Category Archives: Christian Philosophy

JUNE 7 2020 – PHILOSOPHICAL AND THEOLOGICAL RELECTIONS – 3: “THE CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY OF C.E.M. JOAD AND HIS CONCEPT OF PERSONALITY AND THE SOUL”

THE CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY OF C.E.M. JOAD AND HIS CONCEPT OF PERSONALITY AND THE SOUL

 

younger-joad

Cyril Edwin Mitchinson Joad

There is a small group of significant philosophers who

had extraordinary turnarounds. The most famous of

these is Ludwig Wittgenstein, who wrote about

his magnum opus, ‘The author of the Tractatus was

mistaken.’ So, too, A.J. Ayer who, in an interview with

the BBC, said of his former philosophy, ‘At the the end

of it all it was false’. Yet perhaps the most

extraordinary turnaround was the enormously popular

C.E.M. Joad.

 

Cyril Edwin Mitchinson Joad (1891-1953) was a university philosopher at Birkbeck College London, who wrote on a wide variety of philosophical subjects, both historical and contemporary. For most of his life he rejected religion—but in the 1940s and early 1950s he first abandoned atheism, then accepted a form of theism, and finally converted to Christianity.

Not until Recovery of Belief, in 1952, did he set out the Christian philosophy in which he had come to believe. This post explores just one aspect of that philosophy, namely his theory of personality and the soul—then briefly, what motivated him philosophically, to make such a radical about-turn. Here is Joad’s later view, in his own words:

‘Having considered and rejected a number of views as to the nature and interpretation of the cosmos, I shall state the one which seems to me to be open to the fewest objections. It is, briefly, what I take to be the traditional Christian view, namely, that the universe is to be conceived as two orders of reality, the natural order, consisting of people and things moving about in space and enduring in time, and a supernatural order neither in space nor in time, which consists of a Creative Person or Trinity of Persons from which the natural order derives its meaning, and in terms of which it receives its explanation.’

In his ‘interpretation of the cosmos’, then, Joad proceeds by seeking to vindicate ‘the traditional division of the human being [as] not twofold into mind and body, but threefold into mind, body and soul.’ The reference seems to be to the view identifiable in late-Scholastic theology, that a human being has an immortal part which can sin, be forgiven, and rise at the Last Judgement (the soul); a thinking part which can understand, affirm, deny, desire, imagine (the mind); and a body which is the agent of the mind and soul.

In fairness, Joad does not claim to demonstrate the validity of the threefold analysis; he claims no more than that ‘if it were true it would cover a number of facts which seem to be inexplicable on any other’. He offers it as what we might term an inference to the best explanation. He found no better way to explain the cosmos as he found it.

The soul, Joad tells us, is ‘the essential self and is timeless’. It is incarnated in bodies but can exist without them, since after our bodily death, it remains an individual entity and ‘sustains immortality’. At this point, the influence of Plato’s theory of the soul in the Phaedo is clear. Unplatonic, however, is the notion that the soul is ‘normally inaccessible to us’, and that we at least approximate to an awareness of it in ‘mystical experience’—experience with which ‘most of us, at any rate, are acquainted [in] certain moments of transport of tranquillity that we enjoy in our intercourse with nature’.

Yet Joad’s theory does not rely solely on mystical experience. There are those, he writes, to whom mystical experience is denied. Thus he posits the soul as our ‘point of contact and communication’ with the divine … God, to use the language of religion, influences man through his soul’.

Joad suggests that ‘The phenomena of spiritual healing and spiritual regeneration are … most plausibly to be explained on the assumption that God, in response to prayer, acts upon us through the soul to heal the body and strengthen the mind. The soul is also the ‘still small voice of God’ of which we are conscious when the hubbub of ordinary life and consciousness dies down”. This presupposes the existence of God, and of a God who acts in these ways.

Of the mind, Joad tells us that it ‘is brought into being in consequence of the contact of the soul with the natural, temporal order, which results from its incorporation in a physical body’. The mind cannot be identified with matter, as Locke’s ‘thinking substance’, for instance. Mind ‘cannot be adequately conceived in material terms … Is the notion of conscious matter really thinkable?’ Joad asks rhetorically and in protest against Julian Huxley.

Yet Joad concedes that ‘The mind is, it is clear, constantly interacting with the body and the brain.’ Again, it is not Joad’s purpose to demonstrate the validity of his analysis. In fact, he states that this is a paradoxical occurrence which ‘is, by us, incomprehensible’. This incomprehensibility, further, he sees as being characteristic of what he calls ‘all the manifestations of the supernatural in the natural order’; the supernatural here being the soul—with the mind and the natural being the brain and the body.

There is, however, a crucial concept which subsumes the categories of body, mind, and soul. This is ‘personality’, which Joad describes as being ‘logically prior’ to the soul, mind, and body as the three elements of our being. He introduces us to this concept by considering the relation of a sonata to its notes, and of nation or society to its members (with a more thorough discussion of mereology).

While Joad does not define logical priority, the basic idea is that the soul (to borrow a phrase from C.D. Broad) is ‘an existent substantive’ which temporarily ‘owns’ or is characterised by the mind, the brain, and the body. Hence any idea that the person is a composite, ‘resulting from the concurrence of a number of parts’ has things the wrong way round. The person, essentially identified with the soul as ‘the seat of personality’, is prior to the ‘parts’—the mind, brain, and body.

It came down to this. C.E.M Joad considered the creeds of a single, materialist, physical order of reality ‘palpably inadequate’, almost meaningless, in explaining the universe and our place within it. ‘Personality’ seemed the only explanation left.

Fifteen years after Joad’s death, the philosophical theologian Francis Schaeffer’s major work, The God Who is There, was published in the USA. Interestingly, Schaeffer there presents ‘personality’ as his core idea. He writes that we have either ‘personality or a devilish din’. Schaeffer had an enormous influence on American society and religion. Among other things. President Ronald Reagan, thirteen years later, ascribed his election victory to Francis Schaeffer.

Joad’s final, almost forgotten book may have been more important than we suppose—but not only for society and religion. The idea of ‘personality’ as being logically prior to all else might become a critical pre-condition for humanity’s survival in the 21st century.

 

Written by Richard W. Symonds – June 2020

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Richard W. Symonds

 

 

“CARDINAL PELL: NATURAL AND INALIENABLE RIGHTS” – ‘Philosophical Investigations’ – April 20 2020

 

“The legal cases of Cardinal George Pell and Bishop George Bell are very different, but there are parallels which cannot be ignored – such as the critical importance of Presumption of Innocence in the endless quest for justice and fairness”

~ Richard W. Symonds

 

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http://www.philosophical-investigations.org/2020/04/cardinal-pell-natural-and-inalienable.html

Monday, 20 April 2020

Cardinal Pell: Natural and Inalienable Rights

by Richard W. Symonds

The Church of St Cyriac, Lacock, by GB_1984

The principle of the presumption of innocence is of extreme importance, and the case of Cardinal George Pell has implications for the respect for—and security of—this principle.That one is considered innocent until proven guilty is a vital pre-condition for our survival and well-being within a civilised society. Undermining such jurisprudence can lead to catastrophic miscarriages of justice which ultimately threaten our humanity—in fact, yours and mine.

The accused is not required to defend or prove their innocence—it is for the accuser to prove guilt—beyond reasonable doubt. It is one of the foundational legal principles—a bedrock of our civilisation: ‘The burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies’. Or Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat in the ancient Latin.

Presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial, and an international human right embodied under Article 11 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

A just law must be a fair law, which punishes the guilty, not the innocent. Presumption of innocence is an immunity against unjust accusations.

In the case of Cardinal George Pell, a disturbing and dislocating miscarriage of justice has been exposed within Australia’s justice system—and presumption of innocence was almost lethally compromised and undermined.

A basic history of events—a timelined chronology if you will—would help:

• July 16 1996 — Bishop George Pell is appointed Archbishop of Melbourne. A former choirboy later testifies that the bishop molested him and his friend—both aged 13—in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne that year, after Mass.
• March 26 2001 — Archbishop Pell becomes Archbishop of Sydney.
• October 21 2003 — Pope John Paul II makes Archbishop Pell a Cardinal.
• February 25 2014 — Pope Francis appoints Cardinal Pell as his Finance Minister — Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.
• April 8 2014 — One of the choirboys dies aged 31, of a heroin overdose, without alleging the molestation by Pell, in fact telling his mother he had not been abused by Pell.
• August 5 2014 — Victoria police establish a task force to investigate how religious and other non-government organizations [NGO’s] deal with abuse accusations.
• June 18 2015 — The surviving choirboy gives his first statement to the police, claiming sexual abuse by Cardinal Pell.
• December 23 2015 — The Victoria Police task force appeals publicly for information relating to allegations of sexual abuse while Cardinal George Pell was Archbishop fo Melbourne.
• March 1 2016 — Cardinal Pell testifies by video link from Rome, to the Australian child abuse inquiry. Pell is critical on how the Church has dealt with paedophile priests in the past, but *denies he had been aware of the extent of the problem.
• October 19 2016 — Victoria police go to Rome to question Cardinal Pell, who hears details of the choirboy’s abuse allegations against him for the first time.
• June 29 2017 — Police charge Cardinal Pell with multiple counts of historical sexual abuse. This makes him the most senior Catholic cleric to be charged in the Church’s abuse crisis. Pell denies the accusations and takes leave of absence from the Vatican to return to Australia to defend himself.
• July 26 2017 — Cardinal Pell makes his first court appearance on charges that he sexually abused multiple children in Victoria decades earlier. Details of the allegations are not made public. Pell vows to fight the allegations.
• May 1 2018 — A Magistrate commits Cardinal Pell to stand trial. He pleads not guilty to all charges.
• May 2 2018 — A Judge separates the charges into two trials; the first dating to his tenure as Archbishop of Melbourne, and the other when he was a young priest in Ballarat during the 1970’s.
• December 11 2018 — The jury unanimously convicts Cardinal Pell on all charges in the Melbourne case.
• February 26 2019 — A suppression order forbidding publication of any details about the trial is lifted. Prosecutors abandon trial on the Ballarat charges.
• March 13 2019 — The judge sentences Cardinal Pell to six years in prison, on five sex abuse convictions, in which he must serve 3 years and 8 months before he is eligible for parole.
• August 21 2019 — Victoria Court of Appeal rules 2–1 to uphold the convictions, but there is ‘stinging dissent’ by that Court’s leading criminal law expert.
• The High Court, Australia’s top court, in an unusual procedural move, agrees to hear Cardinal Pell’s leave to appeal, and his actual substantive appeal, concurrently.
• April 7 2020 — All seven judges of the High Court of the Australian Court of Appeal quash the conviction of Cardinal George Pell. In a volte-face, they unanimously agree the appeal has succeeded, dismiss all convictions, and release Cardinal Pell immediately—after he spent 13 months in high-security prisons. 

In overturning the jury’s decision of December 2018, the seven High Court judges said the jury, ‘acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted’.There was ‘a significant possibility that an innocent person has been convicted, because the evidence did not establish guilt to the requisite standard of proof’. The High Court referred to what it called ‘the unchallenged evidence of the opportunity witnesses’ at the 2018 trial, which suggested there was cause for doubt.

This case has attracted world-wide attention for good reason.

What lies at the heart of our justice system is Lord Sankey’s ‘golden thread’ which runs through criminal and common law: Guilt must be proved by the accuser’s prosecution beyond any reasonable doubt. This undoubtedly did not take place in before the High Court judges intervened this April 2020 to make just the injustice.

It is better many guilty go free rather than one innocent is wrongly convicted and jailed for a crime they did not commit.

The Cardinal is entitled to be presumed innocent because that is what the Presumption of Innocence is all about—innocent until proven guilty.

Beware the spirit of the age. Alan Ryan, a professor of politics at Princeton University, sounded the alert thirty-two years ago: ‘Natural and inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness have fallen into disrepute, along with a faith in reason and reason’s dictates.’

 

COMMENTS

 

Keith said…
The essay focuses on the underlying legal principle of the ‘presumption of innocence’. Fair enough; that’s a just guiding rule; and my understanding is that the Australian legal system abides by that.

However, in looking down the chronology, as an impartial reader with no dog in the fight I see nothing that explicitly proves that the presumption of innocence was denied the defendant when the jury arrived at its verdict in December 2018.

Without categorical evidence to the contrary, I have to assume the empanelled jurors — a ‘jury of one’s peers’, as they say, with preemptory strikes by both sides — went into the trial and into their deliberations honoring the defendant’s presumed innocence.

Likewise regarding the presumption of innocence by the appeals court that apparently upheld the verdict, by a split decision, in August 2019.

I have no opinion whether the defendant was or was not guilty; that’s not appropriate for me to weigh in on, particularly given the dearth of evidence here. I defer to Australia’s legal system.

But, again, what’s important is I see nothing in either the chronology or surrounding narrative that supports the charge that, as the post says, ‘the presumption of innocence was almost lethally compromised and undermined’. The material proof of that assertion is omitted.

 

 

“In overturning the jury’s decision of December 2018, the seven High Court judges said the jury, ‘acting rationally on the whole of the evidence, ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt with respect to each of the offences for which he was convicted’”

The Hight Court judges ruled that “the jury ‘ought to have entertained a doubt as to the applicant’s guilt”.

That means the jury “entertained” a Presumption of Guilt, which is why I assert “the presumption of innocence was almost lethally compromised and undermined”.

Martin Cohen said…I think the presumption of innocence is particularly important with events so far off and subject to distorted memories and recall. In particular, witness evidence is even more prone to confused recollections than shortly after the event, while someone who is accused will have great difficulty defending themselves with regard to what “they did” when (if innocent) they can hardly be expected to remember much. Ironically, a guilty person has much more reason to remember events and be able to produce a coherent but false narrative…20 April 2020 at 13:24

Richard W. Symonds said…

Indeed, “the presumption of innocence is particularly important with events so far off and subject to distorted memories and recall…”. And now there is a fresh abuse allegation against Cardinal Pell which has come just after his acquittal – alleged to have taken place over 40 years ago “back in the 1970s”.

20 April 2020 at 14:51  

 

In our complex societies, we ‘prioritise the principles of social life’, as Yves Simon put it. Together with procedures which support those principles, this removes passions and prejudices as the basis for the system — rather artificially, one might add.

I asked myself how plausible it is that someone should bring false charges against a Cardinal. Does that really happen? Indeed it does, and it has been proved. See The Australian, ‘Cardinal George Pell convicted for a lacklustre display of empathy,’ by Angela Shanahan. Which is not to say that all charges are false, including those where there is acquittal.

This past week, my neighbour was taken from his home and jailed. When we checked, the police had failed to follow Standard Operating Procedure. For instance, they failed to ask him for a statement, and it looks as though there wasn’t a valid statement against him. Here is an example of what happens where passions and prejudices are allowed any room.

20 April 2020 at 16:50

Richard W. Symonds said…

“I asked myself how plausible it is that someone should bring false charges against a Cardinal. Does that really happen? Indeed it does…”

Yes, indeed it does. In the case of the Southampton football manager Dave Jones, falsely accused of abusing his children [recounted in his autobiography ‘No Smoke, No Fire’ – 2009], the police were forced to ‘trawl’ in prisons to find inmates to come forward to back up the accuser’s story. The presiding judge – Judge David Clarke – concluded: “No doubt there will be people who are going to think there is no smoke without fire. I can do nothing about that except to say such an attitude would be wrong”

20 April 2020 at 18:55 

 

 

Jan 25 2019 – “The Perilous Plight of the Church of England” – The Rev. Roger Salter – ‘Virtueonline’

Jan 25 2019 – “The Perilous Plight of the Church of England” – The Rev. Roger Salter – ‘Virtueonline’

https://www.virtueonline.org/perilous-plight-church-england

THE PERILOUS PLIGHT OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

By Roger Salter
Special to Virtueonline
www.virtueonline.org
January 17, 2019

When the British philosopher Cyril Joad returned to Christian faith and membership of the Church of England, he paid fulsome tribute to the unassuming clergy of the hundreds of ordinary parishes throughout the land.

The faith and fortitude of these lowly men of God was a major factor in sustaining Christian belief and character in the life of the nation. Sincere but unspectacular ministry held the church together and maintained the good health of the institution. The troops of the church were of more value than the titled, pretentious, liberal senior clerics.

These men, acknowledged by the former atheist, had no prominence in church affairs and received few plaudits for their sacrifice and loyalty. They had little access to the media and limited participation in the making of church policy. The overall impression of the Church of England was created by noted communicators of striking ability, or notorious skeptics who loved to bathe in the gratifying glare of publicity.

There must be many pastors of similar ilk to those highly regarded by Joad who remain active in the Church of England today. When criticism is made of the Church of England it is leveled principally, forcibly, and deservedly, at those in positions of leadership, and also those followers who heartily approve of them. There is great cause in our time to weep at the poor quality of spiritual leadership in the Established Church.

Canterbury and York are of no encouragement whatsoever and we are saddled with a bevy of bishops that seems utterly useless to the promotion of the true Gospel and who are a distinct danger to the souls who are cruelly hoodwinked by them. They happen to be the daftest set of clerics ever to exist en masse throughout our checkered history. They neither impart nor share in a sure way of salvation through our beloved Redeemer and his mission of human reclamation to God and criminally omit any valid preparation of the soul for eternity. “They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways” (Psalm 95:10). Some very plausible names come within this category.

Many of our professional scholars fail to evince a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ or any sincere reverence of his name. Their sophisticated mode of theologizing, purely on the plain of natural wisdom, i.e. folly, amounts to the scoffing of his divine status, obfuscation of his truth, and the proud, superior, patronization of traditional believers who enjoy converse with him, through the voice of the Spirit in Sacred Scripture. Rather than being servants of Christ they are in the service of an enemy genius whose sole and temporary reward (for he ultimately turns with savagery on his hapless lackeys) is the flattery of their flatulent egos through their “black-inspired” assisted display of intellectual acumen and stunning (they hope) originality that attracts great attention, and the admiration, of the gullible or lovers of obscurity or novelty. The human mind will devise any convoluted or contrary thesis to avoid the force of truth.

Welby and Sentamu are shockingly unsuited to their roles of headship, and the C of E now wallows in shame and uselessness.

Is it now time to “uproot, tear down, to destroy and overthrow” the errors and follies of the Church of England and then “to build and plant” in the right way”? (Jeremiah 1:10). Is it now time to launch a bold Luther-like corrective – the fearless, faithful preaching of the Word, the naming of error no matter the source, and quit all this fumbling, over-polite, soft-spoken, cautious, gentle concern of the bulk of current evangelicalism. The straight talk of the Bible is being eroded by those who have vowed to be its guardians: “The Church is a witness and guardian of Holy Scripture” (Article 20).

It is hard to detect any sound preaching to the nation on the part of our appointed Primates on soteriological issues that matter above all else that they could ever possibly aver. The fact and efficacy of the cross that preoccupied and animated the apostle Paul (but we preach Christ crucified) seems alien to the worldly mindset of our contemporary representatives. They are neither prime advocates of the eternal word or mates to those who love the scriptures. From their elevated pulpits, and great advantage in addressing the populace, they preach nothing but earthly concerns and pronounce on matters usually beyond their expertise and essential divinely ordained brief. How many of the lost will imagine, in their frenzied minds in the flaming abyss, the edifices of Canterbury and York cathedrals and make the accusation, “They never warned me, but majored mainly on the concerns of this short life on earth.” The momentous Gospel dimension simply is not mentioned to their vast potential audience.

A visit to the National Portrait Gallery in London will yield an accurate illustration of the essence of authentic Anglicanism in the portrayal of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer positioned within reach of two of the most treasured volumes in his ample library – the New Testament and an edition of the writings of St Augustine.

The Bible and the doctrines of grace of the Berber Bishop of Hippo constitute the genius of Anglicanism affirmed with clarity at the English Reformation. Anglican thought and practice derives principally from Holy Scripture; its doctrine is in alignment with the studied reflection on revelation of the Catholic creeds, and this historical inheritance is articulated more precisely through a confessional agreement with the core convictions of 16th century emergent Protestantism, both native and Continental. The resurgence of Augustinianism gave rise to the phenomenon of the reformed Church of England.

How far gone from this model is the prevailing spectacle of a deviant and dysfunctional substitute – the wayward institution that is the Church of England, drowning in the tidal wave of godless culture and amoral paganism. Daily, it seems, this effete organization plunges more deeply into the waters of destruction, its reputation and credibility besmirched by inane pronouncements and insane appointments to office and authority.

The so-called guardians of the Church, and guides of its people, seem to be attacking it vicious -ly with wrecking balls, and flummoxing the flock with tweaks, dilutions, and distortions of the testimony of Holy Writ with witless abandon. Scripture is quoted as intriguing narrative devoid of instructive propositions for logical arrangement in consistent conviction. It is quoted as mere embellishment of humanly invented and ornate orations designed to charm the imagination and tickle the fancy rather than charge minds to strive towards the real Kingdom of God rather than the Utopia envisaged by men.

The Church of England is a massive “let down” and key persons of ecclesiastical influence should be indicted for its collapse. The so-called peacemaker of Lambeth is a principal agent in its dismantlement, rendering into shattered pieces the noble edifice to the glory of God and well-being of sinners it once happened to be. Instead of being the Church militant the CoE is now becoming, at a rapid rate, the church emasculated and mutilated.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._E._M._Joad

The Rev. Roger Salter is an ordained Church of England minister where he had parishes in the dioceses of Bristol and Portsmouth before coming to Birmingham, Alabama to serve as Rector of St. Matthew’s Anglican Church. He is a regular contributor to Virtueonline