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Sunday, November 22, 2020


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Do you think a normal person would ever be able to educate himself in philosophy and theology without going to a university? In the same level as you, professor?. I'm a young catholic converted interest in studying aristotelian/thomistic philosophy. I want people to see that my faith isn't irrational, it is the truth...


I would say so if you are dedicated and hard-working. The Internet offers many resources for independent study and it's free! Since you are a young Catholic convert, I especially recommend the work of Edward Feser. He has written many books in the Aristotelian-Thomistic tradition that will prove helpful and he has an outstanding blog.https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/

There are other Catholic bloggers online, but Dr. Feser is the best for your needs.

Best wishes,


Thank you for your answer!!!

It has been said that the logical version of the problem of evil has been resolved, but that the probabilistic version of the problem is a live issue.

Dear Cairo,

Studying philosophy at university is not necessarily an advantage! I took two years of philosophy as a 'minor' at a very reputable university in Britain and it was awful - generally poor quality lectures, poor tutorials, and the required reading and focus of the courses were heavily contemporary (contemporary secondary texts were almost always given priority over those few historically major texts we were required to read - in fact, I read more of the latter studying English literature!). Quite soul-destroying unless you really want to spend weeks discussing things like Peter Singer's ethics (and learn why he thinks it's okay to kill disabled infants), Dennett and the Churchlands (who think the mind doesn't exist), and read badly written academic philosophy papers before you've tackled the giants of the field. And don't expect a fair hearing as a theist, unless you are lucky.

Thankfully my interest survived that. I have learned far more from blogs like this one and Dr Feser's, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (which is online), the very useful 'History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps' podcast series by Peter Adamson (https://historyofphilosophy.net/ ), and by just carefully reading the classic texts from Plato to Searle, than I ever learned at university. Simon Blackburn's book The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy is also really useful when you are starting out. Now aged 32 I have a pretty good grasp of the subject historically (though I still have big gaps in my reading such as Hegel) and can understand fairly well some pretty arcane stuff like Levinas. And I have gained a pretty good grounding in why I believe what I believe (I'm a theist myself). I've achieved that even though philosophy is only one of my secondary interests, along with history, politics, and anthropology, my primary interests being literature, music, film and art. So if I can get to that stage in twelve years or so (and I'm not a fast reader), I'm sure someone dedicated primarily to philosophy can do a great deal better than I have!

The other downside of university is that there are a lot of distractions and most of your fellow students will not be that interested in studying at all. The level of debate in class is likely to be poor at undergrad level. Half the students or more won't have read the required texts at all. The best thing about university, at least a good one, is you get access to a good library, and you will probably meet two or three really interesting and intelligent people whom you can discuss things with. However, the internet used intelligently can also go some way towards answering those needs.

Interested people on the internet are often much more helpful than most university staff. They are often generous with their time and happy to point you towards what to read and study. If you have difficulties with something, at the very least you could see what the regular commentors at Ed Feser's blog say, as most of them have a good handle on A/T metaphysics and are lively and enthusiastic debaters.

Also, try and befriend a student or academic who has JSTOR access - otherwise this is prohibitively expensive - it gives you online access to most philosophy journals. Someone with access can download what you want to read as a pdf and send it to you. If you can't find books that are out of print and don't have good library access, you'd be surprised what you can find as pdfs online also.

Hope this is helpful and encouraging.

Dear Dr Vallicella,

You may recall that Kolakowski in his book on Husserl also argues that the debate on psychologism is not resolved. He claims Piaget has a psychological conception of logic which resists Husserl's criticisms. I can't be alone in wishing he discussed this in a little more depth! 


Right you are about Kolakowski. I should have mentioned him earlier.

And thank you very much for responding to Cairo. Very kind of you. And I can relate to your statement.

>>The other downside of university is that there are a lot of distractions and most of your fellow students will not be that interested in studying at all. The level of debate in class is likely to be poor at undergrad level. Half the students or more won't have read the required texts at all. <<

More than half! I came to the conclusion that teaching philosophy at a so-called university is an absurd activity and so quit a tenured position in 1991 -- and that was before the PeeCee insanity was in full flower as it is now. The Brits are no better than the Amis -- worse, actually. It sickens me that the English who came up with the great ideas without which there would have been no America have lost the will to defend their culture.

By the way you can use JSTOR for free w/o academic affiliation. Go here: https://support.jstor.org/hc/en-us/articles/115004760028-How-to-register-get-free-access-to-content

Dr Vallicella,

If Cairo doesn't see my comment, and you think it would be useful to him, perhaps you could email it to him if you have his address and it's not too much trouble. Thanks!

I think the situation is worse in Britain too - I generally try and ignore our seemingly terminal decline and focus on the relatively few positive things that remain. I try to defend my culture, surely one the very greatest achievements of mankind, in my own small way, and hope at least to be able to make a small contribution to it. But it is hard to feel optimistic about the wider situation here.

Re JSTOR - oops, silly me. I had it in my head that the 'free usage' for individuals was much more restricted than that - perhaps it was when I was a student. Anyway, even better for all of us!


I don't have Cairo's e-mail address.

A part-cause of the Decline of the West is that we have been weakened by our own virtues, toleration chiefly. We have become so tolerant that we tolerate the barbarians who would replace us. They have no respect for our culture and no intention of assimilating. The problem is exacerbated by leftist complicity.

If, on the other hand, we get on the stick and start procreating to stave off demographic disaster, the added population has its own downside.

I pity the poor secularist who has nothing good to look forward to.

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