Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What Does One Owe To One's Parents?

I was talking with a friend earlier today about duty and parents- what one owes to their parents, what is obligatory, what is done out of love, etc. I thought I'd post these from the Catechism of the Catholic Church for my friend:

2199 The fourth commandment is addressed expressly to children in their relationship to their father and mother, because this relationship is the most universal. It likewise concerns the ties of kinship between members of the extended family. It requires honor, affection, and gratitude toward elders and ancestors. Finally, it extends to the duties of pupils to teachers, employees to employers, subordinates to leaders, citizens to their country, and to those who administer or govern it.

2215 Respect for parents (filial piety) derives from gratitude toward those who, by the gift of life, their love and their work, have brought their children into the world and enabled them to grow in stature, wisdom, and grace. "With all your heart honor your father, and do not forget the birth pangs of your mother. Remember that through your parents you were born; what can you give back to them that equals their gift to you?"19

2216 Filial respect is shown by true docility and obedience. "My son, keep your father's commandment, and forsake not your mother's teaching. . . . When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you."20 "A wise son hears his father's instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke."21

The catechism goes on after 2216 to say a lot more about the duties of grown children. Here is the link to further reading on this:

The catechism of the Catholic Church on duty, love, and parents.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sacred Music - the playlist

Every other month for a month I listen to a specific composer or genre of music ONLY. This month, the 27th of October to the 27th of November, I am dedicating to religious, prayerful music. So, there is a new playlist of religious and prayerful music on my blog. On the 28th of November I will reinstall the original 'Cogito et Scribo' playlist.

While on the topic of religious Music, there is a wonderful paragraph from the Catechism of the Catholic Church on sacred Art:

Sacred art
is true and beautiful when its form corresponds to its particular vocation: evoking and glorifying, in faith and adoration, the transcendent mystery of God - the surpassing invisible beauty of truth and love visible in Christ, who "reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature," in whom "the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily."297 This spiritual beauty of God is reflected in the most holy Virgin Mother of God, the angels, and saints. Genuine sacred art draws man to adoration, to prayer, and to the love of God, Creator and Savior, the Holy One and Sanctifier.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The flower and the raindrop
..........tender, cool and young they are
..........full of growth, and let us speculate on where
they might go. Little children are so
fascinating because you do not know if
..........or how their lives will unroll
..........or when they might fly or fall.
..........All is mystery unwheeling
..........a sunrise and the light of day is fresh upon
their amber cheeks. Their eyes are glassy, rounded and
blue and ~ a sunrise and the light of day
..........bloom on the flower and the
.....The ground is damp~
..........The air is muted
by chill ~ and
.....The sky, the sky!
..........Oh, the sky, is
heavy with gray.

Descartes II

Descartes has rather odd ideas concerning the senses and the mind. Basically, he says that in our search for absolute, unquestionable truth, we must realize that the senses deceive us. He uses this as one of many examples of the deception of the senses.

"[F]or example, I find in my mind two wholly diverse ideas
of the
sun; the one, by which it appears to me extremely
small draws its
origin from the senses[...]; the other,
by which it seems to be many
times larger than the whole
earth, is taken up on astronomical
grounds, that is,
elicited from certain notions born with me, or is
by myself in some other manner. These two ideas cannot

certainly both resemble the same sun; and reason teaches
me that
the one which seems to have immediately emanated
from it [the
former]is the most unlike."

Therefore, he reasons, all that is left to rely on is the mind.
One of the problems with this idea is that the senses have no will of their own. They are faculties of the body which collect data about the world around us and about ourselves. They are not capable of deceiving. What deceives us is the part of our mind that deciphers the information collected from our senses.
Also, one must keep in mind that the senses aren't the only faculties we have for learning and figuring things out. They can only go so far, but reason can go farther. For example, the senses teach us tat the sun gives light and heat. Reason goes on to teach us that it is immobile, extremely large, etc.
The fact that what we learn from the senses is rarely the entire truth because the senses are limited and because we do not always understand the data they collect correctly is no reason for disregarding them.

(Thank you, Joe, for your input in this problem.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Descartes (and a tangent on some definitions of 'person')

Descartes is a rather controversial philosopher, at least among conservative Catholic circles. Presently, I have read his Discourses, I-III and the first half of IV, and his Meditations, I, II, & III. I would like to explain his "I think, therefore I am".

"I Think, Therefore I Am"

That is THE statement of Descartes, and few know much more about him than that. At first this statement seems to say that thought is the source of existence. But let us examine the text, keeping always in mind that Descartes was rather obsessed with doubting everything until he had undeniable proof for it.

"[F]rom the very fact that I thought of doubting the truth of other things, it followed very evidently and very certainly that I existed[...][T]here is nothing at all in this 'I think therefore I am' that assures me that I am speaking the truth, except that I see very clearly that, in order to think, it is necessary to exist."

You see, he is so concerned about not calling true anything that has the slightest possibility of being false, that the only thing left for him to know for sure is that his mind, which he calls 'I', exists. His proof for the existence of his mind is that it is thinking. And so, his 'I think, therefore I am' is really just a poor way of saying 'Because I think, I know I (that is, my mind) exists.

This would all be well and good, except for what he says during the ellipsis in the above quote.
He states:

"had I simply stopped thinking [...] I would have no reason to believe that I had existed."

This statement gives two criteria for a thing, specifically a human, to be considered living:
1. The thing must be thinking
2.The thing must be conscious of its thinking.

True as it may be that one's thoughts are a proof to oneself of one's existence, they are not a criteria for being considered a living human.

Speaking of criteria to be considered a living human, these are the definitions of some other philosophers of the word 'Person'.

Soul trapped in a Body - Plato
Rational Animal - Aristotle
Embodied Spirit - St. Thomas Aquinas
Thinking Thing - Descartes

It seems that these Philosophers fall into 2 groups- Those that define a person by what it does (thinks), and those that define a person by what it is made of (a body and a soul).

Monday, October 19, 2009

truth is. . . and it is where?

The more I read and study other philosophers, the more truth and good sense I see in the Catholic Church for having answers to all that befuddles them. It is quite extraordinary, and I think the whole lot of the philosophers would agree, that all the answers to all the problems all nicely fit together in the same place. One need not go trudging to all the ends of the earth to find a thousand different answers to a thousand different questions only to find that the answers don't always agree. For the Truth is one, it is alive, and it is near.

Story of a Thought

Thoughts have lives of their own.
They show themselves to us in the secret dark corners of our minds.
Where did their life come from?
What is their soul?
Whatever they are, they are a fire that drives man
and makes a magician or a fool of him,
a painting or mud of his life.

Maybe they wake
something in us brakes.
And they all spill out,
embryos ready for our consciousness to nurture them.
And our emotions drive and whip
like the wind.
And our friends. . . we need not think on all the things they say,
Only that our thoughts are fragile and scared.
and Sacred.
And they are shattered and shattered again
until they are grown

and strong enough to stand on their own
and ripple unbroken in the winds of time
and chance.
For they have found their place
'mongst the threads
of all our other thoughts.
And they are stitch
sewing a soul,
shattering us
till we are who we have become.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Virtue and Emotion

It is easy to agree with Plato that emotions are lower than thoughts and that they ought to be suppressed because they get in the way. However, emotions show the depths of the human soul. They lead a person where mere reason cannot. And if we really are to agree with Plato, we must see that if God made emotions, then -in the original way in which God made them- they cannot be bad.
I would like to raise the question, what is a virtue made of? A virtue is the fruit of all that is best in a human. This best includes emotions. When a person acts virtuously, are not all the components of their soul in a harmony with God and with each other?
Emotions must be guided by thought, but likewise thought must be guided by emotion. When these two seemingly opposite parts of the soul work together, there is harmony; and where there is harmony, there is the possibility of virtue.


Sunday, October 04, 2009


When you can look into the future and see a dream coming true, stitch by stitch sewing together an impossible hope and the next several months into a cloth of reality, it is very frightening. When you see something so good you did not think it would ever exist, sitting a little ways away made of brick and mortar, it is very startling. When an idea you had hardly dared to follow because of its impossibleness is right there for you to jump at, you wish you knew how to run. Because it does not fit into how you thought it would have to be. Your idea of stark 'reality' is meaningless dust. And the dust is blowing in your eyes so that you can hardly see, but you don't know how to run away with the dust. There is a siren beauty about the dream in front of you, enticing; it somehow seems very dangerous, and you do not know whether to follow or not. You are a coward to run, a coward to hesitate, but you have not the strength to do anything but stand and stare. You wonder, its seems so hard to comprehend that a dream could come true. It seems an illusion. There has to be something wrong with it. It cannot possobly be real, it is too perfect. You pull back your foot, and kick it. It hurt your foot. You know it is real by the pain in your leg. 'Pain,' you think, 'equals real.' And you are no longer so afraid, because pain is real. It is definitely not the fearsome unknown. You know now how real your dream is, and you can walk into it, becasue it has caused you pain.