"Back to school" on act and potency, etc

I am re-reading Edward Feser’s book “The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism.” It’s a good book. Beyond refuting weak arguments from the “New Atheists” (-Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Hitchens, et al), he provides a primer in Aristotelian and Scholastic thought. I made a note on a few books Feser cites and have ordered them from the library. I just started Joseph Owens’ “An Elementary Christian Metaphysics.”

Is anyone else here doing this, refreshing their grasp of the basics of classical theism?

Absolutely. I pick up my " Aquinas " tomorrow. Let us know what you think of Owens. By the way " A Manual of Modern Scholastic Philosophy " by Cardinal Mercier is available on line. Vol 1 is Natural Philosophy and Vol 2 is a Theologhy of God.


Thats what we’re all about here in seminary (academically at least)

I spent a few years in seminary, though metaphysics was a one-semester course and the Aquinas class was an elective few chose. Some seminaries focus more on academic rigor, others on a more pastoral focus. I was at one of the latter. The Church is wide and has many needs. I wonder if things might have turned out different if I had been sent to a seminary that placed more emphasis on academics. At any rate, I’m glad you’re getting a good dose of the good stuff where you are! Praise God!

The Owens book is good, though it reminds me it’s been awhile since I was grad school–my ‘metaphysics chops’ (-‘chops’ are a musician’s term for technical facility) are rusty! I’ve got to get back in the intellectual swing of things.

Really, Feser’s general approach of engaging the culture at a level they can understand is the way to go. Teach it to others and engage.

I like Feser’s book. I like his approach too. (I check out his blog periodically.) But the notion of being is tough for me to grasp. I often wonder, “How well do I understand this? Am I just nodding in assent or do I really get it?” That’s why I am reading Owens now, and why I’ve read a good bit of Gilson too, not to mention Aquinas. I’m still not satisfied that I get it. (Have you read David Oderberg’s “Real Essentialism”? He’s a contemporary philosopher and he defends what he calls ‘real essentialism,’ but the first time I read it, I knew there were parts I did not understand. I’m going to have to request another inter-library loan…)

Feser is good on the four causes, and especially the importance of final causes, but the index of his book contains NO entry for “being”!

What’s your go-to definition of being?

No, I have not read the book.
I can’t say I fully understand being myself :slight_smile: - but it may be one of those things that transcends our intellect. That isn’t to say we can’t know anything about it, though.

I started reading a good book by I think Klubbertanz entitled Being. It has a wonderful approach to the subject as it starts with experience and goes through a process to come to the concept of being; how the concept isn’t abstracted but instead “separated” from experience. I put it down for a while but want to get back to it. It was a little hard for me but I was learning.

The book was one of my mom’s textbooks at a Catholic college a long time ago. Seems like they were learning good stuff. Too bad I…

I’m unfamiliar with Klubertanz. I’ll have to Google the guy!

Now that I looked at the binding, it’s titled, Introductory to the Philosophy of Being by George P. Klubertanz, S.J. He was (i’m guessing he’s no longer alive) a Jesuit at St. Louis University and the book is the second edition published around 1963. It looks like the first edition was around 1952.

The book provides a “bottom-up” approach to the concept of being; from the world of experience one slowly analyzes until the concept is reached. Another book I have claims to do a “top-down” approach; basically it started to provide an analysis of the “one and the many”. The beginning is relatively short and basically says you will either “get it” or not, and that there isn’t much the author can do if you don’t. I think I took some away from the little I read, however; I plan to revisit.

This second book is titled, The Philosophy of Being by Smith & Kendzierski. Smith is also a Jesuit and was located at Marquette University. The book looks like it was published in 1961.

Both books have an Imprimi Potest (which I just learned means that the superior of the religious order says it can be printed) and an Imprimatur from the respective archbishops at the time. The former, Archbishop Joseph Cardinal Ritter of St. Louis. The latter, Archbiship Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York. Only the latter has a Nihil Obstat.

My guess, from the little I know of St. Louis, is that the University had a great philosophy program at one time (is it still good?)

Anyways. I think I’m a huge fan of the “bottom-up” approach to the philosophy of being.

His best book, IMHO, is called, Being and God, and is written by Klubertanz and Holloway.

God bless,

Thanks for all the comments! My reading list is expanding at a dizzying pace. I’m getting more out of Owens as I move through his book. I’m making notes in a composition book. (I’m not in school but I always take notes while doing serious reading.)

Bingo!!! You quoted the magic names. I have Holloway’s Natural Theology and Klubertanz’ The Philosophy of Human Nature. I am also reading Thomistic Metaphysics by Charles A Hart ( absolutely great ). :thumbsup::thumbsup:


I’ve not seen Hart’s book; now I’ll have to look for it. Thank you!

God bless,

Today I received Edward Feser’s short book “Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide,” which spends a lot of time on the “five ways” after going over some basics, including act and potency. I enjoyed Feser’s book 'The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism," which is, in part, a primer on concepts central to the thought of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas.

I got my ’ Aquinas ’ too and have been deep into it. I think he is especially good on the First Way where he explains how the Unmoved Mover is pure Actuality, esp. pgs 72-75, pg 73 was the real clincher - deep though, but it makes all clear.:thumbsup::thumbsup:

Hey, Linus, I’m only on page 19. When I get to those pages—72-75—I’ll let you know what I make of them.

I like Feser a lot. By the way, I just sent him an email asking if he had–or knew of–a short glossary a reader could download, print, and keep handy while reading Aristotle, Thomas, and others in their tradition. The new Adler book I mentioned above, “How to Prove There Is a God” contains a nice glossary at the book. Short, not in-depth, but a real help. I wish more philosophy books came with glossaries!

What would be nice is a good Concordance on his works! Ha, if cars could just run on air!

Feser recommends Words of Wisdom: A Philosophical Dictionary for the Perennial Tradition by John Carlson. It’s 45 bucks in paperback, but that’s less than half the price of the best current scholastic dictionary.

Hey, Linus, I got to that part of Feser’s book and agree that it’s excellent. I hadn’t read a better explanation of the first way.

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