Saturday, July 14, 2007

Raymond's earlier questions

Raymond Spiotta had emailed me with some questions some time ago, and I kept putting off answering them, but I should really do that now.

First, (this is rather mundane, I'm sorry) - how might one access the archiveson your blog? I asked you a question about Created-vs.-Uncreated Grace, and amlooking to review what you wrote for the purposes of replying to anotherchallenge from my Orthodox priest-friend (who seems to think that the CC teachesthat Grace is created and that the EE distinction is heretical).

No, this is an issue that I've been struggling with for some time. I killed the time archives because I was irritated with keeping around relics of discussions that were more bad than good as well as random thoughts that I didn't think would be of any lasting use. I'd like to do a more subject matter oriented index, but I haven't done it yet. There are only about 200 entries, so I don't think it would be hard, but it takes time, and my head is barely above water in terms of keeping up with my reading and writing on current matters while I am thinking about them.

There is one bit of good news: my anti-library has now reached an acceptable size. This means that I have read almost all of the books that (1) I am going to actually be able to read given by commitments as husband and father while being more or less a pure autodidact and (2) I have strong reason to have a major influence on my thinking. As Michael Sullivan observed (although I can't find the entry in the Mondaology archives), you can always read more. The goal is to at least be able to map my own position onto scholarly argumentation, revising it somewhat as I learn more but retaining an articulable, good faith basis for the positions that I take. There are some major issues on which I am still working (particularly on Aristotelian epistemology, Thomistic infinity, and Scotistic metaphysics), but the good thing is that these are matters that are really intramural questions between Catholics. In terms of intellectual defensibility of Catholicism, I believe that I know enough to know with reliable certainty that its defensibility is undeniable. Catholicism might not be compelling, but almost nothing is. The point is that no one can produce any directly contrary facts or necessary premises, and that suffices for me. So that's a long way of saying that I think I will have more time to address that issue in the near future. :-)

Secondly, is it true to say that man's ratio has not been damaged by OriginalSin? I know this is a very open-ended question, and would just appreciate anybrief thoughts you'd like to express. (What St. Thomas teaches about this issomething my priest-friend considers to be grave in its alleged mistakenness.)

Remember that list I gave of major issues that need to be resolved? Aristotelian epistemology is the real question here, and someone looking at it from the perspective of Platonist epistemology is going to find this grievously mistaken. From that perspective, the ratio MUST be affected by the division of the powers. And St. Thomas would not deny this, but what he means is that the intellect does not cease to receive forms correctly and actually unite the knower with the known. In St. Thomas's view, people know the truth (their intellect works), but they deny what they know, and this is the misuse of their faculties. In the Eastern view, reason deals with dialectic and opposition between powers (the law of non-contradiction), which God transcends, so the notion of natural theology is impossible. The Aristotelian view of knowledge in terms of potency, act, and union between knower and known is so drastically different that it is hard even to articulate what the other view is saying.

Thirdly, I remember reading on Pontifications you asserting that the presence ofthe relic of Ss. Peter & Paul in Rome are a testimony to the perpetual fidelityof that city to the Faith. Do you think you could explain this further, andprovide some patristic support for his idea.

The martyr tradition was extremely strong in both East and West, and it wasn't so much the relics themselves that were of importance except for the testimony that they gave to the death of the two greatest martyrs in Christian history, representing the entire world (Gentiles and Jews). For patristic support, see Pope St. Leo the Great, Sermon 82.


At 6:19 PM, Anonymous Raymond Maxwell Spiotta said...

Thank you, Jonathan. I'm sorry for my importunity, but now I feel rewarded, esp. by what you've to say concerning epistemology as approached Aristotelianly vs. Orientally.

Please remember now and again in your prayers Fr. Steven (the Orthodox priest); and God bless.


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