Thursday, March 15, 2012

Discussion of Pasnau's Metaphysical Themes: 1274-1671

I am happy to report that I have finished a draft of a paper called "Categories and Modes of Being: A Discussion of Robert Pasnau’s Metaphysical Themes." I am involved in a panel discussion (with Andrew Arlig) at the 47th International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, MI, in May called "Robert Pasnau's Metaphysical Themes: Author Meets Critics" It has been organized by Alex Hall on behalf of the Society for Medieval Logic and Metaphysics. I think that it will be published in the proceedings of the SMLM in 2013.

I have done a lot of research on the paper and am quite proud of it. I think that it will age well in the next month-and-a-half as a I make changes to it.

The general idea behind the paper is to address Pasnua's treatment of categories, especially in Aquinas. I try to show that Aquinas is not a reductionist about the categories as is suggested by Pasnau even though he holds a deflationist views of accidents (as defined by Pasnau).

I highly recommend Pasnau's book as a great resource on an underdevloped area in the history of metphysics. I am sure that it will become a standard volume for years to come.

I'll be sure to post it to my website when its in good enough shape to share.


  1. 1. From Mr. Pasnau's " Philosophical Beauty":

    ...I offer the historian another kind of answer to the daunting question of how that old material can still be relevant today. To such questions it is entirely proper for us to respond, with whatever degree of politeness the situation demands, that we don't give a [expletive deleted] about relevance. The great philosophy of old is beautiful, and that is enough.

    Clearly, while the individuality of particular categories may be one thing, the manner in which individual categories may be interrelated and/or juxtaposed is another.

    2. Categories are abstractions. As abstractions, they can be and often are convenient, if not also helpful. But also, like arteries in the heart, they can become hardened (and thereby potentially harmful to one's (nonphysical) health).

    3. Categories also are overlays, that is, intellectual entities posited as realities which may superimposed upon genuine reality.

    4. A truly rational person, i.e., a person with a mind truly sound, might categorically deny that categories are the be all and end of the discernment of and response to what is genuinely real.

    5. I look forward to reading your paper when it is in good enough shape to share.

  2. I have never read Robert Pasnau before so I decided to reseach him a bit after hearing that he called Aquinas a reductionist. I stumbled upon this and found it interesting. Sort of a nice bonus, if you will.

    "Pasnau on Aquinas and others on Abortion"

    if the link doesn't work you can google Pasnau on Aquinas and Abortion. I just thought the view of Pasnau that Aquinas would've said differently if he knew the science of embryos better. Aquinas would've supported life at conception of course, but because of his lack of full knowledge I am surprised by some of his statements on woman killing children(in more current terms:abortion) in Summa.

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