Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ethics Midterm Study Guide.

Because Aquinas is crazy


  1. What is genus, species, and differentia
    1. Genus: What is predicated essentially of many things differing in a species
    2. Species: different things belonging to the same genus
    3. Differentia: that which separates a species from everything else in the genus
  2. What are the four causes?
    1. Formal Cause
    2. Agent/ Efficient Cause
    3. Material Cause
    4. Final Cause
  3. How do the four causes relate to ethics?
    1. Formal Cause - the cause of the acts existence?
    2. Agent Cause - The person who acts
    3. Material Cause - the matter by which the person acts
    4. Final cause - the reason for which the act is done
  4. What are the three acts of the intellect?
    1. Apprehension
    2. Judgment
    3. Reasoning
  5. What does Aquinas mean by science?
    1. Knowledge
  6. How is ethics a science?
    1. A practical science; a study of human action
  7. What are the 12 components of a voluntary action?
    1. Apprehend the good
    2. Will the good
    3. Judge the universal
    4. Intend the good
    5. Counsel
    6. Consent
    7. Judgment of means
    8. Free choice
    9. Command
    10. Execution
    11. Contemplation
    12. Enjoyment
  8. What is the relation between capacity, habit, act and object?
    1. Our capacities allow us to act for some object, and doing so repeatedly is a habit
  9. What are the various synonyms for capacity?
    1. ability, potential, 
  10. What are the various species of habits?
    1. virtue
    2. vice
  11. what are the various synonyms for acts?
    1. operation, execution, performance, transaction, accomplishment, consummation, achievement
  12. What are the various capacities of humans?
    1. grow, assimilate nutrition
    2. reproduce
    3. sensation
    4. appetite
    5. intellect
    6. will
  13. What are the capacities of animals?
    1. growth, assimilate nutrition
    2. reproduction
    3. sensation
    4. appetite
  14. How is man a rational animal?
    1. Come to know universals through reason
  15. What does voluntary and involuntary mean?
    1. voluntary - consent of the will
    2. involuntary - without or contrary to the will
  16. What did the word cardinal originally mean?
    1. from the Latin word cardo, meaning hinge: all the other virtues revolve around these
  17. What does the word virtue originally mean?
    1. From the Latin word vir, meaning manly; denoting manly virtue
  18. What are the four cardinal virtues?
    1. Prudence
    2. Justice
    3. Temperance
    4. Courage
  19. Which part of the soul is prudence found in?
    1. intellect
  20. What does the word 'prudent' originally mean?
    1. knowing, forseeing
  21. What is the difference between practical and speculative reason?
    1. practical - using truth as a means to an end
    2. speculative - using truth for its own sake
  22. What does Aquinas mean by science?
    1. knowing
  23. What does he mean by self evident?
    1. that which is a necessary conclusion, needs no deductive  reason to come to
  24. What is the difference between a universal and a particular?
    1. Universal: that which applies to everything  in the species
    2. Particular: a specific instance 
  25. What is the role of prudence in relation to ends and means?
    1. prudence illuminates for us the means deemed most appropriate for achieving antecedently established ends
  26. Be able to give examples of ends and means
  27. What is meant by a moral virtue?
    1. those that perfect the appetitive powers of the soul
  28. What is meant by a mean in moral virtues?
    1. a balance between excess and lack, balance between extremes
  29. What is meant by command?
    1. The object of prudence, to direct subordinates in the right course of action
  30. What is the difference between an individual and a common good?
    1. An individual good has as its end the good of a specific person, whereas the common good has as its end the collective good of the many
  31. What is meant by good counsel?
    1. the research of reason to perform any particular act
  32. What is meant by 'judging well according to common law'?
    1. right judgment about particular practical matters
  33. What is meant by 'judging well according to general law'?
    1. right judgment according to higher principles than common sense
  34. When is imprudence a sin?
    1. When it is a negation, not a privation, i.e.  the movement or act of reason is in opposition to prudence, i.e. rejecting counsel. Mortal when it involves contempt and rejection of the Divine Law, but venial if acting beside the Law and without contempt and without detriment to things necessary for salvation
  35. How/ why is lust a cause of imprudence?
    1. because pleasure corrupts the operation of right reason
  36. What is the difference between prudence of the flesh and craftiness?
    1. Prudence of the flesh denotes a man who sees carnal goods as his final end
    2. craftiness is the obtaining of an end, whether good or evil , through counterfeit means
  37. How is right related to justice?
    1. right is the object of justice
  38. What are the two basic kinds of right?
    1. Natural right
    2. Positive right
  39. What constitutes a natural right?
    1. the law of equal returns, unchangeable
  40. What is positive right?
    1. a thing is adjusted or commensurated to a person by agreement or common consent
  41. In which part of the soul does justice reside?
    1. the will
  42. How is justice a general virtue?
    1. the good of any virtue is referable to the common good, which justice directs, so that all acts of virtue can pertain to justice, insofar as it directs the common good
  43. How is justice a particular or special virtue?
    1. A legal justice directs a man immediately to the good of another individual
  44. What are the two species of justice
    1. Distributive (whole in relation to its parts)
    2. Commutative (part to part)
  45. What is restitution?
    1. To reinstate a person in the possession or dominion of his thing, must be given for salvation, giving back fully for the inequality, not just the amount, including giving what was not given in the first place
  46. What does Aquinas mean by respect of person?
    1. Respect of someone's position or office rather than their merits
  47. Under what conditions is killing another person lawful?
    1. Involuntary, so long as not negligent
    2. self-defense, only so far as it is an unfortunate side-effect
    3. Defence of the community or common good
    4. justice executed by legitimate authority
  48. What is Aquinas' argument for corporal punishment?
    1. for the sake of the whole, a part may suffer, especially for its cure
  49. What is the difference between theft and robbery?
    1. Theft involves taking something in secret
    2. Robbery involves taking something by violence
  50. Which is worse?
    1. robbery
  51. What is calumny?
    1. falsely charging a person with a crime
  52. What are the three species of lying?
    1. Jocose
    2. Officious
    3. Malicious
  53. What is reviling?
    1. The dishonoring of a person
  54. What is backbiting?
    1. Speaking against another's name secretly
  55. What does Aquinas mean by tale-bearing?
    1. Speaking evil of persons in order to sever relationships
  56. What is derision?
    1. Shaming a person with words
  57. What does Aquinas mean by cursing?
    1. to command or desire another's evil, as evil, being intent on the evil itself
  58. Why does Aquinas think usury is wrong?
    1. Usury is to sell what does not exist, because money is consumed by its use, and therfore there is an inequality in transaction, which is injustice
  59. What is the difference between sins of omission and sins of transgression or commission?
    1. A sin of omission is not doing what one ought to do, whereas a transgression is doing what one ought not to do
  60. What does Aquinas mean by religion?
    1. Offering service and ceremonial rites to a superior nature that men call divine
  61. How is religion a natural phenomenon, rather than a part of special revelation?
    1. Natural reason tells man that he is subject to a thing higher than himself on account of his personal defects. Naturally, anything superior deserves obeisance from that which is inferior
  62. What is the difference between natural religion and revealed religion?
    1. Natural religion uses public signs, philosophy and natural revelation, whereas revealed religion is given by God to private individuals and involves belief
  63. What does Aquinas mean by prayer?
    1. To ask becoming things of God, an act of reason
  64. How is prayer efficacious?
    1. By prayer we make ourselves able to receive what God has already deigned to give us (partial causality)
  65. What are the two theological errors that one must avoid in discussion of prayer?
    1. God can change His mind
    2. Implying necessity on human affairs
  66. What is meant by contingent?
    1. That which could be otherwise
  67. What is meant by necessary?
    1. That which could not possibly be at all different
  68. What does Aquinas mean by sacrifice?
    1. Offering certain sensible signs to God in as a sign of the subjugation and honor due to Him
  69. What does Aquinas mean to vow?
    1. A binding to do or omit some particular thing
  70. What is meant by an oath?
    1. Calling God to bear witness to the Truth of a statement
  71. Why is it necessary to invoke God as a witness?
    1. because God is the source of all truth and knowledge

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Beauty and Being according to Aquinas


 In the Summa Theologica, II-II Q. 145 Art. 2, St. Thomas Aquinas argues that honesty is synonymous with spiritual beauty. He explains his position by professing that “beauty or comeliness results from the concurrence of clarity and due proportion”[1], and “spiritual beauty consists in a man’s conduct or actions being well proportioned in respect of the spiritual clarity of reason. Now this is what is meant by honesty.”[2] Of these two aspects of beauty, clarity and proportion are easy to understand, but what does Aquinas mean when he calls beauty proportioned? The aim of this paper is to explore Aquinas’s belief that beauty is proportionate. To do this, one must first understand how Aquinas defines beauty by drawing on his previous writings. After this, a firm grasp of Aquinas’s understanding of proportion will be helpful to conclude what Aquinas implies when he claims that beauty consists of “due proportion.”
The first component in understanding Aquinas’s argument is to analyze what he understands to be the nature of beauty.  In I-I Q. 5 Art. 4, Aquinas states that “beautiful things are those that please when seen.”[3] Although he uses the Latin word “visa”, which implies seeing with the eyes, as opposed to “intellegere”, which means to comprehend, Aquinas does not refer to “visa” in regards to sensation or perception. Rather, Aquinas declares that “beauty relates to the cognitive faculty,”[4] that is, it is our intellect that responds to beauty. This does not imply that physical things do not partake in beauty, for Aquinas says that without perception there is no cognition. Rather, the phenomena of sensation, perception and cognition are unified in the experience of beauty. The experience of beauty is not purely disinterested aesthetics, nor is it sensualism, but a synthesis between the two, unifying the powers of the human person. Aquinas himself wrote many beautiful poems and hymns such as Adoro Te Devote, expressing through the beauty of poetry his spiritual convictions. Man delights in beautiful things for their own sake, though his delight is not a kind of delight that must be measured by moderation.
It is true that a virtue is a mean between extremes according to Aquinas, based on the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle, but one would never speak of mediocrity in virtue as being good.  There can be no excess of good or of virtue, only lack. In the same way, beauty is virtuous, for “if a thing is perceived to be beautiful as soon as it is apprehended, it is taken to be something becoming and good.”[5]  A saint is not honored for mediocrity in virtue, likewise, one should never pursue mediocrity in the pursuit of beauty, for “God is said to be beautiful, as being the cause of the harmony and clarity of the universe.”[6] In the pursuit of beauty, man pursues virtue itself, given that “honesty is the same as virtue”[7] and “the honest is the same as the beautiful.”[8] To an extent, all of creation is beautiful because it shares in the beauty of the divine essence, a state known to the Greeks as pankalia, the beauty of all things. Beauty as implied by Aquinas is therefore transcendental, and is not only synonymous with honesty but with all of virtue, as well as being a pursuit of the entire human person, body and soul, and should be pursued relentlessly.
Recalling that beauty results from the concurrence of clarity and due proportion, it is now fitting to analyze Aquinas’s understanding of proportion. “Beauty consists in due proportion; for the senses delight in things duly proportioned, as in what is after their own kind – because even sense is a sort of reason.”[9] A thing may be proportionate in two ways. In the first way, a thing can be proportionate to itself, as an arm is proportionate to a body or the blade of a sword is proportionate to the weight of its guard. In the second sense, a thing may be proportionate to a rule or principal, as positioning keys in a flute in order to harness the laws of acoustical physics, or the development of a child’s body according to the dictates of their biology. In both terms, Aquinas cannot mean mathematical proportion, or else one could not possibly speak of spiritual beauty, which can be spoken of in either sense. Perhaps, then, his measure is not mathematical, but rather expresses adherence to some sort of metaphysical form. If this is so, then proportion means participation in the divine essence, for every form participates in the brilliance of God. The natural law and the supernatural law are operations of God’s Wisdom, and to the extent to which one adheres to the workings of Wisdom, one participates in the Divine Nature. Harmony, or consonance between different persons, things or ideas, also finds its root in the hierarchy of all things bending to the supremacy of God. In this manner, beauty is consistent with the second meaning of proportion.
As stated above, beauty participates in the divine because God is Himself the source of all beauty. If beauty is indeed cognitive, then to pursue beauty is to pursue knowledge. This statement implies not just any knowledge, but knowledge of virtue and goodness, knowledge of wisdom, and finally knowledge of God.  Because beauty concerns itself with being, or existence, it concerns itself with forms, and therefore concerns itself with proportion. What the meaning of beauty as proportion is in application, however, may be obscure; one must measure beauty in a thing specific to its nature. One would not judge the beauty of a painting based on the same criteria as one would judge the beauty of the female form. Rather, proportion is specific to the thing, idea or spiritual quality. In this way, beauty is consistent with the first sense of proportion.
In conclusion, Aquinas’s condition that beauty be proportionate is nearly synonymous with his idea that beauty is that which pleases. Beauty is honest because it is proportionate, both with regard to itself and with regards to Divine Wisdom, and because it speaks with clarity about the nature and splendor of God. To be virtuous, or good, is to be beautiful, and therefore the virtuous life is appealing and desirable to the human person. To be honest also means to speak the truth, and therefore Aquinas sees a synthesis of truth, goodness and beauty. All of these are concerned with being and point directly to God who is Himself existence. Therefore, in the pursuit of beauty, one pursues God Himself.


[1] St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, vol. 3. Trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province (New York: Benzinger Bros, 1948), 1774-5
[2] Ibid. 1774
[3] St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, vol. 1. Trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province (New York: Benzinger Bros, 1948), 26
[4] Ibid. 26
[5] St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, vol. 3. Trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province (New York: Benzinger Bros, 1948), 1775
[6] Ibid. 1774
[7] Ibid. 1773
[8] Ibid. 1774
[9] St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, vol. 1. Trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province (New York: Benzinger Bros, 1948), 26

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Poem of the Day

My Wandering Heart

My wandering heart is a curse
hanging as a chain about my neck,
A brand and a scar
which smolders beneath the skin
and which can have no balm
nor salve
but must sear me in silence
gritting my teeth in pain.

Oh what unspeakable sorrow walks
among my memories,
stirring the flame of rememberence,
that moment in the snow
when our bodies and our souls touched,
The warmth of your chest
and the pressure of your arms
and the eternity of your gaze
like the eternity of the skies above,
lost in the bitterness of restraint.

My longing for you is as a hole in my heart
which no forgetfulness can heal.
Your holiness is running water
to the parched desert of my soul
and I hear your voice in my dreams
like a call to prayer,
The cry of a seagull
who has lost the sea

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Medieval Modes: the Fruit of Poor Reading Skills

Medieval modes are the basis of music theory from that time period, and find their roots in Greek musical theory. Codified in the 10th century, they were the blueprint for sacred chants and for many secular works as well. When Boethius composed De institutione musica on the musical traditions of the Greeks, around 500 A.D., he could never have believed how brutally his subsequent music theorists would misunderstand him. Mixing up the names, they called the lowest mode in the system (A-a) hypodorian, which was originally the highest, and subsequently misnamed everything else, in addition to adding an extra mode, hypomixolydian.
Medieval modes are made up of arrangements of whole and half steps in relation to the final, the main note in the mode and typically the final note in the melody. Modes come in pairs according to their final, but differ according to the range. For example, Mode 1, Dorian, has its final on D, and has a range from a whole step above the final to an octave above it. Mode 2, Hypodioran, has its final on D as well, but its range is deeper, a fourth/fifth below D to a fifth/sixth above it. The odd modes were known as authentic, and their lower companions were given the title plagal. What gave each mode its distinctive flavor was the unique set of whole and half steps which comprised it, based in theory off the Greek system
of modes which were comprised of tetrachords. The note most frequently sounded in a given mode was known as the tenor, or reciting tone, and served as the gravitational center for the mode. Most chants moved within the given ranges, lingered on the tenor and moved to a cadence on the final.

Nevertheless, despite poor translations of ancient Greek musical practices, many of their ideas have carried over into Western traditions. For example:
  1. melody was intimately linked with rhythm and the flow of words
  2. musicians relied on aural tradition to convey new music
  3. philosophies influenced musical practices and beliefs about the nature of music and its influence on human nature
  4. music theory was founded on scientific principles of acoustical physics
One can easily see that even today, most vocal music depends on the rhythm and flow of words to form the melody, and aural translation of music is the most natural way to learn music. Mothers are convinced that making their children listen to Mozart will increase their IQ, and Western musical theory still follows the basic acoustical properties based around the harmonics of the octave, the fifth and the third.

Traveling Musicians: The traditions of the Troubadours, Trouveres and Minnesingers in the Middle Ages

Secular music in the Middle Ages was performed for enjoyment by traveling musicians, the most significant body of which was cultivated in Medieval courts by nobles and aristocrats.

Troubadours and Trouveres
Troubadours ( and their female counterparts, the trobairitz) are often given the credit for beginning the tradition of the minstrels (specialized musicians). Troubadours were poets and musicians from southern France and spoke Occitan. Trouveres were their northern counterparts and spoke Old French. Most of the songs are strophic and instrumental songs contain refrains typically sung by the dancers. Genres of their repertoire include alba (dawnsongs), tenso (debate songs) and canso (love songs), and were recorded in manuscripts known as chansonniers. Both sang of fin'amors, or fine amour, sometimes known as "courtly love", which is an idealization of another person who due to circumstance is beyond reach, often lending themselves to extremely dramatic and unrealistic descriptions of the torment their lover put them through. A perfect example of this is Can vei la lauzeta mover by the troubadour Bernart de Ventadorn. The trobairitz the Comtessa de Dia also composed a canso, A chantar but her poetry is far more realistic and down to earth than most of the text by her male peers.
Troubadour and Trouvere songs are strophic, that is, each stanza is set to the same melody., and are mostly syllabic with the occasional embellishment of an important line. The melodies usually stay within a ninth and are arch-shaped. Though the composition of secular songs had nothing to do with sacred tradition, most of the songs were written in modes, especially the Dorian and the Mixolydian. The most common form of composition was the German Bar form AAB, which is true of A chantar.

Minnesinger
The German tradition followed the French in the subject of most of their songs, love (minne), but they were also knights of noble birth. Perhaps because of this, the love of which they sang was often even more idealized and holy than their French counterparts, and also contained religious themes, detailing the duties a knight owed to God and to the Church. Part of this tradition was the Palastinalied, or crusader songs, which paid tribute to the experience of pilgrims in the Holy Land. An excellent example of this is Nu alrest by Walther von der Vogelweide, one of the best-known Minnesinger. Like most minnelieder, the piece is in Bar form, a form of composition with two A sections known as the Stollen, which contain the same poetic meter, rhyme scheme and melody, and a B section known as the Abgesang, which is longer and may end with the last part of the melody of the stollen.


Rhythmic notes
(no pun intended)
While Medieval secular notation includes pitch, it does not indicate rhythm, and scholars debate how they would have been performed. One could suggest that the subject matter, courtly love or dances, determined whether the music was performed freely or in a more metric style.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

We are all Catholics Now

A message for Christian unity in this time of assault on religious freedom.

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