I am a Catholic. I long considered myself an Aristotelian. I focused my studies on political phiosophy and ethics.
Believe it or not, not everyone who disagrees with you is stupid. Surely you wouldn’t call Nietzsche or Hume or Bacon or Wittgenstein stupid, even though they’d ask and answer the questions I ask above in a very extreme way. I am asking these questions because, while I’m very impressed by and find something appealing and natural in Aristotle’s ethics and politics, I find its foundations in his physics and metaphysics shaky. Stringing together conclusory assertions without rigor, as you do above, is not particularly helpful in answering these concerns and criticisms.
Anyway, the basic questions I asked above, which remain unanswered, amounts to the basic modernist, empiricist critique of classical metaphysics, i.e., the critique of Hume (and to a lesser extent Descartes and also Nietzsche) in particular. This view does away with much of metaphysics (admittedly) and also with the classical division of causation replacing it instead with a moderate empiricist view of causation as the regular correlation of events, yet it still gets along fine, makes useful predictions in natural science, and its progeny have more explanatory power of the material world than the old philosophy. The real question is still for me how do you know Aristotle’s metaphysics is right, and how would one prove it true or otherwise?
The old Aristotelian system posited a mind that was distinct from the brain/material world/body, even if “mind” and “will” was seen as a product or activity of the brain–not quite sure classical philosophy even conceded the last point.
The “mind” concept is largely coextensive with the Catholic use of the word soul,i.e., reason and will. If mind is really just the complicated activity of the brain and lacks a nonmaterial (i.e., eternal) essence, this seems to me a major threat to the integrity of Catholic teaching as presently constituted.
My question remains how should this concept of mind and soul be modified in light of the fact that actual, practical phenomena formerly attributed to the mind can be adequately and completely explained as epiphenomena of the brain, i.e., various mental illnesses that manifest in behaviors like OCD, addictions, personality disorders etc. The mind is not and never was seen as an abstract entity, outside the material world, devoid of visible consequences and effects. I don’t think we disagree on this.
But take something as simple as a criminal misbehavior; if it can be adequately explained by chemical imbalances and frontal lobe deformations, what explanatory role remains for the mind/soul?
Throwing up a bunch of conclusory Aristotelian metaphysics won’t make this problem go away, and it’s the reason classical philosophy was displaced so thoroughly by the insights, method, and deliberately vague metaphysics (i.e., logial positivism) that underly modern science. Philosophers can worry about whether we can trust our senses; scientists, meanwhile, are curing cancers and making atomic bombs.