Tuesday 12 May 2020

Integralism and Lunch

I'm finally having lunch. I started work early today, and I may well end it late tonight. The new book which we will be discussing for the next 12 days  is Integralism by Fr. Thomas Crean OP and Dr. Alan Fimister.

I read the Acknowledgements and Chapter One this morning, and they were great fun. Bernard Lonergan is notably absent from the Index. This is Thomism of the Strict Observance, as one rather expects from Fimister and Crean.

B.A. was delighted when the book arrived yesterday, and I told him that it was his anniversary present. We have both committed to reading a chapter a day. After reading Chapter One, B.A. warned me that it was not light reading, or however he put it. This was a misplaced tribute to my intellectual humility, for naturally I informed him that Integralism was not as difficult to read as Lonergan. I mean, I read [most of] Lonergan's Insight once. Did I mention that I read [most of] Lonergan's Insight once? Yes, I did.

This doesn't get me Brownie points with Thomists of the Strict Observance, but it did give me something to discuss with a Scottish Professor of Moral Philosophy. He was great fun and pointed out that he had got the Chair once refused to David Hume. B.A. and I had taken him to a restaurant for supper. The Professor one-upped me on morality (as you might expect), for when I mentioned I didn't feel comfortable, as woman, stepping into a pub alone, he declared that his mother had never set foot in a pub in her life.

That, by the way, is something unique to Scottish life. In the 1950s, if a young man took a young lady out for a drink in Edinburgh, he took her not to a pub but to a respectable hotel. And, in fact, once waiting for BA to finish a learned talk late one Edinburgh night, I waited for him in the Peacock Alley of the Caledonian Hotel, feeling safe, warm, happy and utterly chic.

Anyway, I feel a bit guilty for name-dropping (or, rather, Chair-dropping) an academic celebrity, but he is a reminder that philosophers can be great fun.

I have only eleven minutes left of lunch, so you won't hear oodles about Chapter One of Integralism except that Wendell Berry served as a good warm-up, as the book is about political philosophy and explains that political philosophy is "the study of man's life insofar as he is united with his fellow man in a way that extends beyond the family."

The writing is both elegant and clear, but although I have peppered it with my symbols for new ideas, important points and heartfelt agreement, the incidences of ???? show that I am not in total agreement. Fimister & Crean assert that "the good that men may obtain by [extra-familial] union is greater than the good which they may obtain by their union in domestic society." I have yet to be convinced of this although they swiftly make reference to the famous Lykov family.

Chapter One is also elegant in that it sets out the premises, definitions and/or distinctions and follows up all with a handy list of "Theses." Like the Summa, its a textbook, really. Meanwhile, it's lovely to read Aquinas again. He dominates the footnotes.

In lockdown news, I got very little fresh air yesterday as I was working that hard. However, my plants survived the frost, the cucumbers are on the move, and I've even seen a hint of basil. So that's all good. B.A. and I continue to be charmed by the Victorian Kitchen Garden, and I tried to work out what ours could look like before I fell asleep.

Lunch was leftover penne bolognese, and now I must go back to work.

Gardening Update: More movement among the gin botanicals on the windowsill (and dark silence from the runner beans and two other courgettes). Tonight the mercury may go to zero, so I have been out with my (local!) newspapers and cardboard to tuck in my vegetables for the night. I have brought the strawberries in again and informed BA that "I am a good plant mother." Ich bin Pachamama.

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