[article] Life in the Anti-Environment

ABSTRACT: This paper explores the perceptual implications of video games, and gamification in general, by drawing on a number of concepts from the media theory of Marshall McLuhan: primarily his discussion of games as anti-environments and of technologies as extensions of human senses and faculties.  Understanding video games in terms of the cultural and psychological significance of play, I argue that video games as a product of the gamification of culture substantially alter the traditional function of play through their diminished capacity to serve as anti-environments. Finally, I offer a brief reflection on the opportunities for awareness and understanding in relation to contemporary gamification.… Read More [article] Life in the Anti-Environment

[article] Theistic Creation and Natural Philosophy

Michael Tkacz has offered an insight that Avicenna’s emanationist position commits the cosmogonical fallacy of assuming a kind of prior potency outside of the act of creation; this assumption of a prior potency amounts to a denial of creation. Given that instrumental causes would be a sort of power that is prior to the act of creation, this is a useful insight. In thinking of creation as a production through intermediaries, Avicenna is thinking that in some way creation is a process. God creates the First Intelligence, which creates the first soul and first sphere and also the Second Intelligence; this process is repeated until the Ninth Intelligence, which creates our world and gives forms to bring about substantial change. In this sense, creation is a process and a kind of becoming (fieri). The insight here is that emanation is not just an alternate theory of creation; it implies something that is incompatible with creation ex nihilo.… Read More [article] Theistic Creation and Natural Philosophy

[article] Thomas Aquinas on Instrumental Creation, the Cosmogonical Fallacy, and the Intelligibility of Nature

In the second book of his commentary on Peter Lombard’s Sententiae, Thomas Aquinas considers three opinions regarding the creation of the material universe through intermediaries.  The first is the opinion of the Neoplatonic emanationists of the School of Baghdad who held that God created the material world through the creative power of intermediate intelligences.  The second position is that of the Parisian masters of theology who denied Islamic emanationism on the grounds that the infinite power required by creation ex nihilo cannot be communicated to a creature.  The final opinion is that of the Lombard himself who denied the actual communication of creative power to intermediaries, but considered it philosophically possible.  While Thomas is in full agreement with the Parisian masters in their complete rejection of emanationism, he nonetheless here expresses sympathy for Lombard’s position on the philosophical, if not doctrinal, possibility of God’s creation of the world through instruments.… Read More [article] Thomas Aquinas on Instrumental Creation, the Cosmogonical Fallacy, and the Intelligibility of Nature

[article] No Cause, No Credo

ABSTRACT: This study presents St. Thomas Aquinas’ groundbreaking treatment of the relation between God as Creator and nature through the Aristotelian model of natural causation and the distinction between essentia and esse contra occasionalist conceptions of creation. By clearly distinguishing primary (divine) and secondary (natural) orders of causation, the Angelic Doctor champions Divine omnipotence while preserving the causal integrity of nature at one and the same time. His position on the relation of divine and natural causation in nature is formulated, in part, as a response to the occasionalist doctrine, denying natural causation. While Thomas shows that denying natural causation would actually vitiate divine omnipotence, this study extends his argument showing Aristotelian causation (secondary cause) is a necessary condition—i.e., one of the preambula fidei—for the Christian belief that God is the all-powerful creator of the natural world. This presentation and extension of St. Thomas Aquinas’ critique of occasionalism is needed given a continuing trend among Anglo-American Analytic and Humean Christian philosophers to deny natural causation and hold that God is the only cause.… Read More [article] No Cause, No Credo

[essay] The Constitution of Culture

The truth of the common good, as what we rightly ought to seek in our cultural realities and, therefore, as the final cause of any political constitution, does not alone suffice to cause that cultural reality’s alignment.  We must instead recognize a more complex causal constitution.  It is just this causality that was acknowledged—though not well-enough explained—by Jacques Maritain in his Integral Humanism, and it is just this causality which we will take up to explain in this essay.… Read More [essay] The Constitution of Culture

[article] On the Cenoscopic and the Idioscopic

We are accustomed to viewing polarities in the world of knowledge lined up like adversaries: science versus religion; the sciences versus the humanities; the old science versus the new science, and so on. Recent attempts to arbitrate in the matter have been few and confused. But there was one exception. C. S. Peirce borrowed a pair of concepts from Jeremy Bentham, steeped them in the stew of his own particular genius, and passed them on to posterity. Mostly ignored, they were finally picked up by John Deely a century later. They play a crucial role in negotiating a newly identified homeland for philosophy, allowing it to survive its near shipwreck in recent times. A sustained meditation on their full implications, however, takes us even further. Still honoring the conquests of modern science, a restored epistemic homeland is offered not only to traditional philosophy, but also to the otherwise marginalized realms of the humanities and religion.… Read More [article] On the Cenoscopic and the Idioscopic

[article] How To Be a Contemporary Thomist: The Case of Marshall McLuhan

The provocative nature of both the form and content, “medium” and “message,” of Marshall McLuhan’s scholarship on technological culture has attracted a wide array of McLuhan interpreters of diverse intentions. It is well known, however, that McLuhan considered himself a follower of the thirteenth century scholastic Thomas Aquinas; as he wrote…… Read More [article] How To Be a Contemporary Thomist: The Case of Marshall McLuhan

[essay] Civic Life and Home

To speak of the Christian roots of Europe, or the Puritan founding of America, should be approached with great prudence and a deep caution. The temptation that needs to be explicitly alluded to is that pertaining to a sort of “re-enchanted” nationalism. The City of God is not an attempt to undermine the need for the embodied realities of home and political life. Rather, the nuance or caveat is to say that the City of God offered by Christ as witnessed in…… Read More [essay] Civic Life and Home