Laudato Si’ and Charles De Koninck

In a programmatic post on the new encyclical, John Brungardt argues that Charles De Koninck’s philosophy of nature and his anti-personalist account of the common good, both rooted in his rich understanding of the order of the whole universe as the final cause of creation, make De Koninck a particularly suitable instrument for pursuing the concerns of Laudato Si’. Continue reading

Mathematics and Scientific Revolution

A comment in an online forum thread on my post on Laudato Si’ notes the following about mathematical science:

the application of mathematics to nature is not a particularly 17th century thing, but it goes to the beginnings of civilization, to the point that we could even say that mathematics is natural to the mind and making maths is of the same cultural necessity as making music (an activity that, although strictly not necessary, is present in every civilization).

This is obviously true, and the brief account of the new-science in my post wasn’t meant do deny it, but I can see how the post could be read that way.

What is particular to the sort of mathematical application found in the new science of the 17th century is the homogenizing character of the mathematical symbolization used, and the elevation of this application to a mathesis universalis, a universal method which becomes, the dominant approach to reality. I have posted a long explanation of what that means (from a dissertation draft) to It’s the fullest account of the scientific revolution that I have written so-far, but it is still only a partial account. I am planning to expand it into a full-blown treatise at some point.


What is Heard About Nature and the Trajectory of Certain Thomists

Father Benedict Ashley, O.P. notes in an autobiographical sketch that his vision of the relation between his Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy and the sort of “natural science” that originated with Descartes et. al. changed over time. At first he took “modern natural science” to have basically zero philosophical significance; the task of the Aristotelian was simply to take the empirical discoveries of “modern science” and integrate them into the framework of Aristotelian cosmology: “In my first phase I saw the task mainly as one of filling in the details in a general plan already laid out. This may appear preposterous, but it really is not so difficult.” But then he slowly begins to think that “modern science” supports an insight of “modern philosophy” into the nature of reality itself — namely that reality is “historical.” This change came for him at the time of Vatican II, and it had the same effect on him that the Council had on many others: “This insight was a liberation, because it made it possible for me to see modern thought and modern culture much more sympathetically than before.” I wonder whether Ashley’s sense of liberation did not incline him to assent to what he saw as an insight more readily. Would he have been more hesitant to assent to his new ideas if they had been less in tune with his age? Continue reading