Friday, September 22, 2017

Thought-free blogs

Perhaps the most vivid manifestation of the cluelessness of New Atheists is their strange compulsion to comment at length on books they admit they have not read.  Naturally, you see this frequently from anonymous doofuses in comboxes, Amazon reviews, and the like.  But what is really remarkable is how often even otherwise intelligent and educated people make fools of themselves by doing exactly what they accuse religious believers of doing – forming an opinion based on preconceptions rather than the actual evidence.  We saw biologist Jerry Coyne do this a few years ago when he devoted over 5000 words across two blog posts to harshly criticizing a David Bentley Hart book he admitted he had not read.  The latest example comes from theoretical physicist Mano Singham at Freethought Blogs.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Conversations with Klavan et al.

My recent interview on Daily Wire’s The Andrew Klavan Show has now been posted.  You can hear the audio at the Daily Wire website or at Ricochet, and you can see the video either at the Daily Wire (if you are a subscriber) or on Facebook.  (Addendum: You can now watch it on YouTube as well.)  We talk about The Last Superstition, mechanism versus teleology, natural law, and Five Proofs of the Existence of God.

Also now available online is my recent interview on Bill Martinez Live.  The subject is Five Proofs and the segment begins a little over 6 minutes into the show.

Friday, September 15, 2017

McGinn on mind and space

Thoughts and experiences seem to lack spatial location.  It makes sense to say of a certain cluster of neurons firing that they are located several centimeters in from your left ear.  But it seems to make no sense to say that your experience of feeling nervous, or your thought about the Pythagorean Theorem, is located several centimeters in from your left ear.  After all, no one who opened up your skull or took an X-ray of your head would see the thought or the experience, nor would either be detectible through any other perceptual means.  In his book The Mysterious Flame: Conscious Minds in a Material World, Colin McGinn defends this commonsense supposition that mental states and processes are not locatable in space.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Radio activity

Today on his Daily Wire podcast, Ben Shapiro kindly recommended my book The Last Superstition, characterizing it as “really fantastically written” and “rare for a philosophy book, really readable and lucid.”  His comments on the book can be heard about 38 minutes into the show.

Speaking of The Daily Wire, I will be interviewed this week on The Andrew Klavan Show

Last week I was interviewed on Catholic Answers Live on the subject of my latest book Five Proofs of the Existence of God.  You can listen to the show here.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Walter Becker (1950 – 2017)

The Steely Dan sound is well known to anyone who has heard even one or two of the band’s best known songs, and founders Donald Fagen and Walter Becker contributed equally to it.  Fagen’s is the voice we associate with that sound.  What we might call the Steely Dan attitude, however, derives in large part from Becker, who died earlier this week.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Flew on Hume on miracles

Having looked recently at David Hume on induction and Hume on causation, let’s take a look at Hume’s famous treatment of miracles.  To be more precise, let’s take a look at Hume’s argument as it is interpreted by Antony Flew in his introduction to the Open Court Classics edition of Hume’s essay Of Miracles.  This being Hume, the argument is, shall we say, problematic.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The latest on Five Proofs and By Man

Some early reactions to Five Proofs of the Existence of God: At Catholic Answers Live, Karlo Broussard describes it as “a phenomenal book” and “the Bible of natural theology.”  At The B.C. Catholic, Christopher Morrissey judges it “a significant, original philosophical contribution to the scholarly discipline of natural theology” and his “favourite book among [his] summer reading.”

Friday, August 25, 2017

Hey, kids! Links!

Philosophy Now interviews Raymond Tallis about his major new book on the philosophy of time.  At The Guardian, Tallis on how he writes.

More justice, less crime.  Joseph Bessette on “mass incarceration” as a consequence of mass crime, at the Claremont Review of Books.

Catholic Herald reports that Dominican theologian Fr. Aidan Nichols has proposed that canon law may require the inclusion of “a procedure for calling to order a pope who teaches error.”  Commentary from canon lawyer Ed Peters.

The Guardian on the triumph of F. A. Hayek.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Five Proofs is out (Updated)

UPDATE 8/22: Some readers will be interested to learn that Ignatius Press is now offering an electronic version of the book.

My new book Five Proofs of the Existence of God is now available.  You can order it from Amazon or direct from Ignatius Press.  Brandon Vogt, friend of this blog and creator of the Strange Notions website, is kindly hosting a Q and A about the book at the site. 

Here’s the book’s back cover copy:

This book provides a detailed, updated exposition and defense of five of the historically most important (but in recent years largely neglected) philosophical proofs of God's existence: the Aristotelian, the Neo-Platonic, the Augustinian, the Thomistic, and the Rationalist.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Jacobs on By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed

The arguments are offered in a lucid and systematic manner so that they are accessible to those with no background in philosophy, theology or law.  For example, the opening chapter has an admirably clear introduction to the natural law, and the second chapter elucidates the relative authority of various theological sources.  They support their argument with copious examples, citing a profusion of authorities, ancient and modern.  Conversely, they engage a wide range of objections to their position with great dialectical subtlety…

Friday, August 11, 2017

Rucker’s Mindscape

In his book Infinity and the Mind  (which you can read online at his website), Rudy Rucker puts forward the notion of what he calls the “Mindscape.”  He writes:

If three people see the same animal, we say the animal is real; what if three people see the same idea?

I think of consciousness as a point, an “eye,” that moves about in a sort of mental space.  All thoughts are already there in this multi-dimensional space, which we might as well call the Mindscape.  Our bodies move about in the physical space called the Universe; our consciousnesses move about in the mental space called the Mindscape.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Capital punishment with Patrick Coffin

Recently I did a long Skype interview about By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment for The Patrick Coffin Show.  You can watch it here.  (Boy do I need to master the art of Skype – I look like I just rolled out of bed.)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Capital punishment with Prager (UPDATED)

UPDATE 8/9: You can now hear the interview online here.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 8 at 11 am PT, Joe Bessette and I will be on The Dennis Prager Show to discuss our book By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment

Friday, August 4, 2017

Capital punishment on EWTN

Yesterday, Joe Bessette and I appeared on EWTN’s The World Over with Raymond Arroyo to discuss our book By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment.  The segment can now be viewed online

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Cartesian angelism

Angels, as Aquinas and other Scholastic theologians conceive of them, are purely intellectual substances, minds separated from matter.  An angel thinks and wills but has no corporeal operations at all.  Naturally, then, popular images of angels – creatures with wings, long flowing robes, and so forth – have nothing to do with the real McCoy.  For a modern philosopher, the easiest way to understand what an angel is is to conceive of it as a Cartesian res cogitans – though as we will see in what follows, in a way this actually gets things the wrong way around.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Capital punishment on radio and TV

Tomorrow, Thursday, July 27 at 1:40 pm PT, I’ll be on The Ed Morrissey Show to discuss By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed.  On the same day, my co-author Joe Bessette will be on Meet the Author with Ken Huck at 12 pm PT.  On Thursday, August 3, Joe and I will appear on The World Over with Raymond Arroyo on EWTN.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Msgr. Swetland’s confusions

Msgr. Stuart Swetland is a theologian and the president of Donnelly College.  You might recall that, almost a year ago, he gained some notoriety for his bizarre opinion that having a positive view of Islam is nothing less than a requirement of Catholic orthodoxy.  As that episode indicates, the monsignor is not the surest of guides to what the Church teaches.  If there were any lingering doubt about that, it was dispelled by his performance during my radio debate with him last week on the subject of capital punishment.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Essence and existence

Recently, Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, NY hosted a workshop on the theme Aquinas on Metaphysics.  I spoke on the topic of “The Distinction of Essence and Existence.”  Audio of the talk has now been posted online at the Thomistic Institute’s Soundcloud page.

McCaffrey and Murray on By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed

At Catholic Media Apostolate, Roger McCaffrey and Fr. Gerald Murray discuss my book (co-authored with Joseph Bessette) By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Aquinas watches Glengarry Glen Ross

David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross is a thing of beauty.  This assertion is bound to shock some readers who have seen the movie (originally a stage play).  It is notoriously foul-mouthed.  The dialogue is in other ways idiosyncratic, characterized by unfamiliar slang and incomplete sentences (a Mamet trademark).  None of the characters is admirable; indeed, most of them are to some degree or other positively repulsive – ruthless, lying, manipulative, arrogant, weak, cruel, incompetent, thieving, vindictive, corrupt.  The irony is that the movie is beautiful in part because of these features, rather than despite them.  How can that be?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Briggs on By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed

[A] book so thorough and so relentless that it is difficult to imagine anybody reading it and coming away unconvinced by the lawfulness and usefulness of capital punishment…

Experts on this subject may be assured that Feser and Bessette have covered every facet with the same assiduity of a lawyer preparing a Supreme Court brief.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Capital punishment on the radio (UPDATED)

Joe Bessette and I will be doing a number of radio interviews in connection with our new book By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment.  Yesterday I appeared on Kresta in the Afternoon, and you can find the interview here.  Today I appeared on The Mike Janocik Show to discuss the theological side of the issue.  Joe will appear on the show next week to discuss the social scientific aspects of the issue. 

Many further radio appearances are scheduled for next week and beyond.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Taking Aquinas seriously

At First Things, Connor Grubaugh interviews me on the subject of Thomas Aquinas and Analytical Thomism.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

It’s the next open thread

Here is your latest opportunity to converse about topics that have not arisen in the course of other combox discussions at this here blog.  From neo-Kantianism to neo-conservatism, from mortal sin to imported gin, from the dubia cardinals to the Doobie Brothers – discuss whatever you like, within reason.  Keep it civil, but for once you needn’t keep it on topic.

Fr. Z on By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed

The esteemed Fr. John Zuhlsdorf kindly calls his readers’ attention to By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment, my new book co-written with Joseph Bessette.  Fr. Z writes:

Anything written by Edward Feser is reliable and worth time… This is a good book for the strong reader, student of Catholic moral and social teaching, seminarians and clerics.