The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Archive for March, 2008

Morning Prayer

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 31, 2008

Psalm 63
Daniel: Prayer of Azariah  at the end of this prayer add: “Let us bless the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, praise and exalt them above all forever. 
Psalm 149 

Readings:

Revelations 4:1-11 
St Augustine On Psalm 149 

Advertisements

Posted in Bible, Devotional Resources | Leave a Comment »

Latin Translation Woes and Holy Convoluted Conjugation Batman

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 31, 2008

I just tried to use an online Latin to English translation program. I had them translate chapter 1 of Matthew’s Gospel. So, how’d it go, you ask? Here are the first three “translated” verses:

1 FreeUnrestricted, Independent, Offspring, Book, Child, {Liber} generationis Iesu Christi daughter{filii} David daughter{filii} Abraham.
2 Abraham knee{genuit} Isaac, Isaac butalso, moreover, however, on the other hand, {autem} knee{genuit} Iacob, Iacob butalso, moreover, however, on the other hand, {autem} knee{genuit} Iudam and{et } brother{fratres} her{eius },
3 Iudas butalso, moreover, however, on the other hand, {autem} knee{genuit} A quiver{Phares} and{et} Zara aboutconcerning, {de} Thamar, A quiver{Phares} butalso, moreover, however, on the other hand, {autem} knee{genuit} Esrom, Esrom butalso, moreover, however, on the other hand, {autem} knee{genuit} Aram,

I understood it better in Latin!

Also, I conjugated the Latin verb “sum.”  Simple, right?  RIGHHHHHHHHHT.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Update on the Foundations of Biblical Thinking

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 31, 2008

I recently received an email from Mister Peter Mottola who is apparently associated with St Irenaeus Ministries. He wrote to inform me that the series they had once offered, entitled “The Foundations of Biblical Thinking,” will once again be made available via their podcast site. The first installment has been posted already.

From the site:

Way back in September of 2006 we posted a preview of “The Foundations of Biblical Thinking.” This study of Torah has remained one of our most downloaded episodes, so by popular demand here it is in its entirety! So crucial to the Christian life, we will enter into Pentateuch’s time-tested wisdom and find that the more we understand these first five books of the Bible, the more rest will come to our souls (cf. Jer 6:16).

Let us remember what Christ said “For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments [referring to Torah] and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven” (Mat 5:19-20). In addition, one cannot grasp Christ without a firm knowledge of the Old Testament.

Only by feeding upon Christ in Word as well as Sacrament will He transform us into Himself. These sacred texts are inspired by the Holy Spirit, without error and are ordained by God to be the means of solid instruction for His people. As the Old Testament is filled with riddles, however, one must dig deeply and prayerfully enter into them in order to it in order to adequately enrich ourselves â we bring folly upon ourselves when we ignore it.

The Old Testament offers four key gifts to Christians: (1) it points to Christ as the messiah and the savior of Israel; (2) it deepens our understanding of Christ by enabling us to read the New Testament in the light of the Old, and vice versa; (3) it provides a type of spiritual road-map for life, describing a saga which we are all fated to relive; and (4) it reformats our thinking to focus more on God, opening the doors into the infinite recesses of the Divine Heart and His sublime mysteries. What bountiful treasures await those who proceed in faith!

Far more than a myth, the Book of Genesis begins with the verse, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (1:1). In the distant beginnings of the human race, this verse establishes the most important things. Genesis is a book of origins and generations that follows the Hebrew logic that we understand the things of God by understanding His beginning.

If we humbly follow the Word to God on His terms instead of our own, He will increase our faith and will preserve us from doubting the veracity of these books. We simply must take these texts more seriously than we would children’s stories; but the fact that some consider Genesis to be a series of mere fables highlights our need to interpret Torah correctly. By an earnest study of Torah throughout these fourteen episodes, we will gain a firm foundation to study the entire Bible, equipping ourselves to spread God’s Word to the nations.

Remember that this series and all our other material is available on our webstore, siministries.org/Store. Thanks to Adam the Catholic for leaving us a review on iTunes – if you enjoy these podcasts please take a couple of minutes to leave us a short review there, as that will help us reach new listeners. Finally, this episode marks our first foray into music, and your feedback on that (and anything else, for that matter!) would be greatly appreciated: podcast@siministries.org.

Music: The Symphony No. 9, opus 95, “From the New World” by Antonin Dvorak from musopen.com.

This site has some outstanding podcasts available. As someone who knows a thing or two about the Bible, I can heartily recommend the series on the Gospel of Luke, The Prophet Malachi, and on the Letter to Hebrews. I suggest downloading i-tunes and subscribing to the podcast (both are free). And browse their webstore for other outstanding studies.

Posted in Audio/Video Lectures, Bible | Leave a Comment »

Notes on the Summa Theologica part 1, Q. 2, Art 1. Whether the existence of God is self-evident

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 30, 2008

My notes are in italics.
FIRST ARTICLE [I, Q. 2, Art. 1]

Whether the Existence of God Is Self-Evident?

Objection 1: It seems that the existence of God is self-evident. Now
those things are said to be self-evident to us the knowledge of which
is naturally implanted in us, as we can see in regard to first
principles. But as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. i, 1,3), "the
knowledge of God is naturally implanted in all." Therefore the
existence of God is self-evident.

The ideas that the knowledge of God is natural to us seemed to St John Damascene a likely fact, though he felt that such knowledge was neither clear no specific. Technically, Aquinas is not here arguing against what Damascene actually held, anymore than he is arguing specifically against St Anselm (see below); rather, he is arguing against ideas claiming them for support. “Taking their stand on the authority of the fathers (Tertullian, Damascene) many Catholic theologians… taught that the idea of God is not acquired by deductive thinking from the world of experience, but is innate in man. Certainly many of the Fathers, for example St Justin (Apol II, 6) and St Clement of Alexandria (Strom. V. 14, 133, 7) characterized the knowledge of God as automatic “not learned,” “automatically learned,” “implanted,” self-taught: or as “a gift of the soul”…but as the same Fathers teach that we must win the knowledge of God from the contemplation of nature, therefore, according to their conceptions, what is innate is not the idea of God as such, but the ability to easily and to a certain extent spontaneously to know the existence of God from his works. (See St Thomas In Boethium De Trinitate q. 1.a 3 ad 6: ‘The knowledge of God is said to be innate in us in so far as we can easily know the existence of God by means of principles which are innate in us.'” (The Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Ludwig Ott)

Obj. 2: Further, those things are said to be self-evident which
are known as soon as the terms are known, which the Philosopher (1
Poster. iii) says is true of the first principles of demonstration.
Thus, when the nature of a whole and of a part is known, it is at once
recognized that every whole is greater than its part. But as soon as
the signification of the word "God" is understood, it is at once seen
that God exists. For by this word is signified that thing than which
nothing greater can be conceived. But that which exists actually and
mentally is greater than that which exists only mentally. Therefore,
since as soon as the word "God" is understood it exists mentally, it
also follows that it exists actually. Therefore the proposition "God
exists" is self-evident.
Obj. 3: Further, the existence of truth is self-evident. For
whoever denies the existence of truth grants that truth does not
exist: and, if truth does not exist, then the proposition "Truth does
not exist" is true: and if there is anything true, there must be
truth. But God is truth itself: "I am the way, the truth, and the
life" (John 14:6) Therefore "God exists" is self-evident.
The counterargument:
_On the contrary,_ No one can mentally admit the opposite of what is
self-evident; as the Philosopher (Metaph. iv, lect. vi) states
concerning the first principles of demonstration. But the opposite of
the proposition "God is" can be mentally admitted: "The fool said in
his heart, There is no God" (Ps. 52:1). Therefore, that God exists is
not self-evident.

No one can mentally admit the opposite of what is self-evident (e.g.,
of the principle of contradiction, or of causality); but the fact that

act that one can mentally admit that God does not exist proves there
is a fundamental flaw in the above objections.

The direct proof:

_I answer that,_ A thing can be self-evident in either of two ways: on
the one hand, self-evident in itself, though not to us; on the other,
self-evident in itself, and to us. A proposition is self-evident
because the predicate is included in the essence of the subject, as
"Man (the subject) is an animal (the predicate)," for (the predicate) animal is
contained in the essence of (the subject) man. If,
therefore the essence of the predicate and subject be known to all,
the proposition will be self-evident to all; as is clear with regard
to the first principles of demonstration, the terms of which are
common things that no one is ignorant of, such as being and non-being,
whole and part, and such like. If, however, there are some to whom the
essence of the predicate and subject is unknown, the proposition will
be self-evident in itself, but not to those who do not know the
meaning of the predicate and subject of the proposition. Therefore, it
happens, as Boethius says (Hebdom., the title of which is: "Whether
all that is, is good"), "that there are some mental concepts
self-evident only to the learned, as that incorporeal substances are
not in space." Therefore I say that this proposition, "God exists," of
itself is self-evident, for the predicate is the same as the subject,
because God (the subject) is His own existence (the predicate) as will
be hereafter shown (Q. 3,Art. 4). Now because we do not know the
essence of God, the proposition (that God exists)
is not self-evident to us; but needs to be demonstrated by things that
are more known to us, though less known in their nature--namely, by
effects.

The followers of St Anselm object that we have not the quiddative knowledge of God which the blessed enjoy in heaven, which means that we do not know the deity as it is in itself; but we do know what is meant by the name of God, namely, that if God exists, then he is the first Cause and the most perfect Being; and this suffices.
St Thomas would reply to this, as he points out in the reply to the second objection of the following article , by saying: The names given to God are derived from his effects (as first Cause, most perfect Being),…’Consequently, in demonstarting the existence of God from his effects, we may take for the middle term the meaning of the word God.” In other words, the nominal definition of God does not include actual existence, and from this definition all that can be concluded is that God is self-existent and independent of any other being, if he exists. It follows then that God’s existence must be demonstrated a posteriori, that is, from those effects already known to us. This is just what is said in the reply to the second objection of this article. Excerpted from The One God: A Commentary on the First Part of St Thomas’ Theological Summa, by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange

Reply Obj. 1: To know that God exists in a general and
confused way is implanted in us by nature, inasmuch as God is man's
beatitude. For man naturally desires happiness, and what is naturally
desired by man must be naturally known to him. This, however, is not
to know absolutely that God exists; just as to know that someone is
approaching is not the same as to know that Peter is approaching, even
though it is Peter who is approaching; for many there are who imagine
that man's perfect good which is happiness, consists in riches, and
others in pleasures, and others in something else.

Reply Obj. 2: Perhaps not everyone who hears this word "God"
understands it to signify something than which nothing greater can be
thought, seeing that some have believed God to be a body. Yet, granted
that everyone understands that by this word "God" is signified
something than which nothing greater can be thought, nevertheless, it
does not therefore follow that he understands that what the word
signifies exists actually, but only that it exists mentally. Nor can
it be argued that it actually exists, unless it be admitted that there
actually exists something than which nothing greater can be thought;
and this precisely is not admitted by those who hold that God does not
exist.
Reply Obj. 3: The existence of truth in general is
self-evident but the existence of a Primal Truth is not self-evident
to us.

Posted in Quotes, ST THOMAS AND THE SUMMA, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Second Sunday of Easter (Divine Mercy Sunday)

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 30, 2008

Listed below are some online audio resources which focus on the Mass readings for today. You can also listen to the prayers and readings from the divine office.  Finally, there are some links to the Mass Readings and notes upon the text.

AUDIO: 

Sunday Gospel Scripture Study by Monsignor Daniel Muggenberger. Time: 60 minutes

His Mercy Endures By Doctor Scott Hahn. This is very brief.

St Michael’s RCIA Podcast I haven’t listened to this one yet. Time: Unknown.

The Office of Readings

Reading and notes on: 

Acts 2:42-47

1 Peter 1:3-9 

John 20:19-31

The Historical Cultural context of the Gospel 

St John Chrysostom Homily 87 On The Gospel Of John

Posted in Audio/Video Lectures, Bible, Devotional Resources | Leave a Comment »

Update on the Recently Discovered Texts From St Augustine

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 29, 2008

From Mike Aquilina’s outstanding blog:

Constanze Witt of the Department Of Classics at the University of Texas posted the following to a medieval list.

Not all sensational finds come out of the ground! Augustine scholars will be delighted at the news of 6 previously unknown sermons’ being discovered through a library “excavation” in Erfurt’s Bibliotheca Amploniana. Isabella Schiller and colleagues from the Austrian Academy of Sciences discovered these works while studying an 800-year-old manuscript in the summer of 2007.

Concealed in a medieval parchment manuscript amongst 70 other religious texts are ca. 26 sermons attributed to Augustine, 3 of them on brotherly love and alms-giving. These were known previously only by their titles cited in Possidius’ Indiculum. One sermon is on the martyrs Perpetua and Felicitas, and another on the recently martyred Cyprian, the latter of which condemns the copious drinking that took place on saints’ feast days. The final sermon deals with resurrection of the dead and biblical prophecies.

The 12th c. mss came from England(?) to Erfurt as part of the enormous collection of more than 630 books donated by the physician and theologue Amplonius Rating de Berka to the ‘Collegium Amplonianum’ which he founded in 1412.

For 24 amazing images of this absolutely pristine and gorgeous codex, see here.

The 6 new sermons will be published in Wiener Studien. Zeitschrift für Klassische Philologie und Patristik und lateinische Tradition
Sermones Erfurt 1, 5, and 6 in Bd. 121 (2008), pp. 227-284.
Sermones Erfurt 2, 3 and 4 in Bd. 122 (2009)
They can now be viewed on display in the Sondersammlung der UB Erfurt für Foto- und Filmaufnahmen. Several public lectures are
planned in the coming weeks.

Posted in fathers of the church | 2 Comments »

Notes on Hosea 7:3-7

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 29, 2008

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture texts are taken from the WEB Bible.

7:3  They make the King glad with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies.
7:4  They are all adulterers.  They are burning like an oven that the baker stops stirring, from the kneading of the dough, until it is leavened.
7:5  On the day of our king, the princes made themselves sick with the heat of wine.  He joined his hand with mockers.
7:6  For they have prepared their heart like an oven, while they lie in wait.  Their baker sleeps all night.  In the morning it consumes it burns as a flaming fire.
7:7  They are all hot as an oven, and devour their judges.  All their kings have fallen.  There is no one among them who calls to me.

In 1:4-5 the prophet had predicted the downfall of the dynasty of Jehu and of the northern kingdom of Israel.  Apparently, the former was the start of the latter.  After the death of Jeroboam II, of the dynasty of Jehu, six kings would reign in Israel over a span of just twenty years.  Of these, four would be assassinated; one would be removed by the king of Assyria, and the last would be taken into exile by the Assyrians when the kingdom was destroyed.  Here the prophet is speaking about the political intrigue of wicked men who deal treacherously with the king in order to gain his confidence and thus more easily kill him.

Many scholars interpret the text a focusing on a specific king and his assassin.  The most common candidates are Pekahiah, who was assassinated by Pekah, who then seized the throne.  Some others attribute the text to Menahem’s assassination of Shallum or Hoshea’s assassination of Pekah.  Clearly, there is no scarcity of candidates, and for me it seems that we should best interpret the text as a general prophecy of what was to come, rather than as referring to a specific event.

Vs 3  They make the king glad with their wickedness… A righteous king would not be gladdened by wickedness; the king’s own sins have set him up for his fall to wicked men.  The same can be said of his “princes” (heirs or men of position in the kingdom’s administration).

Vs 4  They are adulterers.  They are burning like an oven that the baker stops stirring.  An odd combination of metaphors.  Perhaps the idea is: Just as a man burns with lust after a woman, so too, these men burn with lust for murder and the kingship.  More likely, the two metaphors are to be taken as separate; adultery being a reference to feigned friendship, for an adulterer fakes fidelity to his wife while cheating on her.

The whole text of vs 4 is badly corrupted and a number of interpretations are possible-e.g., the passions of the intriguers are like an oven that burns its contents; their mood is uncertain like an oven whose fire burns down and does not bake the bread enough; like a baker who puts yeast in the dough and then banks the fire to keep the dough warm without baking it, they repress their passions until everything is ready and they can deliver the decisive blow.  The extension of the oven image in vss 6-7a would seem to support this last interpretation.  (Jerome Biblical Commentary 15:19)

vs 5  On the day of our king, the princes made themselves sick with the heat of wine.  He (the king) joined his hands with mockers.  “The day of our king” is most likely either a reference to the day of his enthronement, or to the celebration of its anniversary.  On such a day, their is drunkenness among the princes (the king’s advisers?) who should have been watching out for the king’s interests.   Instead, the king associates with irreligious men whom he thinks are friends.

Vss 6-7  See the quotation from the JBC above.  Note also the phrase “all their kings have fallen;” a possible indication that the text should not be taken as referring to a specific king, as I noted above.

Posted in Bible, NOTES ON HOSEA | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Aquinas on Soul and Body

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 28, 2008

Chapter 10
Soul And body

1. The substantial Ego.

2. Plurality of faculties.

3. Soul and body.

4. Organic character of human operations.

5. Spirituality, Simplicity, Immortality.

 

1. The substantial Ego. The subject matter of scholastic psychology is not mere consciousness, or any single human function, but the whole man, the ego with the manifold activities of which he is the source. Even organic operations of nutrition and locomotion were dealt with in psychology. All these functions arise from one single source: the human ego. It is the same ego that eats, digests, moves, knows , wills, or suffers. This is so true that the intense exercise of one function can hinder the exercise of others. Thus, when I am digesting my dinner, I find the work of thought more difficult.

The ego is a substance, in other words a reality which is capable of existing by itself, in the sense that it does not exist in something else (8:2). Moreover, the ego is an individual or complete substance. It is only the individual human being as a whole that exists. To such an individual we give the name of “person,” in order to bring out the fact that in the human species the individual subject is endowed with reason. The definition of Boethius still holds good: persona est rationalis naturae individua sustantia, an individual substance of a rational nature. The true and unique human reality is therefore this particular human substance, this individual human being, which in the ordinary course of things is this person. To speak of “collective personality,” or of a personality which would include other persons as parts, is to weave a concept from mutually contradictory notions. Indeed the members of such a collective personality could not themselves be persons, since a person must be independent of all other beings. Moreover consciousness naturally protests against the compenetration of my ego with another. We need not add that such a compenetration would mean the destruction of the freedom of the individual. Already we can see why scholastic moral and social philosophy emphasizes the value of individual personality, the psychological foundations of which are here laid down.

How does Thomas Aquinas prove the substantial and individual nature of the ego? He does so in arguing from consciousness, which testifies to its existence and its permanence. Consciousness directly grasps my substantial ego in and through my activities. In thinking, in taking decisions, in walking, I attain to my own existing substance. However, it is important to note, that consciousness reveals on the existence of the ego, and teaches us nothing of its inmost nature. It tells us that the ego exists, not in what it consists. The est proof of this is the disagreement amongst thinkers concerning the nature of the ego, of the soul, or of man in general.

The permanence of the ego, as witnessed by memory, furnishes another demonstration that it is really and truly and individual substance. At the present moment I realize that I am the same person that I was five years ago, in spite of my many changes and activities since then. This permanence is an indication of the fact that I exist in myself, by my own right, so to speak.

2. Plurality of faculties. In order to harmonize the unity of the ego on the one hand, and the varied character of its functioning on the other, Scholasticism attributes such activities as cannot be mutually identified, such as nutrition, movement,sense knowledge, knowledge by abstraction, will, to immediate sources known as “faculties” (8:3). Thomas maintained that these faculties are really distinct from the ego. doubtless, in the last analysis, it is the man who acts, but he acts by means of his faculties, which are deeply rooted in what may be called the substance of the man, but are at the same time distinct from it. Moreover, Thomas teaches that man’s faculties of action are not only distinct from his substance, but that they are also really distinct from each other, e.g., intelligence from will, He bases this teaching upon the fact that they mutually influence each other, and that one and the same thing cannot be the subject and object of an action. This already shows us that the whole doctrine is the result not of an intuition but of a reasoning process. The classification of the proximate principles of human action or faculties reduces itself to a catalogue of those activities of the ego which cannot be identified with each other. It is not a psychological, but a metaphysical explanation. Consciousness tells us nothing about the faculties or energies of the ego, apart from their exercise. Apart from thought, the mind remains a mystery to itself forever. “The human intellect has within itself the power of understanding, but not of being understood except in so far as it is in a state of activity” (ST Ia, Q. 87, art. 1). There are no means of getting at the mind-in-itself, nor of saying beforehand, as Fichte did, what objects is is capable of attaining. Nor does the faculties tell us anything more concerning the precise nature of the action. For instance, to know that vision is a faculty adds nothing to our understanding of the activity of sight itself, but it sheds light upon the internal constitution of the acting subject; from the specific difference of human activities, it becomes evident that manifold principles of action must exist in one subject. Critics of this theory must bear in mind the elementary principle that we must not demand from the theory of faculties what it does not profess to give.
The same reasoning process which informs us of the existence of faculties also teaches us that the ego is composed of a soul and a body.

3. Soul and body. The substantial ego, or human individual, is not a simple being, but one composed of a body and soul. This leads us to the current definition of man: a “rational animal” (definition by logical parts) or a “compound of body and soul” (definition by real parts). Like the other living substances-plant or animal, unicellular or higher organisms-man is regarded as a compound made up of a body which plays the part of “matter” and of a soul which acts as the “substantial form.” If we recall what has been said in the previous chapter about matter and form, we shall understand the role of the soul and the body in man.
In the first place, since man really is a single whole, he is not a compound of two independent substances, as Plato and Augustine held, but one substance. it is true that the extended body and the soul are parts of man, and parts of a substantial kind, since neither the soul nor the body alone is complete, or individual. Soul compenetrates body to the very essence of its being; they give themselves to each other, and thus form one units.
This leads to a second doctrine which is another application of the theory explained above. Since the human soul plays the role of substantial form, it confers on the whole individual man his specific character (9:4). It is on account of his soul, which is higher in the scale of perfection than the vital principles of the animals and plants, that the functions of man include the specific human powers of knowledge and will. Similarly, the functions of animals are wider than those of plants of the specific differences of their becausevital principles, as the vital principle of the lion differs from that of the rose tree. And in general all living creatures are different from and superior to inorganic bodies, such as a molecule of water or a loadstone, because they possess a form which is superior in perfection to any form found in the inorganic world. The human soul organizes its body from within and makes it its own body, by continually influencing and compenetrating it, and, when death puts an end to this union, the body ceases to be human and becomes something else.
It is because of this organizing role that Aquinas holds fast to the unity of the human soul, and this is a third doctrine which we want to emphasize. The question of the unity or plurality of the soul was a subject of heated discussions, If the individual is one being, it can only possess in itself one organizing element which confers this unity, although this one principle, if it occupies a high place in the scale of beings, like the human soul, possesses many kinds of activity which are found separately in inferior beings. The single human soul embraces the vegetative powers of nutrition and reproduction, the animal powers of sense perception and appetition, and in addition the powers of rationality. Here, as everywhere else, the psychological thesis of the unity of the soul is simply a particular application of the more general metaphysical doctrine of forms. There is a doctrinal solidarity throughout, and man takes his place in the vast harmony of the universe.
Finally-and this is the fourth application of the same general doctrine-the human body, which plays the role of matter, is the reason of the multiplicity of individual men within the human race. It is really the human body, as a product of generation, which is the principle of individuation; the precise reason why a man has such or such a soul,with its more or less perfect potentialities, is because he has such or such a body. The soul possesses the particular body for which it is fitted. It is true that the generation of a child is nothing but the becoming of a new substance, that its development comprises several stages specifically different in kind, and each more perfect than the one preceding, and that the immortal soul is created by God and united to the embryo only when the dispositions of the new organism are sufficiently perfect to require union with a human soul. But, although the spiritual and immortal soul is not a product of generation, nevertheless the parents in producing the body of their child assume the responsibility of fixing the potentialities of its whole being. The soul may be compared to wine, which varies in quantity according to the size of the cup.

4. Organic character of human operations. Since the body is everywhere penetrated by the soul, since flesh, muscles and nerves derive from it their qualification of human, we can easily understand that not only our organic life, but also our psychic life, is closely bound up with the organism. Sensations and sense desires, which man possesses in common with other animals, have their seat in the organism, and are in consequence extended and divisible. In the case of abstract and universal concepts, scientific judgments and reasoning, the willing of the good in general, and the free choice of of particular goods, the soul is still held to the organism, since a disease of the nerves is sufficient to prevent the use of reason and to diminish or destroy our liberty. But there is an important difference to note here. The normal condition of the body is only an external condition: it is not responsible for the existence of thought or of will in their very essence. The body does not “secrete” them. Thought and will are superior to everything that is material.
Why? Because the human concept has the royal prerogative of extending its dominion over reality, in depriving it, by abstraction, of all that make it merely corporeal, multiple, and tied to time and space. It transcends the corporeal. The most profound notions, such as those of being, cause, force, substance, have a representational content so far detached from the corporeal or sensible that there is no contradiction in extending them to reality which is non-corporeal, or suprasensible, if such are proved to exist.

5. Spiritual, Simplicity, Immortality. We have seen that abstract knowledge has a content independent of material existence. In consequence, the soul too-of which abstract knowledge is an activity-shares the same character of independence. The vital principle of man-the soul- transcends matter: it is immaterial or spiritual. If it were otherwise, the effect (thought) would exceed the power of the cause, the less would produce the more and this would lead to the identity of contradictories. To be spiritual consists only in being able to act and exist without depending intrinsically on corporeal co-element or body. It is true that our rational soul depends indirectly on the organism inasmuch as the soul depends indirectly on the organism inasmuch as the soul draws from the sense perceptions material for abstract knowledge, and therefore the human soul naturally tends to be united to a body. But such a dependence does not affect the very essence or nature of the soul which is of a superior kind. Whereas the vital principles of plants or animals are plunged in matter (immersa) the human soul can subsist without body, although the body could not be without the soul.
Being spiritual, the soul has no quantitative or material parts in it. Moreover, self-consciousness does not admit of internal composition, since it is a process by which our soul imposes its whole self upon itself (reditio completa). If one folds a corporeal thing, for example a sheet of paper, only a part covers another part, but the whole sheet cannot be completely folded upon itself. Thus, if the soul were composed of quantitative parts of Consciousness would be partially but not totally imposed upon itself. Simplicity means absence of composition. It is a perfection of course, since in every composed being, the parts are limits of the whole, but we grasp it y way of negation, because, as has been seen above (3:2), we have no proper knowledge of realities which go beyond the realm of sense perceptions.
Simplicity precludes the very conception of dissolution; the soul is not subject to death. Only God could annihilate it. As the soul is naturally capable of surviving death, and as on the other hand it is naturally destined to inform or determine a body and to find in the senses the channels of knowledge, a new union after death, with a body which will thereby become its own, does not involve any contradiction. Moreover, the intermediate state of the disembodied soul was regarded as provisional and incomplete.
In this way the chain of deductions unfolds itself, as did the great doctrines of Greek philosophy (spirituality, simplicity, immortality) which Aquinas regarded as truths accessible to human intelligence in virtue of its own powers. The arguments of Plato’s Phaedon are completed by the reasoning of the De Anima of Aristotle, and the De Immortalitate of Augustine. The Schoolmen without exception continue the line of Spiritualist philosophers. Materialism, which confuses sensation and thought, and which puts human individuality at the mercy of ever-changing chemical combinations, like a rose tree which withers or a lamb which is slaughtered, has an implacable enemy in Scholasticism.
On account of the spirituality of his soul, man occupies a central position in the universe. He is a spirit, but one destined to display its life in a body. He is midway between merely corporeal things and pure spirits. He is to use a comparison dear to the Middle Ages, a microcosm, for all the perfections of reality as a whole meet in him in a wonderful alloy. Excerpted from THE PHILOSOPHICAL SYSTEM OF THOMAS AQUINAS by Maurice De Wulf

 

 

Posted in St Thomas Aquinas | Leave a Comment »

Lost Lectures of St Augustine Found

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 27, 2008

Four previously unknown lectures by the greatest of the Western Fathers have been found in the research library of Erfurt.  In addition, two other complete lectures of which we had only partial content of have also been discovered.  H/T The Way Of The Fathers

Posted in fathers of the church | 1 Comment »

Just Because I thought It Was Funny

Posted by Dim Bulb on March 25, 2008

papalmass.jpg

Courtesy of Catholic Cartoon Blog

Posted in humor | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: