Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Of Interest

* First Experience Latin with Father Reginald Foster (hat-tip: Ad Limina Apostolorum). Reginald Foster is the Vatican's top Latin expert. I've been intending to work a bit on my Latin this summer, since it is getting infinitely rusty; and now I know where to start.

* I didn't submit anything, but Vox Apologia XV is up. The topic: Objections: How Can God Allow Sin?

* An interesting paper by Jonathan Kvanvig: Incarnation and Knowability (PDF). (Hat-tip: Prosblogion.) Since I don't think Morris's defense is traditional, or even consistent with the traditional doctrine of the Incarnation, I'm not much worried about the problem; and, indeed, I think it just illustrates why the over-used analytic concept of 'property' is pretty much useless as a technical term, however useful it may be for talking loosely. The traditional doctrine of the Incarnation doesn't imply that every human being is possibly omniscient except in the limited, and metaphysically useless, sense that it implies that every extended object is possibly intelligent. That is, nothing in a subject's being extended implies that it can't also be intelligent. But this is a very limited sort of thing; because it actually doesn't imply that any extended subject is really possibly intelligent; it just means that you can't rule out its being intelligent on the basis of its being extended. It is not possible for a grain of sand to be intelligent; but the grain of sand's not being intelligent does not follow from the fact of its being extended. Human persons are subjects that are extended; our being extended does not rule out our being intelligent. Likewise, a human subject's being human does not rule out the subject's being omniscient, because being human doesn't rule out being something other than human as well (e.g., divine and thus omniscient); but it does rule out being humanly omniscient. In other words, human nature does carry the property of non-omniscience, which boils down to the possession of an intellectual ability not capable of being omniscient. The point about omniscience belonging to the person is, I think, completely misleading. For a person to be omnscient means not that the person, as such, has the property of omnscient, but that it has an omniscient knowing-power; which is why in the traditional doctrine of the Incarnation it is considered a natural and not a personal property: omniscience pertains to the nature, and only thereby to the person. But this means that for no human person who is merely human (i.e., has human nature and no other nature) is it at all possible for that person to be omniscient. And full humanity and mere humanity are in nature just the same thing; the 'mere' in 'mere humanity' doesn't indicate anything about humanity itself but is a denial of the existence of another nature in the subject. This denial means that mere humanity is in no way possibly omniscient. I confess I don't understand this (very non-traditional) tendency of analytic philosophers to talk about 'omnscience' and 'limited knowledge' as if these were not purely matters of capabilities for knowing; particularly when they call it the traditional view. The traditional view doesn't ever say 'omniscient' without meaning 'having a capacity for knowledge that is omniscient'; and this makes so much more sense: omniscience is something that applies to a particular ability to know. Likewise with limited knowledge. The traditional view does not imply that it is essential to full humanity that every truth is knowable by any fully human being. This is, as far as I can see, basic Tome of Leo and Third Constantinople; and what Kvanvig keeps calling the traditional view seems very clearly run aground in the same way Monotheletism did - the natures are distinguished but only in order to be confused.

* Steven Riddle of "Flos Carmeli" gives his Rules for Reading Poetry.

* Word for word: World Magazine discusses the phenomenon of preachers using each other's sermons. Sermon borrowing has always been a common practice; preachers make use of each others' strengths. It has also been a fairly stable ecumenical practice, like the publishing of devotional tracts: they are borrowed and adapted across denominational lines. So I say: it should be encouraged, just as original sermon-writing should be encouraged. But for a well-argued contrary view, see here at "Postscript Posthaste".

UPDATE: * Christianity and Violence (PDF) by Miroslav Volf (hat-tip: verbum ipsum)

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