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In this podcast, Michael Matheson Miller and I discuss how both violence and entertainment and distraction are tools of state control. We discuss Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, some of the writings of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and Julia Alvarez’s novel In the Time of Butterflies about life under the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. We also discuss Victor Frankl, Josef Pieper, Michael O’Brien, Tocqueville’s idea of “soft despotism,” and Neil Postman’s argument in In Amusing Ourselves to Death about Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984. I note that these novelists take evil seriously, but are also careful not simply villainize the opposition so as to increase our understanding and self-awareness, and help prevent us from falling into the trap of another ideology.

Ep.54 The Psychology of St. Thomas Aquinas with Cajetan Cuddy O.P The Moral Imagination

In this episode I speak with Fr. Cajetan Cuddy O.P. about Thomistic Psychology: A Philosophic Analysis of the Nature of Man, by Fr. Robert Edward Brennan, O.P., edited and with an introduction by Fr. Cuddy.   Aristotle wrote that “to attain any assured knowledge about the soul is one of the most difficult things in the world.” We often read psychology because we want to understand ourselves and our behavior- and the behavior of others.  While we don’t normally think of St. Thomas Aquinas as a psychologist, as a serious philosopher, theologian, and student of the human person, St. Thomas gives us deep insight into human psychology — the study of the psyche or soul — our intellect, memory, will, emotions, and our embodied, embedded existence. Fr. Brennan’s book on Thomistic Psychology provides a good accessible introduction to Aquinas’ reflections on psychology.  As. Fr. Cuddy notes, some of the science in Thomistic Psychology is a bit out of date, but the key principles and ideas are still applicable and provide an important contribution, especially in a time when so many struggle with anxiety, depression, sadness and other mental health challenges.  These have many causes to be sure, but the impact of modern theories of materialism, spiritualism and other reductionist visions of the person makes people even more confused about who they are and how to live well. One of the ideas central to the work of St. Thomas and Fr. Brennan is the idea of truth — conforming the mind to reality — and how taking truth seriously combined with a solid, non-reductionist philosophy of the person can have practical, positive impact on our mental and psychological health. Thomistic Psychology presents an integrated vision of the person that helps us the better to understand ourselves and others, and provides clear models and practical advice on addressing our problems, how to fight bad habits and build good ones, how to address our emotions, disappointments, and successes, and a roadmap on how to live well. St. Thomas’ philosophy and pyschology are also very important because he takes our embodiement seriously.  We are not souls in a body or driving around in our body like we drive around in a car. Nor are we simply material beings determined by our neurobiology or genetics. Rather we are embodied persons our physical, moral, spiritual, emotional, and psychological life are intertwined.  What we do and happens to us physically impacts our emotional and mental life and vice versa.  St. Thomas’ suggested remedy for sadness is a perfect of example of his taking our physical and spiritual nature seriously. We discuss a broad range of topics including: What is a person Divine Persons, Angelic Persons, Embodied persons What it means for human to have a nature. What is a soul? What is a body? Why the body matters Free will The proper use of the powers of man The remedy for saddnes St. Thomas on the Senses — sight, touch, hearing etc. Memory Imagination St. Thomas idea of self-creation Human formation The person as passive and active agent The role of happiness Evil as a privation Why we need to be careful about the music we listen to, the movies we watch, what we think about  Spiritual and/or Religious The beginning of love according to John Paul II Faith, Hope, Charity How the Christian life is not to become an angel — but a human being fully integrated. Liturgy Fasting Pray with our Bodies Find show notes and links to books we discuss at Biography: Fr. Cajetan Cuddy, O.P., is a priest of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph. He serves as the general editor of the Thomist Tradition Series, and he is co-author of Thomas and the Thomists: The Achievement of St. Thomas Aquinas and His Interpreters. Fr. Cuddy has a B.A. from Franciscan University, a M.Div./S.T.B., The Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception, a S.T.L., The Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception and his doctorate, a S.T.D. from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland.  He writes and lectures extensively on the philosophy and theology of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Thomist Tradition. Some of his selected publications can be found here. Fr. Cuddy also lectures for the Thomistic Institute.  For an excellent introduction to the philosophy and theology of St. Thomas Aquinas I recommend the Thomistic and their series Aquinas 101 The late Fr. Robert Edward Brennan, O.P. was a Dominican Friar, professor, and the author of numerous books and articles including Thomistic Psychology and The History of Psychology: A Thomistic Reading, both published recently by Cluny Media.   Cluny Media Thomist Tradition Series Cluny Media Thomistic Institute The Thomistic Institute exists to promote Catholic truth in our contemporary world by strengthening the intellectual formation of Christians at universities, in the Church, and in the wider public square. Aquinas 101 Aquinas 101 is a video course project of the Thomistic Institute, located in Washington, DC. The Thomistic Institute exists to promote Catholic truth in our contemporary world by strengthening the intellectual formation of Christians at universities, in the Church, and in the wider public square.
  1. Ep.54 The Psychology of St. Thomas Aquinas with Cajetan Cuddy O.P
  2. Ep. 53 Vigen Guroian Tending the Heart of Virtue — Fairy Tales, Classical Learning, and The Moral Imagination
  3. Ep. 52 Philip Ovadia MD Metabolic Health, Diet, Cholesterol, Heart Disease, and Modern Medicine
  4. Ep. 51 Titus Techera Dune and Bladerunner Science Fiction, Dystopia and Humanity in American Life
  5. Ep.50 On Benedict XVI -Reason, Freedom, Beauty, and the Intellectual Sources of Secularism and the New Evangelization

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