Friday, May 20, 2022

Self-proclaimed 'Anti-Christ'

On Nietzsche, from the Pillars of Unbelief series, by Peter Kreeft, Boston College.

"He scorned reason as well as faith, often deliberately contradicted himself, said that "a sneer is infinitely more noble that a syllogism" and appealed to passion, rhetoric and even deliberate hatred rather than reason.

"He saw love as 'the greatest danger' and morality as mankind's worst weakness."

See Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, in Great Books of the Western World (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 43

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Reading Rat - April 2022

Aquinas Leadership International

Announcements

Events

Selections at the blog Conference Calendar page

Calendar for selected Book discussions groups

Articles, Essays, Reviews

The Other Milwaukee Brewers: Before the Brewers take the field, check out the long-forgotten 1905 team that shared the same name. By John Gurda, Milwaukee Magazine.

Marriage and maximization

Review by Robert M. Whaples, Wake Forest University, of Aquinas and the Market: Toward a Humane Economy, by Mary L. Hirschfeld, at The Independent Review.

"Hirschfeld has a unique perspective. She earned a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University, achieved tenure at an excellent liberal arts college, and then earned a Ph.D. in moral theology before restarting her academic career. Observing economics from the inside, she appreciates both its strengths and its shortcomings. It is a powerful tool for understanding the world, for inquiring into—as Adam Smith put it—'the nature and causes of the wealth of nations.' But, as Hirschfeld convincingly argues, it cannot stand on its own. In particular, one of its core assumptions—'more is better'—needs to be reexamined. Can we meaningfully explain why more consumption and wealth is a good thing?"

See Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, in Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volumes 19-20, and Great Books of the Western World (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volumes 17-18.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Liberal Islam

Gabriel Said Reynolds reviews Reopening Muslim Minds: A Return to Reason, Freedom, and Tolerance, by Mustafa Akyol, at First Things.

"...Akyol argues in Reopening Muslim Minds, Islam is in a crisis, a crisis that cannot simply be blamed on Western colonialism or imperialism. Islam’s crisis is due to the rise of movements skeptical of human reason and secular sciences and eager to use coercive political power to suppress dissent."

"One other omission [from Great Books of the Western World (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990)] that was probably a mistake on our part was not including references to the Koran (qur’an) along with the Old and New Testament in the Reference Section of the 102 Chapters of the Syntopicon." Mortimer J. Adler, A Second Look in the Rearview Mirror: Further Autobiographical Reflections of a Philosopher at Large, 1991, p.141, n. 4.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Subjectivizer of Truth

From the Pillars of Unbelief series, by Peter Kreeft, Boston College.

"Kant, more than any other thinker, gave impetus to the typically modern turn from the objective to the subjective. This may sound fine until we realize that it meant for him the redefinition of truth itself as subjective"

See Kant, Perpetual Peace, in Gateway to the Great Books (10 Vol., 1963) volume 7; The Critique of Pure Reason, The Critique of Practical Reason, and The Critique of Judgement, in Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volume 42, and (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 39.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

In defense of Jane Austen's Unlikable Heroine

Brenda M. Hafera, Simon Center for American Studies at The Heritage Foundation, at Modern Age.

"Fanny, the heroine of Mansfield Park, is not the kind of woman many of us aspire to become or immediately admire. She is serious and seemingly deferential. A more compelling feminine archetype is the witty and spunky Elizabeth Bennet. Preferring a Lizzy over a Fanny could merely be a personal preference. But if that were the case, we would expect Austen readers also to dislike Pride and Prejudice’s Jane Bennet, who, like Fanny, is patient, meek, mild-mannered, and humble.

"But Austen predisposes readers toward Jane and biases them against Fanny. ..."

See Austen, Emma, in Great Books of the Western World (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 46.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

The Life and Times of Dostoevsky

Amy Kovac at Stanford Magazine on Joseph Frank and his five volume work Dostoevsky: The Mantle of the Prophet, 1871–1881, published 1976-2002.

"Part biography, part literary criticism, it follows Dostoevsky from his return to Russia after a stay in Western Europe through the writing and completion of The Brothers Karamazov to his death."

See Dostoevsky, "White Nights" in Gateway to the Great Books (10 Vol., 1963) volume 3, and The Brothers Karamazov in Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volume 52, (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 52.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

O Light Exalted

Robert Royal at First Things.

"The Commedia is a journey from confusion to order, and it draws deeply from the philosophy and theology that give an account of this order. Along with the traditions of courtly and mystical love, Dante’s ­poem shows the influence of the High Medieval flowering of scholastic thought. I had a friend, long dead now, a Shakespeare scholar who thought that ­Dante was merely rhymed Aquinas. Certainly, no other poet could have introduced the Aristotelian vocabulary of ­Thomism—substance, accidents, and so on—into his verse without awkwardness, even at the heights of mystical ex­perience."

See Dante, "On World Government" from De Monarchia in Gateway to the Great Books (10 Vol., 1963) volume 7, and The Divine Comedy in Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volume 21, (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 19.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

A Burkean Reading of Late Jefferson’s Legal Theory

Haimo Li, Fudan University, Shanghai, China, at Studies in Burke and His Time.

"Conor Cruise O’Brien realized that the divergence between Burke and Jefferson mainly happened after the outbreak of French Revolution, but he thought that that divergence, once happened, was permanent and never reconciled. [footnote omitted] For a sharper understanding of the thought and legacy of these two great contemporaries, however, it is necessary to realize that some important overlap in their thinking can be found. In this article I propose to show, for example, that there may exist a fully viable Burkean reading of Jefferson’s legal theory between 1809 and 1826, a period referred to below as 'late-Jefferson.'"

See the Declaration of Independence in Gateway to the Great Books (10 Vol., 1963) volume 6, and in American State Papers, Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volume 43, (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 40.

Friday, April 1, 2022

"Do you know the poster that diagrams Proust's longest sentence?"

Proposed sentences in English, French, and a diagram, at Quora

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Reading Rat - March 2022

Aquinas Leadership International

Announcements

Events

Selections at the blog Conference Calendar page

Calendar for selected Book discussions groups

Articles, Essays, Reviews

Perturbation of the deep-Earth carbon cycle in response to the Cambrian Explosion, by Andrea Giuliani, et al., Science

On the Apparatus & Procedures of the Wisconsin Elections System; Second Interim Investigative Report, Delivered to the Wisconsin State Assembly on March 1, 2022, Office of the Special Counsel

When Classical Liberals Went to the Mountaintop, by Samuel Greagg, review of Mont Pèlerin 1947, edited by Bruce Caldwell, Law & Liberty

No Cause, No Credo:

'Aristotelian Realist Philosophy of Nature as Preambula Fidei'

Article by Daniel C. Wagner, Aquinas College, with responses by Michael Tkacz and Steven Baldner, at Reality: A journal for philosophical discourse.

"ABSTRACT: This study presents St. Thomas Aquinas’ groundbreaking treatment of the relation between God as Creator and nature through the Aristotelian model of natural causation and the distinction between essentia and esse contra occasionalist conceptions of creation. By clearly distinguishing primary (divine) and secondary (natural) orders of causation, the Angelic Doctor champions Divine omnipotence while preserving the causal integrity of nature at one and the same time. His position on the relation of divine and natural causation in nature is formulated, in part, as a response to the occasionalist doctrine, denying natural causation. While Thomas shows that denying natural causation would actually vitiate divine omnipotence, this study extends his argument showing Aristotelian causation (secondary cause) is a necessary condition—i.e., one of the preambula fidei—for the Christian belief that God is the all-powerful creator of the natural world. This presentation and extension of St. Thomas Aquinas’ critique of occasionalism is needed given a continuing trend among Anglo-American Analytic and Humean Christian philosophers to deny natural causation and hold that God is the only cause."

See Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, in Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volumes 19-20, and Great Books of the Western World (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volumes 17-18.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

What Can a Conversation between Ayn Rand, Socrates, and the Apostle Paul Teach Us about Our Highest Good?

Owen Anderson, Arizona State University, Phoenix, Ariz., USA, at Studia Gilsoniana.
"There will even be a surprise guest who will direct our focus to where it needs to be in order to make sense of economics and the value of money."

See Plato, in Dialogues, and The Seventh Letter, in Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volume 7, (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 6. See Apology, Crito, and Phaedo regarding the trial and imprisonment and death of Socrates.

See:
Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 54 Vol., 1952)

"Readers who are startled to find the Bible omitted from the set will be reassured to learn that this was done only because Bibles are already widely distributed, and it was felt unnecessary to bring another, by way of this set, into homes that had several already. References to the Bible are, however, included in both the King James and the Douai versions under the appropriate topics in the Syntopicon." (The Great Conversation, by Robert M. Hutchinsmm, volume 1, p. xvii). [Syntopicon is the title of the extensive topical index to the entire set.]
Great Books of the Western World (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990)
"References to Bible, when present, are always placed first. The Bible is not included as part of the set, since there is no definitive version acceptable to everyone." Introduction to The Syntopicon (vol. 1, p. xiv),

Monday, March 28, 2022

Book Review: 'A Guidebook To Learning: For The Lifelong Pursuit Of Wisdom', By Mortimer J. Adler

'For people who are serious about taxonomy (the science of classification), A Guidebook to Learning [(1998)] is must reading.'

Eric J. Heels at GiantPeople.

"Ever wonder why a Ph.D. is a doctorate of philosophy? This book is for you."

See Center for the Study of The Great Ideas.

Friday, March 25, 2022

Saved by Books

Joseph Epstein reviews Rescuing Socrates: How the Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation, by Roosevelt Montás, at First Things.

"Throughout Rescuing Socrates, Montás interweaves his account of reading and teaching St. Augustine, Plato, Freud, and Gandhi with his own autobiography. He tells us at the outset that he has chosen to write about these four figures because, like him, 'each of them experienced an inner transformation that made them into the figures we know today. In each case, the motive force was the relentless pursuit of self-understanding—the very kind of understanding that liberal education takes as its ultimate goal.'"

See Augustine, The Confessions, The City of God, and On Christian Doctrine, in Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volume 18, and (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 16.

See Freud, selected works, Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volume 54, (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 54.

See Plato, Dialogues, and The Seventh Letter, in Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volume 7, (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 6.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Laughing with Kafka

'From a speech given by David Foster Wallace in March [1998] at "Metamorphosis: A New Kafka," a symposium sponsored by the PEN American Center in New York City to celebrate the publication of a new translation of The Castle by Schocken Books.'

Harper's Magazine.

"Kafka's evocations are, rather, unconscious and almost sub-archetypal, the little-kid stuff from which myths derive; this is why we tend to call even his weirdest stories nightmarish rather than surreal."

See Kafka, "The Metamorphosis", in Great Books of the Western World (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 60.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Chekhov Large and Small

Bob Blaisdell, editor of Chekhov’s "The Lady with the Dog" and Other Love Stories, reviews Freedom from Violence and Lies: Anton Chekhov’s Life and Writings, by Michael C. Finke, and Anton Chekhov: A Life, by Donald Rayfield, at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

"Chekhov’s letters, where he could be private and intimate, contrast quite a lot with the fiction (he wrote several hundred short stories, only — comparatively only — a half-dozen full-length plays). In correspondence, he tried to break down any formality; he almost always joked with people from the first letter to the last. He frustrated girlfriends by his reluctance to get serious (Must you always tease and kid?). When he saw death from his tuberculosis closing in, he finally married Olga Knipper, who was deeply engaged in her acting career in Moscow and thus not always available to him, as he resided half the year in Yalta, where the warm weather provided a better defense against his disease."

See "The Darling" in volume 3 and "The Cherry Orchard" in volume 4 of Gateway to the Great Books (10 Vol., 1963), and Uncle Vania in Great Books of the Western World (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 59.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Seeking Deeper Understanding of the Koran

From Stanford Magazine.

"The freshmen enrolled in the introductory seminar The Qur’an in History had read translations of the verses before class, but as they followed the words of the Islamic text and listened to the melodic invocations of Allah and the dramatic quavers that introduced apocalyptic themes, they appeared to be absorbing the lines for the first time."

"One other omission [from Great Books of the Western World (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990)] that was probably a mistake on our part was not including references to the Koran (qur’an) along with the Old and New Testament in the Reference Section of the 102 Chapters of the Syntopicon." Mortimer J. Adler, A Second Look in the Rearview Mirror: Further Autobiographical Reflections of a Philosopher at Large, 1991, p.141, n. 4.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Einstein’s Theory of Relativity Passes Strict Test Using Large High Altitude Air Shower Observatory

At SciTech Daily.

"Researchers from the Institute of High Energy Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences examined the validity of the theory of relativity with the highest accuracy in a study entitled 'Exploring Lorentz Invariance Violation from Ultrahigh-Energy Rays Observed by LHAASO,' which was published in the latest issue of Physical Review Letters."

See Albert Einstin, "The Rise and Fall of Classical Physics", from The Evolution of Physics (with Leopold Infeld), in Gateway to the Great Books (10 Vol., 1963) volume 8; Relativity: The Special and the General Theory, in Great Books of the Western World (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 56.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Inventor of 'the new morality'

On Machiavelli, from the Pillars of Unbelief series, by Peter Kreeft, Boston College.

"For all previous social thinkers, the goal of political life was virtue. A good society was conceived as one in which people are good. There was no "double standard" between individual and social goodness-until Machiavelli. With him, politics became no longer the art of the good but the art of the possible."

See Machiavelli, The Prince, in Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volume 23, (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 21

Saturday, March 19, 2022

The best books on Logic

'Logic is an excellent form of mind-training because it involves a very particular way of thinking and focus on truth. But how does it work and what are its limitations? Tom Stoneham, a professor of philosophy at the University of York, picks some great books for anyone who wants to learn more about logic.'

Interview by Nigel Warburton at Five Books.

See Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, in Great Books of the Western World (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 55.

Friday, March 18, 2022

The Return of Idealism: Russell vs Hegel:

'Hegel's return in analytic philosophy'

Paul Redding, University of Sydney, at The Institute of Art and Ideas.

See Hegel, The Philosophy of Right, and The Philosophy of History, in Great Books of the Western World (first edition, 52 Vol., 1952) volume 48, and (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 43.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Virtue in Jane Austen’s 'Mansfield Park'

'This essay is the first in the monthly series "Forgotten Classics."'

Felix James Miller at The European Conservative.

"[Scottish Catholic philosopher Alasdair] MacIntyre believes not only that Jane Austen’s work is concerned with the virtues, but that she is the expositor par excellence of a specific virtue: that of constancy. This virtue, which might also be called ‘integrity,’ is concerned with ensuring unity to one’s life such that each action shows forth one’s true (and upstanding) character. A man or woman who possesses constancy lives a coherent life, speaking honestly and avoiding giving false impressions. In a word, the constant man is concerned with being, and not with seeming."

See Austen, Emma, in Great Books of the Western World (second edition, 60 Vol., 1990) volume 46.