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 Post subject: Book Recommendations for Philosophy and Grammar
PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 8:27 pm 
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I recall someone here stating that grammar and philosophy (obviously) are good foundations for theology and I need to refresh and rebuild myself.
Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics seems like a nice start.

Should I get a grammar book (I am not very familiar with this)?
Also, should I acquire something that gives basics for Thomistic/Aristotelian Metaphysics?

Any recommendations would be appreciated.

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 Post subject: Re: Book Recommendations for Philosophy and Grammar
PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 9:06 pm 
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They are really very distinct fields. I'd recommend picking one or the other. The nice thing about really grasping grammar is that it will help you really appreciate philosophy when it comes to dealing with the precision of words and phrases. But that's very much a means to an end and you may lose patience with it. You really can get right into some pretty good philosophical literature if you just want to start there. Everyone will recommend, rightly, Edward Feser, esp Aquinas and The Last Superstition. I'm also very fond of Etienne Gilson's Unity of Philosophical Experience to sort of get you thinking philosophically.

At the same time, long before I took my first philosophy course, I had a pretty extensive background in grammar. In particular, I had taken nearly three years of Greek and a year of Hebrew. The neat thing about learning, say, Greek, is that you'll learn a biblical language while also getting a much better understanding of grammar in general. Then books like Moises Silva's Biblical Words and Their Meaning become a lot more meaningful (pun intended). And all of that will help you appreciate a great deal more what Aquinas and others say (and I'm thinking here again of Gilson, in this case, An Interpretation of Existence).

So maybe not a lot of help here . . . let me just summarize by saying that a good grasp on grammar will help you a lot in getting a good grasp on philosophy, and both of which will help you get a good grasp on theology. And the way I got fairly competent at grammar was by looking at Greek/Hebrew grammar, as it proved an interesting way to study the subject without just looking at it in the abstract. If you are interested in Greek grammar, I cannot more highly recommend Mounce (Basics of Biblical Greek) followed by Wallace (Greek Syntax: Beyond the Basics). Both are protty authors, though, so you might find someone else more interesting or maybe you'd rather just ignore Greek all the way around! But if you do look into it, I think it would be time well spent.

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 Post subject: Re: Book Recommendations for Philosophy and Grammar
PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 9:33 pm 
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Depending on how much philosophy you've had, this might be a good place to start: https://smile.amazon.com/Introduction-P ... philosophy

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 Post subject: Re: Book Recommendations for Philosophy and Grammar
PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 1:24 pm 
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Thanks for the recommendations.

My university was pathetic about all of this - no grammar or philosophy courses required for my Masters in Theology.


theJack wrote:
They are really very distinct fields. I'd recommend picking one or the other. The nice thing about really grasping grammar is that it will help you really appreciate philosophy when it comes to dealing with the precision of words and phrases. But that's very much a means to an end and you may lose patience with it. You really can get right into some pretty good philosophical literature if you just want to start there. Everyone will recommend, rightly, Edward Feser, esp Aquinas and The Last Superstition. I'm also very fond of Etienne Gilson's Unity of Philosophical Experience to sort of get you thinking philosophically.


Interesting. I do like Feser's blog and how he writes, I will look into this and the others you recommended (as well as what was recommended by Fr.). I would definitely like to delve into languages, but right now I have some form of anxiety and for some reason this makes it difficult to study languages and I fear perhaps it would effect grammar study as well. But that doesn't mean I won't give it a shot.

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 Post subject: Re: Book Recommendations for Philosophy and Grammar
PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 3:37 pm 
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Perhaps implicit in the above is that you should not start with Aristotle. Let me make that point explicit. :fyi:

If you have a pretty solid level of stick-to-itiveness, then I'd recommend the 3-volume set The Philosophy of St. Thomas by HD Gardiel.
http://wipfandstock.com/introduction-to ... ume-2.html
http://wipfandstock.com/introduction-to ... ume-3.html
http://wipfandstock.com/introduction-to ... ume-4.html
(It's a bit confusing, since these are numbered 2-4...but the 1st volume, which IIRC was on logic, has never been translated into English, so for practical purposes, I think of it as a badly numbered 3 volume set.)

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 Post subject: Re: Book Recommendations for Philosophy and Grammar
PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:46 pm 
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I ... ummmmm ... Aristotle would not be a good place to start.

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 Post subject: Re: Book Recommendations for Philosophy and Grammar
PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:47 pm 
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Let me ask this: when you say you want to study grammar, what is it you think that the topic covers? Because I would guess that very few philosophy programs, or theology programs, require such a course at all. They may have a foreign language requirement, which is a great way to learn grammar, but nothing on that topic specifically.

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 Post subject: Re: Book Recommendations for Philosophy and Grammar
PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 1:20 pm 
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Concerning Aristotle: I did have one course in philosophy during undergraduate and we read Aristotle – it was pretty easy to grasp and I never felt I had trouble. But perhaps there is more too it, like it seemed like I could understand it, but perhaps I was not fully grasping it?

I am not sure on the grammar aspect. TheJack says it best; having a good grasp of grammar helps with philosophy. But perhaps that is all tied into studying a language like Greek or Latin?

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 Post subject: Re: Book Recommendations for Philosophy and Grammar
PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 1:45 pm 
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I don't think you need a formal study of grammar to do philosophy unless you're studying those parts of it that claim that philosophy is only word games and has nothing to do with reality. And I don't recommend you waste spend time on those until you have a good grasp of good philosophy. Philosophy does require speaking and thinking clearly, but that's not particularly an issue of grammar.

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 Post subject: Re: Book Recommendations for Philosophy and Grammar
PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 2:29 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
I don't think you need a formal study of grammar to do philosophy unless you're studying those parts of it that claim that philosophy is only word games and has nothing to do with reality. And I don't recommend you waste spend time on those until you have a good grasp of good philosophy. Philosophy does require speaking and thinking clearly, but that's not particularly an issue of grammar.

To reiterate this and illustrate with another example from my own studies: it's important to distinguish between grammar and linguistics. A lot of modern philosophy is just the latter thinking they are doing philosophy, and because it doesn't understand philosophy proper, it makes a lot of linguistic mistakes! When I started studying philosophy formally (again, after my time in Greek and Hebrew), my prof handed me a book titled Objectivity in Biblical Interpretation, which is essentially an explication of a Thomistic understanding of epistemology. He strongly suggested to me that before I look at linguistics (as that was the field I was really interested in at that time -- my long term career goals related to Semitic languages) I get a good grasp on metaphysics. I cannot tell you how glad I am that I took his advice. Made my early studies into linguistics (which I abandoned shortly thereafter when I changed career focuses to be a healthcare chaplain) much easier and much more fruitful.

So I don't think you really need to spend a lot of time in biblical languages before you do any philosophy. Good textbooks, good questions, and good discussions with people you trust will help you learn quite a bit without it. What getting a grasp on Greek or Latin will help you do is practice making really important distinctions and looking at things very closely. You'll learn to see the assumptions in just about everything, because you'll come to experience first hand just how much assumptions tend to drive translation. If you want to be faithful, then, to the text you are translating, you'll find yourself asking questions most people would never dream of. And those critical thinking skills (and critical reading skills!) will give you quite the leg up when looking at philosophical material. But, again, it's just a leg up. Plenty of Greek scholars couldn't do good philosophy if their lives depended on it, so it's no guarantee. If your goal is to get a good understanding of theology, then skip the languages (for now, at least) and start at some of the other resources you've been pointed to in this thread. You wouldn't waste your time doing that like you would if you started right in something like linguistics (which you aren't considering, but just pressing that as the current example).

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 Post subject: Re: Book Recommendations for Philosophy and Grammar
PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 3:13 pm 
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My first couple semesters in seminary, I had a philosophy teacher who assigned one-page summaries of various readings. And when he said, "one page," what he meant was, "one page." He would allow perhaps a couple lines on a second page, but that was it. That made us think, "Is this important to the summary?" (It also made us learn about interword and interletter spacing in Word.) And that helped to sharpen my thinking processes. I griped about it then, but it's been quite helpful ever since.

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 Post subject: Re: Book Recommendations for Philosophy and Grammar
PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 5:08 pm 
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Alexandros wrote:
Concerning Aristotle: I did have one course in philosophy during undergraduate and we read Aristotle – it was pretty easy to grasp and I never felt I had trouble. But perhaps there is more too it, like it seemed like I could understand it, but perhaps I was not fully grasping it?

Yes.

The more you really study Aristotle, the more you'll find out just how hard he really is to grasp. I mean, the NE is one of the easier texts, I'd say, but it's still not easy.

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 Post subject: Re: Book Recommendations for Philosophy and Grammar
PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 7:04 pm 
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It doesn't help that the one thing above all he failed to learn from Plato was how to write in an interesting fashion. I'm pretty sure he wrote in such a boring manner with an attempt to teach his students in a practical way the virtue of fortitude. :stars: :sleep:

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 Post subject: Re: Book Recommendations for Philosophy and Grammar
PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 7:09 pm 
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I thought the theory was that what we actually have are a student's lecture notes :scratch:

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 Post subject: Re: Book Recommendations for Philosophy and Grammar
PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 7:43 pm 
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Only if that student was PED. I could believe that.

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 Post subject: Re: Book Recommendations for Philosophy and Grammar
PostPosted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 12:55 am 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
I thought the theory was that what we actually have are a student's lecture notes :scratch:



Yes, and ancient writers tell us that Aristotle wrote dialogues just like Plato to explain his ideas in a popular fashion, but they didn't survive. Likewise, Plato wrote in technical papers just like what we have from Aristotle, but, again, they didn't survive.


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 Post subject: Re: Book Recommendations for Philosophy and Grammar
PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 9:23 am 
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Aristotle s called golden tongued by Cicero. We did have some scraps of his dialogue

I do like the idea of doing grammar, and in general, of course, the liberal arts. Grammar is best done in learning another language, as the differences between it and your native language will aid in grasping the principles of grammar. Latin or Greek are excellent choices. But depending on your goal (brief familiarity vs being able to read-- not decode- texts) it caan take some time and effort. You can, with some effort, acquire the liberal art here on the side... that is, in endeavouring, while studying philosophy, to pay attention to the modes of signifying and their import.

I would urge, moreover, that the proper order in learning be respected. Metaphysics is dead last here. Logic, natural philosophy, ethics, metaphysics

Metaphysics without natural philosophy first becomes unintelligent (and gives rise to errors about even its subject and object)

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 Post subject: Re: Book Recommendations for Philosophy and Grammar
PostPosted: Mon Aug 07, 2017 12:26 pm 
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Pro Ecclesia Dei wrote:
Aristotle s called golden tongued by Cicero. We did have some scraps of his dialogue

I do like the idea of doing grammar, and in general, of course, the liberal arts. Grammar is best done in learning another language, as the differences between it and your native language will aid in grasping the principles of grammar. Latin or Greek are excellent choices. But depending on your goal (brief familiarity vs being able to read-- not decode- texts) it caan take some time and effort. You can, with some effort, acquire the liberal art here on the side... that is, in endeavouring, while studying philosophy, to pay attention to the modes of signifying and their import.

I would urge, moreover, that the proper order in learning be respected. Metaphysics is dead last here. Logic, natural philosophy, ethics, metaphysics

Metaphysics without natural philosophy first becomes unintelligent (and gives rise to errors about even its subject and object)

QED

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 Post subject: Re: Book Recommendations for Philosophy and Grammar
PostPosted: Tue Aug 08, 2017 5:47 pm 
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Thank your for the information everyone, I will look into the book recommendations as time permits.

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 Post subject: Re: Book Recommendations for Philosophy and Grammar
PostPosted: Sun Aug 13, 2017 11:33 am 
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I have not read near enough philosophy, but the writings of St. Anselm were brain candy for me. Also, I thoroughly enjoyed the writings of Marx and Engels. I liked them more for the rreason that it caused me to understand what my religion teacher, Dr. Graves (RIP) was always going on about. I have been all over the board with my philosophy reading. Never had any formal education in it. I love reading the writings of the saints. As soon as I get my copy of the Summa of St. Thomas, I am gonna dig in.

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