Political Media: Guard-Dogs of Individual Liberty or Totalitarian Lapdogs?

A common presumption held by many Western elites today who tend to control today’s major communications media, is that they constitute some sort of global world political order, an Enlightened World Scientific State.

My chief concern here is to consider the political rights and moral responsibilities of modern communications media. By “political rights” I mean extent of “circumstantial freedoms,” of freedom to exercise speech unfettered by political interference. Since political freedom consists in exercise of human actions toward others, and since the moral virtue of justice is the measure of the limits of right and wrong action toward others, by “moral responsibilities” I mean the limits placed upon unfettered communications-media free speech that justice demands in any and every political order.

Three Senses of “Freedom”

To answer this question with some precision, we have to understand the nature of human freedom in general, how circumstantial freedom differs from human freedom considered generically, the nature of political association, and the function that government essentially plays within political organizations.

Like we do in most cases of speech in any native language, when we use the term “freedom,” we generally do so by referring this term analogously: chiefly to some cause existing within a subject that generates the activity in question, and secondarily to anything else that, in some essentially useful way, relates to this cause. For example, when we use the term “health” analogously, this is generally understood to refer to some quality existing within a living body that results from some internal harmony of organic relations occurring within the body. Nonetheless, in an extended way, we also refer the term “health” to medicine, exercise, diet, and even books because they help to promote, preserve, and protect it.

The same is true regarding the term “freedom.” When we talk about it, what most adult human beings tend chiefly to be talking about is a cause internal to a human being that generates some individual independence from outside interference in executing free choice.

In this sense, in its most perfect instance, freedom is a cause that exists within individual human beings that the great French author Yves R. Simon has called “an active indifference caused by masterful choice.” This definition chiefly refers to “moral freedom,” a kind of freedom possessed as a quality of soul belonging to a person who tends to understand the natures of things, the organizational constitution, relations of parts that exist in things, which exist around a person and to which a person knows how to relate in healthy ways.

This moral sense of “freedom” differs from another positive sense of “freedom,” which refers chiefly to the natural ability to make choices. While such freedom is a reality, it is freedom in a deprived sense, just as health as a natural condition found in most people is not the strongly possessed health of a person who follows a strict regimen of nutritious diet and rigorous exercise.

Both these senses of “freedom” differ from a third sense, which refers simply to not being restrained to act by some external agent or agency. In all human generations, this sense appears to be the way most youth and emotionally infantile people tend to understand freedom. Yet this is freedom in its most deprived and negative sense. Considered in and of itself, freedom to act amounts to nothing if a person is externally unrestrained from acting but has no internal abilities to act, no internal qualities (talents) that cause human actions to be strong, healthy, masterful, great.

Not being externally restrained from acting is not the chief cause of human action being free. Internal qualities of excellence, greatness, are its chief causes. These qualities are principally the classical moral and intellectual virtues recognized by healthy cultures, societies, cultures, and States within any and every age.

Nonetheless, since no human being can perfect natural abilities without freedom of exercise, without some limit of unfettered ability to execute external actions (without some limit of circumstantial freedom), and because, by nature, all human beings have a moral responsibility and duty, to pursue human happiness, all human beings have a natural right and moral duty to pursue just limits of circumstantial freedom in different forms of social life.

I say that all human beings have a moral responsibility, a moral duty, to pursue human happiness because the natural inclination to pursue our happiness, to exercise human acts and bring them to mature, healthy development is a necessary condition for exercising moral liberty, human freedom in its highest form. Moral rights and responsibilities are properties of human liberty relative to the highest pursuit of natural human goods—the greatest of which is human happiness.

Liberty, Political Associations, and “the State”

Individual liberty is only desired because it is an essential enabling means for exercising human action, for living a good human life in as perfect a fashion as possible. This moral duty to pursue human happiness through exercise of individual human freedom is the source of all moral rights, including the natural human right to form political associations and to establish communications media to insure that governmental agencies do not overstep their limits of just authority as agents of the State, of political self-governance.

Understanding the rights and duties of communications media is impossible in any age without a precise understanding of the nature of political associations, especially today that of States and nation-States. One reason for this is because, since media are parts of organizations, understanding the rightful limits of media activity essentially depends upon knowing the kind of wholes, organizations, of which these media are a part.

Many people today, especially utopian socialists and politicians of many different persuasions, make the mistake of misunderstanding the nature of the political organization to which political media (print and other news organizations) essentially belong. They tend to do this by identifying a State with a government. In doing so, knowingly or not, such people often unwittingly fall into the trap of adopting the political mindset of a totalitarian, or despot.

No government is a State. Governments are agents of a self-governing people, just as are real estate agents, stock brokers, and educational administrators. Politicians are agents through which human beings constituting a self-governing political organization called a “State” engage in associational self-governance.

A tendency on the part of administrators within any and every agency, however, often arises (especially within large, centralized, bureaucracies) for administrators to think they constitute the whole organization. Instead of realizing that they constitute a topmost part of an organizational whole, they often tend to get the grandiose idea that they are the whole, that they do not represent a rule of law (command and control) imposed by others, but that they are the rule of law. The existence of free communications media within political associations is crucial to prevent this sort of misunderstanding from occurring, of shaping heathy public opinion so as to maintain public awareness of politically relevant social interactions of benefit or harm to a political body.

In the past, before the advent of new, internet communications, this moral responsibility fell largely on the shoulders of a free press and television news media. In the present age of electronic media, this situation is changing dramatically; other forms of social media networks are growing that are starting to compete with, and even beginning to replace, traditional print media and television news organizations.

The only way to distribute power is to divide it. In every case this involves preventing monopolization of power in the hands of one, or a few, people. Within democratic political organizations a free media is essential for decentralizing governmental administration, for helping, through relatively unfettered governmental interference, constantly to help distribute leadership roles to parts of a political organization with the talents, qualifications, to execute those roles.

Hence, all legitimate, democratic, political media (not propaganda organizations: presently often called “fake news” outlets) have a natural right to a just amount of circumstantial freedom as is necessary to conduct their work of conveying political truth to help shape the informed public opinion needed to engage in cooperative self-rule through representative government. The just limits of such freedom are constituted by no less circumstantial freedom as is necessary to exercise this political duty and no more than is compatible with the just exercise of circumstantial freedom of other essential political institutions that foster individual self-governance.

To be able to execute their work and precisely understand the just limits of their circumstantial freedom, members of legitimate news media (not propaganda institutes posing as legitimate news media) must have a precise understanding of the nature of the modern State and the essential role that members of the communications media play as a watchdog within the State.

Regarding the nature of the State, they need to understand that the government is not the State. The State is a free association of people, including members of a free press, seeking more perfect union through peaceful cooperation. In this sense the State is a free association of people involved in collective self-government through a rule of law, agreements of just self-regulation, for which they hire the services of different administrative agents.

The government’s job is chiefly to represent the people to secure peace through enforcement of just laws made by informed citizens through their representatives. As such, the government, like the media, is simply an agent of citizen self-rule and regulation (that is, an agent of the State). And an essential role of a communication’s media within the State is to represent the people considered as a political whole to insure that the government does not exceed the circumstantial freedom that citizens invest in it to represent them in citizen self-rule. Beyond that, the media has an inalienable moral right and responsibility (which no political government has the moral right unjustly to limit) to communicate to citizens any and every political danger that really threatens citizens and the State and any political good that enhances peace and cooperation among citizens and citizen self-rule.

The Situation Today

Unhappily, today, under the grandiose, utopian socialist, misunderstandings about human nature, the nature of political associations, and political self-rule, members of different forms of media often fall into a form of self-misunderstanding in which, instead of following their moral responsibility to be guard-dogs of individual liberty, they become propagandistic lapdogs for totalitarian despots.

A common presumption held by many Western elites today—especially by economic and educational bureaucrats, and members of the entertainment industry—who tend to control today’s major communications media, is that they constitute some sort of global world political order, an Enlightened World Scientific State. Being possessed of true social science, understanding the true nature of Freedom as scientific control of individual action, they are hell-bent on destroying every vestige of individual liberty and national sovereignty so that they can establish their Enlightened, scientifically-regulated, and technologically-controlled freedom that will finally liberate all the rest of us poor, backward, fools from clinging to our petty bourgeois, philistine idea of individual freedom.

That being the case, a chief moral duty and professional responsibility of today’s political media is be vigilant guardians of individual liberty and the justly possessed right of people’s to self-governance. And a chief moral obligation this media has is not to pander to despots for career advancement or similarly self-aggrandizing motives as Enlightened despots seek to mislead citizens into believing that our true liberty consists in living the life of an Enlightened serf.


Peter Redpath was Professor of Philosophy at St. John’s University. He is the author/editor of 17 philosophical books and dozens of articles and book reviews. He has given over 200 invited guest lectures nationally and internationally, and headed many prestigious organizations. He is the only non-Polish scholar to hold the Laudatio Achievement Award for attainment of intellectual and organizational wisdom, from the Department of Philosophy, Culture, and Art at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, in Poland. More information is found at his website. [Portions of this essay were originally published in the International Journal of World Peace, Vol, 18. No. 1 (March 2001). This article appears through the kind courtesy of the Catholic World Report.


Featured: A toy spaniel, a Pomeranian and a Maltese terrier at a basket, by Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Wegener; painted in 1855.

Virtue as an Intensive Quantity in Aristotle

In much of my recent research, I have criticized modern philosophy for being un-philosophical, at least if, by the term “philosophy,” we mean the practice in which the Ancient Greeks engaged [See my Wisdom’s Odyssey from Philosophy to Transcendental Sophistry, Cartesian Nightmare: An Introduction to Transcendental Sophistry, and Masquerade of the Dream Walkers: Prophetic Theology from the Cartesians to Hegel]. At least two features essentially characterize ancient philosophy: (1) realism and (2) the problem of the one and the many. Much of my recent work has involved contrasting the essentially realist stance of the Ancient Greeks to the subjective idealist stance of modern thinkers. In this paper, I turn to a second mark of Ancient philosophy: the problem of the one and the many.

Many contemporary philosophers treat the problem of the one and the many as an isolated issue within Ancient Greek philosophy, as a puzzle that confounded early Greek physicists. In so doing, they display a severe misunderstanding of philosophy as the Ancient Greeks practiced it. This paper’s purpose is twofold: (1) to examine the way, in the Golden Age of Ancient Greek philosophy, Aristotle practiced philosophy in terms of relating a one to a many, and (2) to use this examination to throw light on Aristotle’s understanding of virtue.

While some contemporary thinkers might find my thesis shocking, glaring examples of the predominance of the notions of unity and multiplicity in the Ancient Greek mind fill the works of Plato and Aristotle. Consider, for example, how, in Plato’s Crito, Socrates disdains Criton’s suggestion that he consider what the “many” might think about whether or not he should leave prison. Socrates says his concern is not, and never has been, about the opinions of the many, but “of the wise, …of the one qualified person” (47B). Again, in the Meno, Socrates criticizes Menon for constantly giving him “many different” virtues in response to Socrates’ continued request that Menon tell him the “one” virtue that is in every act of virtue that makes a virtue a virtue [Meno, 72B-C, 74A-B, 79A-C]. In the Republic, Socrates criticizes Thrasymachos’ notion of power precisely because the supposedly powerful person that Thrasymachos describes lacks unity of mind, and is, in Socrates’ estimation, therefore, weak [Republic, Bk. I, 35IA-352B].

According to Socrates, single-mindedness makes an individual and a city strong [Bk. 2, 374B-D]. Hence, the healthy city for which he searches as the archetype in which to find justice is, as he says, one in which one man has one work because, he states, “it is impossible for one man to do the work of many arts well” [Republic, Bk. 4, 42lE-422E]. Socrates also tells us in the Republic that the healthy city, the only one of which we can “properly use the name,” is one city, not many. He adds, we must apply “a greater predication …to the others. For they are each one of them many cities, not a city” [Republic, 42lE-422E]. Finally, in the Gorgias, Socrates chastises Callicles, the sophistic politician, for loving the Athenian demos more than he loves the one universal human love to possess unity of soul. He states: “I think it better my good friend that my lyre should be discordant and out of tune, and any chorus I might train, and that the majority of mankind should disagree with and oppose me, rather than that I, who am but one man, should be out of tune with and contradict myself” [48lD-482C].

The case with Aristotle is the same. Aristotle considers philosophy to be identical with science. For him science consists of certain knowledge demonstrated through causes [Posterior Analytics, Bk. l, I, 7Ib8-30]. Science, or philosophy, studies a multitude of beings, a many, a genus, and seeks to demonstrate essential properties of the genus by reasoning according to necessary principles universal, or one, to the genus. For him causes are principles, and principles are starting points of being, becoming, or knowing [Bk. l, 41, 87a3I-bI7; Metaphysics, Bk. 5, I, IOI2b34.1013a23]. Aristotle, in turn, considers points to be ones, unities, or indivisibles. A point is a one or indivisible with position, principally spatial position or position in a continuum. A principle is, then, in some way, a one [Metaphysics, Bk. 3,4, IOOlbl-I002blO, Bk. 5,6, IOI6b18-32].

Aristotle further maintains that being and unity are convertible notions. In reality being and unity are identical. They differ only conceptually. We derive our concept of unity by adding to the concept of being the notion of indivisibility, just as we derive our notion of number from division of unity, of a continuum [Metaphysics, Bk. 4, 1,I003b22-34, Bk. 10, I, 1052aI5-1053b8, and 1053b23-24].

This Ancient Greek philosophical tendency to convert the notions of being and unity is crucial for understanding the nature of the Ancient Greek conception of philosophy and virtue. To recognize how crucial it is, we need only consider the extent to which Aristotle devoted attention to the notion of unity in his Metaphysics. Next to examining the notion of being, he devotes much of the latter part of his treatise to the notion of unity and its properties [Metaphysics, Bk. 10].

The crucial importance of the notions of unity and plurality in Aristotle’s philosophy also appears in his criticism of Plato’s notion of Forms and mathematical beings as “ones outside the many” that St. Thomas Aquinas says Plato used to protect the relation of demonstration to “eternal things.” In his Commentary on the Posterior Analytics of Aristotle, Aquinas maintains that Aristotle understood demonstration to require that a one exist “in many and about many.” For Aristotle and Aquinas demonstration requires a middle term, a one that is the same in many, or a universal unequivocally predicable of a many. If no one something exists the same in a multitude, no universal exists unequivocally predicable of many beings. This makes demonstration, and philosophy, impossible [Commentary on the Posterior Analytics of Aristotle, Bk. I, I. 19; Posterior Analytics, Bk. I, II, 77a5-9].

Aristotle’s division of the speculative sciences further supports my claim that we cannot understand his philosophy or Ancient Greek philosophy unless we understand all Ancient Greek philosophy as an extended reflection on the problem of the one and the many. Aristotle’s division of speculative philosophy is threefold: physics, mathematics, and metaphysics. Why? Aristotle was no Christian. He had no special affinity to a trinity. Why not seven speculative sciences, like the classical seven liberal arts? Or twelve? Or one hundred?

The answer lies in the fact that, for Aristotle, we take demonstrative principles from their subject, to which necessary, or per se, principles essentially belong. Aristotle maintains that science requires per se. predication. Per se principles consist of the principles of proximate substance and its essential accidents, accidents that have their cause in a proximate subject and necessarily and always inhere in the subject [Posterior Analytics, Bk. I, II, 75aI8-37. See Commentary on the Posterior Analytics of Aristotle, Bk. 1, I. 14].

Because science, or philosophy, studies the many different ways many things relate to one proximate subject, it studies the way many things, more or less, share in the unity of a primary subject. Every science, not just metaphysics, chiefly and analogously studies the principles and causes of substances to understand the properties of the many species of which we predicate a genus [Metaphysics, Bk. 12, I, I069aI8-1069b32, Posterior Analytics, Bk. 2, 2, 90bI4-16]. Aristotle, in fact, tells us that ”there are as many parts of philosophy as there are kinds of substance” [Metaphysics, Bk. 4, 2, I004a2-3]. As Aquinas notes, “demonstration is concerned with things which are per se in something” [Commentary on the Posterior Analytics of Aristotle, Bk. 2, I. 2].

For Aristotle, science chiefly studies the principles and causes of its proximate substance and its per se accidents, not just any substance and any accidents [Posterior Analytics, Bk. 2, 2, 90bI4-16]. Through these principles we come to know the proper accidents, or properties, of all the species that belong to the genus. For this reason, Aristotle maintains that no science investigates accidents as such. Take, for example, the art of home building. A completed house can have an infinite number of accidents related to it. It can be pleasant to some people, painful to others, helpful to some, harmful to others, and so on. The builder’s art bears only on those accidents that are essential properties of a house, such as its intrinsic shape and size [Metaphysics, Bk. 6, I, I026bl-25]. Hence, for Aristotle, the definition of a per se accident, like odd or even, mentions in its definition its specific subject, for example, number, which is essentially odd or even, while a non-per se accident, like the color white, makes no mention of an animal because animals are not essentially color specific [Posterior Analytics, Bk. 1,6, 75aI8-37].

Aristotle conceives the speculative sciences to be three in number precisely because only substance and its two intrinsic accidents, quantity and quality, can operate as per se principles. Quantity and quality actually inhere in substance and remain with a substance for the duration of its existence. All other accidents relate to substance through their relation to a substance’s quantity or quality. Hence, in some way, both these intrinsic accidents account for different ways in which a substance can be actually and intrinsically one, the different ways we can know substance to be per se, and, apart from substance, can know the different proximate subjects of science.

For Aristotle, then, in some way, the whole of philosophy and every science involves coming to know how a multiplicity is essentially one. As Aquinas notes, every science studies many things referred to one primary thing, a substance, with which it is chiefly concerned. It considers this thing analogously, that is, according to the same formal aspect and, also, according to different relationships, ‘just,” as he says, “it is clear that one science, medicine, considers all health-giving things” [Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 4, I. 1, n. 544. See Annand A. Maurer (ed.), Commentary on the de Trinitate of Boethius, Questions V and VI. St. Thomas Aquinas: The Division and Methods of the Sciences, q. 6, a. 3, c., footnote 15].

Aristotle maintains as many species of being exist as species of unity exist, and that one science, metaphysics, has the job to study these species of unity, namely, ”the same and the similar and the other concepts of this sort” [Metaphysics, Bk. 4, 3, I003b36-37, Bk. 10, I, 1053b23-I04aI9]. Just as being is analogously predicable of all genera, since being and unity are convertible notions, Aristotle considers unity to be analogously predicable of all the different genera. Hence, he states that we may refer almost all contraries to unity as to their starting point [Metaphysics, Bk. 4, 3, I003b36-37, Bk. 10, I, 1053b23-I04aI9]. Aquinas explains Aristotle’s position in this way:

since being and unity signify the same thing …there must be as many species of being as there are species of unity, and they must correspond to each other. For just as the parts of being are substance, quantity, quality, and so on, in a similar way the parts of unity are sameness, equality and likeness. For things are the same when they are one in substance, equal when they are one in quantity, and like when they are one in quality. And the other parts of unity could be taken from the other parts of being, if they were given names. And just as it is the office of one science [first] philosophy to consider all the parts of being, in a similar way it is the office of this same science to consider all the parts of unity, i.e., sameness, likeness, and so forth [Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 4, I. 2, n. 56 I].

No science considers just any parts of being, however. Nor does it consider them in just any way. It considers a genus, an order of species. And it considers the genus relative to contrary opposites that compose it and to a first proximate substance to which, in different, relatively close and distant, ways, analogous ways, the members of the genus relate. Each science chiefly studies this substance.

Aristotle maintains that a genus is a kind of whole, one which, for philosophy, or science, primarily refers to the immediate, proximate, first, or proper subject of different per se accidents, or unities, within the genus [Metaphysics, Bk. 5,24, I023a26-32, and 26, I024a29-1024b4]. Aquinas explains that this sense of genus is different from the sense of genus as signifying the essence of a species. He says:

This sense of genus is not the one that signifies the essence of a species, as animal is the genus of man, but the one that is the proper subject in the species of different accidents. For surface is the subject of all plane figures. And it bears some likeness to a genus, because the proper subject is given in the definition of an accident just as a genus is given in the definition of its species. Hence the proper subject of an accident is predicated like a genus [Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 5, I. 22, n. 1121].

Surface is the immediate subject of all colors and plane figures. As such, it is the referential source of intelligibility of all surface bodies. All such figures are subjectified in substance by being proximately subjectified, and quantitatively unified, in a surface. Hence, when geometricians predicate surface of different plane (surface) figures they predicate surface analogously. In so doing, analogously they resemble logicians. When both geometricians and logicians predicate a genus, they include the genus in the species’ definition. Hence, geometricians also predicate in a way analogous to the way logicians predicate the genus that signifies the essence of a species. In both cases the definition of the species refers to its subject genus, its substance, for its intelligibility. But the substance of the geometrician is a surface body, not the essential definition of the logician.

Aristotle further maintains that one proximate subject cannot be reducible to another. Those things are generically diverse “whose proximate substratum is different, and which are not analyzed the one into the other nor both into the same thing (e. g., form and matter are different in genus)” [Metaphysics, Bk. 5,28, 1024bIO-I3]. Aquinas explains Aristotle’s meaning by referring the notion of proximate subject to subjectifying, or common, matters. Thus, he states: “[A] solid is in a sense reducible to surfaces, and therefore solid figures and plane figures do not belong to diverse genera, … but celestial bodies and lower bodies are diverse in genus inasmuch as they do not have a common matter” [Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 5, I. 22, n. 1125]. He adds, “In another sense those things are said to be diverse in genus which are predicated ‘according to a different figure of the category of being,’ i.e., of the predication of being [Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 5, I. 22, n. 1126]. He immediately notes, however, that the natural scientist and metaphysician consider a genus as the first subject of accidents, not as what is said of different categories of being, which is the way a logician considers generic diversity:

Now it is clear, from what has been said, that some things are contained under one category and are in one genus in this second sense, although they are diverse in genus in the first sense. Examples of these are the celestial bodies, and colors and flavors. The first way in which things are diverse in genus is considered rather by the natural scientist and also by the philosopher [that is, the metaphysician], because it is more real. But the second way in which things are diverse in a genus is considered by the logician, because it is conceptual [Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 5, I. 22, n. 1127. Bracketed material is my addition].

Within a different context, Armand A. Maurer explains Aquinas’s distinction between the way logicians conceive of a genus and the way natural philosophers and metaphysicians do:

From the point of view of the logician, material and immaterial things can be brought under the same genus (for example, substance), because he considers them only as concepts in the mind. From the point of view of the natural philosopher or metaphysician they do not come under the same genus because these philosophers consider the natures of things as they actually exist in reality, and in actual existence the substance of material things is not the same as that of immaterial things. Hence from a logical point of view, the genus of substance is predicated univocally of all substances; but from the point of view of the natural philosopher and the . metaphysician it is predicated analogically [Commentary on the de Trinitate ofBoethius, Questions Vand VI. St. Thomas Aquinas: The Division and Methods of the Sciences, q.6, a. 3, C., footnote 15].

Inasmuch as philosophy studies real being, or substance, as the proximate cause of per se accidents within a multiplicity of beings, or a genus, Aristotle maintains that every science studies opposites and first principles. That every science studies opposites is evident. Medicine, for example, studies disease and health. Grammar studies disagreement and agreement. Politics studies war and peace. Every science studies opposites because every science studies a multiplicity of differences according to a principle of unity.

Every science concerns itself with opposition, negation, completeness, and privation precisely because it studies substances through a principle: unity, and because opposition, negation, completeness, and privation are essentially connected to the concept of unity, or of being one. What is one is undivided, is not possessed of, is deprived of, division, and is the opposite of division or plurality. As Aquinas notes, we derive the concept of unity from the notion “of order or lack of division’ [Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 4, I. 2, n. 553]: The concept of unity entails, depends on, negation and privation, both of which are species of opposition. What is one is undivided, deprived of, and opposed to, division, or plurality. Our concept of “unity,” he tells us, includes an implied privation, “a negation in a subject,” like blindness in a human being [Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 4, I. 3, no. 564-566].

Some people might disagree with Aristotle and Aquinas, and maintain that we derive our awareness of plurality from a positive concept of unity. Aristotle himself claims that the one is the principle by which we know number [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 9, 10, 1052bI9-22]. Still, Aristotle replies to such an objection that the starting point of all of our knowledge, even our knowledge of notions like unity, cause, and principle, is our senses [Aristotle, Physics, Bk. I, I, 184aI7-2 I]. Our first perception is of composite things, a many, confusedly grasped as a one. Hence, we derive our concepts, definitions, and first awarenesses of first principles by negations of the way we sensibly perceive them as composite beings. Unity is the most primary privation, consisting of negation in a subject. Plurality stems from unity, and causes diversity, difference, and contrariety. Hence, we know first principles negatively in reference to the way we perceive their contraries [Aristotle, Physics, Bk. I, I, 184aI7-2 I. See also Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 4, I. 2, n. 553].

Indeed, Aristotle maintains that “all things are contraries or composed of contraries, and unity and plurality are the starting points of all contraries” [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 4, 2, 1005a3-5]. The reason for this is that contraries are differences, extreme differences that exist within a genus that relate as most complete and most deprived possession of a form. As such, contrariety is a kind of plurality, because difference is a pluralization of unity, and an opposition between possession and privation. Contrariety thus consists in the greatest distance of difference between extremes of species within a genus. The crucial points to note are that contraries are differences, that what is different is what is not the same, or not one, is multiple, and that differences involve opposition between possession and privation [Aristotle, Metaphysics, I004b27-1 005a13b, Bk. 10,3, 1055a32-39. See also Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 4, I. 4, no. 582-587].

For Aristotle, then, all otherness derives from pluralizing, unequalizing, unity. Unity, or what is undivided, in tum, is the ground of all sameness, equality, and similarity. Indeed, Aristotle thinks that sameness, equality, and similarity are analogous extensions and the proper accidents of unity. As such, they are the ground of all plurality, which, in tum, is the ground of all difference. For Aristotle, difference is plurality of unity, and the opposite of unity. The analogous extensions and properties of unity, however, are unities. To be the same, equal, or similar, therefore, is, analogously, to be one [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 4, I, I004a34-1 005a18. See also Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 4, I. 4, no. 582-587].

This means that to be different, unequal, or dissimilar is to be many, to be a plurality of unity. But the one and the many are opposed, are, indeed, together with being and privated being, the ground of all opposition and contrariety and are the primary contraries into we reduce all other contraries [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 10,3, 1055a33-1055b39. See also Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. Bk. 10, I. 6, n. 2058].

This being so, the principles of sameness, equality, and similarity and their opposites and contraries (difference, inequality, and dissimilarity) are the ground of all per se accidents and of the relative first principles of all the sciences. This must be so because they are the most fundamental oppositions between unity and plurality, the opposition which grounds all other oppositions and into which all others are reduced. And science studies the principles of opposition within a genus [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 10,3, I054a20-1 055b39. See also Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 10, I. 4, no. I998-2022, 2035].

A main reason, then, that Aristotle divides the speculative sciences into three classes is because he maintains that three pairs of specifically distinct kinds of unity, plurality, and opposition exist (sameness/difference, equality/inequality, and similarity/dissimilarity) that serve as the ground of per se accidents and of principles of contrariety for understanding the proximate subjects of science, these proximate subjects being constituted by distinctive kinds of common matter.

Aristotle tells us that two of these common matters are sensible. The third is “immovable and imperceptible” [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 12, I, I069a30-I069b3]. The two classes of sensible substance consist of perishable substances like animals and plants, and imperishable substances, like the movers of the celestial bodies, which physics investigates. The third class consists of objects with intelligible matter, that is, the objects of mathematics, and separate substances, that is, beings that can, do, or can be considered to exist apart from any and all matter [Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 12, I. 2, nn. 2425-2426]. Hence, Aquinas maintains that “as many parts of philosophy” exist “as there are parts of substance, of which being and unity are predicated and of which it is the principle intention or aim of this science to treat” [Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 4, I. 2, n. 563].

What makes these common matters proper subjects of science is more than the fact that they are common to a multiplicity: they comprise the matter of a proximate subject containing a specific principle of unity that grounds the per se differences and principles of opposition and contrariety within the limits of a proximate-subject genus.

Hence, as Aquinas says, “geometry speculates about a triangle being a figure having ‘two right angles,’ i.e., having its three angles equal to two right angles; but it does not speculate about anything else, such as wood or something of the sort because these things pertain to a triangle accidentally.” The reason geometry speculates about its subject genus in this way, through the principle of equality, and does not speculate about other sorts of likenesses or differences is because, as Aquinas adds, “science studies those things which are beings in a real sense, …and each thing is a being insofar as it is one” [Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 6, I. 2, n. 1176]. That is, the proximate subject of geometry, its common matter, is not material substance, but quantified material substance, is not body, but surface body. This body makes a substantial body to be a geometrical body. And equality is the quantitative principle of unity by which we grasp all the samenesses and differences that relate to a body as a continuum body, such as having three angles quantitatively the same as two right angles. In short, due to the relation they have to different common matters, sameness, equality, and similarity are the formal objects through which we conceive all the different sciences.

To put all this in another way, an assumption about proximate material substance underlies Aristotle’s notion of philosophy, and an assumption about unity underlies his philosophy of proximate substance. Beings that belong to the same genus share a common matter and a common unit measure through which we know them to be one [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 10, 4, I055a4-1 055a32. Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 10, I. 5, no. 2024-2026]. Indeed, Aristotle holds that, like the properties of sameness, equality. and similarity, ”to be a measure” is a property of unity [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 5, 6, 1016b4-32. Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 5, I. 8, n. 432].

Aristotle maintains, further, that unity is the measure of all things [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 10, I, I052bI5-19]. Aquinas comments that the reason Aristotle makes this claim is because unity terminates division. That which is undivided brings division to an end, is that beyond which no further division exists [Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 10, I. 2, n. 195 I]. Aristotle explains that we know those principles that constitute each thing’s substance by dividing or resolving a whole into its component parts, whether these parts are quantitative or specific (like matter, form, or elements of compounds). He says: “Thus, then, the one is the measure of all things, because we come to know the elements in the substance by dividing the things either in respect of quantity or in respect of kind” [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 10, I, 1053a24-27].

Analogously, we can call knowledge and perception “measures” of things. Aristotle maintains that we can speak this way because we know something by knowledge and perception. “[A]s a matter of fact,” he claims, “they are measured rather than measure other things.” And he immediately adds that thinkers like Protagoras “say nothing… while they appear to say something remarkable, when they say “‘man is the measure of all things” [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 10, I, I053a32-I053b3].

According to Aristotle, a measure is the means by which we know a thing’s quantity. That is, a measure is a unit, number, or limit [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 10, I, I052b20-27]. He adds that we first derive the notion of measure from the genus of quantity. From this we analogously transfer this notion to other genera. Hence, in a way, unity and quantity are the means by which we even know substance, knowledge, and quality. Hence, he states:

Evidently, then, unity in the strictest sense, if we define it according to the meaning of the word, is a measure, and most properly of quantity, and secondly of quality. And some things will be one if they are indivisible in quantity, and others if they are indivisible in quality; and so that which is one is indivisible, either absolutely or qua one [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 10, I, I053b4-9].

Aquinas comments that we find indivisibility in things in different, not the same, ways. Some things, like the natural unit which is the principle of number, or the natural length which is the principle of measured length, are definite and totally indivisible. Other things, like an artificial and arbitrary measure, “are not altogether indivisible but only to the senses, according to the authority of those who instituted such a measure wished to consider something as a measure” [Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 10, I. 2, n. 1953].

For Aristotle a natural body has per se unifying principles that differentiate it from a quantified body, and a quantified body has per se differentiating principles, per se formal objects, that differentiate it from a qualified body. Each of these bodies differs from the other according to a distinctive kind of unity that grounds distinctive kinds of contrariety and opposition based upon a distinctive kind of common matter.

The unity of a natural body is one composed of opposites, of matter and form that constitute a natural body as a material nature and as a substantial nature in the genus of substance. This body is not the same as a quantum body, the body which is in the genus of quantity, or as a qualified body. The natural body acts as the subject of the quantum body just as the quantum body acts as the subject of the qualified body.

Three properties of unity allow us to conceive of a natural body in this way: sameness, equality, and likeness (or similarity). These properties, in tum, give us a threefold division of speculative philosophy, based upon unity’s properties. Hence, Aquinas says that we distinguish the parts of philosophy “in reference to the parts of being and unity.” He maintains that, according to Aristotle, “there are as many parts of philosophy as there are parts of substance, of which being and unity chiefly are predicated, and of which it is the principle intention or aim of this science [that is, metaphysics] to treat.” According to Aquinas, “the parts of being are substance, quantity, quality, and so on.” In a similar way, he adds:

The parts of unity are sameness, equality and likeness. For things are the same when they are one in substance, equal when they are one in quantity, and like when they are one in quality. And the other parts of unity could be taken from the other parts of being, if they were given names.

That is, we divide philosophy according to the order of proximate natural subjects and the property of unity that constitute the necessary and sufficient condition for a proximate subject’s ability to be.

For example, Aristotle thinks that a substantial body emanates in three magnitudinal directions from its matter as a natural body. These dimensions are extensions, divisions, and arrangements of the natural body within terminal parts in different directions in place. They divide the natural body into parts that have a positional relation to each other and to bodies around them because position is contained within the notion of quantity [Aquinas, Commentary on the de Trinitate of Boethius, Questions V and Vi. St. Thomas Aquinas: The Division and Methods of the Sciences, q. 5, a. 3]. These emanations quantify a natural body as a magnitudinal, extended, quantum, or continuum body. “This extension occurs both intrinsically to a body inasmuch as it places limits upon it within terminal parts internal to its substantial matter and externally inasmuch as it places limits upon the substantial body in the way it relates to its surrounding place.” [Redpath, “Prescript,” in Crowley, Aristotelian-Thomistic Philosophy of Measure and the International System of Units (SI), p. xiii].

When a material substance extends in one direction it becomes a magnitudinal body terminated by a point, that is, a linear body reaching from one point to another point. When the substance extends in two directions, that is from one point to another and one line to another, the substantial body becomes a surface, or wide, body stretching from one line to another. When the substantial body stretches from one surface to another surface, it becomes a solid, or deep, body and has depth. In this way, a quantum bodily substance has three natural intrinsic unit measures and termini (a point, line, and surface) that constitute it as a quantum subject, a substance with a quantum, the extended spatial unity of which we call a quantum “equal.”

As Aquinas notes, three kinds of magnitude exist:

if magnitude is divisible into continuous part in one dimension only, it will be length; if into two, width; and if into three, depth. Again, when plurality or multitude is limited, it is called number. And a limited length is called a line; a limited width, surface; and a limited depth, body. For if multitude were unlimited, number would not exist, because what is unlimited cannot be numbered. Similarly, if length were unlimited, a line would not exist, because a line is a measurable length (and this is why it is stated in the definition of a line that its extremities are two points). The same things hold true of surface and of body [Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 5, I. IS, n. 978].

Aristotle maintains that we derive our notion of measure from sensation, primarily from our sense awareness of number which arises from cutting a continuum. By cutting a continuum body, we divide it into a plurality of units. The unit that terminates the division is the limit of the division, an indivisible. Hence, it formally constitutes the division as a one and a number, an ordered plurality. A number is a limited plurality, a one, and a measure. Indeed, it is a measure precisely because it is a one, and therefore; is an indivisible and a limit. Hence Aristotle says, ”the one is the measure of all things” [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 10, I, 1052b32-1053a23].

Since a measure is a one, just as unity is an analogous notion with accidental properties, which include being a measure, so, too, are continuous and discrete quantity. Aristotle contends that the common properties of continuous quantity are large, or big, and small. Of number, they are much, many, and large and little, few, small, and less. Of magnitude, they are, of length, or of a long body, long and short. Of a surface, or wide body, they are narrow and wide. Of a solid, or deep, body, they are high or deep, and low or shallow. Of quality, heavy and light, hot and cold. All these are relative unit measures, ways by which we comprehend an extended or qualified substance to be limited and one, and hence knowable [Bk. 5,12, 1020aI8-1020bI2. Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 5,1. I5, n. 981, and 1.16, n. 998].

Of all the accidents, Aquinas maintains that “quantity is the closest to substance” [Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 5, I. I5, n. 982]. Hence, of all the accidents, it is most per se. Quantity is a per se accident of a material body because it inheres in and emanates from the body’s natural matter. A quantum body can thus be the proper subject of philosophical speculation for the geometrician as a proximate subject of accidents proper to a point, line, and surface.

All the above points being true, someone might wonder what all this has to do with Aristotle’s notion of virtue? Its connection is simple. In a similar fashion to the way in which dimensive quantity causes a material body to emanate extensively through its matter to natural intrinsic unit measures and limits, Aristotle thinks that a body emanates intensively through its form to natural intensive magnitudinal unit measures and limits of ability, positionally related to each other. In this way, form constitutes a natural body as a qualified body, or a body with qualities, with limited and ordered abilities to act with more or less perfection, the proximate subject about which the Ancient physicist, metaphysician, and ethician can speculate, depending upon whether the matter in question is corruptible or incorruptible, or human possessed of the faculty of free choice.

Aquinas, following Aristotle, maintains that we can understand the term “perfect” in several senses. In one sense, a thing is internally perfect when it “lacks no part of the dimensive quantity which it is naturally determined to have.” In a second sense, we can understand the term internally to refer to ”the fact that a thing lacks no part of the quantity of power which it is naturally determined to have.” In still another sense, we can use the term teleologically to refer to external perfection, as, for example, when we say that ”those things are said to be perfect ‘which have attained their end, but only if the end is ‘worth seeking’ or good” [Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, L.18, nn. 1038-1039. See Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 5,16, 10212bI2-1022a3].

Aquinas explains that we can say a thing is perfect in relation to this or that particular ability because:

[E]ach thing is perfect when no part of the natural magnitude which belongs to it according to the form of its proper ability is missing. Moreover, just as each natural being has a definite measure of natural magnitude in continuous quantity, as is stated in Book II of The Soul, so too each thing has a definite amount of its own natural ability. For example, a horse has by nature a definite dimensive quantity, within certain limits; for there is both a maximum quantity and minimum quantity beyond which no horse can go in size. And in a similar way the quantity of active power in a horse which is not in fact surpassed in any horse; and similarly there is some minimum which never fails to be attained [Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 5, I. 18, n. 1037].

Hence, we can analogously transpose all the concepts of measure that we derive from our awareness of being as dimensively quantified and one to measure and comprehend quality and other accidents as well, such as place and time [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 10, I, 1020315-33. Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 5, I. I5, n. 984]. For example, we can speak of a color’s magnitude because of the intensity of its brightness, the magnitude of a sin because of the greatness of its offense to God, the quantity of perfection of an animal’s ability to see, hear, or run, or the extent of perfection of a person’s happiness, or one animal being higher or lower in its genus or species.

To grasp Aristotle’s view of philosophy more completely and to grasp how it more specifically applies to virtue and ethics, we need to recognize a basic distinction he makes metaphysically between two types of quantity. Many philosophers are familiar with Aristotle’s distinction between continuous and discrete quantity, continuous quantity being the proper subject of the geometrician and discrete quantity being the proper subject of the arithmetician. Metaphysically, he makes a more basic distinction between dimensive (molis) quantity and virtual (virtutis) quantity.

Continuous and discrete quantity are species of dimensive, or bulk, quantity. They result in a substantial body from the emanation of a natural substance’s matter to become a body divisible in one, two, or three magnitudinal limits or directions: length, width, or depth. Virtual quantity is a species of quantity that emanates from a natural substance’s form, not its matter. It emanates intensively, not extensively. And the accidental form “quality,” not dimensive “quantity,” produces it. Aquinas describes the distinction between these two forms of quantity as follows: “Quantity is twofold. One is called bulk (molis) quantity or dimensive (dimensiva) quantity, which is the only kind of quantity in bodily things…. The other is virtual (virtutis) quantity, which occurs according to the perfection of some nature or form.” He adds that this sort of quantity is also called “spiritual greatness just as heat is called great because of its intensity and perfection [St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae, q. 1, a. 42, ad 1. See also, Iallae, q. 52, a. I, c. For a more extensive treatment of the notion of virtual quantity in Aristotle and Aquinas, see Crowley, Aristotelian-Thomistic Philosophy of Measure and the International System of Units (SI), pp. 25-47, 249-260].

For Aristotle, in other words, forms and qualities have their own kind of quantity and magnitudinal limit, one that consists in the greater or less intrinsic perfection, completeness, or quantity of form, not in the extension of matter throughout parts within a spatial continuum. This quantum property of form enables the existence within a subject and a genus of the opposition between privation and possession that grounds all contrariety. Privation requires the disposition to have a form and the absence, in a definite subject at a definite time, of the form to which one is disposed [Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 5, I. 14 nn. 962-965]. The basis of contrariety is the opposition between privation and possession [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 10, 14 1055a33-1055bI8]. Hence, quality, or intensive quantity, as the foundation of all opposition and contrariety is, in a way, the ground of all science.

Furthermore, for Aristotle, virtues are qualities and qualities are of basically two kinds: (1) essential difference and (2) differences, or alterations, of bodies capable of motion, like hot and cold, heavy and light, black and white. This second sense refers to the way we generally use the term “quality” “of virtue and vice, and, in general, of evil and good [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 5, 14 I020a33-1020b25. Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 5, I. 16, nn. 987-999]. Aristotle considers quality in this sense to be an accident related to motion, an intensive quantitative modification of something moved inasmuch as it is moved. Hence, regarding virtue and vice, he says:

Virtue and vice fall among these modifications; for they indicate differentiae of the movement or activity, according to which the things in motion act or are acted upon well or badly; for that which can be moved or act in one way is good and that which can do so in another (the contrary) way is vicious. Good and evil indicate quality especially in living things, and among these especially in those which have purpose [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 5, 14 1020bI8-25].

Aquinas comments upon Aristotle’s reference to virtues and vices enabling us to move well or badly that the terms “well” and “badly” chiefly relate to living things and “especially” to those possessed of “choice. ” The reason Aquinas gives for this is that living things particularly act for an end and “rational beings, in whom alone choice exists know both the end and the proportion of the means to the end” [Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 5, I. 16, n. 998].

Part of Aquinas’s point in the above passage is that quality modifies a motion or action in the sense that it places it within bounds and, in a way, gives it order and proportion, especially in connection to acting for an end. This point is crucial to understand in connection to the study of ethics as a science because, as a science, ethics must study a genus in relation to opposition between contrary members of a species, an opposition, like all oppositions, grounded in possession, privation, and limits.

Recall that Aristotle thinks that science studies one thing chiefly, a primary thing to which it analogously relates other things according to different relationships, that is, unequal relationships of possession and privation. Hence, the medical scientist chiefly studies health and its contrary opposite, disease, plus other things differently related, by greater and less distance, to health and disease, like diet, exercise, operating procedures, medical instruments, and so on. Analogous study of anything involves relating things using a common concept, or meaning, predicated according to greater and less distance to a common term, or numerically one nature, that is, according to more and less, excess and defect (all of which, in some way, are not equal, and, hence not one) to some one definite thing. No science, then, can proceed without considering the proportionate and unequal relationship of possession and privation that a multiplicity has to a chief proximate subject, to the maximum in a species, to a one to which other things are related as numerically one end [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 4, 1, I003b 11-19. Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 5, I. 1, nn. 534- 544].

One reason this last claim is true is that Aristotle tells us substance is part of the subject of every science, not just of metaphysics. He also tells us that quantity is that by which we know substance, that a measure is that by which we know a thing’s quantity, that we first find unity as a measure in the discrete quantity, which is number, and that, from this category, we transfer the notion of a measure to other categories, like quality, time, place, and so on [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 10, I, 1052b 19-1053b8. Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 10, I. 2, no. 1937-1960].

In the case of quality, Aristotle maintains that we first perceive the notion of measure by comparing one thing to another and by noticing that one thing exceeds another in a specific quality, by noticing larger and smaller or more and less, which are inequalities and, as such, pluralities of unity. For example, we notice that one thing exceeds another in weight or heat [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 10, I, 1052b 19-1053b8. Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 10, I. 2, no. 1937-1960]. For Aristotle, however, equality and inequality are first and foremost divisions of numeral proportions [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 5, 14, I020b26-1 021 al 4. Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 10, I. 2, n. 1008]. Inequality is of two kinds: larger and smaller (or excessive and defective) and more and less. As inequalities, we cannot understand excessive and defective, larger and smaller, and more and less apart from reference to equality. Equality, however, is the measure of inequality, the means by which we know inequality [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 5, 14, I020b26-1 021 al 4. Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 10, I. 2, n. 1008].

Furthermore, in the case of quality, Aquinas maintains that we are incapable of directly comparing any two qualities. Quality as quality only directly relates to the subject in which exists. Its being is a referential being to its subject. We can only relate it to another quality (I) by referring one quality to the other as an active or passive potency of the other, as being a principle or source of acting or being acted upon (like heating and being heated) or (2) by referring one quality to another through reference to quantity or something related quantity, as, for example, when we say that one thing is hotter than another because its quality of heat is more intense [Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 10, I. 2, n. 1008].

Aristotle’s teaching on contraries throws light on how we can compare two qualities quantitatively. For Aristotle contrariety is. a kind of opposition, one of the four kinds of opposition: (1) contradiction, (2) contrariety, (3) privation, and (4) relation [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 10,4, 10555a33-1055b3]. Contraries are forms, extreme differences, or specific extremes or limits, within the same genus between which a mean, middle, or intermediary can exist. This mean or middle relates to both extremes as a one, intermediate, or midpoint between possession and privation. It is neither extreme, relates to both, and is opposed to both by an opposition of privative negation, not of contrariety, just as, for example, the midpoint between the extremely hot and extremely cold is neither hot nor cold but can become both or a morally neutral person is neither morally good nor bad but can become both [Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. 10,4, 1056a10-30].

Furthermore, passage from one extreme to another involves an order of change, a necessary passage through the midpoint, which stands in a condition of equality in relation to both extremes, just as passage from the great to the small and the fast to the slow must be through what is equidistant from both. Hence, because the equal stands as a mean or midpoint between extremes of possession and deprivation of a form within a genus, we can use the equal as a measure for knowing both extremes [Aquinas, Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, Bk. 10, I. 7, nn. 2059-2074. For extensive analysis of the way contemporary physical scientists use the equal as a measure, see Crowley, Aristotelian-Thomistic Philosophy of Measure and the International System of Units (SI)].

In relationship to the equal, which is a one, two opposites exist, comprising the unequal (in this case, excess and defect of some form). Analogously speaking, these inequalities are multiplicities or pluralities. This means that we can measure qualitative differences, or difference of intensity in possession of a quality, by comparing excessive and deprived possession to possession of equal intensity. We can compare one quality to another by relating both the qualities we wish to compare to a third quality that stands midway between them in intensity, much like we can compare the heaviness of two different bodies through use of a balance scale that compares their weight relative to a state of equilibrium. This qualitative state becomes the measure of the other two and the principle by which we know them.

In the case of Aristotle’s teaching about virtue and ethics we can easily see how Aristotle applies his teaching about the one and the many. Like all sciences ethics studies a genus of being grounded on a specific kind of matter: moral matter. Moral matter is qualified matter, matter modified by active and passive potencies. Specifically, it consists of opposing habits of human choice. Ethics studies a many, the many possible opposing acts open to human choice, to try to comprehend the qualitative potentialities and properties that constitute human choice, to comprehend the powers of the soul as motive principles that can act well or badly. This science seeks to understand what is human choice to comprehend choice as the principle and cause of the many free acts that human beings perform and to enable the person of moral experience to act better. To engage in this study the ethician must examine a multiplicity of human acts because we can only comprehend power and potentiality in relation to actuality.

According to Aristotle, all science seeks to understand its subject matter in terms of its principles and causes. He also says that the first, or maximum, in any genus is the cause and measure of all that is in the genus. This means that every genus contains a species that has a form existing in its most complete state. In this species we find the form most glaringly present, present in its maximum of intensive quantity. Hence, all science seeks to find this species of its genus to use our understanding of its powers and properties as a means for knowing the powers and properties of its more deprived members.

In the case of moral science, the maximum in the genus, the starting point of moral reasoning, lies in the habits of the prudent person and in reason’s general certainty that a greatest intensive quantity of qualified act exists for beings that possess the human form. The prudent person is the rule or measure of all moral science. As the contrary opposite of the imprudent person, the prudent person is the maximum in the genus of moral choice that we have to use to comprehend goodness about human action. As the privative opposite of the extremes of moral excess within the same genus, the prudent person is the intermediate, the equal, in the same genus, who acts Iike a balance scale to compare and contrast moral viciousness [Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, in The Basic Works of Aristotle, Bk. 2,5, II06b36-1 10731, Bk. 3, 4, 1113a31-33. See, also, Joseph Owens, “The Grounds of Ethical Universality in Aristotle,” in Aristotle: The Collected Papers of Joseph Owens, pp. 148-164, and Richard P. Geraghty, The Object of Moral Philosophy According to St. Thomas Aquinas, pp. 56-61]. In this person we find (I) the quality of active human powers exercised with their maximum of intensive quantity, or completeness of form, human goodness, and (2) the balance, or equal state, between extremes of too much and too little intensive quantity of chosen action. For Aristotle, in short, moral science starts from the evidently accepted principle that all human beings by nature have a greatest or maximum human desire: to live well and a multiplicity of contrary and opposing habits of actions that moral science studies to find the principles for living well, the maximum of which we find achieved in the actions and habits of the prudent person.

“Virtue,” Aristotle tells us, “is a state of character concerned with choice, lying in a mean, i.e. the mean relative to us, this being determined by a rational principle, and by that principle by which the man of practical wisdom would determine it.” As a mean between two vices, virtue is an intermediate, equal, or right state, or state of intermediary intensive quantity, standing between, and opposed by an opposition of privative negation, not of contrariety, to two contrary vicious opposites of excess and defect of right measure in action and being acted upon [Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Bk. 2, 6, 1107al-8].

Hence, the courageous person is the intermediate between the reckless person and the timid. And a person who seeks to hit the mean between contrary vices must proceed toward the mean, toward the right measure, which is a specific intensive quantity of action that equals the best state of exercising our faculty of choice in the here and now [Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Bk. 2,8, 11109al-36]. Habituation of the good person determines the right answer in moral choice, the answer equal to the situation and an agent’s natural and habituated powers, precisely because this person has experience of virtue, of the equal in matters open to inequality, or plurality, of action [Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, Bk. 1,2, 1095al-12, Bk. 1,8, 1099a13-24, Bk. 2, 6, 1106b36-1107a2].

This is not to say that moral science only studies the behavior of the prudent person. As Aquinas notes, Aristotle holds that every science chiefly studies one subject present, with different degrees of intensive quantity, in a multiplicity of different, opposite, and contrary beings. Secondarily and analogously it studies a multiplicity of other things that relate in varying degrees to this one subject. In the case of moral science, the one subject is human action as we find this extremely opposed in virtue and vice. But Aristotle thinks that the moral philosopher must also take into account and evaluate moral education and culture:

Paideia, meaning education and culture, is what equips the individual to make the right choice in each case and to grasp the ethical principles in a way that will allow them to function as premises from which conclusions may be drawn in the manner of an authentic science. Hence the importance of correct habituation from earliest childhood on [Owens, “The Grounds of Ethical Universality in Aristotle,” pp. 156-157].

In so doing, however, the ethician can never lose sight of the fact that (1) the chief object of moral science is a proper subject whose per se principles this science seeks to grasp, and (2) we can grasp no per se principle without reference to the notion of unity and intensive quantity.

In a similar fashion, without an understanding of the notion of intensive quantity, none of us can adequately grasp Aristotle’s notion of virtue and of philosophy, or the notion of virtue held by Socrates or Plato for that matter. If we modern thinkers wish abandon our tendency to confound philosophy with logic or with one or another brand of sophistry, if we wish to return to the practice of doing philosophy that the Ancient Greeks passed on to posterity, a practice we have largely, if not entirely, lost, we, too, will have to return to the Ancient Greek habit of thinking about the beings around us in terms of the problem of the one and the many and recover a better understanding of the role intensive quantity plays in comprehending the nature of this most perplexing puzzle.


Peter Redpath was Professor of Philosophy at St. John’s University. He is the author/editor of 17 philosophical books and dozens of articles and book reviews. He has given over 200 invited guest lectures nationally and internationally, and headed many prestigious organizations. He is the only non-Polish scholar to hold the Laudatio Achievement Award for attainment of intellectual and organizational wisdom, from the Department of Philosophy, Culture, and Art at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, in Poland. More information is found at his website. [Portions of this essay were originally published in the International Journal of World Peace, Vol, 18. No. 1 (March 2001).


Featured: “Seven Virtues and Seven Liberal Arts,” by Francesco Pesellino; painted ca. 1450.

The Anti-Globalist World Alliance And Its Manifestos

Recently, an important step was taken to work diligently to free ourselves from globalist control. To that end, the Anti-Globalist World Alliance (AWA) was formed over Christmas of 2021.

The aims of AWA are certainly worthy of support. It has set out to be a policy think-tank, educational center and training facility which will nurture future anti-globalist leaders, politicians, writers and thinkers. There has never before been a body entirely dedicated to systematically winning back our world from the agendas and mandates of the globalist elite. The time for the “great replacement” of these elites and their agendas certainly has come.

The founder of AWA, Peter Redpath, kindly explains what this Alliance is all about and what it hopes to achieve. Please support AWA, go to their website, download the Manifestos, sign on, and spread the word!


No matter what a person’s political persuasion might be, over the past couple of year, it has become perfectly obvious that the contemporary world has become increasingly subjected to arbitrary totalitarian political and health mandates that have flown in the face of ordinary common sense and of the exercise of traditional Western and global civil liberties and natural human rights. As our Manifesto explains,

“Given the continual growth and expansion of arbitrary totalitarian political mandates made under the guise of universal healthcare and welfare, on Christmas Day 2021, leading intellectuals and shapers of public opinion from different professions in the US, Canada, and abroad met online to affix their signatures to a historic Global Renaissance Manifesto. They did so to mark the temporal starting point, on an international scale, of a contemporary commonsense cultural rebirth, analogous to several historical renaissances that have previously existed within the West (such as the 8th-9th century Carolingian Renaissance and the 14th-century Italian Renaissance).”

The signatories of this Christmas 2021 Manifesto agreed that, chiefly through the flawed educational principles of the Western Enlightenment (which rejected millennia of common sense truths about the nature of the human person, the human soul, philosophy, science, metaphysics, ethics, religion, and God) and the colleges and universities they built—which tended to reduce the whole of truth to positivistic science (mathematical physics and its principles)—the contemporary world had reached such an extreme of cultural lack of common sense that a need existed to issue a historic Renaissance Manifesto and to establish an Anti-Globalist World Alliance to inaugurate a World Cultural Common sense Renaissance.

Many contemporary intellectuals suffer from a misguided conviction that, because it celebrated itself as an “Age of Reason”—a period of time that brought to the forefront of popular consciousness individual human learning, science, progress, and human rights—Enlightenment intellectuals and the educational institutions they had built had lifted the West out of some fictional intellectual dark age that these thinkers had pejoratively referred to as of “the Middle Ages.” For the first time in human history, Enlightenment principles, they falsely claimed, had discovered the nature of true science upon which true human learning, philosophy, progress, human rights, economics, politics, and the triumph of human freedom over backward religion could finally be established.

While Enlightenment principles did advance Western and global culture technologically, and while Enlightenment political thinkers did articulate some political and economic principles that advanced political and economic science to some extent, their intentional divorce of science from wisdom and prudence constituted the actions of a fool. The globalist elites have used this foolishness to convince all of us to agree to walk into their prisons, “for our own good.” They continually try to convince us that their agendas and plans are “progressive” and therefore desirable. And those that disagree are labeled as “science deniers,” “racists,” and so on. As recent events have shown us, nothing could be further from the truth. None of us expected a pandemic to be a political opportunity for the elites.

What we need instead is a Renaissance of freedom, which can only come about when we stop accepting elitist models of governance and collective/social morality. This can only be done when we free ourselves from the mental prisons into which we have been cast by those who continually sell us narratives about “freedom” and “progress”—while their “science” is an anodyne, a lullaby even to put us to sleep—and while we slept, we were enslaved, and cast into a true “dark age.”

A Renaissance is an awakening—and therefore the Anti-Globalist World Alliance will nurture and further anti-globalist thought, anti-globalist culture, and anti-globalist politics.

Join us—and regain your true human right—your freedom!


How To Reverse The Widespread, Nonsensical Principles Of Utopianism. Part 3.

To combat the mis-educational and anti-cultural, anarchic influence of Marxism, crucial for its opponents to understand is the nature of common sense (especially real common sense) and where, as utopian socialists, Marxist principles must incline Marxists to begin to:

  1. drive out real common sense from the souls of children and replace it with a fictional narrative devoid of real common sense;
  2. promote humanistic atheism, the notion that humanity is God, and, especially, anti-Semitism;
  3. mistake ethnic races for real genera and species;
  4. and deny the evident existence of real natures with internal principles of organization, powers/faculties/capabilities within things in general and human beings especially.

All these effects are pernicious and are driving the contemporary West and the world toward total madness. Once again, the Enlightenment West is turning the Jew into a cultural scapegoat onto which it inclines chiefly to fix all its cultural and individual problems and blame for all its cultural and individual failings. In addition, by denying the reality of real natures, including human nature, no human faculties can exist in which human habits exist, in which unequal virtues and talents can and do exist. As a result, apart from temperance and courage, the cardinal moral virtues of justice (especially distributive justice based upon individual talent can be recognized to exist) and prudence (upon which, together with the other cardinal virtues sound leadership essentially depend), cannot exist at all, much less flourish.

Beyond this, denying the existence of really-existing organizational wholes (real substances), the principles of conceptual and behavioral contradictions and non-contradictions become incomprehensible. Conceptually, contradictory opposites involve the impossibility of some one substance or parts/properties of a substance having essentially opposite differences. If real substances do not, cannot, exist, neither can the principle of conceptual non-contradiction. Worse, neither can behavioral non-contradictions. The concept of really, or naturally, doable or undoable deed becomes intellectually incomprehensible. And if neither conceptual nor behavioral contradictions are comprehensible, neither are common sense, truth, or language.

In addition, because they lack any common sense ability to recognize the reality of unequal talent and justly reward it as a contribution to a community or society, utopian socialists tend to do several things:

  1. reduce the whole of justice to commutative justice, exchanges of equal value of benefit or damage, such as monetary exchanges of equal or unequal goods and services;
  2. explain inequality of distribution of goods, wealth, not to reward for talent, virtue, but to exploitation, taking advantage, of the weaker (victims) by the stronger (victimizers);
  3. reduce what remains of justice to being tolerant/sincere (good-willed), and injustice to being intolerant/insincere (bad-willed);
  4. claim that all human inequality is based upon social victimization of innocent, sincere (good-willed), tolerant, sinless, just victims, by insincere (bad-willed) unjust, sinful victimizers;
  5. always attempt to remedy the disastrous, impoverishing effects that application of this flawed understanding of justice/injustice has on a community/society by periodically reversing within a community/society the roles of victims and victimizers (at one period making the victims one social group or another [such as, black males, females, religion, this or that religion, black males, white males, and so on] and the victimizers the same groups]) and at another time reversing these victims/victimizers roles.

Setting aside the evident absurdities and cultural evils with which Enlightenment utopian socialism and, especially, Marxism has infected the West, evident to readers by now should be that a Western and global return to sanity related to understanding the nature of truth and language essentially depend upon the ability of Western and world leaders to restore real common sense to national cultures. To do so, these leaders must, as precisely and quickly as possible, understand the nature of common sense considered in general, and especially real common sense.

Happily, through the examples and descriptions of it I have given in this essay, and especially through examples of its contrary opposite, a more or less precise definition of common sense appears easy to give. When we first consider the idea of common sense in relationship to examples of people who are more or less psychologically-healthy adults, it appears to be simply what most of us would call common knowledge, or common understanding.

In English, we have an expression we often give to people who say something evidently true, something everyone knows—“That goes without saying.” By this we mean that what a person just said was so evidently true that no need existed to say it. The term common sense expresses this concept. In it, the word sense is synonymous with the word knowledge, or, more precisely, understanding.

In general, a person with common sense is someone possessed of what Aristotle and St. Thomas had identified as the natural and acquired intellectual habit (habitus) and virtue (virtus: virtual, or intensive quantity [quality]), of understanding. Such a person is someone who, in relation to observational (what Aristotle and St. Thomas had called speculative or theoretical) knowledge immediately understands (induces, intuits) some thing or action to be what it is, or be true; or, in relation to practical and productive knowing, through practical or productive experience at living, immediately induces (intuits), understands, what something is or is not, or that it is right or wrong to choose.

Aristotle and Aquinas had maintained that all human beings are born with natural habitus (qualities they imperfectly have). These include all the natural moral and intellectual qualities, virtues of temperance, courage, justice, prudence, art, philosophy/science, understanding, and even wisdom, and their contrary opposites. While not perfectly so, even young children are somewhat (at least naturally inclined to be) courageous or cowardly, hopeful or fearful, sensitive to pleasure/pain, more-or-less artistic, even prudent, wise, possessed of understanding and common sense. The truth of this claim is evident from the fact that, at times children, are more prudent, wiser, than some adults. In addition, some are precocious: masterful musicians, painters, mathematicians, and so on.

To become perfected in such psychological qualities, however, Aristotle and Aquinas were convinced human beings need repeatedly to apply prudence and wisdom (common sense/understanding in its more perfect form) to their increasingly-perfected understanding to add perfecting qualities (virtues) to their naturally-possessed habits. In its most perfect form, common sense is simply the perfected, naturally-possessed habit of understanding (the virtue of understanding) applied to this or that subject in this or that situation that makes the nature of some subject immediately intelligible!

Following St. Augustine, some contemporary Christians, including Pope Francis, have recently started to refer to this quality of common sense in the form of wisdom/prudence in immediate understanding by use of the term discernment. No need exists for a discerning person, someone with common sense in this form, to reason to the conclusion that this something exists, or about: what it is, whether it is true, false, or fake; or whether it is good or bad, right or wrong, to pursue or avoid. The answers to such questions are immediately evident to this person. And so, too, is the adequate self-knowledge of personal nature and abilities immediately to draw this conclusion.

Consequently, especially in relation to productive and practical matters, healthy, adult human beings commonly identify a person with common sense as being someone possessed of the habit of good decision making, a good judge, either in general, or related to some particular subject. A person with common sense is a person possessed of common knowledge, common understanding: what everyone else who knows a subject understands about this subject in general or particular. The example I gave toward the start of this article related to an engineer who claims to be an engineer mistaking the principles of grammar for those of engineering is a fitting, suitable, one to use to help make intelligible, understandable, to an audience what I am chiefly talking about, the chief intellectual point I want to make, related to the nature of common sense.

As opposed to the person possessed of common sense, the person lacking it, the fool, is devoid of knowledge of what everyone else knows, or should know about some subject. In a way, this person lacks knowledge of some principle of measuring, known truth, that comes to people possessed of the virtue of common sense immediately from observation or from common sense-experience at living.

As a result, the person who lacks common sense is often publicly ridiculed, is the butt of jokes. University professors, people who tend “to live in ivory towers,” especially some logicians (those with little practical experience at living), incline to be such individuals. In college, I had a friend like this to whom I used to refer as an “encyclopedia open to the wrong page.” While he was terrific in some forms of academic work, he tended to have no practical skills, or if he did, not know when and/or how to apply them.
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Aristotle actually had a word he used to describe such individuals that came close to, but did not completely capture, the nature of a person lacking common sense: “asinine.” In ancient Greek, this was the person lacking synēsis, someone who had the personal quality of a-synēsis, a species of foolishness (non- synēsis/sense) that caused a person to be a bad imaginer, conceptualizer, judge, estimator, evaluator, especially of what a person should know in this or that situation.

To make intelligible to others more precisely the understanding (which he apparently acquired from Socrates) that wisdom is more or less identical with common sense, in his masterful work in moral psychology, the Nicomachean Ethics, when talking about the nature of prudence and working as a physician of the soul (behavioral psychologist), Aristotle went out of his way to explain that the person possessed of wisdom (of which prudence is a species) combines in his or her nature all the essential elements needed to be an excellent judge.

Recall that in Plato’s dialogues the stone-mason/philosopher Socrates had repeatedly maintained that what, more than anything else, got him into trouble was an ordinary kind of wisdom he possessed, one unlike that of the professional orators and poets of his day. Unlike their wisdom, Socrates claimed that his was the ordinary kind of human wisdom, examples of which, to the chagrin of professional sophists like Thrasymachos, Gorgias, and Callicles, he constantly gave examples in reference to people like cooks, medical doctors, sailors, home builders, shoemakers, and tailors.

Psychologically, Aristotle claimed that this sort of wisdom, which someone like the prudent man Socrates possessed, combines in its nature four different qualities of excellent judging that, when rightly combined with the psychological quality of understanding, give to its possessor a generic, psychological quality of virtuous shrewdness, of which prudence, and apparently wisdom in general (whether practical, productive, or contemplative/speculative/theoretical/metaphysical) are species:

  1. eubulia (excellence in deliberating);
  2. eustochia (being a lucky guesser, somewhat excellent at being able to determine precisely the right thing to do at the saw that moment: a good evaluator/estimator);
  3. synēsis (right judgment about what happens in the majority of cases, what is really doable and not doable); and
  4. gnome (right judgment about what is equitable in this or that situation).

Special difficulty understanding the nature of common sense arises at times from two facts about it:

  1. To some extent, all human being possess some of it, are familiar with it; and
  2. when we talk about it, we generally do so the way we talk about anything real: concretely, in terms of qualitatively unequal relationships to that of which it is said—that is, analogously.

Regarding this first fact, understanding common sense presents a difficulty similar to that which in Book 11 of his Confessions, St. Augustine admitted he had related to the concept of time: When someone does not ask him what it is, he is so familiar with it that he has no trouble knowing what it is; but when someone asks him what it is, he appears not to know. Common sense has a similar nature. When someone does not ask us what it is, we have an implicit knowledge of it as the virtue of understanding applied to this or that subject in this or that situation that makes the nature of some subject immediately intelligible. On the contrary, when someone asks us what is common sense (common synēsis), initially we tend to become tongue-tied, do not know how to reply.

As far as fact 2 is concerned, when we talk about a subject, apply objects of sentences to their subjects to identify them in relation to a subject, we always to so indirectly, according to relational meanings. We never do so directly; and the way logicians and ordinary people, as well as real scientists/philosophers, do this essentially differs. In their everyday, common sense way of talking, philosophers/scientists and ordinary human beings do so by noting qualitative, nuanced (chiefly causal) distinctions, differences in relation that they immediately recognize exist between and among these relational meanings as they say, refer, them to a subject.

For example, in the ordinary course of conversation, two people might note that Mother Theresa was more of a human being (in the sense of being qualitatively more perfect metaphysically and morally [psychologically, in her soul!] than was Joseph Stalin. Such a statement would strike a logician thinking as a logician as nonsensical, likely as an ad hominem attack violating the well-known, common sense logical canon that words, terms, definitions said of subjects must always have one, absolutely-fixed meaning, definition— when put in the technical jargon of a logician, must always be predicated univocally, never predicated equivocally.

For example, if I call Socrates and Plato men, a logician working as a logician naturally inclines to assume I mean that Socrates and Plato are equally men, that whatever the definition of man signifies is equally, not unequally, in one and the other—that Socrates is not more man than is Plato. Both are equally men.

If, on the other hand, a medical doctor says that John is not as healthy as Mary, in some way he is saying that, while John is healthy, the quality, or nature, health is causally related to John as one that exists less in John than it does in Mary, that some cause called health exists more in Mary than it does in John. In addition, if I call bread or exercise healthy, in the first case, generally I mean that, when eaten, bread tends nutritionally to cause, promote retention and increase of bodily health; and in the second case, generally I mean that exercise tends to cause, promote retention and increase of muscular coordination and stamina/strength.

While, to some extent, all human beings tend to have a difficult time understanding the nature of analogy, my experience is that logicians generally have an especially difficult time doing so. Since analogy dominates the language of everyday life, especially productive and practical matters, logicians often have a difficult time understanding the psychological disposition of business people and ordinary people with real, not syllogistic, common sense.

Since logicians tend to think in one fixed way, they also often have a hard time understanding comedy, not understanding jokes. This is especially true of Enlightenment logicians, Marxists in general, and the contemporary Woke crowd of anarchists, who deny the reality of real natures. Since real common sense is chiefly said, referred to subjects analogously, Enlightenment intellectuals in general have a hard time grasping its nature.

Be this as it may, common sense mainly refers to common, evident intellectual understanding or knowledge that some person possesses in general, or related to a specific or individual subject as a natural or supernatural faculty or habit of the human soul. Analogously, people often extend, transfer use of, apply, this term to other human faculties (like will, memory, imagination, hearing, and so on); and even to subjects and circumstances, situations such as time and place in which they do not directly exist, but to which, somehow, they are relationally connected.

For example, adult human beings throughout the world often say that performing this or that action generally, particularly, or individually makes sense or is commonsensical, or is nonsensical, makes no common sense. For instance, someone in the third century B.C. making plans to create a ship to fly to Mars would be planning something that most people today would say makes no common sense for that person; but they might likely agree that it could make common sense for Elon Musk seriously to consider.

St. Thomas Aquinas went so far as to locate moral prudence, and with it all practical and productive prudence partially on the sense level in an internal sense faculty that he analogously identified with the estimative intelligence, instinct, and brute animals. He called his faculty cogitative, or particular, reason. Together with the virtue of intellectual understanding, all the other cardinal and intellectual virtues and moral virtues, the integrated activity of all these faculties and their habits and virtues, plus whatever supernatural grace can add to these, appear to comprise the whole of common sense in its most perfect form: perfect human wisdom.

Crucial to understand today about Marxism, Enlightenment utopian socialism in general, and all the mis-named cultural institutions they have created over the tenure of their existence is that all of these are intentionally (or at least in principle) designed to drive common sense, especially real common sense, out of the human soul, the psychological constitution of individual persons; and to do so at the earliest age and throughout an entire lifetime in every aspect of human life.

A good example of this is mis-educational influence are faculty members and administrators who are miserable human beings living miserable lives. Hating themselves, they tend to hate anyone who is not as miserable as they are. As a result, by intentionally influencing them to adopt the same nonsensical principles they use to direct their choices in life, they intentionally seek to make students as miserable as they are.

Other good examples considered in general of it are contemporary middle-management executives, corporate human resources executives/managers, and college/university administrators, ministers of education, all of whom, having been mis-educated in common sense at Enlightenment mis-educational institutions, tend to think univocally, not analogously; and tend to be sorely lacking in real common sense as I have described it.

While, considered as human beings they might be wonderful, kind people, as administrators, Western colleges and universities and educational institutions that have been influenced by their Enlightenment mindset have pretty much driven out of their administrative psychology any comprehension of prudence, and common sense in general, and justice, especially distributive justice, which (instead of race, sex, political influence, diversity, and so on) is the chief just measure of equitable distribution of rewards for quality of work contribution to an organization).

The net result of the disordered educational psychology inhabiting cultural institutions throughout the contemporary West and world is that pretty much all of these institutions, and especially those of higher education (colleges and universities), have become ships of fools mistakenly thinking of themselves as creating local, national, and global world leaders, while they often tend to do precisely the opposite. Consequently, expecting most contemporary college and university faculty members and administrators to come up with a plan to reverse the current dire cultural situation in the West and globally, including their own, makes no real common sense. Doing so defies their natural and acquired abilities, which, related to such a feat, are largely disabilities, job-application disqualifiers.

For this reason, as colleges and universities increasingly begin to go out of business, collapse, on a global scale, colleagues of mine and I have decided that two institution of higher education)—an introductory Common sense Wisdom Liberal Arts Academy (CWLAA) and an advanced executive leadership Common sense Wisdom Executive Coaching Academy (CWECA) )—which immerse their students from all parts of the Earth in common sense wisdom, must immediately, on a global scale, be created to replace the disordered, mis-educational, intellectual institutions (colleges and universities) that Enlightenment hatred for commons ense has caused to come into being culturally and civilizationally increasingly to wreck the West and the world. Anyone seriously interested in discovering more about this project and perhaps joining, supporting, us in this effort is more than welcome to do so by checking out the nature of CWECA.


Peter Redpath was Professor of Philosophy at St. John’s University. He is the author/editor of 17 philosophical books and dozens of articles and book reviews. He has given over 200 invited guest lectures nationally and internationally, and headed many prestigious organizations. He is the only non-Polish scholar to hold the Laudatio Achievement Award for attainment of intellectual and organizational wisdom, from the Department of Philosophy, Culture, and Art at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, in Poland. More information is found at his website.


The featured image shows a detail of a wise virgin, from Friedrich Wilhelm von Schadow’s “Die klugen und torichten Jungfrauen” (The Wise and Foolish Virgins); painted in 1842.

How To Reverse The Widespread, Nonsensical Principles Of Utopianism. Part 2.

As some Marxists readily admit, Marxism is a religion, or a secularized version of Christianity. As scholars like Eric Voegelin have well documented, Hegelians and Marxists are full-blown, secularized Christian heretics: neo-Gnostic millenarians who conflate in their nature principles of neo-Pelagianism, neo-Catharism, and neo-Albigensianism (the three being pretty much identical). They tend to consider this conflation to be true science (as opposed to the hate-filled, backward thinking rhetoric of those they call, “science-deniers”).

Heavily influenced by the millenarianism of the 12th-century Catholic monk, Joachim of Flora (aka, Joachim of Fiore), the neo-Averroistic dream of 14th-century Italian humanist, Francesco Petrarcha (Petrarch) to unite poetry, philosophy, and theology into a humanistic/historical social science capable of reviving the cultural greatness of Rome in a Christianized form, and then greatly shaped by the neo-Gnostic spiritualism of 18th-century Enlightenment intellectual, Jean-Jacques Rousseau – all Enlightenment thinkers came to divide human history into four ages, one of which they considered to be prehistoric/pre-cultural and pre-social science:

  1. Prehistory (an initially barbaric, pre-socialist age of war of individual human being against individual human being; for Hegel, Humanity’s/Absolute Spirit’s Age before logically-planned, external emergence);
  2. The first age of human history (imperfect social science, under the Old Law, from the time of Adam to Christ), characterized by a heavy influence of external formalism on human consciousness and behavior (Humanity/Absolute Spirit wandering around the Far East, China and the environs for Hegel);
  3. The second age of human history in which human consciousness achieved greater perfection in historical consciousness as social-science (in the sense of being a more universal and deeply emotional love of humanity). Human consciousness, under the New Law, by the entrance of Spirit into human history, within the context of the administrative Catholic Church (the Greek and Latin Age for Hegel); and
  4. The final age of human history, the Age of the Eternal Gospel, of Perfect Social Science, in which the influence of Spirit perfects human behavior so widely, deeply, and intensely that no need any longer exists for a Church administration or organized religion (the Lutheran/Germanic Age and end of history for Hegel during which, for the first time in human history, conscience and all science come into being and humanity becomes aware that it is identical with Perfect Social-science: Perfect Good Will Consciousness/God).

Sometime after his death, Europeans started to refer to followers of millenarianism of Joachim of Flora as “Joachitic enthusiasts” and often called their teaching “Joachitic enthusiasm.” As is evinced in his famous work, Education of the Human Race, 18th-century Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was one of these millenarians. So, too, under his educational influence, were 18th-/19th-century Enlightenment intellectuals, Immanuel Kant and Georg Hegel.

After the crumbling of the Berlin Wall (9 November 1989) and dismantling of Soviet communism toward the tail end of the 20th century, the period celebrated by Western liberal elites and popularized by Francis Fukuyama, was supposed to be “the end of history,” in the sense of being the time in which enlightened liberal democracy would finally transcend the transitional period of communist dictatorship and eradicate from the world the influence of backward religious consciousness.

To understand the euphoric, Joachitic enthusiasm, that overtook Western Europe during this time and fully to comprehend the nature of Marxism, Enlightenment-Utopian Socialism in general, and neo-liberal, atheistic democracy (like that of John Dewey), it is crucial to recognize this enthusiasm as neo-Averroism, deeply influenced by the neo-Averroistic, religious, and educational humanism of Petrarch which devolved – through 19th-century neo-Averroistic social science (with its three stages of social evolution: [1] theological, [2] metaphysical, and [3] positive/scientific) proposed by Isidore Marie Auguste François Xavier Comte – into the secular educational humanism of the 20th-and 21st-century West.

During a late Medieval, academic battle about the relationship between philosophy and theology that the great Islamic scholar Averroes (ibn Rushd, 1126-1198) had with a previously-existing Islamic scholar named al Ghazali (who died in 1111 and had considered philosophy to be inferior to theology and fake science), Averroes had countered Ghazali’s reductionist claim that the whole of truth is contained in the Quran, by, knowingly or not, reviving a threefold distinction about the hierarchy of human knowing, first introduced centuries before by Plato, through his famous analogy of a divided-line of learning in which Plato had made a distinction between three lower and higher forms of knowing: the qualitatively-lowest being belief (which Averroes would later identify as a mindset common to poets);
a second, qualitatively higher one, being a kind opinionated imagining (that Averroes would later maintain is proper to theologians); and the highest one being science (which Averroes would later reserve for Aristotelian philosophers).

According to Averroes, while the whole of truth is contained in the Quran, only the Aristotelian philosopher knows how to read and unravel that hidden truth, or the meaning of what the Quran actually says.
Seizing upon this method of Averroes, Petrarch made the mistake of buying into an esoteric interpretation of philosophy/science as a hidden teaching, or body, or scientific system of knowledge, known only to an enlightened group of intellectuals. In so doing, he treated philosophy/science as if it were reducible to a dialectical logic apprehensible only by some spiritually-elect group. While Petrarch hated Averroes (had called him a “mad dog”) and was no fan of Aristotle, in criticizing Averroes, unwittingly he came to adopt the understanding Averroes had promoted that:

  • philosophy is a hidden teaching, or body of knowledge known only to some enlightened individuals,
  • who alone can pass this understanding on to posterity.

Unhappily, to paraphrase a common sense gem of wisdom from Étienne Gilson: We think, and choose, the way we can, not the way we wish.
Outraged by Averroes’s disdain for poetry, because Petrarch made the mistake of doing no more than dialectically turning Averroes’s teaching on its head and not essentially changing it. But, unwittingly, by so doing, in effect he adopted in his own principles a kind of neo-Gnostic understanding of philosophy/science for which he would become a conduit to intellectual posterity. Petrarch assumed, and popularized among humanists of the Italian Renaissance, that philosophy/science is an esoteric metaphysical and moral teaching, or body of knowledge, that was first given by God to Moses.

Subsequently, to protect this teaching from being ridiculed by unenlightened, vulgar, illiterate masses, Petrarch and other Italian Renaissance humanists claimed true philosophy/ science had been intentionally buried in the works of epic poets like Homer, Hesiod, and Virgil and esoterically transmitted to other enlightened poets.

Over the several centuries that comprised the Italian Renaissance, this Petrarchan popularization of philosophy as an esoteric teaching, or body of knowledge (which was to become a general assumption about philosophy maintained by Italian Renaissance humanists) became the popular understanding of philosophy that entered into Western Europe around the time of the Father of Modern Philosophy – René Descartes. Disliking the poetic nature of the Jesuit education he had received, and much favoring logic over poetry as the only sort of knowing worthy of being called philosophy/science, Descartes maintained that the whole of truth is a body of knowledge buried, hidden, in some train of obscure thought of wandering images seeking to become a clear and distinct idea which he called a “mind,” or human consciousness.

Descartes claimed, further, that this hidden teaching was apprehensible not by poets, but only by a person of exceptionally strong logically-regulated will-power who alone could focus on the idea of a Perfectly-Good God, and thus was capable of stabilizing the wandering imagination common to poetic types in order to be see truth as a systematic train of ideas, so clear and distinct that a strong, logical human will (one with which Descartes identified common sense) cannot deny their reality, including that of a human person being a totally-disembodied mind or spirit. In short, centuries before Friedrich Nietzsche, Descartes had moved truth, and with it common sense, out of human intellect, and placed it in some logically-systematic train of ideas or feelings, thoughts – which he called human “will.”

In so doing, however, as the more poetically and historically/humanist-inclined Rousseau had immediately recognized, Descartes cut off philosophy/science, and with it, common sense, from human wisdom, and from what Petrarch and the Italian Renaissance humanists in general had considered to be its historical roots, namely, a somewhat obscure religious body of knowledge first given by God as true philosophy/science to the Jews from whom all true culture and cultural institutions were born and passed on to posterity as historical descendants of an original race.

In so doing, Descartes entirely destroyed the nature of philosophy/science, and real common sense, as a somewhat social-science history, or historical, educational humanist enterprise. The principles he laid down for the nature of philosophy/science as a real genus included the clear and distinct conviction he inherited from Petrarch and Italian Renaissance humanists that the Jews were the historical conduit, historical race/genus from which all false philosophy/science and subsequent philosophical/scientific mistakes, intellectual and cultural backwardness, foolishness, lack of common sense, and sins had historically descended upon Europe and the world, prior to the coming of Descartes and the later Western Enlightenment.

Unwittingly, Descartes became a conduit to Rousseau’s educational principles, which in turn became a conduit for later forms of anti-Semitism, and as an essential principle of Nazi forms of philosophy/science. This included making the Jews a scapegoat for all of Europe’s prior socially- and culturally-caused problems, evils, and sins.

In a similar way, through Rousseau’s critique of him, Descartes unwittingly became a historical conduit passing along to posterity the mistaken notion that a real and scientific species is identical with a race historically descended from original parents (instead of being part of an organizational whole that generates proximately causes and organizational action: a division, or part, of a generic whole, or substance). In truth, a real genus only exists in a real species; and a real species only exists in real individuals. As Gilson once quipped, in the present, real species of animals exist only in real animals, such as those in zoos, not in historical descent or transmission, which no longer exists. If real species were historical descendants of ancestral species, since ancestors cannot historically-descend from themselves, the absurd consequence that would follow would be that historical ancestors could never belong to the same species as their historical descendants!

Worse. The only way we come to know anything is in and through defining it. Doing so, however, essentially involves locating some being within a genus and species. By becoming conduits for essentially racializing the concepts of genus and species, Petrarch, Italian Renaissance humanists in general, Descartes, and Rousseau became an essential part of the historical conduit that brought into existence the contemporary enlightened Woke, anarchic, youth generation, the “useful idiots” (who tend not to be able to distinguish real from apparent, anything logical or not logical, much less genera and species).

Rousseau contributed to the present-day fiasco, in part, by rightly criticizing Descartes for cutting off philosophy/science, and education in general, from its historical roots. While he admitted, with Descartes, that philosophy/science is a hidden body of knowledge, he denied that it (and with it, real common sense) is esoterically buried in an individual mind.
Instead, Rousseau maintained that philosophy/science/real common sense is/are a historical project of discrete, disconnected, emotions to assemble themselves into a historically-driven, social-science consciousness: Perfect humanity. In addition, he denied Descartes’s distinction between matter (which Descartes had conceived as inert extension) and mind (which Descartes had identified with thought, spirit).

According to Rousseau, only spirit exists. Matter is simply unconscious thought/spirit. And, in a way, clear and distinct ideas (clear and distinct, more progressive genera and species), historically and progressively descend from one time to another (earlier emotions being historic ancestors of later, more progressive, enlightened ones somewhat resembling historical, backward ones, like later races historically descending from and somewhat resembling ancestral parents).

After Rousseau, the idea of a real substance or nature, and real genera and species in the common sense way that Aristotle and Aquinas had conceived them to be (as organizational wholes possessing faculties like intellect, will, and emotions), became replaced in the West by essentially different ideas of human beings, genera, species, individuals, and real common sense.

According to Hegel, for example, human beings are born as essentially illogical, un-systematic trains of unscientific, barbaric, emotions, historically driven to project themselves and come into conflict with other historically driven, illogical, unscientific, barbaric emotions that (much like the savage Fuegians that the cultured, Enlightened-socialist Brit, Charles Darwin would later encounter on his first voyage on the Beagle) inhabit a wild geographical region (genus), so as eventually, at the end of history, to unite together into a systematic, or logical train of scientific, self-understanding, qualitatively-higher emotions (species): Perfect humanity, a Scientific, Pure Good Will in which all complete truth and perfect religion and perfect/science/wisdom will coincide in nature.

Understanding human beings in somewhat this way, in his educational tome Émile, or Abstract Man (humanity), Rousseau wedded a Western neo-Gnostic, millenarianism to a neo-Pelagianism on a historical march to become Perfect Social–science Consciousness aware of itself as such – that is, aware of itself as god!

In so doing, like ancient Pelagius, Rousseau denied the reality of original sin as part of humanity, as pre-historic, selfish, barbaric, uncultured, abstract man: Someone like conscience-deprived, crude, vulgar, selfish, intolerant, insincere, socially and culturally backward, brute Donald Trump, emerging into concrete, selfless, socialistic, domesticated, cultured, sincere, tolerant, historic-scientific man: Someone like neo-Gnostic, neo-Averroestic, double-truth-advocate Catholics, like Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Mario and Andrew Cuomo. And Rousseau did so for precisely the same reason that, as neo-Gnostics spiritualists, all Enlightenment intellectuals incline to so: They are, as he was, and as Chesterton rightly recognized about Hegel – Monomaniacs.

Like all the Enlightenment descendants he spawned, including Auguste Comte and his followers, Rousseau denied the evident, real, common sense truth that real multitudes (real organizational wholes, natures), exist independently of something he understood to be social consciousness. To him and them, reality is social consciousness – or the consciousness (systematic, scientific train of thoughts that once was blind emotions that has become Pure Social-Science Good Will). In actuality, for Enlightenment thinkers (the contemporary Woke culture), only one being is real – only total unity exists. Unity and social consciousness are identical and constitute what Marxists and all contemporary utopian socialists and neo-liberals call “humanity,” which they consider to be “God.” Hence, their often-repeated claims to be theists, good Catholics, and so on, not atheists or heretics.

The psychological constitution of a Marxist causes him to think that humanity is real, but “John Smith” is not. Like Hegel, the Marxist thinks that “John Smith” is simply where Absolute Spirit (which Hegel identified with God, which he conflated with Humanity) happens to be conscious of itself, at this or that historical moment. Reality, to a Marxist, is consciousness, historically and progressively realizing that only humanity (understood as collections of socially-conscious feelings, emotions; or consciousness feeling itself historically growing into self-awareness of being scientific feeling: Perfect, Pure, Sincere, Good Will) – is real. Anything apart from humanity, considered in this way, is an illusion, caused by disordered economic relations (the cause of all cultural illusions).

Quite frankly, if seriously maintained intellectually, to a sane human being, one with actual common sense, such a way of looking at reality would be considered sociopathic. Nonetheless, this way of looking at reality is a fundamental assumption, non-negotiable, Marxist and utopian-socialist, and Enlightenment-educational first principle – an essential part of Marxist and Enlightenment self-definition, self-identity, and self-understanding. And education for both begins with (and remains throughout its operation) – the application of this psychological principle behaviorally to modify the psychology of students. Knowingly or not to a Marxist and all Enlightenment utopian socialists, their educational principles essentially demand that they drive out from the psyche of their students any scintilla of real common sense.


Peter Redpath was Professor of Philosophy at St. John’s University. He is the author/editor of 17 philosophical books and dozens of articles and book reviews. He has given over 200 invited guest lectures nationally and internationally, and headed many prestigious organizations. He is the only non-Polish scholar to hold the Laudatio Achievement Award for attainment of intellectual and organizational wisdom, from the Department of Philosophy, Culture, and Art at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, in Poland. More information is found at his website.


The featured image shows the Tree of Pansophia, from Speculum Sophicum Rhodostauroticum by Theophilus Schweighardt Constantiens, ca. 1604-1618.

How To Reverse The Widespread, Nonsensical Principles Of Utopianism. Part 1.

Some Preliminary Remarks About The Commonsense Need To Avoid Small Mistakes

Toward the start of his treatise entitled, On the Heavens (Book 1, chapter 5), the great ancient Greek philosopher, tutor of Alexander the Great, and master of commonsense and commonsense philosophy, Aristotle, sagely cautioned students that small mistakes in the beginning of a study tend greatly to multiply as the investigation continues. By this he meant that every human investigation naturally grows out of a commonsense knowledge of proximate first principles, starting points, of knowing – something an investigator should know best (his principles of understanding), from which reasoning then proceeds. Today, physical scientists often call these evident commonsense, first principles “assumptions.”

As a master of commonsense, evident to Aristotle was that to reason, become educated (educe by analysis or synthesis) about how some composite-whole organization is put together or can be taken apart, we must first understand, immediately induce, precisely what the organizational whole, or subject/genus, is that we chiefly want to study (are interested in), and about which we are wondering, talking, and reasoning. For we can only reasonably wonder, talk, and reason about what we know, not about what we do not know.

For example, competent engineers, those with commonsense, who want to build a bridge, do not start by mistaking the principles of grammar for those of engineering. They do not think that applying principles of grammar to some multitude of material can possibly cause that material to become a structurally-strong bridge. They understand, assume, that a bridge is a general and specific kind of organizational whole (real genus) that essentially demands application of principles of mathematics and physics to construct. And really professional engineers (people actually interested in studying engineering) reasonably consider any so-called engineer who understands otherwise to lack commonsense, and be a fool, a fake.

Aristotle’s observation tells us is that worse than bad reasoning, in helping (educing) someone to become educed, or educated, is not to understand precisely:

1) The subject (genus/organizational whole) about which we are wondering, talking, reasoning; and
2) What actually can or cannot cause it to come to exist as an organizational unity and operate the way it does.

In addition, Aristotle realized that an organizational whole (genus) considered simply as an organizational whole (genus) and considered as a subject demanding analysis or synthesis (one that interests us, that we psychologically wonder about, at this or that moment) immediately becomes somewhat of a qualitatively different kind of subject for us than, strictly speaking, it is considered in itself.

For example, considered as organizational wholes (genera), a human being, married man, father, car driver, firefighter, and a bowler are essentially and qualitatively different, real organizational wholes, or subjects/real genera. John Smith the married human person is essentially, qualitatively, different relationally and psychologically from John Smith the human being, husband, father, automobile driver, firefighter, and bowler – a being with essentially, qualitatively differently related, specific organizational parts, such as, physical and psychological faculties, capabilities, and talents.

Failure to recognize these distinctions on a daily, even moment-to-moment, basis will cause John Smith and others all sorts of personal and professional problems. Analogously, it will cause all sorts of difficulties for any educator trying to analyze or alter John Smith’s behavior in this or that situation or set of circumstances.

When an educator, or any knower, studies a subject genus (organizational whole), an educator or knower does so as a qualitatively different knower of a qualitatively different subject-known. Considered as a studied-subject (a subject of study), psychological examination (examination by the human psyche) is not identical with, and is specifically and qualitatively different from, a subject considered simply as a subject.

For example, in a way, both a biologist and a heart surgeon study and do not study the human heart. Generically considered, both study the human heart. But specifically considered, the biologist does so as a life-scientist, chiefly intellectually and volitionally (psychologically) interested in the human heart as life-generating; while the heart surgeon does so, medically, as someone specifically, intellectually (psychologically), wanting to know about the human heart as health-generating.

While really existing, as organizational wholes, independently of a knower, considered as specifically-known-and-understood educational subjects, and psychological subjects of interest, these organizational wholes are always situationally, circumstantially, interest-considered subjects. According to Aristotle and St. Thomas:

1) Situations, circumstances, always enter into the specification of an act;
2) And a real genus, organizational whole, essentially exists in and grows out of, is generated by, the harmonious unity of relationships of the specific actions of its many, hierarchically-ordered, qualitatively, more-or-less perfect, specific parts that constitute its real, not logical, proximate principles/causes.

For example, the habit of music considered as a real genus is not a logical premise. It is a real proximate principle/cause that exists only in and through specifically different individual actions of habits of qualitatively, unequal, more-or-less individually-talented musicians (like classical, jazz, orchestral, and so on), as more or less perfect ways of relating sounds into organizationally-pleasing wholes—pleasing sounds more or less beautiful to, and fostering, healthy human hearing in human beings.

Every operational, organizational whole (which is all that a real genus is), exists in and through the harmonious unity of its principles: Its specific and individual parts. As a result, a totally unharmonious organization is no organization at all, and is no more conceivable as such than is the concept of a square circle.

Consequently, educational subjects (genera, species, and individuals existing within genera and species) are, and can only be, subjects of this or that specific and individual human, psychological interest: Subjects that interest this or that person as a psychological subject of wonder, in this or that way (circumstantially, situationally), as concretely existing at this or that time, or considered as abstractly existing apart from any time or place like the genera, species, and individuals that interest logicians.

The truth of what I am saying becomes glaringly evident, if we analyze the difference between John Smith, the day-to-day firefighter, and John Smith, the weekend-bowler. If John Smith the firefighter goes out on the weekend with fellow firefighters and a fire breaks out at the bowling alley, the behavior of these individuals in this situation would not likely be to throw bowling balls at the fire.

Sane, adult human beings, investigators, with commonsense, would consider such behavior in this situation (set of circumstances) to be irrational, out of touch with reality, lacking in commonsense. To make sense out of, make intelligible, understand, anyone’s behavior at this or that time, or apart from any specific and individual place and time, requires that anyone with commonsense consider who or what (efficient cause) is doing what (formal cause); to what (material cause), with what (instrumental cause); where (place), why (final cause), when (time), and how (quality): The specific parts of what Aristotle and St. Thomas considered to be essential parts of an individual human act.

As both Aristotle and Aquinas rightly recognized, as completely as possible understanding any specific and individual act essentially demands recognizing at work, Aristotle’s famous “four causes,” the intrinsic property of quality, and the external conditions and opportunity of time and place—all of which, considered as a whole, specify and individualize an act within a real genus, or organizational whole.

The nonsensical psychological disposition of Utopian Socialists/Marxists and their topsy-turvy understanding of human beings and education as essentially lacking concrete/real commonsense

I raise the above points at the start of considering the nature of the nonsensical principles of Utopians, Socialism and Marxism, and how to reverse their influence, to drive home to readers an essential difference between the abstract way in which, like logicians and ideologues, a Marxist, considered as a species of utopian socialist (Enlightenment intellectual), someone sorely lacking in concrete (real) commonsense, tends to look at education. He or she does not tend to do so in the concrete, commonsense fashion I have described above in which, better-, or evidently-understood truths must first be known before reasoning happens and science can be achieved.

A Marxist does so in the contrary opposite way; and consistent application of this topsy-turvy manner of viewing human beings and human education is the chief cause that turns healthy children into little Marxists and older adults into big ones. As a political ideologue devoid of real commonsense, but driven by an intense desire to be logically consistent (abstractly commonsensical), through use of a fairytale history he or she borrows from Jean-Jacques Rousseau‘s educational treatise, Émile, or “Abstract Man,” he or she transforms the real, concrete nature and history of human education into an abstract, fictional, imaginary epic, similar to Homer’s Odyssey.

In this fictional tale, consciousness in the form of the god “Humanity” emerges in a systematically-logical fashion from a backward state of individual, emotional selfishness, rooted in a pre-logical, pre-cultural, and prehistoric state of awareness. In this prehistoric, pre-cultural, and pre-logical state, “Humanity” shows no sign of having a conscience, logic, or social consciousness. He is a greedy, uncultured, barbaric, anti-social, unscientific, insincere, intolerant, bad-willed individual who fights other such individuals in pursuit of possession of private property; not the historic, cultured, systematically-logical and enlightened sincerely-selfless, property-less, tolerant, Social-scientific Good Will into which he seeks to emerge.

According to this fairytale theological epic (metaphysical and moral educational history), once upon a time there lived a prehistoric god named, “Humanity” who would someday emerge from being a train of logically-blind, selfish, individualistic, warring emotions into the systematically-logical idea of human freedom creating human history as the grand narrative, autobiography, of the poetic spirit of free creation of the human imagination. He is poetic free spirit (Absolute Spirit/”Humanity”), emerging from a state of backward religious consciousness (Subjective Spirit) in prehistoric and later, backward, different cultural times and geographical locations, finally to become, at the end of human history, progressive, scientific self-awareness of himself as Perfect Social-scientific Good Will.

As the story goes, long, long ago in a far-off place in prehistoric/pre-cultural/pre-logical time, before logic and selfless, sincere, tolerant-of-all-difference (except intolerant, hateful difference) social-science and conscience had existed, supposedly an illogical, unenlightened human consciousness had existed as an irrational, selfish, greedy, insincere, intolerant, individualistic, train of hate-filled, conscience-less, anti-social, brute emotions that talked in hate-filled, anti-social, selfish ways. Somewhat like the ancient Israelites wandering in the desert and René Descartes wandering about Europe in search of a clear and distinct idea of himself and true science, “Humanity” (aka, “Abstract Man”) had roamed the Earth with no clear and distinct, concrete, scientific idea of who he truly was: The only real creator-god.

Wanting to get a perfect idea of himself, but not knowing that he was the only cause of everything, all differences, “Humanity” decided to create a logic, generated by the idea of progress, or development, that would give him a systematically-logical plan to enable him to emerge out of himself to hunt for perfect understanding of his true identity. Essentially, this logical plan consisted in a creating a fairytale, or fictional narrative in the form of a human history of himself as a backward, unenlightened, selfish will, or train of emotions, engaged in an odyssey of projecting his emotions in contradictory ways historically, qualitatively onward and upward more perfectly, in different geographical regions of the Earth at different times.

“Humanity” planned to do this to see whether he could recognize himself as the epic poetic idea of perfect freedom (the Spirit of Human Freedom as Scientific Will) always and everywhere progressing out of himself from a primitive, infantile, abstract, logically-unsystematic, train of emotions (abstract general ideas) into a concrete, adult, logically-systematic, train of ideas—the one and only social self and Scientific Will/god of metaphysical poetry that is the only real Creator of all Things: The One, True, god.

Every time he concretely did so, however, “Humanity” only saw some slight likeness of himself in those emotions. No one, or even a train, of them ever perfectly captured his likeness, clearly and distinctly with the thrilling, lively-enthusiastic, emotional clarity of a scientific likeness of the train of emotions, containing systematic logic within it, that he was convinced was identical with himself as a Perfect, Pure, Social-science Good Will containing all scientific understanding and real differences.

In their fantasy world (to which they often refer as a “narrative”), this is the way Marxists, as Enlightenment intellectuals and Utopian Socialists, look at human history. They claim that, prior to emerging into one single consciousness of oneself as systematic, logical, social-science will, the only thing that exists is a human consciousness as a weakly-connected train of thoughts in the form of atomic-like, discrete, feelings, rationally-blind, rationally-un-integrated, un-trained emotions.

Transformation from being atomized, rationally (logically) blind emotions, into being a logically systematic train of emotions that constitutes the nature of an enlightened, or social-science feeling (knowledge/perfect science as identical with Pure Social-science Good Will/god) only comes from a train of thought possessing a qualitatively higher form of social-political intelligence (what an ancient Greek would call higher gnosis). And they maintain, further, that this mysterious gift of qualitatively higher intellection is no act of intellect at all. Instead, it is an act of pure social/political, Sincere Good Will, or Socially-perfect Willpower.

In short, in contrast to the commonsense wisdom of Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, and most ordinary, intellectually-healthy human beings (who maintain that truth is a psychological activity located within the human faculty of human intellect and naturally-knowable even to young children), strictly speaking, Marxists think that the truth is actually a sociopolitical, construct caused to a train of thoughts by economic relations.

These economic relations, in turn, are supposedly caused by social-science relations that are only possessed by people (systematic trains of thought) of sincere/tolerant or insincere/intolerant feelings (good will [love]/or bad will [hate]): People like themselves, with sincere, socially-consciousness, healthy, tolerant, political feelings who, more than anything else, love humanity, or people like property-developer Donald Trump, who love petty-bourgeois-philistine-individualism-individualists, and selfish possession of personal property

As Gilbert Keith Chesterton once quipped about such individuals, these are people who tend to love humanity, but hate their next-door neighbor: People who psychologically inhabit a world to which Chesterton referred as “Topsy-turvydom,” one in which everything is upside down. As intellectual descendants of Georg Hegel (someone Chesterton had considered to be a madman), why Marxists should inhabit such a world is easily understandable. As Utopian Socialists, all Enlightenment thinkers inhabit this intellectual world in which emotions, feelings, have/cause people; people do not have/cause emotions.

Whether or not Hegel was actually mad, I do not know. That he lacked real commonsense, I do know. And that Marxists are even more lacking in real commonsense than was Hegel and Hegelians, I also know. While Marxists claim to stand Hegel on his head, they do not do so to get out of his nonsensical teachings. They do so more fully to imbibe them. Hegel, at least, pretended to make a distinction between matter and spirit. Marxists conflate the two with each other and with human consciousness: Humanity. Doing so is the chief cause of all their personal problems and all the problems they cause for those around them. Precisely how they got to be the way they are is an issue with which I will deal in a second essay related to the Topsy-turvy world of Marxism.


Peter Redpath was Professor of Philosophy at St. John’s University. He is the author/editor of 17 philosophical books and dozens of articles and book reviews. He has given over 200 invited guest lectures nationally and internationally, and headed many prestigious organizations. He is the only non-Polish scholar to hold the Laudatio Achievement Award for attainment of intellectual and organizational wisdom, from the Department of Philosophy, Culture, and Art at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, in Poland. More information is found at his website.


The featured image shows, “Kiss of Death,” by Bohumil Kubišta; painted in 1912.

A Philosophical Manifesto On How To Escape The Totalitarian Madness

On 16 July 2000, in the inaugural issue of Classical Homeschooling magazine, as part of the founding of the Angelicum Academy Homeschool Program, of which I was Founding Chairman of the Board, in response to the 1962 Port Huron Statement (a manifesto penned by Tom Hayden and presented by the SDS [Students for a Democratic Society]), I wrote two articles.

I did so because I was convinced that the Port Huron Statement was essentially a rationally incoherent first principle and essential cause of the national and global cultural and educational madness that had ensued since that time. To save the West and the world from its disastrous effects, I thought I had to pen a counter manifesto, the content of which is contained in these two presentations. I entitled the first paper, “A Philosophical Call to Renew American Culture: The Homeschool Renaissance.” I called the second, “The Homeschool Renaissance and The Battle of the Arts.”

On 08 April 2008, in Warsaw, Poland, to mark the establishment of the International Étienne Gilson Society—of which I was co-founder and became president—I wrote a third entitled “Why Gilson? Why Now?” to move this Philosophical Call to an international level.

I mention these three articles at the start of issuing a 2021 Philosophical Manifesto to establish my credibility to commonsense cultural, political, and educational readers as an authority on commonsense ways to escape from international global madness.

For over thirty years, I have been predicting and describing with accuracy the coming of this madness. In fact, I first predicted it in 1990, shortly after the crumbling of the Berlin Wall (9 November 1989), as concordist euphoria was sweeping Western Europe’s New World Order leaders, who were giddy with Joachitic enthusiasm over the prospect of finally being able to fulfill Francis Fukuyama’s idea of what was supposed to be “the end of history”—worldwide spread of secular liberal democracies, victory of free market capitalism over Communism, the end of human sociocultural evolution, and the generation of the last and perfect human government.

With the dismantling of Soviet Communism toward the tail end of the 20th-century, this was a time celebrated by Western Liberal Elites in which enlightened, secular liberal democracy would finally transcend the transitional period of Communist dictatorship and eradicate from the world the influence of backward religious consciousness.

I made my prediction in a paper I delivered at a prestigious, historic international colloquium in Treviso, Italy, related to the meeting topic, “Transition in Eastern Europe.” This was the first international congress of global leaders assembled after the Berlin wall fell. Attendees at this meeting included heads of different European parliaments, university dons, and international corporate leaders, including the president of the Bank of Rome. Security for the meeting was exceptionally tight. It included police carrying machine guns, accompanied by German Shepherd dogs. It was co-sponsored by the most prestigious Catholic philosophical organization in Europe and a highly respected German Foundation.

I was the only American invited to be on the program, representing, as its vice-president, the American Maritain Association. The topic about which I was asked to speak was the future of the West. Being young and naïve, and mistakenly thinking at the time that all the conference organizers would be interested in what I had to say about the matter, in my paper (which I had entitled, “The New World Disorder”), I told them what I thought Jacques Maritain would have told them at the time.

Following Gilson’s thinking, which I knew Maritain would have shared, I maintained that, for centuries, a Cartesian conception of human nature had been infecting and weakening Western cultural institutions. I indicated that these institutions had come into existence centuries before Descartes, and had been rooted in an entirely different understanding of human nature and the human person than the one Descartes proposed. I claimed that, by this time in Western history (1990), this weakening of our cultural institutions had become so severe that these misunderstandings were “causing a death rattle within these institutions” that could not be stopped by charms, amulets, contemporary economic theory, or politics of Left or Right. I argued that, instead of being signs of growing world concord, the transitions then occurring in Europe were “readily recognizable as convulsions within the Western conception of man.”

Instead of attempting to restore the West through such misguided means as economic theory and politics, I said that only a complete purging of Western cultural institutions of the Cartesian understanding of human nature would be able to restore Western culture to health. If this view of the human self continued to dominate Western culture, I predicted that: (1) the West would “self-destruct in a cultural collapse,” and (2) “this collapse will, in all probability, be ushered in by new and more exotic forms of fundamentalist-political perversions of the totalitarian state, attempting to unify human society around monolithic myths of race, mechanistic reason, blind evolution, materialistic progress, and so on.”

At this point, the man who headed the German colloquium organization could restrain himself no longer. He set upon me like a wild beast, as if to tear me to bits, immediately standing up, screaming at me several times to “shut up,” and cutting off my speaking time. Not until after the conference was coming to an end and I had started to mingle with audience members did I realize why he had behaved so despotically, and confirmed to many members of the audience the truth of what I was saying. To my pleasant surprise, they surrounded me and congratulated me on my presentation, even though I had totally ruined the first supposedly post-Communist international colloquium co-sponsored by New World Order elites!

Realizing this fact, I decided I had better continue. Hence,

  • my co-founding the International Étienne Gilson Society, in Warsaw, in 2008;
  • my retirement in 2010 from a full-professor faculty position at St. John’s University, in New York;
  • the establishing of the Aquinas School of Leadership (ASL);
  • between 2014 and 2018, co-sponsoring through the ASL, 5 international world congresses on Renewing the West by Renewing Common Sense
  • authoring and co-authoring 6 books related to these topics;
  • and, in 2021, establishing a Commonsense Wisdom Liberal Arts Academy (CWLAA) and Commonsense Wisdom Executive Coaching Academy (CWECA) to replace the failing secular and religious, Enlightenment colleges and universities that are presently collapsing all around us.

In regards to this latest venture, the concept for these academies came to me most precisely recently, as I was doing research to prepare to deliver the 2021 Jacek Woroniecki Memorial Lectures for students at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, in Lublin Poland. These lectures, which were subsequently published under the title, How to Listen and How to Speak: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants to Renew Commonsense and Uncommonsense Wisdom in the Contemporary World, grew out of an idea related to the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas, which he inherited from Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle—that the intellectual virtue of docilitas (docility/teachability) is a necessary condition for being educated. St. Thomas maintained that the moral virtue of prudence—which, he held, is a species of common sense—causes docilitas.

Before being taught outside the home, children generally learn some docility from parents and from their individual conscience, which, according to Aquinas, is the habit of prudence acting as judge, jury, witness, and prosecution of personal choices. In learning docility, we all acquire some common sense.

Common sense is simply some understanding of first principles that are causing some organizational whole to have the unity it has that causes it to tend to behave the way it does. It is an understanding common to anyone who intellectually grasps the nature of something, the way the parts (causal principles) of a whole incline to organize, to generate organizational existence and action. Strictly speaking, common sense is the habit of rightly applying first principles of understanding as measures of truth in immediate and mediated judgment, choice, and reasoning. Considered as such, it is the first measure of right reasoning.

Contemporary Enlightenment colleges and universities are essentially designed to drive out common sense from the psyche of students, and convince them that the only species of understanding (common sense) is mathematical physics. In doing this, it causes students to become anarchists, unteachable, people, out of touch with reality, who cannot tolerate to listen or speak to or with anyone who disagrees with them; and they become people who cannot lead any healthy organization in any healthy way.

Presently, increasing numbers of people who have never researched the nature of common sense, including politicians, are, all of a sudden, starting to realize the crucial import of this notion, for cultural, national and international, peace and sanity. And they are asking for money from others to help them. I have a better idea. They should start to listen to and read the decades of work colleagues of mine and I have spoken and written about related to this subject. It is time for them to donate money to us!

The only method that can possibly work to correct this problem is the one these academies essentially use. This is not because these academies are proposing them, but because they are evidently true to anyone with common sense about human education – such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Aquinas.

For those seriously interested in saving the West and the world from contemporary madness, this Manifesto welcomes you to join us at the educational academies most capable of generating tomorrow’s world-class colleges and universities:

Please spread the word to others.


Peter Redpath was Professor of Philosophy at St. John’s University. He is the author/editor of 17 philosophical books and dozens of articles and book reviews. He has given over 200 invited guest lectures nationally and internationally, and headed many prestigious organizations. He is the only non-Polish scholar to hold the Laudatio Achievement Award for attainment of intellectual and organizational wisdom, from the Department of Philosophy, Culture, and Art at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, in Poland. More information is found at his website.


The featured image shows, “By Candlelight,” by Konrad Krzyżanowski; painted in 1914.