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21. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 97 > Issue: 2
Jack Zupko Introduction
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22. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 97 > Issue: 2
Chiara Beneduce John Buridan: The Human Body at the Intersection of Natural Philosophy and Medicine
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This article considers the relationship between John Buridan’s natural philosophy and medicine. By examining some aspects of Buridan’s description of the human body related to sensation, nutrition, and generation—especially as they were framed in the so-called “controversy between philosophers and physicians”—this article shows that, though mostly faithful to Aristotelian doctrine, Buridan’s theoretical biology relies to a large extent on medical ideas.
23. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 97 > Issue: 2
Joël Biard John Buridan on the Question of the Unity of the Human Being
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Is a human being something that is one per se, or are humans composed of two independent substances? Treating the soul as the form of an organic body seems to offer one way of addressing the difficulty. But the debates about the nature of the soul which began to emerge in the 1270s made this question problematic. This article considers Buridan’s solution to the problem of how to unify what is corporeal and divisible on the one hand with what is incorporeal and indivisible on the other. Beginning with sensation, which concerns the unity of the sensitive soul and sense data, we turn to the act of thinking, where the intellective soul is united with the image or phantasm qua mover, leading to the realization that the unity of a human being is no longer self-evident. To solve the problem, Buridan takes up and transforms ways of thinking about the human soul inherited from older debates around Averroist psychology, such as the theory of two subjects and the conjunction of the sensible with the intelligible during cognitive activity.
24. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 97 > Issue: 2
Henrik Lagerlund Buridan’s Radical View of Final Causality and Its Influence
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In his commentary on Aristotle’s Physics, John Buridan (c. 1300–1361) presents his well-known rejection of final causality. The main problem he sees with it is that it requires the cause to exist before the effect. Despite this, he retains the terminology of ends. This has led to some difficulty interpreting Buridan’s view. In this article, I argue that one should not misunderstand Buridan’s terminology and think that he still retains some use or explanatory function for final causality in nature. To make this point, I look first at Buridan’s text, but then also at three thinkers who discuss Buridan’s view in detail: Albert of Saxony (d. 1390), Paul of Venice (d. 1429), and Luis Coronel (d. 1531). They all have a very clear idea of what Buridan’s view was and understand that it entails a rejection of final causality, but they also all preserve his distinctive terminology. Paul of Venice especially discusses and criticizes Buridan’s view in detail. Besides confirming my interpretation of the rejection of final causality, this study also shows that the view was extremely influential well into the sixteenth century and attributed to Buridan throughout two centuries.
25. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 97 > Issue: 2
Peter John Hartman Mirecourt, Mental Modes, and Mental Motions
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What is an occurrent mental state? According to a common scholastic answer such a state is at least in part a quality of the mind. When I newly think about a machiatto, say, my mind acquires a new quality. However, according to a view discussed by John Buridan (who rejects it) and John of Mirecourt (who is condemned in 1347 for considering it “plausible”), an occurrent mental state is not even in part a quality. After sketching some of the history of this position, I will present two common arguments against it—the argument from change and the argument from agency. I will then turn to Mirecourt’s own position on the matter. Mirecourt, I show, in fact offers us two different theories about occurrent mental states. The first, which I call the conservation theory, accepts that mental states are in part qualities. However, a mental state is a quality together with an action on the side of the mind, namely, its conservation of a quality within itself. The second position, which I will call the pure-action theory, holds that an occurrent mental state is not even in part a quality; instead, it is an action the mind performs which is neither the production nor the conservation of a quality within itself. Mirecourt characterizes such pure actions as “modes” of the mind, and it is this position which is condemned in 1347. In the final section, I turn to an objection that both Buridan and Mirecourt raise against the pure-action theory: if accidental states of the mind are mere modes of the mind, then why not suppose that all accidents are mere modes of the subjects which they qualify?
26. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 97 > Issue: 2
Peter G. Sobol The Use of Theological Terms in the De anima Commentaries of Nicole Oresme and John Buridan
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Historian of science Edward Grant believed that, by counting and classifying the uses of theological terms in commentaries on some of Aristotle’s natural books, he could show that medieval natural philosophy had no theological agenda. But his broad-brush approach may not reveal differences in the way individual authors used theological terms. A census of such terms in the De anima commentaries of John Buridan and Nicole Oresme undertaken in this paper suggests that Buridan was more mindful of theological scrutiny of the Arts faculty than Oresme, perhaps because Buridan’s career began when the effects of the Condemnation of 1277 were more strongly felt than they were a generation later when Oresme began to teach.
27. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 97 > Issue: 1
Benjamin Robert Koons Warranted Catholic Belief
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Extending Alvin Plantinga’s model of warranted belief to the beliefs of groups as a whole, I argue that if the dogmatic beliefs of the Catholic Church are true, they are also warranted. Catholic dogmas are warranted because they meet the three conditions of my model: they are formed (1) by ministers functioning properly (2) in accordance with a design plan that is oriented towards truth and reliable (3) in a social environment sufficiently similar to that for which they were designed. I show that according to Catholic doctrine the authoritative spokespersons of the Church—ecumenical councils and popes—meet these conditions when defining dogmas. I also respond to the objection that the warrant of Catholic dogmas is defeated by the plurality of non-Catholic Christian sects that deny Catholic dogmas.
28. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 97 > Issue: 1
Logan Paul Gage, Frederick D. Aquino Newman the Fallibilist
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The role of certitude in our mental lives is, to put it mildly, controversial. Many current epistemologists (including epistemologists of religion) eschew certitude altogether. Given his emphasis on certitude, some have maintained that John Henry Newman was an infallibilist about knowledge. In this paper, we argue that a careful examination of his thought (especially as seen in the Grammar of Assent) reveals that he was an epistemic fallibilist. We first clarify what we mean by fallibilism and infallibilism. Second, we explain why some have read Newman as an infallibilist. Third, we offer two arguments that Newman is at least a fallibilist in a weak sense. In particular, the paradox he seeks to resolve in the Grammar and his dispute with John Locke both indicate that he is at least a weak fallibilist. We close with a consideration of whether Newman is a fallibilist in a much stronger sense as well.
29. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 97 > Issue: 1
Hikmet Unlu A Transcategorial Conception of Dynamis and Energeia
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On the standard interpretation of Metaphysics IX, Aristotle proceeds from the original sense of δύναμις and ἐνέργεια to an ontological conception of these terms. This should raise the question of what is not ontological about the former and what is ontological about the latter. To address these questions I discuss the commentaries by Heidegger and Menn, which alone come close to addressing these issues. But their readings cannot neatly distinguish between the two senses of δύναμις and ἐνέργεια that we find in the Aristotelian text, thus compelling us to seek a better way of clarifying the standard interpretation, which I argue can be more precisely understood in the following way: δύναμις and ἐνέργεια in their customary meaning cannot be considered ontological in the sense that they have a particular locus among the categories, which is what sets them apart from their newer, ontological meaning. I conclude therefore that the text of Metaphysics IX can be understood as proceeding from an intracategorial conception of δύναμις and ἐνέργεια toward a transcategorial conception of these terms.
30. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 97 > Issue: 1
Stefaan E. Cuypers A Correction to Dillard’s Reading of Geach’s Temporality Argument for Non-Materialism
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In his article “What Do We Think With?” Peter Geach develops an argument for the non-materiality of thinking. Given that basic thinking activity is not clockable in physical time, whereas basic material or bodily activity is so clockable, it follows that basic thinking activity is non-material. Peter Dillard’s attack on this temporality proof takes “thoughts” in the proof to refer to non-occurrent states. The present note shows this reading to be mistaken and so rectifies a misunderstanding of Geach’s argument. It takes no stand on the question of whether the argument succeeds.
31. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 97 > Issue: 1
Joseph Gamache Von Hildebrand, Scheler, and Marcel on Interpreting One’s Friends
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It is generally accepted that truth is a norm of belief and that, whatever else this might mean, it implies that a person is obligated to believe a proposition only if it is true. Yet this seems to conflict with the norms by which friends form beliefs about each other. For instance, if friends are required to practice interpretive charity in the formation of their beliefs about each other, obligations to believe propositions that are false might arise. In this paper, I assume that there is some such obligation of interpretive charity, and I investigate whether it may be reconciled with the truth-norm. I take for my starting point an account of interpretive charity from the work of Dietrich von Hildebrand, which I develop by critical retrieval of related works by Max Scheler and Gabriel Marcel. The paper concludes that Marcel’s thought on fidelity and reflection is best suited to complete von Hildebrand’s account in such a way as to achieve the sought-after reconciliation of the norms of truth and friendship
32. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 97 > Issue: 1
Travis Butler The Place of Pleasure in Neo-Aristotelian Ethics
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Richard Kraut argues that Neo-Aristotelian ethics should include a com­mitment to “diluted hedonism,” according to which the exercise of a developed life-capacity is good for S only if and partly because S enjoys it. I argue that the Neo-Aristotelian should reject diluted hedonism for two reasons: first, it compro­mises the generality and elegance of the initial developmentalist account; second, it leads to mistaken evaluations of some of the most important and ennobling capacities and activities in human life. Finally, I argue that a more plausible ac­count of the place of pleasure in the good life derives from Aristotle’s discussion in book X of the Nicomachean Ethics: pleasure is a supervenient good that signifies the value of the underlying capacity and activity, but it is not a necessary condition for their goodness.
33. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 97 > Issue: 1
Christopher Tollefsen Cell Lines of Illicit Origins and Vaccines: Metaphysics and Ethics
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A March of 2021 “Statement from Pro-Life Catholic Scholars on the Moral Acceptability of Receiving COVID-19 Vaccines,” released by the Ethics and Public Policy Center argued that in accepting one of the Covid vaccines that had recently become available, one would not be “in any way endorsing or con­tributing to the practice of abortion, or . . . in any way showing disrespect for the remains of an unborn human being.” That statement received criticism from some opponents of abortion. Here, I raise six questions about the claims or implications of the “Statement” in order to defend it in its main assertions, correct it in some minor matters, and extend its analysis as needed.
book reviews
34. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 97 > Issue: 1
Caleb Estep Platonism and the Objects of Science. By Scott Berman
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35. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 97 > Issue: 1
Gaven Kerr Is There a God? A Debate. By Graham Oppy and Kenneth L. Pearce
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36. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 97 > Issue: 1
Daniel John Sportiello The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity. By Toby Ord
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37. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 96 > Issue: 4
Daniel J. Pierson Thomas Aquinas on Assimilation to God through Efficient Causality
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This article is a contribution to the field of study that Jacques Maritain once described as “metaphysical Axiomatics.” I discuss Aquinas’s use of the metaphysical principle “omne agens agit sibi simile,” focusing on perhaps the most manifest instance of this principle, namely, univocal generation. It is well known that Aquinas holds what could be called a “static” or “formal” view of likeness between God and creatures: creatures are like God because they share in certain exemplar perfections that preexist in God. My focus instead is on an efficient likeness to God, which reflects a foundational truth about reality for Aquinas: all creatures produce something like themselves through their operations, in imitation of God, who does so on a more fundamental level. My discussion will also clarify Aquinas’s derivation of the principle of similitude from a prior metaphysical principle, “every agent acts insofar as it is in act.”
38. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 96 > Issue: 4
Rosabel Ansari, Jon McGinnis One Way of Being Ambiguous: The Univocity of “Existence” and the Theory of Tashkīk Predication in Rāzī and Ṭūsī’s Commentaries on Avicenna’s Pointers and Reminders
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This study provides the historical background to, and analysis and translations of, two seminal texts from the medieval Islamic world concerning the univocity of being/existence and a theory of “ambiguous predication” (tashkīk), which is similar to the Thomistic theory of analogy. The disputants are Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī (1149–1210), who defended a theory of the univocity of being, and Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī (1201–1274), who defended the theory of ambiguous predication. While the purported issue is whether a quiddity can cause its own existence, the debate extends further. Rāzī draws on several arguments that “existence” must be predicated univocally of God and creature and then concludes that, given the univocity of “existence,” God cannot be simple, but is a composite of the divine quiddity and distinct attributes. In contrast, Ṭūsī denies that “existence” is said univocally of God and creature and rather is predicated ambiguously/analogously, and then defends divine simplicity.
39. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 96 > Issue: 4
Catherine A. Levri Light Metaphysics and Scripture in the Inaugural Sermons of Robert Grosseteste and St. Bonaventure
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Robert Grosseteste delivered his inaugural sermon, Dictum 19, in 1229/1230. Like many inaugural sermons, Dictum 19 praises Scripture, its divine author, and the study of the sacred text. Grosseteste’s sermon, however, is unique in that its author had an extensive background in the natural sciences. I propose that his understanding of the nature of light influences his understanding of Scripture in Dictum 19. Specifically, Scripture, like light, gives form to others, creating a hierarchy of bodies which mediate this form. Grosseteste’s thought influenced Saint Bonaventure, who delivered his inaugural sermon Omnium artifex docuit me sapientia at his 1254 inception. Like Grosseteste, Bonaventure’s understanding of the nature of Scripture is based in part on his light metaphysics. I conclude that, for both Grosseteste and Bonaventure, their use of light as an analogy for Scripture is rooted not only in traditional theological metaphors but also in their metaphysics of light.
40. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 96 > Issue: 4
Brett W. Smith Scotus and Grosseteste on Phantasms and Illumination
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This article examines the reception of Robert Grosseteste by John Duns Scotus on two related questions in epistemology. The first concerns the need of phantasms for cognition, and the second concerns divine illumination. The study first examines Scotus’s Questions on the De Anima with comparison to Grosseteste’s Commentary on the Posterior Analytics, a text Scotus cites specifically. It is argued that Grosseteste is the main influence behind Scotus’s opinion that the need for phantasms is not proper to human nature as such. The second part shows how Scotus disagrees with Grosseteste on a related question. Grosseteste retains a version of divine illumination with a qualified need for phantasms, whereas Scotus maintains the strict necessity of phantasms in this life and rejects illumination. The two parts of this study taken together indicate that Scotus saw Grosseteste as an authority but also felt free to ignore him where the two disagreed.