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Having read much lately around the web concerning presuppositionalism, scripturalism, evidentialism, justified true belief, Gettier problems, undefeatbility, and so on, I thought I’d take a moment to hearken back to the priority of ontology vis-a-vis epistemology.

St. Thomas, following Aristotle, teaches that the intelligible being, the intelligible reality, existing in sense objects is the first object of the first act of our intellect, i. e.: that apprehension which precedes the act of judging. Listen to his words: “The intellect’s first act is to know being, reality, because an object is knowable only in the degree in which it is actual. Hence being, entity, reality, is the first and proper object of understanding, just as sound is the first object of hearing.” (‘Primo in conceptione intellectus cadit ens; quia secundum hoc unumquodque cognoscibile est in quantum est actu; unde ens est proprium objectum intellectus et sic est primum intelligibile, sicut sonus est primum audibile.’ Ia, q. 5, a. 2. Cf. also Ia, q. 85, a3; Ia IIae, q. 94, a. 2; Cont. Gent.: II, 83; De veritate, q. 1, a. I.)

-Reginald Garrigou-LaGrange, Reality: a Synthesis of Thomistic Thought, ch. 4

Our thoughts about truth are thoughts about objects of truth. That is, they are about objective reality. Reality, of course, is that which exists; that which is most or most truly real is that which exists in actuality and not in potentiality. So, the most real is that about which (Whom, actually) it cannot be stated that A) it is in some way not (about which, more, presently), B) it is in some way in potentiality, C) it is in some way contingent, and D) it is in some way terminable.

We think, which is action. Our thoughts are thus real, because they happen; they do not reside in some “potentiality.” I am not sure when people first started proposing or believing (also actions, of course) that thought was less real, not real, or the like. I don’t think it’s debatable that angelic forces are the impetus for such proto-gnosticism. We contend with principalities and powers (Eph. 6:12) who, as we also read in chapter 23 of Garrigou-LaGrange’s book, are described thus: “The nature of his ideas, at once universal and concrete, make the angel’s knowledge intuitive, not in any way successive and discursive. He sees at a glance the particular in the universal, the conclusion in the principle, the means in the end.”

For the same reason his act of judging does not proceed by comparing and separating different ideas.  By his purely intuitive apprehension of the essence of a thing, he sees at once all characteristics of that essence, for example, he simultaneously sees all man’s human and created characteristics, for instance, that man’s essence is not man’s existence, then man’s existence is necessarily given and preserved by divine causality.

Why this immense distance between angel and man? Because, seeing intuitively, the angel sees without medium, as in clearest midday, an immensely higher object, sees the intelligible world of spirits, whereas man’s intellect, the most feeble of all intellects, having as object the lowest order of intelligibility, must be satisfied with twilight glances into the faint mirror of the sense world.

A further consequence is that the angel’s intuitive vision is also infallible. But while he can make no mistake in his natural knowledge, he can deceive himself in the supernatural order, on the question, for example, whether this or that individual man is in the state of grace. Likewise he may deceive himself in forecasting the contingent future, above all in attempting to know the future free acts of men, or the immanent secrets of man’s heart, secrets which are in no way necessarily linked with the nature of our soul or with external physical realities. The secrets of the heart are not fragments of the material world, they do not result from the interplay of physical forces.



TF recently posted this. Relying on secular media accounts while not utilizing good critical thinking skills seems to have recurred as a theme.

There is a large measure of infection of enlightenment and protestant weltanschauung in modern Catholicism because the same enemy who attacked the Church to subvert it with doctrinal chaos is still attacking it for the same reason. The fact that there are orthodox Catholics and unorthodox Catholics says nothing about the regula fide of Catholicism. You have asserted that but not demonstrated it. The contention that sola scriptura as a regula fide, however, leads to disunity and doctrinal chaos can be and has been demonstrated (because of its very nature). Your argument, such as it is, hangs on the premise that doctrinal disunity among Catholics is among Catholics who share the same faith and understand and adhere to it equally; this is qualitatively different from protestants who understand and adhere to sola scriptura protestantisms equally yet arrive at wildly disparate conclusions.

Dim Bulb posts a great sermon of St. Thomas Aquinas in anticipation of Pentecost. I am going to revise the sidebar link to direct readers to his most recent website. Make sure you peruse DB’s stuff: it’s a goldmine, folks.

This made me chuckle. Because what Madrid did is totally different from, you know, establishing a blog on the internet and publishing on controversial topics and then requiring registration, heavily screening, and refusing to publish a significant amount of critical comments from numerous readers while choosing to remain pseudonymous and refusing to provide credentials. It’s completely different! Wholly unlike that other thing altogether, I tell you! Not even in the same ballpark. No sir.


I respond to a recent criticism by TF (responding to a criticism of mine).
It’s my position that Luke 1:45 refers to the gracious bestowal of perfect knowledge to Mary by “the Lord.” Mary then proceeds to respond to this exclamation made by Elizabeth who was “filled with the holy Ghost,” by elaborating exactly that which was delivered to her by the Lord and on which she believed. The content of that includes the makariousin which is an indicative future 3 person plural active voice verb, as I am given to understand it. This is done immediately after Mary’s imperative to Elizabeth (idou = “be cognizant,” “be aware,” “behold,” “be perceiving”). It is also my position that in light of that imperative, Mary was expressing an aspect of that part of the deposit given to her by the Lord (by way of the angel Gabriel). This deposit was later recorded by Luke under inspiration as well. In your parsing of it, you split it up into bits which you wish to consider inspired and bits which you wish to characterize as “possibly” “hyperbolic.”

A number of questions arise. Are there grammatical concerns which would have rendered a second imperative in v. 47 awkward, improbable, impossible? Is it more reasonable to consider the remark (makariousin) in the context I have just laid out as also inspired or more reasonable to consider it uninspired? The entire passage of Luke 1 makes it clear that the makariousin ought also to be considered both inspired and imperative, despite your objection in isolating the parsing of the Greek word as being definitive for your case. That’s what I meant by pedantic and disingenuous. Not that you were dealing in trivia (for we are not) nor that you were being dishonest (for I don’t believe you were). Rather, you were concentrating on the trees and missing the forest.

My knowledge of Greek is not spectacular. I am not a trained scholar. You haven’t given us any reason to think you are either. Perhaps to clarify you could offer credentials, and also address my questions above. I use various resources to help me in my Scripture studies. Among them are texts of Greek instruction, but I am no expert and am an autodidact. You may respond or not as you wish.

I was reading Reginald de Piperno yesterday about the “Liars at the door.” Later, I stumbled on an article in which Elizabeth Shipp, the political director for NARAL Pro-Choice America, was quoted as saying “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Gov. Palin sounds remarkably pro-choice,” in response to remarks that Gov. Palin had made here in Indiana at a recent pro-life event. Gov. Palin had indicated that “for a fleeting moment” she had considered and then dismissed abortion when she discovered that her son Trig had a chromosomal abnormality.

As a human person, with human failings and human emotional conflicts, I would imagine that Gov. Palin probably did have abortion cross her mind. How could a woman in 21st century, post Roe v. Wade America not have it enter her consciousness, however briefly? To insinuate that this somehow makes her “pro-choice” is typical of the lying advocates of murder at the aforementioned organization. Which brings up an interesting point: anyone notice their shiny, new moniker? “NARAL Pro-Choice America.” I remember what NARAL stands for, because they used to be comfortable advertising it: the National Abortion Rights Action League. (They briefly flirted with the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, but apparently they realized that “reproductive rights” conjures up images of, well, reproduction, i.e., little babies. Little baby people. Little itty-bitty human people. Like the ones GE’s Voluson 4D ultrasound imaging medical device shows clearly. Just formless, lifeless cell masses, folks, nothing to see here, move along. It’s above our paygrade, anyway. Clearly it’s a matter of faith as to when human life begins. Oops! Dang! Ka-pow! As the GE video says at one point, “let your eyes decide.”) But I suppose focus-groups told them that the new name had more broad-based appeal. You know. The better to solicit funds from. (But they’re not about making money, folks, they’re about “protecting freedoms.” And I’m the greatest guitarist on the planet. No, really. Check out my vast array of studio work as a fill-in for Page, Clapton, Vaughan, and Beck. All me.)

What really gets me is crap like this:

In 1973, the Supreme Court guaranteed American women the right to choose abortion in its landmark decision Roe v. Wade. In Roe, the Court issued a compromise between the state’s ability to restrict abortion and a woman’s right to choose.

Some compromise! This is exactly like saying that income taxation is a compromise between the individual’s right to keep his earnings and the state’s desire to redistribute wealth. (If you don’t like taxes, don’t pay them. It’s voluntary.)  Oh, but wait, noone is forced to “choose” abortion, Syzygus. No, that’s the difference. Perhaps. For now. But let’s see what happens when “universal healthcare” (an inevitability) is enacted, and bureaucratic ethicists are the ones informing the people who make decisions about “healthcare,” shall we? Let’s see: we’ve rescinded the Mexico City policy. We’ve lifted restrictions on federal funding of abortions and embryonic stem-cell research (despite the utter failure that avenue has proven to be, and in the face of the numerous successes of adult pluripotent stem-cell research, which does not destroy human life). Does anyone seriously believe, in the face of shrieking radicals like Katherine Hancock Ragsdale, that the status quo is even possible? 

Then there’s this gem: “Even with Roe v. Wade’s protections still in place, 87 percent of U.S. counties have no abortion provider.” All because those “furiously working anti-choice” zealots are tirelessly trying to make abortion access impossible. Doesn’t have anything to do with most doctors realizing a fundamental disconnect between helping people, saving lives, providing good healthcare and the provision of abortion. No sir. Or ma’am. Or [insert term-of-choice for your transgendered status here].

And I like this one, too:

RU 486 should not be confused with emergency contraception, also known as the “morning-after” pill, which is a basic form of birth control that prevents pregnancy and does not cause abortion.

Howler! Mifepristone is RU-486, and mifepristone is also a “morning after pill.” But they’re not the same; you see, one acts an abortifacient, and the other (same) thing doesn’t. (Of course, either way, a conceived human person is prevented from being allowed to have its rights of choice, etc., but what are you, some kind of extremist?)


File:Korean Game from the Carpenter Collection, ca. 1910-1920.jpg

-Korean couple in traditional garb at a game of baduk, called “go” in the West

When I was a boy, my older brother taught me to play chess, and I enjoyed it. When I was around 12, I think, I received a game called “Pente” as a Christmas present. This, I learned from my uncle, is a novel variation of the above mentioned Oriental game. I loved Pente. I took to it like a duck takes to water; I was instantly successful, unbeatable. I liked it so much that noone in my family wanted to play with me after a while. I had a best friend who played with me; eventually he, too, refused. Then, in a fit of desperation, I happened to ask his older sister to play me. She quickly beat me. Then again. And again. I played her many times over the next few years, but I never beat her. Not once.

I learned the value of humility. I learned the value of tactics. I learned the value of strategy. I learned the difference. I learned about pacing and self-discipline. I learned about knowing when to not start a game. (Partially as a result of this, perhaps, I never went to the casinos in nearby Reno when I was stationed in NoCal.) In short, I learned to begin to practice the virtue of prudence.

Ecclesiastes 1:17-18 says, “And I have given my heart to know prudence, and learning, and errors, and folly: and I have perceived that in these also there was labour, and vexation of spirit, because in much wisdom there is much indignation: and he that addeth knowledge, addeth also labour.”

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The beginning of wisdom is the beginning of work. The vexation of our confounded sprits arises, no doubt, at least partially from the struggle to re-integrate our selves and work to order our desires, passions, thoughts, and speech through action.

We begin to tread the path in footsteps lain heretofore. There is nothing and yet everything controversial about this. We begin to have our restless spirits soothed by the Comforter as we set about to do the labour we discover as knowledge and responsibility increase. The more we do, the more we realize it is God Who is at work, in us, to will and to do. And it is we who work. The more we work, the more we suffer. The older we grow, the more we suffer. The more we suffer, the more we have the opportunity to “offer it up,” as they say, and in so doing, participate in the universal Christian calling St. Paul talked about in the eighth chapter of Romans, especially vv. 13-17.

I started this post after reflecting quite a bit on whether to post a rather lengthy reaction to what amounts to sheer hypocrisy among several online authors, some with whom I generally disagree, and one with whom I generally agree. In the end, I believe prudence dictates that I follow the course of keeping close counsel. I would rather expend my limited time continuing projects I had long ago set out to pursue. So, God willing, more epistemological investigations, more philosophical meanderings, more groundwork, and more cultural explorations are afoot.

Check out the new all-star site I just added to the sidebar, Called to Communion.  It holds forth the hope of reconciliation and reunification of the Reformed and Catholic Christians. What a worthy adventure! I, for one, will be actively praying for the success of the contributors and readers/commentors, and for the magnification of God’s glory sure to result from their efforts. Godspeed, gents.

I can’t get over the embarrassment of having forgotten to include The Western Confucian until now, but he’s there now and the sidebar has been attended to.

Randy over at Purify Your Bride (go Flames, eh?) is writing some great stuff, so please visit him (via my link, or just get there). His exchange with the EO Chris is good, non-technical, accessible but strongly faithful defense of the papacy. Encourage the brother, please.