Monday, January 14, 2013

A Definition of Medieval Logic

From a forthcoming book advertised on, entitled Later Medieval Metaphysics: Ontology, Language, and Logic. Chapter 8 is called "The Power of Medieval Logic" and is written by Terence Parsons.  Here is his definition of medieval logic:

The first task is to decide what to count as medieval logic. Medieval logic consists of centuries of work by some very smart people working in a difficult area. I will be libertine about what is included in medieval logic. If any medieval logician ever said it, and if it is worthwhile, it is part of medieval logic.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Is the Absolute Primacy of Christ A-Historical?

Fr. Maximiliam Mary has a post up here defending the primacy of Christ against a Jesuit critic on the issue of whether contrafactuals are ahistorical. There is also a link in the article to an article written by Dietrich von Hildebrand about Teillard de Chardin, who may not be the most relevant theologian today, but one does here his name mentioned from time to time.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cardinal Burke on Scotus

Cardinal Burke was in Wisconsin blessing a statue of Scotus.  Here is his homily on the occasion, here is the video.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Thomism and the Magisterium

From time to time I receive emails about Thomism and whether one is required to hold, in the Church of Today, Thomistic theses instead of Scotistic ones.  So here I summarize my views/posts on the matter.

There are numerous Thomist links one could post about how one must in some way be Thomist.

There have been posts to the contrary on this blog about these issues before,
Here. Here. And the Church Authority category on the sidebar.

The reason for this is that the popes have authoritatively proclaimed that the 'perennial philosophy' is a necessary foundation for Catholic dogma and Aquinas is the primary exponent of this philosophy.

My thoughts on the matter are thus (and my co-blogger should feel free to add/revise this post):

1. The magisterial prescriptions generally recommend Aquinas as a model, but do not prescribe particular doctrines as to be held. But everyone admits Aquinas is great and a model for theologizing or philosophizing in accordence with the Church.  But this isn't very helpful in determining whether the real distinction between essence and existence is a point of dogma. When particular doctrines are mentioned, they are ones that all or most of the scholastics agree about, such as the existence of God, or divine conservation.

2. Current canon law mentions Aquinas only once, in canon 252.3; but this only states that seminarians should be educated in Thomism. Again, it does not prescribe any particular thesis. Fr. Z claims that Aquinas is mentioned implicitly in canon 151; this canon mandates that seminarians be educated in philosophy by recourse to the perennial philosophy.  

3. There is also this shocking statement from JP II's Veritatis splendor: "Certainly the Church's Magisterium does not intend to impose upon the faithful any particular theological system, still less a philosophical one."

For the sake of argument, let's assume the opposite: Thomism is universally binding on every catholic, down to its particular theses.  What might follow?

1. Philosophy is destroyed and we are left with fideism.

2. Theology becomes mere commentary on Aquinas through the adjudication of the Thomistic commentary tradition.

3. Papal interventions will be required to dogmatically establish the interpretations of Thomistic texts (if the real distinction between essence and existence is a Thomistic thesis it is dogmatic; but some thomists have denied that Aquinas holds that essence and existence are really distinct; ergo we need authoritative interpretations of Aquinas' texts.

4. The Immaculate conception will have to be abandoned.

So it seems that the individual catholic philosopher can think what he/she/ likes (given that it does not contradict revealed truth).  This shouldn't surprise the non-Thomist overmuch. When one looks at the context and objects of the early modern statements on Thomism, they are generally directed at modern novelties, not novelties within the Scholastic tradition.

There you have it; the combox awaits.


Commentator Jared has posted some printed sources that bear on the question, which I repost here.

Willibrord Lampen, Bl. Ioannes Duns Scotus et Sancta Sedes (Rome, 1929).

Franz Pelster, “The Authority of St. Thomas in Catholic Schools and Sacred Sciences," Franciscan Studies 13 (1953): 1-26.

Charles Balić, “Duns Scotus in the Present Moment of the Church” in Scotus Speaks Today: 1266-1966: Seventh Centenary Symposium (Southfield, MI: Duns Scotus College, 1966), 21-62

Also, Fr. Finigan has a post from several years ago about this, which involved one of the commentators who has posted here. Fr. Finigan posts the quote from Denzinger about the letter of the Jesuits to the pope about the 24 Thomistic theses.

Another update:

An essay on "traditionalism" that contains relevant material.