CT 12: God Not Contained Under Any Genus

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.In the previous chapter, Thomas shows that God's essence is simply existence itself, ipsum esse, a point he'd been working up to for some chapters.  In this chapter and several that follow, he's concerned to prove some corollaries, and to situate God within certain traditional metaphysical categories—or, more accurately, to show that He is a special case, and the … [Read more...]

The Terrible Contradiction of Staffing

In Chapter 4 of Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis notes that the story of faith isn't simply the story of a journey; it's also the story of the building of a city, a place where all can live together in peace:In presenting the story of the patriarchs and the righteous men and women of the Old Testament, the Letter to the Hebrews highlights an essential aspect of their faith. That faith is not only presented as a journey, but also as a process of building, the preparing of a place in which human … [Read more...]

Do You Sudo? Or, Increasing the Cognitive Load

One of Quill's functions is that it lets you list the third-party libraries you need, and it goes out and fetches them for you. It fetches them from ActiveState's "teapot repository", using a program called "teacup" which is delivered with ActiveTcl. And therein lies the problem.When you install ActiveTcl, it naturally wants to be installed for all users on the machine. On Windows you just need "admin" privileges, and then there's no problem. (And if you're a working programmer, and … [Read more...]

Dance to the Tune of Elsie Marley!

I have met at least two folk songs that speak in their lyrics of dancing "to the tune of Elsie Marley": the song "Byker Hill", which I blogged some while back, and Steeleye Span's "Harvest of the Moon":So my son asked at breakfast today whether I'd ever heard the tune of Elsie Marley, and did it have words? Youtube is your friend; and it turns out that it does:Di' ye ken Elsie Marley, honey The wife that sells the barley,honey She lost her pocket and all her money A-back o' … [Read more...]

Black Tuesday is on Thursday This Year

world trade center cross

Thirteen years ago, terrorist zealots killed over 3,000 people on U.S. soil. Today, their spiritual and philosophical heirs are engaging in genocide across large parts of what used to be Iraq and Syria.I don't pretend to know what America's appropriate response to ISIS should be. We could move troops in and stop it for now; but I'm not at all confident that a similar phenomenon wouldn't recur shortly after we (inevitably) pulled our troops out again.We've heard a variety of Muslim … [Read more...]

Nom Nom Nominalism

Every once in a while, on more philosophically inclined blogs, I read about the evils of nominalism; and since it has a bearing on the Aquinas series I'm posting on Mondays I thought I'd say a few things about it.According to Thomas and Aristotle, every being has an essence, what it is: a cat, a dog, a rock, a flower, a human being. Thomas and Aristotle agree with Plato that these essences are universals: all cats are cats because they share the single essence "being a cat". However, … [Read more...]

Review: Master and Commander, by Patrick O’Brian


J.R.R. Tolkien was the first great literary discovery of my life, and the author of the book that I've returned to more often than any other. I fell in love with his work when I was nine, and have never fallen out of it.Patrick O'Brian is the second great literary discovery of my life; I first made his (literary) acquaintance sometime in the mid-90's, and have loved his work ever since.Some of you are now nodding your heads, some of you are shaking them, and some of you are wondering … [Read more...]

CT 11: Identity of Essence and Existence in God

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.Having noted that God is His essence, Thomas continues,God’s essence cannot be other than His existence. In any being whose essence is distinct from its existence, what it is must be distinct from that whereby it is. For in virtue of a thing’s existence we say that it is, and in virtue of its essence we say what it is. This is why a definition that signifies a … [Read more...]

The Glorious Multiplicity of Creation

Two weeks ago I looked at paragraphs 48 and 49 of Lumen Fidei, and talked about the Glorious Multiplicity of the Magisterium. The truth of the faith is too large, I said, (using rather more words) for one bishop to encompass it all; thus, we have many, so that nothing may be lost.In that post I was speaking of revelation; but the same thing is true of all of creation. God is vast, unbounded; and everything that was, and is, and will be in all of creation exists to show forth some … [Read more...]