Hiatus

Until the end of May, I will be occupied with preparing/presenting/participating-in a four-session introduction to Roman Catholic philosophy with the current diaconal (i.e. permanent deacon candidates) aspirant group for the Diocese of Pueble, Colorado.  I will also, during this time, be preparing/presenting/participating-in R.C.I.A. sessions on the topics of moral evil (morality), and the baptismal covenant.  I will also, during this time, be preparing/presenting/participating-in sessions/programs on sacred scripture and Roman Catholic doctrine at the Federal Medical Center/Prison.  During that time, I will not be posting presentations on and comments about sections of Elements of Philosophy.  These presentations/comments should continue in June of this year.

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Elements of Philosophy 12-27-17

(The articles presented here, entitled Elements of Philosophy (followed by a date), provide a systematic presentation of consecutive portions of The Elements of Philosophy:  A Compendium for Philosophers and Theologians by Father William A. Wallace, O.P.  The first post took place on 3-21-17.  All previously posted articles of this Elements of Philosophy series can be found by scrolling back through these posted articles to that first posting date.)

Quote:  Elements of Philosophy, page 21; chapter 2, section 5, paragraph 5.

“A syllogism is an artificial, logical arrangement of a deductive argumentation.  It is said to be artificial, not that the inference it signifies is artificial (indeed this results from the natural act of the mind called reasoning), but because the forced disposition of the antecedent and the conclusion according to logical laws is an artifact, i.e., something constructed by the mind to attain truth and eliminate error.  The two principal types of syllogism are the categorical and hypothetical; they differ in their formal structures and in types of inferences they allow.”

Commentary:

The English language words “artifact” and “artificial” are both made up of the combination of the Latin words ars and facereArs is a noun meaning a work or the product of a creative effort, an art.  Facere is the verb meaning “to do”.  When combined, these two Latin language roots give the word artifact the meaning of “the product or the performance of a creative work”.  Understood in this sense of being a creative-doing, the word artifact carries none of the meaning of the word “artificial” which in the modern world has connotations of being false or of lesser value.  Creativity displays truth and truth’s deeper beauty, and in this regard, is of high value.

In the created world, only humans can do creative activities (i.e. non-human animals are incapable of creativity because they are controlled by their instinctual nature).  Sometimes the word nature is used to speak of the activities of instinctual creatures and with the non-cognitive processes of those parts of “nature” which are not alive.  When the word “nature” is identified with these, it then becomes common to refer to the artifacts of human doings as not-natural or as other-than-nature.  However, in addition to referring to human artifacts as not-natural or other-than-natural, it might be just as correct to refer to these artifacts as the product-of-human-nature or perhaps even as the product-of-second-nature.

In his Natural Right and History, Leo Strauss points out that before humans understood the idea of nature as something standing apart from human activities and as distinguished from the products of human activities, that there was a concept of “ways”.  Each thing had its own way.  It is the way of rain to come from clouds.  It is the way of dogs to bark and wag their tails.  It is the way of Jews to not eat pork.  It is the way of followers of Islam to not drink wine.  The precursor of the word nature was this idea of ways.  Unlike the word nature which is a word used to refer to and include and incorporate in its definition a wide range of realities under the mantle of a single word (i.e. “nature”), the concept of ways was individualized.  When one referred to the ways of various things, one was attempting to distinguish and differentiate and identify separate entities.

Though the word “nature” is an integrating term, this integrating concept only comes into existence when the distinction is realized and understood between those things which are “of nature” and those things which are the products of “human kind”.  Once this concept of nature is realized and obtained, it then becomes possible to realize that the concept of “ways” preceded the concept of “nature”.  Becoming aware of the preceding and primitive notion of “ways” is dependent upon coming to understand and be aware of the distinction between “of nature” and “of human efforts”.

Though it is incorrect to apply the concept of time to God, it can be a useful metaphor to do so.  The word “before” and the letters “ed”, found in statements such as “before God created the universe/world/creation”, imply that God exists in time.  Being an immaterial being, God is not capable of change and thus is not subject to time since time is, as Aristotle simply and correctly stated, the measure of change.  However, if we allow ourselves the use of the metaphor of time in God’s eternal condition, it becomes clear that before earthly/created nature came into being, there already was a “nature”, a “way”; i.e. God’s way of being or God’s nature or God’s essence.  Utilizing this metaphor of time applied to God’s eternal condition, God’s nature is seen to be the first-nature.  In comparison to this divine first-nature, all of earthly/created nature is second-nature.  And if we distinguish, as we indicated earlier, between non-human natural things and human nature, then human-nature is seen to be something of a third-nature.

Or perhaps, it might be better to refer to this human-nature as a turning back to God; a return to first-nature.  If a theory of evolution is correct that the materiality of human kind is a product of natural (non-human) processes, then perhaps it is correct to see the processes of nature (non-human) as being designed by God to create this human entity whose highest purpose and essence is to return to God; to return to the original way.

Christianity sees Jesus Christ as the means by which God redirects the human product of creation back to God.  With this understanding, it is intellectually illustrative and spiritually illuminating to notice that the first “name” by which the followers of Jesus referred to themselves was “the way” (ἡ ὁδός, hay hodos).

The theologian/paleontologist Father Marie Joseph Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. developed many of these ideas of the influence or energy of Christ operating within the created universe to cause the created universe to form human kind and lead human kind back to a synthesis with God.

The astrophysicist/atheist Carl Sagan famously stated “we are the way for the cosmos to know itself”.  Christianity tells us that the way by which the cosmos will know itself is by means of the human return to God.  It is in discerning this need to return to God and it is in this act of returning to God that human kind comes to know itself.  To know oneself, one must come to know the essence, the core, of one’s being.  One knows oneself when one discerns what his/her purpose is.  Thus, for example, a human being fully realizes her/himself when she/he identifies those goals which are uniquely human, when he/she strives for those goals which are uniquely human, when she/he attains those goals which are uniquely human.  Not only is the return to God the conscious path by which humans come to fully and correctly know themselves, the human return to God is the way that all creation comes to know itself.  The Letter of Paul to the Romans, speaks of creation “seeking” and “groaning” in expectation.  The Gospel of Luke relates Jesus speaking of how the inanimate stones will “cry out” Christ’s nature as the entity which brings all creation back to God.  And with complete clarity regarding creation coming to know itself by returning to God, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians “When everything is subjected to him [the Son], then the Son himself will [also] be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.”

Elements of Philosophy 12-20-17

(The articles presented here, entitled Elements of Philosophy (followed by a date), provide a systematic presentation of consecutive portions of The Elements of Philosophy:  A Compendium for Philosophers and Theologians by Father William A. Wallace, O.P.  The first post took place on 3-21-17.  All previously posted articles of this Elements of Philosophy series can be found by scrolling back through these posted articles to that first posting date.)

Quote:  Elements of Philosophy, page 21; chapter 2, section 5, paragraph 4.

“An argumentation is either good or valid, or it is only apparently good, in which case it is known as a fallacy.  Good or valid argumentation are of two types, inductive and deductive.  The inductive process is one whose antecedent is less general than the conclusion; the deductive process is one whose antecedent is more general than its conclusion.”

Commentary:

Induction, or inductive reasoning, is sometimes referred to as proof by observation and/or example.  One sees a blue colored bird flying.  One sees a red colored bird flying.  The observer now becomes so interested in these observations that s/he makes it into an observational project.  Some time later, after hundreds of similar observations (i.e. of birds), each having the same result (i.e. they fly), s/he now offers the conclusion that “all birds fly”.  Each of the separate observations is a “less general” antecedent.  Compared to the antecedents, the conclusion is more inclusive.  This conclusion attempts to make a generalization; i.e. “that all birds fly”.

The weakness of inductive reasoning is that its proofs are never certain.  There are no end to the possible observations of birds, and the next observation might just be of a bird whose type does not fly.  Such would be the actual case if one were to observe a penguin, an ostrich, or a kiwi.

The strength of inductive reasoning is that it offers new knowledge.  For example, having never observed birds, the inductive reasoner will discover that many, if not all birds, fly.

Deductive reasoning begins with premises which are derived and verified conclusions.  These premises are known to be true because they are self-evidently so or because reasoning has proven them to be so.  In deduction, we may have two premises (the antecedents) from which a conclusion is drawn.  For example, “All porpoises are mammals (i.e. belong to a species, the females of which possess mammary glands used for feeding its young).  All mammals are vertebrates (i.e. have backbones).  All porpoises are vertebrates.”  The premises (i.e. “All porpoises are mammals.”  “All mammals are vertebrates.”) are more general (all encompassing) than the conclusion “All porpoises are vertebrates.”  The conclusion, “All porpoises are vertebrates” is a less general and less all-encompassing statement than the premise “All mammals are vertebrates,” because porpoises are only one type of mammal.

The strength of deductive reasoning is that if the premises are correct and if the reasoning method (the way the premises are constructed and related to each other) is done correctly, then the conclusion is certain.  The strength of deduction is that it provides certainty.

The weakness of  deductive reasoning is that it provides no new knowledge in one important sense.  No new knowledge is provided in the sense that the knowledge displayed in the conclusion was already contained in the premises.  On the other hand, it may well be the case that to those who have had no familiarity with porpoises and mammals and vertebrates, or to those who are familiar but have never thought the matter of their relationship through, that this is new knowledge for that reasoning individual.  This having been said, it still needs to be pointed out that deduction doesn’t provide new knowledge.  Deduction displays the knowledge which is already present in an unformed or unconscious manner.

To obtain radically new knowledge, inductive reasoning must be performed.  As observational evidence statistically backs up the inductive conclusions drawn, one then becomes emboldened to use those inductive conclusions as premises in deductive syllogisms (i.e. as the premises of deductive reasoning).  From these, the new knowledge is displayed for all interested parties to see if they so choose.

However, as was said before, the next observation may present an anomaly (a deviation from the inductively drawn conclusion) which totally unravels the sequence of inductive reasoning and deductive application of the conclusions of that preceding inductive reasoning.

And this is why the conclusions of modern science can never be certain.  This is why the statement is made that a theory can never be proven.  These, modern science and the theories upon which it is built, are the products of inductive reasoning.  As the mass of scientific evidence, inductively obtained, is built up, a conclusion may be drawn which is then used as a tool in deductive reasoning and/or instruction.  For example, based on many observations in paleontology and stratigraphy and radioactive dating, an inductive conclusion is reached which is commonly referred to as the theory of evolution.  This theory is then, in its parts, used as the basis for teaching biology to students.  Such teaching, based as it is on the theory of evolution, necessarily reinforces the impression that the inductive conclusion (i.e. the theory of evolution) is a fact.  However, being as it (the theory of evolution) is derived from inductive reasoning, it can never be a fact.  And it is, therefore possible, that some anomaly may appear which throws the entire theoretical structure into disarray.  Such an occurrence is not likely, but it is logically very possible.

Elements of Philosophy 12-13-17

(The articles presented here, entitled Elements of Philosophy (followed by a date), provide a systematic presentation of consecutive portions of The Elements of Philosophy:  A Compendium for Philosophers and Theologians by Father William A. Wallace, O.P.  The first post took place on 3-21-17.  All previously posted articles of this Elements of Philosophy series can be found by scrolling back through these posted articles to that first posting date.)

Quote:  Elements of Philosophy, page 20; chapter 2, section 5, paragraph 3.

“An argumentation is an expression that signifies the inference from one truth to another.  Just as a term is the sign of a concept, and a sentence the sign of a judgment, so argumentation is the sign of the act of the intellect known as reasoning.  Every argumentation consists of the three elements found in reasoning:  the antecedent, the conclusion, and the inference.  The first two elements are stated explicitly in the argumentation, while the third is indicated implicitly by a “therefore,” “so,” or “hence.”  Of the three, inference is the most important element because it gives unity and meaning to the other two, fashioning them into a logical unit.  Apart from the essential law given above [i.e. “In a correct reasoning, it is impossible that the antecedent be true and the consequent false.”] there are two additional rules of argumentation:  from a false antecedent a true conclusion sometimes follows; and the conclusion always follows the weaker part (i.e. if the antecedent is negative or particular, the conclusion will correspondingly be negative or particular).”

Commentary:

Intellect is an activity of mind.  The mind is a function of the soul.  Thus, mind is immaterial, incorporeal.  Mind is not the same as the biological material organ called the brain nor, more specifically, that reasoning computing area of the brain called the cerebral cortex.  The brain is what allows the mind to be involved in the material world and the brain is what displays the activities of mind in the material realm.  Metaphorically, the brain is to the mind what the monitor of a computer is to the computer (and more specifically, the hard drive) itself.  The monitor (the brain) is not where the computing activity occurs.  The monitor is where the computing activities of the hard drive (either in the computer itself or elsewhere on the web or in a cloud facility) are displayed.  Just so, the brain does not perform the activities of the mind.  The brain is what displays the activities of the mind.

The activities of the mind are awareness and will.  The awareness of the connection between an antecedent and consequent of an argument is called an inference.  The inference is not just the connection of an argument’s antecedent and consequent, nor is it just the cerebral/brain act of connecting these two.  Inference is the awareness of the connection of the antecedent and consequent.  The difference between the computing or reasoning activities of the brain and the awareness of inference was once explained to me, in the following way, by a nun, who was both a theologian and psychologist.  She invited me to add small sums in my head; e.g. 1+1=2, 2+2=4, 1+4=5.  As I was doing this over and over, she then asked me to become aware of, to notice the addition activity which I was doing.  I was somewhat amazed and pleased to discover that I, that a person, is able to do an activity such as adding small sums and, at the same time, be aware of doing that activity.  She then said that the adding of sums was an activity of the material biological brain, and the awareness of doing the adding of sums was a manifestation of the soul in its function of awareness.

What the biological and/or material computing entities do is amazing and wonderful and absolutely necessary for a person with a mind to be involved in the material world.  The brain gathers data from/through the senses and organizes that information.  It is mind which adds awareness of these activities and it is will which directs these cerebral/brain activities.  The prime manifestation of the human being, of the person, are these functions of awareness and will.  In relation to the actual material world, the person can only perform these mental functions in the world, can only apply these mental functions to the world, can only display these mental activities within the material world by means of the material/corporeal brain as an interface tool.  The brain and, perhaps one day, some very advanced artificial intelligence machine is what allows mind to act in the world and be displayed in the world.

But neither the brain nor advanced artificially intelligent machine; neither are mind.  The brain on its own is not capable of awareness and of acts of will.  Advanced artificially intelligent machines are and will never be capable of awareness and of acts of will.

Elements of Philosophy 12-6-17

(The articles presented here, entitled Elements of Philosophy (followed by a date), provide a systematic presentation of consecutive portions of The Elements of Philosophy:  A Compendium for Philosophers and Theologians by Father William A. Wallace, O.P.  The first post took place on 3-21-17.  All previously posted articles of this Elements of Philosophy series can be found by scrolling back through these posted articles to that first posting date.)

Quote:  Elements of Philosophy, page 20; chapter 2, section 5, paragraph 2.

“The consequence (consequentia) is the logical link that the reasoning establishes between the antecedent and the consequent; it is the manifestation of an inference.  Reasoning, as an act, is really a movement of the mind, a discursus wherein the mind, perceiving two propositions as true and as standing in some type of mutual relationship, perceives in this very connection the truth of a third proposition, which it itself forms and to which it gives its assent.  Thus the mind, put in motion by the antecedent, finds its rest in the consequent.  The antecedent may therefore be regarded as a cause of the consequent.  The essential law that governs this process is the following:  in a correct reasoning, it is impossible that the antecedent be true and the consequent false.”

Commentary:

”Reasoning…is a movement of the mind…wherein the mind…perceives in th[e] very connection [of two propositions]…the truth of a third proposition.”  Thus, for example, if I know that it is true that all mammals are vertebrates and that a porpoise is a mammal, a person possessing mind will immediately be aware of the truth that all porpoises are vertebrates (have backbones/spines).

Truth is a quality of existence.  Truth exists in things which exist.  Mind becomes aware of these truths by means of an awareness of the relationship of propositions regarding these things of which the mind becomes aware.  Mind is a function of the soul.  In the case of the immortal soul of the person, of the human being, awareness (along with will) is one of those functions of soul.  Mind becomes aware of the truth presented by the propositions used to describe various things which actually exist.  The act of framing these truths in the form of propositions causes these things to be present within the mind in a real and essential, though immaterial, way. (Aristotle, On the Soul, Book III, sections 4, 5, 6)  Mind then becomes aware of the truth inherent in and regarding these things now present in the mind.

The function of mind is apparent in this act of becoming aware of propositional truths.  This same movement of mind is also apparent in becoming aware of other realities such as the reality that one has come to love another person.  These functions or movements of mind can be thought of as intuitions by which one becomes aware of the reality with which s/he is in contact.  In his Introduction to Phenomenology (page 35), Robert Sokolowski writes “…intuition is simply having the object actually present to us…”.  The author makes this statement in the context of a description of the concepts of phenomenological intention and intended absences.  Despite this precise use of the concept of intuition, perhaps it is not too far removed to suggest that the movement of mind of which Wallace speaks is a type of intuition.  Similarly, the awareness of emotional and spiritual and relational realities such as we have when we become aware of our love for another; these too may be types of intuition.  These are acts of mind in which intuitions form in the mind based on a number of insights we have into a particular situation or of a particular thing which are more or less well formed into propositions within the mind.  As Sokolowski also writes, “Intuition is not something mystical or magical…[not] something inexplicable, [not] something almost irrational, [not] a kind of vision that overrides argument and cannot be communicated…intuition need not be understood in this mysterious way…intuition is simply having the object actually present to us….” (pages 34 and 35).

Elements of Philosophy 12-3-17

(The articles presented here, entitled Elements of Philosophy (followed by a date), provide a systematic presentation of consecutive portions of The Elements of Philosophy:  A Compendium for Philosophers and Theologians by Father William A. Wallace, O.P.  The first post took place on 3-21-17.  All previously posted articles of this Elements of Philosophy series can be found by scrolling back through these posted articles to that first posting date.)

Quote:  Elements of Philosophy, pages 19 and 20; chapter 2, section 5, paragraph 1.

Reasoning is the third operation of the intellect by which it passes from what it already knows to what it does not yet know.  Since knowledge is expressed in propositions, reasoning may be characterized also as the process by which the mind passes from two or several propositions, called the premises or antecedent, to another proposition, called the conclusion or the consequent.  It should be noted that passing directly from one proposition to another proposition by methods of conversion just discussed [see chapter 2, section 4, paragraph 6, pages 18 and 19, found here on date 11-15-17] is not considered reasoning because the conclusion has the same content as the premise, differing from it only in arrangement; thus no new knowledge results.”

Commentary:

Human reasoning, the use of human intellect, is both amazingly powerful and stunningly limited.

Human intellect discovers and then displays truths which already exist in reality.  Human intellect does not create truth.  It finds truth and displays truth.  Because God creates all things, in addition to knowing all truth, God creates all truth.

A second limitation of human intellect becomes apparent when we continue to compare human intellect to the intellect possessed by the purely spiritual (i.e. incorporeal, immaterial) entity, God.  Since God does not have material human senses, God’s acts of intellect do not first begin with information gathered through those senses.  The knowledge which God has is already contained in God.  Everything God knows is always part of God’s knowledge, whether created things exist or do not (yet) exist.  God’s knowledge of the created universe is akin to the knowledge the expert carpenter has of the chair or table s/he crafts.  The carpenter has a good image and understanding of the chair to be made before one board is planed, before a corner is attached, before a joint is fashioned.  Just so is God’s knowledge.  God’s knowledge is the knowledge of the maker of all that is.  Such a prior knowledge is more complete and comprehensive and perfect than the sense organ dependent a posteriori knowledge of the creature which possesses human intellect.

Despite these limitations, the limitation that human intellect does not create truth and the limitation that human understandings are necessarily a posteriori; nonetheless, human intellect is an awesome humbling thing.  Information is gathered by the mind in the form of useful propositions called premises.  Then human mind combines those premises together to reveal new truths which in some sense are already contained in the premises.  Those newly revealed truths take the form of new propositions called conclusions.  These conclusions can then be framed/used as premises in the attempt to display new truths.

Of all creatures, this uniquely human ability to discover and display truth makes possible the awesome fact that the human mind can contain the idea of the entire created universe as a whole, as well as knowledge of the parts and relations found within the universe as human mind becomes aware of them through its acts of reasoning.

Elements of Philosophy 11-27-17

(The articles presented here, entitled Elements of Philosophy (followed by a date), provide a systematic presentation of consecutive portions of The Elements of Philosophy:  A Compendium for Philosophers and Theologians by Father William A. Wallace, O.P.  The first post took place on 3-21-17.  All previously posted articles of this Elements of Philosophy series can be found by scrolling back through these posted articles to that first posting date.)

Quote:  Elements of Philosophy, page 19; chapter 2, section 4, paragraph 8.

“The most important relationships between pairs of propositions having the same subjects and predicates but varying in quantity or quality are given in the square of opposition.  Depending on the position one takes with regard to the existential import of categorical propositions he can use the square to illustrate the relations of contradiction, subalternation, superalternation, contrariety, and subcontrariety.”

Commentary:

“The square of opposition is a chart that was introduced within classical (categorical) logic to represent the logical relationships holding between certain propositions in virtue of their form. The square, traditionally conceived, looks like this:

 

square-of-opposition

The four corners of this chart represent the four basic forms of propositions recognized in classical logic:

A propositions, or universal affirmatives take the form: All S are P.

E propositions, or universal negations take the form: No S are P.

I propositions, or particular affirmatives take the form: Some S are P.

O propositions, or particular negations take the form: Some S are not P.”

From:  the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy ( http://www.iep.utm.edu/sqr-opp/ )

 

Interestingly, these relationship determinations (contradictory, contrary, et alia) among/between categorical propositions (A,E,I,O) do not apply when we speak about unreal or imaginary entities.  Consider, for example the two statements “All unicorns have horns” and “No unicorns have horns”.  Both statements are correct.  The statement “All unicorns have horns” is true in the sense that the description of the imaginary entity called a unicorn is of an entity with horns.  The statement “No unicorns have horns” is true because, since there are no unicorns in reality, it is in fact correct there are no unicorns with horns.  The article cited above from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy continues:

“The presupposition, mentioned above, that all categories contain at least one thing, has been abandoned by most later logicians. Modern logic deals with uninstantiated terms such as “unicorn” and “ether flow” the same as it does other terms such as “apple” and “orangutan”. When dealing with “empty categories”, the relations of being contrary, being subcontrary and of subalternation no longer hold. Consider, e.g., “all unicorns have horns” and “no unicorns have horns.” Within contemporary logic, these are both regarded as true, so strictly speaking, they cannot be contrary, despite the former’s status as an A proposition and the latter’s status as an E proposition. Similarly, “some unicorns have horns” (I) and “some unicorns do not have horns” (O) are both regarded as false, and so they are not subcontrary. Obviously then, the truth of “all unicorns have horns” does not imply the truth of “some unicorns have horns,” and the subalternation relation fails to hold as well. Without the traditional presuppositions of “existential import”, i.e., the supposition that all categories have at least one member, then only the contradictory relation holds. On what is sometimes called the “modern square of opposition” (as opposed to the traditional square of opposition sketched above) the lines for contraries, subcontraries and subalternation are erased, leaving only the diagonal lines for the contradictory relation.”