A VERY good day today, my friends. You know that writing project I’ve been talking about all the time? IT’S FINALLY COMPLETE, PUBLISHED, AND READY TO BUY!
As most of y’all know, I’ve spent the last couple of years critiquing the philosophy (Catholic Natural Law theory) of Edward Feser pretty intensely. Well, this book represents the culmination of my efforts, in the most refined and sharpened way possible thanks to the excellent editorial eye of Jonathan Pearce (https://www.patheos.com/blogs/tippling/) and his Onus Books publishing imprint.
It’s essentially an expanded dismantling of each element of Aristotelian-Thomistic Natural Law philosophy, starting from religion, going on into ethics generally, wrapping up with metaphysics (the logical underpinnings of the whole thing), and ending with alternatives to the theory. The book is written with my trademark humor, but I go out of my way to be gentle and whimsical rather than sharp and polemic–you can expect amusing pop-culture references and self-deprecating asides, but no particularly harsh insults. It’s also written in a breezy, lucid, and accessible style that maintains the highest standards of academic rigor while making abstruse philosophical concepts readily understandable to even complete laymen unacquainted with philosophy.
Chapter 1 introduces the reader (again, assumed to have no previous experience, though professional philosophers will find this a good review) to the general arguments of Feser’s books and the philosophical underpinnings required to make sense of them. It explains Aristotelian metaphysics (starting from Plato, in regards to change and the Problem of Universals), why Feser thinks they’re mostly true but required refinement from Aquinas and Augustine, the enhancements those two (and others) made to Aristotle’s system (such as the Essence-Existence distinction), what this means for ethics, and finally, why (in Feser’s view) all these metaphysics prove the truth of the Catholic religion and by extension Catholic moral teaching, particularly in regards to sex (no contraception, non-procreative activity, etc.)
The next chapters are dedicated to refuting Feser’s arguments–a running theme through all of them is the extent to which Feser, in all of his books, never quite succeeds in resolving the tension between Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas’s ideas. Chapter 2 explores how Aristotle’s metaphysics cannot prove the truth of Christianity and actually undermine it in several crucial ways. Chapter 3 explains how Catholic moral teaching is not actually entailed by Aristotelian metaphysics; describing the problems with Aquinas’s arguments against same-sex behavior and how an Aristotelian could condone non-procreative sex, and even abortion in some cases. Chapter 4 builds on the previous one by examining the usage of philosophy among antebellum Southern slaveholders, propagandists in Nazi Germany, and functionaries of the Communist party, concluding that all of these groups were able to justify their ideologies through the use of either Plato (in the case of the Nazis) and Aristotle himself (for the other two), despite Feser claiming the “classical tradition” he belongs to could never countenance slavery, Nazism, or Communism. Chapter 5 explains how this was and is possible due to the difficulty of connecting Aristotelian metaphysical concepts (like the Essences that supposedly solve the Problem of Universals) to a coherent system of ethics. Chapter 6 criticizes Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics generally, explaining the errors both Aristotle and Aquinas made in a variety of fields, raging from their assessment of change to their attempts at the aforementioned Problem of Universals. Finally, chapter 7 provides deistic and atheistic alternatives to the “classical theist” scheme Feser and other Aristotelian-Thomists prefer.
This is a pretty hefty book–376 pages long and over a hundred thousand words (thus explaining its price). However, like I said, it has a LOT of content, but *not* a lot of difficult-to-understand jargon, and if I dare say so myself, it’s a very entertaining read. So I think it’ll keep you very pleasantly occupied for quite a while, easily enough to justify the investment in both time and money. I’d be very happy if you checked it out! I think it’s still working its way through international sellers cause Amazon.com is a little slow, but if you can access amazon.com by itself you should be able to get it!