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Re: Aristotle the "pagan"

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  • jamesmiguez
    ... You are mistaken, no one labeled Aristotle a pagan philosopher , this is your term which you have introduced by way of complaint, and by way of a new
    Message 1 of 66 , Mar 21, 2008
      --- In thomism@yahoogroups.com, "vespatian75" <vespatian75@...> wrote:
      > I think that the tendency to lable Aristotle as a "pagan philosopher"
      > is unfortunate.

      You are mistaken, no one labeled Aristotle a "pagan philosopher", this is  your term which you have introduced by way of complaint, and by way of a new thread.  This therefore, in terms of previous discussions which have actually occurred on this list, is a straw man.

      > It follows the annoying practice in modern discourse to
      > emphasize irrelevant characteristics of an individual to demean his
      > importance. Thus Shakespeare becomes "a dead white male" much like Tim
      > the blacksmith who cared for his horse.

      No one is demeaning the importance of Aristotle, and if you actually read the discussion, or produced some actual quotes from it in context, you will see that the discussion revolves around theology and not philosophy per se, and what is important is to draw out the differences between thomist theology which is thoroughly Christian, and that of Aristotle's, which is hardly Christian, or Judaic, or Islamic for that matter. 

      > The relevance of Aristotle both
      > to Aquinas and to modern thought does not consist in his paganism which
      > he shared with 100% of ancient Greece and 99.9% of the pre Christian
      > World, but his contribution to rational thought which he raised to its
      > summit.

      Once again we are not talking about Aristotle's "contribution to rational thought", but his theology and his notion of God which, as found in his works, is inconsistent in regard to the prime mover (and unsatisfactory in other respects) and hardly a "summit" in terms of theology, which is what the discussion is about.

      > Setting aside his contribution to logic, political theory,
      > literary criticism, and philosophy of science, Aristotle's importance
      > to natural theology is that he is the bedrock on which philosophical
      > monotheism rests as Aquinas, Averoes, Avicenna, and Maimonides all
      > recognize. Aquinas referred to him as "the philosopher", not the "pagan
      > philosopher"

      It is not true that he is the bedrock upon which philosophical monotheism rests, as you put it.  The Greeks had a pantheon of Gods, and Aristotle stated a plurality of prime movers both in the Physics and in the Metaphysics.  Aquinas on the other hand held the necessity of revelation even in matters about God that may be known by human reason alone.

      He writes:

      Even as regards those truths about God which human reason could have discovered, it was necessary that man should be taught by a divine revelation; because the truth about God such as reason could discover, would only be known by a few, and that after a long time, and with the admixture of many errors. Whereas man's whole salvation, which is in God, depends upon the knowledge of this truth. Therefore, in order that the salvation of men might be brought about more fitly and more surely, it was necessary that they should be taught divine truths by divine revelation. It was therefore necessary that besides philosophical science built up by reason, there should be a sacred science learned through revelation.   (STh I, 1, 1)

      Critical issues aside it is important to draw the distinction between thomist theology in specific and Catholic theology in general, and Aristotle's basically pagan theology.

      This I have done.


    • jamesmiguez
      ... the ... The point is not excluding teleology from physics so much, although this is exactly what modern physics does, and it is why it is so successful;
      Message 66 of 66 , May 31, 2008
        --- In thomism@yahoogroups.com, Anthony Crifasi <crifasian@...> wrote:
        > For Aristotle, final causality is exhibited by EVERY natural body, not
        > just by ones that exhibit voluntary movement. Even if we leave aside the
        > movements of inanimate bodies, there would still be plants, which
        > Aristotle says clearly exhibit final causality in how they grow,
        > develop, and survive. Aquinas calls this a "natural" appetite, as
        > opposed to the rational appetite or will. So unless you are excluding
        > teleology from physics and biology (which would basically make you a
        > Cartesian), I don't see why you are excluding "the desirable" from
        > natural movement.

        The point is not excluding teleology from physics so much, although this is exactly what modern physics does, and it is why it is so successful; rather the point is that Aristotle on your reading excludes efficient or moving causality from his discussion of unmoved mover(s) and the spheres.  Or to put this interpretation simply, he excludes efficient causality from a full-blown discussion of cosmology and God.

        This however is what the Franciscan nominalist tradition beginning with Buridan does not do, and this is why the Franciscan discussion of God and cosmology led to the birth of modern science in all its applications.

        I am simply tracing this very interesting development.

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