The Texture of Being

The Texture of Being: essays in first philosophy

Kenneth L. Schmitz
Edited by Paul O’Herron
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2853wm
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  • Book Info
    The Texture of Being
    Book Description:

    Diverse in topics yet unified in purpose, this volume brings together Schmitz's penetrating and rich insight into being, produced over many years, to offer readers a magisterial study from one of the great Christian philosophers of our time.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1653-9
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xviii)
    Paul O’Herron

    Kenneth L. Schmitz has taken giant strides toward doing what Hegel said he wanted to do: to reconcile the “being of the ancients” with the “subjectivity of the moderns.” In the first part of this introduction, I try to set up this issue.

    Intellectual reconciliation itself is not his goal. It is rather “to make one single philosophical life.” The seventeen articles gathered here make an arc from the firstness of being to the newness of being. In the second part of the introduction, I mark off how, on the warp of the old, Professor Schmitz shuttles the woof of...

  5. PART I. BEING
    • Chapter 1 METAPHYSICS: Radical, Comprehensive, Determinate Discourse
      (pp. 3-20)

      Metaphysics is the most controversial and controverted of the philosophical disciplines. I want to argue, nevertheless, that if it did not already exist in some form, then it would be necessary to invent it. For the need to think fundamentally is not incidental to the inquiring energy of the human mind. That energy has taken form as myth, meditation, and reflection among a variety of peoples of diverse cultures. In our rather abstract and articulate culture, however, fundamental thinking has taken the rational, argumentative, and conceptual form of discourse.

      Discourse. By “discourse” I mean a modification of language that makes...

    • Chapter 2 ANALYSIS BY PRINCIPLES AND ANALYSIS BY ELEMENTS
      (pp. 21-36)

      In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries widespread distrust of analysis by principles contributed to the acceptance of analysis by elements. More precisely, the challenge to the validity and significance of analysis by ontological¹ principles resulted in the rise of analysis by quantitative elements. The latter was not unknown hitherto, of course, but under new conditions of thought and life it assumed new forms and unprecedented power, leading in modern physics to the search for basic particles and in chemistry to the search for simple elements. The pervasive collapse of ontological analysis took place largely outside of the universities and north...

    • Chapter 3 FROM ANARCHY TO PRINCIPLES: Deconstruction and the Resources of Christian Philosophy
      (pp. 37-53)

      One of the most influential movements among philosophers today is that of Deconstruction. It is the moving energy of thought at the center of much that has been called “postmodern.” Its birthplace is Paris, but it has reached North America’s universities through philosophy, linguistics, literary studies, sociology, political theory, and religious studies, and its influence among young teachers and scholars is already wide and diffuse. Its background was prepared by the hermeneutic work of German philosophers such as Heidegger, and by the work in linguistics and language by such thinkers as de Saussure and Wittgenstein. Deconstruction is part of a...

    • Chapter 4 NEITHER WITH NOR WITHOUT FOUNDATIONS
      (pp. 54-73)

      This essay was originally prepared for the 1988 Metaphysical Society meeting, where I had been asked to speak out of what has been called “the great tradition,” concerning the rumored “end of metaphysics.” It is important, however, to notice what followed the colon in the chosen theme: “the question of foundations.” For metaphysics has been pronounced dead several times already, according to different autopsies: by skepticism, nominalism, empiricism, and at least two versions of positivism, the one prescribed by Auguste Comte and the other more recently mandated by the Vienna Circle. Indeed, death notices of metaphysics have become traditional in...

    • Chapter 5 ANOTHER LOOK AT OBJECTIVITY
      (pp. 74-87)

      In many philosophical quarters, and elsewhere, something called “objectivity” has come into low esteem. It seems to some to be a counterfeit goal and a hindrance to more worthwhile knowledge. We hear of “mere objectivity,” of an approach which is “too objective,” of the indignity of treating persons as though they are “nothing but objects,” and of mistaking God as a “transcendent object.” So much wrath must have some cause, and perhaps even some merit. On the other hand, the notion of objectivity has had a sturdy and influential career during the past three or four centuries. It arose explicitly...

    • Chapter 6 ENRICHING THE COPULA
      (pp. 88-105)

      It is a commonplace among students of St. Thomas Aquinas that in his view a judgment does not come to rest in its truth until it reaches the thing being judged about. For him the judgment in its fundamental nature is not simply a union of subject and predicate, but is rather the surge of the mind itself towards rest in the being of things (esse rerum). The judgment terminates not in a mental construction but in the thing itself (ad rem). This has led many Thomists to salute the judgment as the cash value of knowledge. Usually our attention...

    • Chapter 7 CREATED RECEPTIVITY AND THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE CONCRETE
      (pp. 106-131)

      Gabriel Marcel gave his phenomenological inquiries the name “Philosophy of the Concrete,”¹ and he made no bones about the distance between his philosophy and that of Thomism.² Between these philosophies there can be no question of an approchement of tone, nor even of manner, but at most a convergence of truths shared differently. Moreover, there can be no doubt that the two philosophies differ in their relation to experience. Within the broad sense of “Christian experience,” Thomas drew upon experientia (empiria) in the narrower sense in order to derive by way of conceptual abstraction the principles of his philosophy, including...

    • Chapter 8 THE SOLIDARITY OF PERSONALISM AND THE METAPHYSICS OF EXISTENTIAL ACT
      (pp. 132-146)

      There have been human persons since Adam delved and Eve span. And the word persona, prosopon—thickened and deepened by the revelation of the God-man Jesus Christ—has been with us since the great Councils of the Church. Is it not surprising, then, that we have had to wait until the twentieth century to hear of philosophies that bear the name “personalism”? Emmanuel Mounier suggests that the neo-Kantian idealist Charles-Bernard Renouvier first used the term to describe his own philosophy in 1903,¹ before it was rescued from idealism for Catholic thinkers by Max Scheler.² No doubt, the thing, the reality—...

  6. PART II. MAN
    • Chapter 9 THE GEOGRAPHY OF THE HUMAN PERSON
      (pp. 149-167)

      If an inquisitive acquaintance gets uncomfortably close to what we don’t want broadcast to others, we are likely to demur with the excuse: “I really don’t want to talk about that, it’s very personal.” If the questioner has any sensitivity at all, that should warn him or her off any further inquisition, since to cry “Personal” is one of our acceptable informal social ways of preserving our privacy. In another sense of the term, however, we may credit a person (sometimes a figure in authority) with treating us “as a person.” By that, we mean that he or she respects...

    • Chapter 10 IMMATERIALITY PAST AND PRESENT
      (pp. 168-182)

      The medieval conception of immateriality was prominent in discussions of God, man, and nature, of causality, activity, and order, of knowledge, freedom, and immortality. Yet this once noble conception seems absent from most present-day discussions of similar topics. Terms such as consciousness, subjectivity, Existenz and Dasein, temporality, historicity, and language have taken its place, and even current talk about spirituality does not seem quite the same.

      Has the conception remained unscathed, braving the gauntlet of misdirected blows? Has this grand weapon of the philosophical armory merely become blunt from too much wear? Has it been displaced instead by a paradigm...

    • Chapter 11 THE FIRST PRINCIPLE OF PERSONAL BECOMING
      (pp. 183-199)

      Personal development has two broad phases: the first is that of infancy, childhood, and adolescence; the second is that of our continuing development as adults. Without excluding the former, I wish to concentrate upon the latter in order to describe what I will argue is a spiritual form of life in the individual human being. Becoming in the order of human personhood arises out of a dynamic source that is not easy to name with accuracy. It has been called the “psyche,” or “subjectivity,” or “personality,” and sometimes “the human spirit,” though the latter term often remains rather too vague...

    • Chapter 12 PURITY OF SOUL AND IMMORTALITY
      (pp. 200-220)

      It is said of St. Thomas Aquinas’ teacher, St. Albert the Great, that he grew forgetful towards the end of his life and began to say mass for himself as though he were dead: quasi defunctus est. The fact that he was one of the most learned persons of Western Europe during his lifetime did not save him from a pathetic loss of memory. The story illustrates a bitter knowledge known from time immemorial: that age may steal away one’s innermost possessions. Of course, it has always been known too that a blow upon the head in the prime of...

    • Chapter 13 IS LIBERALISM GOOD ENOUGH?
      (pp. 221-242)

      A free market will undoubtedly offer several varieties of goods for sale, including a variety of theories of the good. As we enter the bazaar we can expect to be offered the very best theory of the very best good; nor should we be surprised to find the trademark “Liberal” stamped upon it, and perhaps the logo: “Produced by the Forces of Liberalism.” And yet, it seems prudent to look over a few other wares, some older perhaps, some even newer, even some that seem bizarre. The wary customer may be excused if he or she does not by impulse...

  7. PART III. GOD
    • Chapter 14 THEOLOGICAL CLEARANCES: Foreground to a Rational Recovery of God
      (pp. 245-264)

      Near the beginning of the Summa theologiae St. Thomas Aquinas presents the well-known “five ways.”¹ The quinque viae make up a single proof of the existence of God by way of five approaches: from motion concluding to the First Mover; from causative action concluding to the First Cause or Source; from contingent beings to Something that is absolutely necessary; from degrees of actual perfections in things to the Original Source of their existence and goodness; and, finally, from the regularity of processes in the world to a Creative Intelligence that implants tendencies towards order in things. At the end of...

    • Chapter 15 GOD, BEING, AND LOVE: New Ontological Perspectives Coming from Philosophy
      (pp. 265-282)

      In keeping with the theme of Fides et ratio, I am impelled to complete the subtitle: “New Ontological Perspectives Coming from Philosophy,” with the following: “Coming from Philosophy in its Encounter with the Proposals of Faith.” For the strict substance of the argument in the encyclical insists that nothing truly and profoundly new—it speaks of the “radicality and newness of being”—will come to philosophy except through its encounter with faith. On the contrary, it insists that reason acting as though independent from, indifferent to, or hostile to faith is not stimulated to seek ad novitatem et radicalitatem ipsius...

    • Chapter 16 THE DEATH OF GOD AND THE REBIRTH OF MAN
      (pp. 283-299)

      Metaphors of language sometimes express a reality that stricter and more modest conceptions do not express so well. Moreover, some striking metaphors, such as the “death of God,” can give expression to real conditions in our culture. The intention of this essay is to sketch a current problematic—the widespread acceptance of the absence of God in the cultures of technologically advanced societies of the so-called Western type¹—and to suggest a strategy for a metaphysical intervention in that problematic. The temporal field within which the paper moves is the process of modernization over the past four hundred years, principally...

    • Chapter 17 THE WITNESS OF BEAUTY: The Profile of God
      (pp. 300-316)

      In 1939, during the early horrible days of the Nazi occupation of the Polish city of Krakow, the young Karol Wojtyla wrote to an older friend, replying to his request for information regarding mutual friends, those who had disappeared during the initial terror. Wojtyla provided him with what meager information he could, for no one knew whether the victims had emigrated, gone into hiding, been murdered, or been transported to the camps. After addressing the list of the missing, Wojtyla then invited his friend to come to Krakow to create, in the midst of the suffering that engulfed the people,...

  8. Bibliography
    (pp. 317-324)
  9. Index of Names
    (pp. 325-327)