The Donatists were a 4th century schismatic group in the North African Church, named after their leader, Donatus. They disputed conventional theologians like St. Augustine and also the authenticity of a certain bishop (Caecillian) whom they said had been consecrated by a traitor to the faith (The traitor apparently had handed over the Bible to Roman persecutors).
The Donatists resorted to violence in their bid to wrest Africa from Roman rule. And they survived until the Arab takeover of North Africa in the 7th and 8th centuries.¹
Theologically, the Donatists believed that a corrupt priest could not effectively administer the sacraments. So apart from their political importance, they raised a theological question which many still wrestle with today:
Can a corrupt priest effectively administer the sacraments?
Not too many contemporary critics of Catholicism are aware that the Church quickly dealt with this question—albeit, in its own way. Basically, the Church forwarded an argument that is now known as ex opere operato (Latin: by the action performed). Among believers, ex opere operato indicates that a sacrament is always effective when administered by a consecrated priest, regardless of the moral condition of his soul at the time.
Some may object by saying that dressing up a theological idea in fancy sounding Latin doesn’t necessarily make it a true idea. On the other hand, if one believes that we’re all born with the taint of original sin and remain imperfect throughout our lives, the ex opere operato argument seems not only reasonable but necessary. That is, if a priest had to be morally spotless to effectively administer the sacraments, would it ever happen?
¹ S. G. F. Brandon (ed.) Dictionary of Comparative Religion, 1971, p. 245.
- Beggars All: Ex Opere Operato baptismal regeneration is not Biblical! (godsphilosoraptor.wordpress.com)
- “The Limits of the Church” by Fr. Georges Florovsky (orthodoxyandheterodoxy.org)
- Nimrod Lives! (kairosinfinite.com)
- “I think I understand how the typical Protestant feels… (insightscoop.typepad.com)
- From the Depths of Despair to Sublime Subsistence (servusfidelis.wordpress.com)
- A Chat with St Augustine (junjunfaithbook.com)
- What should Protestants think about the Catholic sacrament of penance (confession)? (gratefultothedead.wordpress.com)
- New Model For Sacramental Preparation (catechesisinthethirdmillennium.wordpress.com)
- Life in a Sacramental World (fatherstephen.wordpress.com)
- Incarnation and Sacrament (apologus.wordpress.com)
In sound and music recording digital sampling is a technology that first appeared in the 1970s but took off in the early 1980s. Digital sampling takes tiny slices of sound and writes the waveform to computer files, permitting the original sound to be reproduced, altered, rebroadcast or re-mixed with other sounds and music.
While musicians were already recording and mixing with analog (old style) tape decks for many years in advance, the great advantage of digital sampling is that there’s absolutely no sound degradation once he recording is made. This may seem underwhelming to today’s generation, but to the older set, the advent of digital sampling was a breakthrough, and its influence on not only the clarity but also the style of recorded music (and live concerts) has been tremendous.¹
Like any technology, digital sampling may be used for good or ill. An artist in the United Kingdom, for instance, uses a specially tuned radio receiver to obtain and sample private conversations from cell phones. He then re-mixes the conversations with music and markets it in CD format. Although all names are removed, we have to ask it it’s ethical to package and sell personal conversations without the knowledge or permission of the individual speakers.²
Before its invention, a few audio and music pioneers wanted the audible effects of digital sampling so experimented with the technology of the analog tape loop. Brian Eno looms large in this area, but Terry Riley, Robert Fripp and Steve Reich were also experimenting with tape loops around the same time.
¹ When CDs first came out, however, some critics said the sound was thin and artificial compared to the warm and continuous waveform of vinyl records. Most agreed, however, that CDs outperformed at higher volumes, while a select few stood firm in believing that vinyl sounded better at lower volumes. And to my mind, the Beatles‘ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band never really sounded right on CD.
² This story was all over the web a few years ago but seems to have disappeared. If anyone has the link, please comment. I’d like to reference this by linking to the story or artist.
- Question: How to turn a physical synth into a full scale digital sample (gearslutz.com)
- The quest for higher quality digital music (telegraph.co.uk)
- WT Cox Subscriptions Adds IGI Global to Digital Sample Issue Program (prweb.com)
- Using the MPC2000XL for live shows. (makerofspace.wordpress.com)
- Sampling on the asr-x (gearslutz.com)
- Music For Umpteen Musicians: Steve Reich Interviewed (thequietus.com)
- Creating Drum(or any other kind of) samples (gearslutz.com)
Ethics is a branch of knowledge and philosophical inquiry concerned with moral ideals, choices and the good or bad actions which may or may not follow from those choices.
Ethics may focus on personal, social and spiritual issues, separately but often in relation to one another.
Within world religions, ethical decrees might seem fixed within a given faith tradition. But various schools of interpretation usually coexist, usually with some degree of tension—e.g. the Protestant acceptance of female and in some instances homosexual ministers vs. the Catholic rule of an exclusively male priesthood and homosexual acts being specified in the catechism as “intrinsically disordered.”¹
- Kant of Ga.: Bentham Mill: Normative ethics – Britannica.com (humeofga.wordpress.com)
- The Universal vs. the Particular (aleksandreia.com)
- My Take: What the Bible really says about homosexuality (religion.blogs.cnn.com)
- CFP: Conference on Metaphysics and Ethics, East and West (warpweftandway.wordpress.com)
- Emotions and Ethics: A Foucauldian framework for becoming an ethical educator (2012) (foucaultnews.wordpress.com)
Free Will is the belief that human beings have the ability to make choices. Most philosophers advocating the belief in free will agree that personal freedom has practical limits, but not all agree that the freedom to choose is limited with regard to ethics. That is, some say that we can always choose the good, even though we may not always be able to choose certain activities.
The view that we can always choose the good, however, is complicated. As both Catholic theologians and psychiatrists will say, personal culpability for doing bad things might be lessened by such factors as peer pressure (with teenagers), stress, trauma, emotional immaturity or instability, and so-called mental illness or mental injury. Of course, just what constitutes a bad thing is not always agreed upon among theologians and psychiatrists—masturbation being a good example.¹
J.-P. Sartre called the practical limits of personal freedom ‘freedom in facticity’, meaning that individuals have a limited range of choices, particularly with regard to available opportunities and activities.² But for Sartre individuals can choose to do ethically right or wrong actions, and to give or not give consent to issues involving ethics.
Meanwhile, the Protestant Christian reformer John Calvin believed that some people are predestined for hell and others for heaven.
Who can figure!
Related Posts » Behaviorism
¹ Here’s a good comment: http://www.debatepolitics.com/archives/40072-masturbation-religion-and-psychiatry.html
² When I was at school a common example you’d hear was, “can someone in a wheelchair be a mountain climber?’ Today, however, this example doesn’t really hold up because new attitudes about persons with so-called disabilities are, in many cases, contributing to these people being seen as persons with difference. And in many instances, truly extraordinary things are being achieved by persons different from statistical norms. See, for instance, The Blind Painter (below).
- Gap of Nothingness (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Criticism of Daniel Dennets view of Freedom, Determinism, and the Human Mind (compassioninpolitics.wordpress.com)
- Existentialism is a Humanism (philosophystone.wordpress.com)
- Whole Dude – Whole Philosophy (tarangini.wordpress.com)
- Existentialism (socyberty.com)
In Christian theology felix culpa (Latin: happy fault) is a term referring to original sin. While sin is regarded as detestable, the belief that it compelled God to bring Jesus into the world for salvation makes it, for believing Christians, a happy fault. In like manner, the cross, once a symbol of horror and persecution in ancient Rome, now has a holy and magnificent meaning for believing Christians.
Christianity’s ability to turn negatives into positives is consistent with its overall theology, where evil is said to be permitted by God for a greater good. In Jungian depth psychology this is similar but not identical to the idea of enatiodromia ( “things turning into their opposite”), a dynamic implied by the surviving fragments of the ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus.
Related Posts » Theodicy
- the book (3quarksdaily.com)
- Marilynne Robinson, ‘The Book of Books: What Literature Owes the Bible’ (cruciality.wordpress.com)
- DAILY REVIEW: The Book of Books: What Literature Owes the Bible (nytimes.com)
John Stuart Mill (1806-73) was an English empiricist philosopher best known for On Liberty (1859) and Utilitarianism (1863).
In the latter, Mill follows David Hume‘s principle of utility by saying
Actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness; wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.
Mill critiques Immanuel Kant‘s categorical imperative. Put simply, the categorical imperative means that we should do those actions which are morally good in every circumstance.
Mill believes the principle of utility amounts to the same thing as the categorical imperative because moral actions are defined as good and bad through a cost-benefit analysis of their results.
Search Think Free » Determinism, Suffering
- Top Ten Management on The Utilitarian Approach to Ethics: An Overview of Moral Worth (bizcovering.com)
- The Greatest Good for The Greatest Number – Utilitarian Ethics (socyberty.com)
- Industrial Revolution: New Ways of Thinking (socyberty.com)
- Immanuel Kant vs. Israel (danielpipes.org)
- The Impact of Education (farisyakob.typepad.com)
- The Picket Line – 17 October 2010 (sniggle.net)
- Professor Fired For Offending Friend Of Student (Then Rehired) (wmbriggs.com)
- I’m a Liberal I’m Proud to Say (chicagonow.com)
- Urizenus Sklar: Freedom (huffingtonpost.com)
- Regarding State-enforced Sanctions (socyberty.com)
Add more, report errors or voice your opinion by posting a comment
The Meno is Plato‘s celebrated dialogue in which his theory of knowledge as “recollection” is forwarded.
Plato believed in reincarnation and the idea that individuals possess an all-knowing, immortal soul. According to Plato, the trauma of being born causes amnesia and we forget all that we knew prior to a given birth.
Plato says learning is “remembering” things we already know about, at the level of the soul if not at the level of immediate consciousness.
In the Meno, Socrates is a literary figure who represents Plato’s perspective. Plato’s Socrates does not necessarily say what Socrates, himself, would have said.
Plato’s Socrates asks a slave boy a series of geometrical questions without telling him the final answer. Because the slave boy eventually gets the correct answer without Socrates giving it away, Socrates concludes that the slave boy must have already known the answer in his own soul.
Some philosophical commentators object that Socrates essentially lead the slave boy down the proverbial garden path, prodding the boy toward the desired answer with leading questions.
Would the slave boy have found the correct answer without Socrates (a) knowing what it was and (b) leading him towards it? If we answer “no” to (a) and (b), then knowledge arguably cannot be mere recollection because it depends on someone else, who already knows, to lead another person toward that knowledge.
This leads to a kind of chicken and egg problem. How could the very first person to exist, assuming there was a single first being, attain knowledge without a guide?
Others say that Socrates didn’t have knowledge of the answer, but simply a correct belief because he begins the dialogue by saying that the only thing he knows is that he doesn’t know anything for certain. But to this one could reply that Socrates (i.e. Plato) still had a definite philosophical bias at the outset of the dialogue.
Related to these issues, Plato makes the useful distinction between:
- Having a belief that happens to be true
- Definitely knowing that one has gained the truth
Another objection to the Meno‘s theory of knowledge is that knowledge of geometry differs from other types of knowledge, such as knowledge of ethics. Can we generalize a specific example from geometry to claim that all forms of knowledge are instances of recollection?
- Socrates and His Method (sandwalk.blogspot.com)
- COLUMN: Finding the life of the mind (usustatesman.com)
- COLUMN: Finding the life of the mind – The Statesman (news.google.com)
- The Philosophy of Socrates: Life and Death (socyberty.com)
- How to Utilize Socratic Seminar in Your Classroom (brighthub.com)
- The Republic – Books I to V, a Summary (socyberty.com)
- Achieving Happiness: More Advice from Plato (psychologytoday.com)
- Mark Morris Dance Group at Cal Performances (sfgate.com)
Add more, report errors or voice your opinion by posting a comment
(1) Sin is an ancient Mesopotamian moon god, also called Nanna. His cult was most prominent at the Sumerian cities of Ur and Harran. Bestowing light in the dark, Sin maintained justice through the night hours.
(2) In Catholic theology sin is any thought, speech or action that results in a transgression against the law of God, where one chooses to enact one’s personal will in conflict with God’s.
St. Augustine is often quoted by Catholic writers when trying to explain sin:
Something said, done or desired that is contrary to the eternal law.¹
The general concept of sin is widespread but treated differently among world religions–e.g. transgressing God’s decrees (Judaism, Islam), acting against the cosmic order or Will of Heaven (Taoism), or harmful action arising from ignorance (Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism).
Contemporary thinking people believing in God and the importance of acting ethically are faced with a dizzying array of prescriptions on how to do the right thing and not sin. When all is said and done, it seems the most sensible approach to living right and avoiding sin is to follow one’s own lived experience and reflections upon it.
Many, however, seem unable to act as mature adults and prefer to allow some perceived authority, distant or near, to guide them on how to best live the life God gave them.
This arguably schoolboy and schoolgirl approach to ethics may afford psychological comfort (through a ready-made personal identity and sense of community) for those unable or unwilling to embrace the degree of freedom and responsibility involved in making up one’s own mind. But in the long run it seems immature and, indeed, unworthy of our potential as human beings created by and forever journeying toward God.²
¹ St. Augustine, Con. Faust 22.27 cited in Catholic Bible Dictionary, ed. Scott Hahn, 2009, p. 850.
² See comments on this complex issue.
On the Web:
This is the philosophical position that only the subject exists and all impressions of others and the outside world are illusory.
While many dismiss solipsism as an extreme or strange view, others say it is logically impossible to prove or disprove.
If one believes, however, that God is good and, as such, would not deceive the subject with a chimerical world peopled by phantom others, one would likely reject solipsism.
Although many philosophers maintain that solipsism cannot be proved or disproved, probably because they’ve been taught this in a university course or a philosophy book, there is another way to look at the problem. And this way doesn’t necessarily need the idea of God to reject solipsism on the grounds of it being an impractical and bad way of living.
Basically, we can ask: What if solipsism is false? In the face of this uncertainty, doesn’t it make ethical sense to live as if others are real?
Some have likened solipsism to the Asian concept of maya (Sanskrit = illusion, deception).
Maya is the belief in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain philosophies that the changing, material world isn’t real or is only relatively real. But the meaning of the concept of maya has been debated among different schools for centuries, making its comparison to solipsism somewhat problematic.
On the Web:
» Descartes, René
Add to this, report errors, suggest edits or voice your opinion