This work is both a story and an academic treatise. It is not for the faint of heart or mind. It upends familiar perspectives in both science and religion. The first movement, A, presents the gambit, a hypothesis explaining why our current Lebenswelt (living world) is not the Lebenswelt that we evolved in. The interlude, B, presents a university experience, a close reading of a text where presuppositions get all turned round. Most college students pass through four years of college without this experience. The third movement, A', returns to the gambit, but now within the active imagination. The early stories in Genesis are re-enacted on the celestial earth. By the time it is over, the reader will view both human evolution and the Genesis text in a new postmodern light. The beginning writes the end.
What about The First Singularity and Its Fairy Tale Trace?
This essay summarizes the central hypothesis in "An Archaeology of the Fall". The question it addresses is: Why civilization? Another way to put that is: Have humans passed through a singularity such that our current Lebenswelt (life world) is not the same as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in? The answer is yes. The potentiating factor is presented. This essay is ideal for classes on both human evolution and the Book of Genesis in the Bible. This essay should be contrasted with William Stone's article, "Adam and Modern Science", appearing in "Adam, the Fall and Original Sin" (2014: Baker Academic).
“Hyle” means “matter”. “Morphe” means “form”. According to Aristotle, matter and form are two real, yet contiguous, elements.
C. S. Peirce defines the category of secondness as two contiguous real elements. The category of secondness is the realm of actuality. Actuality participates in the category-based nested form.
This series builds on two primers.
The first is A Primer on the Category-Based Nested Form.
The second is A Primer on Sensible and Social Construction.
A hypothesis unfolds.
Aristotle’s hylomorphism and Peirce’s secondness cohere.
The word, “substance”, may expand to include “the contiguity between two real elements”.
In this definition, Peirce’s postmodernism and Aristotle’s premodernism begin to speak to one another.
These commentaries are conversations.
As for high-school and college education, the above primers, along with six commentaries, constitutes a short course. Read both the original and the commentary.
Two models are used to appreciate now-forgotten paths stretching from Baroque scholastics to the present day. These models are the triadic structure of judgment and the category-based nested form. Two recent intellects stand out. One is Jacques Maritain. Born in France, he comes to North America around the time of the second world war. He is keenly interested in how to recover a scholastic approach within this world of modern science. Another is John Deely, whose recent death marks the end of a long career as both a Thomist and a semiotician. Deely confronts the philosophers of the day in a very entertaining manner. This series contains comments on articles from journals such as the American Catholic Philosophical Association, Faith and Philosophy, as well as books, including Daniel Novotny's excellent works on the Baroque scholastics. This series is not a course. It is a place to sample ideas. I encourage readers to consider both the original and the comments. They may be read in tandem or in sequence.
This course is structured to appreciate the transformative potential of Peircean approaches to evolution and to scholastic philosophy. These topics are related. Can scholastic philosophy produce a theology of evolution? The answer is yes, especially when Peirce’s categories come into play. Peirce enlivens and revives scholastic concepts. The course begins with Speculations on Thomism and Evolution and Comments on Dennis Venema and Scot McKnight’s Book (2017) Adam and the Genome (which is to be read along with the comments). Then select four commentaries from this series or its complement, Peirce's Secondness and Aristotle's Hylomorphism, and read with the original articles.
The Human Niche stands on four foundational commentaries on recent books of human evolution. The works in this series examine other publications. Eventually, new literature will incorporate the hypothesis that humans adapted, and are still adapting, into the niche of triadic relations. New literature will also investigate the implications of the first singularity. These comments supplement the courses on the Human Niche and An Archaeology of the Fall. They complement the series, Reverberations of the Fall.
In Philosophy of Nature (1935), Jacques Maritain wrestles with the modern sciences as opposed to natural philosophy. He considers the scholastic's concept of three degrees of abstraction: the physical, the typological and the extensive. Could these help in comprehending science? Or, is there a trick? Yes, the triadic structure of judgment, along with Maritain’s three degrees of visualization, show how modern science and scholasticism have something in common.
This course opens the door to postmodern scholasticism. The Baroque scholastics (1580 to 1680AD) lived in Spain at the same time that Galileo, Descartes, and others founded the Age of Ideas. 300 years later, postmodern thought significantly overlaps with concerns of the Baroque scholastics. What is a mind-dependent being? What is abstraction? What is a sign? These are all covered in this course.
The Fall of Adam and Eve is a fascinating topic. So is the hypothesis of the first singularity. ‘Our current Lebenswelt’ is not ‘the Lebenswelt that we evolved in’. Here, the reader will find comments and essays concerning the way both topics reverberate through time.
What is an adaptation? What is a niche? The category-based nested form turns out to be useful in relating the two. An adaptation exploits a niche. A niche is the potential of an actuality independent of the adapting species. What is the human niche? What is the potential, independent of the hominins, that sculpts our ancestors through many generations? These questions are addressed in the masterwork, The Human Niche, which stands upon four pillars, comments on recent books on human evolution.
Thomistica is a website, sponsored by the Sacra Doctrina Project, containing substantial scholarly posts. In 2019, John G. Brungardt posts a proposal concerning difficulties arising from Aristotle’s definition of motion and how they may serve theology. My comments speculatively recast his argument using Peirce’s secondness and the category-based nested form.
Robert C. Koons proposes an Aristotelian interpretation of quantum physics and thermodynamics. Hylomorphism concerns matter and form. If matter is modeled by quantum physics, then how does matter compose a thermodynamic form, such as a bulk chemical? Is matter the part? Is form the whole? These comments examines Koons’s answers using the category-based nested form.
Translator Christy Hemphill examines the Creation Story in Genesis, using metaphor theory. Image-based and conceptual metaphors open our eyes to figurative meaning and facilitate the construction of category-based nested forms. Metaphor theory allows artists to pass from literal to figurative meaning.
In 2017, Robert Verrill, OP, relying solely on the resources of the Thomist school, establishes the title’s claim. In the process, he raises a critical question. How does one decouple Aquinas’s philosophy from Aristotle’s physics? These comments use the category-based nested form, Maritain’s models of positivist thought, and other relational models developed within the tradition of C.S. Peirce.
In 2004, John C. Barrett and Paul Halstead edit a retrospective on Colin Renfrew’s book, “The Emergence of Civilization” (1972). In this theory-based essay, Barrett and Damilati discuss trends in archaeology since that publication. These comments examine their discussion in light of Maritain’s model of positivist judgment and category-based models of adaptation.
Professors of Archaeology at Hellenic Open University, Greece, and at Trakya University, Turkey, write an introduction to their edited volume, “Time and History in Prehistory”. They ask, “Is there pre-history?” These comments celebrate this question and analyze the answer using the category-based nested form and the hypothesis of first singularity.
Why does Thomism matter? In 2019, Fr. Thomas Joseph White, O.P., offers his insights on the promise of Thomism for the new evangelization. His argument touches on six key points. These comments show how Peirce’s categories and semiotics bring these key points, as well as the promise of Thomism, forward, in novel ways. Welcome to the Age of Triadic Relations.
In 2019, Donna West publishes an inquiry in Studia Gilsoniana. The complete title is “Thirdness along the Intuitional Path: Reflections from Maritain and Peirce”. The essay addresses a key question: What are the pre-conditions for the emergence of event relations? These comments diagram features using the category-based nested form and the triadic structure of judgment.
In 2017, Professor Steve Fuller, applies his long-standing hypothesis of an ongoing anti-expert revolution to two political moments: Brexit and Intelligent Design. These comments model his argument using the positivist and empirio-schematic judgment along with a well-established semiotic tool, the Greimas square.
In 2019, Michal Chaberek publishes an inquiry into the incompatibility between classical metaphysics and theistic evolution. Yes, the key word is “incompatible”. The question is “why?”. Is theistic evolution a fig leaf for atheistic materialism? If so, then the incompatibility needs to be nuanced. These comments show how Chaberek’s criticism opens the path to theistic entanglement.
In 2015, Andrew Milner, JR Burgmann, Rjurik Davidson and Susan Cousins publish an essay in Thesis Eleven, a journal ranging from critical theory to historical sociology. The essay riffs off the term “sci-fi” with the neologism “cli-sci”. These comments rely on two triadic models developed in Comments on Jacques Maritain’s Book (1935) Natural Philosophy.
In 2011, Kim Sterelny publishes an article in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, addressing the question of how sapiens became behaviorally modern. These comments address this issue from the point of view of the human niche, using category-based nested forms.
In 2019, Mariusz Tabaczek, OP, publishes an essay in the American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly. The subtitle is “Divine Concurrence and Transformation from the Thomistic Perspective”. These comments use the category-based nested form and other relational models developed within the tradition of C.S. Peirce.
In 2019, Matthew Minerd publishes a narrative in the American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly. The story concerns the historical development of the science of logic within the Thomist school. These comments use the category-based nested form and other relational models developed within the tradition of C.S. Peirce.
In 2019, Tyler Paytas, at Australian Catholic University, publishes an essay “Of Providence and Puppet Shows: Divine Hiddenness as Kantian Theodicy”. The argument knits two theological questions together. My comments examine this article using the triadic structure of judgment, the category based nested form and the interscope of the society tier.
Giovanni Maddalena, author of A Philosophy of Gesture, publishes an article entitled Jung and Peirce: Towards a Psychosynthesis. These comments explore the argument using the category-based nested form, enriching our appreciation of the complementarity between Jung's and Peirce's traditions.
In 2018, Joseph Carroll publishes a chapter in A Companion to Literary Theory. The title of the chapter is "Evolutionary Literary Theory". These comments offer a polemical response, while agreeing with Carroll's visionary intent. What is the adaptive function of literature? Look and see.
This essay comments on two lectures given by Jacques Lacan to the Faculty of St. Louis University in Brussels, Belgium, and translated by Bruce Fink in 2013. My goal is to re-articulate Lacan’s argument in the specialized language of the category-based nested form.
What is Spirit? What is Reality? Nicholas Berdyaev, a contemporary of Jacques Maritain, takes Positivist and empirio-schematic judgments in surprising directions. These comments rely on diagrams of these triadic structures developed in Comments on Jacques Maritain's Book (1935) Natural Philosophy.
Carlos Blanco-Perez publishes an essay in the October 2018 issue of Cadmus. He identifies ten postulates essential for a viable social theory. Ironically, the word "essential" serves as a pivotal starting point for constructing a feedback loop that satisfies the 10 principles. The resulting model should prove useful for appreciating the nature of social theory.
In 2018, Egil Asprem, at Stockholm University and Ann Taves, at University of California at Santa Barbara, publish the essay “Explanation and the Study of Religion”. My comments examine this article using models developed in comments on Wayne Proudfoot’s book, Religious Experience, and Jacques Maritain’s book, Natural Philosophy.
David Reich, Harvard geneticist, updates the vision of Luca Cavalli-Sforza, who first explored the idea that our genetics may provide insight into human evolution and prehistory. The techniques for DNA sequencing and mathematical modeling substantially improved over the past decades. These comments examine Reich's update through the lens of the hypotheses of the human niche and first singularity.
Boris Hennig, at Humbolt University in Berlin, writes about Descartes' view of substance. Descartes emphasizes distinctness and realness. Descartes applies the concept to God. These comments follow Hennig's argument in order to show how Descartes alters the word-scape of medieval scholasticism and sets the stage for empirio-schematic judgment.
Miguel Espinoza, French philosopher, publishes his essay in Teorema (vol 31(1) pp 75-97), critiquing the arguments of Emile Meyerson (1854-1933), a contemporary of neo-Thomist Jacques Maritain. My comments re-articulate this article using models of empirio-schematic and Positivist judgment.
Jeremy Cohen, writing at Cornell University, publishes his essay in the Harvard Theological Review (vol 73(3/4) pp 495-520). He raises three concentric questions, leading to a comparison of Christian doctrine of original sin and the Jewish concept of the evil inclination. My comments examine this article using the category-based nested form and the first singularity.
Paul Cobley, at Middlsex University, composes a remembrance for John Deely, by reviewing one of many innovative notions. These comments re-articulate this article using the category-based nested form. Deely's triad consists of actualities in an interscope.
David McNeill, Professor at the University of Chicago, has been publishing books on the unity of speech and gesture, starting in 1992 with the book: Hand and Mind. He approaches the evolution of talk from the view of the U of C's language lab. Why do people gesture when they speak? Is this an evolved trait? These comments re-articulate McNeill's work using the category-based nested form.
Miron Zuckerman, Chen Li and Ed Diener publish "Religion as An Exchange System: The Interchangeability of God and Government in a Provider Role" in The Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. I re-articulate this work using category-based models of Darwinian evolution and empirio-schematic inquiry.
Jacques Maritain, bless his soul, strove to recover a scholastic philosophy of nature at the apex of modernism. How is a philosophy of nature related to science, on the one hand, and metaphysics, on the other? These comments re-articulate and explore Maritain's work using a model of judgment as a triadic relation, plus the category-based nested form.
In the February 2018 issue of Current Anthropology, Sasha Newell, a Professor in Brussels, Belgium, publishes an essay with the subtitle, "Materiality, Magicality, and the Limits of the Antisemiotic Turn". These comments re-articulate Newell's argument using models based on the category-based nested form. In the process, the interventional sign is discovered.
Rev. George Murphy, M.Div. and Ph.D. (Physics), investigates resonances between the Christian doctrine of creation and scientific knowledge. He has done so for 40 years. These comments re-articulate his argument using a category-based model of "the object that brings all into relation", expressed in the highest level of the society tier, for the presence underlying the word "religion".
Michael Chaberek, O.P., publishes a book titled Aquinas and Evolution (2017). The next year, Nicanor Austriaco, O.P., responds in the Witherspoon Institute's Public Discourse Forum, defending "Thomistic Evolution". This essay re-articulates the concepts in this defense, relying of the category-based nested form. In the end, living forms are rendered as mysteries compatible with the Word.
Cheong Lee publishes his essay in Conteporary Pragmatism (15(1):1-14). The author explores Peirce's theory of interpretation, touching base with several modern semioticians along the way. These comments examine the argument backwards, using the category-based nested form. Interpretation informs aesthetics.
What is an adaptation? What is a niche? The category-based nested form turns out to be useful in relating the two. An adaptation exploits a niche. A niche is the potential of an actuality independent of the adapting species. What is the human niche? What is the potential, independent of the hominins, that sculpts humanity through many generations. Here is a scientific hypothesis.
These comments address a 2014 book by a linguist, Derek Bickerton, on the evolution of language and mind. My goal is to re-articulate the author's arguments using the category-based nested form and the first singularity.
Robert Berwick and Noam Chomsky's book, Why Only Us?, is subtitled: Language and Evolution. This collection of essays addresses the evolution of language from the point of view of computational systems and generative grammar, the expertise of each author respectively. These comments offer a category-based alternative.
Signs are triadic relations. Natural signs vary on the basis of the qualities of their sign-object. Icons are based on similarity. Indexes are founded on pointing. Symbols are built on convention. Each of these sign-qualities comes into play in the evolution of human language and religion. So, an understanding of natural signs is crucial for the postmodern human sciences.
These comments address a book by an archaeologist, Steven Mithen, about human evolution. Mithen presents two evocative analogies for the mental evolution of hominins. The first is a play in four acts. The second is the historical evolution of church architecture. This work comments using the special vocabulary of the category-based nested form. The human niche is proposed.
These comments address a 2014 book by three British researchers, on the evolution of language and mind. The subtitle is: How the Evolution of Social Live Shaped the Human Mind. My goal is to re-articulate their arguments using the category-based nested form and the first singularity.
This work comments on a book written by Stephen Greenblatt under the title, The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve, published by W.W. Norton Press. My goal is to examine this work from the perspective of the First Singularity. The hypothesis of the First Singularity addresses the question: Why is our current Lebenswelt not the same as the Lebenswelt that we evolved in?
This essay comments on a short article appearing in The Catholic Social Science Review (vol. 22, 2017, pages 147-156). The goal is to re-articulate the argument using the primal triad of judgment and the category based nested form.
These comments address a book by geneticist, Dennis Venema, and theologian, Scot McKnight. Venema establishes that Adam and Eve cannot be the actual parents of all humans. McKnight establishes the stories of Adam and Eve are written in styles and themes of ancient Near East literature. My goal is to re-articulate their arguments using the category-based nested form and the first singularity.
Disputation 17 of the Baroque scholastic treatise The Lighthouse of the Sciences (1659) covers the topic of universals. Sebastian Izquierdo wrote the treatise. Daniel Novotny published a summary in the Spring 2017 issue of the American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly. My comments demonstrate the postmodern relevance of this topic, using the category-based nested form.
This work comments on an essay published by Tomas Bogardus and Mallorie Urban in the Spring 2017 edition of Faith and Philosophy: Journal of the Society of Christian Philosophers (volume 34(2), pages 176-200), under the title, “How to Tell Whether Christians and Muslims Worship the Same God”. My goal is to re-articulate this work in the specialized language of the category-based nested form.
This work comments on an essay published by Joshua Lee Harris in the January 2017 edition of Faith and Philosophy: Journal of the Society of Christian Philosophers (volume 34(1), pages 33-56), under the title, “Analogy in Aquinas: The Alston-Wolterstorff Debate Revisited”. My goal is to re-articulate Harris’s work in the specialized language of the category-based nested form.
This work comments on an essay by James D. Madden published in the Winter 2017 edition of The American Catholic Quarterly. The essay is titled, “Is a Thomistic Theory of Intentionality Consistent with Physicalism?” My goal is to re-articulate the argument in the specialized language of the category-based nested form.
This essay comments on Andrew Hollingworth’s presentation at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (2016) in San Antonio. His paper is subtitled Umberto Eco’s Semiotic Theory for Theological Hermeneutics. The category-based nested form is used to model features of Umberto Eco’s semiotic theory. These models are applied to an example.
This essay comments on Father Raniero Cantalamessa’s advent sermon for the Pontifical Household. The lecture is on the nature of Mary in regards to Christmas. My goal is to re-articulate the argument in the specialized language of the category-based nested form.
This 19,200 word essay comments on George Weigel’s book, published at the end of the administration of President George Bush. The category-based nested form lays out relational structures. Theology runs beneath the surface of Weigel’s 15 lessons.
This 10,900 word comment applies the category-based nested forms to Hobbes’ ideas. In Part 3, Hobbes details his ideas on the Christian commonwealth. Christians are empowered to counsel the sovereign, nothing more. In Part 4, Hobbes combats other ideas about the relation between religion and politics.