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By the rivers of Babylon there we sat and wept, remembering Zion;
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Professor Solomon's Introduction to Philosophy

11th September 2001

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SUBSTANCE

Here we expose a few more details about the form that determines any natural thing.  Lesson 6

SUBSTANTIAL FORM

Now we deal with the substantial forms of natural things and expose some surprising facts about the world in which we live. Lesson 5

LINK TO THE AQUINAS SCHOOL OF PHILOSOPHY

Dr Raphael Waters, sometime student of A.M. Woodbury PhD., S.T.D., founder (in 1943) of Sydney’s Aquinas Academy and its Regent until his retirement in the 1970’s, founded the Aquinas School of Philosophy in New York in 2005 with Dr Denis Bonnette PhD.  Dr Waters enjoyed a long career teaching the philosophy of St Thomas Aquinas on the American continent.  He died on August 26th 2010.  Dr Bonnette and his assistants continue this admirable work.

It is difficult to find an institution where one may gain a proper understanding of the metaphysical view of reality taught by St Thomas.  By this we mean, one where the mind of St Thomas is not compromised by deference to the demands of modern philosophy.  Sydney’s Centre for Catholic Studies (formerly the Centre for Thomistic Studies), successor of the Aquinas Academy, is one such institution—http://www.cts.org.au/   New York’s Aquinas School of Philosophyhttp://www.aquinasphilosophy.com/index.html—is another.   We commend to our readers the courses, both live and on DVD the School has available which may be accessed via the link.

Intending students may find the lessons in basic philosophical principles provided here on superflumina will whet their appetite for the more profound teaching available there.

SUICIDE

In view of the appalling loss of life caused by the destruction of Germanwings flight 9525 on 24th March in the French Alps by the co-pilot, it seemed appropriate for us to put up again a paper published here in February 2010.  more

FORM & END

Now we explore the close connection between the chief of the intrinsic causes (final) and the chief of the extrinsic causes (form).  Lesson 4

MOVING TO THE NATURAL

Having used artificial things to illustrate the principles of the doctrine of causality, we must now move to consider natural things.  Lesson 3

THE NEXT STEP

Having embarked on the study of philosophy, let us take the next step.  Lesson 2

LESSONS IN FIRST PHILOSOPHY

Professor Solomon, in retirement in country New South Wales, is giving lessons in the philosophy of St Thomas to the local home-schooled Catholic children.  He has been prevailed on to allow us to reproduce them on superflumina.  We hope that their content will assist those ignorant of the Church’s philosophy to understand the reasons underlying her teachings.   He has, as a pre-requirement, provided a warning or ‘Monitum’ to intending students, set out below, of what he has to say about problems that may confront them.   Lesson 1

MONITUM

Not everyone can be taught the principles of philosophy.  There are a number of reasons.

The first is that philosophy involves speculative thinking, and not everyone has an intellect which is disposed to speculative thought.  Fewer women than men have speculative minds for the very good reason that women are, from their make-up, primarily concerned with people, whereas men are primarily concerned with things.  And while the category 'things' embraces the immaterial as well as the material, many men have difficulty dealing with the abstract.  But there are more profound issues.

Everyone over the age of about 14 years already has a philosophy of his own, with a small 'p', a view of the world, perhaps as yet only weakly formed, resulting from his engagement with family and friends, with the influences purveyed by the media and the teachers of the school he may be attending, by shows on television, by movies and by talk-back radio hosts.  If he is lucky, he will have had the salutary influence of religion to balance the almost universally secularist view that characterises public thought.  But, as is becoming increasingly obvious, many religions produce harmful effects and even more harmful thinking.  There are religions and religions ; or, better expressed, there are religions and there is religion.  There is—it has been the constant contention of this website—only one religion worth following and that is the religion founded not by this man or that under some alleged inspiration, but by God.  That religion is Catholicism.

This business of philosophy with a small 'p' gives rise to a problem which is not of the intellect but of the will.  “It pertains to the student to believe,” Aristotle remarked.  The last disposition the teacher needs in a student is that of the 'know-all', for no matter what he may say the student will know better.  Teaching him will be waste of time.  The intending student has to understand and realise that he must suspend the acceptance of his own 'philosophy' and consider honestly the arguments put to him, arguments which will in all probability conflict with his present views.  This willingness to suspend belief in one's own view is an absolute pre-requirement.  It takes humility.  Moreover, in the modern world it presents immense difficulties.  For the modern citizen is programmed with a universal secularism—an effect of Masonic protocols embedded in the social psyche—to reject any but a materialistic and atheistic view of reality, a view which is fundamentally flawed.

Yet, there remains in every man a desire for the truth.

But there is an even more fundamental problem, one likely to afflict a majority of intending students, namely, the character of their present moral conduct.  If you want to be free to acknowledge the truth you must live in accordance with the truth.  If you live, on the contrary, in a state of sin—blaspheming, lying, thieving, fornicating, or otherwise dishonouring your fellow man—you are no long free.  The native freedom of your intellect is lost.  The reason is that the will is the appetite of intellect and by its decisions it binds the intellect to its choices.  This renders the sinner incapable of acknowledging truth's demands.  How rightly did Christ, Our Lord, say “the one who commits sin is a slave.” [John 8: 34 ; & cf. Romans 6: 16-19 ; 2 Peter 2: 19]   Thus, it is quite impossible to teach the unrepentant sinner the truths of philosophy.

A.P.S.S.

COMMENTARY ON 24 THESES OF ST THOMAS AQUINAS

The Sacred Congregation of Studies back in July 1914, endorsed certain theses of St Thomas to be adhered to rigorously by teachers in Catholic seminaries and houses of formation.  The document so published was referred to recently by Dr John Lamont in a paper on the Rorate Caeli blogsite.  We set out a short commentary on the document (reproduced in an English translation in the appendix) to assist those who may be unfamiliar with St Thomas’s thought.  more

ASH WEDNESDAY

Lent is with us again in the liturgical cycle of the Church’s year which matches the seasons of the planet, our island home.  The universe, Earth in all its majesty, and man, for whom all it was established as the testing ground for his fitness for eternity, were all created by Almighty God in love.  Notwithstanding the views of modern scientists submerged in materialism, the Earth IS the centre of the universe.

Our fallen nature needs constant addressing lest we succumb to its weakness.  This is the reason for the season of forty days of self-denial.  Let us, then, gird ourselves and embrace its spirit in anticipation of the season of the Resurrection of Our Blessed Lord, that we may, too, one day rejoice with Him in Heaven at the end of our earthly life.

Michael Baker

FAILURE OF THE EXECUTIVE POWER

This is a revision of a paper that appeared on this website in August 2005. It deals with the problems that arose for Catholics on the interplay of two influences, one from outside the Church and the other, the more important, from within.  more

JOHN XXIII AND VETERUM SAPIENTIA

On 22nd February 1962, in the Apostolic Constitution, Veterum Sapientia, Bl. John XXIII wrote as follows:  "[I]t is necessary that the language the Church employs be not only universal but immutable.  For if the truths of the Catholic Church were to be handed on via one or other of more recent and malleable languages, no one of which is superior to another, the meaning of these truths, varied as they are, would not be manifest to everyone with sufficient clarity and precision.  There would, moreover, be no language which could serve as a common and constant norm by which to gauge the exact meaning of other renderings. But Latin is indeed such a language.  It is set and unchanging.  It has long since ceased to be affected by the alteration in meaning of words which is the inevitable concomitant of daily, popular use...  [T]he Catholic Church has a dignity far surpassing that of every merely human society, for it was founded by Christ the Lord.  It is altogether fitting, therefore, that the language it uses should be noble, majestic, and non-vernacular."

The wisdom of these observations and the directives the Apostolic Constitution contained were swamped by the indulgence in novelty which followed upon the Second Vatican Council.  Pope Benedict has stirred the Church's members to recognise the critical place that Latin plays in the Church's mission and liturgy.  It is timely, then, to resurrect this important Church document. more

THE SCHISMATIC TENDENCY IN ‘CREATION SCIENCE’

'Creation Science', the naive assertion that the universe was created only 6,000 years ago, is a Protestant thing.  Its adoption by Catholics presents real dangers to their faith. more

THE LOSS OF METAPHYSICS

John of Salisbury, 12th Century philosopher, says in his Metalogicon: 'Bernard of Chartres used to say that we are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more... because they raise us up...' In the century that followed John of Salisbury, the greatest of the intellectual giants appeared, Thomas Aquinas. His philosophy, metaphysics, is the only ultimately satisfying explanation of reality, the only philosophy which leads us inevitably to the Author of all reality, Almighty God. Thomas's philosophy was adopted by the Catholic Church as her own to assist in formulating doctrine and in solving the great problems of morals. Yet, in the last 40 years that philosophy has been abandoned and the Church and the world have suffered. If the Church is to be returned to her rightful position of influence in the world, her bishops and teachers must return to St Thomas's metaphysics. more