Monday, August 20, 2012

Why we need Aristotle and Aquinas pt 3

In the previous article on this subject I listed several experiences that while anecdotal, provide what I think are specific examples of a general problem for moderns.  The problem lies in that there is a disconnect between the rational abstractions we use and the underlying reality that those abstractions represent.  This manifests itself in several ways, such as the anecdotes I listed in my last post on this subject.

One of the worst cases is the tendency to "concretize the abstract" according to Dr. Edward Feser.  In this case, The person has taken an abstraction of a particular reality and turned it into the reality.  This is particularly true among materialist atheists, who routinely beg the question during their defenses of these views.

Another symptom is what I would call "the reality disconnect".  In this case the abstract model that one learns  loses its connection to the underlying reality that the model is supposed to be an abstraction of.  This occurs in its most obvious form in academic test settings, where answers provided to test questions are not only wrong but so wrong the professor is left wondering how the student did not know how wrong he was.

Both of these are the result of the denial of objective truth.  In the first case reality is constrained to the model that the individual mind can handle, and thus a warped view of reality is projected.  In the second case the model is all that there is, and the disconnect is due to the inability to connect the abstraction with the reality.  Both fail to deal with reality as is, and attempts to narrow reality in order to simplify the thought process.

I think largely this is due to the skeptical nature of modern thought.  Not in the sense of critical thought.  But the hyper-critical nature of modern philosophy.  The denial of objective truth and the ability to know such truth has severed our thoughts from reality.

A lot of this stems from Descartes' modernist philosophy and the subsequent mechanistic philosophies of modern thought.  Viewing the world through a lens that searches for utility rather than truth, the goal of modern philosophy is not to seek the truth but to utilize the physical world.  While this is useful from the scientific perspective, it is virtually useless when evaluating universal truth one way or another.

So now that we have laid out the issues with modern thought and the consequences of those thoughts, how does Aquinas come to the rescue?  That we will finally answer in the next post.

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