Logic philosophy

The Surprising Logic of the World


Memoria College professor Dan Sheffler’s new article in The Classical Teacher:

The study of logic is the study of that which makes sense, the study of those structures that necessarily must be in order for things to hang together without contradiction. The Greeks called the intelligible structure of something its logos, and this is where we get our word. These necessary structures, these logoi, are not things that we make up in our heads or record in our books. They are all around us, everywhere, the basic fabric of the world we inhabit.

Read the rest here.

Medieval philosophy philosophy theology Thomas Aquinas

All God’s Instruments


Memoria College tutor Thomas Cothran, writing at Eclectic Orthodoxy, about St. Thomas Aquinas’ position on the problem of predestination:

God causes all of our actions, including our acts of choosing. He does not merely give mankind the power of choice, he causes the act of choosing itself. We are mere instruments of God’s will. Such is the view of St. Thomas Aquinas. But St. Thomas also believes that human beings choose freely, and that the dependence of human volition in its every movement on God does not violate human freedom. On its face, St. Thomas’ view appears paradoxical, even contradictory. And yet a number of recent religious thinkers appeal to the medieval Dominican in their own attempts to reconcile divine providence and human freedom.

The discussion in the over fifty responses to the article is also worth reading. You can read it here.

Atheism Bertrand Russell Christianity Existence of God Frederick Copleston

The Most Famous Debate on the Existence of God

An excellent article on one of the great modern philosophical events:

On January 28, 1948, the BBC brought together two of the century’s brightest minds for a radio debate about the existence of God. To be sure, the debaters were not just lightweight showboats, blowing off steam. The two men represented the cream of the intellectual crop.

Bertrand Russell was a renowned British philosopher, mathematician, historian, and perhaps the world’s leading atheist at the time. He authored many skeptical essays and books, including the collection still popular today, Why I Am Not a Christian

Read the rest here.

C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis’ Boswell: Walter Hooper, RIP

I just found out today that Walter Hooper passed away a couple weeks ago. Hooper, for those who do not know, was the literary executor of the C. S. Lewis estate. Hooper edited various works that came out after Lewis passed away in 1963, managed the literary estate, and fought to keep his works in print―and did it all in relative obscurity. He was as responsible as anyone in keeping the interest in the writings of C. S. Lewis alive after his death.

I met Hooper at the C. S. Lewis/G. K. Chesterton Conference at Seattle Pacific University in 1987, where I was giving a paper on Chesterton’s religious thought. Quite a number of Lewis scholars were in attendance, including Peter Kreeft, Thomas Howard, and Richard Purtill. But Hooper, who had never before really sat down with the C. S. Lewis scholarly community, was the star of the show. Some of the papers that were presented there ended up being published in G. K. Chesterton and C. S. Lewis: The Riddle of Joy.

I met Hooper when a group of us at the conference had gone out to dinner one night. I sat across from him and we had a long discussion. When it was time to leave, several of us decided to walk back to the university dorms where we were staying.

There ended up being four of us on the walk back. Along with Hooper, there was a professor of literature from Cal State Riverside, an FBI agent, and me, who at the time was a trust officer at a bank. We got lost on the streets and suburbs of Seattle, and what should have been a thirty minute walk took two and a half hours. 

Hooper was a fairly short man, about five-foot-six, and in a strange way was both somewhat formal and at the same time completely down to earth. As we zigzagged through various neighborhoods he regaled us with story after story. He explained how he had arrived in Seattle from England (where he lived at The Kilns, Lewis’ house) and that he had forgotten his toiletries. I don’t remember the specifics except for a hilarious description of combing his hair with a fork he had found in the street.

It turned out that Hooper—who, though he had grown up in North Carolina and had taught at the University of Kentucky near where I now live, now had a noticeable and dignified British accent—was a big fan of Clint Eastwood. “You like Clint Eastwood?!” I asked.

He furrowed his brow in mock seriousness. “Oh, yyyyyeeesss.” And laughed. He then went on an extended discourse about why Clint Eastwood was deserving of his admiration. He explained that so devoted a fan was he that he had a Dirty Harry poster on the wall at Tthe Kilns. He recalled the time when Edith Tolkien, J. R. R.’s widow, had walked in and, seeing the poster on the wall, had shaken her head and said grimly, “Oh Walter! You really should take that down!”

He also told of Joy Davidman, the American woman Lewis famously married to save her from deportation, only to later fall in love with her.  Far from the character portrayed in two movies (once by Clair Bloom, Davidman’s favorite actress, and then again by Debra Winger), Davidman was not popular with Lewis’ neighbors, largely on account of Davidman’s penchant for shooting their dogs when they came sniffing around The Kilns.

What little time I was able to spend with him, and hearing the wonderful speech he gave at the conference, made me think that he was much like what I had always imagined Lewis himself to be like: serious but joyful, gracious and funny.

I have thought of writing him a hundred times to see if he remembered that night. I had talked with people who had been to The Kilns, who always told of what a gracious and pleasant host he was, and I thought that when I finally got around to visiting England I would stop in and talk to him again.

But time goes by. And you don’t think to do the things you tell yourself you need to do “some day.” And so it is even sadder for me to hear of his death.

Hooper performed a great service, helping to keep the C. S. Lewis flame alive. We know Lewis in a way we could not have had it not been for the work of Walter Hooper. Samuel Johnson had James Boswell to cement his legacy, but such a comparison is, in one respect, ill-fitting, since Boswell, unlike Hooper, himself shared little of the great character of the man whose reputation he helped establish. 

Someone so devoted to the legacy of a great man, and one who did it in such relative obscurity, should surely be credited with some of his greatness here in this world, and will hopefully share some of his Reward in the Next.

C. S. Lewis mythology

The “Moral Mythology” of C. S. Lewis

by Thomas Howard

ONE WAY of putting what Lewis saw his literary task to be would be to say that he wanted to lead his readers to a window, as it were, looking out from the dark and stuffy room of modernity, and to burst open the shutters of that window and point us all to an enormous vista stretching away from the room in which we are shut. He despaired, I think of finding any furniture, pictures, or objects, in that small room that would suggest what he wanted to say to us, so he insisted that we come to the window and look out.