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December 2014

Act and Fact: On a Disputed Question in Recent Thomistic Metaphysics, KEVIN WHITE

This article compares and contrasts three claims published in The Review of Metaphysics in recent decades: that there is, according to Aquinas, a difference between “esse as act” and “existence which is the fact of being” (Cornelio Fabro in 1974); that, to the contrary, it is the same “existence” (esse) that is conceptualized both as an “actuality” and as a “fact” (Joseph Owens in 1976); and that there is, indeed, contrary to Owens and as Fabro suggests, a distinction in Aquinas’s writings between “esse as facticity” and “esse as intrinsic actus essendi” (John F. Wippel in 1989).  The article attempts to bring the differences between these interpreters on the question into sharp focus.

Directing Philosophy: Aquinas, Studiousness, and Modern Curiosity, GLADDEN J. PAPPIN

This article examines Thomas Aquinas’s treatment of the origin and limits of the search for knowledge. It situates Aquinas’s treatment of studiousness, the virtue to describe proper habits of intellectual inquiry, within the broader quarrel over the status of human curiosity. Avoiding curiositas is one thing, but how ought one to pursue knowledge? Aquinas partially links the search for knowledge with obligations incumbent on one’s station in life. A difficulty arises, however, in his exhortation not to understand beyond one’s own means, and not to seek out things that should not be known. Studiousness is helpful in describing the virtues necessary to succeed in a prescribed course of study. It does not, however, tell one whether to begin such a study, or whether one has fulfilled one’s quest. In precisely those areas where study would not be curiositas but studiositas offers little advice, the modern defense of curiosity makes its entrance.

Experiencing Tradition versus Belonging to It: Gadamer’s Dilemma, GEORGIA WARNKE

Kant’s Transcendental Functionalism, CHONG-FUK LAU

This paper develops a new functionalist interpretation of Kant that aims to unify his cognitive psychology with transcendental idealism. It argues that Kant’s faculty of cognition describes neither the phenomenal nor the noumenal mind, but a theoretical construct of the transcendental subject, comparable to the abstract Turing machine. This interpretation can be called “transcendental functionalism,” which determines what functions the mind has to realize if it is to be capable of objective cognition. Transcendental functionalism resolves problems associated with other functionalist interpretations of Kant by drawing a systematic distinction between transcendental cognitive functions and their empirical realizations. While transcendental functions stipulate abstract conceptual requirements, their empirical counterparts realize the functional constraints in appearances within the spatiotemporal and causal framework. This distinction also allows a better explanation of why Kant abandoned the subjective deduction of categories in the B-deduction.

Quietism or Description? McDowell in Dispute with Dreyfus, KEVIN M. CAHILL

This paper concerns the widely discussed exchange between Hubert Dreyfus and John McDowell that took place a few years back. The author first provides a brief sketch of how McDowell’s practice of philosophy for the last twenty or so years is best described as “quietist” in the spirit of the later Wittgenstein. Next, he shows that this exchange with Dreyfus is best understood as carried on largely in this spirit as well, even though McDowell somewhat inexplicably fails to acknowledge this point in the course of the dispute. Finally and most importantly, the author shows how, somewhat ironically, the dispute takes a turn that suggests a remaining tension in McDowell’s own thought about the nature of philosophy. This tension comes out in his unwillingness to relinquish, or at least set aside temporarily, important parts of the traditional philosophical vocabulary that seem to be getting in the way in his dispute with Dreyfus. At the broadest level, the paper concerns difficulties with attempts to overcome the metaphysical tradition, and the role of the tradition’s vocabulary in such attempts, even in a discussion between two skilled philosophers who both have great sympathy for such a project.


Last Updated ( Thursday, 13 November 2014 17:36 )