Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: [thomism] Re: John Paul II on the anthropological turn in philosophy

Expand Messages
  • Anthony Crifasi
    ... I would dispute that the Meditations were the catalyst for it, since the arguments at the beginning of the Meditations had been around for millenia without
    Message 1 of 36 , Feb 7, 2008
    • 0 Attachment
      jamesmiguez wrote:

      > (The message below was sent to my mailbox, but was addressed to
      > "everyone", so I forwarded the post to the list. : J.)
      >
      > Everyone,
      >
      > Yes, I think we can all conclude that there were multiple factors
      > which caused the "anthropological shift" in philosophy, not simply
      > Descartes meditation alone, I agree, but I think the essential point
      > and the point Pope John Paul II was trying to underscore, was that
      > this turning point, for whatever reason it DID occur (and Descartes
      > meditation was the catalyst for it)

      I would dispute that the Meditations were the catalyst for it, since the
      arguments at the beginning of the Meditations had been around for
      millenia without causing any anthropological shift (both the dream
      argument and the all-powerful deceiver argument were proposed by the
      ancient skeptics, and Descartes' reply via the Cogito was put forth by
      Augustine). That's why I think the shift was more in the *scientific*
      revolution at the time, all of which led straight to subjectivism. For
      example, the analysis of human sensation as specifically a brain event
      (Descartes' scientific innovation) was explicitly put forth by Descartes
      and Hobbes as an argument that sensation is therefore an internal
      experience, not a reception and perception of external qualities. Again,
      the new atomic theory of nature led to a distrust of macroscopic
      sensations as a foundation for scientific knowledge.
    • Anthony Crifasi
      ... I think you d be interested in a similar analysis by Stephen Gaukroger (from a more modern philosophy-of-science point of view) in his book Descartes: An
      Message 36 of 36 , Feb 21, 2008
      • 0 Attachment
        rglencoughlin wrote:

        > Hi Anthony:
        > I tend to agree with some of your analysis of the historical origins
        > of the shift; I only intended to indicate that the sycretic tendency
        > to place Augustine and Descartes together is based upon a misreading
        > of Augustine, which may itself be based upon too quickly identifying
        > an argument for what is thought to be obvious with an argument
        > intended to be used as a first principle. I don't know enough about
        > Descartes to say his scientific enterprise was the real motivation for
        > his philosophy or was not, but I wouldn't be surprised. I am also very
        > skeptical of his claims to prove God exists and so on; I find it
        > unlikely he believed those arguments himself. SO I am predisposed,
        > perhaps, to think his motivations are deliberately masked.

        I think you'd be interested in a similar analysis by Stephen Gaukroger
        (from a more modern philosophy-of-science point of view) in his book
        "Descartes: An Intellectual Biography" (1995, I think). Gaukroger's
        thesis is that Descartes introduced his arguments for God's existence,
        as well as his whole radical skepticism/Cogito procedure in the First
        and Second Meditations, not because he thought they were philosophically
        or scientifically necessary at all, but for a purely pragmatic reason -
        to provide metaphysical cover for his modern science after Galileo was
        condemned. Gaukroger compiles impressive evidence for this thesis - he
        notes that in Descartes' writings before Galileo was condemned, he never
        raises the kind of extreme skepticism that would appear in his First
        Meditation, or the Cogito as an alternative foundation, or proofs for
        God's existence. Then when Galileo was condemned, he withheld his book,
        The World, from publication and wrote in a personal correspondence that
        he feared he was vulnerable to a similar fate, because his own physics
        depended on the same principles as that of Galileo. His next major
        publications were then accompanied by the Discourse, in which his
        argument from extreme sensory doubt and the Cogito occurs for the first
        time. His next major work was the Meditations, where he adds his proof
        for God's existence, and incorporates all sorts of scholastic
        terminology (e.g., soul:body::form:matter) that never appeared in his
        earlier works. So the timeline certainly supports Gaukroger's thesis
        that all this was simply to provide cover for his science after
        Galileo's condemnation, not because he actually thought it was
        philosophically necessary at all.

        If Gaukroger is correct about this, then had Galileo not been condemned,
        Descartes would have just stuck to his purely empirical-scientific work
        and never written the Discourse or Meditations, and therefore have never
        become the father of modern philosophy.
      Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.