This is the blog of the faculty of the Ave Maria University Philosophy Department. We post our philosophical reflections on perennial and contemporary questions as well as on Departmental and University news and other topics of interest.
Fr. Kevin Flannery, S.J., of the Gregorian University in Rome, presents a talk to the Philosophy and Theology faculties, entitled “Two Factors in the Analysis of Cooperation of Evil,” last Monday, November 25th. Fr. Flannery examined St. Alphonsus Liguori’s famous way of drawing a distinction between “formal” and “material” cooperation and considered contemporary applications.
Here and on another blog I have written of the influence of Catholicism on Heidegger’s thought. I have taken those comments (with a few additions) and put them all together in a single short piece that you can find here.
Last Friday, Nov. 15, Dr. Joseph Trabbic presented a paper which he had read at the meeting of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas in Houston last month. The topic of the paper was the status of appeals to authority in St. Thomas Aquinas.
Some recent and eminent interpreters, perhaps overly sensitive to the allegation that Aquinas could not have been a true philosopher, on the grounds that he was intent only on establishing by argument claims that he had already accepted on authority, have wished to hold in reply that Aquinas as a philosopher gave no weight whatsoever to authorities.
Trabbic’s argued that to assert, as Aquinas does, that an appeal to authority in philosophy is “the weakest form of argument,” is not to say that it such appeals have no merit or weight, but rather only limited or provisional weight. And he pointed to at least two ways in which authorities had “epistemic weight” for Aquinas, first, in matters of education, and, second, when one science “takes its principles” from another, superordinate science. (For those interested, Trabbic’s paper is available on Academia.edu.)
The colloquium was held at the residence of Ambassador Michael Novak, a couple of blocks from campus, and was well attended. Below are pictures of Dr. Trabbic, holding forth on St. Thomas while enjoying a brew, very much like the Angelic Doctor himself, and Michael Novak, raising a nuanced point during the discussion. In the background are paintings of Novak’s late wife, Karen Laub-Novak.
Not long ago I was reading William Rowe’s treatment of the cosmological argument in his Philosophy of Religion: An Introduction (4th ed.). According to Rowe, the cosmological argument depends on the principle of sufficient reason (PSR). Rowe might be right but we have to bear in mind that not everyone understands PSR in the same way.
Many Neo-Thomists believe that some version of the principle of sufficient reason is true. As far as I know, Leibniz was the first to coin the term “principle of sufficient reason.” But some Neo-Thomists hold that the principle can be formulated in a non-Leibnizian way — even in a Thomistic way — and legitimately employed.
I just uploaded to my Academia.edu page the paper I gave in Houston at the “Thomas Aquinas: Teacher of Humanity” conference. The conference was held by the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas and co-sponsored by The Center for Thomistic Studies of the University of St. Thomas (Houston) and the John Paul II forum. It started last Thursday and concluded Saturday.
Zenit has published an interview I conducted with John Hittinger (of The Center for Thomistic Studies at the University of St. Thomas, Houston and the John Paul II Forum) about the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas conference this Oct. 17-19 in Houston. You can find the interview here. John is one of the conference organizers.