The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Archive for April 19th, 2008

On the Fundamental Difficulties of the Philosophy of Reid (article 7&8)

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 19, 2008

Article 7. Dr. Reid Maintains, Against Locke, That The First Operation Of The human Mind Is, Not Analytic, But synthetic.
117 Dr. Reid considers that the above is the only satisfactory account of the formation of our mind begin by synthesis, and not by analysis. Accordingly he proceeds as follows:-

“It is the operations of the mind, in this case, as with natural bodies, which are indeed compounded of simple principles or elements. Nature does not exhibit these elements separate, to be compounded by us; she exhibits them mixed and compounded in concrete bodies, and it is only by art and chemical analysis that they can be separated. (Reid: “An Inquiry, & c., chap. 2. sec. 4)

    Article 8. The System Proposed By Dr. Reid Cannot Be Considered Satisfactory.
    118. It must e admitted that the adversaries of Dr. Reid can have nothing to say against his description of the facts. Most undoubtedly, the simple apprehension of an object, or the concept of it divested of the persuasion of its existence, cannot be had by us until we have perceived that the object as existent, and then by an intellectual operation divided it from the persuasion of its existence, and considered it only in that abstract state.

    119. But if Dr. Reid’s appeal to the fact as presented to observation is the decisive against his adversaries, they may in their turn take the offensive, and show him that the system which he would substitute for theirs is not by any means free from objection.
    Their rejoinder might e expressed in some such form as the following:-

    “We will for the sake of argument suppose that the intimate persuasion of the existence of the things perceived by man is, as you have said, antecedent to the simple apprehension of them, and that this apprehension is the result of an abstraction which man exercises on the judgment whereby he has affirmed their existence. Yet we fail to see in this proof that you have gone up to the first and highest of the facts of the human spirit in connection with the origin of ideas. You suppose that the first product of the action of the human spirit is composite; for such is that persuasion which you place before simple apprehension. In short, you make the development of man’s intellectual life start, not from ideas, but from judgments. Now this is precisely what we cannot understand. To say that the composite goes before the simple, judgment before ideas, seems to us a contradiction in terms. We will explain ourselves more fully.

      “if as you assert, the first operation of the human spirit is a judgment, you must concede that it is, not a simple, but a composite operation-i.e. resulting from several elements.

      “It is true that you qualify this judgment by the epithets of natural and original; which is tantamount to saying that man makes it by necessity, by an intrinsic force or, as you express it, a certain ‘inspiration’ (Essay 2. chap 6). But this does not make it any the less a veritable judgment, and you yourself call it so. Indeed, how can a man be persuaded of the existence of a being until he has said within himself, ‘This being exists’? and what is this interior pronouncement but a judgment by which existence is attributed to being?

      “We beg to repeat it, it is quite immaterial whether this judgment which is immediately conjoined with the sensations be made from an internal and natural movement which man cannot resist, or whether it e made freely: in either case its nature as a judgment remains unchanged. So far it seems that we are agreed.

      “You may, if you like, change the formula, and instead of saying, ‘I judge that this being exists,’ say, ‘I feel that this being exists,’ or, ‘My consciousness tells me that what I now perceive by my senses has existence;’ or you may use some other still more accurate expression. But the self-same concept of a true and complete judgment will remain. It will always be true that you inwardly feel that there is a relation of identity between what affects your senses and existence; and that to feel this is the same as to make a judgment. There is, therefore, no gainsaying the fact, that the natural and original judgment which you have laid down as the basis of your theory is a judgment in the strictest sense of the word, and must precede our persuasion of the existence of external things.

      “But if so, you certainly begin the development of man’s intellectual life, not by a simple but by a composite operation, by the conjunction of a predicate with a subject; for this, and nothing else, is what all philosophers, your ownself included, understand by a judgment. Thus, in the judgment we are discussing (“such or such a thing really exists”), existence is the predicate, and the “sensible,” or the thing in so far as felt, is the subject.

      “we ask, therefore, how can a man thus join the predicate of existence with the thing which affects his senses, unless he be already in possession of these two elements? And how can you, therefore, call this judgment original in the sense that it is not preceded in man by any knowledge? If to make such a judgment it is necessary, on the one hand, to experience the sensation, and, on the other, to have the idea of existence, surely you must acknowledge that this operation is not original, but preceded by two simpler operations, of feeling the sensation, and intueing the idea of existence. The fact of the judgment taking place immediately upon our experiencing the sensations in no way invalidates the force of our argument. The two elementary operations must exist before they can be conjoined.

      120. “Now, think, if you please, of the idea of existence. The object seen in this idea is a universal, and you assume it without giving any account whatever of its origin in our mind. It is a necessary element in the formation of the judgment; it is simpler than the judgment, and must precede it, logically at least. With what consistency , then, can you charge us with error for maintaining that man’s intellectual development begins with ideas, when you do the very same y representing it as strting with a judgment which is necessarily conditional upon an antecedent idea?”

      Posted in Quotes, Rosmini, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

      My Notes on Hosea 8:1-4

      Posted by Dim Bulb on April 19, 2008

      The text is divided into three parts: A) Verses 1-4, in which God, through his Prophet, announces the charge of Israel’s violation of the covenant; B) verses 5-13a, God, through the prophet, lays down specific charges against Israel; C), verses 13b-14, the punishment of Israel (and Judah) is announced.  In this post I will examine the first part, vss 1-4.
      Vs. 1  Set the trumpet to thy mouth.  As an eagle he comes against the house of Yahweh, because they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law.  As verse 2 makes clear, the words are directed towards Israel.  The reference to the trumpet reminds us of the words addressed to Benjamin in 5:8.  The trumpet (Hebrew: shofar, ram’s horn) was both a cultic instrument, (Ps. 98:6; Num 29:1) and a military alarm/call-to-arms (Num 10:9; Judges 6:34).  The eagle would perhaps read better as vulture, a bird of prey which feasts upon carrion, for Israel, as a result of its breaking of the covenant, will be “swallowed up (vs 8).  The Hebrew nesher  is derived from a root meaning to lacerate, implying any type of bird which rends the flesh of its prey.  Who the he is who comes against the House of Yahweh is is not stated; however, birds of prey, especially the eagle, were symbols used by the Assyrian kings to symbolize their military might.  God, it appears, is threatening to use Assyria as an instrument of punishment for covenant transgression.  The House of Yahweh is probably to be understood as  an ironic reference to the false shrines established in the Northern Kingdom at Dan and Bethel.  The construction of these shrines were soundly condemned by numerous prophets and were not truly the House of Yahweh.  The law laid down that worship and sacrifice was to take place only at the spot chosen by God (see Deut 12:1-14).  Likewise, the law forbid the making of idols, and the sanctuaries in the north contained altars in the shape of bulls or calves, recalling the sin of the golden calf during the Exodus (see vss 5, 6; Ex 32; 1 Kings 12:26-33).  Transgression implies open, known, pre-meditated rebellion.  This makes the following verse rather telling.
      Vs 2  They shall cry unto me, ‘My God, we Israel know thee’.  Brings up once again the theme of Israel’s insincerity in its covenant relations with God (see 5:15-6:4).  The text is somewhat awkward, given the singular “my” in conjunction with the plural “we.”

      Vs 3  Israel has cast off that which is good; the enemy shall pursue him.  The word translated cast off has the meaning of “throw away” and is a reference to their rejection of God and/or the covenant (recall verse 1).  As has been noted several times in my notes, being pursued by an enemy is one of the major punishments for covenant infidelity as laid down in the Book of Deuteronomy 28.

      Vs 4  They have set up kings, but not by me, they have made princes, and I knew it not; with their silver and their gold they have made idols, and so they will be cut off.  The reigning king of Israel at the start of Hosea’s ministry was Jeroboam II, a descendant of King Jehu whom God had established on the throne and to whom he promised a 4 generation line of succession.   To whom then, does the text refer?  To previous or post Jeroboam II kings?  Either is possible, especially the latter.  After the reign of Jeroboam II a series of 6 kings came to the throne over a period of 20 years.  Of that number, 4 were assassinated and two were removed by the Assyrians.  Personally, I like the suggestion of Marvin Sweeney who thinks the kings and princes referred to are a reference to the various political alliances Israel formed with pagan nations.  Israel tended to be subservient in these relationships and, therefore, at the beck and call of these foreign rulers.  As we have already seen in previous notes, the Prophet has condemned such alliances several times.  Such alliances were covenantal and entailed swearing oaths and offering sacrifices to the foreign gods and honoring them in ones own country, hence the statement with their silver and gold they have made idols.  These alliances fostered trade, bringing wealth (silver and gold) to Israel (see 12:1-2).    Having cast off that which is good (God and covenant vs 3) they will in turn be cut off.

      Vs 5

      Posted in Bible, NOTES ON HOSEA | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

      Ronald Knox on Psalm 1

      Posted by Dim Bulb on April 19, 2008

      The following meditation was produced by Father Ronald Knox, the famous convert/writer/Biblical Scholar.

      Psalm 1. A Caution Against Worldliness.

      First Point. The soul must, in its measure, retire into seclusion from the world. Blessed is the man who has not walked in the counsel, that is, according to the lights and standards, of their imperfect world around him; who has not voluntarily gone out of his way into sinful courses. But we must not be content with this, we must walk in the right way, not standing about irresolutely and parleying with sin, y encouraging occasions, evil imaginations ect. Nor must we even sit down, that is, sink into apathy about spiritual things and fall back into acquiescence with the promptings of our own nature; for ours is a fallen nature, and we have to flee from its indifference towards heaven as if from a spot contaminated by disease. The will must be trained by mortifications and conform itself to the higher law of grace; the mind must be schooled by meditation on the mysteries of the faith, alike in times of happiness and in times of distress, lest we should forget our high calling.

      Second Point. Only the mortified life is fruitful. In nature itself, it is not the least tended trees that are the healthiest, the pollarded willow thrives from the very harshness of its treatment. And the mortified life is to be compared to such a tree, rooted in one spot and yet continually growing: it does not depend on accidents of rain and droughts, of happiness, that is, or of misfortune, because it is planted by the waters of God’s grace, flowing like a river, always the same yet always mysteriously fresh. Fed by such nourishment, it will bring forth the fruit of holiness in due season, when God sees fit and in the measure he ordains. This fruit of holiness is the only produce of it which matters in the light of eternity: but even the leaves, that is the outward and unessential part of our lives, our temporal happiness, will be blessed by God’s special favor; and the works we undertake in his honor will be prospered through his Providence, often beyond our knowing.

      Third Point. The immortified life is sterile and transient. The mortified life is the seed which falls into the ground and, buried as it is, grows into a flourishing plant. The life of the worldly, for all its appearance of freedom. is like the chaff or dust which the wind scatters about, unstable in principle and barren of fruit. It is the stubble which, as St Paul tells us, will be burned in the fire of judgment. Already, St John warns us God’s fan is in his hand, and he will one day burn the chaff in unquenchable fire. Happy are we if we walk in the way of the just, over which, however perilous it may seem, the providence of God keeps a fatherly watch for our protection; if we turn our backs resolutely on the way of sinners, which leads over uncharted ground to the wilderness, the precipice, or the morass

      Posted in Bible, Devotional Resources, NOTES ON THE PSALMS | 1 Comment »

      %d bloggers like this: