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presidential address
1. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 80
Anthony J. Lisska A Look at Inner Sense in Aquinas: A Long-Neglected Faculty Psychology
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This paper investigates Aquinas’s thought on the vis cogitativa, in order to determine whether Aquinas’s use of the inner sense of the vis cogitative is an embarrassment (as Dorothea Frede recently suggested), or whether it is rather an important element in Aquinas’s philosophy of mind that calls for serious study (as John Haldane argued several years ago in an ACPA plenary address). An examination of Aquinas’s theory of inner sense (as found in the Commentary on Aristotle’s De Anima) reveals that, for Aquinas, the vis cogitativa has two cognitive functions: (1) to be aware of an individual as an individual, and (2) to recognize an individual as a member of a kind. If Aquinas’ philosophy of mind did not include some account of the vis cogitativa, then it would not be able to accommodate what for Aquinas is a principal ontological category (namely, primary substance).
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2. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 80
Alexander Eodice Presentation of the Aquinas Medal
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3. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 80
Anthony Kenny Aquinas Medalist’s Address
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The author begins by observing that he has often been described as an analytical Thomist. He proceeds to argue that—regardless of what school one belongs to—genuine philosophical engagement with Aquinas’s texts means one should be both reverent and critical. If we are to consider the relevance of Aquinas’s thought for contemporary philosophy, the author suggests, the best way for us to write about Aquinas is the way in which he wrote about Aristotle: stating his views as clearly and sympathetically as possible, showing their connection with current concerns, and contesting them politely but firmly if they appear to be erroneous.
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4. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 80
Anthony Kenny The Beginning of Individual Human Life
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This paper explores the issue of when human life begins, giving special attention to the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas’s position is contrasted with the position defended by many Catholics today. After considering the evidence and a variety of arguments, the paper suggests that the individuated human being begins to exist at roughly fourteen days after the moment of conception.
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5. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 80
John Haldane The Metaphysics of Intellect(ion)
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In the heyday of conceptual analysis philosophical psychology was practised without regard to the ontology of mind as that was associated with disputes between materialism and non-materialism. The rise of functionalism, however, led philosophical psychology in the direction of materialism, though with a residue deriving from phenomenal consciousness. This is now widely viewed as ‘the hard problem’ for physicalism and probably an insuperable one for it, raising the spectre of epiphenomenalism. I argue that in fact sensory consciousness is not the greatest challenge to materialism, for that lies with the conceptual intentionality of abstract thought. I make these points in connection with the views of Aquinas and consider two of his arguments (from ST, Ia, q. 75) for the immateriality ofintellectual acts. While finding one inadequate for reasons internal to the Thomist account of cognition, I defend the second against recent critics.
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6. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 80
Kurt Pritzl The Place of Intellect in Aristotle
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This paper explores Aristotle’s account of the human intellect, with special emphasis on how this account relates to Aristotle’s treatment of nature. In his complex account of the intellect, Aristotle distinguishes very broadly between two types of intellection. One type (nous) involves the reception of what things are and is non-discursive in character, while the other type (dianoia) is the result of intellectual activity and is discursive in character. While Aristotle affirms that both types of thinking are distinctive and essential functions of the intellect, it is also clear that dianoia presupposes nous, insofar as dianoia assumes as given what nous has received. This paper also investigates Aristotle’s account of truth, arguing that the very principles of the intellect’s functioning are naturally given to the intellect. Given Aristotle’s account of the intellect as well as his account of truth and the principle of non-contradiction, one can see that, for Aristotle, nature has a primacy relative to the intellect.
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7. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 80
Jonathan J. Sanford Aristotle’s Divided Mind: Some Thoughts on Intellectual Virtue and Aristotle’s Occasional Dualism
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In this paper I focus on a few of the passages in the Nicomachean Ethics that challenge the standard hylomorphic interpretation of Aristotle’s anthropology. I proceed by reflecting on the manner in which Aristotle’s two ways of characterizing the human person follow from his accounts of the two most important intellectual virtues, phronesis and sophia. I attempt to argue for the following three points: first, that Aristotle’s presentation of a divided mind is the result of his consistency rather than inconsistency; second, that there is not a clear way found in his Nicomachean Ethics to overcome this dual anthropology without doing violence to his account of intellectual virtue; and third, that there are several reasons why this dual anthropology should not be regarded as an aporetic failure.
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8. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 80
Jean De Groot A Husserlian Perspective on Empirical Mathematics in Aristotle
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Examples are presented of Aristotle’s use of non-idealized mathematics. Distinctions Husserl makes in Crisis help to delineate the features of this empiricalmathematics, which include the non-persistence of mathematical aspects of things and the selective application of mathematical traits and proper accidents. In antiquity, non-abstracted mathematics was involved with practical sciences that treat motion. The suggestion is made that these sciences were incorporated by Aristotle into natural philosophy without first being abstracted as pure mathematics—a state of affairs not envisioned by Husserl, for whom science recast natural ontology by means of the idealization of pure mathematics. The relation of empirical mathematics to life-world ontology is considered.
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9. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 80
Gloria Wasserman Thomas Aquinas on Truths About Nonbeings
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In De veritate I.2, Thomas Aquinas claims that “to every true act of understanding there must correspond some being and likewise to every being there corresponds a true act of understanding.” For Aquinas, the ratio of truth consists in a conformity between intellect and being. This account of truth, however, doesnot appear to allow for a certain class of truths, namely those that are about nonbeings. Many think that it is true that ‘no chimeras exist,’ that ‘blindness can becaused by exposure to bright lights,’ and that ‘evil should be avoided.’ Yet, in each of these cases of truth, there does not appear to be a being to which the intellectconforms. In this paper, I will explore the ways in which Aquinas’s notion of truth as “conformity to being” is able to accommodate truths about nonbeings.
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10. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 80
Stephen Pimentel Formal Identity as Isomorphism in Thomistic Philosophy of Mind
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A central problem within an influential strand of recent philosophy of mind has been to explain the “conformity of mind to thing” that characterizes knowledge. John Haldane has argued that this problem can be best addressed by a development of Thomas Aquinas’s account of the “formal identity” of the knowing subject with the object known. However, such a development is difficult to present in a manner perspicuous to a contemporary audience. This paper seeks to present a persuasive account of formal identity, taking sensory cognition of the individual object as the primary case for examination. Formal identity is initially explored usingthe notion of encoding, or the systematic transfer of information reflecting efficient and formal causal processes. The mathematical notion of “isomorphism” is thenemployed to describe precisely the features of encoding needed for formal identity. Forms are defined as formally identical if and only if they are isomorphic.
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11. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 80
Benjamin Hill Why We Can No Longer Rationally Believe That Our Intellective Soul is a Substantial Form: On the Degringolade of the Simplicity Argument
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The most pedigreed line of thought about mind is the simplicity argument: that the unity of thinking entails the simplicity, immateriality, and immortality of soul. It is widely taken to be a rationalist argument, as opposed to an empiricist or peripatetic argument (see Mijuskovic, The Achilles of Rationalist Arguments), which was completely destroyed by Kant in the First Critique. In this paper it is argued that there is a conceptual connection between the downfall of the Aristotelian conception of soul as substantial form and the downfall of this argument in that in the downfall of the Aristotelian conception of soul it became acceptable to view the functional unity of a material system as constituting a genuine unity per se. This then undermined all philosophical motivation for the postulation of substantial forms. As a result, there was no longer reason for rooting the unity of apperception in the simplicity of a subsistence soul as opposed to some simply emergent power of thinking.
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12. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 80
H. M. Giebel The Separate Minds of Church and State: Collective Mental States and Th eir Unsettling Implications
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Claims regarding collective or group mental states are fairly commonplace: we speak of things like the belief of the Church, the will of the faculty, and the opinion of the Supreme Court, often without considering what such claims really mean and whether they are true in any interesting sense. In this paper I take a threefold approach: first, I articulate several ways in which a group might be said to have beliefs and other mental states. Second, I explore the implications, positive and negative, of these accounts of collective mental states. Third, I give a brief defense of my own view despite its somewhat disturbing implications for our membership in Church, State, and other groups.
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13. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 80
Richard C. Taylor Abstraction in al-Fârâbî
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Al-Fârâbî’s thought on intellect was known to the Latin West through the translation of his Letter on the Intellect, through the Long Commentary on the De Anima by Averroes and through some other works. Al-Fârâbî identified the active power of intellect in Aristotle’s De Anima 3.5 as the unique and separately existing Agent Intellect, but the role of the Agent Intellect in forming intelligibles in act in the human soul is by no means unequivocally clear. Further, the apprehension of intelligibles by human beings and the intellectual development of the soul, oftentimes described as an activity of abstracting (intaza`a), seems to be a genuineabstraction from experience, yet it somehow involves the emanative power of the Agent Intellect. This paper works to provide a coherent explanation of the natureof abstraction and the role of Agent Intellect in that activity.
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14. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 80
Jon McGinnis Making Abstraction Less Abstract: The Logical, Psychological, and Metaphysical Dimensions of Avicenna’s Theory of Abstraction
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A debated topic in Avicennan psychology is whether for Avicenna abstraction is a metaphor for emanation or to be taken literally. This issue stems from the deeper philosophical question of whether humans acquire intelligibles externally from an emanation by the Active Intellect, which is a separate substance, or internally from an inherently human cognitive process, which prepares us for an emanation from the Active Intellect. I argue that the tension between thesedoctrines is only apparent. In his logical works Avicenna limns an account where through the internal human process of abstraction accidents accruing to an essence existing in matter are extracted, thus preparing the essence for new accidents emanating externally from the Active Intellect, which make the essence something conceptualized in the intellect. This study, then, outlines the epistemological and metaphysical framework presented in the logical works that underpins Avicenna’s theory of abstraction presented in his psychological works.
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15. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 80
John Zeis Evidentialism and Faith: Believing in Order to Know
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Evidentialism is generally taken to be a position which is not friendly to a religious epistemology. However, in this paper, I will argue for a religious epistemology which is compatible with fundamental tenets of an evidentialist position on epistemic justification. It is a position which entails both a “will to believe” which goes beyond the standard evidentialist principles governing the appropriate doxastic attitude towards a proposition, but nonetheless satisfies epistemic principles at the basis of an evidentialist position on justification. If my argument is successful, a proponent of a conception of religious faith may be able to have her cake and eat it too: namely, she may be able to fundamentally accept both the evidentialist demand that epistemically rational belief fit, or be supported by evidence as well as the position that rational faith is willing belief beyond what one’s evidence strictly demands.
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16. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 80
Bernardo Cantens Cognitive Faculties and Evolutionary Naturalism
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In Warrant and Proper Function Plantinga argues that his natural view of warrant is best understood within a supernatural ontology. A central reason why anaturalistic ontology cannot accommodate his version of natural epistemology is that it cannot explain the reliability of cognitive functions. He presents argumentsfor the following two conclusions: (1) that naturalism is probably false; and (2) that naturalism is irrational. He considers the latter to be his main argument. Theobjective of this paper is to refute Plantinga’s arguments for the conclusion that naturalism is irrational. I will demonstrate that given naturalistic evolution, we havereason to believe that it is likely that we would develop reliable cognitive theoretical faculties. As a result, a naturalist has sufficient epistemic ground to maintain the reasonableness of the view that her theoretical cognitive faculties are reliable and her theoretical beliefs true. It is, therefore, not irrational to be a naturalist.
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17. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 80
William Jaworski Hylomorphism and Post-Cartesian Philosophy of Mind
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Descartes developed a compelling characterization of mental and physical phenomena which has remained more or less canonical for Western philosophy ever since. The greatest testament to the power of Cartesian thinking is its ubiquity. Even philosophers who are critical of post-Cartesian anthropology (philosophers,for instance, who are self-professed exponents of one or another form of hylomorphism) nevertheless tacitly endorse Cartesian assumptions. Part of what leads to this strange inconsistency is that by and large philosophers no longer know what a non-Cartesian anthropology looks like. I discuss some commitments characteristic of post-Cartesian philosophy of mind, and present an alternative conception of psychological phenomena more consistent with a hylomorphic framework.
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18. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 80
David B. Hershenov Shoemaker’s Problem of Too Many Thinkers
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Shoemaker maintains that when a functionalist theory of mind is combined with his belief about individuating properties and the well-known cerebrumtransplant thought experiment, the resulting position will be a version of the psychological approach to personal identity that can avoid The Problem of Too Many Thinkers. I maintain that the costs of his solution—that the human animal is incapable of thought—are too high. Shoemaker also has not provided an argumentagainst there existing a merely conscious being that is not essentially self-conscious but is spatially coincident with a person who is essentially self-conscious. Both the person and the merely sentient being will be transplanted when the cerebrum is. And another thought experiment will make it impossible for Shoemaker to identify the person and the merely conscious being.
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19. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 80
Stephen R. Grimm The Need for Explanation in the Philosophy of Mind: A Case Study
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Explanatory inquiry characteristically begins with a certain puzzlement about the world. But why do certain situations elicit our puzzlement (or curiosity) while others leave us, in some epistemically relevant sense, cold? Moreover, what exactly is involved in the move from a state of puzzlement to a state where one’s puzzlement is satisfied? In this paper I try to make sense of these questions by focusing on two case studies, one from the popular literature on string theory and one from recent debates in the philosophy of mind.
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20. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 80
Michael Schrynemakers Vagueness and Pointless Evil
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Many theists and atheists believe that God would not permit an evil unless God’s allowing it (or an evil at least as bad) is required for a greater good. In “The Argument from Particular Horrendous Evils” (and elsewhere) Peter van Inwagen has argued against this belief by appealing to his “No Minimum Claim” (NMC), namely, that it is reasonable to believe there is no minimum amount of evil required for God’s purposes. In this paper I distinguish different formulations of NMC, and, by drawing an instructive parallel to traditional sorites paradoxes, refute Jeff Jordan’s criticism that because morally significant suffering is finitelydiminishable, NMC must be false.
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