Today your humble blogger returns from a long weekend and starts by calling a time out from our running analysis of the upcoming Stealth Sex Synod™ (see here) and its players. This time-out was prompted by a comment that this blog received after the last post titled Everybody Has A Plan… The best manner in which to address the issues raised in the comment section is to define what exactly it is that we are analysing. So today we take one step back and try to lay down some philosophical determinants within the framework of our analysis. Just a reminder, our defined method of inquiry is the Peirce/Ockham pragmatic methodology (see here)
The subject matter of the afore-mentioned post was to demonstrate the difference between what can objectively be considered “theology” and what would objectively constitute an “ideology”. To be more specific, what we are in fact dealing with is “theology as science” on the one hand and the phenomenon of “theology as ideology” on the other.
To this end, we explained the philosophical basis for any science is that of a “positive” process, wherein the philosophical basis for an ideology is one that is “normative”. Just as a quick reminder, the following was written in the above mentioned post:
In philosophy, normative statements make claims about how things should or ought to be, how to value them, which things are good or bad, and which actions are right or wrong. Normative claims are usually contrasted with positive (i.e. descriptive, explanatory, or constative) claims when describing types of theories, beliefs, or propositions. Positive statements are (purportedly-) factual statements that attempt to describe reality.
And here we see how the above definitions dovetail into our theme of OBJECTIVE REALITY v VIRTUAL REALITY (ALTERNATIVE REALITY).
Let’s start from the “positive” side of the definition. We see that a “positive process” leads to an “attempt to describe reality”. Here is an example of two instances where we observe a “positive process” at work:
1) The Catholic Church teaches that there are two sources of knowledge about God: (1) as known through “natural light of human reason from the things that are made” and (2) as known through “divine revelation.” (see here)
2) The scientific method is a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry is commonly based on empirical or measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. (see here)
If we examine both these definitions, what we see is two different areas of… let’s call it human endeavor, both based on a “positive process”. Furthermore what we can clearly see is that “pre-conciliar” Catholicism is in essence a scientific method. Or to be more precise, what we see from the above two definitions is that the scientific method that arose during the age of enlightenment is nothing more than a subset of Thomistic Catholicism.
When looking at the above two definitions, what we also observe is that the definition of Catholicism has a “normative” element, i.e. as known through “divine revelation“. It is this element of Catholicism that allows us to “makes claims about how things should or ought to be, how to value them, which things are good or bad, and which actions are right or wrong.”
Yet please notice that even these “normative processes” contained in “divine revelation” have a solid grounding in strictly “positive processes”, i.e. natural law and natural moral law. And this would make sense, since “divine revelation” is nothing more than the Creator providing the “normative” element to His creation. Or to put it in a scriptural context: “Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” (Matt 5:17 -see here)
Now that we have established the existence of a “normative process” in Catholicism, let’s look at the scientific method to see if we can identify any “normative” aspects that will allow us to “makes claims about how things should or ought to be, how to value them, which things are good or bad, and which actions are right or wrong.”
Since the scientific method is strictly an objective process, the closest that we can come to making a “normative” claim is through the “valuation” element of the definition. And as we know, when it comes to providing “valuation”, we have a very good mechanism in natural law known as the “market”. Here is the definition: (see here)
A free market economy is a market-based economy where prices for goods and services are set freely by the forces of supply and demand and are allowed to reach their point of equilibrium without intervention by government policy, and it typically entails support for highly competitive markets and private ownership of productive enterprises.
So what we see in the above definition is a “normative” element, i.e. makes claims about how things should or ought to be, how to value them, but in a strictly objective manner. Therefore, a “normative” element is present.
Quickly reviewing the above, what we can observe is that the “scientific method” is nothing more than a part of Catholicism with a very limited “normative” aspect that allows for the making of “value” judgements. However, a comprehensive and complete mechanism that allows for the widest understanding and valuation of human activity is provided by Catholicism.
Which brings us to all the other areas of human endeavor that lie outside of Catholicism. This category can be described as: all “normative” undertakings that are not derived through either the scientific method in particular or from Catholicism in general.
In other words, these are the aspects of human endeavor that have either not yet been proved using the scientific method or cannot be proved since they do not conform to natural law.
In other words, what we have left is “ideology”. Just a quick definition to refresh the memory, ideology is defined as: (see here)
1. the body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group.
2. such a body of doctrine, myth, etc., with reference to some political and social plan, as that of fascism, along with the devices for putting it into operation.
a. the study of the nature and origin of ideas.
b. system that derives ideas exclusively from sensation.
4.theorizing of a visionary or impractical nature.
As we can observe from the definition of ideology, when we speak about ideology as a strictly a “normative process”, we are referring to a “system that derives ideas exclusively from sensation” and “theorizing of a visionary or impractical nature”.
In other words, ideology by definition, is composed of all the aspects of human endeavor and thought that is divorced from and/or not compatible with natural law and natural moral law.
Concluding today’s post, what we can easily observe from the above text is the close relationship between “science” and “theology”. We can also make a wider assertion that the part of science that is not yet known to man, will be eventually made known through a scientific process. This scientific process is not only compatible with, but is in fact a subset of Catholicism.
Therefore, when we are observing an individual phenomena, whether they be the debate between the neo-modernists and the Thomists, the Keynesians and the monetarists, the socialists and the capitalists, the global warming alarmists and the climate realists, the genderists and the defenders of anatomically correct marriage or even the Bergoglian/Kasperian “theology done on the knees” proponants and the authors of the FiveCardinals Book, what we are in fact dealing with are issues that differ philosophically at their root in “normative” and “positive” processes.