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1. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 80
Lorelle Lamascus Aquinas and Themistius on Intellect
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Aquinas puts forward two different, and conflicting, interpretations of Themistius’s account of the intellect. In his earlier interpretation of Themistius, Aquinas understands him to hold the position that both the possible and agent intellect are separate and incorruptible, existing apart from individual human souls but shared in by individual souls in the process of knowing. In De unitate intellectus contra averroistas, however, Aquinas radically departs from this reading, hailing Themistius as a genuine interpreter of the Peripatetic position, while decrying Averroes’s perversion of both Themistius and Aristotle. This paper examines these competing interpretations of Themistius’s account of the intellect in his Commentary on the De anima of Aristotle, focusing on two issues central to its interpretation: (1) the nature of intellect insofar as it is separate, impassive, and unmixed, and (2) whether the productive intellect is one or many.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 80
Jörg Alejandro Tellkamp Aquinas on Intentions in the Medium and in the Mind
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In his philosophical works, Aquinas spends some effort establishing why cognitive beings differ from those that are not able to have a cognitive, i.e., intentional, grasp of the exterior world. Prima facie, the matter is clear, since only those beings acquire knowledge that have the proper powers to do so. One remark, however, while discussing the nature of change in the process of visual perception, strikes the reader as particularly odd, since Aquinas states that “a ‘spiritual alteration’ occurs in virtue of a species’ being received in a sense organ or in the medium in the manner of an intention.” Whereas it is not problematic to think that perceptions and thoughts are intentional, it seems peculiar to talk of the species in the medium as being received “in the manner of an intention.” While current interpretations propose that Aquinas’s account is either erroneous or in need of rectification, I would like to argue that the notion of mind-independent or non-cognitive intentions, which follows the Avicennian tradition, is rooted in a peculiar theory of sensible form. Given that the intentions in the medium make sense, it is, however, important to show that they differ from those intentions that are apprehended by cognitive powers. For this purpose, I will try to trace the underlying physics for cognitive change, showing that an account in terms of qualitative change leads one to posit a proper recipient of sensible forms, i.e., the sense powers.
5. 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.
6. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 80
Alexander Eodice Presentation of the Aquinas Medal
7. 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.
8. 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).
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 80
Treasurer’s Report (2005)
18. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 80
Minutes of the 2006 Executive Council Meeting
19. 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.
20. 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.