• frank
    4k
    Branched from another thread on Thomism:

    The existence of evil brings about a greater good.
    — frank

    ??

    How does a rape contribute to the greater good, and if it does, why are there laws against it?

    Regards
    DL
    Gnostic Christian Bishop

    For a Thomist, all sin brings about a greater good whether we understand how or not. So a Thomist doesn't have to explain individual examples.
  • Gnostic Christian Bishop
    921
    How G D handy for you.

    That is as good as hiding behind a supernatural shield.

    That is called hypocrisy and religions called what you do as what led to inquisitions and jihads.

    Try thinking for yourself in a logical way.

    Regards
    DL
  • tim wood
    3.6k
    all sin brings about a greater good whether we understand how or not.frank
    If we don't understand, then how do we know it's a good, or is that presupposed?
    In and by itself, or via some agency?
    And what, exactly, is sin, here?
    Is this to say that we should all get busy sinning?
    And what, exactly, does "greater good" mean in this context?

    No one has to explain anything. It is therefore no cleverness or special virtue of Thomists that they institutionalize a non-obligation as a non-obligation.

    From this it follows that Thomists are fools with a potential for viciousness. Please set me straight.
  • frank
    4k
    Please set me straight.tim wood

    No thanks.
  • frank
    4k
    Try thinking for yourself in a logical way.Gnostic Christian Bishop

    I was explaining Thomism on ethics.
  • Gnostic Christian Bishop
    921
    I was explaining Thomism on ethics.frank

    If what you put is their ethics, they are garbage.

    That must be true as, like a Thomist, I do not have to make my case.

    Regards
    DL
  • frank
    4k
    If what you put is their ethics, they are garbage.Gnostic Christian Bishop

    Not at all. Thomism launched us toward the scientific worldview we have today, and so is worth examining.
  • Relativist
    999
    For a Thomist, all sin brings about a greater good whether we understand how or not.frank

    In effect, you are saying:
    If Thomism then all sin brings about a greater good

    Tim and Gnostic Christian Bishop suggest that it is more reasonable to believe all sin brings about a greater good is false, which is sufficient grounds to reject Thomism:
    1. If Thomism then all sin brings about a greater good
    2. ~( all sin brings about a greater good) (problem of evil)
    3. Therefore ~Thomism (1,2 modus tollens).

    all sin brings about a greater good is logically possible, so your faith-based belief in Thomism is not refuted. Nevertheless, I hope you can see why this is not satisfying to non-Thomists.
  • Gnostic Christian Bishop
    921
    Not at all. Thomism launched us toward the scientific worldview we have today, and so is worth examiningfrank

    Science???

    Christians sing of Adam's sin being a happy fault and necessary to god's plan.

    The Christians, even if they cannot explain their position the same way you cannot, shows that your Thomist thinking is just rehashed garbage.

    Sure, sin helps in identifying evil, but to say that rape and murder somehow produce a greater good is ridiculous. We all know that those are evil.

    Now if you were talking evolution and how we must all do some evil as we compete and create losers, then I would agree that those small evils do create the greater good by showing us who is the fittest humans.

    Regards
    DL
  • frank
    4k
    all sin brings about a greater good is logically possible, so your faith-based belief in Thomism is not refuted.Relativist

    I don't think there are any Thomists anymore, but their ethical outlook is actually kind of refreshing to me. The Thomist God set the world in motion and then sort of turned away to let it run its course. Seeing sin as leading to a greater good means seeing wrong-doing and mistakes as part of the great machinery of the universe. Give yourself a break because redemption is assured. You're going to learn from your mistakes. You're going to stop being such a callous asshole and learn to love.

    It's positive.
  • Relativist
    999
    I don't think there are any Thomists anymorefrank
    Yes there are: Edward Feser, and his devotees.

    The Thomist God set the world in motion and then sort of turned away to let it run its course.frank
    While Thomistic metaphysics doesn't entail intervention in the world, it doesn't preclude it either. Aquinas (and Feser) believed all the usual Catholic doctrine, including Jesus' virginal conception, his Resurrection, and transsubstantiation.
  • 180 Proof
    616
    For a Thomist, all sin brings about a greater good whether we understand how or not.frank
    A venerable, old, (Augustinian) theodicy for excusing all evil (especially ecclesiastical atrocities).

    Thomism launched us toward the scientific worldview we have today ...frank
    You're referring to Aquinas' antiquated (unquantified), mostly incoherent (teleological), and insufficiently empirical (unpredictive) Aristotelianism, right?

    Give yourself a break because redemption is assured.frank
    Hear that Adolf? Christened & confirmed Catholic that you were, you need not have painted the bunker wall with your brains in despair "because redemption is assured" ...
  • frank
    4k
    While Thomistic metaphysics doesn't entail intervention in the world, it doesn't preclude it either.Relativist

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but science doesn't preclude divine intervention either. It just goes about creating explanations for events as if we don't need supernatural explanations. Thomism was a starting point for that view.

    Science didn't pop full-fledged out of nowhere. It evolved, and in the west, it evolved out of Christianity (with some help from Aristotle as @180 Proof mentioned.)

    Give yourself a break because redemption is assured.
    — frank
    Hear that Adolf? Christened & confirmed Catholic that you were, you need not have painted the bunker wall with your brains in despair "because redemption is assured" ...
    180 Proof

    My read on HItler is that he didn't commit suicide out of remorse. He just didn't want to go through the execution.
  • Relativist
    999

    Science didn't pop full-fledged out of nowhere. It evolved, and in the west, it evolved out of Christianity
    frank
    It didn't evolve "out of Chistianity". Rather, it happens to have primarily evolved within a culture that happened to be predominantly Christian. Christianity isn't really on the critical path.
  • Devans99
    2.5k
    The existence of evil brings about a greater good.Gnostic Christian Bishop

    The more evil there is in the world, the more you appreciate heaven when you get there. Heaven lasts longer than earth so it is therefore the optimal solution to have evil in the world; it results in greater good.
  • frank
    4k
    It didn't evolve "out of Chistianity". Rather, it happens to have primarily evolved within a culture that happened to be predominantly Christian. Christianity isn't really on the critical path.Relativist

    Interesting hypothesis. Where does modernity come from in your view?
  • Relativist
    999
    I'm not sure what you're asking. Society has evolved over time, so that each stage in time is a consequence of its past. Historians examine various intellectual and societal currents. But to the degree that Science reflects an (best guess at) an objective view of reality, I don't see that Christianity was a sine qua non for its development. What am I missing?
  • frank
    4k
    I'm not sure what you're asking.Relativist

    With this statement:

    It didn't evolve "out of Chistianity". Rather, it happens to have primarily evolved within a culture that happened to be predominantly Christian.Relativist

    You seemed to be suggesting that science as we know it evolved independently of the Christian world, which invented the university and maintained for centuries the only population of educated people Europe had.

    I didn't say that science must necessarily evolve out of Christianity. Obviously some of the basis for our present worldview came from Muslims and Hindus. But when Greek speakers came into Europe bringing with them a scientific perspective that contrasted with Platonic idealism, it was Christian thinkers who grasped their message and made room for it in Europe. Thomas Aquinas was one of them.

    Our present scientific worldview (in the west) evolved out of Christianity. It's just a fact.
  • tim wood
    3.6k
    I don't see that Christianity was a sine qua non for its development. What am I missing?Relativist
    That for the pagan ancient world (not ever to be confused with any kind of ignorance or stupidity), nature was imperfect, and therefore not really knowable. Observable yes, knowable no. Christianity, on the other hand, believed that nature was made by God, and therefore perfect in itself, and therefore perfectly knowable.

    This Christianity's contribution to the development/evolution of science, that it could be done. The refinement of how came a thousand or so years later with Bacon's "put nature to the question."
  • Relativist
    999
    That for the pagan ancient world (not ever to be confused with any kind of ignorance or stupidity), nature was imperfect, and therefore not really knowable. Observable yes, knowable no. Christianity, on the other hand, believed that nature was made by God, and therefore perfect in itself, and therefore perfectly knowable.tim wood
    The "pagan" religion of the Roman empire was based on ritual, not adherence to a world view. There was no ideological barrier to making efforts to understand the world. Aristotelian metaphysics was consistent with pursuing natural explanations for the behavior of the world.
  • tim wood
    3.6k
    The "pagan" religion of the Roman empire was based on ritual, not adherence to a world view. There was no ideological barrier to making efforts to understand the world. Aristotelian metaphysics was consistent with pursuing natural explanations for the behavior of the world.Relativist

    "Natural" is not scientific. They can of course overlap, but they're two different animals. Aristotle mostly observed and attempted to catalog and make some sense. After all, it makes "sense" that heavy objects should fall faster than lighter objects. Number - mathematics - turned out to be the way to go, but it was a while before Galileo made that explicit. Natural nature is messy and gooey. Mathematics grey and dry; but it's this way that nature is known and understood.

    And this point is not-so-easy to get at first, but once got seems obvious. The absolute presuppositions of the world then did not lend themselves to a general development of science. Christianity was an influence that allowed those presuppositions to evolve and change. If you will allow a literary term, capricious, then we might say that on one hand, nature is capricious, on the other, exact - and in these have a distinction between the Pagan and the Christian worlds.
  • mcc1789
    40
    Aristotle also proposed explanations (most were wrong, of course, and admittedly he didn't always investigate enough). Not only him, but many others in antiquity (the Epicureans for instance proposed many possible explanations for phenomena). They had a fairly large number of naturalists (in the sense of people who study nature, though many were also philosophical naturalists). I'm unaware that this idea you couldn't understand Nature was widespread, outside Skeptics (and they said that about everything). Admittedly science as we'd call it now wasn't that advanced then, but I don't think an ideological block really existed, or at least was hardly universal.
  • ZhouBoTong
    665
    My read on HItler is that he didn't commit suicide out of remorse. He just didn't want to go through the execution.frank

    Don't forget that he is one of the greatest and most important individuals to ever live if you are really sticking to:

    all sin brings about a greater good whether we understand how or not. So a Thomist doesn't have to explain individual examples.frank

    If "all" sin brings greater good then the more the better...right?

    Wouldn't intentionally sinning be working toward a positive good?

    I really think some explanation is necessary.
  • frank
    4k
    Wouldn't intentionally sinning be working toward a positive good?ZhouBoTong

    Aristotle and Aquinas don't accept that a person can sin intentionally. When faced with multiple possible actions, you pick the one that you think will achieve your goal. Even if you know others take a dim view of your actions or goals, you have justified it to yourself.

    You can be mistaken, though. You're imperfect. When you discover that your actions didn't really get you what you wanted, you have an opportunity to learn and grow.

    Imagine a plant that always gets everything it needs exactly when it needs it. It will grow into a fine example of its species, but it won't have the strength to endure a storm. The tree that faces adversity develops grace.

    Or imagine that you're learning a programming language and your first efforts are bugless. Contrast that to a situation where you're beset by 10 difficult bugs. In the first case, your knowledge of the language will remain somewhat superficial. Having to solve the problems created by your own mistakes will deepen your understanding and thereby draw you closer to the God of Software, which is the direction your nature always silently moved you.

    And the real Hitler was just a guy. He wasn't the icon we've made him into. In another place and time, he would have been fine. It was the human world that had descended into insanity. I'm a moral nihilist, so the idea that it could be unforgivable doesn't make sense to me.

    If you say it was unforgivable, what do you mean? What moral framework are you using?
  • ZhouBoTong
    665
    Aristotle and Aquinas don't accept that a person can sin intentionally. When faced with multiple possible actions, you pick the one that you think will achieve your goal. Even if you know others take a dim view of your actions or goals, you have justified it to yourself.frank

    So there is not even the appearance of free will? As someone who does not wholly believe in free will, I still find this very weird. Why would I not be able to intentionally sin? Define actions that count as sin...I can't choose to do them? What if my goal is to be contradictory? What if I want to be bad? Not to mention that you have defined sin as a good thing so I should be actively seeking ways to intentionally sin.

    Aristotle and Aquinas were referring to the majority of people that lived during their time that hardly ever thought about the specific moral consequences of any action (things haven't changed much). That only suggests that most people...who are not thinking about whether or not their actions are "sin"...can not sin intentionally. Any of us that take efforts to define and analyze "sin" could absolutely do it on purpose...why not?

    You can be mistaken, though. You're imperfect. When you discover that your actions didn't really get you what you wanted, you have an opportunity to learn and grow.frank

    Or I can be a dick. Who decides everyone else can just burn. Or I can even think I am learning and growing and helping others when I am actually just a self serving ass (I think this is what you are getting for no intentional sin, but this only describes some humans).

    Imagine a plant that always gets everything it needs exactly when it needs it. It will grow into a fine example of its species, but it won't have the strength to endure a storm.frank

    If storms are a regular part of life then it sounds like the plant did not get everything it needs. But I am not sold on how genocide leads to a brighter future? Is America better today because it had slavery for a couple hundred years? And we are still feeling the benefits of 80 years of Jim Crow? Learning from a challenge is a lot different from saying "sin makes us better".

    Or imagine that you're learning a programming language and your first efforts are bugless. Contrast that to a situation where you're beset by 10 difficult bugs. In the first case, your knowledge of the language will remain somewhat superficial. Having to solve the problems created by your own mistakes will deepen your understanding and thereby draw you closer to the God of Software, which is the direction your nature always silently moved you.frank

    First for the best programmers, you are unquestionably right. However, as someone in education, most humans quit by bug number 2 or 3...so, generally, I would expect more people to learn more in the first scenario. Many people in the second will learn nothing...everyone can get something from the first. You are right in that "zone of proximal development" requires that we be challenged. But it also requires interest. And anything that is too challenging is quickly abandoned.

    And the real Hitler was just a guy. He wasn't the icon we've made him into. In another place and time, he would have been fine. It was the human world that had descended into insanity. I'm a moral nihilist, so the idea that it could be unforgivable doesn't make sense to me.frank

    I have enough nihilist tendencies (objectively I am a moral nihilist, but subjectively I choose to believe that most of Hitler's actions should be condemned based on the goal of a well functioning society - I used "well functioning" in an attempt to avoid "good", but it is still rather subjective), along with my general belief that we have a very limited "free will" (if any), that I can get that Hitler was a product of his environment as much as any of us. But regardless of whether I "blame" Hitler I can still condemn him as "sinful" or how we should not act (I did not bring the word "sin" into this...but I am not sure you did either...when I hear "sin", I just think "ways we should not behave"...just to clarify as that word brings a lot of baggage).

    If you say it was unforgivable, what do you mean?frank

    Hmmm, where did forgiveness come from? I am not christian and I don't really hold grudges...so I don't think it came from me. Do you mean "if you say it was WRONG, what do you mean?"

    What moral framework are you using?frank

    To say that Hitler is bad? It would seem any framework but the Thomists, haha. But as it seems to be the most common non-religious version...how about "do no harm". I feel like you mean something else. You are probably referring to something more specific that I am forgetting?


    .
  • frank
    4k
    So there is not even the appearance of free will? As someone who does not wholly believe in free will, I still find this very weird. Why would I not be able to intentionally sin?ZhouBoTong

    It's not about will, it's about how Aristotle defined good and evil. Strip your concept of goodness down to something mundane, mechanical, and naturalistic. A good thing is an effective thing or a beneficial thing. Any time you act, you're trying to benefit yourself in some way. It's really more than that, though. It's close to this: for Aristotle, it's like you're a vector and "good" is a name for the direction you're trying to go in. "Evil" is what you're trying to leave behind.

    If you choose a path that leads to what you're trying to leave behind, otherwise known as evil, then it's because you're mistaken, diseased, or ignorant.

    For Thomism, add in an overarching Neoplatonic agenda: everything is on the path to a kind of Great Return to the One. This is not something you can choose to be a part of. It's an aspect of what you are in the cosmic drama. This might not translate to modern ears, but Aquinas didn't think of Neoplatonism as something bizarre and mystical. It was kind of like the received science of his day. So for us, it may seem like morality was stripped down to something naturalistic only to be built back up into something superstitious, but that's not true.

    Or I can be a dick. Who decides everyone else can just burn. Or I can even think I am learning and growing and helping others when I am actually just a self serving ass (I think this is what you are getting for no intentional sin, but this only describes some humans).ZhouBoTong

    Exactly. If you burn others, it could be coming from a moment of overwhelming anger or grief, but you'll explain it to yourself as something good (they deserved it) until you realize it didn't get you what you wanted.

    If storms are a regular part of life then it sounds like the plant did not get everything it needs.ZhouBoTong

    Precisely. That's Thomism.

    But I am not sold on how genocide leads to a brighter future? Is America better today because it had slavery for a couple hundred years? And we are still feeling the benefits of 80 years of Jim Crow? Learning from a challenge is a lot different from saying "sin makes us better".ZhouBoTong

    I think the challenge you're presenting is that if we say slavery ultimately imparted the precious gift of wisdom, then we're saying it was ok that a pregnant African woman was bound face down on the dirt in Brazil and whipped. It's ok that a Jamaican woman sat on a beach with the body of her dead infant in her arms, having killed it because she couldn't face having it grow up in the world she lived in. It's ok that somebody's son was tortured as he hung from a tree in Tennesee before being burned alive. It's ok that generations of our brothers sisters were systematically stripped of dignity until they learned to despise themselves for what they were.

    No. It's not ok. And if it hasn't become part of our flesh and bones to know it's not ok, then no wisdom was imparted. No good came from it. They all suffered and died in vain.

    I already told you I'm a moral nihilist, so you might be able to guess what my assessment is, and why I'm not a Thomist. But I don't think my view needs expression. What's your view?

    I can answer the rest of your post later. Always great talking with you.
  • Relativist
    999
    . Christianity was an influence that allowed those presuppositions to evolve and change. Itim wood
    I see no reason to think science wouldn't have advanced had Christianity not gained the big following that it did, but historical what-ifs like this seem an exercise in futility.
  • tim wood
    3.6k
    Not a what-if, but an historical fact. The error you're making - that I think you're making - and a common error commonly made by folks who do not really understand history (itself) is that those folks in their thinking were just like us folks in ours, only maybe not-so-far along. And they weren't.

    With a very broad brush, here, their nature, natural world, was capricious, imprecise, governed by different deities in different ways according to differing rules that themselves were subject to the caprice of the deity-in-charge-of-that-department. There is no modern science in or of such a world. There is observation and account - the idea being that the account makes some sense or as much sense as possible. But no evident effort to experiment, not least because the "account" was not a hypothesis subjected to experiment and verification. We do know that some observation(s) were stunningly accurate and some of their accounts comport well with conclusions of modern science. We're told the Greeks were aware of the earth's precession, or more properly the evidence of it; likely not one American in 30,000 knows what precession is, do you?

    There were two Greek responses to this inability of their "science." First, given by Pythagoreans, was the strategic retreat to mathematics, arguably started by them (with a little help from their friends), and needing until the time of Galileo to start to bloom the most fully. The second was Plato's retreat to the realm of the ideal.

    This left a void in the effort to understand nature itself. Aristotle proceeded to venture to fill the void by continuing that world's efforts of observation/description/account. But nowhere is the central problem addressed: the need to come to an understanding that nature (according to the modern model before c. 1925) operates deterministically according to law - which under QM is subject to adjustment and refinement.

    Christianity altered that view. For the Greek, nature wasn't made by God. For a Christian, it is. For the ancient Greek, it is useless to look for laws and precision in nature, because they manifestly aren't there. For a Christian it must be there, because God made it.

    This speaks to what have been called absolute presuppositions, in this case of an entire culture, that of the then civilized world. Those presuppositions, being ultimately inadequate, were subject to strain and change. Which they did, and have, and always will.

    Was Christianity a "magic bullet" the sine qua non for the development of modern science? The question stands apart as speculation from what the historical facts of the matter are.

    If absolute presuppositions are hard to get a handle on, ask yourself if you might sacrifice virgins to the volcano god to quiet the volcano. And if you would and did, and the volcano continued to rumble, if you would increase the number of sacrifices. If your absolute presuppositions were along the lines of believing that the volcano had an appetite for virgins, then you'd provide more. As a modern western man, you'd note the absurdity, at the least, of the practice. But you're not asked to be a primitive, only to understand that you and the primitive have different belief systems, and in consequence believe, think, and act in different ways. The "proof" of which resides in the efficacy of the ideas, which in some cases can take centuries to work out.

    None of this my idea, but from various sources, including R. G. Collingwood on history and metaphysics.
  • Relativist
    999
    The error you're making - that I think you're making - and a common error commonly made by folks who do not really understand history (itself) is that those folks in their thinking were just like us folks in ours, only maybe not-so-far along. And they weren't.tim wood
    I don't think that at all, and I've raised that point myself in other discussions. But neither do you know how they thought, and your claim depends on your speculations about their world views, and that these assumed world views were so ubiquitous that it would be impossible for science to develop.

    What really drove individuals to explore nature? What external enablers (e.g. prosperity, education...)were there? What other enablers might have arisen? There are likely to be many answers to these questions.

    For that matter, why did Christianity spread as it did? Under this hypothetical, had Christianity not spread - would something else have arisen? Because surely, the societal enablers for Christianity could have resulted in other directions equally productive to science, or even more so.

    The history of the Western World is bound up with the development of Christianity. Had Christianity not developed as it did, history would have been very, very different - so much so, that no speculation can have a good basis. I guess you could write a story of speculative fiction, in the vein of "The Man in the High Castle", but nothing more.

    I've done a fair amount of reading about the historical Jesus and it's pretty obvious to me that our knowledge of the distant past is very tenuous. And if we can't really know the actual past with any certainty, it is folly to think we can figure out what would have happened under this hypothetical.
  • tim wood
    3.6k
    I don't think that at all, and I've raised that point myself in other discussions. But neither do you know how they thought, and your claim depends on your speculations about their world views, and that these assumed world views were so ubiquitous that it would be impossible for science to develop.Relativist
    None of this my idea, but from various sources, including R. G. Collingwood on history and metaphysics.tim wood

    What really drove individuals to explore nature?Relativist
    You're not getting that observing/exploring nature is not what modern science does. Or, that is, modern science does more than just observe and explore, and that difference is what makes modern science modern science. Modern science puts nature to the question, as approximately expressed c. 1600 by Francis Bacon and developed since then. This system of hypothesis and experimentation, the scientific method, was unknown before that, and given their systems of beliefs, would have been hard to arrive at. As in fact not arrived at until after substantial changes in fundamental presuppositions about the world, much having to do with the influence of the new beliefs in monotheism v. polytheism.

    I've done a fair amount of reading about the historical Jesus and it's pretty obvious to me that our knowledge of the distant past is very tenuous. And if we can't really know the actual past with any certainty, it is folly to think we can figure out what would have happened under this hypothetical.Relativist
    Tenuous except where and when it's a matter of record. And on these matters, reading about the "historical" Jesus (separate question: is there an historical Jesus? This answerable as a matter of fact - do you know as a matter of fact?), isn't going to cut it.
    under this hypothetical.Relativist
    Under what hypothetical?
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