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Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association

Volume 86, 2012
Philosophy in the Abrahamic Traditions

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Displaying: 1-10 of 29 documents


presidential address
1. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 86
Richard C. Taylor, A Common Negotiation: The Abrahamic Traditions and Philosophy in the Middle Ages
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Classical and Post-Classical Philosophy in the Greek tradition played powerful roles in the formation of philosophical, scientific and theological thought by thinkers in the religious and cultural milieux of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Yet the scriptures, theologies, and fundamental concerns of these Abrahamic religious traditions reciprocally enriched the development of religious thought and secular philosophy and science by prompting ethical, metaphysical, and epistemological questions that have continued to challenge philosophers and theologians up to the present day. While political conflicts of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have led to a public emphasis on distinctions and differences between these faiths, the history of philosophy shows that thinkers of each tradition over the centuries share in the common purpose of seeking to conciliate in a variety of ways the principles and insights of religious beliefs with the truths of secular natural reason into a coherent worldview.
presentation of the aquinas medal
2. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 86
James Hanink, Introduction of the Aquinas Medalist Robert Spaemann
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aquinas medalist’s address
3. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 86
Robert Spaemann, Why There Is No Law without Natural Law
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plenary sessions
4. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 86
Ayman Shihadeh, Aspects of the Reception of Avicenna’s Theory of Prophecy in Islamic Theology
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This paper explores an aspect of the ‘religious’ turn in medieval Arabic philosophy, and how this development culminated in a philosophical turn in medieval Islamic theology. The figure central to both developments is Avicenna (d. 1037), the first philosopher to have a major impact on sections of the mainstream theological scene, thanks in large part to the compelling philosophical system he developed and the fact that he theorised within that system various typically theological subjects using characteristically Islamic language. One such theme is prophecy. The paper shows how Avicenna’s psychological and socio-political theory of prophecy, which clashed with various mainstream theological tenets and hence faced much opposition, was later modified by the influential philosopher and theologian Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (d. 1210), who made this theory much more palatable to theologians. Razi’s innovation was later criticised by Ibn Kammuna (d. 1284), a Jewish member of the Arabic philosophical tradition, since it clashed with traditional Jewish prophetology.
5. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 86
R. E. Houser, Why the Christian Magistri Turned to Arabic and Jewish Falāsifa: Aquinas and Avicenna
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Here, I should like to tell a story, beginning with how the works of Aristotelian philosophy came to exist in Latin translations, then moving to the project of transforming Christian theology into an Aristotelian “science.” After that, I would like to look a bit more closely at the case of Br. Thomas of Aquino and his dependence upon the Muslim philosopher Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna, 980–1037). Finally, I shall end by drawing some wider conclusions based upon this important example.
6. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 86
Barry S. Kogan, Visions, Verities, and Voices: The Love of God and the Pursuit of Wisdom in the Medieval Jewish Tradition
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In this presentation, I set out to clarify, first, what the Jewish tradition finds in the life of Abraham that accords special value to rational reflection and even philosophical inquiry. Second, I examine a specific example of how this characterization and valuation of Abraham plays out within the tradition of medieval Jewish scholastic theology (Kalām) in tenth-century Baghdad by examining Sa‘adia Gaon’s famous “Argument from Time” to establish both the creation of the universe in time and, by implication, the existence of a Creator God. From there, I show how he draws upon the work of John Philoponus (ca. 490–570) in constructing his argument. Third, I present and analyze a well-known philosophical parable that Moses Maimonides (1138–1204), representing the tradition of religious philosophy (Falsafah), introduces early on in The Guide of the Perplexed. This parable deals in a subtle and suggestive way with the possibilities and limitations of trying to free people from perplexity and guide them towards wisdom. It owes a great deal to the work of Abū Bakr ibn al-’ Ṣā’igh, otherwise known as Ibn Bājjah (d. 1138). I conclude with a number of observations on how Maimonides may have interpreted his sources so as to develop his distinctive view of God and how the pursuit of philosophical wisdom is compatible with the love of God.
session i: jewish and arabic philosophers
7. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 86
David Bradshaw, Divine Simplicity and Divine Freedom in Maimonides and Gersonides
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From the standpoint of belief in divine freedom (or, more precisely, divine free choice), the medieval Aristotelian understanding of divine simplicity is deeply problematic. This is for two reasons. First, if the divine will and wisdom are identical, it would seem that God’s action must be wholly determined by His rational apprehension of the good. Second, if the divine will is identical with the divine essence, it would seem that for God to be able to do other than He does would mean that the divine essence could be different. This paper focuses on two leading medieval Jewish Aristotelians, Maimonides and Gersonides, to ascertain their approach to these issues.
8. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 86
Luis Xavier López-Farjeat, Albert the Great between Avempace and Averroes on the Knowledge of Separate Forms
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In Albert’s De anima III, 3, chapters 6–11 there is a discussion on whether the human intellect is able to apprehend only forms abstracted from matter or whether it is possible for it to know something separated from magnitude. If the human intellect is able to understand separate forms, this would mean that some forms are not apprehended with phantasms and magnitude but by the conjunction of the possible intellect and the separate intellect. This matter is quite problematic since it is not clear enough whether separate forms are known through the perfect conjunction of the possible intellect and the agent intellect or by means of the agent intellect which acts both as efficient and formal cause of these forms. Here, I focus on chapter 8 where Albert criticizes Avempace’s doctrine of the intellect, and chapter 11 where he states a resolution to the problem, which is very close to that of Averroes. This exploration illustrates the complexity of the relationship between the philosophies of Albert and Averroes.
session ii: contemporary ethical problems
9. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 86
Bernard G. Prusak, Paying for the Priceless Child
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As the sociologist Viviana Zelizer has observed, the twentieth century saw a “profound cultural transformation in children’s economic and sentimental value”: in brief, “the priceless child displaced the useful child.” Yet, the great value that we place on children of our own has gone hand-in-hand, again in Zelizer’s words, with a “collective indifference to other people’s children.” This paper focuses on the question of public responsibility for children: that is, on who should pay for the priceless child. I claim that, within the framework of a liberal state, public responsibility for children is not inconsiderable, despite and even because of the great value that we place on our own children. To make this case, the paper examines a not so modest proposal: namely, that the family be abolished. I argue that there is good reason to reject this proposal, but that this rejection comes with costs that call for compensation.
10. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 86
John Zeis, What Contradicts Intention
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The controversial Phoenix Hospital case demonstrates that there is significant disagreement in Catholic casuistry on what constitutes intention. Some hold that a causal closeness entails intention, while others deny that there is any necessary connection between causal closeness and intention. One of the strongest supporters of the causal closeness thesis was Elizabeth Anscombe. It will be argued, however, that her works on intention provide support for a position on certain types of cases, such as the Phoenix Hospital case and the termination of an ectopic pregnancy, which contradict intentional killing.