April 12, 2014


I don’t really have an issue with Aquinas per say, but my main thing is I’ve seen many people both on here and irl as calling themselves Thomist as an excuse to discount any strand of Christian thought since then. Especially 20th-21st Christian thought. 

Most of the Thomists I’ve read (Maritain, Finnis, Pieper, a little bit of Lonergan) agree that it is not faithful to Thomism to dogmatically ignore everything that has happened since the 13th century. 

Given that Aquinas denies the possibility of absolute human knowledge of anything (since to know the essence of a fly, we would need to understand God), Thomism can be interpreted to be pretty open to further discussion and development.

(Source: cuteanimalsandliberationtheology)

April 12, 2014


Art’s great nudes have gone skinny

Italian artist Anna Utopia Giordano has created a visual re-imagination of historic nude paintings, had the subjects conformed their bodies to what the 21st century considers an ideal of beauty. The results are revealing—and quite shocking in what they say about the modern attitude toward women’s bodies.

This is fascinating. 

(Source: symmetrism)

9:05pm  |   URL: http://tmblr.co/ZxHzSv1CtL47h
Filed under: nudity nsfw 
April 12, 2014
If St. Thomas Aquinas ever met Aristotle




He’d probably be like…


I haven’t read much (of at all) of St. Thomas Aquinas but I have a feeling I will not like him because Aristotle is trash.


April 11, 2014



I think one of the best arguments for universal reconciliation is the total moral arbitrariness of suddenly being beyond saving the moment you die

Like, the idea that God is infinitely forgiving and patient with people who are alive but not with people who are dead seems…

You didn’t answer the objection. I don’t mean: ‘You didn’t answer the objection well’. You didn’t actually answer it. You just reiterated what he had a problem with in a slightly more verbose way.

To say:

To be human in this world is to be an embodied being with an indeterminate relationship with God

is a shit way to encapsulate human life because it misses out, well, almost absolutely everything.

Of course it isn’t a complete encapsulation of human life. 

It is purely formal sketch of human existence, which is what I am interested in at the moment.  The form of present human existence differs in important ways from the form of human existence after death, thereby rendering it non-arbitrary that God’s patience and mercy do not extend after death. I no doubt failed to be explicit enough, so I will try again.

The human relationship with God here is not decided, because as embodied intellects who lack direct knowledge of God or any universal truths, we have greater room for indecision and repentance.  Josef Pieper argues in one of his books (I can look up the reference if you are interested) that since in human thought and action in this world, our will is never perfectly in control, we never irrevocably commit ourselves to something, because there is always an aspect beyond us in all our decisions.   So, as embodied intellects, we cannot irrevocably commit ourselves to rebellion against God.  

However, after death, we are not embodied intellects (we might become re-embodied in the resurrection)- so there is not room for repentance anymore- what we think is simply what we are.

Finally, it seems like in the resurrected bodies, the disjunction between the mental and the physical vanishes to some degree, what we think is what we are in a stronger sense.  In which case, the freedom offered by underdecision would not be present in the resurrected body either.  

So, I am not sure how this account is simply a re-statement of the problem, it is a sketch of what difference between the pre-death and post-death states I think relevant to the discussion of universalism. 

Now, as to your second criticism, I freely admit that in my haste to discuss this topic, I accidentally stated in an inadequate definition. Fallen Humans should probably be called something like a contingent dependent rational social animal (embodied animate being) whose final end and completion rests in God, but in this life can have no final satisfaction of this end nor the final resolution of the relationship with God.  Insofar as I wished to get one with the argument, I forgot to properly state all of this.  But, adding all of this does not seem to impact any of the claims in my argument, so I am not sure why it seems so important to you that I forgot this clarification (unless you simply seek to save me from error, in which case I am grateful).  Surely, Human beings as a rule have an indeterminate relationship with God, without any absolute resolution being likely in this life?  If even Christ was liable to be tempted, I am rather dubious that I or anyone else can have an absolutely firm relation to God here in this world.

If you are instead making a general point about formal definitions, I agree with you that they necessarily fail to fully capture the content of what they define, or even the importance of what they define.  No definition of God will capture why he is worthy of worship, even when said definition provides some sort of intellectual framework for defending or explaining that claim.  Nonetheless, there is value in the intellectual framework, because it provides some positive direction for further seeking, and it provides some negative direction for blocking certain kinds of claims from contentful experience.

But, I have rambled long enough, so I propose this.  Either you ask me questions about my definition of humanity, and I defend or modify my definition according to your questions, or I do the same for yours.  Simply making assertions and counter-assertions back and forth is unlikely to be helpful.

April 11, 2014



Hegel’s philosophy can actually be broken down according to analytical logic and multiple analytical philosophers have actually demonstrated this (esp. Michael Forster) but sure keep using as the prime example of how THE CONTINENTALS MAKE NO SENSE

A bunch of the cool analytics are doing stuff with Hegel now. Brandom and Sellars consider him a major influence.  I believe Pippin (also at Chicago like Forster) has done some work on showing how Hegel is not anywhere near as metaphysically extravagant as some analytic philosophers claim.  I haven’t read Hegel (not disciplined enough), but he’s on my list. 

April 11, 2014


I think one of the best arguments for universal reconciliation is the total moral arbitrariness of suddenly being beyond saving the moment you die

Like, the idea that God is infinitely forgiving and patient with people who are alive but not with people who are dead seems almost indefensible to me

I disagree.

To be human in this world is to be an embodied being with an indeterminate relationship with God (there is space to accept or reject him).  After death everyone has a determinate relationship with him- and it seems unclear on what basis that determinate relationship could change.  

God is patient and forgiving with us because there is a point in so being, he is not patient and forgiving with the fallen Angels because their nature makes repentance impossible. (The only way for an Angel to make a decision is to change its being, and because Angels exist transtemporally, they cannot have multiple transformations on the same topic).

I see no space within the presently disclosed revelation for salvation of those in hell. I hardly plan on claiming that God cannot or will not have such a plan, I just do not see a place for it in what has been revealed thus far. 


April 10, 2014

Anonymous asked: What are your theories regarding to predestination? What about Reincarnation?Do you believe in it? Does it explain why we sometimes experience De-javu moments? Every time I am living more in the present moment I tend to experience de-javu more often.

Predestination is the result of God’s Creative activity being unitary and eternal.  When God creates the universe, he creates the whole shebang, not merely establishing initial conditions.  God’s creative will is just as involved in my writing this response to you as in the big bang. 

So, in some sense we can speak of God’s choice being present in all things.  However, God’s choice is not best understood as being something in the past from our activity (as in, in the past God determined that I would write on Tumblr at 11:02).  God’s choice is outside of time, to speak of it as before time or before my actions is just as accurate as to speak of it after my actions or at the same time as my actions.   Logically of course, God’s choice is prior to my actions, but it is not temporally or causally prior. 

I would say we have predestination (in that the universe operates in a particular direction, with a particular plan that is being followed), without predetermination (in that the way this plan has been established and functions cannot be understood as the establishing of absolute causal laws or predetermination via past events). 

I do not believe in reincarnation.  The scriptural accounts seem pretty clear that man dies once and then faces judgement.  There are cases where people seem able to remember the lives of others, but I’d suspect that other spiritual influences (not to mention differences in cultural practices, forgotten stories told or experience, and deceit for fun or profit) can account for those.

I’m not very familiar with the phenomena of Deja vu, and am too lazy to read very much about it.  I seem to remember a Cracked article a while back which mentioned a theory that errors in short-term memory formation account for most cases of Deja vu, basically the mind makes two copies of a memory, and thereby generates a sense of familiarity.  I would speculate that intense stimulation of both the chemical and natural types increase the probability of such errors, perhaps accounting for your Deja vu.  But I’m hardly an expert on such matters.  I’m dubious that reincarnation is the best explanation, especially since the traditions which have the best claim to knowing things about reincarnation if it does exist (Hinduism and Buddhism), argue for something more like meditation than living in the moment for uncovering knowledge of past lives from what I can tell.

April 6, 2014

Anonymous asked: Hi,Do you still believe in Calvinism?

I’ve never identified as a Calvinist. 

While many other things go into being a Calvinist from what I’ve heard- with regards to Tulip I only accept Total Depravity (i.e. Man cannot initiate the work of salvation).  I do not believe in Irresistible grace, nor do I believe in Unconditional election in the sense that Calvinists do.  I think  Limited Atonement is heterodoxy at best.  And the Biblical evidence is sufficiently ambiguous on Perseverance of the Saints that I do not have a definite opinion.

I do believe in Predestination in the sense that God’s creative work necessitated choosing a particular world (it should be pointed out that every ontologically possible world is not an object of divine choice in this sense, the explanation is tedious, and turns on the fact that X choosing Y is not the same as God making X choose Y, if you are interested I can try to explain more).  I also believe that Logically after (though not temporarily after) the Creative work of the Logos the Re-creative work of the Spirit infuses a special and distinct grace into creation- making the world different than it otherwise would have been.  Though I have not completely worked out the logic of that notion (since it only occurred to me today as a way to resolve certain tensions in Aquinas’ reduction of all bestowals of God’s goodness to Mercy, whereas it seems to me that Mercy has to be a distinct kind of operation).   But this predestination is simply the result of God choosing a particular world, it is not an election of individuals arbitrarily. 

I’d love to know why you thought I was a Calvinist.  I did defend Calvinism in some discussions a long time ago, but that was because I have friends who I deeply respect as Christians and theologians who are firm Calvinists, and I was of the mind that Calvinism was being misrepresented in some discussions. 

Short answer: I believe in God having an active role in choosing/knowing who would be saved- it just works quite differently than how the Calvinists tend to conceive it as far as I can tell.

April 5, 2014
A Handy Guide to What Is and Isn't Cultural Appropriation


What isn’t cultural appropration:

• Trying/eating/making a culture’s food
• Listening to that culture’s music
• Watching that culture’s movies
• Reading that culture’s books
• Appreciating that culture’s art
• Wearing that culture’s clothing IF in a setting…

I’ve been slowly considering this matter for some time. Fortunately, someone with presumably more experience dealing with it wrote something better than I am capable of doing.  First and primarily read the original post, I am going to ramble about a sort of philosophical argument against cultural appropriation- not that in the cases dealt with here any is necessary beyond “you are attacking the culture of other human beings for cheap laughs.”  But, given that there are cases where taking the cultural practice of others is acceptable (a Toga party is likely immoral for all sorts of reasons, but cultural appropriation is not one of them) and in some cases destruction of cultural traditions is necessary, such as the removal of Human Sacrifice from various cultures, or the substantial modification of the culture of Passion plays as Christians began to reject antisemitism.   And there are entire professions with considerable internal culture that we might think it acceptable to have vanished-  the fact that Alchemists are not still around does not seem tragic to us, or that we wish to vanish- such as professional torturers and extraordinary interrogators.  

Starting from the most general level: it seems to me that humans are fundamentally oriented towards certain kinds of goods. In general and in youth, we seek bits of knowledge to satisfy our curiosity, friendships to satisfy our need for companionship, cool stuff to look at because it amazes us, and so on.  But if we reflect on the matter, we begin to recognize certain basic characteristics of these things which relate them together.  For example, we see how curiosity is best satisfied by certain kinds of holistic explanations that hold together with contradiction, how others provides the best companionship as we are bound by a mutual bound, not bound via something else primarily, we see how things that amaze us are superior when they reward multiple viewings or hearings that cause us to shift when we observe or participate in them.  We could go on, but in short, we that there are goods that transcend and underlie the individual objects of our immediate desires, and that we best serve those desires by seeking the more complete, rather than the more incomplete manifestations.   (I owe this description in large Part to John Finnis, though I believe he would disagree with my analysis of beauty, everything else is his thoughts in my words).

However, if we pursue the more complete versions of these goods, we need the support of others- both materially in providing that what we lack, prudentially in making sure we are oriented properly towards the end, and in some cases normative- making sure that we are acting in accord with the rules of the activity.  While I can make a rule that is binding for myself, I can also repeal such a rule- so for any form of goodness that requires fixed rules (chess as a particular and interesting kind of play, for example, and a good deal of scientific language use) is best served by a community capable of observing if I have made an error and pointing it out, so the rule is binding for me regardless of my immediate desire or will in virtue of participating in the activity.  (The debt to MacIntyre and Brandom here is a conscious one)

So, A normatively guided activity has two aspects, first it is oriented towards some basic human good, and second that there is a community engaged in it that can say whether a given act in pursuit of that good is acceptable or not acceptable.  (combination of Finnis and Macintyre). 

(a diversion, so traditions can be critiqued if they fail to pursue any basic goods, or if their norms make things acceptable that are always non-acceptable.  A tradition of human sacrifice can be legitimately critiqued from the outside on this basis.  To a more limited extent, inter-religious critiques are also acceptable, though since religious traditions are often more all-encompassing, blanket criticism and annihilation is in virtually all circumstances immoral for reasons that will be sketched below). 

And here is the issue, when I use another cultures stuff, I am doing so without any connection to the normative community it originated in- I have no responsibility for the meaning of it.  To use an example that occurred recently, a company used traditional tattoos on a pair of tights- the people who wear those tights have no connection whatsoever to the proper use of those symbols in their original context- they are not responsive to the norm. 

This is important, because when we use the symbols of a particular tradition without participating in its normative universe- we do two things.  First, we make the world of discourse confusing in some sense, we have some people who are using the same symbols in two very different ways.  Obviously, this is not a huge problem (and is in fact the basis for much comedy) when there is no power differential between the groups- the fact that I almost certainly mean something somewhat different than the average physicist when I talk about Space and Time is not an issue- partially because there is a reasonably well-defined relationship between the physicist conception and my own that imposes certain normative rules between them (namely, that I am certainly wrong about the overall structure, but the physicist has to either help provide an explanation for my phenomenological experience of space and time or cede that domain to some other discipline, most likely some combination of the two.).

However, when there are not well-defined relations, or huge power disparities- the potential for the dominant cultures misuse of norms to overwhelm the original meaningful use is high, something which was powerful for members of a culture might gradually become numb and meaningless as they see it repeated around them ad nauseum without any real understanding. 

But this not the primary reason; the primary moral issue is that very little is value-relative- in our culture a great deal has become disconnected from any very clear values (though some vague and often incoherent commandments remain in all of the traditional realms, we simply do not notice most of the time).  But in other cultures that is not so, a piece of clothing or a tattoo plays a particular role in a practice oriented towards human goodness.  To participate in that is to accept those obligations- just as when I use a word in the declarative sense, I am committing myself to its truth.  But since we are not participants in that normative community, we probably lack the material resources of others (the role they play in the practice we have tried to self-induct ourselves into, when very often such practices require someone else to bring us into them and others to engage in the practice with us), we lack their prudential resources (we have no one to give us clear guidance about what good the practice is aimed at, and are thus likely to use it for whatever purpose we happen to like, divorcing it from its original meaning, and flaunting its norms), and finally, we lack their normative resources, we have no one to tell us when we make a misstep, when we include something that should not be included or forget something that should not be forgotten. 

I wish to close with a substantial modification of an example from Brandom.  Imagine someone heard of playing Chess, and had watched a few games from some distance, and then took the chess set home with him and played according to his understanding of the rules.  However, in the games he had watched, the only time the king and the rooks had moved, it had been during castling, or any number of other odd cases, and he generalized those in his version.  Then, he started teaching his friends his modified version of chess, and they became devout advocates, despite the game being noticeably inferior to actual chess, playing because it was cool and aesthetically pleasing to them.  Surely, the world is poorer if chess becomes extinct and in its place all that it is left is the bad copy, or if the original version is held in disgust, and this inferior copy is lifted up? This is what happens when people self-join traditions, even sincerely- they do not know things about the tradition, and likely pollute people’s understanding of the original tradition- as noticeably happened with Buddhism in the United States.  They destroy the original normative structure, and replace it with something that has no purpose beyond their own satisfaction- taking away a path to participation in goodness for pleasure.

But why should we care about this?  Why should the destruction of paths to goodness be something that matters to me at all?  I am responsible for my own fate, and my own satisfaction.  But if what I’ve said is true, this cannot be the case at all- I am dependent heavily upon the sustaining of my own traditions for the pursuit of any complete form of the values- and cannot rebel against those.  And as member of that tradition, I must advocate adherence to the rules of the tradition by those who practice it, I in some sense must be just both to others and myself to be a member- this is a requirement of any tradition. 

But it seems like, for any tradition that I acknowledge the acceptability of its existence, I cannot attack it without being unjust- If I know certain acts are value-bearing, I should not commit myself to them without intending to endorse their value. If I cannot, I should remain silent in word and deed.

Even for traditions that I might wish to cease- in general I have no right to appropriate their resources-  the fact of their inferiority to other options does not grant me leave to make use of them, because they remain normatively binding even if they are inferior ways to pursue a good.

If I am of the opinion that something is evil, then I should not associate myself with it, the thing remains normartively binding, and presumably we should aim at the removal of evil norms, not endorse them. (an exception here exists when a minority group takes aspects of cultural oppression and defangs them-  defanging an evil norm is acceptable, but this is quite different from mindlessly attaching one’s self to it).

Extinct traditions are a final interesting topic.  Since the normative universe that supports the aspects of those traditions has collapsed, they are free for the taking in some sense- there is no one for anyone to be responsible to in the use of them, so there can be no misuse. 

However, we should still be aware of value-bearing that those collapsed cultures might have for extent cultures, and that should limit the extent of our use. 

I hope this is interesting for some, but more, I hope you read the original article.

(via cuteanimalsandliberationtheology)

April 4, 2014






butthurt white people

I love how they rlly hate to see someone doing better than them & then put it off on race like if a white dude had the same achievements no one would be doing anything but sucking his dick and patting him on the back like this is some top tier hater shit & it’s so funny

White people love to bring up affirmative action as if their entire lives aren’t a fucking breeze

They’re acting like this kid didn’t put in work to get where he is though. They literally think it was handed to him because he’s black???? Yeah that’s definitely how America works

they’re so mad

Okay, let’s be slightly realistic here.

1. Affirmative action to some degree is probably okay, since the average African or African American in the United States has to work harder than me.

2. The kid is from Long Island, not exactly a poor place last time I checked.  I don’t see a link to the actual story- but the fact is that if you go to the top high schools in the nation, you are disproportionately likely to get selected at top universities, because they specifically tailor their programs to the selection criteria of the top 15 or so schools.  A few of my friends in college came from high schools where the top 5%-10% of the class got into Ivy league schools.   And unsurprisingly, many of these schools are in very, very wealthy areas.  Now, there isn’t a link to this story here, and it is certainly true this young man worked very hard.  But if he want to most schools in Long Island, he had a pretty big advantage over someone from large sections of the United States.  And I know at my school and a lot of other top schools, a very disproportionate percentage of the students came from the higher income brackets. 

One could point out that this debate about affirmative action (which certainly has some role) ignores the equally important debate about economic disparities at the top schools that effect predominantly minority students, but also many, many white students.  It’s far easier to give both sides marching orders (we have suffered injustice) (they are getting special status due to the color of their skin), and keep them away from the bigger sources of disparity.

3.  Here’s the truth, there are probably 100,000 students or so each year who would benefit enormously from a top-level education (that is, they would do better at an Ivy or pseudo-Ivy than they would anywhere else).  Its not financially possible for the Ivy’s to offer that many spots.  So whatever criteria they use to weed out students beyond a certain point is going to be somewhat arbitrary.  So it makes perfect sense that facts about a person that might have restricted their talent serve a role in the process if they have already manifested enough skill to show they can survive at a top school.  So even ignoring anything like historical distributive unfairness (which seems wise to me, as creating a fair historical distribution is not the primary goal of a university), facts about that unfair distribution make it likely that the African-American or African student with the same scores as me (or a bit lower) is more likely to have the virtues and character needed to be an exceptional member of the academy.  And I saw plenty of evidence of this when I was at school.  Many of the most impressively dedicated students were African, or African American, or Hispanic. 

tl;dr-  Affirmative action is good, but for a different reason than often given.  Don’t forget the role that economic disparities between school districts play in Ivy league admission.

(via taylorswifthecreator)

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