BACON: Novum Organum [Preface, Book I]

Francis Bacon wrote and published Novum Organum in 1620. The subject of the work is the method by which one ought to seek truth. According to Bacon, men ought to begin with observations – i.e. the senses – and then move incrementally from intermediate axioms to the most general axioms. This process is called induction, which is the method employed by modern science. For example, a man observes that all cats that he has encountered have tails. He concludes that it is highly probable that all cats have tails. The contrary method is called deduction. The process of deduction is when general principles are proposed and then used to assert particular truths. For example, all cats have a tail. X is a cat. X has a tail. To summarize the difference between the two methodologies, induction begins with particulars and moves to generalities while deduction begins with generalities and moves to particulars. Continue reading

MONTAIGNE: Apology for Raymond de Sebonde

In the Apology for Raymond de Sebonde, Montaigne writes a long treatise supporting the religious arguments of Raymond de Sebonde. Montaigne does not analyze the specific arguments Sebonde presents to counter the arguments of atheists, but rather he presents his own evidence for justifying a radical skepticism toward all knowledge except knowledge obtained directly from the divine. Continue reading

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS: Summa Theologica [Part I, QQ 16-17, 84-88]

 (Public Domain Image)

I last read from Aquinas’ Summa Theologica in May of 2014. As I stated in my previous post, I enjoy reading the works of Aquinas. His writing style is concise and logical. He begins by asking a question, then he proposes several possible answers, and finally he forms his own conclusion and provides counterarguments to each of the other answers that he considered. Other philosophical writers, such as Kant, present their arguments in a convoluted fashion, which frustrates the reader rather than elucidates the concepts that the writer wishes to convey. Aquinas’s writing style does not suffer any of these defects. It allows the reader to easily comprehend the arguments and form conclusions of his own. Continue reading

ARISTOTLE: Metaphysics [Book I, Ch. 1-2; Book IV; Book VI, Ch. 1; Book XI, Ch. 1-4]

In this reading selection from Metaphysics, Aristotle discusses the study of “being qua being” or being as being. To elucidate this concept, consider a natural scientist and a mathematician. Both of these men study an aspect of being – the natural scientist studies being qua movable (i.e. beings as things that are subject to change) and the mathematician studies being qua measurable (i.e. beings as subject to measure). Similarly, the philosopher studies an aspect of being – i.e. being. This aspect can also be termed ‘substance.’ Aristotle believes that substance is eternal, immutable, immaterial, and fundamental. Therefore, the study of being qua being will be concerned with the first principles and causes of all things. Continue reading

ARISTOTLE: Physics [Book IV, Ch. 1-5, 10-14]

In this selection from Physics, Aristotle discusses the nature of place and time. He defines place as an immobile container. Everything exists within a place. That which is in no place is nothing. Place, therefore, is the first thing of all creation; for bodies need place to exist, yet place does not require bodies to exist. The presentation of the various arguments against the existence of place and Aristotle’s refutations were tedious. This is the type of caviling that causes many people to conclude that philosophy is a trivial study concerned only with the most irrelevant considerations. Continue reading

The unexamined life is not worth living.

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