Sunday, October 15, 2017

Pope Francis on capital punishment


Pope Francis has made news with his recent remarks about capital punishment and the catechism.  They are seriously problematic.  In an article at Catholic Herald, I provide an analysis.

LifeSiteNews has also asked me to comment on the story.

Five Proofs with Prager et al. (UPDATED)


UPDATE 10/17: You can now hear the Prager show interview online

This Tuesday, Oct. 17, at 11 am PT, I will appear on The Dennis Prager Show to discuss my book Five Proofs of the Existence of God.

In early November, I will appear on Unbelievable? with Justin Brierley to discuss the book.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Liberty, equality, fraternity?


Pictured above are the ideals of the French Revolution, and of the modern world in general – liberty, equality, and fraternity.  Note carefully how they manifest their chief attributes.  Liberty freely indulges its desires.  Equality shares what it has.  Fraternity looks on with brotherly concern.  And they’re all idiots.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Coming to a campus near you


On Thursday, October 19, I will be giving a talk on the topic of scientism at UC Berkeley, sponsored by the Thomistic Institute.  Details available at the Institute’s website and at Facebook.

On Saturday, November 4, I will be giving a talk on the topic of conscience, at a conference devoted to that theme at Holy Rosary Parish in Portland, Oregon.  Conference details here.

On Saturday, November 11, Joe Bessette and I will participate in a panel discussion of our book By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed at the annual Fall Conference put on by the Center for Ethics and Culture at Notre Dame.

On Friday, December 1, I will be giving a talk on the subject of scientism at Cal Tech in Pasadena, sponsored by Science and Faith Examined.  More details to come.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Reading Religion on By Man


At Reading Religion, a publication of the American Academy of Religion, Daniel Lendman reviews By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment, which I co-authored with Joseph Bessette.  From the review:

By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed provides a trenchant and cogent presentation of the defense of capital punishment from a Catholic perspective… Feser and Bessette… insist that the legitimacy of capital punishment is the ancient and long standing teaching of the Catholic Church.  [They] go even farther, laying out a compelling case that denying that capital punishment can be legitimate in principle is proximate to heresy…

Monday, October 2, 2017

Five Proofs on The Daily Wire


Last week I did a Skype interview with The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro.  The interview has now been posted at Ben’s Facebook page.  (You can also watch it on YouTube.)  We talk about Five Proofs of the Existence of God, and also about free will and neuroscience. 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Aristotle on Medved


Yesterday I appeared on The Michael Medved Show with Skeptic magazine’s Michael Shermer.  (Unfortunately, the podcast seems to be behind a paywall. [Update: A reader kindly calls my attention to this link, where you can listen to the show.])  It was billed as a “debate,” though I would describe it as more of a friendly discussion.  Shermer was very polite and even complimentary about my book Five Proofs of the Existence of God, which I appreciate.  (Shermer says: "It's a good book... well-argued, well-articulated.")  Naturally, he does not agree with the book, but as every philosopher knows, you can find a book interesting and worth reading and thinking about even if you don’t agree with it.  But as it happens, we did end up agreeing on a few things, such as the weaknesses in certain pop arguments for God’s existence.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Ward on Scholastic Metaphysics


In the Winter 2017 issue of Pro Ecclesia, Baylor University philosopher Thomas M. Ward kindly reviews my book Scholastic Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction.  From the review:

This accessible, insightful, entertaining book introduces and defends Scholastic, mostly Thomistic, metaphysics in dialogue with important figures from contemporary analytic metaphysics… Feser is blessed with a clear and entertaining prose style, which makes it all the more enjoyable to engage his philosophical work.  I highly recommend this book…

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

This week in radio


Having recommended my book The Last Superstition in a recent podcast, in yesterday’s show Ben Shapiro kindly recommended Five Proofs of the Existence of God.  (His comments about the book occur about 41 minutes into the show.)  Thanks, Ben!  This week I’ll be recording a Skype interview for Ben’s Facebook Live podcast, which will run next Monday.

This Friday I will appear on The Michael Medved Show at 1:00 pm PT to debate Michael Shermer on the subject of atheism versus theism.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Review of Leroi’s The Lagoon


My review of Armand Marie Leroi’s excellent book The Lagoon: How Aristotle Invented Science appears in the September issue of Isis: Journal of the History of Science Society

The link takes you to just the first page of the review, but as it happens there are only a few further sentences on the page that follow it.  So when you’re done reading what you see at the link, come back here for the rest of the review.  Here it is:

Friday, September 22, 2017

Thought-free blogs


Perhaps the most vivid manifestation of the cluelessness of New Atheists is their strange compulsion to comment at length on books they admit they have not read.  Naturally, you see this frequently from anonymous doofuses in comboxes, Amazon reviews, and the like.  But what is really remarkable is how often even otherwise intelligent and educated people make fools of themselves by doing exactly what they accuse religious believers of doing – forming an opinion based on preconceptions rather than the actual evidence.  We saw biologist Jerry Coyne do this a few years ago when he devoted over 5000 words across two blog posts to harshly criticizing a David Bentley Hart book he admitted he had not read.  The latest example comes from theoretical physicist Mano Singham at Freethought Blogs.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Conversations with Klavan et al.


My recent interview on Daily Wire’s The Andrew Klavan Show has now been posted.  You can hear the audio at the Daily Wire website or at Ricochet, and you can see the video either at the Daily Wire (if you are a subscriber) or on Facebook.  (Addendum: You can now watch it on YouTube as well.)  We talk about The Last Superstition, mechanism versus teleology, natural law, and Five Proofs of the Existence of God.

Also now available online is my recent interview on Bill Martinez Live.  The subject is Five Proofs and the segment begins a little over 6 minutes into the show.

Friday, September 15, 2017

McGinn on mind and space


Thoughts and experiences seem to lack spatial location.  It makes sense to say of a certain cluster of neurons firing that they are located several centimeters in from your left ear.  But it seems to make no sense to say that your experience of feeling nervous, or your thought about the Pythagorean Theorem, is located several centimeters in from your left ear.  After all, no one who opened up your skull or took an X-ray of your head would see the thought or the experience, nor would either be detectible through any other perceptual means.  In his book The Mysterious Flame: Conscious Minds in a Material World, Colin McGinn defends this commonsense supposition that mental states and processes are not locatable in space.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Radio activity


Today on his Daily Wire podcast, Ben Shapiro kindly recommended my book The Last Superstition, characterizing it as “really fantastically written” and “rare for a philosophy book, really readable and lucid.”  His comments on the book can be heard about 38 minutes into the show.

Speaking of The Daily Wire, I will be interviewed this week on The Andrew Klavan Show

Last week I was interviewed on Catholic Answers Live on the subject of my latest book Five Proofs of the Existence of God.  You can listen to the show here.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Walter Becker (1950 – 2017)


The Steely Dan sound is well known to anyone who has heard even one or two of the band’s best known songs, and founders Donald Fagen and Walter Becker contributed equally to it.  Fagen’s is the voice we associate with that sound.  What we might call the Steely Dan attitude, however, derives in large part from Becker, who died earlier this week.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Flew on Hume on miracles


Having looked recently at David Hume on induction and Hume on causation, let’s take a look at Hume’s famous treatment of miracles.  To be more precise, let’s take a look at Hume’s argument as it is interpreted by Antony Flew in his introduction to the Open Court Classics edition of Hume’s essay Of Miracles.  This being Hume, the argument is, shall we say, problematic.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

The latest on Five Proofs and By Man


Some early reactions to Five Proofs of the Existence of God: At Catholic Answers Live, Karlo Broussard describes it as “a phenomenal book” and “the Bible of natural theology.”  At The B.C. Catholic, Christopher Morrissey judges it “a significant, original philosophical contribution to the scholarly discipline of natural theology” and his “favourite book among [his] summer reading.”

Friday, August 25, 2017

Hey, kids! Links!


Philosophy Now interviews Raymond Tallis about his major new book on the philosophy of time.  At The Guardian, Tallis on how he writes.

More justice, less crime.  Joseph Bessette on “mass incarceration” as a consequence of mass crime, at the Claremont Review of Books.

Catholic Herald reports that Dominican theologian Fr. Aidan Nichols has proposed that canon law may require the inclusion of “a procedure for calling to order a pope who teaches error.”  Commentary from canon lawyer Ed Peters.

The Guardian on the triumph of F. A. Hayek.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Five Proofs is out (Updated)


UPDATE 8/22: Some readers will be interested to learn that Ignatius Press is now offering an electronic version of the book.

My new book Five Proofs of the Existence of God is now available.  You can order it from Amazon or direct from Ignatius Press.  Brandon Vogt, friend of this blog and creator of the Strange Notions website, is kindly hosting a Q and A about the book at the site. 

Here’s the book’s back cover copy:

This book provides a detailed, updated exposition and defense of five of the historically most important (but in recent years largely neglected) philosophical proofs of God's existence: the Aristotelian, the Neo-Platonic, the Augustinian, the Thomistic, and the Rationalist.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Jacobs on By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed



The arguments are offered in a lucid and systematic manner so that they are accessible to those with no background in philosophy, theology or law.  For example, the opening chapter has an admirably clear introduction to the natural law, and the second chapter elucidates the relative authority of various theological sources.  They support their argument with copious examples, citing a profusion of authorities, ancient and modern.  Conversely, they engage a wide range of objections to their position with great dialectical subtlety…

Friday, August 11, 2017

Rucker’s Mindscape


In his book Infinity and the Mind  (which you can read online at his website), Rudy Rucker puts forward the notion of what he calls the “Mindscape.”  He writes:

If three people see the same animal, we say the animal is real; what if three people see the same idea?

I think of consciousness as a point, an “eye,” that moves about in a sort of mental space.  All thoughts are already there in this multi-dimensional space, which we might as well call the Mindscape.  Our bodies move about in the physical space called the Universe; our consciousnesses move about in the mental space called the Mindscape.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Capital punishment with Patrick Coffin


Recently I did a long Skype interview about By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment for The Patrick Coffin Show.  You can watch it here.  (Boy do I need to master the art of Skype – I look like I just rolled out of bed.)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Capital punishment with Prager (UPDATED)


UPDATE 8/9: You can now hear the interview online here.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 8 at 11 am PT, Joe Bessette and I will be on The Dennis Prager Show to discuss our book By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment

Friday, August 4, 2017

Capital punishment on EWTN


Yesterday, Joe Bessette and I appeared on EWTN’s The World Over with Raymond Arroyo to discuss our book By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment.  The segment can now be viewed online

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Cartesian angelism


Angels, as Aquinas and other Scholastic theologians conceive of them, are purely intellectual substances, minds separated from matter.  An angel thinks and wills but has no corporeal operations at all.  Naturally, then, popular images of angels – creatures with wings, long flowing robes, and so forth – have nothing to do with the real McCoy.  For a modern philosopher, the easiest way to understand what an angel is is to conceive of it as a Cartesian res cogitans – though as we will see in what follows, in a way this actually gets things the wrong way around.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Capital punishment on radio and TV


Tomorrow, Thursday, July 27 at 1:40 pm PT, I’ll be on The Ed Morrissey Show to discuss By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed.  On the same day, my co-author Joe Bessette will be on Meet the Author with Ken Huck at 12 pm PT.  On Thursday, August 3, Joe and I will appear on The World Over with Raymond Arroyo on EWTN.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Msgr. Swetland’s confusions


Msgr. Stuart Swetland is a theologian and the president of Donnelly College.  You might recall that, almost a year ago, he gained some notoriety for his bizarre opinion that having a positive view of Islam is nothing less than a requirement of Catholic orthodoxy.  As that episode indicates, the monsignor is not the surest of guides to what the Church teaches.  If there were any lingering doubt about that, it was dispelled by his performance during my radio debate with him last week on the subject of capital punishment.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Essence and existence


Recently, Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, NY hosted a workshop on the theme Aquinas on Metaphysics.  I spoke on the topic of “The Distinction of Essence and Existence.”  Audio of the talk has now been posted online at the Thomistic Institute’s Soundcloud page.

McCaffrey and Murray on By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed


At Catholic Media Apostolate, Roger McCaffrey and Fr. Gerald Murray discuss my book (co-authored with Joseph Bessette) By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Aquinas watches Glengarry Glen Ross


David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross is a thing of beauty.  This assertion is bound to shock some readers who have seen the movie (originally a stage play).  It is notoriously foul-mouthed.  The dialogue is in other ways idiosyncratic, characterized by unfamiliar slang and incomplete sentences (a Mamet trademark).  None of the characters is admirable; indeed, most of them are to some degree or other positively repulsive – ruthless, lying, manipulative, arrogant, weak, cruel, incompetent, thieving, vindictive, corrupt.  The irony is that the movie is beautiful in part because of these features, rather than despite them.  How can that be?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Briggs on By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed



[A] book so thorough and so relentless that it is difficult to imagine anybody reading it and coming away unconvinced by the lawfulness and usefulness of capital punishment…

Experts on this subject may be assured that Feser and Bessette have covered every facet with the same assiduity of a lawyer preparing a Supreme Court brief.