Category Philosophy

Did Marxism really lose the Cold War?

Reflecting on contemporary developments of the sexual revolution, Carlo Lancellotti comments that today’s rejection of the concept of human nature is done on moral grounds rather than philosophical: This denial of “essentialism” (i.e. the normative aspect of human nature -DPM) could be interpreted as a mere instance of nominalism or positivism, except that its motivation […]

The Curse of Middlin’ Smart

I consider myself as being “middlin’ smart”. I’m of above average intelligence. People have always told me I’m smart. I have one graduate degree and am working on another. I once considered an academic career. I speak two languages well and can muddle through in a third, which is quite an accomplishment for a ‘Merican […]

Conversion stories

Some of my posts lately have been about faith and conversion (what can I say, Lent) so a recent post by Rod Dreher caught my attention. He asks his readers what their moment of clarity was, when they realized everything they had formerly believed was just a lie. The responses, of course, are all over […]

Why Incest is Wrong

I confess that as a philosophy undergrad I’ve never read Thomas Aquinas’ treatments of ethics. I hated my intro to ethics class which was designed around the work of Karl Rahner, whom at the time I found not just incomprehensible but also deeply irritating, and I ended up avoiding ethics-related electives. So I am surprised […]

When your morals are exhausting

I am theoretically sympathetic to veganism but one of my complaints about it is that it is exhausting. Vegans I’ve known seem to yo-yo between guiltily eating meat and missionary zeal, passing from one phase to the other other as sure as the waxing and waning of the moon. The vegan tends to move from […]

Good Deeds Not Required

Bonum facendum, malum evitandum is the axiom that governs our practical behavior: do good, avoid evil. What good and evil consist of is not always clear, but the axiom always holds. Of the two, the malum is easier to define. The Ten Commandments list eight evils to avoid, but only two goods to do. Legal codes […]

Is A Vodka Martini Really A Martini?

In his Confusio and Excitorio Hereticorm, St Remy of Aquatine continues his discussion of Spirits with question 14: Whether or not a Vodka Martini is Really a Martini. Fifty years later Bonaventure would cite this exposition as turning him from vodka Martinis but Aquinas, who in Summa Contra Gentiles took the position described in Objection 3, never seems to have […]

Is Gin a Girly Drink? A Refutation of The Pink Agendist

The following is an excerpt from Refutatio et Exscidium Hereticorum by St Remy of Aquitaine (1150? – 1205). Book Four is De Spiritus which concerns itself with Angels, Demons, and Alcohol. In Question 14, St Remy takes up the thesis, Is Gin A Girly Drink?   To some heretics, it seems that gin is a girly drink, fine for summer […]

On the Goodness of the Material World

The other day I was helping a friend build a greenhouse. As we cleared snow, swung picks in the frozen earth, sank the posts and erected the structure, my friend described the principles of permaculture, an art of gardening that respects and imitates as much as possible the natural rhythms of the earth: embrace the […]

Can one be fully human in suburbia?

I have only a passing familiarity with the work of Alasdair MacIntyre, but one of his concepts, the collapse of a common vision of ethics and its effects on modern culture, was very important to me. Today I ran across this challenging quote, from an article on MacIntyre by Stanley Hauerwas, which in a way relates […]