1. (T/F) Anselm said God, "the being than which none greater can be conceived," must exist because otherwise He'd be imperfect (and not The Greatest).
2. The _____ argument says that merely having an idea of God proves God's existence.
3. What was Anselm's reply to Gaunilo?
4. Why did Aquinas think there couldn't be an infinite regress of causes?
5. (T/F) An objection to Aquinas' argument against an infinite regress of causes is that an Uncaused Cause is not necessarily God-like in relevant respects (power, knowledge, goodness.
6. Is "Nothing" uncontestably the best answer to "What caused the cosmos?"Bonus: In contrast to utilitarians like Bentham, says Anthony Kenny, Aquinas agreed with Aristotle that happiness is not a _______ but an activity or way of life.
1. Do you think not existing is an imperfection? What, exactly, is made less perfect by its failure to actually exist? Can we think our way to an understanding of what must be real, and what is merely imaginary?
2. Can you infer from a (hypothetically-) necessary First Cause to an omnipotent, omniscient, omni-benevolent God? Can you rule out the possibility that a First Cause might be malevolent or Satanic?
3. Bertrand Russell said he gave up belief in God when he encountered J.S. Mill's Autobiography account of not getting a satisfactory answer to the question "What caused God?" Is that a good question, and a good response?
An old post-
Thursday, February 19, 2015
Anselm stumped for the divine moral perfection (and omnipotence and omniscience) of a being “than which none greater could be conceived.” His Ontological Argumentis either ingenious or ridiculous, depending on who you ask. But it rarely persuades those who do not come at it armed with antecedent faith. "Faith seeking understanding," or maybe just the appearance of rational cover.
Anselm considers reason subordinate to faith. 'I believe in order to understand,' he says; following Augustine, he holds that without belief it is impossible to understand. God, he says, is not just... St Anselm, like his predecessors in Christian philosophy, is in the Platonic rather than the Aristotelian tradition. For this reason, he has not the distinctive characteristics of the philosophy which is called "scholastic," which culminated in Thomas Aquinas. Russell
In the time of Aquinas, the battle for Aristotle, as against Plato, still had to be fought. The influence of Aquinas secured the victory [for Aristotle] until the Renaissance; then Plato, who became better known than in the Middle Ages, again aquired supremacy... RussellIndeed, "Aquinas fully endorsed Aristotle..." (Cave & Light)
But the charity he seems to admire most in Aquinas is of the intellectual variety, "always trying to balance arguments from both sides" and treat those whose conclusions he disputes with civility.
Neither of today's 20th century Harvard philosophers was a Saint, but both were civil.
Robert Nozick began his academic career as a narrow analyst and wunderkind libertarian, but evolved well beyond his starting place. He came to realize that astringent libertarianism neglects "the reality of our social solidarity and humane concern for others." He came also to the view that "thinking about life is more like mulling it over" than like pinning it with a syllogism. "It feels like growing up more." He kept growing, 'til stomach cancer took him at age 63.
Nozick's chapter on dying in The Examined Life begins,
THEY SAY NO ONE is able to take seriously the possibility of his or her own death, but this does not get it exactly right. (Does everyone take seriously the possibility of his or her own life?) A person's own death does become real to him after the death of both parents.He's right about that, in my experience.
Before his death (as Yogi Berra might have said) Nozick gave us the good oldExperience Machine. We just talked about this the other day. Here's a Yalie to talk about it too.
John Rawls, says Carlin Romano, wrote "the most important book of English-language political theory since Mill's On Liberty. His goal was a coherent theory of "justice as fairness" whose appeal would span the spectrum, after emerging from behind a "Veil of Ignorance." Not everyone buys it, but we all talk about it. Michael Sandel does too, to a much bigger class than ours, albeit mostly virtual & MOOCy.
And now there's a musical stage show. How many political philosophers can say that?! Rawls@dawn
Also a propos of politics, happily included in our chapter today: historicity, Kantian respect, egalitarianism, libertarianism, affirmative action ("reverse discrimination"), the Marxist critique of sham democracy, and paradoxes of conscience. Plenty, as usual, on our plates.