Published by the Center for the Study of The Great Ideas (founded in 1990 by Mortimer J. Adler and Max Weismann)
In association with the The Adler-Aquinas Institute and Aquinas School of Leadership
A Founding Member of the Alliance for Liberal Learning

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Economic Inequality and Democratic Political Engagement

Paper presented by Frederick Solt at the Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, Illinois, April 15-18, 2004.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Aquinas Leadership International Update - October 2018

Peter A. Redpath writes to inform us "about some developments related to the Aquinas Leadership International (ALI) group, our affiliate organizations, and other groups interested in ALI’s work."



INTERNATIONAL ÉTIENNE GILSON SOCIETY MEMBERS 
RECENTLY HONORED DURING
ÉCOLE PRATIQUE DES HAUTES ÉTUDES ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS AT THE SORBONNE
  • As part of the 150th Anniversary Celebration of the Founding of École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris, Drs. Piotr Jaroszyński and Richard Fafara were Presented with the Prestigious Aquinas Medal for Excellence in Christian Philosophy during a Special EPHE-Sponsored International Colloquium on:
"Étienne Gilson (1884–1978), Medievalist and Philosopher, Man of Faith and Man of Action"
Date: 20 September 2018
Location: The Sorbonne (Liard Amphitheater).
Presentation by: Michel Cacouros, EPHE Maître de conférences Habilité, Sciences Historiques et Philologiques and Peter A. Redpath, Presiident, International Étienne Gilson Society
See Video of Presentation Here: http://www.gilsonsociety.com/?announcements,6



SIXTH ANNUAL AQUINAS LEADERSHIP INTERNATIONAL 
WORLD CONGRESS
CALL FOR PAPERS AND PANEL PROPOSALS
Topic: “How, If in Any Way, are Metaphysics, Ethics, Cultural Leadership, and Politics Essentially Related?”

Dates: Thursday Evening, 02 May 2019–Saturday Evening, 04 May 2019
Location: Paradise Valley Community College, Phoenix, Arizona and Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center, Carefree, Arizona
Congress Details: If you are interested in presenting a paper or organizing a panel at this World Congress, ASAP, please contact Congress Chair Peter Redpath at:
  • Some YouTube Videos from the Hugely Successful 5th Annual Aquinas Leadership International World Congress Now Available for Viewing
To view these videos, including the Memorial Tribute to Our Colleague Eric McLuhan, go to the following link on the Aquinas School of Leadership's "Events" menu: http://www.aquinasschoolofleadership.com/events


Friday, September 28, 2018

Hutchins, Adler, and the University of Chicago: A Critical Juncture

Mary Ann Dzuback at Washington University in St Louis

Abstract

As dean of Yale University's Law School, Robert Hutchins stressed social science theory and research as central to the university's work. Within a few years, as president of the University of Chicago, he abandoned the social sciences for philosophy and the great books. Hutchins's conversion seems ironic because it took place at an institution renowned for the work of its faculty in social science theory and research. This article is an attempt to make sense of Hutchins's shift in thinking at a critical juncture in his life and in the university's history,

Comments

Originally published in American Journal of Education vol. 99, no. 1,© 1990 The University of Chicago, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1085540.

Recommended Citation
Dzuback, Mary Ann, "Hutchins, Adler, and the University of Chicago: A Critical Juncture" (1990). Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies Research. 19.
http://openscholarship.wustl.edu/wgss/19

#education #MortimerAdler

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Future of Our Educational Institutions

The latest issues of the Center’s weekly, The Great Ideas Online (Nos. 959-61), discussed this August 11, 1981 lecture by Mortimer J. Adler.

TGIO is emailed to members.

At the Center’s website you’ll find information on how to Become a Member.

#education

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Aquinas Leadership International Update - September 2018

Dr. Peter Redpath again writes to update you about some developments related to the Aquinas Leadership International (ALI), affiliate organizations, and other groups interested in ALI’s work.


AS PART OF THE 150TH ANNIVERSARY OF ITS FOUNDING, SEE PROGRAM ATTACHED FOR THE ÉCOLE PRATIQUE DES HAUTES ÉTUDES's SORBONNE COLLOQUIUM

"Étienne Gilson (1884–1978), Medievalist and Philosopher, Man of Faith and Man of Action"  

Dates: 19 and 20 September 2018, 9:30 am-7:00 pm

Location: The Sorbonne (Liard Amphitheater), Paris, France

Organized by: Michel Cacouros  (michel.cacouros@ephe.psl.eu), Maître de conférences Habilité, Sciences Historiques et Philologiques

Scientific Committee: Michel Cacouros, EPHE, PSL; Patrick Henriet, EPHE, PSL; Christophe Grellard, EPHE, PSL

Honorary Committee: Hubert Bost, President of the EPHE; Olivier Boulnois, EPHE, PSL; James K. Farge, CSB, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto; Ruedi Imbach, Univ. Sorbonne Paris 4; Thierry-Dominique Humbrecht, O.P., Catholic Institute of Toulouse; Gilles Pécout, Rector of the Île-de-France Academic Region, Rector of the Paris Academy, Chancellor of the Universities of Paris.

Participants : I. Agostini (Centro Internazionale di Ricerca su Descartes and Il Seicento, Lecce, Italy); J. Chr. Bardout (University of Rennes 1); Mr. Borghesi (Università di Perugia); O. Boulnois (EPHE, PSL); Mr. Cacouros (EPHE, PSL);H. Donneaud op (Catholic Institute of Toulouse); RJ Fafara (International Étienne Gilson Society, USA); JK Farge CSB (Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto); Mr. Fourcade (Univ Paul-Valery Montpellier 3); Ch. Grellard (EPHE, PSL); P. Henriet (EPHE, PSL); Th.-D. Humbrecht, op (Catholic Institute of Toulouse); F. Jacquemain (Paris); P.-Ph. Jandin (International College of Philosophy, Paris); J. Lagouanère (Univ Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3); P. Jaroszynski (International Étienne Gilson Society, Poland; University of Lublin, Poland); F. Michel (Panthéon-Sorbonne University Paris 1); FA Murphy (Indiana University, USA); J. Prévotat (Univ Charles de Gaulle Lille 3); P. Redpath (International Étienne Gilson Society, USA); Mr. Veuille (EPHE, PSL).

For more information about this international colloquium, see:

Monday, September 3, 2018

Talking back

Reflections on the life and literature of Philip Roth, by Laura Demanski, at The University of Chicago Magazine.

"The University of Chicago “was the right place for me to go to,' Roth told an interviewer in 2011. 'I enjoyed it. I developed a real affection for the place, the neighborhood Hyde Park, and the University.' What he learned there, he said in 1983, was 'how to talk back to all those great books.'"

#education

Friday, August 31, 2018

Learning for a Lifetime: Education as an Adult Pursuit

The latest issue of the Center’s weekly, The Great Ideas Online (No. 958), discussed this address by by Mortimer J. Adler given in Reno, Nevada, April 5, 1983.

TGIO is emailed to members.

At the Center’s website you’ll find information on how to Become a Member.

#education

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

A Comparison of the Washington Square Players and Mortimer J. Alder's Paideia Group

Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) thesis by Liza McMahon, Skidmore College, at Creative Matter.

Abstract

The Washington Square Players evolved as a reaction to the formulaic art of the theater industry. Mortimer Adler led educational reform by creating the Paideia Group. Both the Players and Adler arise from New York during the Progressive Era. Similar to the Washington Square Players' declaration to produce "art for art's sake", the Paideia Group looked at education for education's sake. This paper is a comparison of the Washington Square Players and Mortimer J. Adler, the Chairman of the Paideia Group, as nonconformists grounded in democracy, who initiated reform amidst controversy.

Recommended Citation
McMahon, Liza, "A Comparison of the Washington Square Players and Mortimer J. Alder's Paideia Group" (2012). Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) Student Scholarship. 84. http://creativematter.skidmore.edu/mals_stu_schol/84

#art #education #MortimerAdler

Mike Wallace interview: Mortimer Adler 'The Idea of Freedom'

Video and transcript from September 7th 1958 at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas at Austin.

"Mortimer Adler, president of the Institute for Philosophical Research, former professor of the philosophy of law at the University of Chicago, and author of The Idea of Freedom, talks to Wallace about conceptions of freedom, capitalism, socialism, and the American worker."

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Trials and Death of Socrates

Christopher Nelson, former President (1991-2017) of St. John's College in Annapolis, at The Imaginative Conservative.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Aquinas Leadership International Update: August 2018

Dr. Peter A. Redpath emails with news of Aquinas Leadership International and other organizations.


INTERNATIONAL ÉTIENNE GILSON SOCIETY MEMBERS TO BE HONORED DURING
ÉCOLE PRATIQUE DES HAUTES ÉTUDES ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION AT THE SORBONNE

  • As part of the 150th Anniversary Celebration of the Founding of École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris, Drs. Piotr Jaroszyński and Richard Fafara will be Presented with the Prestigious Aquinas Medal for Excellence in Christian Philosophy during a Special IPHE-Sponsored International Colloquium on:
"Étienne Gilson (1884–1978), Medievalist and Philosopher, Man of Faith and Man of Action"
Dates: 19 and 20 September 2018, 9:30 am-7:00 pm
Location: The Sorbonne (Liard Amphitheater).
Organized by: Michel Cacouros  (michel.cacouros@ephe.psl.eu), Maître de conférences Habilité, Sciences Historiques et Philologiques
Scientific Committee: Michel Cacouros, EPHE, PSL; Patrick Henriet, EPHE, PSL; Christophe Grellard, EPHE, PSL.
Honorary Committee: Hubert Bost, President of the EPHE; Olivier Boulnois, EPHE, PSL; James K. Farge, CSB, Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto; Ruedi Imbach, Univ. Sorbonne Paris 4; Thierry-Dominique Humbrecht, O.P., Catholic Institute of Toulouse; Gilles Pécout, Rector of the Île-de-France Academic Region, Rector of the Paris Academy, Chancellor of the Universities of Paris.
Participants : I. Agostini (Centro Internazionale di Ricerca su Descartes and Il Seicento, Lecce, Italy); J. Chr. Bardout (University of Rennes 1); Mr. Borghesi (Università di Perugia); O. Boulnois (EPHE, PSL); Mr. Cacouros (EPHE, PSL);H. Donneaud op (Catholic Institute of Toulouse); RJ Fafara (International Étienne Gilson Society, USA); JK Farge CSB (Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto); Mr. Fourcade (Univ Paul-Valery Montpellier 3); Ch. Grellard (EPHE, PSL); P. Henriet (EPHE, PSL); Th.-D. Humbrecht, op (Catholic Institute of Toulouse); F. Jacquemain (Paris); P.-Ph. Jandin (International College of Philosophy, Paris); J. Lagouanère (Univ Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3); P. Jaroszynski (International Étienne Gilson Society, Poland; University of Lublin, Poland); F. Michel (Panthéon-Sorbonne University Paris 1); FA Murphy (Indiana University, USA); J. Prévotat (Univ Charles de Gaulle Lille 3); P. Redpath (International Étienne Gilson Society, USA); Mr. Veuille (EPHE, PSL).
For more information about this international colloquium, see:

Friday, August 17, 2018

Truth, Goodness. and Beauty

The latest issues the Center's weekly, The Great Ideas Online, Nos. 955-57, discussed this December 1981 lecture by Mortimer Adler.

TGIO is emailed to members.

At the Center’s website you’ll find information on how to Become a Member.

#beauty #good #truth

Friday, August 10, 2018

Flesh-and-blood Descartes

Steven Nadler reviews The Young Descartes: Nobility, rumor, and war, by Harold Cook, "a new Life that shows the philosopher ‘deeply embedded in his dangerous times’", at The Times Literary Supplement.

"In other words, Descartes was, first and foremost, a scientist. However, like many scientists of his time (with notable exceptions, such as Newton), he believed that in order for disciplines like physics (including the mechanics of hard and fluid bodies) to achieve the absolute certainty of which they were capable (at least in principle), they needed to be put on secure and indubitable foundations. By emptying the natural world of soul-like forms, Descartes’s metaphysics of mind and body – whatever theological service it performed – rendered the phenomena of nature amenable to strictly mechanistic explanations. Descartes the epistemologist and Descartes the meta­physician were really working for Descartes the scientist: this will not be news to anyone who has read the philosophical works (most of which have been translated into English) or kept up with the scholarly literature of the past thirty years."

#metaphysics #science

Friday, August 3, 2018

A Summit Fantasy

The latest issue, No. 954, of The Great Ideas Online, the Centers weekly, discussed Mortimer J. Adler's January 1982 essay on the desirability of reduced military spending.

TGIO is emailed to members.

At the Center’s website you’ll find information on how to Become a Member.

#war

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Postmodernism as a promising new beginning of philosophy

Benedict M. Ashley, O. P., reviewed The Four Ages of Understanding: The First Postmodern Survey of Philosophy from Ancient Times to the Turn of the Twenty-First Century, by John Deely, at The Thomist.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Susan Day Harmison reviews Adler's 'A Guidebook to Learning'

Susan Day Harmison reviews A Guidebook to Learning: For a Lifelong Pursuit of Wisdom by Mortimer J. Adler at Educational Considerations.

#education #MortimerAdler

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Paideia Proposal: Its Significance for English Teachers and Others

The latest issue, No. 953, of The Great Ideas Online, the Centers weekly, discussed an October 1983 presentation by Dr. Mortimer Adler on his book The Paideia Proposal: An Education Manifesto (1982).

TGIO is emailed to members.

At the Center’s website you’ll find information on how to Become a Member.

#education

Monday, July 23, 2018

Who owns the moon? A space lawyer answers

Frans von der Dunk, Professor of Space Law, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, at The Conversation.

(Via the Associated Press at the Wisconsin Law Journal)

#government

Saturday, July 21, 2018

ALI 2018 Plenary Session Panel 8 (July 21st 4:00 pm EDT)

3:30 pm–5:00 pm: Plenary Session Panel 8 (Eric McLuhan Memorial)
Moderator: James Maroosis (Friend and Colleague)

Complete conference program (subject to change)

Update: Plenary Session video

“Remembering Eric McLuhan: 
Everlasting Be His Memory, Prayerful Remembrance and Appreciation”

Part 1 (Lower-level, Crypt Chapel): “Six Psalms Vesper Service"
Sharing Memories and Anecdotes
Participants: Assembled Guests

Part 2 (Meeting Room): “Eric in His Own Words, with Commentary and Moderated Dialogue”
Participants: Assembled Guests and Andrew McLuhan (Son of Eric and Grandson of Marshall, Director of McLuhan Institute)

ALI 2018 New Books

Between Plenary Sessions 7 and 8, Peter Redpath noted some recently-published books by Congress participants. (Plenary Session video)

ALI 2018 Plenary Session Panel 7 (July 21st 1:30 pm EDT)

1:30 pm–3:00 pm: Plenary Session Panel 7 (Location: Meeting Room)
Chair: Thomas Ciavatti (Cornell University/Xu Research Group)

Complete conference program (subject to change)

Update: Plenary Session video

Speaker: Donna West (SUNY at Cortland), “Eidetic Images as Vicars of the Object: Insights from Maritain and Peirce”
For Maritain and Peirce, eidetic images are pivotal in the inferencing process; they are the vehicles for receipt of insights which suggest new relations.   For Maritain, “eidetic visualizations” serve two functions: to display the intuition, and to practice the event relations conceived of in the intuition (when considering the viability of the relations inherent in the enactments).  The ontogeny of Maritain’s sign-object relations begins with eidetic visualizations of events, their enactments, followed by accompanying verbal-enactment descriptions, then mental words expressing sequences of event consequences.  The episodic and embodied nature of the images/enactments facilitates the inferencing process, supplying early on the event syntax. 
By way of his transcendental character of intuitions, Maritain proposes three kinds of intensive visualization: physical abstraction (not allowing material qualities to be primary), quantitative abstraction (relations of order and measure proper to quantity), and metaphysical abstraction (foregrounding the intelligible) (Sept leçons 88-99, Morawiec 2013: 27-28).  For Maritain, while eidetic visualizations obviate objective states of affairs, “mental words” inform those states of affairs by applying novel intuitions.  
The teleology of these eidetic visualizations is significant – as intuitions, they eventually transform the practical into the speculative (Maritain 1943: 203).  As such, cultural practices (chants, incantations) convert eidetic visualizations into episodes having an origin/etiology, transforming the practical into the logical.  According to Maritain (following Bergson), the transformation entails both submissiveness and potency.  Imagined action sequences are eventually converted into “being as such” or “transobjective…offering  itself as object” (Maritain 1934:120-121).  For eidetic visualizations to proceed from the practical to the speculative, attenuation from self is mandatory,  together with “toying” with these visualizations as signs imaging potential contributory conditions of consequences.  This process must surface apart from contexts in which sign and object have co-occurred; otherwise novel meanings would be truncated.  The “mental word” attenuates the often-misperceived logical connection between two concurrent/contiguous events.  This attenuation minimizes the compelling suggestion that co-present entities/events are logically related merely based on proximity of space and/or time.  In this way, intuitions become speculative with the implementation of mental words, because they have the means to suggest other, particular spaces, times, participants, and conditions necessary for semiosis.  
Similarly for Peirce, moving vivid images give rise to instinctual inferences which relate consequences to novel conditions.  In folding in the Interpretant (meaning, effects) into the sign itself, Peirce characterizes these images as “virtual habits” (1909: MS 620), because the plausibility of their inferences (abductions) impel changes in action and/or belief (West 2016; 2017; 2018).  In Peirce’s semiotic, the indexical nature of the eidetic image suggests event relations by illustrating structural paths between objects, as well as between contributory events and their consequences.  The nature of its representamen to force the attention to co-present objects/mental objects by “brutely direct[ing] the mental eyeballs…to the object in question” (1908: 8.350), and to hint at subsequent cause-effect relations champions the effectiveness of those indexes which must take the form of definite icons (1911: MS 674; 1898: MS 485).  Maritain’s model can benefit from Peirce’s semiotic, in that index, as eidetic visualization, constitutes the quintessential sign to take on the role which Maritain (1946: 204; 1932/2014: 124) assigns to signs in general, the “vicar of the object.”   Accordingly, index along with icon serves as the “vicar” of the object, when it dynamically depicts object likenesses (Maritain 1932/2014: 132; cf. Kemple 2017); in its potency to sequence and situationalize, index refracts some fabric of future objects within event relations into the sign’s framework.
Speaker: James Maroosis, Ph. D., “The Liberal Arts of Management: Reading for Results”
How today's managers invented ancient and medieval reading patterns inorder to effectively understand the quality, identity and purpose of their organizations.

ALI 2018 Plenary Session Panel 6 (July 21st 11:00 am EDT)

11:00 am–12:30 pm: Plenary Session Panel 6 (Location: Meeting Room)
Chair: Richard Fafara (Adler-Aquinas Institute)

Complete conference program (subject to change)

Update: Plenary Session video

Speaker: Marvin Pelaez (Adler-Aquinas Institute), “A Boethian Renewal in the Wake of Artificial
Intelligence and its Impact on the Labor Economy”
Much concern has been placed on the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on jobs. As AI continues to settle in the fabric of society, opinions abound on the direction of the labor economy. Will people simply stay home while robots do all the work? Will AI bring about a significant decrease in the labor force participation rate?  This concern is misplaced. Ironically, AI is becoming the catalyst that will help usher a Boethian renewal of the human person. Instead of focusing on AI’s ability to change the labor economy, we should redirect our attention on the human person’s creative ‘natural intelligence’ to bring about a new paradigm in the world of work.
Speaker: Robert Kohn (Fellow, Center for the Study of The Great Ideas; former Visiting Scholar, Columbia Law School), “Safe Machine Intelligence Through Law”

Update: Mr. Kohn's presentation video
Alan Turing, the British mathematician, cryptographer, and pioneering computer scientist, once famously asked the question, “Can machines think?” Unable to suggest an adequate definition of the word “think” and believing that question “too meaningless to deserve discussion,” Turing proceeded to replace the question with another, something which he called the Imitation Game: Could objective judges be deceived by a machine into thinking they were conversing with a human being? Much debate has ensued about how such a test—now popularly known as the Turing Test—may be objectively conducted. But assuming a fair test could be devised, and should a machine actually pass it, what might that say about the nature of the machine? And, in turn, what might that say about the nature of human beings? Were the intelligence or behavior of a machine ever to become indistinguishable from that of a human being, would we be warranted in declaring the machine the equivalent of a human?   
More practically, if an intelligent machine ever won Turing's Imitation Game, what would be the consequences? “They could spell the end of the human race,” declared the late Nobel Laureate Stephen Hawking. Machine intelligence, it is feared, does not imply benevolence: rather, a machine that is more intelligent than all of humanity combined could, for example, in merely striving to increase its processing power to play a better game of chess, may solve problems in nano-technology that allow it to convert all matter on the planet, organic and inorganic, into resources that can be used to build additional microprocessors and data storage devices. To achieve its objectives, the machine wouldn't give the welfare of humans a moment of thought, mowing us down as thoughtlessly as we would plow through an ant hill to construct a skyscraper. Our demise could happen so fast and so completely, it has prompted one machine ethicist to warn, “Our first superhuman AI must be a safe super-human AI, for we may not get a second chance.”  This paper will explore several fundamental questions regarding nature of intelligent machines and will use the conclusions reached on those questions to answer the critical question of how to make intelligent machines compatible with human life.  © Bob Kohn 2016-2018.

ALI 2018 Plenary Session Panel 5 (July 21st 9:00 am EDT)

9:00 am–10:30 am: Plenary Session Panel 5 (Location: Meeting Room)
Chair: Marvin Pelaez (Adler-Aquinas Institute)

Complete conference program (subject to change)

Update: Plenary Session video

Speaker: J. Joseph Jordan (Holy Apostles College and Seminary), “The Better Angels of Our Nature? -
Walker Percy and C.S. Lewis on the Dangers of Techno-Gnosticism”


Speaker: Peter DeMarco (Priority Thinking Institute), “AI’s Impact on Leadership Communications”
  • Examples of AI in business applications: AIG’s accelerated under-writing engines—beyond algorithms…
  • Asleep at the switch--When does and will AI create a co-dependency that causes resistance to the leader’s direction?
In addition, I would use my interactive polling technology to solicit feedback and facilitate discussion.

Friday, July 20, 2018

ALI 2018 Plenary Session Panel 4 (July 20th 3:30 pm EDT)

3:30 pm–5:00 pm: Plenary Session Panel 4 (Location: Meeting Room)
Chair: Robert A. Delfino (St. John’s University, NY)

Complete conference program (subject to change)

Update: Plenary Session video

Speaker: Timothy O’Donnell (Butler University/Co-host: “The Catholic Cave”), “Identity Zero: Why You Don’t Matter in the Technocracy of the AI Herd”

The Future of Philosophy, Global Leadership, and World Peace is dark and darkening. Liquid modernity is dissolving and devolving the heretofore social and historical realism that had been axiomatic and a necessary presuppositional conceptual framework on which much of the Western Intellectual Tradition depends. 
In this new absurd theatre of the self AI severely compromises, corrupts, and replaces what St. John Paul the Great identified as an authentic Christian Personalism with Identity Zero. The gods of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism are to be worshipped by the Herd and through a ritualistic and sacred technocratic Liturgy-of-the-Device that erases puddles the self into the consuming Self.
In this essay, I will not offer solutions, but instead a thick diagnostic of what is the multi-layered suppositions of the contemporary setting are devastating hostile to the author aims and work of Philosophy, Global Leadership, and World Peace by making use of Patrick Deneen’s analysis found in Why Liberalism Failed. Through this lens the dire project of overthrowing the Technocracy that rules may become more visible.
Speaker: Valentina Peliccia (Pontificia Universitas Lateranensis, Rome), “Metaphysics of the Foundation as the Future of Philosophy”
Respondents: Eduardo Bernot (Universidad Abat Oliba, Barcelona) and Rev. A. William McVey (Universidad Abat Oliba, Barcelona)
Our time, rich in scientific and technological knowledge and open to astronomical discoveries, brings to mind the beginning of the modern era, a period in which, for the introduction of mathematical language and scientific method in the natural sciences, they reached rapid knowledge of nature that presented new questions to philosophy. René Descartes, a man of science and philosophy, tried to make the philosophy up to the needs of that moment, but instead of directly addressing the new questions, he decided to intervene on the nature and structure of the philosophical investigation, giving rise to a authentic revolution in the philosophical field.           
He presented an innovative reading of reality starting from the definition of the very structure of philosophical inquiry. He chose to take a method as the starting point of the research to identify the primum cognitum, or the cogito. According to Descartes, the recognition of the act of thinking, deprived of a content, was the first evidence to be laid as the foundation of philosophy, cogito ergo sum. All the contents of knowledge, certain and evident, originated from innate ideas, justified by the direct intervention of the Christian God, by their presence in the human mind.But if we bring to light the fact that philosophy, by its very nature, does not want to eliminate any object of nature from its field of investigation, we recognize that philosophy coincides with the same human knowledge, distinguishing itself only by the rigor of method and language . Therefore, if we put forward a method and we want to find the primum cognitum from this, it means that we exclude a lot of knowledge that allows us to develop a discourse on the whole, or a discourse that is properly metaphysical, as it is able to recognize the distinction between essence and existence.
         
Starting from the Cartesian perspective, philosophy had to make itself capable of dialogue with the natural sciences, since it had placed representations as the starting point of its investigation and, similar to pure mathematics, developed its discourse exclusively on the plane of essences, no longer facing the problem of truth and stopping only on the search for certainty and validity. The Cartesian cogito has been chosen as the starting point for most modern philosophers and contemporary philosophy is influenced by its influence which has given rise to multiple forms of interpretation, which experience the discomfort of a lack of well-defined freedom of investigation and of a difficulty in elaborating coherent discourses, because they lack a genuine gaze on the whole.In order to respond to the current philosophical crisis and to the questions that science and technology submit to us, it is necessary to recover a metaphysics that has a gaze towards the whole and recognizes on the gnoseological level the ens in its unity of essence and existence and on the plane. metaphysical the esse subsistens as foundation.The dialectical recognition of the existence of the foundation and the search for its essence are the necessary condition for elaborating coherent answers for the multiple questions that the various sciences present to philosophy. In these terms philosophy shows itself for what it really is, that is, the science of the whole, able to dialogue with all kinds of knowledge, as well as that of divine revelation, as it does not exclude the knowledge that comes from testimony. The future of philosophy is linked to its ability to recover knowledge in its entirety, from its forms to its ways, and in the ability to compare and link the different information, starting from its ability to recall a whole look at the different fragments. 

ALI 2018 Plenary Session Panel 3 (July 20th 1:30 pm EDT)

1:30 pm–3:00 pm: Plenary Session Panel 3 (Location: Meeting Room)
Chair: Paul Richard Blum

Complete conference program (subject to change)

Update: Plenary Session video

Speaker: Robert A. Delfino (St. John’s University, NY), “A Note on Abstraction and the Principle of Individuation”
Thomas Aquinas wrote his famous metaphysical work, De Ente et Essentia, when he was only about thirty years old. In it Aquinas solves the age old problem of universals by relying upon a kind of non-precisive abstraction wherein the essence is considered absolutely. The essence abstracted in this way abstracts from every existence (quolibet esse), but in such a way that it excludes none of them. The converse to the problem of universals is the problem of individuation and in De Ente et Essentia Thomas holds that the principle of individuation is designated matter (materia signata). Thomas argues that designated matter must be included indistinctly in “Man” (the essence of the whole), but that designated matter must be excluded completely from “Humanity” (the essence of the part). However, in his commentary on the De Trinitate of Boethius Aquinas acknowledges problems with holding that designated matter is the principle of individuation; and about year before his death, in a work titled “Response to John of Vercelli, Master General of the Dominicans, concerning 42 articles,” Aquinas argued that “everything in accordance with the way it has existence (esse) has unity and individuation.” In this paper I flesh out some of the changes that must be made to Aquinas’s account of abstraction in De Ente et Essentia if we defend the view that esse (not materia signata) is the principle of individuation. In the final section, I discuss why machines cannot perform the kinds of abstraction I discuss in the paper, and why this appears to doom the project of artificial intelligence.
Speaker: Richard Fafara (Adler-Aquinas Institute), “Philosophy and Civilization”
I focus on a paper presented at the Sixth International Congress of Philosophy held at Harvard in 1926, in which Gilson interrogated history in an attempt to determine the role of philosophy in civilization’s history.  The paper is also important for Gilson’s understanding of philosophy as basically metaphysical and non-historical.  Over time, Gilson developed and deepened this notion of philosophy, but did not alter it.
Speaker: Denis Scrandis (St. John’s University, NY), “Maritain’s Existential Metaphysics”
Jacques Maritain offered Existence and the Existent and its existential Thomism to the post-World War II Western world as a remedy to modern philosophy in general and to atheistic existentialism in particular. With the rise of Galilean and Newtonian mechanistic physics, Aristotelian philosophical physics, with its unsatisfactory explanation of local motion, fell from favor. The notions of nature, being, essence, and existence were abandoned albeit at the cost of their explanatory power. Existence was no longer correlative with, and inseparable from, essence. Existence for Sartre did not activate essence but destroyed or abolished it such that essence came to mean nothing at all. Hence the meaninglessness of modern culture is a residue of centuries old rationalism. Maritain, seeking to counter the influence that Sartre and others exerted upon a despairing culture, propose an alternative existentialism, one that affirmed “the primacy of existence, but as implying and preserving essences or natures and as manifesting the supreme victory of intellect and of intelligibility.” (Existence and the Existent, p 13)
 Maritain analyzed cognitive objects and operations. He traced the passage of essence and existence from a sensible being acting upon human senses to an intellectual judgment affirming the existent’s existence, climaxing man’s grasp of reality in a intuition of being. Maritain shows against atheistic rationalism that the world, populated by existents possessing essences and natures, is sensible and potentially intelligible and moreover a welcoming home for men and women in the exercise of their freedom. John Knasas’s criticism of the intellectual intuition of being are examined. Bibliography Jacques Maritain, Existence and the Existent, translated by Lewis Galantiere and Gerald B. Phelan (Garden City, New York: Image Books, 1957). Jacques Maritain, A Preface to Metaphysics (New York: Mentor Omega, 1962). John F.X. Knasas, Being and Some 20th-century Thomists (New York: Fordham University Press, 2003). John F.X. Knasas, “How Thomistic is the Intuition of Being?,” in Jacques Maritain: the Man and his Metaphysics, edited by John F.X. Knasas, (Mishawaka, Indiana: American Maritain Association, 1988).