Thoughts of a Catholic convert

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

From Aquinas and Bonaventure to Richard Dawkins

- St. Bonaventure holding the tree of the redemption, Vittorio Crivelli

By coincidence today I was reading about hylomorphism in two places - Edward Feser's blog post, Vallicella on hylemorphic dualism, and in a book from the library - Angels and Angelology in the Middle Ages - that mentions how Thomas Aquinas and Bonaventure disagreed about the nature of angels .....

Aquinas, argued that angels are pure form without matter .... Others, such as Bonaventure, argued that angels, like everything else, must consist of both matter and form. Bonaventure knew of Aquinas's idea "that each angel constitutes a single species", but he thought that one should accept "so strange a theory" only if it Scripture explicitly supported it or if logic absolutely demanded it. Unlike Aquinas, Bonaventure concluded that angels share a common angelic form. According to Aristotle, different individuals can have the same form only if they're different pieces of matter. Thus, according to Bonaventure, angels must contain "spiritual matter" as well as form. - hylomorphism

When looking this up I came across a poem by Keats - Lamia - that mentions angels (lines 229–238) ...

Do not all charms fly

At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
We know her woof, her texture; she is given
In the dull catalogue of common things.
Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings,
Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine
Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made
The tender-person'd Lamia melt into a shade.

And this then strangely lead me to a video of Richard Dawkins reading some lines from his book Unweaving the Rainbow. I know I'm supposed to dislike Dawkins, but he doesn't seem so bad ....


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