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Great Scot

From the April 2023 Print Edition

Rodney Dangerfield famously claimed to get no respect, but in fact he was admired enormously by his fellow comics. Though it feels faintly impious to liken Blessed John Duns Scotus to a comedian, the comparison is, at least in this regard, apt. Scotus has nothing like the reputation in the popular . . . . Continue Reading »

Doubting Thomas

From the March 2022 Print Edition

H. L. Mencken famously defined Puritanism as “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” Puritans, and Calvinists more generally, have a reputation for harboring an ungenerous suspicion of even the most innocent delights as sinfulness in disguise. Though this reputation is not . . . . Continue Reading »

Keep It Simple

From the April 2020 Print Edition

How can the mathematical realm be so apparently godlike? The traditional answer, originating in Neoplatonic philosophy and Augustinian theology, is that our knowledge of the mathematical realm is precisely knowledge, albeit inchoate, of the divine mind. Mathematical truths exhibit infinity, . . . . Continue Reading »

Soul Proprietor

From the February 2020 Print Edition

In the history of Western thought, two conceptions of the soul have competed for dominance, one associated with Plato and the other with Aristotle. For the Platonist, your soul is the real you, and your body merely a vehicle to which it is temporarily attached—indeed, your body is a kind of . . . . Continue Reading »

Omnibus of Fallacies

From the February 2016 Print Edition

Faith versus Fact is some kind of achievement. Biologist Jerry Coyne has managed to write what might be the worst book yet published in the New Atheist genre. True, the competition for that particular distinction is fierce. But among other volumes in this metastasizing literature, each has at least . . . . Continue Reading »

Why Is There Anything At All? It’s Simple

From Web Exclusives

I thank John Leslie and Robert Lawrence Kuhn for their gracious and substantive response to my recent comments on their fine anthology The Mystery of Existence: Why Is There Anything At All? In the course of my earlier remarks, I put forward a “friendly criticism” to the effect that John and Robert had paid insufficient attention in their book to the tradition of classical theism … Continue Reading »

Fifty Shades of Nothing

From Web Exclusives

Nothing is all the rage of late. Physicists Stephen Hawking and Lawrence Krauss have devoted pop science bestsellers to trying to show how quantum mechanics explains how the universe could arise from nothing. Their treatments were preceded by that of another physicist, Frank Close (whose book Nothing: A Very Short Introduction should win a prize for Best Book Title)… Continue Reading »

Kurzweil's Phantasms

From the April 2013 Print Edition

How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed by Ray Kurzweil Viking, 352 pages, $27.95 What goes into making a human mind? Two key elements, distinguished by Aristotle and Aquinas, are phantasms and concepts—a distinction entirely overlooked by pop-science writer Ray Kurzweil in . . . . Continue Reading »