W. Norris Clarke's metaphysics of the universe as a journey rests on six major positions: the unrestricted dynamism of the mind, the primacy of the act of existence, the participation structure of reality, and the person, considered as both the starting point of philosophy and the source of the categories needed for a flexible contemporary metaphysics. Reflecting on his conscious life and the universe around him, the finite person mounts by a two-fold path to its Infinite source, who, though immutable (...) in His natural being, is mutable in the intentional being of His personal knowledge and love. The personal God is the efficient cause from whom the universe comes and the final cause to whom it returns.Less optimistic than Norris Clarke, John Caputo wonders about his metaphysics of the person. In a hermeneutical interpretation of the human face, the person through whom Being "sounds" discloses an ambiguous Being that both reveals and conceals itself. Far from grounding a casual ascent to God, hermeneutical phenomenology allows us no more than the right to interpret the world and its transcendent source through our own free decision.Although impressed by Norris Clarke's attempt to introduce mutability into God, Lewis Ford still finds Clarke's Thomistic God unacceptable. As a Whiteheadian, he proposes in place of Thomas' God, whose perfection consists in static unity, a God whose perfection consists in a never-ending process of unification. John Smith argues against the traditional dichotomy made between the ontological and cosmological arguments. Rather than opposed methods of proving God's existence, they should be taken as complementary journeys to the divine presence which discloses itself, although diversely, in the soul and in the world. There are parallels between Smith's historical study of two arguments and Clarke's two-fold path to God. Yet Smith is critical of Thomas' cosmological journey to God and does not share Clarke's confidence in its validity. Significant studies in their own right, the three essays as a group challenge Clarke's whole metaphysics of the universe as a journey. Meeting the challenge, Clarke clarifies and refines his own thought.An account of Clarke's philosophy by Gerald A. McCool, S.J. preceds this unified and stimulating philosophical discussion. (shrink)
Metaphysicians go on busily doing metaphysical thinking all over the world, and apparently with a modicum of self-assurance that they are not talking nonsense or pursuing an illusory will-of-the-wisp. Yet other philosophers of empirical, analytical, phenomenological, or other turns of mind seem to have more and more difficulty in understanding just how metaphysicians give meaning and positive content to the vast abstract concepts by which they seek to describe and explain the entire spectrum of reality extending far beyond present or (...) perhaps even possible human experience. Since there is no way of gaining direct insight into dimensions of reality beyond human experience, and since in order to be applied to the whole range of reality these concepts must abstract from purely human experience, it is hard for them to see—and it is a serious problem in itself—how these all-embracing terms can be anything more than empty, formal, verbal symbols or conceptual constructions, with no positive existential content describing reality itself across its whole spectrum. Even the metaphysician himself, though when left alone he may have a sure sense of how to do metaphysical thinking fruitfully, when questioned to explain and justify what he is doing, and is convinced is worth doing, can feel embarrassed and struck dumb as to how to articulate and justify the principles behind the procedures he is following. (shrink)
A "festschrift" for Fr. Clarke, this volume presents the 1985 Suarez lecture which Fr. Clarke gave at Fordham University, three papers on themes suggested by Clarke's work by John Caputo, Lewis Ford, and John Smith, and responses to these by Clarke. Gerald McCool has contributed an introduction and a first essay reviewing the principal influences upon and stages of Clarke's career. A listing of Clarke's publications concludes the volume.
John F. Kavanaugh and W. Norris Clarke, two twentieth-century Jesuits, contributed to philosophy through their development of a Thomistic and personalist view of reality emphasizing the human endowments of knowing, freely choosing, and loving. While spiritual exercises played a role in the formation of both Jesuits, the function of spiritual exercises in their own philosophy has not been explored. Recent interest in philosophy as a way of life provides a means by which this can be accomplished. In their work Michel (...) Foucault and Pierre Hadot have shown how spiritual exercises function in the formation of the self and in the acquisition of a synoptic vision that allows contemplation of one’s participation in the whole. This paper shows that while Kavanaugh primarily uses spiritual exercises in his philosophy to accomplish a disciplinary/formational aim Clarke’s aim is dialogical/exploratory. A brief examination of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola reveals how these different aims in fact complement one another. (shrink)
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher. He is a central figure of modern philosophy, and set the terms by which all subsequent thinkers have had to grapple. He argued that human perception structures natural laws, and that reason is the source of morality. His thought continues to hold a major influence in contemporary thought, especially in fields such as metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and aesthetics.
W. Norris Clarke described his personalism as “substance-in-relation,” which emphasizes the equality of primordial modes of substance and relation as a solution to the dichotomy between substance and relation created in the history of metaphysics of the human person. African personalism seems to conceive the human person as essentially relational, which is mostly expressed in the saying: “I am because we are.” Though some contemporary African scholars, like Molefe, try to indicate the priority of the individual, the relational concept remains (...) dominant, which makes it inclined toward collectivism, that most often seems to repress the individual (substance). This article aims to attempt a proposal of a reconstruction of African personalism using the model of Clarke’s personalism by laying equal emphasis on the primordial modes of substance and relation in order to guard against individualism on the one hand and collectivism on the other hand. (shrink)
It is commonly assumed that the expression “an sich selbst” (“in itself”) in Kant combines with terms to form complex nouns such as “thing in itself” and “end in itself.” I argue that the basic use of “an sich selbst” in Kant’s German is as a sentence adverb, which has the role of modifying subject-predicate combinations, rather than either subject or predicate on their own. Expressions of the form “S is P an sich selbst” mean roughly that S is P (...) ‘in its own right’ or without some further ‘condition’. Accordingly, “an sich selbst” should not be treated as forming complex nouns. This analysis has significant consequences for the interpretation of “thing in itself” in particular, for it implies that the latter is not a complete nominal expression. Instead, one must treat ‘an sich selbst’ as expressing how some S is a ‘thing’, looking to the wider sentential context. I conclude with a brief account of the new significance granted to the concept of a ‘thing’ (Ding) according to the present interpretation. (shrink)
Kant’s formula of universal law (FUL) is standardly understood as a test of the moral permissibility of an agent’s maxim: maxims which pass the test are morally neutral, and so permissible, while those which do not are morally impermissible. In contrast, I argue that the FUL tests whether a maxim is the cause or determining ground of an action at all. According to Kant’s general account of causality, nothing can be a cause of some effect unless there is a law-like (...) relation between the putative cause and effect. Applied to the case of action, no maxim can be the cause of an agent’s action unless there is a law-like relation between maxims of that kind and actions of that kind. The special capacity to act according to maxims as law-like causes is what Kant calls a will; the basic constitutive principle of the will is a non-normative principle I call the categorical declarative. While the actions of a perfectly good will would be described by the categorical declarative alone, human action is determined not only by the causality of the will, but also by competing causes, namely those stemming from inclination. There is thus need for a causal test for putative maxims. The test contained in the FUL is meant to determine whether an action could be grounded solely on the agent’s maxim, or whether it requires a cause external to the will. This account permits one to build eventual distinctions concerning the morality of actions on prior and independent distinctions concerning their causality. (shrink)
Conservative ethical systems, particularly organized religions, are frequently at odds with the means, if not the goals of the new reproductive technologies. Among the most problematic measures adopted in recent years to allow childless women to raise genetically related offspring is surrogate motherhood. Traditional Jewish law, or Halakha, notwithstanding this reluctance, is, nevertheless, more likely than many others to find reasons to justify the practice, given its well-known stance viz procreation and its leniency regarding the new reproductive technologies. In the (...) following article, we ask whether Halakha, which allows abortion to save the life of a mother, would sanction the employment of a surrogacy arrangement in the case where pregnancy threats her life, in order to save the fetus as well. (shrink)
While the idea of philosophy as conceptual analysis has attracted many adherents and undergone a number of variations, in general it suffers from an authority problem with two dimensions. First, it is unclear why the analysis of a concept should have objective authority: why explicating what we mean should express how things are. Second, conceptual analysis seems to lack intersubjective authority: why philosophical analysis should apply to more than a parochial group of individuals. I argue that Hegel’s conception of social (...) ontology, focused on his concept of “ethical life” (Sittlichkeit), helps to explain how concepts (and their explication) have both objective and intersubjective authority in the social domain. Hegel claims that modern institutions are the product of self-conscious purposes, so that they are conceptually constituted. Concepts do not just represent these objects and so depend on a contingent relation to them. As many contemporary social ontologists agree, this means that our concepts of these institutions are uniquely epistemically “transparent.” They have objective authority. Concepts have intersubjective authority in the modern world as well, according to Hegel. However, I show that this feature of Hegel’s account does not rely on the solution to a philosophical problem. Rather, since the concepts of modern ethical life are “essentially contested,” their content depends on the practical and political agreement of modern subjects. This means that concepts can only have objective authority if some prior intersubjective agreement has been reached. The role of philosophy as conceptual analysis is thus importantly dependent on political developments. (shrink)
In this paper, I contest increasingly common "realist" interpretations of Hegel's theory of "the concept" (der Begriff), offering instead a "isomorphic" conception of the relation of concepts and the world. The isomorphism recommended, however, is metaphysically deflationary, for I show how Hegel's conception of conceptual form creates a conceptually internal standard for the adequacy of concepts. No "sideways-on" theory of the concept-world relationship is envisioned. This standard of conceptual adequacy is also "graduated" in that it allows for a lack of (...) fit between concept and world. The possibility for a "maximally isomorphic" fit between concept and world obtains through the teleological realization of concepts, which marks especially the "artificial" world of human culture (law, art, religion, etc.). Some of the most seemingly exaggerated claims Hegel makes about the concept, I contend, can be understood when we consider the significance Hegel ascribes to human making, which is provided for in his conceptual theory. But my framework provides an interpretive key for the way Hegel sees concepts imperfectly realized in the natural world as well. (shrink)
Traditionally, the ideas of “intuitive” and “discursive” forms of understanding have been seen as near opposites. Whereas an intuitive understanding could have a direct grasp of something, a discursive understanding would always depend on what is given to it, as mediated by concepts. In this essay, I suggest that Paul Ricoeur’s conception of analogy presents a way of overcoming this opposition. For Ricoeur, an analogy works within discursive understanding, but it depends on an eventful insight that leads beyond what is (...) merely given in discourse. The analogy “gives more” for thought. Yet, as I argue, what analogy gives for thought is always explicable in conceptual terms: any intuitive understanding is commensurate with a discursive one. I illustrate Ricoeur’s mediation of discursive and intuitive understanding in particular with his conception of metaphor, which vividly depends on overcoming a discursive contradiction by analogical and intuitive means. Before introducing Ricoeur’s conception, I discuss the Kantian background of the intuitive/discursive distinction. In particular, I suggest how Goethe’s attempt to revitalize a notion of intuitive understanding can be compared to Ricoeur’s conception, though Ricoeur improves upon Goethe by grounding intuition in the specific phenomenon of analogy. (shrink)