A certain O'Floinn has set his mind to writing a Summa on the Scientific Revolution.
First he misnames it "Summa: Origins of Sciences" when he means "Origin of Revolution in Sciences". Of course, he might think that sciences only became scientific with that revolution, so the false title reflects his ideology. Then he thinks "Summa" and "Origin of Sciences" can simply be juxtaposed in Latin, so instead of naming it "summa de originibus scientiarum" he names it "summa origines scientiarum". So far so bad.
Then he says a few less talented things in the diverse articles (yes, he does make articles in the format of Summa Theologica). Then I object to them in comboxes. Then he objects to my "colonisation" of his comboxes.
I do object to spam in my comboxes. Spam as in publicity for viagra or as in links to dating sites or as in banks offering low security quick credits. I do also object to profanity or disrespect for God, for Our Lord Jesus Christ, for Our Lady, for the Seven Sacraments in my comboxes. But I do not object to someone taking issue with what I say, even in extended detail in the comboxes.
I only state that if someone does so, the content of his comments precisely like mine can be republished under the conditions given for republishing of my blogs. My debate with such a commenter would be part of my essay. If he wants compensation for his writing, then he can turn to the one republishing and ask him for compensation in proportion to his contribution. But I do not - at least I have not so far done so - delete comments because they are many and argue against me. I could do so if the same argument answered was merely restated in other words. But even there I might be generous if a new application of it was brought up. Not so O'Floinn.
Here is what he wrote after deleting my comments on his article 2. And my answer:
- I much fear Hans-Georg Lundahl has colonized these comm boxes far beyond propriety's bounds. Comment after comment after comment after... (Pope Michael I? WTH?) Therefore, I have taken the reluctant step of deleting his comments.
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- Perhaps easier than to reply to my objections ...
Propriety in the comboxes of my blogs does not include excluding reasoned objections.
A philosopher? A scholastic? Nah, you are a modern.
Let us salvage the comments on Proœmium and Articulus 1 while they are there.
The TOF Spot : Summa origines scientiarum: Proœmium
- Me against Schönborn
- The Church has not rejected blind faith. It has rejected the theory that blind faith is all we can have. And Schönborn is as useless a Scholastic as he is a Dogmatist.
As a Viennese and a Catholic I am deeply concerned about this Schönborn thing being called Cardinal over there. Since his father was a freemason, he should not have been allowed into the clergy. He was, but he has not really made up for the disadvantage that should have blocked him.
Now, the supposed condemnation of blind faith, where the Church has a condemnation of Fideistic theory of Faith, along with the popularised identification between Creationism and blind faith allows him to condemn Creationism by a sleight of hand. He is deeply dishonest.
- Me against an aspect of the Proœmium
- The lack of stellar parallax falsified the distance to the stars estimated from their apparent disk sizes, not heliocentrism as such.
Does, possibly, negative parallax falsify Heliocentrism as such?
At least the discovery of so called parallax did not falsify Geocentrism.
Since, with angelic movers for each star and planet, but not for earth, "parallax" can be a proper movement of the star, and therefore neither a sign of Earth's supposed orbit, nor a sufficient trigonometric information for calculating the distance.
Instead of "one known side, two known angles" Geocentrism reduces the movement to one known angle, no known distance.
- Me answering two other commenters that I cite first, the second also answered by O'Floinn:
- According to John W. Campbell, Islam invented science. (I don't know if that includes psionics or the Dean drive.)
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- It can be stated in defense of that, that Western Scholasticism started off as an offshot of Islamic and Byzantine learning.
However, behind all three we have the Greeks, and we have them filtered through Catholic-Orthodox and Islamic Monotheism.
- j mct
- Just one quibble with your analysis, about the 300 years for a legend in modern times while in oral cultures 80 years seems to be the number. Per Galileo, the legend says he proved the earth spins on it's axis and revolves around the sun scientifically, or more correctly empirically. That's obvious hogwash as noted above. This legend must wait a while to get going for the reason that it cannot really get started while there are still scientists running around trying to come up with empirical evidence for the earth spinning on it's axis. This particular myth dates to the late 19th century, or close to 80 years after scientists had stopped looking for the empirical proof the legend says Galileo found, because they'd found it, which could be about as soon as it could get going.
I'd like to add that some of the same sort created the 'Pius XII was a Nazi sympathizer' myth too and that one didn't wait 80 years. If motivated enough, I guess one need wait 80 years.
- The actual interval may vary among cultures. The mythologizing of Galileo some three centuries after the fact is independent of whether he was successful. It was the 19th century, celebrating itself, that conjured up the legend. We can actually spot mythmaking in process as regards Roland the paladin of Charlemagne, as we note the entry in the contemporary Annales Regni Francorum, in the within-the-lifetimes Vita Karoli Magni, to Le Chanson de Roland three centuries later.
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- close to 80 years after scientists had stopped looking for the empirical proof the legend says Galileo found, because they'd found it,
As noted : they had not.
Now we get to my answers on Articulus 1
- Charles (to article)
- In your reply to objection 1, you say that the pre-modern notion of science was "a systematic and analytical study of a subject using evidence, logic and reason". I think this is right in its basic thrust, but leaves out that criterion or "certitude" which is at the core of the Aristotelian notion of science, thus distinguishing scientific demonstration from dialectical demonstration. I wonder if we cannot still say with Aristotle's medieval commentators that science is "cognitio certa per causas" in the precise Aristotelian sense. If so, then much of modern "science" is still in the state of dialectical probability, awaiting the discovery of the proper causes of the observed and mathematically expressed regularities of nature.
Love your blog, Mike Flynn, and I look forward to your future installments on this topic.
- TheOFloinn (to Charles)
- I would like to think so.
- Gyan (to Charles)
- But modern science does look for causes. It is not content with "mathematically expressed regularities of nature."
Consider the difference between Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Astronomy is content with establishing the regularities of nature. But Astrophysics wants to know why these regularities exist. The astrophysics was started off by Kepler who first postulated forces between sun and the planets to account for the planetary orbits.
- TheOFloinn (to Gyan)
- Modern science looks for metrical efficient causes; and of course it raises Theories on top of Facts and Laws. (Or the propter quid for the quia, as the medievals put it.)
- Hans-Georg Lundahl (to Gyan)
- Astronomy is content with establishing the regularities of nature. But Astrophysics wants to know why these regularities exist.
The problem is that the definition was not "divinatio possibilitatis per causas," but "cognitio certa per causas". And astrophysics is a far cry from cognitio certa.
- Hans-Georg Lundahl (to article)
- the Scientific Revolution “outshines everything since the rise of Christianity and reduces the Renaissance and Reformation to the rank of mere episodes… within the system of medieval Christendom.”
Indeed, what if the Scientific Revolution in question was the beginning of the Great Apostasy?
Just a side issue, you cannot say "summa origines" when you mean "summa de origine" or "summa de originibus", and you could hardly say "scientiarum" if you mean specifically the results of the Scientific Revolution.
- List of six features in article which cites Peter Dear:
- 1.The view of the world as a kind of machine.
- 2.The distinction between “primary” and “secondary” qualities.
- 3.The use of deliberate and recordable experimentation.
- 4.The use of mathematics as a privileged tool for disclosing nature.
- 5.The pursuit of natural philosophy as a research enterprise.
- 6.The reconstruction of the social basis of knowledge around a positive evaluation of cooperative research.
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- Of the six features I would single out as most Antichristian:
- 1.The view of the world as a kind of machine.
- 2.The distinction between “primary” and “secondary” qualities.
If by primary is not meant substance and secondary accidents, but by primary is meant all quantity related things and by secondary all sensorial things. And if by "a kind of machine" you mean "a kind of clockwork which runs itself".
- And if by "a kind of machine" you mean "a kind of clockwork which runs itself".
It should be noted that it was the medieval natural philosophers who first compared the universe to a clock -- the clock was, after all, a medieval invention.
Jean Buridan and Nicholas Oresme (14th century) compared the universe to a clock. Even Thomas Aquinas did so. And before that the 13th century monk and astronomer Sacrobosco conceived of the "world machine."
The image of the clockwork universe, or a world machine, was simply an image meant to express a metaphysical view of the universe as a rationally ordered thing, which humans can understand through the use of natural reason.
Like so much else, the Scientific Revolutionaries simply inherited the "machine/clockwork universe" metaphor from their medieval predecessors.
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- The Universe is indeed in a way a clock, insofar as it measures time.
But the point is whether it is the kind of clock Immanuel Kant constituted in Königsberg (a living voluntary clock taking his daily walk at regular times) or what is more commonly known as a clockwork.
If I should have been misconstruing St Thomas (so far I am not much read in Buridan or Oresme), do give me the reference, to Summa or to Latin works not translated, quia et hac lingua bene lego textus.
Sacrobosco ... I am not sure he was as orthodox as St Thomas or Nicole Oresme. But it was ages since I just possibly read about him, and I have not read his own texts, so I am not sure.
Buridan (like Bradwardine) was, unless I recall wrong, less orthodox. Pre-calvinist.
Not meaning to depreciate Bradwardine's logarithmic idea or its application for mechanics (which is where he used it, he never went to Napier's lengths in actually defining logarithmic values).
- This is the only reference to a clock in the Summa Theologica:
Accordingly, in all things moved by reason, the order of reason which moves them is evident, although the things themselves are without reason: for an arrow through the motion of the archer goes straight towards the target, as though it were endowed with reason to direct its course. The same may be seen in the movements of clocks and all engines put together by the art of man. Now as artificial things are in comparison to human art, so are all natural things in comparison to the Divine art. -- I-II, q. 13, art. 2
Granted, Aquinas is not saying the world is literally like a clock in this passage. What he is saying, though, is that things that lack intelligence themselves, like natural bodies, still seem to act for an end by behaving the same way always or for the most part. These things are, therefore, directed to their ends by the Intelligent Being. This is precisely what Aquinas states in his Fifth Way.
In the above passage, he uses the image of an arrow directed to an end by the archer (like he does in the Fifth Way), but he also uses the second image of a clock, which is directed by the "human art." Natural things, however, are directed by the "Divine art."
The difference between Aquinas' use of the clock metaphor and the way it was used by early modern philosophers is that the latter rejected Aristotelian teleology. For Aquinas, natural things are directed to ends because it's their nature to be so directed, but this nature is ultimately endowed by the Intelligent Being, and therefore directed by that Being. He uses the clock metaphor, like the archer metaphor, to illustrate this.
But for early modern philosophers, there is no conception of the end-directedness-by-nature, or the Aristotelian teleology of Aquinas, and so the clock metaphor is more literal -- the universe became just like a clock, devoid of any inherent purposes or ends.
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- Clocks in his day ... not sure they had clockworks.
Clepsydras, sandclocks, sun dials, wax taper clocks were all known, but I think clockworks were a bit later.
Anyway, the tertium comparationis was being arranged by intelligence, not working it out mechanically without intelligence acting all along. As when a clockwork is wound up and the clock left to lie running as the drawer up [=winder up] (and maker) both are absent.
Actually Ioannes de Sacrobosco did not conceive of the world as "machina mundi". He is quoting the words of a not yet Christian Denis of the Areopagus:
ECLIPSE DURING THE PASSION MIRACULOUS. -- From the aforesaid it is also evident that, when the sun was eclipsed during the Passion and the same Passion occurred at full moon, that eclipse was not natural -- nay, it was miraculous and contrary to nature, since a solar eclipse ought to occur at new moon or thereabouts. On which account Dionysius the Areopagite is reported to have said during the same Passion, "Either the God of nature suffers, or the mechanism of the universe is dissolved."
While Denis of the Areopagus was yet a Pagan and saw the miraculous non-shining of the sun (it could not be an eclipse since it was close to or on full moon) on Good Friday, he may very well have been thinking sometimes in terms of "machina mundi", but the comparison is not by the converted saint, nor by the man who quoted his words from before the conversion.
And Denis in giving the two alternatives "God of nature suffering" and "machina mundi being dissolved" neatly showed his intimate knowledge of both Stoic Pantheism and Epicurean Mechanicism - and refuted both. To Stoics the God of nature cannot suffer. To Epicureans the mechanism of the world cannot be dissolved.
Not something any faker of his biography would likely have been able to do before Lorenzo Valla. At least in the Middle Ages.
This is therefore an argument for both the biography of "Pseudo"-Dionysus being genuine and therefore also for Good Friday Dark Sun witnessed outside Jerusalem.
But very much not for Sacrobosco predating Newton in seing nature as a kind of clockwork.
- But very much not for Sacrobosco predating Newton in seing nature as a kind of clockwork.
I didn't say Sacrobosco said the universe was a "clockwork." I said he spoke of the "world machine," which he does:
"The machine of the universe is divided into two, the ethereal and the elementary region."
- Hans-Georg Lundahl
- I suppose he would have called a bike, had he seen one, a machine.
- Hans-Georg Lundahl (to article)
- Those involved in the 17th century Scientific Revolution were purposefully engaged in overturning previous Aristotelian paradigms. Descartes’ Principles of Philosophy is perhaps the Storming of the Bastille. Yet, even if the Revolutionaries were correct in their self-assessment, revolutions always have deeper origins.
I believe those guys were largely in error.
And since they were in error, how can Christian truth be the cause of their error?
Occasion, yes. Just as Catholic truth was occasion of Protestant errors.
Islam emphasized God’s power and autonomy over his rationality and rejected secondary causality as directly contrary to Holy Qur’an. According to the Jewish philosopher, Maimonides, Islamic theologians (mutakalimun) compared natural laws to the daily riding habits of the caliph – subject to change on a whim.
"[T]he thing which exists (in nature) with certain constant and permanent forms, dimensions, and properties only follows the direction of habit … on this foundation their whole fabric is constructed" [Guide to the Perplexed].
Islamic theologians asserted that
"when a man moves a pen, it is not the man who moves it; for the motion occurring in the pen is an accident created by God in the pen. Similarly the motion of the hand, which we think of as moving the pen, is an accident created by God in the moving hand. Only God has instituted the habit that the motion of the hand is concomitant with the motion of the pen, without the hand exercising in any respect an influence on, or being causative in regard to, the motion of the pen."
"Habits" are not natural laws. Ibn Rushd attacked this world-view, but in the end was stripped of all offices and forced to flee al-Andalus.
There was one philosophical school in 17th C. West which entirely concurred. It was called Occasionalism.
There are hints of an occasionalist viewpoint here and there in Descartes's own writings, but these can mostly be explained away under alternative interpretations. However, many of his later followers quite explicitly committed themselves to an occasionalist position. In one form or another, the doctrine can be found in the writings of: Johannes Clauberg, Claude Clerselier, Gerauld de Cordemoy, Arnold Geulincx, Louis de La Forge, François Lamy, and (most notably), Nicolas Malebranche.
From wiki: Occasionalism
It also discussed in how far Occasionalism is a real obstacle to examining the laws of nature:
To posit an independent causality outside of God's knowledge and action is to deprive Him of true agency, and diminish his attribute of power. In his famous example, when fire and cotton are placed in contact, the cotton is burned not because of the heat of the fire, but through God's direct intervention, a claim which he defended using logic. In the 12th century, this theory was defended and further strengthened by the Islamic theologian Fakhr al-Din al-Razi, using his expertise in the natural sciences of astronomy, cosmology and physics.
Because God is usually seen as rational, rather than arbitrary, his behaviour in normally causing events in the same sequence (i.e., what appears to us to be efficient causation) can be understood as a natural outworking of that principle of reason, which we then describe as the laws of nature. Properly speaking, however, these are not laws of nature but laws by which God chooses to govern his own behaviour (his autonomy, in the strict sense) — in other words, his rational will. This is not, however, an essential element of an occasionalist account, and occasionalism can include positions where God's behaviour (and thus that of the world) is viewed as ultimately inscrutable, thus maintaining God's essential transcendence. On this understanding, apparent anomalies such as miracles are not really such: they are simply God behaving in a way that appears unusual to us. Given his transcendent freedom, he is not bound even by his own nature. Miracles, as breaks in the rational structure of the universe, can occur, since God's relationship with the world is not mediated by rational principles.
However, the kind of occasionalism denying fire burns cotton by its heat, though it may have occurred to Chesterton, is not the Thomistic view. Fire does burn cotton because of its heat, but God and angels are agencies superior to the heat of fire and thus capable of preventing the occurrence.
Now, it was motivated in a way exactly mirroring Calvinistic concern about God's majesty versus efficacy of free will:
To posit an independent causality outside of God's knowledge and action is to deprive Him of true agency, and diminish his attribute of power.
Wrong. Fire has heat for causality capable of for instance burning cotton, and always has this in and of itself. But this is because that is how God created fire. This does not mean that God is deprived of true agency. God is always capable of inhibiting the burning of fire and of heat and did so on at least two occasions: the three young men in the furnace and the Beloved Disciple in boiling oil, after which he was exiled to Patmos.
But more than that, nothing ever in all the world occurrs without God either directly wanting it to occurr or at least permitting that it occurrs.
That said, some of the so called laws may indeed be habits of God or of angels. St Augustine when discussing the concept of one moment creation in his Twelve Books says that no way anything ever occurrs contrary to how God decided it to be in that one moment. BUT the capacities are both those God takes care of in natural occurrences and in all miracles that do happen, and the innate capcacities that God decided in that one moment of creation are not necessarily exactly the same that scientists deduct from observation of regularities.
This is contrary to the enormous errors of Ibn Rushd, according to which God simply does not care one way or the other.
St Thomas Aquinas fought Ibn Rushd (or Averroes, as we call him), Ibn Bajja (a man as close as an Islamic Aquinas as we can get, Avempace in Latin) also fought Ibn Rushd.
Modern physics owe one concept at least to these two men independently refuting Averroes.
"God cannot move all the universe sideways"
had that man said. "Because in that case it would leave behind a void, and that is impossible".
Both Aquinas and Avempace answered that in that case space void of matter would exist as the remaining spatial coordinates of where the universe had been.
Note that "space" and "void" as a modern concept of pure coordinates was in their answer only the logic solution to a miracle that had been depicted as logically impossible.
Now, the way modern scientists and even more science historians make such a fuzz about Averroes is to me a token, that the modern scientific worldview is Averroism revived in the West.
Despite the efforts of both St Thomas Aquinas and Bishop Tempier to stifle it - the philosopher by arguing, the bishop by condemning.
So, I reject the second of three "obstacles to science arising" as an obstacle of true science:
2.Belief in the absolutely autonomy of God. When even the act of handwriting is ascribed to God’s direct intervention, "laws of nature" can be no more than "habits of God," and the reasons for them cannot be comprehended. Therefore, the search for scientific laws would be in vain.
As to the first, here it is:
1.Belief in a multitude of self-willed gods. No dependable laws of nature are possible if sundry gods might intervene in the world to contrary purposes. Venus overrules Mars or Poseidon countermands Hera. When inanimate objects – stars, trees, rivers – are creatures capable of aims, emotions, and desires, the search for scientific laws would be in vain. As Brian Stock writes, "[the Roman’s] daily experience led him to believe that nature’s forces could be imitated, even placated; he was less sure they could be understood" (Stock, 1978).
I agree in part. If Helios can hand over his chariot to his son Phaeton (and a god capable morally of havin sex and getting a son have it in the first place), nature is run by a multitude of self willed gods and science is impossible.
But if Helios usually dutifully follows a rule telling him to shine on good and on bad, but asked permission not to shine over Calvary and got it, the "gods of nature" follow a supreme command and science is possible.
Actually, the Aristotelian view of astronomy or astrophysics, shared by St Thomas Aquinas and Sacrobosco, makes the Sun weaker than God in a way Ancient Paganism did not. In Homer Helios is actively getting from East to West each day. In Aristotle and Aquinas he is enjoying the ride that Heaven - moved by God - provides from East to West each day, all the while actively moving his star slowly the opposite way, from West to East, one circle per year. In Homer he is cousin of Zeus. In Aristotle/Aquinas he is clearly subordinate in quite another way to the First Mover of Heaven.
It is ironic that Aquinas reviving Aristotle's argument identifying God as first mover should have been considered cofounder of Deism.
On the contrary, in Aquinas even if we take just the Natural Philosophy, God is never leaving the world alone a second, He is the Mover of Day and Night.
It is when the World begins to look like a clockwork able to go on on its own
that Deism sets in. And the one who changed "first mover" to watchmaker who could leave the clockwork going and it would go on was Newton. I e the Scientific Revolution.
But let us take issue only where I find modern science objectionable as an ideology. Is the universe a clockwork that runs itself?
It may obviously in some sense be a clock in so far as it measures time.
But the machina mundi that Sacrobosco and St Thomas envisaged was not selfrunning. Confer my remark about a bike.
If you want to make a model of the universe as seen by the men of the 13th C. make a merry-go-round. In the middle you have a pillar representing immobile earth. At the outer rim you have a bike on which God (a priest might represent him) bikes along, running it all from east to west around the immobile earth. Between them you have seven "orbits," pre-set tracks, in which Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn (that children can model, imagine them crying "I want to be the Sun today"!) go in slowly pedalled cars from west to east. Nothing in that machina is running itself, it is all run by either God or by spirits he created.
Newton, never actually refuting this, forgets this and his admirers forget it after him. It is an image which (excepting geometric details about orbit-tracks, notably elliptic instead of circular and Moon and Sun the only ones directly around earth, the others around Sun) has not been refuted. Its philosophical and metaphysical basis has never suffered a reasoned defeat. It has first been forgotten and then - in our time when recalled - ridiculed.
Now, O'Floinn is more or less implying it is incompatible with science, because he wants physical objects to move each other with autonomous causality. If God is "pedalling" all the universe daily, the causality is obviously not autonomous.
He is in articulus 2 on clearly dangerous ground as far as doctrine is concerned. Here is the first condition for science in the modern sense:
First and most basic, the normative belief in the culture must be that physical bodies must be capable of acting one upon the other from powers which they themselves possess. This doctrine of secondary causation infected the West from the teaching of Augustine of Hippo and others during the Autumn of Late Antiquity. ... By the eleventh century this had become the default belief across Western Europe.
... Nature is nothing but the plan of some art, namely a divine one, put into things themselves, by which those things move towards a concrete end: as if the man who builds up a ship could give to the pieces of wood that they could move by themselves to produce the form of the ship.
-- Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Physics II.8, lecture 14, no. 268
Is there any single part of Physics II.8 which makes it impossible for nature to mean what it usually did in the Middle Ages? Biology in the sublunar biosphere. Obviously "pieces of wood get together to form a ship" in every pregnancy.
In the Corpus Thomisticum site, Book II of Physics, chapter 8 does not have 14 lectures. But if I get to beginning of book two I find
Dicit ergo primo quod inter omnia entia, quaedam esse dicimus a natura; quaedam vero ab aliis causis, puta ab arte vel a casu. Dicimus autem esse a natura quaelibet animalia, et partes ipsorum, sicut carnem et ossa, et etiam plantas et corpora simplicia, scilicet elementa, quae non resolvuntur in aliqua corpora priora, ut sunt terra, ignis, aer et aqua: haec enim et omnia similia a natura dicuntur esse.
scroll down to  In Physic., lib. 2 l. 1 n. 2
Note that stars are not among the things that are of nature. Fire, earth, air and water are, they also have their innate tendency of movement either straight up (air, fire) towards the periphery of the universe or straight down (water, earth) towards its centre, earth. No innate tendency to perfect circles or ellipses. And the stars that do such things are not just nature, but moved by spirits. But mainly speaking, nature or physis, which is the subject of physics, means biology.
Let us look where the quote from St Albert is from (see my emphasis
In studying nature we have not to inquire how God the Creator may, as He freely wills, use His creatures to work miracles and thereby show forth His power; we have rather to inquire what Nature with its immanent causes can naturally bring to pass.
-- St. Albertus Magnus, De vegetabilibus et plantis
We are getting down to earth in a sense close to St Augustine, right? No stellar objects, not even rain and lightning are intended. Just plain vegetable growth. After the plan in the genome.
But if by "physical bodies" O'Floinn means dead matter and if acting one upon the other he means getting the movement rolling merely by the innate properties of material (non-living and non-spiritual) causality, I fear O'Floinn is wrong, and it suffices to read the argument from the First Mover with its parallel in Summa Contra Gentes once again. The real founder of Deism - a non-Averroist system in many ways parallel to Averroism - was not Aquinas but Newton. And it is fairer to associate Newton than Aquinas with "the Scientific Revolution".
Nanterre University Library
St Amantius of Rennes