CT 10.2: Thomist Taxonomy, or What’s a Species?

Genus: Tree.  Specific Difference: Bearing Oranges.  Species: Orange Tree.

We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.In the previous post, we began to explain what it means for a being to have an essence, so as to understand what Thomas means when he says that God is identical with His Essence. In this post, we continue to provide background to Thomas' words, explaining what he means by definition, genus, and species. In each case, Thomas' notion is considerably more precise tha … [Read more...]

The Glorious Multiplicity of the Magisterium

The Magisterium: Handing on the whole world of faith.

The phrase "the magisterium of the Church" is simply a fancy phrase for the teaching authority of the Catholic Church. This teaching authority resides in the Pope and in the college of bishops speaking together, and is ensured by the Holy Spirit through the apostolic succession.In paragraphs 48 and 49 of Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis explains why it has to be this way.Since faith is one, it must be professed in all its purity and integrity. Precisely because all the articles of faith are … [Read more...]

Software Development and the Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci

One of my regular goals as a software developer is the intentional reduction of cognitive load—that is, I try to reduce the number of things I have to think about to get the job done. This applies to interfaces used by the customer, but it applies in spades to the interfaces used by the programmer: which is to say, APIs of the modules of code in the system, and the interfaces of the tools used during development.It's like this. A large software system is fiendishly, horrendously, a … [Read more...]

Music to Flee Shoggoths By


I discovered H.P. Lovecraft the summer I turned 14 or 15.That's not quite right. My elder siblings—excuse me, I should capitalize that ominously—my Elder Siblings had a couple of books of Lovecraftian tales around the house, and I'd dipped into them once or twice. But the summer I first really got into Lovecraft was the summer I turned 14 or 15. I remember golden afternoons sitting in my room at the top of the house, with windows open on both sides of the room and a fan going to keep the … [Read more...]

Terry Pratchett on Family Feuds

Monkey Typing

The Oggs were what is known as an extended family—in fact not only extended but elongated, protracted and persistent. No normal sheet of paper could possibly trace their family tree, which in any case was more like a mangrove thicket. And every single branch had a low-key, chronic vendetta against every other branch, based on such well-established causes célèbres as What Their Kevin Said About Our Stan At Cousin Di’s Wedding and Who Got The Silver Cutlery That Auntie Em Promised Our Doreen Was To … [Read more...]

A Tale of Two Financial Collapses: More BS?


Here we have another economic meme, somewhat similar to the meme I examined recently and accused of being BS.*It's comparing two disparate regions, Iceland and the United States. It's discussing economic actions and results. It's trying to make an implicit point.So what is it claiming?Both Iceland and the United States suffered financial collapses. I don't follow the news from Iceland, but I'll take it as read that Iceland has indeed had difficulties. The events here in … [Read more...]

Review: The Citadel of God, by Louis de Wohl

The Citadel of God, by Louis de Wohl

Louis de Wohl spent a considerable time in the middle of the 20th century writing historical novels about the great saints of the Catholic Church. I've read a number of them, and have found them to be uniformly well-written, entertaining, and informative. I wouldn't call them truly top-notch—they are a little lightweight compared to the historical novels I'm seeing these days, and they are certainly romanticized—but as a first look at one of the great saints, they aren't bad.One thing they … [Read more...]

CT 10.1: Identity of God with His Essence


We’re blogging through St. Thomas Aquinas’ Compendium Theologiae, sometimes called his Shorter Summa. Find the previous posts here.Now that Thomas has established that God exists, is eternal and everlasting, and is utterly simple (in the sense of not being composed of distinct, separable parts) he begins to get seriously metaphysical.  That is, he's going to look at the metaphysical notions we apply to the objects of daily experience, and determine the extent to which those notions apply to G … [Read more...]

Pope Francis on Fellow Travelers and True Believers

He's got the key to the whole thing.

Historically, the phrase "fellow travelers" was used of those who sympathized with the aims and goals of the Communist Party but chose not to join it. Though not members, they were traveling in the same direction. That doesn't mean they precisely shared the beliefs of the Communist Party—presuming that the members of the Party themselves had a precisely unified set of beliefs beyond that week's party line.We see something similar in every area where people band together to do something: t … [Read more...]