• 'All That Man Has and Is' : a Study of the Historiographical Concerns Guiding the Work of Christopher Dawson

      Sweetman, Robert; Greydanus, Richard; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2008-08)
      This thesis presents the historiographical concerns guiding the work of Christopher Dawson, Roman Catholic historian, sociologist, and philosopher of history, in terms of a science of human being, which is adequate to conceptualize human activity in time. The author attempts to show that Dawson rejects the modern, empirical paradigm, both for its secularity and its reconceptualization of the relation between time and human activity in history. A conceptual continuity Dawson sees between the work of modern empirical thinkers G.W.F. Hegel, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Nietzsche, and its consequences for understanding history as a teleological process, or the progress of Reason, consciousness, Spirit, self-overcoming, etc., is treated in the first section. Dawson's account of the natural conditions of human knowing, and its relation to his theory of culture, is treated in the second section. And in the final section, Dawson's understanding of the relation between religion and culture is presented.
    • Bernard of Clairvaux on the Song of Songs: a Contemporary Encounter With Contemplative Aspirations

      Sweetman, Robert; Mols, Michael John; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2007-08)
      Recent scholarship in biblical interpretation has remained suspicious of the "allegorical" approach to scripture, presumed as common to Medieval Christianity, and Bernard of Clairvaux is often acknowledged as paradigmatic of contemplative exegesis. Bernard's Sermons on the Song of Songs is often alleged to be an ultimate example of the dangers of monastic "allegorizing," in that such an approach lacks any consistency of method and maintains an ideological stance that is suspicious of and ultimately rejects the nature of bodily existence. This thesis counters these claims by utilizing the work of contemporary medievalists, instead of contemporary biblical exegetes, as a lens in a close reading of Bernard's Sermones Super Cantica, as well as his textual interaction with Peter Abelard and Peter the Venerable. This thesis suggests that Bernard is consistent in his method of performative reading and holds bodily existence as vital to the monastic and broader Christian way of life.
    • Discovering Connection: The Dynamic Tension and a 'More-Than' in an Eckhartian Conception of Soul

      Sweetman, Robert; Schulz-Wackerbarth, Yorick Immanuel; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2004-02)
      This thesis is first and foremost the result of my grappling with the works of Meister Eckhart. Accordingly, I intend to present here my reading of Eckhart's thought. This reading, my struggle to interpret the Meister, was, from the beginning, however, motivated by the aim to join a certain conversation. This conversation is what I have come to know as 'Christian philosophy'. I am new to the circles of those who admit to be participating in this scandalous project, yet already I have become quite aware of the controversy pervading this notion. It comes to the fore not only in the critical voices from the 'outside', questioning its meaning, relevance and legitimacy, but also in a lack of 'internal' consensus concerning its entailments. This is not necessarily a point of criticism on my part. In fact, I am much a proponent of conversations or projects that have an openness to them and lack clear cut deliminations. It does, however, make a brief apologia in preparation to this thesis necessary. I have no ambition whatsoever to state here what Christian philosophy is or should be. God forbid! I merely deem it important to place my project in context, and for that purpose I intend here to point out to the reader the direction I am facing. Thus, what needs to be clarified at the outset of my argument is that particular understanding of Christian philosophy this thesis intends to engage. The question here is, where and how to locate the conversation this thesis hopes to join. [from Prologue, p. 3]
    • Mutilated Music: Towards an After Auschwitz Aesthetic

      Sweetman, Robert; Cuthill, Chris; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 1999)
    • Not Ideas About the Thing But the Thing Itself: Thomas Reid's Epistemology in the Light of Artistotle's "De Anima"

      Sweetman, Robert; DeMoor, Michael; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2003-09)
      This thesis argues that, in spite of his explicit denunciation of Aristotle's theory of perception and thought, Thomas Reid's own theory of perception marks a return to the central themes of Aristotle's theory. It is argued, first, that Aristotle's 'De Anima' presents an account of sensation and thought in which the functions of the object of perception play the determining role with respect to the structure, order and intelligibility of the act of perception. Thomas Aquinas' and Descartes' transformation of Aristotle's account are then discussed, showing how the "apparatus" of Aristotle's theory remains while the ground of order and intelligibility is shifted from the functions of the object of perception to those of the perceiver as subject. The theories of the British empiricists are then shown to be continuous with this transformation of Aristotle's thought. Finally, it is argued that Reid returns to an objectivism by way of his rejection of the subjectivistic transformation wrought by Descartes et al. It is argued that this rejection is not---as Reid himself believes---a rejection of the crucial aspects of Aristotle's theory, but instead constitutes a return to its primary themes and theses.
    • Rhetoric More Geometrico in Proclus' Elements of Theology and Boethius' De Hebdomadibus

      Sweetman, Robert; Bovell, Carlos R.; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2007-11)
      My thesis inquires into the reasons behind Proclus' and Boethius' adaptation of discussion more geometrico in their metaphysical works, Elements of Theology and De Hebdomadibus, respectively. My argument is that each philosopher is engaged in a spiritual exercise to the effect that each sought, in his own way, to predispose readers to the anagogical acceptance of profound matters of faith.
    • Teleology in the Thought of William of Ockham

      Sweetman, Robert; Zylstra, Stephen John; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2007-07)
      This thesis offers an account of William of Ockham's understanding of teleology in order to question the standard modernist history of the concept. Ockham does not rely on the Aristotelian analogy between art and nature to establish that all natural things seek an end. Nor does he simply relativize the analogy by considering all creatures as having their ends fixed by God. Instead, Ockham draws a sharp distinction between voluntary and natural agency, which results in two very different uses of final causality. On the one hand, the way in which final causes operate in voluntary agents cannot compromise their freedom. On the other hand, the way they operate in natural agents cannot explain their necessity. Ockham negotiates the radical difference between the causality of voluntary and natural agents by positing a new analogy altogether, comparing it to the difference between will and intellect.
    • The Triunity of Life: On the Unity of the Vollenhoven Project

      Sweetman, Robert; Kamphof, Eric J.; Institute for Christian Studies (Eric Kamphof, 2004)
    • Weil, Truth and Life: Simone Weil and Ancient Pedagogy As a Way of Life

      Sweetman, Robert; Mols, Yvana; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2007-07)
      Contemporary philosophers, wary of the vaulted metaphysical systems proposed by Enlightenment thinkers, have explored alternative avenues of doing philosophy. Unfortunately, these "new" philosophical systems often neglect their roots in ancient philosophical practice. The purpose of this thesis is to textually ascertain the ancient concept of philosophy as a way of life in the contemporary philosophical work of Simone Weil. This connection is demonstrated in two distinct yet related ways. The practical pedagogy demonstrated through biographical work and student lecture notes provide a distinct vision of her life's bent toward practical philosophy. In addition, her Notebooks, read in light of Pierre Hadot's interpretation of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, demonstrate the pervasiveness of this way of life in her personal textual engagement. In Weil, therefore, we find an important contemporary instance of continuing and reinterpreting the ancient philosophical practice where she finds her philosophical origin.