Do You Even Science, Frater?

The other day, I went to a Thomistic Society talk about Aquinas’s views on the Problem of Evil and other topics. At one point, the presenter casually mentioned that humans engage in self-destructive behavior, like alcoholism, self-mutilation, drug addiction, etc., while non-human animals don’t. That made my [citation needed] sense tingle, so I looked around. Among other … Continue reading “Do You Even Science, Frater?”

The Last Superstition: Conclusion

So now that we’ve come to the end of the book, what have we learned? There are two comments that stick in my mind. One is by Steve Watson: I think Aristotle systematized a lot of what we now call folk physics and folk biology, which was a good enough way to start, back then … Continue reading “The Last Superstition: Conclusion”

The Last Superstition: The Final Insult

Chapter 6: Irreducible teleology, cont. Having exoriated biologists over the fact that popular science writers use terms like “purpose” and “blueprint”, Feser moves on to nonliving systems, in which he also sees purpose and intentionality. For instance, the water and rock cycles (I’d never heard of a “rock cycle” before, but okay): The role of … Continue reading “The Last Superstition: The Final Insult”

The Last Superstition: Ubiquitous Teleology

Chapter 6: Irreducible teleology We’re in the home stretch. In this penultimate section, Feser tries to make the case that teleology, or goal-directedness, permeates the world. To start with, he tells us that human minds deal with final causes all the time: we conceive plans and execute them, and we build things for specific purposes. … Continue reading “The Last Superstition: Ubiquitous Teleology”

The Last Superstition: Great Gobs of Uncertainty

Chapter 6: The lump under the rug In this section, Feser argues that the existence of the mind is incompatible with materialism. Not only that, but materialist explanations of mind often refer, if only implicitly or subconsciously, to aristotelian concepts. But first, he has to dispel a misconception: to say that something has a final … Continue reading “The Last Superstition: Great Gobs of Uncertainty”

The Last Superstition: A Slippery Slope to Sounding Weird

Chapter 6: How to lose your mind Feser opens the last chapter of his Refutation of the New Atheism by quoting a New Yorker article in which neurologist Patricia Churchland describes her mood to her husband and colleague Paul in neurochemical terms: Pat burst in the door, having come straight from a frustrating faculty meeting. … Continue reading “The Last Superstition: A Slippery Slope to Sounding Weird”

The Last Superstition: Back to the Cave

Chapter 5: Back to Plato’s cave This last section of Chapter 5 is basically a long jeremiad against everything and everyone Feser doesn’t like, with paranoid rants about the motivations of those who prefer post-Thomistic philosophies: More precisely, their desire to re-orient human life toward this world and reduce the influence of religion led the … Continue reading “The Last Superstition: Back to the Cave”

The Last Superstition: A Grab-Bag of Objections

Chapter 5: Universal acid Here Feser continues his earlier theme, listing more alleged problems caused by modernism. This is a grab-bag of philosophical problems, and while a lot of them are interesting in and of themselves, for the most part they have little or nothing to do with atheism — New or otherwise — and … Continue reading “The Last Superstition: A Grab-Bag of Objections”

The Last Superstition: Material Brains, Immaterial Software

Chapter 5: The Mind-Body Problem After spending several pages, as is his wont, trashing Locke, Descartes, and other people he doesn’t agree with, Feser tells us why materialist explanations of the mind are doomed: the human mind is all about final causes: we plan, we imagine, we make mental images and so on. All of … Continue reading “The Last Superstition: Material Brains, Immaterial Software”

The Last Superstition: The Essence of Opium

Chapter 5: Feser v. Molière In Molière’s play “Le Malade imaginaire” (The Imaginary Invalid or The Hypochondriac), there’s a scene between an oh-so-pretentious doctor and an equally pretentious medical student. The doctor asks the student, in dog Latin why it is that opium causes sleep. The student replies that opium has “virtus dormitiva” (Latin for … Continue reading “The Last Superstition: The Essence of Opium”