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  #1  
Old Jan 31, '11, 9:27 pm
Mike5575 Mike5575 is offline
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Default Plato, Aristotle, and the Catholic Church

I have been interested in how the Greek Philosophers influenced great Catholic thinkers such as St. Augustine, and St. Thomas Aquinas. Currently, I am reading 10 Books Every Conservative Must Read. by Benjamin Wiker. The author considers Aristotle to be the father of Conservatism andPolitics as a must read. I find it interesting on how his view on family values predates Christianity. One could argue that Conservatives get their view on family values from Aristotle, not Christianity. Although it is a view so natural to us, it has to be as old as humanity itself. I have never actually read their works, but from what I hear, Plato, and Aristotle are the perfect example of coming to know of God through natural reason alone. It reminds me of that verse in Romans 1:19-20: For what can be known about God is plain to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse;

Anyways, I was just wondering, what works of the Greek Philosophers would you guys recommend I read that are of course consistent with Catholic Church teaching?
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  #2  
Old Jan 31, '11, 11:09 pm
MarkThompson MarkThompson is offline
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Default Re: Plato, Aristotle, and the Catholic Church

As far as the primary sources on these topics go, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics is with little doubt the most important, followed probably by his Metaphysics and Eudemian Ethics, and Plato's Republic.

Personally I can't agree with a view of Aristotle as the "father of family values," since most of what we would identify as the "family values" or "family virtues" are present at least four centuries earlier in the Greek heroic literature (Homer) and thus already an underpinning of Greek ethical culture. The relationships of Odysseus and Penelope, Achilles and Hector, Hector and Priam, and so on, are quite illustrative, and there is little we can see in Homer that we would not recognize in our values today. Sophocles, still a century or so before Aristotle, shows a deeper contemplation of the interplay of personal and civic virtues, the role of the individual in resolving conflict between the virtues, etc.

The influence of Aristotle's writings can hardly be overstated, but it cannot be maintained that he is somehow the originator of the concept of the virtues, the teleological view of man, and so forth.
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  #3  
Old Feb 1, '11, 7:06 am
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Jacob21 Jacob21 is offline
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Default Re: Plato, Aristotle, and the Catholic Church

I have always enjoyed Plato's Republic, more specifically his "Analogy of the Cave." I believe St. Augustine used the "Cave" as a reference for one of his works.

I actually wrote a final paper in a college philosophy class concerning "The Analogy of the Cave." I recommend it to everyone, for I believe that it truly does portray the human condition.
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  #4  
Old Feb 1, '11, 8:37 pm
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Default Re: Plato, Aristotle, and the Catholic Church

*bump*
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  #5  
Old Feb 1, '11, 10:40 pm
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Katholish Katholish is offline
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Default Re: Plato, Aristotle, and the Catholic Church

Quite frankly, if you are looking for something truthful, I would stick with Aristotle. Plato is very useful for understanding the history of Philosophy and especially where Aristotle was coming from, but in general, Plato gets most of it wrong and Aristotle has to come in and give a correct view of things.

Of course this does not apply to the natural sciences, for which Aristotle is basically wrong on everything, but his philosophy is a gift of pure reason unrivaled in the history of man. The Nicomachean Ethics is important as is the De Amina. Reading St. Thomas along with Aristotle is always to be recommended.
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  #6  
Old Feb 2, '11, 6:35 pm
Curious Hobbit Curious Hobbit is offline
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Default Re: Plato, Aristotle, and the Catholic Church

As has already been mentioned, Plato's "Republic", Aristotle's "Politics", and Aristotle's "Nichomachean Ethics". Plato's a little easier to read and perhaps easier to stay interested in. Personally I like Aristotle even though he can be rather boring and dry. If you read Aristotle and Plato before Augustine and Aquinas it is pretty helpful.

Much of their philosophy is compatible with Christian philosophy and ethics. For example,

“Temperance and self-indulgence, however, are concerned with the kind of pleasures that the other animals share in, which therefore appear slavish and brutish; these are touch and taste……….self-indulgence would seem to be justly a matter of reproach, because it attaches to us not as men but as animals. To delight in such things, then, and to love them above all others, is brutish” – Aristotle (Nicomachean Ethics, Bk III 1118)

Aristotle pointed out one of the chief problems of democracy long ago,

“Now, to have been educated in the spirit of the constitution is not to perform the actions in which oligarchs or democrats delight, but those by which the existence of an oligarchy or democracy is made possible. Whereas among ourselves the sons of the ruling class in an oligarchy live in luxury, but the sons of the poor are hardened by exercise and toil, and hence they are both more inclined and better able to make revolution. And in democracies of the more extreme type there has risen a false idea of freedom which is contradictory to the true interests of the state. For two principles are characteristic of democracy, the government of the majority and freedom. Men think that what is just is equal; and that equality is the supremacy of popular will; and that freedom means the doing what a man likes. In such democracies everyone lives as he pleases, or in the words of Euripedes, “according to his fancy”. But this is all wrong; men should not think it slavery to live according to the rule of the constitution; for it is their salvation.” - Aristotle (Politics, book 5 1310a9)

Here's a great quote from Plato's Republic that I think is pretty relevant today,

"Whenever great numbers are gathered to sit in the assembly, in courts, in the theater, in camp, or in any of the mob's communal gatherings where with stupendous uproar they cheer and jeer actions and speeches, both to excess, shouting and applauding till even the echoing rocks and the place where they're sitting join in to redouble the racket of their cheering and jeering. How do you think a young man's heart will react to that? What private education could hold up and not be washed down the river of cheering and jeering, carried wherever the current may take it, so that he calls what they call beautiful and ugly, pursues what they do, and becomes like them?"-Plato (Republic, book 6 492b-d)
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  #7  
Old Feb 3, '11, 8:03 pm
Tsamp1006 Tsamp1006 is offline
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Default Re: Plato, Aristotle, and the Catholic Church

I think that sometimes it is a little too easy for us to write off Plato's works as being untrue, and not to take anything away from Aristotle, but his philosophies and logic, while brilliant can sometimes be a bit misleading when applied to our more spiritual matters. His understanding was very much more grounded in the temporal and the corporeal. Plato on the other hand was much more focused on the spirit as being the defining element of Humanity. One of the things also that we would most commonly use as ground to reject Plato, I believe may actually serve to redeem him, His theory of the forms. Admittedly I suspect he took the theory too far in that where he saw a proper form existing of every distinct thing and Concept we would say rather that there exists but one form from which we take our conception of what is good, that of God himself. But this is perhaps a discussion for another topic.

As far as other philosophers you might be interested in looking into some of the Stoic Philosophers like Epictetus, or Seneca or Marcus Aurelius. Like us they generally had a belief in a creator God and that his creations were a fundamentally good, for example Epictetus "God has made all the things in the universe and the universe itself completely free of hindrance and perfect" The Stoics can primarily be characterized by their belief and understanding in reason as the prime factor in humanity. It was a general belief among the stoics that the human mind was actually parts of God which God has assigned to be the mind or self of each person, and so to listen to it and to use it and to reason were to the stoics the path to understanding the will and needs of God, a style of consideration which Thomas Aquinas took most seriously and which he and other early church teachers used when composing the concepts and tenants of Natural Law
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  #8  
Old Feb 3, '11, 11:27 pm
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fons_vitae fons_vitae is offline
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Default Re: Plato, Aristotle, and the Catholic Church

I'm surprised that many Catholics here aren't more thrilled with Plato. His disciples had a major influence on St. Augustine, for one, not to mention that Aristotle is his personal pupil. Heck, I even had to mount a defense of him during a philosophy of rhetoric class simply because Plato dared to believe in eternal truths.
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  #9  
Old Feb 4, '11, 5:09 am
Mike5575 Mike5575 is offline
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Default Re: Plato, Aristotle, and the Catholic Church

Wow! Thanks for the resources guys! I fear that people are forgetting about those many classic works. I don't remember learning about Classic Greek Literature and Philosophy in school other than just skimming over it. If you look at encyclopedia books through the past few decades, they have gotten thinner, and more and more watered down.

It's interesting though how so many skeptics will claim that religious people are void of all reasoning for believing in a God. Yet the great Greek Philosophers teach us that we can know of him through natural reasoning. Yet some Atheists claim that we don't need Philosophy just science.
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Old Jul 2, '12, 4:41 am
eternalrest eternalrest is offline
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Default Re: Plato, Aristotle, and the Catholic Church

There is another verse saying that the Greeks look for wisdom. Please can someone explain how later Catholic teaching began to be based largely on these Greek philosophers while earlier, people such as St. Paul, related to them in the way mentioned in the below passage?

Quote:
1 Corinthians 1:23
For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith. 22For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,n 23but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,o 24but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
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  #11  
Old Jul 2, '12, 5:01 am
Credo ergo sum Credo ergo sum is offline
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Default Re: Plato, Aristotle, and the Catholic Church

Teachings and dogmas aren't based on the philosophers, but the dogmas are formulated in their language as to communicate it to the peoples of antiquity.

Not only that, when I read Plato it almost reads as if he preached Christianity 400 years before Christ. The Jews had the prophets, who communicated parts the truth through divine revelation, the Greeks had philosophers, who through reason found parts of the truth as well.

And just read the first verses of the Gospel of John in which Christ is called the Logos. This comes entirely from Greek philosophy.

Anyway, I'm a Platonist.
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  #12  
Old Jul 2, '12, 5:06 am
eternalrest eternalrest is offline
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Default Re: Plato, Aristotle, and the Catholic Church

Quote:
Originally Posted by Credo ergo sum View Post
Teachings and dogmas aren't based on the philosophers, but the dogmas are formulated in their language as to communicate it to the peoples of antiquity.
Many are based on philosophers. ST THOMAS AQUINAS "Slavery among men is natural, for some are naturally slaves according to the Philosopher. Now "the Philosopher" is Aristotle.

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Both a Servant and Free: A Primer in Fundamental Moral Theology
A real difficulty in moral theology is preserving a healthy respect for the law (servant aspect) while also encouraging the interior formation in love which the truth of the law seeks to inculcate (freedom aspect). Moral teaching and Catholic theology must include both. This book shows the Catholic balance which leads man to a true experience of being both a servant and free! Based on Aristotelian and Thomistic tenets. Great for seminarians, confessors, and anyone who wants a basic treatment of the fundamental principles of Catholic moral teaching. 288 p. Softcover.
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  #13  
Old Jul 2, '12, 5:10 am
Credo ergo sum Credo ergo sum is offline
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Default Re: Plato, Aristotle, and the Catholic Church

So what? If it isn't incompatible

Besides, slavery isn't a dogma.
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  #14  
Old Jul 2, '12, 5:24 am
eternalrest eternalrest is offline
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Default Re: Plato, Aristotle, and the Catholic Church

Quote:
Originally Posted by Credo ergo sum View Post
So what? If it isn't incompatible

Besides, slavery isn't a dogma.
Perhaps the fact that slavery is not a dogma suffices for those who have not suffered due to the consequences of slavery, but any person who has suffered would like to root out all possibly corrupting influences to prevent further suffering. His Holiness Pope John Paul II apologized for slavery recently. Wouldn't it be great to take out the elements that one needs to apologize for later because they cause atrocities?

http://www.usccb.net/conference/conf...eologyWang.pdf
In addition, on the UCCSB, the potential Chinese convert are worried about whether or not this is a universal church or just Westernization...
Quote:
The Possibility of How the Chinese Moral Theology Might Interpret and Understand the Universal Catholic Moral Teaching in the Chinese Context
After studying moral theology for several years, I have come to realize that universal Catholic moral theology does not easily fit within the context of local Chinese society. This does not necessarily mean that Catholic moral teaching is wrong; nor that it should not apply to the Chinese society. The reason for my conclusion is that I recognize that universal Catholic moral teaching faces many difficulties and challenges in its application in the Chinese context.

.....

Second, in case of conflicts between Chinese traditional moral teaching and Catholic moral teaching, it can be difficult for Catholic moral teaching to take advantage of the Chinese traditional moral teaching, especially if it is not appreciated and welcomed. This may be the reason why Chinese Catholic faithful mentally struggle with the question of whether they have to be westerners in order to be Catholic. Specific conflicts between Chinese traditional moral teaching and Catholic moral teaching are mainly found on issues such as parental arranged marriage, the social and family role of women, relations between husband and wife, the positions of female children and male children in the family, the relation between citizens and Governments, and the like. These are examples of hard issues for the Catholic Church in China, and perhaps similar issues for local churches in any other culture. They are hard issues, not only because they are matters of culture, but matters of conscience as well. Since it is a matter of both, it will take time to allow both local culture and Church teaching to develop in such
a way as to connect conscience, culture and morality in a new engagement.
.
Do you know why the later Church would add these elements in when Jesus and the apostles did not? The Catholic Church is supposed to be universal, not Western nationalism, so it is important to understand why specific elements of Western philosophy that were not specifically incorporated by Jesus would be later incorporated by the Catholic Church.
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  #15  
Old Jul 2, '12, 5:32 am
Credo ergo sum Credo ergo sum is offline
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Default Re: Plato, Aristotle, and the Catholic Church

Slavery in Aquinas' and Aristotle's time had nothing to do with nationalism or racism, but you knew that?

Btw: do you happen to be black?
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