Tossing the quantum dice

In a contribution to The Trinity and an Entangled World: Relationality in Physical Science and Theology , Anton Zeilinger illustrates the “entanglement” of quantum entities by imagining a popular future Christmas toy - the quantum dice: “If we throw the two dice, they will always . . . . Continue Reading »


Pickstock sees mimesis everywhere. There is a sort of imitation in the way a plant “returns inside itself to draw forth nutrients from the soil, to drink down the rain and transform these, with the sunlight’s energy, through photosynthesis.” Animals copy one another, and . . . . Continue Reading »

Finite things, essence and existence

In her argument for the primacy of “reology” over ontology ( res over esse ), or the transcendental character of res , Catherine Pickstock invokes the typical Thomist distinction between essence and existence ( Repetition and Identity: The Literary Agenda ). According to Thomas, these . . . . Continue Reading »

Parallelism and truth

“Whoever has anything to say, let that person say it once, or carry the discourse regularly forward, but not repeat forever. Whoever is under the necessity of saying everything twice shows that one has but half or imperfectly expressed it the first time.” So Alciphron objects to Hebrew . . . . Continue Reading »

Masculine feminists

Feminists view modern anthropology as hypermasculine. Joan Tronto has said that “The conception of rational, autonomous man has been a fiction constructed to fit with liberal theories” (quoted in Mumford, Ethics at the Beginning of Life: A phenomenological critique , 116). Seyla . . . . Continue Reading »

The offense of infancy

Pliny the Elder is, James Mumford says, indignant and offended at babies, perhaps especially at the thought that he once was one ( Ethics at the Beginning of Life: A phenomenological critique , 111). In Natural History , he writes, “man alone on the day of his birth Nature casts away naked on . . . . Continue Reading »

Ethics at the Beginning of Life

James Mumford’s Ethics at the Beginning of Life: A phenomenological critique (Oxford, 2013) is a remarkable piece of work. It is a phenomenological study of the ethical import of how we come into the world. It is phenomenological because it attends “fixedly” to the phenomena. By . . . . Continue Reading »

Prophetic theory

Polanyi points out ( Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy , 5) that the Copernican system had implications that Copernicus himself never knew, but adds that Copernicus and everyone who committed himself to Copernican theory expected “an indefinite range of possible future . . . . Continue Reading »

Varieties of Objectivity

Copernicus is said to have taught human beings to see how little they are in the great heliocentric universe. He woke us from our anthropocentric Ptolemaic dreams. He taught us to look at the world objectively. Not so, writes Michael Polanyi in the opening pages of his classic Personal Knowledge: . . . . Continue Reading »


Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837) is considered Italy’s greatest modern poet, and one of its greatest philosophers. The latter reputation is built mainly on the thousands of pages of his notebooks, the Zibaldone or “hodgepodge,” which he began writing when he was a teenager and which . . . . Continue Reading »