Critique of John Paul II's Personalism & Defense of Thomism
(11-05-2012, 10:19 AM)Beardly Wrote: If you have not read Robert Sokolowski's Introduction to Phenomenology, or read Husserl's Logical Investigations yourself, you should probably not be talking about phenomenology. You will make a fool of yourself, and many of you already have done so. Here's why:

Phenomenology is a field of inquiry in which one studies what appears. It is not a school of thought, and has no doctrines. For the varying lines of thought within the phenomenological world, the distinctions are not very clear cut, and the terms don't help much. The two schools are "realist phenomenology" and "existentialist phenomenology." These terms say almost nothing about the content of the philosophies in question--nonetheless, they are conventional.

Phenomenology has never been trying to "get outside of the mind" or any of that nonsense. Phenomenology has been trying to show, and has shown, that there is no Cartesian theater--there is no man in your head watching all the things going on outside by a movie screen. Husserl's constant changing of his philosophy actually had to do with problems he had with a particular issue, which he called the phenomenological reduction.

Third, personalism is not a doctrine of phenomenology, or Husserl, or Heidegger. It is held by Scheler and others, not by "phenomenology."

Fourth, we have at least one Husserlian Saint, St. Edith Stein, also called St. Teresia Benedictia of the Cross. Parmandur has mentioned her a couple times. The thing that pricks my interest is that, for all the discussion on this thread, not one single person has taken note of the fact that the only significant philosopher saint of the 20th century was a student of Husserl's, and spend three books reconciling Aquinas and Husserl. Whatever you may think of phenomenology, don't call phenomenologists modernists, lest you speak ill of a saint.
I think this ignores the effect of Heidegger too much. Can phenomenology really ignore his work now? Being and Time is an effort to take Husserl's phenomenology and marry it to the entire history of ontology, turning it topsy-turvy in the process and attempting to mold St. Thomas to this project.
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While it does seem that most people working around phenomenology today have been influenced by Heidegger and later thinkers, I've noticed that a lot of Catholic philosophers tend to stick more toward people like Scheler, Hartmann, and Kolnai. I haven't read these three, but from what I can tell, all of these thinkers never really took up some of Heidegger's more controversial propositions. Heidegger himself seems to have believed that Scheler and Hartmann were fine, so far as it went, but that they did not do enough to escape the tradition of Western metaphysics that he opposed. So, I'm not sure that Catholic philosophers looking to do phenomenology need to go to Heidegger, though I don't necessarily think that he was all wrong.
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(11-06-2012, 06:34 AM)Walty Wrote:
(11-05-2012, 02:48 PM)Beardly Wrote: I would recommend you Sokolwoski first, for two reasons: first, he is easy to understand and very close to Husserl in his thinking. Second, he is a Catholic, which means that he is drawing the groundwork for a Catholic phenomenology, and can be lauded or critiqued on those grounds more readilly. Then, if you are of a philosophical bent, read Husserl directly.

Also, a quick note--my previous comment was not directed at anyone in particular, although the placement of my comment might have seemed that way. Sorry for any confusion.

I've had Sokolowski as a professor.

He's perhaps the most intelligent and charismatic professor I've had.  And while some argue that he's a personalist or phenomenologist , I think his philosophy is more complex than that.  He certainly, in my opinion, seemed to shy away from some of the issues that personalist philosophers run into.  In fact, on some things he was quite traditional.

Um, Msgr. Sokolowski is definitely a Phenomenological thinker, and is probably one of the prime examples of such in Christian circles.  He is not just engaged in some Husserl regurgitation, but then neither was Bl. JP2.

"In this book, Robert Sokolowski argues that being a person means to be involved with truth. He shows that human reason is established by syntactic composition in language, pictures, and actions and that we understand things when they are presented to us through syntax. Sokolowski highlights the role of the spoken word in human reason and examines the bodily and neurological basis for human experience. Drawing on Husserl and Aristotle, as well as Aquinas and Henry James, Sokolowski here employs phenomenology in a highly original way in order to clarify what we are as human agents."

http://www.amazon.com/Phenomenology-Human-Person-Robert-Sokolowski/dp/0521717663/ref=la_B001H9XPQ4_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1352232061&sr=1-4
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(11-06-2012, 04:04 PM)Parmandur Wrote:
(11-06-2012, 06:34 AM)Walty Wrote:
(11-05-2012, 02:48 PM)Beardly Wrote: I would recommend you Sokolwoski first, for two reasons: first, he is easy to understand and very close to Husserl in his thinking. Second, he is a Catholic, which means that he is drawing the groundwork for a Catholic phenomenology, and can be lauded or critiqued on those grounds more readilly. Then, if you are of a philosophical bent, read Husserl directly.

Also, a quick note--my previous comment was not directed at anyone in particular, although the placement of my comment might have seemed that way. Sorry for any confusion.

I've had Sokolowski as a professor.

He's perhaps the most intelligent and charismatic professor I've had.  And while some argue that he's a personalist or phenomenologist , I think his philosophy is more complex than that.  He certainly, in my opinion, seemed to shy away from some of the issues that personalist philosophers run into.  In fact, on some things he was quite traditional.

Um, Msgr. Sokolowski is definitely a Phenomenological thinker, and is probably one of the prime examples of such in Christian circles.  He is not just engaged in some Husserl regurgitation, but then neither was Bl. JP2.

"In this book, Robert Sokolowski argues that being a person means to be involved with truth. He shows that human reason is established by syntactic composition in language, pictures, and actions and that we understand things when they are presented to us through syntax. Sokolowski highlights the role of the spoken word in human reason and examines the bodily and neurological basis for human experience. Drawing on Husserl and Aristotle, as well as Aquinas and Henry James, Sokolowski here employs phenomenology in a highly original way in order to clarify what we are as human agents."

http://www.amazon.com/Phenomenology-Human-Person-Robert-Sokolowski/dp/0521717663/ref=la_B001H9XPQ4_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1352232061&sr=1-4

Um, I didn't say that he wouldn't fall under that umbrella.  What I said was that I think his view on things is a little more complex than the generic label of phenomenologist.
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(11-04-2012, 01:14 AM)Walty Wrote:
(11-04-2012, 12:47 AM)Adeodatus01 Wrote: The professor's post in the OP is overall good, but I categorically reject the absurdly polemical backhand swipe he makes at Existential Thomism as though it were heresy, particularly when the Lublin school does not even typify Existential Thomism as it is typically construed.

This leads to the erroneous idea that Thomism is some kind of monolith. It is not. There are many different approaches to St. Thomas.

I'm sorry, but Cajetan is not Mercier who is not Poinsot who is not Gilson who is not Lagrange who is not Maurer who is not De Koninck who is not Geach who is not de Wulf who is not Owens who is not... etc.

There are many, many strong interpreters of St. Thomas who should command great respect and serious study from any aspiring Thomist. And these men disagree with one another on many things. There is not THOMISM... there are "Thomisms". I'm sorry but that's just the way it is. If a Laval guy goes into a discussion on De Ente et Essentia with a guy like Knasas he's in for a rude awakening! We might all agree on a lot of the basics but there's a tremendous amount of work yet to be done. We'll be working on St. Thomas for the next thousand years, most likely.

Incorrect.  There is a truth.

There are many schools which erroneously use and abuse Thomas, and then there are theologians who have remained loyal to him.

Walty, I've studied under and/or with proponents of many of these schools. I can't say that any of them is "disloyal" to St. Thomas. That sounds like a rather absurd charge to me.

The Gilson guys are incredible on everything: Medievals, Avicenna, Averroes, Aristotle, Hellenistics, etc. PIMS made some really strong scholars. But the Laval-River Forest-Lagrange side has some powerhouses, too. The hardcore Existential guys (they are not "Existentialists"... far from it!) are few, but also very good (Fr. Owens' crowd). The one Analytic Thomist I studied under was very sharp, too.

I'm ABD for my PhD and I can say what I admire or dislike about the different interpretive schools, but I cannot in good conscience call any of them "disloyal". The closest I could come to an outright rejection of a school would be the later Manualists under Cardinal Mercier, who were too influenced methodologically by certain Moderns even as they rejected those thinkers. Gilson's scathing critique is well-taken here. Still, I have De Wulf and Mercier on my bookshelf and they're not going anywhere! And they were not at all "disloyal".
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(11-07-2012, 02:05 AM)Adeodatus01 Wrote:
(11-04-2012, 01:14 AM)Walty Wrote:
(11-04-2012, 12:47 AM)Adeodatus01 Wrote: The professor's post in the OP is overall good, but I categorically reject the absurdly polemical backhand swipe he makes at Existential Thomism as though it were heresy, particularly when the Lublin school does not even typify Existential Thomism as it is typically construed.

This leads to the erroneous idea that Thomism is some kind of monolith. It is not. There are many different approaches to St. Thomas.

I'm sorry, but Cajetan is not Mercier who is not Poinsot who is not Gilson who is not Lagrange who is not Maurer who is not De Koninck who is not Geach who is not de Wulf who is not Owens who is not... etc.

There are many, many strong interpreters of St. Thomas who should command great respect and serious study from any aspiring Thomist. And these men disagree with one another on many things. There is not THOMISM... there are "Thomisms". I'm sorry but that's just the way it is. If a Laval guy goes into a discussion on De Ente et Essentia with a guy like Knasas he's in for a rude awakening! We might all agree on a lot of the basics but there's a tremendous amount of work yet to be done. We'll be working on St. Thomas for the next thousand years, most likely.

Incorrect.  There is a truth.

There are many schools which erroneously use and abuse Thomas, and then there are theologians who have remained loyal to him.

Walty, I've studied under and/or with proponents of many of these schools. I can't say that any of them is "disloyal" to St. Thomas. That sounds like a rather absurd charge to me.

The Gilson guys are incredible on everything: Medievals, Avicenna, Averroes, Aristotle, Hellenistics, etc. PIMS made some really strong scholars. But the Laval-River Forest-Lagrange side has some powerhouses, too. The hardcore Existential guys (they are not "Existentialists"... far from it!) are few, but also very good (Fr. Owens' crowd). The one Analytic Thomist I studied under was very sharp, too.

I'm ABD for my PhD and I can say what I admire or dislike about the different interpretive schools, but I cannot in good conscience call any of them "disloyal". The closest I could come to an outright rejection of a school would be the later Manualists under Cardinal Mercier, who were too influenced methodologically by certain Moderns even as they rejected those thinkers. Gilson's scathing critique is well-taken here. Still, I have De Wulf and Mercier on my bookshelf and they're not going anywhere! And they were not at all "disloyal".

That's all well and good, and I respect your opinion, however I do disagree.  I have studied under adherents of many of these schools as well and I've found issues (issues which I argued against before graduate school).  If you want to get into the specifics I certainly will, but for now, I'll withhold my criticism so as not to derail this thread.

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(11-06-2012, 04:11 PM)Walty Wrote: Um, I didn't say that he wouldn't fall under that umbrella.  What I said was that I think his view on things is a little more complex than the generic label of phenomenologist.

Perhaps; but if so, the same must be said of the Pope.
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(11-07-2012, 02:49 AM)Parmandur Wrote:
(11-06-2012, 04:11 PM)Walty Wrote: Um, I didn't say that he wouldn't fall under that umbrella.  What I said was that I think his view on things is a little more complex than the generic label of phenomenologist.

Perhaps; but if so, the same must be said of the Pope.

That's probably true, sure.
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(11-06-2012, 10:12 AM)MRose Wrote:
(11-05-2012, 10:19 AM)Beardly Wrote: If you have not read Robert Sokolowski's Introduction to Phenomenology, or read Husserl's Logical Investigations yourself, you should probably not be talking about phenomenology. You will make a fool of yourself, and many of you already have done so. Here's why:

Phenomenology is a field of inquiry in which one studies what appears. It is not a school of thought, and has no doctrines. For the varying lines of thought within the phenomenological world, the distinctions are not very clear cut, and the terms don't help much. The two schools are "realist phenomenology" and "existentialist phenomenology." These terms say almost nothing about the content of the philosophies in question--nonetheless, they are conventional.

Phenomenology has never been trying to "get outside of the mind" or any of that nonsense. Phenomenology has been trying to show, and has shown, that there is no Cartesian theater--there is no man in your head watching all the things going on outside by a movie screen. Husserl's constant changing of his philosophy actually had to do with problems he had with a particular issue, which he called the phenomenological reduction.

Third, personalism is not a doctrine of phenomenology, or Husserl, or Heidegger. It is held by Scheler and others, not by "phenomenology."

Fourth, we have at least one Husserlian Saint, St. Edith Stein, also called St. Teresia Benedictia of the Cross. Parmandur has mentioned her a couple times. The thing that pricks my interest is that, for all the discussion on this thread, not one single person has taken note of the fact that the only significant philosopher saint of the 20th century was a student of Husserl's, and spend three books reconciling Aquinas and Husserl. Whatever you may think of phenomenology, don't call phenomenologists modernists, lest you speak ill of a saint.
I think this ignores the effect of Heidegger too much. Can phenomenology really ignore his work now? Being and Time is an effort to take Husserl's phenomenology and marry it to the entire history of ontology, turning it topsy-turvy in the process and attempting to mold St. Thomas to this project.
No, you can't ignore Heidegger, true. However, Heidegger is not the summation and end of phenomenology. There are other branches thereof. Nor is he some dark, malevolent figure overshadowing 20th century philosophy. He is right on a great deal, and on many things that other philosophers did not talk about before him. He's also wrong on a great deal. As to what I'll accept of his and what I won't, I still have to sort through it.
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