Douglas P. McManaman is a Deacon and a Religion and Philosophy teacher at Father Michael McGivney Catholic Academy in Markham, Ontario, Canada. He is the past President of the Canadian Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. He maintains the following web site for his students: A Catholic Philosophy and Theology Resource Page.
I believe one of the most important objectives for a young student of the Theory of Knowledge is to come to some understanding of where necessity applies and where it does not apply. Certitude is the result of seeing the necessity of a proposition (it cannot not be true); if necessity is outside our grasp, we experience uncertainty, a degree of probability (either high, low, or around 0.5). In other words, it is very important that we come to some appreciation of the scope of certainty and probability.
Date posted: 2014-09-12
We see human beings around us all the time and for the most part they are "nonentities", insignificant, just a number among a myriad of other human "nonentities". Their relative insignificance corresponds to the degree to which we lack knowledge of their personal history; they are insignificant to us because we don't know all that led up and went in to constituting the human being who stands before us in line for a coffee, or to make a withdrawal, etc. All we see is the current moment at the end of this person's long history, which is a rich narrative we know virtually nothing about.
Date posted: 2014-09-09
Models obviously have a likeness to the original of which they are models. There is, however, a great deal about the model that falls short of the original. Some models are more detailed than others, have more content, and thus are richer representations of the original. The totality of what is in the mind is a model. It is that through which we interpret the real.
Date posted: 2014-08-28
What is an epistemic condition? Prior knowledge in all its diversity acquired through experience, which makes possible a specific intellectual posture, along with specific interests, questions, and problems to solve. Some of that knowledge will be certain, some will be a knowledge of uncertainties, a knowledge of probabilities that we once thought were certainties, a knowledge of limits, errors, failures, etc. I cannot make sense out of specific ideas or insights unless I come into the knowledge of other things first and am disposed in a particular way. There are experiences we will never have, and thus there are epistemic conditions that will never be, and that means there will be so much that will always be outside the purview of our understanding.
Date posted: 2014-08-28
There is a distinction between love of the Church and the love of a specific cultural expression of the faith. It has been my experience that traditionalists do not seem to grasp this. We can study these cultural expressions from the past and certainly we ought to revere them as heirlooms, but any attempt to "conserve" a cultural expression or to resurrect and perpetuate one within the 21st century, is simply childish.
Date posted: 2014-08-25
Many people lack an awareness of the role that epistemological conditions play in the development of knowledge, and as long as they do, they cannot escape from the default position that "I'm right", for they are not aware of the limitations of the intellectual universe in which they think. Inevitably, the result is that those who argue against such a person are evidently wrong and are summarily dismissed.
Date posted: 2014-08-03
An important point about this gospel is that the crowd came looking for Jesus, who was in a deserted place. It was because of that hunger and thirst that he was moved with pity. That's how you and I can win the heart of God; to go searching for him and be willing to go to a deserted place to find him.
Date posted: 2014-08-03
This is the one text in the New Testament I am aware of in which Jesus clearly counsels us not to trust too readily in the way things appear to us. There is so much about people that is always outside a comfortable range of certainty. We cannot be certain whether the darnel in our hand is really darnel; it might turn out to be wheat because they look very much alike. The converse is also true: we cannot be certain that what appears to be wheat is actually so; it might turn out to be darnel, which is poisonous at the roots.
Date posted: 2014-07-26
Synopsis: The beatitudes are the basic outline, the interior contours of a new spirit. Jesus, the new Moses, writes these not on tablets of stone, but on the human heart changed and elevated by grace.
Date posted: 2014-06-09
The Ten Commandments in the Torah (Exodus 20) are a formulation of the basic precepts (moral principles) of morality. Jews and Christians believe they were revealed by God to Moses, but to understand the content of those precepts does not require the supernatural virtue of faith as such, but are understandable through the natural light of human reaso
Date posted: 2014-05-27
Character affects a person's ability to judge, that is, to see what is a fitting means to an end. It also affects our ability to evaluate other human beings; for we see others in relation to ourselves, and if we have made ourselves our own norm, then those who are different are regarded as falling short of the rule in some way (i.e., too small or too large).
Date posted: 2014-05-11
The purpose of clothing is to express one's character, that is, who you are. Our fundamental moral obligation is to cultivate morally beautiful character (the kalon). Thus, one should dress "beautifully", that is, in a way that expresses "beautiful character".
Date posted: 2014-05-11
Synopsis: The speeches of Job's three friends are the narrative fallacy all dressed up in theological garb. There are some great truths in their words; it's the total package, put together as an explanation of Job's predicament that is radically false. They shed light on his suffering, but it was a false light; it misses the mark completely. It manifests a profound desire to explain, to make sense out of what is beyond our comprehension, to simplify what is utterly complex and concerns another realm altogether.
Date posted: 2014-04-06
Synopsis: We often hear people say: "I wish this moment could last forever". It is a wish that can come true, because eternity is an eternal moment that will never recede into the distant past. To those who have never loved, that moment will be an eternal torment and shame; to those who are committed to self-expansion through love, it will be an eternal and inconceivable joy.
Date posted: 2014-02-26
The priesthood is the last place we would expect to find a narcissist, that is, a person with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and it certainly ought to be the last place where we should actually find one.
Date posted: 2014-02-22
A student recently asked me: "Sir, where do you think the world is headed?" It was a very interesting question, but I had to respond by telling him that I have no idea. There is just too much to know to be able to answer a question like that, and all I know at this point is what has been made available to me within the past 52 years, which is really not that much. All of us are subject to an availability heuristic, but few of us seem to be aware of it.
Date posted: 2014-02-21
It is always interesting to explore other areas of knowledge and ways of knowing, that is, to discover someone who has spent his life within a certain area of thought and attempt to become familiar with it. It takes a long time; one quick read of his works is rarely enough. You have to go back and read and re-examine the world in light of what he was saying, and then re-read it again and perhaps a third time, and after a long while it begins to penetrate. That takes time and labor, and most people are too lazy minded or busy to commit to that.
Date posted: 2014-02-20
The only thing the Church can do to minimize opposition is to shut up and remain silent. The less effective the Church's proclamation becomes, the happier the world is going to be with her. In other words, the farther the Church moves away from Christ, the less opposition she will experience.
Date posted: 2014-02-19
When we hear the piece being played, we don't pay attention to the individual notes, but each note, when played in tune and situated in its proper place, surrenders itself to a kind of "invisibility". It does what it is supposed to do, and in doing so allows us to forget it, or fail to notice it as an individual note. The life of the individual person is supposed to be lived like that.
Date posted: 2014-02-18
Synopsis: Pleasure is relative. It is not universal, it is not stable; for it constantly changes. To impose stability or permanency on pleasure is cruel. The relativist sees the non-relativist as wanting to impose stability and permanency where none should be imposed, because life is about the greatest pleasure for the greatest number.
Date posted: 2014-01-17
What the Magi found was not a collection of eternal truths, but a Person, an eternal Person who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Eternal truths are the food of the intellect, but the human heart longs for a Person, the Person of Christ. When we give everything over to Christ and lay everything at his feet, we become different in the eyes of others. We become an Epiphany.
Date posted: 2014-01-06