Author Topic: Why not hedonism?  (Read 13746 times)

Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: Why not hedonism?
« Reply #60 on: January 21, 2019, 09:03:58 PM »
Here I think we go astray.  When we say "God cannot have defects," we make a metaphysical assumption along the same lines as Plato and Aristotle made.  The logic of cause and effect has only gotten us to: "the uncaused cause, eternal and uncreated, that from which all else proceeds" and, as Aquinas says, "we call this God."  Well and good.  That same logic, however, cannot get us to know the nature of this entity.  How can we know whether it has no defects or not?

Because included in this definition – "the uncaused cause, eternal and uncreated, that from which all else proceeds" – is the implicit understanding that this limitless & all-powerful Being is ipso facto the very Standard by which we measure all things, including goodness.

I would have to disagree, John Lamb.  What you claim is implicit in that definition seems only implicit on your own say-so; the ipso facto in there is an assumption.  Observably there are many people in existence who are completely ignorant of this "Standard by which we measure all things," and who instead measure things according to their own whims or self-gratification, or who in the past have measured things according to deities who were appeased by human sacrifice (and there still exist tribes in Papua New Guinea who practice cannibalism, as well as ritual sodomy upon children).  Whatever things the uncaused cause has loaned to us, a universal standard does not appear to be among them, else we would all be in agreement on what is good.

But I do agree with your claim that "outside of divine revelation, we don't know the manner of the proceeding."  This is correct.  Logic can only get us to the (unadulterated) uncaused cause.  We can't know by the lights of logic whether this is Jehovah, Brahman, a Pythagorean monad, the One, or some mystery we will never know what.  If there is a knowable nature of the uncaused cause, this precise nature must be revealed.  It is not arrived at by logic.

So yes, an imperfect world did proceed from God: but only through an intermediary.

Neither Moses nor Plato sufficiently resolves the problem.  Whether the imperfection proceeds through Original Sin or the incompetence of a Demiurge, both intermediaries are permitted by (or proceed from, respectively) God or the One, who must therefore answer for them.  As all things recede back into the uncaused cause, so too, ultimately, does all responsibility.  It's like the placard Harry Truman kept on his desk:

« Last Edit: January 21, 2019, 10:06:36 PM by Pon de Replay »
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Rome sank to whoredom and became a stew
The Caesars became beasts, and God—a Jew!
 

Offline John Lamb

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Re: Why not hedonism?
« Reply #61 on: January 21, 2019, 09:27:30 PM »
Here I think we go astray.  When we say "God cannot have defects," we make a metaphysical assumption along the same lines as Plato and Aristotle made.  The logic of cause and effect has only gotten us to: "the uncaused cause, eternal and uncreated, that from which all else proceeds" and, as Aquinas says, "we call this God."  Well and good.  That same logic, however, cannot get us to know the nature of this entity.  How can we know whether it has no defects or not?

Because included in this definition – "the uncaused cause, eternal and uncreated, that from which all else proceeds" – is the implicit understanding that this limitless & all-powerful Being is ipso facto the very Standard by which we measure all things, including goodness.

I would have to disagree, John Lamb.  What you claim is implicit in that definition seems only implicit on your own say-so; the ipso facto in there is an assumption.  Observably there are many people in existence who are completely ignorant of this "Standard by which we measure all things," and who instead measure things according to their own whims or self-gratification, or who in the past have measured things according to deities who were appeased by human sacrifice (and there still exist tribes in Papua New Guinea who practice cannibalism, as well as ritual sodomy upon children).  Whatever things the uncaused cause has loaned to us, a universal standard does not appear to be among them, else we would all be in agreement on what is good.

As Aristotle observes very profoundly: the more general an intellectual principle is, the more intelligible it is in itself, the more obscure it is to our minds. It is like the eyes being blurred by the overabundant light of the sun. Aquinas notes that the intellects of composite creatures such as ourselves – who are part spiritual and part material – has for its immediate object the individual substances known by the senses. That explains why the ultimate Standard, the Supreme Good, which is the most supremely Intelligible object in itself, to us remains almost impossibly obscure so that St. Paul speaks of us seeing "in a glass darkly", as our intellects are submerged in the sensual world, especially with all the passion and malice arising from our corrupt nature which further blinds us to the truth. This is why philosophers, sages, and mystics – those most far removed from material life – are the ones most acquainted with it and still then only partially and very obscurely.

Still, that this notion of divine Standard or Supreme Good is implied in all our value judgements is something which is definitely true, although even this is one of those philosophical judgements which is difficult for us to grasp (it is Aquinas' fourth way and basically the whole of Plato's philosophy). But as much as you find ignorance of this principle among men, you also find a vague kind of knowledge of it. For example, in the understanding of so many primitive peoples that there is a God above who is going to judge their actions and who expects good and not evil from them. That their understanding of God and His laws might be imperfect does not take away from its general correctness. That there are some individuals or tribes that have fallen into the worse idolatry or most despairing atheism is really the exception to the rule and only shows just how corruptible and corrupt human nature is.

Read: http://www.gkc.org.uk/gkc/books/diabolist.html

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Neither Moses nor Plato sufficiently resolves the problem.  Whether the imperfection proceeds through Original Sin or the incompetence of a Demiurge, both intermediaries proceed from (or are permitted by) God or the One, who must therefore answer for them.  As all things recede back into the uncaused cause, so too, ultimately, does all responsibility.

Not all responsibility, seeing as the evils which proceed directly from our own malice are our own responsibility at least morally speaking. I suppose that God has ultimate responsibility for all things metaphysically speaking however. In any case, whatever He has to answer for He has promised to answer at the end of time, which is fair seeing as time is short and He has only permitted this to test us and see what we'll make of the freedom He's graciously endowed us with. And for the time being, He's given us His Son to let us know that we are not abandoned by Him, which is certainly far more than we could ever dare to ask.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2019, 09:30:12 PM by John Lamb »
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Offline John Lamb

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Re: Why not hedonism?
« Reply #62 on: January 21, 2019, 09:51:13 PM »
A thought experiment I like to use to help understand why God permits so many sufferings in the world, and why moral evils are so much graver than natural evils, is: imagine if Nero or Hitler were immortal (I'm speaking of bodily immortality, no doubt their souls persist). Imagine if their lifespan was not capped at 120 years at the most but would go on instead for 10,000 years, and then 10,000 years more, forever. Imagine if they succeeded in cementing their tyrannical hold over the world forever.

Death is the answer to human pride. It puts us in our place. Every tyrant and greedy miser knows that he's going to be separated from all his power & wealth in the near future. That puts a limit on the evils they can perform. Not only that, but it gives them a stern reminder to repent before they die and lose everything. If people knew they were going to carry on living for millions of years without repercussion there is no conceivable limit to the pride & malice they would foster in their hearts. Death gives rest to the weary and it cuts the wicked off from their evil works. Although it's a horrible thing in itself, it's a better thing that we die so long as we're subject to the corruption of original sin and are a horror to ourselves. Only in our resurrected bodies when we're restored to a state of purity will life really be worth living again. What makes the present life worth living is faith in a Redeemer, hope of a better life, love of our co-sufferers.

At the end of the world there will be people cursing God for making them beautiful, because their beauty caused them to fall; and people praising God for allowing them to be ugly, because it saved them from temptation. There will be people cursing God for making them rich, and praising Him for making them poor. Cursing Him for making them famous, praising Him for letting them remain unknown. Cursing Him for letting them live to old age, praising Him for letting them die young.
But right now we can't fathom any of this:

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When the same Abba Anthony thought about the depth of the judgements of God, he asked, 'Lord, how is it that some die when they are young, while others drag on to extreme old age? Why are there those who are poor and those who are rich? Why do wicked men prosper and why are the just in need?' He heard a voice answering him, 'Anthony, keep your attention on yourself; these things are according to the judgement of God, and it is not to your advantage to know anything about them.'
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Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: Why not hedonism?
« Reply #63 on: January 21, 2019, 10:00:12 PM »
Still, that this notion of divine Standard or Supreme Good is implied in all our value judgements is something which is definitely true, although even this is one of those philosophical judgements which is difficult for us to grasp (it is Aquinas' fourth way and basically the whole of Plato's philosophy). But as much as you find ignorance of this principle among men, you also find a vague kind of knowledge of it. For example, in the understanding of so many primitive peoples that there is a God above who is going to judge their actions and who expects good and not evil from them. That their understanding of God and His laws might be imperfect does not take away from its general correctness. That there are some individuals or tribes that have fallen into the worse idolatry or most despairing atheism is really the exception to the rule and only shows just how corruptible and corrupt human nature is.

To be clear, though, I wasn't talking strictly about idolatry or cannibalism.  Those were just two of the more egregious examples I could think of off-hand.  Cannibalism certainly constitutes an exception to the rule, for sure, but idolatry has always been widespread and I don't think we need to enumerate all the deviations from what we consider good or virtuous that have occurred throughout history—from the pederasty of the Greeks and Romans to the polygamy and animal sacrifice of the Hebrews and Mohammedans to the sati of the Hindoos to the infanticide of nearly every ancient civilization, et al., &c.  The French practiced recreational cat-burning in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.  It is fine if we want to say with Aristotle that the Standard is obscure and difficult to perceive, but such a notion is also entirely compatible with a standard that does not actually exist.  Rather there would simply be an emerging and changing morality that evolves through trial and error and with fits and starts—and which still continues to this day as we witness hideous new approaches to morality in our own age.  But at this point we would be back to our contention over whether humankind is seven thousand or two hundred thousand years old, and there of course we disagree.  Peace be with you.

At the end of the world there will be people cursing God [...] for letting them live to old age.

If Catholicism is true, then this will definitely be my lot at the Last Judgment.  I would much rather have died before reaching the age of reason.


« Last Edit: January 21, 2019, 10:01:59 PM by Pon de Replay »
"The sneakiness of prigs, the conventicle secrecy, gloomy concepts like hell, like sacrifice of the guiltless, like unio mystica in drinking blood; above all, the slowly fanned fire of revenge, of chandala revenge—all that is what became master over Rome."

Rome sank to whoredom and became a stew
The Caesars became beasts, and God—a Jew!
 

Offline Xavier

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Re: Why not hedonism?
« Reply #64 on: January 22, 2019, 12:12:52 AM »
Quote from: Pon
Logic can only get us to the (unadulterated) uncaused cause.  We can't know by the lights of logic whether this is Jehovah, Brahman, a Pythagorean monad, the One, or some mystery we will never know what.

Sure we can, Pon. Who is the God Who consistently taught Israel and in time the whole world that that there was One Supreme Creator? It was only Jehovah, the God Who revealed Himself to Abraham and Moses Who did that. I don't think you will deny that for more than at least a 1000 years before some good Greek philosophers, at length and with difficulty, finally apprehended this truth and discovered philosophically the First Cause, historically speaking, the Lord God Jehovah had proclaimed it to His Prophets to be announced in His Name.

Interestingly, there are some monotheistic traditions even in Hinduism, which is probably the only main polytheistic religion of today. Of course, it was not consistently taught that there is One Supreme God, and thus by some estimates you have like 33 crore claimed gods today, so the notion of one God and Father of all is lost. Much later reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy in India tried to bring back the idea of the Supreme Being. "Brahmo Samaj believe in the existence of One Supreme God — "a God, endowed with a distinct personality & moral attributes equal to His nature, and intelligence befitting the Author and Preserver of the Universe," and worship Him alone." Wiki

Thus, God was not operative to prevent error in Hinduism, as He was in Israel, otherwise the doctrine of One God would have been preserved.

In brief, we know Who the Uncaused Cause is historically because only One God consistently taught the world that there is only One Creator of heaven and earth, and all things within them.

Similarly, we can know God is Good through conscience and natural law.

Natural Conscience is God's first witness that the God Who gave us that conscience is unchangeably Good - and is always inspiring us to eschew what is evil and choose what is good. Hence we believe as St. Paul says, "the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness to them" (Rom 2:15).

The argument that some rejected what their conscience told them - St. Augustine and St. Chrysostom mention this was part of the reason that the eternal Lawgiver decided that the Law written on human hearts was now to be written on tablets of stone and left as an everlasting testimony to man - only shows man is free to reject even what he knows, as he can reject even the Scriptural witness after knowing it, not that he was unable to come to the knowledge (at least in a very basic and elementary way) of good and evil.

To put it as a syllogism,

1. All of us know some acts (killing innocents, rape and sexual abuse, torturing children etc) are objectively wrong and we are bound to avoid them.
2. Therefore, there is a law naturally discernible by our conscience that prescribes what we should avoid.
3. This law cannot be caused by any creature because it is unchanging and eternal
4. It can only come from our eternal Creator, Who consequently is known to be the source of the natural moral law, and so Goodness itself.

If we can know that some acts are always evil, we know there is a law that guides our actions toward seeking Good and avoiding evil. But this could not have arisen through blind forces, and thus conscience leads to God. The 4th way of St. Thomas proceeds along similar lines.

Your thoughts, Pon?

Eta: on the other thing, I agree with Gardener that Banez was wrong. St. Alphonsus rejects "negative reprobation". Cardinal Journet shows the Thomistic Tradition.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2019, 12:16:43 AM by Xavier »
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Offline Daniel

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Re: Why not hedonism?
« Reply #65 on: January 22, 2019, 07:02:56 AM »
Because included in this definition – "the uncaused cause, eternal and uncreated, that from which all else proceeds" – is the implicit understanding that this limitless & all-powerful Being is ipso facto the very Standard by which we measure all things, including goodness. That is, we wouldn't know what a "defect" is, ultimately, if not for this transcendent uncreated Good & First Cause of all created goods.
This is what I don't get. If the standard is God, then it follows that the 'best' cat is whichever cat most closely resembles God. But this is false. Because cats are supposed to be catlike, not Godlike. They should be corporeal, not spiritual. Irrational, not rational. Cats are not supposed to be omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent. etc. So 'good' cats are not the cats which resemble God. Rather, the 'good' cats are those cats which more closely resemble the Form of Cat. And the 'best' cat is whichever cat most closely resembles the Form of Cat. Unless we admit that the Forms are God, then the standard is the Forms, not God. But I'm not sure how we can admit that the Forms are God, seeing as the Forms are complex and many and defined whereas God is simple and one and infinite.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2019, 07:19:56 AM by Daniel »
 

Offline Daniel

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Re: Why not hedonism?
« Reply #66 on: January 22, 2019, 07:54:17 AM »
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Offline John Lamb

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Re: Why not hedonism?
« Reply #67 on: January 22, 2019, 09:32:56 AM »
Because included in this definition – "the uncaused cause, eternal and uncreated, that from which all else proceeds" – is the implicit understanding that this limitless & all-powerful Being is ipso facto the very Standard by which we measure all things, including goodness. That is, we wouldn't know what a "defect" is, ultimately, if not for this transcendent uncreated Good & First Cause of all created goods.
This is what I don't get. If the standard is God, then it follows that the 'best' cat is whichever cat most closely resembles God. But this is false. Because cats are supposed to be catlike, not Godlike. They should be corporeal, not spiritual. Irrational, not rational. Cats are not supposed to be omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent. etc. So 'good' cats are not the cats which resemble God. Rather, the 'good' cats are those cats which more closely resemble the Form of Cat. And the 'best' cat is whichever cat most closely resembles the Form of Cat. Unless we admit that the Forms are God, then the standard is the Forms, not God.

The more catlike a cat is the more godlike it is in being whole in its nature and complete in its being. All things are godlike to a certain degree, in that a trace of God's being is present in all things. Insofar as a thing has being it is a partial reflection of the eternal self-subsistent Being, and the more closely a being reflects the self-subsisting Being the more godlike it is. So plants are more godlike than minerals, because they have an intrinsic motion; animals are more godlike than plants, because they have sense knowledge which allows them greater self-directed movement; men are more godlike than animals, because we have rational souls which are free & immortal with the power of intellectual knowledge; and angels are more godlike than men because they are not subject to any corruption and their intellectual knowledge is more perfect and less reliant on externals.

 
Quote
But I'm not sure how we can admit that the Forms are God, seeing as the Forms are complex and many and defined whereas God is simple and one and infinite.

All the Forms exist in God in a united way, and God knows all the Forms through knowing His essence in one single united act of His divine intellect.

From Aquinas,
Dionysius likewise says: “Therefore, in knowing itself, the divine wisdom knows all things—the material immaterially, the divisible indivisibly, and the many unitedly” [De div. nom. VII, 2].

The whole article,

THAT GOD DOES NOT UNDERSTAND BY COMPOSING AND DIVIDING

[1] Through the same means we can also show that the divine intellect does not understand in the manner of a composing and dividing intellect.

[2] For the divine intellect knows all things by knowing its own essence. Now it does not know its own essence by composing and dividing, since it knows itself as it is and there is no composition in it. It does not, therefore, know in the manner of a composing and dividing intellect.

[3] Moreover, what is composed and divided by the intellect is of a nature to be considered separately by it. For there would be no need of composition and division if by apprehending the essence of a thing we grasped what belonged in it and what did not. If, then, God understood in the manner of a composing and dividing intellect, it would follow that He did not consider all things by one intuition but each thing separately. We have shown the contrary of this above.

[4] Furthermore, there can be no before and after in God. But composition and division come after the consideration of the essence, which is their principle. Hence, composition and division cannot be found in the operation of the divine intellect.

[5] Again, the proper object of the intellect is what a thing is. Hence, in relation to what a thing is the intellect suffers no deception except by accident, whereas as concerns composition and division it is deceived. So, too, a sense dealing with its proper sensibles is always true, but in other cases it is deceived. But in the divine intellect there is nothing accidental, but only that which is substantial. In the divine intellect, therefore, there is no composition and division, but only the simple apprehension of a thing.

[6] Furthermore, in the case of a proposition formed by a composing and dividing intellect, the composition itself exists in the intellect, not in the thing that is outside the soul. If the divine intellect should judge of things in the manner of a composing and dividing intellect, the intellect itself will be composite. This is impossible, as is clear from what has been said.

[7] Again, the composing and dividing intellect judges diverse things by diverse compositions, for the composition of the intellect does not exceed the terms of the composition. Hence, the intellect does not judge the triangle to be a figure by the same composition by which it judges man to be an animal. Now, composition or division is a certain operation of the intellect. If, then, God considers things by means of composing and dividing, it will follow that His understanding is not solely one but many. And thus His essence, as well, will not be solely one, since His intellectual operation is His essence, as was proved above.

[8] But it is not on this account necessary for us to say that God does not know enunciables. For His essence, being one and simple, is the exemplar of all manifold and composite things. And thus God knows through His essence all multitude and composition both of nature and of reason.

[9] With these conclusions the authority of Sacred Scripture is in harmony. For it is said in Isaiah (55:8): “For My thoughts are not your thoughts.” Yet it is said in a Psalm (93:11): “The Lord knows the thoughts of men,” which thoughts evidently proceed through composition and division in the intellect.

[10] Dionysius likewise says: “Therefore, in knowing itself, the divine wisdom knows all things—the material immaterially, the divisible indivisibly, and the many unitedly” [De div. nom. VII, 2].


https://dhspriory.org/thomas/english/ContraGentiles1.htm#58


See also chapters 51-52, 53 & 55.

Now, the divine intellect understands by no species other than the divine essence, as was shown above. Nevertheless, the divine essence is the likeness of all things. Thereby it follows that the conception of the divine intellect as understanding itself, which is its Word, is the likeness not only of God Himself understood, but also of all those things of which the divine essence is the likeness. In this way, therefore, through one intelligible species, which is the divine essence, and through one understood intention, which is the divine Word, God can understand many things.

Plato's Ideas are mentioned:

But the divine essence comprehends within itself the nobilities of all beings, not indeed compositely, but, as we have shown above, according to the mode of perfection. Now, every form, both proper and common, considered as positing something, is a certain perfection; it includes imperfection only to the extent that it falls short of true being. The intellect of God, therefore, can comprehend in His essence that which is proper to each thing by understanding wherein the divine essence is being imitated and wherein each thing falls short of its perfection. Thus, by understanding His essence as imitable in the mode of life and not of knowledge, God has the proper form of a plant; and if He knows His essence as imitable in the mode of knowledge and not of intellect, God has the proper form of animal, and so forth. Thus, it is clear that, being absolutely perfect, the divine essence can be taken as the proper exemplar of singulars. Through it, therefore, God can have a proper knowledge of all things.

Since, however, the proper exemplar of one thing is distinguished from the proper exemplar of another thing, and distinction is the source of plurality, we must observe in the divine intellect a certain distinction and plurality of understood exemplars, according as that which is in the divine intellect is the proper exemplar of diverse things. Hence, since this obtains according as God understands the proper relation of resemblance that each creature has to Him, it remains that the exemplars of things in the divine intellect are many or distinct only according as God knows that things can be made to resemble Him by many and diverse modes. In accord with this, Augustine says that God made man and a horse by distinct exemplars. He also says that the exemplars of things are a plurality in the divine mind. This conclusion likewise saves to some extent the opinion of Plato and his doctrine of Ideas, according to which would be formed everything that is found among material things.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2019, 09:42:12 AM by John Lamb »
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Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: Why not hedonism?
« Reply #68 on: January 22, 2019, 10:23:57 AM »
Who is the God Who consistently taught Israel and in time the whole world that that there was One Supreme Creator? It was only Jehovah, the God Who revealed Himself to Abraham and Moses Who did that. I don't think you will deny that for more than at least a 1000 years before some good Greek philosophers, at length and with difficulty, finally apprehended this truth and discovered philosophically the First Cause, historically speaking, the Lord God Jehovah had proclaimed it to His Prophets to be announced in His Name.

Hola, Xavier.  It is true that the ancient Hebrews had a monotheism before the ancient Greeks, but let us not neglect the differences.  We need only consider something which John Lamb mentioned earlier in the thread: that Plato would've benefited from reading Moses.  I wonder what Plato would've made of the Torah.  He would've found a form of monotheism, yes, but at the same time he would've noticed all the ways in which the God of the Jews resembled the anthropomorphic gods of the Greek pantheon, or what QMR aptly calls "a tantrums and thunderbolts god"—one who gets jealous and enraged, causes natural disasters, is pleased with animal sacrifices, and issues intricate legal decrees ranging from forbidding the consumption of pork and shellfish to stoning a bride to death if she is found not to be a virgin.  I doubt if even the Greek gods were so peculiar as to make a covenant by the mark of a genital mutilation.
 
Essentially, Plato would've found in Moses the religion that would one day become Islam.  Greek monotheism by comparison was much less coarse and primitive, and far more transcendent than anything in Moses, especially lacking the later Hellenistic-tinged wisdom of Ecclesiastes.  Without the mediating influence of Christianity, Moses is unpersuasive.  Marcion was probably right to jettison the whole thing.  With apologies for this, but as the poet Ezra Pound (who carried the torch of Greco-Roman thought somewhat unapologetically) put it: "to hell wiff Abraham.  Most of the constructive so-called Xtn ideas are out of the stoics.  In fact, I should suggest that all Christian decency is sheer stoic.  I doubt if any single ethical idea now honoured comes from Jewry."  Ezra Pound was something of an anti-Semite, so we can allow for a bit of hyperbole, but his remarks contain a certain truth.  It is not until you get to Philo of Alexandria and then to the Neoplatonist Church Fathers that the Hebrew conception of God finally begins to become credible, and then only by an immersion in Greek monotheism.

To put it as a syllogism,

1. All of us know some acts (killing innocents, rape and sexual abuse, torturing children etc) are objectively wrong and we are bound to avoid them.
2. Therefore, there is a law naturally discernible by our conscience that prescribes what we should avoid.
3. This law cannot be caused by any creature because it is unchanging and eternal
4. It can only come from our eternal Creator, Who consequently is known to be the source of the natural moral law, and so Goodness itself.

If we can know that some acts are always evil, we know there is a law that guides our actions toward seeking Good and avoiding evil. But this could not have arisen through blind forces, and thus conscience leads to God. The 4th way of St. Thomas proceeds along similar lines.

Your thoughts, Pon?

My thoughts are that this syllogism seems to fail on its first point.  As the 17th-century French cat-burners proved (among a billion other examples that could be offered), it is not known to everyone that killing innocents is wrong.  Presumably cat-burning originally emerged from Descartes' idea that animals were insensate automatons which could not feel pain, but once it took off I'm sure the average commoners in the village square were not at all versed in Cartesian philosophy, and instead were only crass and cruel human primates who thrilled to hear the anguished howls of cats being burned alive. 

The members of NAMBLA, to take another example, do not believe that sodomizing children is wrong.  Their whole mission statement is that they should be allowed to do it.  They are not alone in history on this point.  The Greeks and Romans tolerated it, and certain tribes of Papua New Guinea even ritualized a form of it.  Whatever uncaused cause is at the source of all existence (and / or is existence itself), it isn't writing a proscription against this practice on everyone's heart.  Who knows what it wants us to do?  Hopefully it is as positively repulsed by this stuff as you and I, but the thunderbolts from the sky fall at random, killing the righteous and the wicked without discrimination.  For all we know, the Papuan sodomy-and-cannibalism tribes think they're attuned to the Standard of all goodness.  They might believe that the Great Goo-Goo has decreed these rites from the beginning of time, and that everywhere else the light of truth has been obscured in the eyes of the unbelievers.  The intractable problem of claiming a specific divinely-given morality is that anyone with a claim to a god can simply say theirs is the standard.  It all ends in subjectivity.


« Last Edit: January 22, 2019, 10:38:04 AM by Pon de Replay »
"The sneakiness of prigs, the conventicle secrecy, gloomy concepts like hell, like sacrifice of the guiltless, like unio mystica in drinking blood; above all, the slowly fanned fire of revenge, of chandala revenge—all that is what became master over Rome."

Rome sank to whoredom and became a stew
The Caesars became beasts, and God—a Jew!
 

Offline John Lamb

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Re: Why not hedonism?
« Reply #69 on: January 22, 2019, 10:46:36 AM »
Hola, Xavier.  It is true that the ancient Hebrews had a monotheism before the ancient Greeks, but let us not neglect the differences.  We need only consider something which John Lamb mentioned earlier in the thread: that Plato would've benefited from reading Moses.  I wonder what Plato would've made of the Torah.  He would've found a form of monotheism, yes, but at the same time he would've noticed all the ways in which the God of the Jews resembled the anthropomorphic gods of the Greek pantheon, or what QMR aptly calls "a tantrums and thunderbolts god"—one who gets jealous and enraged, causes natural disasters, is pleased with animal sacrifices, and issues intricate legal decrees ranging from forbidding the consumption of pork and shellfish to stoning a bride to death if she is found not to be a virgin.  I doubt if even the Greek gods were so peculiar as to make a covenant by the mark of a genital mutilation.
 
Essentially, Plato would've found in Moses the religion that would one day become Islam.  Greek monotheism by comparison was much less coarse and primitive, and far more transcendent than anything in Moses, especially lacking the later Hellenistic-tinged wisdom of Ecclesiastes.  Without the mediating influence of Christianity, Moses is unpersuasive.  Marcion was probably right to jettison the whole thing.  With apologies for this, but as the poet Ezra Pound (who carried the torch of Greco-Roman thought somewhat unapologetically) put it: "to hell wiff Abraham.  Most of the constructive so-called Xtn ideas are out of the stoics.  In fact, I should suggest that all Christian decency is sheer stoic.  I doubt if any single ethical idea now honoured comes from Jewry."  Ezra Pound was something of an anti-Semite, so we can allow for a bit of hyperbole, but his remarks contain a certain truth.  It is not until you get to Philo of Alexandria and then to the Neoplatonist Church Fathers that the Hebrew conception of God finally begins to become credible, and then only by an immersion in Greek monotheism.

This seems to me simply a superficial and unfair reading of the Old Testament.  I personally think that Plato would have been singularly impressed by the Torah, and recognised in it something more solid, more authentic, and more awe-inspiring than anything which he accomplished with his highly poetic but vague Timaeus or his well-reasoned but merely speculative Laws. Though Plato may be unmatched in ancient literature for poetic flights of intellectual speculation, there is nothing in Plato as booming with authority as, "Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD," nothing as surrounded with divine dread and mystery as Moses approaching the dark cloud atop Mt. Sinai. As for the moral and ritual commandments of the Mosaic law: they are exemplary for their breadth and coherence in a time & place where so much savagery was present, and the fulfilment of the law: "Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole strength." (Deuteronomy 6:5) This was all Plato was trying to accomplish in Greek, and Moses beat him to it by a good thousand years and among a more primitive people. The style of the Torah might not be as refined or elegant as Plato's Attic Greek, but it is more numinous, profound, and resonant with divine authority.

Moses said to God: Lo, I shall go to the children of Israel, and say to them: The God of your fathers hath sent me to you. If they should say to me: What is his name? what shall I say to them? God said to Moses: I AM WHO AM. He said: Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel: HE WHO IS, hath sent me to you. And God said again to Moses: Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel: The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me to you: This is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

This is a more significant theological conclusion than anything which Plato arrives at.
"Let all bitterness and animosity and indignation and defamation be removed from you, together with every evil. And become helpfully kind to one another, inwardly compassionate, forgiving among yourselves, just as God also graciously forgave you in the Anointed." – Paul

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Offline John Lamb

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Re: Why not hedonism?
« Reply #70 on: January 22, 2019, 10:52:19 AM »
Even while they trespassed many times, nobody in the ancient world had a greater sense of the utter transcendence of the Divine and the religious dread that should inspire than the Hebrews. Plato writes like a brilliant but ignorant child in comparison to Moses who writes like a man who knows.
"Let all bitterness and animosity and indignation and defamation be removed from you, together with every evil. And become helpfully kind to one another, inwardly compassionate, forgiving among yourselves, just as God also graciously forgave you in the Anointed." – Paul

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Offline Pon de Replay

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Re: Why not hedonism?
« Reply #71 on: January 22, 2019, 11:22:05 AM »
De gustibus non est disputandum.  Plato may've indeed envied Moses his ability to convict his people of the Law, and the Torah is not without its instances of poetry and beauty, but in most of the parts pertaining to theology I imagine he would've found so much of a painfully human imagining of God, who in the Torah is a religious chauvinist who takes a preference to a single people; a martial deity like Ares who leads them into battle; and even an animistic episode where a voice comes from a burning bush.  Ever since Xenophanes, Greek philosophy had been striving to get as far away from this sort of thing as fast as it possibly could.  Anthropomorphism was an embarrassment.  What was the conversion rate when the Romans interracted with the Jews?  Surely the Roman intelligentsia were not so incurious that they wouldn't have made some kind of inquiry into the Hebrew scriptures.  I don't think they were overwhelmingly persuaded of its theology.  You are persuaded, because you are reading back into it through the ameliorative lens of Christianity.


« Last Edit: January 22, 2019, 11:45:53 AM by Pon de Replay »
"The sneakiness of prigs, the conventicle secrecy, gloomy concepts like hell, like sacrifice of the guiltless, like unio mystica in drinking blood; above all, the slowly fanned fire of revenge, of chandala revenge—all that is what became master over Rome."

Rome sank to whoredom and became a stew
The Caesars became beasts, and God—a Jew!
 

Offline Quaremerepulisti

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Re: Why not hedonism?
« Reply #72 on: January 22, 2019, 11:42:17 AM »
You either end up with:

1) A possibly self-actualizing potency;
2) An evil which is not the deprivation of a due good but has existence in its own right; or
3) A good which comes about on its own without God as First Cause.

Any of which is a denial of Thomistic metaphysics.

Not sufficient to produce it in the realm of facts, but sufficient to produce it in the realm of possibilities: and that's all we're talking about here, because we're demonstrating that God makes it at least conditionally possible for all men to be saved.

No, it's not sufficient even in the realm of possibilities, for it cannot even possibly self-actualize.

And conditional on what?

Quote
Granted that according to Thomism it is not absolutely possible for all men to be saved due to the infallibility of the eternal decrees; still, God does not decree anything in a way that takes away man's freedom or responsibility in choosing his everlasting destiny.

So therefore God has made their salvation a metaphysical impossibility (since His decrees ontologically precede their actions and even their existence), and yet He expects them to obey Him and be saved.

Quote
2b.  If yes (which seems to be your opinion because you call resistance to sufficient grace "sinful"), then what is is the good to which this evil is opposed (e.g. is a defect of)? [Answer: Charity, which is the full or proper form of co-operation with God's grace.]
2b.1. And whatever this good is, is man expected to produce it all by himself?
2b.1a.  If yes, then this is violation of the principle that God is First Cause of all good.
2b.1b.  If no, then again God is punishing man for failing to bring about a good which he could not bring about on his own, and which He failed to cause. [Answer: God is not punishing man merely for failing to love Him, but for actively refusing to love Him despite God's giving him the grace to do so. God would not withdraw efficacious grace if sufficient grace were not initially resisted: the punishment follows the sin.]

You contradict yourself.  Charity is the love of God; therefore the opposing evil is the lack of love of God, by definition.  You distinguish this from an "active refusal" to love God; and if this is indeed a separate evil, it must be opposed to a different good than charity, or else must exist on its own, as an evil not a deprivation of good.  This is in fact the case: an active refusal to love God is opposed to a willingness to love God.  But the same question repeats: can man bring about this good on his own?

So, no matter how you slice it, somewhere down the line, either there is a good man can bring about on his own (such that he can be held responsible for not bringing it about), or there is an evil which is not the deprivation of a good (such that man can prevent this evil without needing to bring about a good on his own).

Otherwise, judgment will be a farce: God will "judge" mankind, who will then turn around and judge Him as unjust, for commanding what He made (given their circumstance) metaphysically impossible.



 

Offline John Lamb

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Re: Why not hedonism?
« Reply #73 on: January 22, 2019, 11:56:14 AM »
De gustibus non est disputandum.  Plato may've indeed envied Moses his ability to convict his people of the Law, and the Torah is not without its instances of poetry and beauty, but in most of the parts pertaining to theology I imagine he would've found so much of a painfully human imagining of God,
I think you underestimate Plato's intelligence. He would have been able to discern the theology contained within unlike theologically bumbling modern readers who get caught up on the literary form so much they can't read it philosophically.
Quote
who in the Torah is a religious chauvinist who takes a preference to a single people;
He honours a covenant He made with a godly man.
Quote
a martial deity like Ares who leads them into battle;
He manifests His divine power over human society and history.
Quote
and even an animistic episode where a voice comes from a burning bush.
He manifests His divine power over created substances.
Quote
Ever since Xenophanes, Greek philosophy had been striving to get as far away from this sort of thing as fast as it possibly could.  Anthropomorphism was an embarrassment.
The God of the Torah is not anthropomorphic. It only appears that way to modern readers who have been subjected to so much "demythologising" that they hear the words "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth" and think it's a mere picturesque myth rather than a philosophically profound statement.
Quote
What was the conversion rate when the Romans interracted with the Jews?  Surely the Roman intelligentsia were not so incurious that they wouldn't have made some kind of inquiry to the Hebrew scriptures.  I don't think they were overwhelmingly persuaded of its theology.
The Jews weren't trying to convert the gentiles, they were trying to keep themselves separate from them.
Quote
You are persuaded, because you are reading back into it through the ameliorative lens of Christianity.
And you're reading it through the lens of pseudo-scientific modern scholarship with its relativistic bias. You might not see it that way, but once you've read the documents we have from Heraclitus all the way through to Schopenhauer you tend to pick up the quintessentially modern principle of relativism having read so many disparate works of geniuses.
"Let all bitterness and animosity and indignation and defamation be removed from you, together with every evil. And become helpfully kind to one another, inwardly compassionate, forgiving among yourselves, just as God also graciously forgave you in the Anointed." – Paul

The Question of Catholicism.

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Offline John Lamb

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Re: Why not hedonism?
« Reply #74 on: January 22, 2019, 12:11:48 PM »
Not sufficient to produce it in the realm of facts, but sufficient to produce it in the realm of possibilities: and that's all we're talking about here, because we're demonstrating that God makes it at least conditionally possible for all men to be saved.

No, it's not sufficient even in the realm of possibilities, for it cannot even possibly self-actualize.

And conditional on what?

Sufficient grace of itself has the power to "self-actualize", i.e. it gives men the power to co-operate with it. The only reason that merely sufficient grace cannot possibly self-actualize absolutely speaking is because man resists it and renders it inefficacious. But it is conditionally possible for sufficient grace to be actualized, i.e. on the condition that man does not resist it. That man always resists merely sufficient grace is not a defect in the grace but a defect in man. But that man could have co-operated with the grace if not for his resistance rests squarely in the realm of possibilities: "I could have co-operated with God's grace". He can't say, "I couldn't co-operate with God's grace, because I needed an efficacious grace which was not given to me," because it was his free resistance to sufficient grace (which made him really able to co-operate) that merited the withdrawal of efficacious grace (which would have made him to actually and freely co-operate).

Quote
Quote
Granted that according to Thomism it is not absolutely possible for all men to be saved due to the infallibility of the eternal decrees; still, God does not decree anything in a way that takes away man's freedom or responsibility in choosing his everlasting destiny.

So therefore God has made their salvation a metaphysical impossibility (since His decrees ontologically precede their actions and even their existence), and yet He expects them to obey Him and be saved.

Included in the eternal decrees is that God makes the salvation of all men really possible. That some men will infallibly be damned (the reprobate) does not make their damnation absolutely necessary, but only conditionally necessary, i.e. on the condition that God permits them to freely resist His grace and justly merit for themselves damnation.
"Let all bitterness and animosity and indignation and defamation be removed from you, together with every evil. And become helpfully kind to one another, inwardly compassionate, forgiving among yourselves, just as God also graciously forgave you in the Anointed." – Paul

The Question of Catholicism.

An ominous dream.