Month: September 2012

Ralph McInerny: "Praeambula Fidei: Thomism and the God of the Philosophers"

Every once in a while you encounter a book that reorients your perspective and forever changes you. Dr. McInerny’s Praeambula Fidei: Thomism and the God of the Philosophers is one of those books — any further reading of Henri DeLubac and particularly Etienne Gilson (one of my erstwhile favorite 20th century Thomists) will be through the critical lens of McInerny’s ‘Praeambula Fidei’. There is no going back.

A summary from the publisher:

In this book, renowned philosopher Ralph McInerny sets out to review what Thomas meant by the phrase and to defend a robust understanding of Thomas’s teaching on the subject. After setting forth different attitudes toward proofs of God’s existence and outlining the difference between belief and knowledge, McInerny examines the texts in which Thomas uses and explains the phrase “preambles of faith.” He then turns his attention to the work of eminent twentieth-century Thomists [De Lubac, Gilson, Chenu] and chronicles their abandonment of the preambles. He draws a contrast between this form of Thomism and that of the classical Dominican commentators, notably Cajetan, arguing that part of the abandonment of the notion of the preambles as philosophical involves a misreading and misrepresentation of Cajetan. McInerny concludes with a positive rereading of Aristotle’s Metaphysics and Aquinas’s use thereof. In the end, the book argues for a return to the notion of Aristotelico-Thomism–Thomistic philosophy as the organic development of the thought of Aristotle.

As somebody who has read a considerable amount of Gilson’s work (and with an interest in neo-Thomism in general) McInerny’s exquisite and thorough dismantling of Gilson’s reading of Aguinas, and Cajetan-on-Aquinas, made for some painful reading at times.



Political Roundup

Romney’s 47% Gaffe

  • Russel Reno (First Things) vents about “absurd Republican rhetoric” (9/18/12)
  • Ramesh Ponnuru thinks The Right Is Wrong to Pin Obama’s Edge on Welfare State (Bloomberg 9/17/12)
  • DarwinCatholic (The American Catholic) thinks I think this particular media tizzy is particularly silly, and the pundits declaring Romney to be badly hurt by this are mostly reflecting the beliefs of a bubble in which the GOP is already hated. Thoughts?
  • Henry Olsen, vice president of the American Enterprise Institute reflects on Romney’s drift from the true heart of conservatism (Washington Post 9/19/2; hat tip: Wheat & Weeds):

    It wasn’t so long ago that mainstream conservatism represented these values. We indexed income brackets and personal exemptions to inflation in the early 1980s to protect middle- and low-income families. Conservatives created the child tax credit in 1997 and expanded it in 2001 to reduce the tax burden for parents. In the past decade, we championed a flat tax that contained a generous exemption for a family of four, precisely so those least able to pay would not be forced to.

    I believe the mainstream conservative still believes in these things. But when Romney divides the world into makers and takers and presumes that our ability to pay federal income tax is a measure of which group we belong to, he sends a different message. He implicitly tells average Americans that their quiet work doesn’t “make” America unless they are entrepreneurs who make enough money. Worse, he tells them that their lives aren’t even dignified, that they are “takers” who are unable to exercise personal responsibility over their lives.

    I don’t know if my dad, who never graduated from college and who worked on his feet for 40 years, ever had a year in which he didn’t pay federal income taxes. Perhaps in 1970, when he was laid off during a recession and had a mortgage, two children and a third on the way. But I know he and millions like him “made” America because they made the things we buy and, more important, they made people like me.

    I will vote for Romney despite his flaws. The alternative is unacceptable: In this matter, I really have no choice. But in broader political action I do have a choice, and I choose to rededicate myself to building that shining city on a hill that Reagan evoked when he brought conservatism out of the wilderness.

Speaking of “gaffes”

  • How the media turned Obama’s foreign policy bungle into a Romney gaffe, by Philip Klein. Washington Examiner 9/12/12.
  • “I like being able to fire people” — you’ve heard this quote attributed to Romney numerous times during the Democratic National Convention in a negative manner, as a capitalist robber-baron with a penchant for sticking it to the working class. Context provides a different story, and who would disagree with his point?

    “I like being able to fire people who provide services to me,” Romney said at a Monday breakfast in New Hampshire, when talking about health care. “You know, if someone doesn’t give me a good service that I need, I want to say, ‘I’m going to go get someone else to provide that service to me.'”

    “I want individuals to have their own insurance. That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy. It also means if you don’t like what they do, you can fire them,” he said.

… revisionist history

… and flat out lies

  • Is Barack Obama America’s most dishonest politician?Powerline on Obama’s appearance on David Letterman, his attribution of $1 trillion in national debt to his predecessor (false) and all too convenient “forgetting” of the total debt, when asked by his host how much was actually his.

More on Medicare and Health Reform

  • Why Medicare Must be Reformed, in One Chart, by Veronique de Rugy. (National Review‘s “The Corner” 9/4/12). Speaks for itself.
  • Obama More Flexible on Medicare Than Rhetoric Suggests (National Journal):

    In his convention speech in Charlotte, President Obama vowed to block the Republican Medicare reform plan because “no American should ever have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies.”

    But back in Washington, his Health and Human Services Department is launching a pilot program that would shift up to 2 million of the poorest and most-vulnerable seniors out of the federal Medicare program and into private health insurance plans overseen by the states.

Some Reading