authors writing as someone else. Daniel is a good example.

            We have little doubt for example that the Enneads represents Plotinus'
            teachings, even though we know it was written edited and compiled by Porphyry.

            See my strike out.

            Are you suggesting that Mark represents the apostle Mark's teachings or are you suggesting that Mark wrote it? Or are you suggesting something else.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            No. Plotinus wrote nothing and in fact did not want any of his teachings written down for any old Tom, Dick, or Joe to read. Prophyry actually went against his master's wishes. The Greeks of that era viewed documents with suspicion, since they could not be cross-examined. They much preferred what they called 'the living word,' i.e., eyewitness testimony because the witnesses -- especially those who were there 'from the beginning' could be cross-examined. That is why Greek bioi were normally not written down until the eyewitnesses were dying off.

            Mark represents Peter's teachings, as indicated by the usual elements of Greek bioi. Mark was Peter's secretary/translator. Besides, if you were going to attribute a document to someone spuriously, why pick no-name folks like Mark, Luke, or even Matthew? (John is the only gospel with a big-name author. IF it's the same John, and not "John the presbyter.") Then, too, we have Pappias' statements about Mark's authorship, which he got straight from the disciples were were still living in his day: Aristion, John the presbyter, Philip and his daughters, et al.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            From SEP:

            Plotinus' writings were edited by Porphyry (there was perhaps another
            edition by Plotinus' physician, Eustochius, though all traces of it
            are lost). It is to Porphyry that we owe the somewhat artificial
            division of the writings into six groups of nine (hence the name
            Enneads from the Greek word for ‘nine’). In fact,
            there are somewhat fewer than 54 (Porphyry artificially divided some
            of them into separately numbered ‘treatises’), and the
            actual number of these is of no significance. The arrangement of the
            treatises is also owing to Porphyry and does evince an ordering
            principle. Ennead I contains, roughly, ethical discussions;
            Enneads II-III contain discussions of natural philosophy and
            cosmology (though III 4, 5, 7, 8 do not fit into this rubric so
            easily); Ennead IV is devoted to matters of psychology;
            Ennead V, to epistemological matters, especially the intellect;
            and Ennead VI, to numbers, being in general, and the One above
            intellect, the first principle of all. It is to be emphasized that
            the ordering is Porphyry's. The actual chronological ordering, which
            Porphyry also provides for us, does not correspond at all to the
            ordering in the edition. For example, Ennead I 1 is the
            53rd treatise chronologically, one of the last things
            Plotinus wrote.

            Seems liked edited and compiled is correct.

            Mark represents Peter's teachings, as indicated by the usual elements of
            Greek bioi. Mark was Peter's secretary/translator. Besides, if you were
            going to attribute a document to someone spuriously, why pick no-name
            folks like Mark, Luke, or even Matthew? (John is the only gospel with a
            big-name author. IF it's the same John, and not "John the
            presbyter.") Then, too, we have Pappias' statements about Mark's
            authorship, which he got straight from the disciples were were still
            living in his day: Aristion, John the presbyter, Philip and his
            daughters, et al.

            Pappias is not exactly trustworthy.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Pappias is not exactly trustworthy.

            Of course not. He makes a claim which 19th century critics are unwilling to entertain.

            Seems liked edited and compiled is correct.

            Okay, sorta. Plotinus' lecture notes were not intended for publication. This is because they were largely based on the teachings of Ammonius, and Plotinus had made a pact with Origen and another follower of Ammonius not to divulge the teaching of their master -- much as Synesius and others made a pact not to reveal the teachings of Hypatia. Porphyry tells us:
            Plotinus himself remained a long time without writing, but he began to base his Conferences on what he had gathered from his studies under Ammonius. In this way, writing nothing but constantly conferring with a certain group of associates, he passed ten years.
            But as he grew older he had reference to notes.
            From the first year of Gallienus, Plotinus had begun to write upon such subjects as had arisen at the onferences... They were, as I was able to establish, by no means given about freely. In fact the distribution was still grudging and secret; those that obtained them had passed the strictest scrutiny.
            That what Plotinus wrote in his old age:
            Plotinus could not bear to go back on his work even for one re-reading; and indeed the condition of his sight would scarcely allow it: his handwriting was slovenly; he misjoined his words; he cared nothing about spelling; his one concern was for the idea: in these habits, to our general surprise, he remained unchanged to the very end.
            and also
            From that time on I was entrusted with Plotinus' writings and sought to stir in the master himself the ambition of organizing his doctrine and setting it down in more extended form.

          • Ignatius Reilly

            Of course not. He makes a claim which 19th century critics are unwilling to entertain.

            21st century critics aren't buying it either. I'm not sure if I can adequately summarize their arguments here. I've ordered some books on Jesus and early Christianity. I may have more to say after I read them.

            Edit fixed blockquote

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            They are simply repeating what they learned in school about the 19th century German textual critics. Alas, the same methods applied to James Joyce's Ulysses found it was written by five different authors, none of whom participated in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

            Any hints as to why "Pappias is unreliable"?

          • Ignatius Reilly

            From what I understand, Pappias was known to exaggerate. I think Eusebius was skeptical of Pappias's attribution of authorship to Mark. The other objection that I read is that Mark included built up oral history which needed time to develop.

            In college, I attended a seminar on Mark in which the speaker claimed the book was entirely ahistorical with the exception of the Resurrection. I don't think Mark being the actual author gets much traction in Academia.

            I find that there very little good information on the internet with regards to Early Christianity.

            With regard to Joyce, I think that is probably a poorly chosen example. I would be curious to see the analysis done on a Fitzgerald or a Hemmingway. Someone that is a little more consistent in how they write.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            The author indicated that the primary source was Peter in the usual way of writing a Greek bios, similar to the manner in which Porphyry indicated that Amelius was his primary source.

            What I don't get is why they think the book is entirely ahistorical "except" for the Resurrection. One would think the Resurrection to be the singular account to be deemed ahistorical by sophisticated moderns.

            Eusebius didn't buy into Pappias' belief in the Jewish rapture doctrine. That's not an exaggeration, that's simply Eusebius' distaste. Irenaeus tells us that Papias was a friend of Polycarp and a 'hearer of John.' This is getting al iittle too close to the source for modern taste.

            Here is what Pappias wrote (in translation)

            But I shall not be unwilling to put down, along with my interpretations, whatsoever instructions I received with care at any time from the elders, and stored up with care in my memory, assuring you at the same time of their truth. For I did not, like the multitude, take pleasure in those who spoke much, but in those who taught the truth; nor in those who related strange commandments, but in those who rehearsed the commandments given by the Lord to faith, and proceeding from truth itself. If, then, any one who had attended on the elders came, I asked minutely after their sayings,--what Andrew or Peter said, or what was said by Philip, or by Thomas, or by James, or by John, or by Matthew, or by any other of the Lord's disciples: which things Aristion and the presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, say. For I imagined that what was to be got from
            books was not so profitable to me as what came from the living and abiding voice.

            and then

            And the presbyter [John] said this. Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him. But afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who accommodated his instructions to the necessities [of his hearers], but with no intention of giving a regular narrative of the Lord's sayings. Wherefore Mark made no mistake in thus writing some things as he remembered them. For of one thing he took especial care, not to omit anything he had heard, and not to put anything fictitious into the statements.

            This does not seem especially exaggerated. Papias says that John told him Mark took notes when Peter gave sermons on whichever topic his congregation needed to hear, and later arranged them into a bios but did not necessarily place the accounts in chronological order. (Again, this was typical of bioi the the time.)

          • Ignatius Reilly

            What I don't get is why they think the book is entirely ahistorical "except" for the Resurrection. One would think the Resurrection to be the singular account to be deemed ahistorical by sophisticated moderns.

            He claimed that the Resurrection was the main event the early Christians cared about and the rest of the book was written like a different Jewish genre. He was Catholic if I remember right.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            That might be because folks back then tended to record the witness testimony in the witness' own words. If the witness were still alive, they usually mentioned his name in the narrative. So if the passion narrative came from Peter or from John there might be differences, while the other narratives from Bartimaeus, Alexander and Rufus, Malchus, and so on would naturally be in a different "voice."

          • There are perhaps five different writing styles, (EDIT in Ulysses). See the article I referred to in a comment to Max Land: On the 'new' genre, and the use of dialogic. I got this guy mixed up with T.S. Elliott on EN. I'll never live that one down now will I? So, you must also have a look at 'Finnegan's Wake' - I've never been able to read it, but it has risen from condemnation to a prototype of the interests within literary theory today. No! - he was all of one person, just a little more 'conscious' perhaps of what is addressed in the book: Schizophrenia and Capitalism by Deleuze. Please Google it yourself!!! I'm really too tired and haven't the energy any more to deal with these interactions. I think it is just too much information all at once, going back and forth to the internet then to the comments, etc. Even now I have something on my mind that I 'really should look up'. It's perhaps true that remark I read about the internet- it can become 'compulsive'...!!!!

          • In appreciation of your responses and understanding of my comments, may I make an observation with respect to the comment by GS, and originality. I trust you will not be 'offended' if you were to be informed that this Reddit site is for 'aspiring authors' in order for them to respond to the prompt which is presented in the comment. It is for practice at writing, and thus no one attempts to be original. It took me hours, but I did it, and found many interesting 'variations on the theme'...(edit: even an 'original' turn of phrase which sought to disprove the existence of God, or is that not 'original').

            Yes, if I may reflect a little, there is always so much talk about evidence, but isn't it also possible that the point of Descartes meditations is often missed: i.e. that our perceptions of external reality, (and the doubt of course that he considers as a result of what? the attempt to find evidence, etc. etc.) can often be a result of what one is 'looking for', and thus his insistence on an 'a priori' within what he described as clear and distinct ideas. This possibility was perhaps limited in focus, as it was directed to what I believe is now thought of within a perhaps growing 'consensus', that there are indeed areas of 'evidence' that cannot be solved within the domain of the basis of his 'thought': within 'mathematical' ideas, per se.

            This may make the focus of the argument on the writer's 'testing' blog, Reddit, a little different than what I understand to be the basis of the arguments on this site? which are directed primarily to logical analysis and to physical, scientific perspectives on 'reality', which are not, may I suggest, always based on 'mathematics', per se.

            But then again, the duality within Descartes philosophy, perhaps even today, within psychiatric studies, would classify 'the mind'? as perhaps merely 'minds? or - homoculus - ghosts within the machine'. (Edit: Can theories of reductionism or deflation thesis be analyzed within this perspective? I do wish I could be more of a scientist.) No wonder that in today's world there is so much stigma directed towards those who are deemed to be 'maladjusted', whether that nomenclature is descriptive of political, social, religious, 'scientific', ideas - and oh yes, the 'mentally' ILL!!!!.......All the best. (Edit: Hopefully I cleaned it up a bit, at least to the satisfaction of some!!! And remember, I'm an Irish Canadian, Catholic? or CC with a reputation of always making 'fun' of ourselves!!)

          • Someone wrote a comment that if there were more theologians represented in the list of philosophers, it would be what? apologetics, rather than philosophy - or something. Can't find the comment, but I did 'find this'. As someone said, who is put on a list can identify the source of that list? (edit: see the comment!! following the article.) (edit: 2. Perhaps Paul Rimmer suggested this question?-as how would Thomists respond to other points of view? and indeed where is the interaction?- can't find the 'other' comment!) (Edit: found it: VicqRuiz) (Thanks YOS. I didn't want to lose it, and yet yes, I regret posting here, if this meant imposing upon you.) (I guess I shall just miss all the 'interaction'!!!.


      • OverlappingMagisteria

        You don't seem to be familiar with how we know about a lot of ancient works. Many times we do not have an authors original text, but we do have other authors quoting the original text. So it is entirely possible to have quotes of a person even if none of their work survives. (In fact it is quite common.)

        I'm not sure that this is the case with Hypatia, but in either case, it's a bad reason to dismiss an article.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          I took a closer look. See above.

          No, we do not have Hypatia quoted anywhere about anything. The quotes "attributed" to her were made up by the American writer, soap-salesman and eccentric Elbert Hubbard in a 1908 book entitled Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great Teachers.

          • Mike

            ps i got eifelheim for christmas and am really enjoying it. who knew that electron was the greek word for amber!

        • Steve Brown

          Hello. You have made a point I find fascinating. I heard Fr. Mitch Pacwa on youtube mention that all of the New Testament can be found quoted by the Church Fathers, with the exception of 6 lines. I had heard this somewhere else, but can't remember. But in the case of Hypatia we only have an account about her death by a Socrates Scholasticus in the 4th cent.

          "I'm not sure that this is the case with Hypatia, but in either case, it's a bad reason to dismiss an article."

          So then, how does this point play out in ancient textual scholarship? I don't disagree with you. For example Josephus is cited as an extra-biblical source for the historicity of Jesus. Now, it seems to be true that Christian apologists in some instances laid over an "accretion", lending a more pro Christian message than was intended by Josephus himself.
          If textual scholars claim that one can distinguish between what Jesus taught and what the Church was interpreting later because of a "more developed theology" (I don't necessarily agree with this myself in the way it is presented)... then why can't we get to Josephus' original writing rather than discounting him altogether?

          • Will

            If textual scholars claim that one can distinguish between what Jesus taught and what the Church was interpreting later because of a "more developed theology"

            I think most underestimate the probability that most of what we think we know of history is probably wrong, sometimes even drastically wrong. I like the way Bart Ehrman put it in one of his lectures (and I may be paraphrasing): "History is not the past. History is the best reconstruction of the past we can make with available evidence". Available evidence for World War II is massive and pristine, thus we can be confident with what we believe, more or less. Evidence of anything WRT ancient history, especially Christianity is just terrible. We do not even have original copies of any Gospel, so even if the original gospels contained Jesus's teachings, we have no idea how close what we have matches it. The oldest full copy of Mark we have is P45, and it is dated to around 250 A.D. One can claim that older copies were the same, but that really has to be taken on faith.

            So much must be taken on faith to make Christianity work that I find such faith to be completely impossible in my analytical mind. Of course, I also find that everything wrong with a movie pops into my head while I'm watching it, and without me trying (this also happened to me in church when I was a kid). I attribute it to being a natural, and excellent problem solver and the first step to solving problems is noticing them. Does it make any sense to deny problem solvers access to heaven for being themselves (rhetorical question)?

          • Rob Abney

            Would you mind clarifying that last point William: What is heaven?, Why are you being denied access?, and Who is denying you access?

          • Steve Brown

            Hey William, Thanks for the points you raise and especially the thoughts on your personal convictions on faith.
            Regarding New Testament copies according to this site at Duke (which I believe, would be pretty reliable), the manuscript of both Mark and Matthew:

            "With the help of the earlier papyrus manuscripts we have been able to establish that the text of these three great manuscripts is to a large extent reliable. The papyrus manuscript P75 was the latest to be published, but it showed a virtually identical text to manuscript B. This settled the vexed question whether we have in the parchment manuscripts of the fourth and fifth centuries a safe guide to the original text of the New Testament. We have.

            That is not to say that we can dispense with later manuscripts of the New Testament. With the exception of Sin. the oldest manuscripts are not complete. Moreover they contain scribal errors of all sorts. P46 is a case in point: it is the manuscript with the largest percentage of blunders on record! Most of this kind of errors can, however, be removed by comparing the readings of the oldest manuscripts. The remaining puzzles can only be solved by taking later manuscripts into account. Most of the work in textual criticism in the past forty years has been done by Kurt Aland in Münster and Bruce Metzger in Princeton. The latest translations of the New Testament are based on their work."
            You can find the link here: http://library.duke.edu/rubenstein/scriptorium/papyrus/texts/manuscripts.html

            Let's not forget there are extra biblical texts that go even earlier. The patristic scholar whom I heard lecture at the Angelicum claimed that the "latest research" had dated the Didache to 90 - 100 AD. The Didache quotes Matthew, or does Matthew quote the Didache? There is even a good argument (IMHO) that Matthew relied on the Didache.

            (Admittedly, a book at this price would have to be in a library to gain access). Mr Garrow is at Oxford I believe.

            There is a huge database being worked on of all known papyri from ancient Alexandria and environs.
            There is so much data amassed that
            "it will take another 1,000 years to publish all papyri so far retrieved from archaeological sites in Egypt (with more coming to light every year." Link here:

            Finally, in response to your point:
            "Does it make any sense to deny problem solvers access to heaven for being themselves (rhetorical question)?"

            The Catholic church does not "deny problem solvers access to heaven" necessarily. The Church is the ordinary means of salvation. I believe you have brought up your Protestant fundalmentalist past background which differs from the RC. I've had discussions with Protestant friends who claim that if someone does not explicitly hear the gospel and believe in JC, they are lost to Hell. This is NOT the RC position.

          • Steve Brown

            Thanks for the upvote. Regarding maintaining textual integrity in the midst of copying copies and the notion that error and decay are inevitable (some might be tempted to think it is even deterministic). The case of the OT text is amazing. Before the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, the earliest copy of the OT was the Masoretic text from the 10th cent. (don't have time to fact check at the moment). The 2 documents are almost virtually the same. That's 200BC - 200AD age of the Dead Sea Scrolls to 900 AD (not sure of the exact date). That is a long time passing.

      • Sure, can you find me a better list of important and influential philosophers of all time?

        We have here a list and discussion of a number of philosophers of varying relevance, who were Catholic. Lets look not just at Catholics but the whole so that we can see the Catholic ones in context.

        • Ye Olde Statistician

          There is no question that most of those listed were "influential." Hypatia was not, and was likely included only for political reasons. (Who, for example, did she influence in philosophy?) The quality of the write-up on her was cited as possibly indicative of the quality of write-ups for others -- but only possibly. A lot of these coffee table books are basically boilerplate.

          But a second point is worth making: there are plenty of philosophers who were influential in their own culture but who had no influence outside of it. So the question arises: "influential on whom?" The Modern Ages are essentially a Western thing. South of the Mediterranean and east of Transylvania, terms like "Renaissance" or "Age of Reason" had no traction. Not that nothing happened there, but they had their own internal histories: al-Ghazali, the "closing of the gates" and so on. (Oddly enough, two muslim philosophers who did influence Europe -- though medieval, not modern Europe -- ibn Sinna and ibn Rushd -- were better known and more widely read in Europe than in the House of Submission.) But al-Ghazali had no influence on India (outside muslim-conquered regions) or China. Likewise Confucius and Lao-tzu had little influence on Islam. The Buddha had enormous influence on Chinese and Japanese thought, but that was exceptional. Influence on the Modern West was virtually nil.

    • Garbanzo Bean

      Lists of things tell us more about the lister than the listed. [edited typo]

      • So what? My point is simply that Catholic philosophers were certainly influential, but they have by no means been the dominant element in philosophy. Certainly they were dominant in Europe during the time of Catholic domination. But if we zoom out we find ancient Greece an post-Catholic Germany do be more influential.

  • My 'scientific understanding' might prove helpful. The Overlord has shown me the way. All I (Edit: I'd) have to do is go through all the comments which he has deleted, leaving in the trail, comments which are not deleted, but emphasize my insanity, because of the elimination of the others. I can thus simply add to those comments, possible 'undesirables' that he would consequently delete, as not being in his favor. I trust that I have phrased this in a way that is oblique enough that it will not be understood by those who reject 'metaphysics'....!!

    Edit: http://bigthink.com/videos/howard-gardner-on-the-eight-intelligences?utm_source=Big+Think+Weekly+Newsletter+Subscribers&utm_campaign=832b2b2d9d-Big+Think+Newsletter+-+012016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6d098f42ff-832b2b2d9d-40890277 Note the comments -very interesting!

    Yes. It's all on the hard-drive, all recorded (as in the bible even) within the annals of history, and will be 'revealed' when even 'all the rocks (edit- hard-drives) cry out' - I think the verse goes. So yes, my daughter has spoken of the many forensic means of recovery of data, etc. etc. Isn't life interesting? Yes. Kant did 'divide' up the Trinity. But I don't agree that it's completely 'materialistic', for the addition of his fourth 'category' - modality, does 'allow' for at least a 'linguistic' analysis of the eternal? as well as the temporal???? I'm just going to go back to the post-moderns, because I find the on-going studies into the 'grammatical' logic of language, including construction (structuralism, and then post structuralism, along with deconstructionism!!!,- where will it 'end')... to be fascinating. And I believe they 'allow' irony!!!! Take care. 'All' of you.

    • By the way, as within my marriage to a Marxist in the 60's, I cannot help but wonder whether the 'question' put forward in this comment would be considered 'heretical'. I just read an analysis of the Progressive vs. Conservative catholic perspectives on Patheos- I'll leave that argument between the P and the Q!!! I have yet to explore the depth of both Judaism and Islam, particularly as the first time I attempted to read the Koran it was for me, incomprehensible...like 'Finnegan's Wake'.....yes, I'm aware of Dostoevsky's comments on this! But to be really monotheistic, perhaps Ishmael, Esau and Jacob have to find some way to find 'Unity, Oneness, and Catholicity' !!! If they can't get along, who can???? But, to be out in the open about the final post that was rejected- here it is. I take particular note of the comment by Lennon, because something like that did indeed happen to me....the book has been therapy, and now again an expression of the madness of 'doubt'.....

      Andrew G.

      Oh. That puts us into a perception problem. I had (my word) seen an 'as' in the comment as posted on Disquis. But I don't want to argue about anything having to do with the miracles of insanity. I will standunder what you say and understand. Just to note that there is within this reversal a 'revelation' of another polarity within language, an implicit reference or assumption of 'authority'. Like what I found within the credo of the church. One, Holy Catholic - metaphysical - primary causation?, etc. but then...and Apostolic...a fourth category added to the trinitarian perspective. Very interesting!!! So yes, I'm still most interested in the political focus of the 60's, although it brought me into conflict with my French Irish Catholic family. But I would ask: How can Science solve the contradictions within the politics of today. Both government and church are 'necessarily?' political. and within this area (schemata) I have categorized them as Goodness within the trinity, which can assume the Power of the Holy Ghost.....!! (I'm being ironic again, but you'll have to work out the implications for yourself. .) Yes. I shall leave you to your own thoughts, your own life, your own 'contradictions' - has science itself been able to avoid them??? Is 'God' the category within monotheism, which assumes that such is possible? (And within Hinduism in a different way as I have found through WD!!) That's the 'limit' of my 'knowledge'. May I just leave you with this little remembrance of my youth: (I've edited out the links, to the Beatle songs. Not taking. I'm just not a modern techie!)
      It matters not to me whether you find me insane!!!! I do believe however, that we, each of us, can see the world within different 'perspectives'. And thus, my perception of what happened may indeed be different from yours, but that would involve us in a my word against yours, but I've already been through that in my life, and it was the original motivation and theme of the Portals...Take care, G. I really 'mean' that, - although I'm told my irony can be 'mean'!!!! Peace!!!???

      Edit: Found the video! Also his talk on Peace. But that's 'for later'!! But for those interested in the 'history'.....Even today, my divorced spouse and I are merely within a state of 'suspension'....with intermittent strokes of satire! and he with 3 Masters in History and Philosophy! and ? (Edited out: the Beatle protest against the Vietnam war). The links aren't taking again. 'Messages from heaven'???? So I shall delete. if anyone is interested in the politics of this music, you can google as well as I. Maybe even the secular image of the daffodils, the search for internal 'peace'? is perhaps a better one at this time?

      Edit: Still listening to songs, and watching Lennon videos: his speech about lunatics running government, etc and if you protest they will find 'you' insane!!! and putting them within today's context almost brings tears. yes, and even finding Bowie's 'Hero' in a Beatle song but having to do with self-reflections, etc. etc. but then there's this: (if it takes....also the 'bad' to be found - our 'sins' can certainly be put out there...and yet the stones continue to be cast....)
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lives_of_John_Lennon Oh! the irony - it took! It's there to see...at least for now!!! What has this got to do with the OP! Well - What is the basis of theology, reason or the foundation of beauty? What???? Is everything today reason, reason, reason, from St. Thomas (maybe even his interpretation of the Person, I don't 'know') right through the Age of Enlightenment!!!!! till The End of Philosophy? Your interpretation!!!! -and yes, Andre G, I just realized that you will have to come to this again, because even the changes that are made here will 'affect you'. But that's what Leibniz was all about!!!!! The 'connection' of everything. :)

  • Lazarus

    Just a brief (off-topic) note to explain my (permanent or temporary) absence from these hallowed halls.

    The death of my dad ten days ago have really rattled my world in many respects. My dad, best friend, mentor, hero - gone from my life, leaving me as the de facto head of a big, loud, happy, difficult family. I need to spend some time, who knows how long, in contemplating a few very important topics, such as how to best deal with this loss, some family decisions, whether my recent loss of faith was permanent or not, and some career decisions.

    I have been assessing my online commenting participation for a while. Under the present circumstances it feels frivolous, a waste of time. I need to spend a lot of time with my family and friends at this time, there is much to be done on top of an already crazy program.

    So, I'm going to step outside for some air. I will probably be back when this whole necessary process is done.

    Play nice, be kind. All the best.

    • Mike

      don't stay away for too long!

    • Yes. It's nice to think of all of this as 'play', but then I'd be breaking into all so many possible connotations. Anyway Lazarus, you have chosen that pen-name for a reason, which of course I cannot intuit. And with all the talking I was doing in comparing Finnegan's Wake, with the Bowie incident, I just thought of wishing you the benefit of your 'name'. Yes, I'm questioning all the time, I guess. And sometime this 'prompts' me to wonder at the response of Jesus to Pilate, that when he asked a question, Jesus merely remarked: (a paraphrase) that he was as Pilate had 'said'. The question being somehow related to the answer! This is deep, yes, as so much text is. I would however, have to check out the precise quotation. So please forgive my lack of 'clarity and distinctness'. There are always so many possible interpretations, to all the categories discussed on these blogs. I'm sure you will work everything out.
      Thank you for your interest in my 'blog'! Hopefully, after coming back here after saying to William, no don't answer this comment, they are at such a good even number, that perhaps I can feel like I'm leaving things 'in order'. And then I guess I did indeed fall into the 'trap' expressed by Oscar Wilde....I can resist anything but temptation. which can be put into a logical relationship perhaps with - Resist not evil.
      Again. So, even the best, perhaps can be put before us, and we can see it naught.....What helps me is that perhaps 'all' is not logic? That one can distinguish possible interpretations of either quotation. That logic is not necessarily what is meant by 'The living truth', to which Wittgenstein, as a Fidelist also came to within his 'understanding'. and indeed here, again, I have run across many 'interpretations'.. So, yes, indeed, I shall go on faith, and even that within so many understandings, interpretations, even that from Plato ?? perhaps as related to Theological Virtue......So, please, I am still hopefully, within the subject matter of this OP, - and yes, that James Chadwick does make Aquinas interesting...but......so.........till later Lazarus.....It will just take me 'some time' I expect to find, coherence!!!! Thanks.

    • Gee Lazarus: Another -death- experience....but hopefully you will find it a very 'revealing' quotation to read. I wouldn't print it here, if I didn't empathize with what you are going through at this time....I just interpret it as saying that it is very important somehow that we do indeed have questions?
      And you have indicated that this is what you will be doing? Robert Frost, and the choice of taking one road or another? No middle way? Trust I am interpretating you 'correctly'...I just find individuals and what they say so very 'illuminating'...or something.....But I don't really understand this dialogue..Or why their choice is 'superior' Is the asking of a question to be placed within a theology or a philosophy?

      I'm in one of those 'unprintable' conversations with Andrew 'g'-d..talking about Gertrude Stein, a writer I have never really admired...(edit: because actually I had only at the time heard 'gossip' about her). Will I or will I not be published? It's almost amusing now, because all my 'wonderful writings'!! do remain, as long as I have a Disquis???? Anyway, this kind of 'synchronicity'??? is happening a lot recently, when I googled Gertrude Stein this is what I got. Anyway, I never had an opportunity, in any case, to look into her works.
      (Edited this paragraph a bit....there's a critique of her work on line.)(Edit 2. I also find now, several weeks later, that I was having a tendency to confuse Gertrude Stein with Edith Stein, who was a pupil of Husserl, became Christian and then a saint after her death in a WWII 'death camp'.)

      These are her closing words before her death....The whole 'dialogue' doesn't quite make sense to me....Like mine does to 'others'.....A repetition of 'in that case what is the question' yes I learned there's lots of repetition in her writing.....but.did they make the better choice?....I'm glad they say that what she said is actually 'unknown'. Personally, I'd prefer the bible....there was a dialogue!!!!

      "About Baby's last words. She said upon waking from a sleep--What is the question. And I didn't answer thinking she was not completely awakened. Then she said again--What is the question and before I could speak she went on--If there is no question then there is no answer.

      Stein's biographers have naturally selected the superior "in that case what is the question?" version. Strong narratives win out over weak ones when no obstacle of factuality stands in their way. What Stein actually said remains unknown. That Toklas cited the lesser version in a letter of 1953 is suggestive but not conclusive.[113]"

      Edit: So I did a search. Both Nietzsche and Heidegger were trained in Philology. Like the scholars of scripture....I have not had such 'training'.....No conclusion. I also believe I found it unsettling...like she was waking from a sleep....we know not what her 'private' thoughts were. I did not like the 'speculation'.... I'll just remember Wittgenstein: There is no private access - to another's mind!!!!?? That's it. Maybe I'll look up more quotes that contain 'questions' some other time. Like: To be or not to be. that is the question!!!!

    • Rob Abney

      I look forward to your return, teach your children well. Commenting here may be low priority but I don't think it is frivolous.

    • As 'promised'!!! I especially like the Einstein quote: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/question.html

    • Dear Lazarus. Well, on my side of the screen, AG has indeed completed what will be his last deletions. Oh well. But I was particularly saddened that my appreciation of Geena's comments regarding The Question were among those no long accessible within the public domain. So. yes. There you have a beautiful passage for you to contemplate. Please accept also my sincere condolences on the passing of your father. I know this can be difficult, as when my mother passed away I had many issues to resolve, although the most critical of these were fortunately, accepted within my life before her passing. I have always found writing a wonderful therapeutic way for handling any difficulties, and it can bring so much insight, within the domain of inner experience.
      In a lighthearted way, I thought I'd explore the web to see if I could find the answer. Yes, indeed, rock and roll is not dead. There is a new group, known with 'certainty' to be The Answer. With that in mind, I feel the utmost confidence that you will continue to sing a fine song..... Love.

    • Paul Brandon Rimmer

      Lazarus, I'm very sorry for your loss. I wish you all the best.

  • And I'm up early this morning, checking e-mails, and I find this comment on a 'proof' of G-d's existence within Chabad. So I shall leave you with this....
    "The way I understand what you have said in your first class is that the proof of G-d's existence is in the oneness and complete interdependence of the world we live in. Because G-d is Ein Sof (beyond our comprehension) the only way we can conceive of G-d is to understand and appreciate with awe, the oneness (total interconnection) of this beautiful world we live in." Amen.
    Edit. Thank you Rob. Yes. It's back to the daffodils! (my flower! actually) and of course my book about 'all the madness', with a more 'developed' perspective? and the 'courage' to go on.

  • Comment deleted??? Nope. I can't delete.

    Still can't delete or 'fix sequence' - of videos found on En regarding a good discussion on the 'Hiddenness of God'... Will return and hopefully 'repair the damage'. thanks.
    Still can 'fix' it 'all'!! You'' just have to accept or ignore my/this 'chaos'!!! Can't make any more changes to comments here. You'll just have to put all this madness together for yourselves, if you're interested at all in this comment, or even have any -god-like aspirations!!!! Loved the articled on EN about the psychological loops. I guess I got into this 'interaction' again, because I answered a comment.I can however repost the video spoken about in this comment, unless it too disappears! But: Is there really 'a' center, or is 'everything a center '?https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQa6mPLOE2yuMCrDjRio_nA

    What possible relevance could a study of history have with this ongoing analysis of the relation of philosophy to theology. Well, perhaps because it places it within a 'temporal context'!! Would this make it 'scientific' rather than theological or philosophical? Anyway I had no idea of this particular involvement of the 'church', and have forwarded it to my historically oriented, Marxist divorced 'husband'! Well that's a lot of contradiction implied here - yes? Anyway, this to counter the counter perspective on secular politics in another comment. Yes, even here on these sites/sights there are so many opposing points of view....but is it possible to become oriented in some way to at least make an attempt to understand them all, without possibly getting in the dilemna that resulted from my introspection of current experience, alone? It is after all pretty difficult to be 'omniscient', and perhaps even easier to assume that one is! (This hopefully will be taken as another 'ironic' statement - nothing more nothing less????) http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/conflict-in-the-middle-east-will-the-work-of-three-popes-inspire-world-lead/

    For 'me' the problematic becomes: how is it possible to remain 'open' to any 'finite person'!! especially if I presume to have no need of some 'God' concept, or at least a Buddhist loving detachment? with respect to an 'other', which however, may indeed, as is said, be a most 'unworldly' consideration in many of these 'examples', perhaps even within an a-theological context!!! Is there a consistent definition of 'theology' for instance within all of these contexts?. https://www.youtube.com/channel CQa6mPLOE2yuMCrDjRio_nA

    Yes, I will consider now God's hiddenness, as in comparison even with the hiddenness found in 'God' from Jewish thought to the hiddenness within 'concepts' generally. as this relation between what is hidden and what is revealed has been adapted even by the Post-moderns. Indeed is there not even a possible hiddenness within this particular comment! that is something is necessarily remains hidden even with respect to language, that there is always something that remains and cannot be

    said? Yes, I will consider once again the hiddenness of 'God'....as presented in this video I found on EN.

    Well: It is so difficult to balance all the different points of view: but why is this new-atheism, (my interpretation) particularly focused on the Christian 'God'? Yes I want to learn more about other religions, after all that is what Philosophy of Religion, entails, right? something perhaps not covered within the video I found on EN, as it was directed primarily to Christian perspective(s)??? Why? What is the criteria of 'objectivity' here? (Edit: I am musing about this in order to make possible considerations of possible variations of what is 'meant' by 'relation' or 'relationship'. Yes, many 'possibles'...: In other words, I am just wondering how to classify these internet presentations: as scientific? as philosophical? as theological? as 'debatable'!!!! in either/or - both/and cases???)
    Yes. Perhaps I even understood the 'argument' of what I consider a very good video. Yet, to respond to the invitation: Perhaps there is a 'hiddenness' within 'us' also, irrespective of the existence of not of a 'God', and for me that could be the 'essential' concern. Does the thought of God, deter us, or help us in our relationship to 'other' beings? As for instance as expressed in the Golden rule; the arguments of Rorty that a God inhibits the possibility of 'openness' within human relationship. What else could get 'in the way'... For instance, and for my dear Overlord, why is it not possible that there is more self-reference within ourselves than we might be aware of? Well what can we do when there are such 'words' in our language, as me, myself, "MINE, and of course the ever powerful "I". Can such self-reference inhibit relationship? - even access to any possible 'hiddenness'? Yes, I'm back to rock and roll as the 'standard bearer' and possibly the 'truth' of 'rock and role' that can be thought of as the subject in this song, of 1972. Yes, perhaps someone will research the possible references, as with the history presented by Don McLean. Some say it was a woman's protest to 'male' domination, but even feminism has changed in so many ways, since my understandings of youth, that I shall think of it within the more general context of possible kinds of 'hiddenness': Anyway, for your 'musical enjoyment' may you find this song 'engaging': 'within the openness of a 'relational mind', of course - as in Kant's third category - where the Aristotelian 'principles' are adapted as a presentation of such contradictions as can be found within the category of 'relation'. (within categorical identities, hypothetical and relational contexts. Yes, some day I may perhaps be open even to the 'hiddenness' that surely can be found 'within' the vanities of 'self'. Enjoy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQZmCJUSC6g

  • I'm tired of my satire! Words cannot 'express'.....