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Today’s Aquinas: Do Humans and Animals Think in the Same Way?


Last week’s discussion of “nobler beings” predictably started a comment thread about the nature of intelligence and the intelligence of animals, with excursions on language and tool use.  Thomas believed (as did Aristotle before him) that human intelligence is qualitatively different than animal intelligence—that human beings are defined as being the kind of animal that reasons.  I might add that reason, to Thomas, encompassed more than logical argumentation.  Human reason encompasses three thing … [Read more...]

Gopher Tuna!

Gopher Tuna! Bring More Tuna! Statue of Big Dog with Fleas!I've posted this one before, but it's been that kind of a week, and I decided this would go down well. … [Read more...]

Paarfi of Roundwood on Errands

Printing Press

“This is the camp of Lord Adron?” said Khaavren.“None other,” said the Dragonlord.“Well, this camp is then just what I have been seeking, for I have an errand to His Highness that trembles with impatience and bites its lips with frustration at any delay; wherefore, good soldier, I ask that you let me by so that I and my errand can come to an understanding with each other. I am called Khaavren of Castlerock, and I have the honor to be Captain of His Majesty’s Imperial Guard, and it is on … [Read more...]

Second Look: Amazon Echo after One Week

Amazon Echo

Last week I posted my immediate reaction to Amazon's new "Echo" thingy*. (I use the word "thingy" advisedly, because I'm still not sure what to call it.) Here's a second look, after a week's experience.First, I like it very much as a music player. I've gotten used to listening to music over the speakers in my iMac or my iPad, and the Echo sounds much nicer. Plus, I'd forgotten how music sounds when it fills the room from a point some distance away from my ear. The voice commands work … [Read more...]

Learning Something New: Establishing a Bridgehead

The Explorer Sets Out

Over the last couple of days I’ve been looking through some of the books (and by “books” I mean books, with covers and paper pages) I’ve bought over the last ten years, in an attempt to bring some order to my bedroom and den.  I’ve been using Kindle for most of my fiction reading since the first Amazon Kindle, and so most of the books I’ve been looking at involve my various interests over that period.  I’ve acquired a lot of books about photography (a big interest in the 2005-2006 time frame), an … [Read more...]

Today’s Aquinas: Nobler Beings? Who says?


Last week a reader took issue with Thomas’ use of the term “nobler beings” as being a subjective judgement.  Here is the passage in question: Another consideration: among the various perfections of things, the chief are intellect and will. A sign of this is that they are found in the nobler beings. (Emphasis mine.)  The word “noble” is a fraught one in American usage.  We either associate it with altruistic self-sacrifice (as in “a noble act”) or with the whole European social scheme we left be … [Read more...]

They’ve Seen Him Out Dressed In My Clothes

Johnny Cash sings the best song about Original Sin I've ever heard: "The Beast in Me"."...the beast in me/That everybody knows/They've seen him out dressed in my clothes..."Yes, I rather suspect they have.The beast in me Is caged by frail and fragile bars Restless by day And by night rants and rages at the stars God help the beast in meThe beast in me Has had to learn to live with pain And how to shelter from the rain And in the twinkling of an eye Might have to be … [Read more...]

First Look: Amazon Echo, or Alexa Tells You All About It

Amazon Echo

So in a fit of madness I pre-ordered an Amazon Echo when they were announced a couple of months ago, and it arrived on my doorstep this afternoon. I say a fit of madness because I'm not usually an early-adopter; but I was in a susceptible mood and it seemed like it might be cool, maybe, possibly, perhaps, a little.My first reaction, having spent fifteen minutes or so with it—this thing is pretty darn nifty.So what it is it? Well, that's it over there to the right. It's a black c … [Read more...]

Living on a Prayer Trigger


St. Paul tells us to pray without ceasing.  Just what that means is not entirely clear; opinions range from continuously (literally, every waking moment) to continually, on a very regular basis.  In the Eastern tradition, for example, it's a recognize devotion to say the Jesus prayer under your breath as continuously as possible.Me, I come down somewhere in the middle.  As I related few months ago, I have a regular daily prayer schedule as a Lay Dominican, so I certainly do pray co … [Read more...]