In the first systematic study of the philosophy of Thomas Nagel, Alan Thomas discusses Nagel's contrast between the "subjective" and the "objective" points of view throughout the various areas of his wide ranging philosophy. Nagel's original and distinctive contrast between the subjective view and our aspiration to a "view from nowhere" within metaphysics structures the chapters of the book. A "new Humean" in epistemology, Nagel takes philosophical scepticism to be both irrefutable and yet to indicate a profound truth (...) about our capacity for self-transcendence. The contrast between subjective and objective views is then considered in the case of the mind, where consciousness proves to be the central aspect of mind that contemporary theorising fails to acknowledge adequately. The second half of the book analyses Nagel's work on moral and political philosophy where he has been most deeply influential. Topics covered include the contrast between agent-relative and agent-neutral reasons and values, Nagel's distinctive version of a hybrid ethical theory, his discussion of life's meaningfulness and finally his sceptical arguments about whether a liberal society can reconcile the conflicting moral demands of self and other. (shrink)
On the day before Christmas, 1170, Robert de Broc, member of a family of royal servants that had taken up King Henry II's fierce opposition to Thomas Becket, seized a horse bringing goods to the archbishop and cut off its tail. The next day, Archbishop Thomas noted this incident after his Christmas sermon when renewing his excommunication of Robert and several others, and he discussed it again four days later in his initial meeting with the men who would (...) shortly murder him. The excision of the horse's tail appears in five of the biographies of the martyr and subsequently in the national chronicles of Roger of Howden and Ralph of Diceto. Why did a minor act of cruelty inflicted on a horse seem so noteworthy to contemporaries? The sources recording it resound with the rich Latin vocabulary of shame: “dedecus, contemptus, ignominia, dehonestatio, opprobrium.” Robert's highly symbolic act, part of a pattern of harassment by the Brocs, was designed not just to threaten Becket but also to humiliate him. (shrink)
Perhaps the greatest challenge faced by Thomistic thinkers today is to approach the contemporary intellectual scene in a way they could anticipate their master approaching it. With the enormous growth of empirical knowledge since the thirteenth century, and the multiplication of diverse and often rival conceptual schemes to understand and explain the reality disclosed by our increasingly broad experience of the world, this is indeed a daunting task.
The paper deals with Aquinas’ theory of intentional forms, so-called species, insofar as it gives an account of the validity of human cognitive acts. Its focus is on the objectivity of knowledge and the basis of radical (Cartesian) scepticism, therefore the comparisons to the modern theory of ideas are employed. However, the author’s aim is not a defence against scepticism; her aim is rather to provide certain insights into its origins. -/- .
The Arabic philosophical tradition played an important role in the formation of theological, philosophical and scientific thought in medieval Europe subsequent to the translations from Arabic into Latin in the 12th and 13th centuries. The influence of that Arabic classical rationalist tradition in works by al-Farabi, Avicenna, Averroes and the Liber de causis is evident in the thought of Thomas Aquinas, though the breadth and depth of that influence is often insufficiently noted and explained by scholars of Aquinas. This (...) course focuses on the metaphysics, epistemology and psychology of Aquinas in the development of his philosophical conceptions of soul and intellect in the context of his use of sources in Aristotle and works by philosophers of the Arabic tradition, particularly Avicenna and Averroes. Readings are selected from writings from each of the four major periods of his career starting with his first major work, the Commentary on the Sentences. The course was planned to be taught at Marquette, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and the Universidad Panamericana as a hybrid course. That is, it was taught using online tools and resources and also in the classroom with face-to-face meetings once per week. And it was taught at Marquette, KU Leuven and the Universidad Panamericana simultaneously. On Thursdays students met online with video and audio for questions and discussion with Profs. Taylor, Robiglio and López-Farjeat and the student groups in Milwaukee, Leuven and Mexico City live. (shrink)
This article presents two case-studies that shed light on the silent yet significant role an editor might play in the reception of Renaissance texts and the place of Thomas Aquinas therein. Both studies take up texts from fifteenth-century Italy. The first addresses the scholastic philosopher, Dominic of Flanders, suggesting that Dominic’s originality as a thinker may have been ‘corrected’ by an anonymous editor in order to maintain closer accord with Aquinas’s position; inquiry into the manuscript tradition uncovers instances of (...) silent intervention. The second addresses a Latin dialogue by the physician and humanist, Antonio de Ferraris (Galateo), drawing attention to a significant suppression of the interlocutor Thomas Aquinas, this time by a twentieth century editor. (shrink)
Several of Thomas Aquinas's proofs for the existence of God rely on the claim that causal series cannot proceed in infinitum. I argue that Aquinas has good reason to hold this claim given his conception of causation. Because he holds that effects are ontologically dependent on their causes, he holds that the relevant causal series are wholly derivative: the later members of such series serve as causes only insofar as they have been caused by and are effects of the (...) earlier members. Because the intermediate causes in such series possess causal powers only by deriving them from all the preceding causes, they need a first and non-derivative cause to serve as the source of their causal powers. (shrink)
Is it necessary for all Christians – including Christians who are metaphysicians with demonstrative knowledge of God’s existence – to hold by faith that God exists? I shall approach this apparently straightforward question by investigating two opposing lines of interpretation of Thomas Aquinas’s own response to this question. I shall begin with two texts from Thomas that motivate two incompatible theses concerning Thomas’s doctrine of the harmony of faith and reason with respect to the existence of God. (...) Next, I shall clarify the salient points of disagreement between these two interpretations of faith and reason in Thomas Aquinas before examining dialectically a number of arguments in favor and against the respective theses of these two interpretations. In the final section I shall argue that the results of our dialectical inquiry reveal that the initial disagreement between the two positions is not irresolvable. Accordingly, I shall conclude by proposing two revised versions of the initial theses that emphasize the compatibility of these two interpretations of Thomas Aquinas’s doctrine of the harmony of faith and reason. (shrink)