Tommy Boy’s Inaugural Lecture

Here’s a fact.

Back in the day lecturers and professors gave inaugural lectures and I guess there was a bit of a hoopla about them because they hitherto weren’t already giving lectures as underpaid graduate assistants trying to finish their dissertations. Now Tommy Boy’s first lecture was a vocalise-étude en forme de Pseudo-Denys the Aeropagite, who I think it would be more fun to call Dennis the Menace from here on so I will. Dennis the Menace was a Neo-Platonist from Syria and was well into ascending and descending hierarchies of forms and angels and wisdom and things like that. I’ll copy-and-paste a pedantic description of this inaugural lecture to save myself some time. It’s a lecture about his new job, which he is obviously chuffed about. In it he argues that

The role of theologians, is minor, is nevertheless honourable, in the cascading descent of divine wisdom. Things are disposed by divine providence in such a way that creatures have real effect on one another. To suppose otherwise diminishes God by denying the power to cause things to happen with which rational creatures are endowed. Teachers play a real part in the transmission of knowledge.*

As you can see it’s all a bit “Look at me. I’m kind of important in the Grand Hierarchy of Things. Without me you’d all be ignorant.” Not just theologians talk that way, mind.

This looks like a pretty good read. It’s auf Deutsch though.

Thomas: ein Kinderbuch

Thomas the Cat (Tom Cat, geddit?)

Now when Tommy Boy wrote On the eternity of the world, against murmurers**  — and this is completely unrelated but sort of important so file it away (I’m typing it here in case I want to link to it later) — he contended that the idea that the world (you know the cosmos, that sort of thing) is eternal, as Aristotle taught, is a totally sensible idea. Of course, he believed it was a false idea. But unlike the people he disagreed with, he did not believe that the idea of a beginning of the cosmos was irrational, holding that it cannot be proved by reasoning and rational argument that the world has not always existed from eternity. He name-checked some heavies — Augie and Anselm — in support of this.

* Kerr, Fergus, Thomas Aquinas: A Very Short Introduction, p. 26. Don’t get the idea that just because I’ve quoted a theologian and referenced the work that this is turning into a Theology Blog. It’s just I don’t want do get sued for plagiarism or whatever.

** By referring to them as “murmurers” Tommy Boy is alluding to some colourful stories from the book of Exodus in a roundabout way of saying he wishes that the colleagues in his faculty that disagree with him would die in the wilderness, with their corpses lying rotten and unburied under the hot desert sun. Not just theologians think this way from time to time. Often other sorts of academics develop similar personality disorders.


About J. Rhombohedral Hematite

Not a Theoblogger. Nota bene.
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