Archive for January 30th, 2010|Daily archive page

Q. Is It Fitting For Someone to Drink Beer?

My friend passed this on to me, and I am passing it on to my readers in honor of the feast week of this blog’s beloved saint and patron. From the Generic Catholic Phorum:

Addendum to secunda secundae:

Q. Is it fitting for someone to drink beer?

Obj. 1 It seems that it is not fitting for anyone to drink beer. For, as Paul says, we ought not to live in orgies and drunkenness. (Rom 13:13) Now beer is known to produce drunkenness in the drinking agent. Therefore, no one should drink beer.

Obj. 2 Moreover, though drinking beer does achieve the proximate end of gladdening man’s heart as David says (Ps 104:15); its final end is a hangover. Now things are judged by the desirability of their final ends, and nobody wants a hangover. Therefore, it is not fitting to drink beer.

Obj. 3 Moreover, Dionysius writes God is perfect, man is not. Man made beer, but God made pot. (Celestial Hierarchies of Highness, 4:20) Now every rational creature ought to pursue the more perfect activity, according to its nature. Therefore, under the aspect of intoxicants, people ought to smoke pot rather than drink beer.

on the other hand Pabst is said to have won the blue ribbon at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Now nothing is awarded the blue ribbon unless it is considered good under some aspect. Now as we have read on the Budweiser can, beer is usually considered through its taste, smoothness, and drinkability. Thus there is some sense in which it is fitting and good to drink beer.

responsio: Both beer itself and the act of drinking beer are understood in multiple ways.

Beer itself is understood in three ways. First, beer can be understood under the aspect of cheapness. Here we have such understandings as Natural Light and the inaptly named Milwaukee’s Best. These substances, however, are not beer properly understood, but are merely the privation of the good beer that ought to be there. They are, therefore, a failure of actuality and hence are evil.

Second, beer is understood under the aspect of snobbery. Here we find many fancy and fruity beers that some of the great drunks of yore called “micro-brews.” These induce a vain discourse about beer in their consumers, leading to a foppish misuse of the faculty of speech.

Third, beer is understood in, as it were, a via media between these two extremes, in regular ordinary beers, like the Pabst Blue Ribbon mentioned above, which an ordinary person can drink without feeling like either some cheap college jarhead or fancy lad.

Furthermore, the drinking of the beer can be understood in two ways. First, beer can be drunk in a reckless fashion such as to lead to bravado, reckless bets, black eyes, waking up in the bushes, falling down stairs and fornication. In this sense, as the venerable Alvarus Pelagius has pointed out (De Planctu Ecclesiae, 173-174), beer drinking is a threat to the conscience and learning of our own students.

Second, beer drinking can be understood under a more responsible aspect, when it is done for the sake of simple conviviality and relaxation, and only leads to minor fights, accidents, and otherwise absurd but unimportant truth claims.

Therefore, when beer itself, understood under the third aspect above, is consumed according to this second manner, it is fitting for anyone to drink beer.

hence Ad 1. The solution to this difficulty is clear from what has been said. Beer, properly, consumed will not produce excessive drunkenness, or orgies in the proper sense.

Ad 2. From what has been said, it is clear that a hangover is not the true and proper end of drinking beer, though it is the end of those who drink the wrong beer in the wrong way.

Ad 3. Dionysius is speaking here of perfection from God’s perspective. It may be true that pot is a more perfect substance than beer, or indeed a more perfect creation. But this does not necessarily mean that, from the human perspective of party planning, ancillary activities to be enjoyed, and scruples about the civil law, beer may be a more perfect choice than pot in many particular cases.