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Selections from the Writings of Charles De Koninck Compiled by Bart A.

(c) 2013 Bart A. Mazzetti

TEXTS OF CDK 1. Natural Science as Philosophy (repr.; Qubec: Laval University, 1959) 2. The Unity and Diversity of Natural Science, Mlanges l Memoire de Charles De Koninck 3. The Hollow Universe, Ch. III, The Lifeless World of Biology. p. 84 4. Three Sources of Philosophy (Reprinted from the Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association, The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, 1964, pp. 13-17) (excerpts) 5. The Unity and Diversity of Natural Science, Mlanges l Memoire de Charles De Koninck, pp. 5-25 (excerpt) 6. Introduction to the Study of the Soul. Preface to Stanislas Cantin, Prcis de psychologie thomiste (Quebec: Laval University, 1948) (Eng. tr. Bruno M. Mondor, O.P.) 7. Prefatory Remarks to A General Introduction to the Study of Nature by Charles De Koninck. Manual, Prentice Hall. Corrected by T. De Koninck and C. De Koninck 8. Resume of lecture notes of Methodologie Generale given by M. Charles De Koninck. 1938-39 (Page 1) 9. Letter to Mortimer Adler, Quebec June 15, 1938 (excerpt) 10. Le Cosmos, Laval (1936) (typescript, pp. 40-44) (insertions [in square braces] by B.A.M., as are the footnotes) 11. The Wisdom That is Mary, The Thomist, vol. vi., no. 1, April, 1943, pp. 2-3 (excerpts) 12. Education Before the Age Of Reason. Taken from The Importance of Education Before the Age of Reason. Commencement Address to the Graduates of Saint Marys College. Notre Dame, Indiana (June 2 & June 3 1960) (Rpt. Fidelity Magazine, Vol. 12, December, 1992, pp . 17-21) (excerpt) Supplement: 1. Emmanuel Trpanier, In Memoriam Charles De Koninck

TEXTS OF CDK 1. Ancient and modern: The distinction between philosophy and science. n. 1. Charles De Koninck, Natural Science as Philosophy (repr.; Qubec: Laval University, 1959), p. 1:
We are often told of a distinction between philosophical psychology and experimental psychology. This is a distinction that I do not understand. Take the beginning of the De Anima, where Aristotle shows that even here we must provide natural definitions as distinguished from the logical or dialectical. His example is that of anger. It is true that anger is a desire for vengeance. But this definition is purely formal, somewhat like the definitions of mathematics, i.e. per species. Now, in mathematics, formal definitions are sufficient to the subject, since the subject is abstract; anger, however, is also something physical, as may be seen in the behavior of any person in a rage. If we are to form a natural definition of what anger is, we will have to add something to that desire for vengeance, such as attended by an effervescence of the blood about the heart. A psychology which would confine itself to formal definitions would be no more than dialectical. (Notice, however, that this natural definition of anger is itself only dialectical, but dialectical in a different sense. For propositionsand a definition is virtually a propositionmay be called dialectical for two different reasons: either because the composition or division of the known terms which it comprises is no more than probable; or because one or both of the terms themselves are insufficient, which is the case of purely formal definitions of natural things. We have to do with something less than dialectical when the terms are themselves no more than likely constructs, even though they have some basis in experience. Such was the case of Aristotles incorruptible heavenly bodies, and of Daltons atoms.) In the definition of anger as a desire for vengeance attended by an effervescence of the blood about the heart, the former part is certain, though dialectical; the latter part, taken by itself, is natural, yet dialectical qua insufficient even as a natural definition. Natural, because it refers to something sensible; dialectical because no more than provisional.

n. 2. Charles De Koninck, The Unity and Diversity of Natural Science, Mlanges l Memoire de Charles De Koninck, pp. 5-25 (excerpt):
On the question of where the study of nature should begin, Aristotles teaching is clear and familiar. His first treatise on natural science, the Physics, tells us, at the very beginning, that the investigation of nature must start from the things which are more knowable and certain to us and proceed towards those which are clearer and more certain in themselves; for the same things are not knowable relatively to us and knowable absolutely. So in the present inquiry we must follow this method and advance from what is more obscure by nature, but more certain to us towards what is more certain and more knowable by nature. Now what is to us plain and obvious at first is rather confused wholes, the elements and principles of which become known to us later by analysis. Thus we must advance from vague generalities to particulars. For it is a [vague] whole that is more known to sense perception, and a generality is likewise a kind of whole, comprising many things within it, like parts. Much the same happens in relation of the name to the definition. A name such as circle, means vaguely a sort of whole; the definition analyses this whole into its parts [i.e. defining parts]. Similarly a child begins by calling all men father, and all women mother, but later on distinguishes each of them. 1

Should the thought occur to us that modern science may have rendered the mode of procedure obsolete, just as it has invalidated much of Aristotles cosmology, we shall find no support for our suspicion in one of the more advanced expositors of the scientific outlook, namely Lord Russell. Just last year, he wrote of a prejudice which he describes as perhaps the most important in all my thinking. . . . This is concerned with method. My method invariably is to start from something vague but puzzling, something which seems indubitable but which I cannot express without any precision. I go through a process which is like that of first seeing something with the naked eye and then examining it through a microscope. I find that by fixity of attention divisions and distinctions appear where none at first was visible, just as through a microscope you can see the bacilli in impure water which without the microscope are not discernible. There are many who decry analysis, but it has seemed to me evident, as in the ease of the impure water, that analysis gives new knowledge without destroying any of the previous distinct knowledge. This applies not only to the structure of physical things, but quite fits such concepts. Knowledge, for example, as commonly used is a very imprecise term covering a number of different things and a number of different states from certainty to slight probability. It seems to me that philosophical investigation, as far as I have experience of it, starts from that curious and unsatisfactory state of mind in which complete certainty without being able to say what one is certain of. The process that results from prolonged attention is just like that of watching an object approaching through a thick fog: at first it is only a vague darkness, but as it approaches articulations appear and one discovers that it is a man or a woman, or a horse or a cow or what not. It seems to me that those who object to analysis would wish us to be content with the initial dark blur. Belief in the above process is my strongest and most unshakable prejudice as regards the methods of philosophical investigation.2 Now, what can such a mode of procedure have to do with our question, which is where we ought to begin a study of nature? The method described means that we should begin with generalities which, though vague, are quite certain. Of course no intellect with a speculative vitality can rest in these generalities however reassuring in their certainty. The mind wants to know as much as it can about as much as there is to know. Knowledge, as we progress, must become more and more specific and detailed. The real question is, ought we to make some formal, radical, distinction between our first approach to nature, with its vague certainties, and the more particular knowledge acquired as we move forward? It would be disastrous to fall back into the ancient confusion that sciences are distinguished according to degrees of generality. Not that we refuse all value to distinctions based upon degrees of generality. St. Thomas own Proemium to the Physics distinguishes the various branches of natural science according to what is less and less universal, and natural science can hardly proceed without divisions based upon decreasing generality, if by generality is meant community of predication, as animal is more common than man. Hence it is that Aristotle, in the first treatise of natural science, the Physics, studies mobile or changeable being in general. What he there establishes is meant to apply to every kind of change. First to absolute change, as when a man comes to be or dies; then to the special kind of change called motion, such as walking, turning pale, or growing. Notice, however, that in the modern study of nature there is nothing that corresponds to the problems and discussions of the Physics. For instance, we accept some initial, nominal, definition of movement, infinity, place, time, etc., but we no longer ask just what are the realities which these words are intended to mean. In fact, many a modern author, in his attempt to arrive at a real definition of movement, will conclude that there is no such thing and reduce it to an illusion arising from a succession of immobile states. It would be easy enough to show how he reaches his

curious conclusion, and how it is quite beside the point. But this is not my subject. All I mean to stress is that in fact modern researchers often fail to begin by analyzing vague generality first conveyed by the word movement. Right from the start they want something exact, such as the way a movement is measured, in terms of place and time, with both of these latter items left equally undefined except as to name; and movement, time, and place are soon replaced by symbolic constructions which some will interpret as substitutes more exact than the namesWhich in a sense they are. But symbols, however precise the rules for their use, may easily leave the basic issues as obscure as ever. What has been lost sight of is that the only way of achieving true success in such investigations is by deeper and deeper understanding of what was at first only vaguely known. My high school textbook of physicsnearly forty years agobegan with La dynamique celeste, which could in some measure be held to correspond with the treatise De Caelo, namely cosmology. The subject of the De Caelo was mobility according to place, by means of which the universe itself is defined. The aim of the study was to discover laws governing the universe, an aim which is still that of physics today. Though local motion is the most common sort of change, it is of a special kind nonetheless. So by starting the study of nature with this kind of motion, science must overlook what all kinds of change have in common. The mind is applying itself immediately to their differences and will soon be led to deny these. For example, the denial of these differences is implicit in those thinkers who believe that the ultimate explanation of whatever there is to be explained in nature will be a mathematico-physical one. Of course there is also an impressive number of eminent physicists who reject this over-simplification. Aristotles third treatise on nature is about change according to quality: On Generation and Corruptionthe two terms of alteration. Although it is only in relatively familiar living creatures that these absolute terms of qualitative change are verified beyond a doubt, it may well be true that all natural things are subject to such alteration. At any rate, no exceptions are known for certain. Still, motion according to place obviously remains more universal than change of quality and the kind of coming to be or passing away attendant upon it. Allow me to call your attention to the fact that, in On Generation and Corruption, Aristotle pays chief attention to sensible qualities, such as hot and cold, wet and dry. For this reason, there are many who point out that his view of nature was essentially a qualitative one, whereas the modern one tends to be entirely quantitative. Finally, in the fourth of these treatises, Aristotle applies himself to the kind of mobile being that changes according to quantity, in growth and decrement. This is the living being, which is surely a less common object in nature, no matter how much life there may be on as many other planets as you choose. Now, it is exceedingly important to notice that the Philosopher, in his treatise on living beings, should start, not by considering, first of all, living being in general, as he has taken mobile being in the Physics, but that he should begin with a study of the soul: De Anima. The reason is, as St. Thomas explains, that the investigation of living things is from the outset based upon a new kind of experience: the experience of being alive which we ourselves enjoy as we have sensations. If we abstracted from this experience, we could never arrive at any definitive reason for distinguishing the living from the non-living. Indeed some moderns already find themselves at this point. For them, swelling and growth have become the same thing; reproduction is perhaps mere copying; atoms are said to repair themselves, and the operation of mechanical computers are identified with thought. In other words, if we abstract from our inner experience of being alive, as distinguished from sheer external sense experience, we will find ourselves surveying living things from a point of view which can never acknowledge even the most obviously living things to be alive. The unpredictable behavior of some animals might always be attributed to our ignorance of the relevant data. From the De Anima, which defines the principle of life and its differences in kind, we move on towards more concrete knowledge of the organic power of sensation and its object:

De Sensu et Sensato. Experience of sensing, and reflection upon this experience (which we call internal), remain in the foreground, but we are now bent upon relating sensation to the physical tools which it implies and upon which it depends. Then follow the Parva Naturalia: De Memoria et Reminiscentia, De Somno et Vigilia, De Juventute et Senectute, De Morte et Vita. Notice that the later two studies refer to states that are common to all familiar animals and even to all forms of life. In other words, within biology itself, we are following an order which in a sense is the reverse of that observed in proceeding from the generality of the Physics to reach biology. In the study of life we begin with confused knowledge, it is true; yet it is knowledge not of an integral whole, but of an integral part, namely, that by reason of which a living, thing, primarily the animal, differs from a mere body. From this we progress gradually, with growing dependence upon external experience, toward more distinct knowledge of the part, of course, but also, and simultaneously, of the whole. For the study of that which makes a living thing to be alive must eventually entail the study of each of its organs, and of their ultimate coordination. The first living beings to be considered in their totality are the animals. Such study will lead man into the jungle, sea, air, and back to the laboratory. The knowledge he amasses is first descriptive of the type recorded by Aristotle in the De Historia Animalium. Then he will want to know why the various kinds of animals, including man, should be built as they are and behave as they do. This is the subject of the De Partibus Animalium. In still further treatises the scientist must become even more concrete and apply himself to the particular way in which various animals come to be, reproduce and get around. I refer to the treatises De Generatione, De Motu Animalium and De Progressione. Aristotle, the Philosopher, desired to know why dogs run a little slantwise! The man whom in our day we call a philosopher is quite indifferent, if not averse, to this kind of knowledge. We should be reminded of what his great forerunner declared in the De Partibus Animalium: We now proceed to treat of animals, without omitting, to the best of our ability, any member of the kingdom, however lowly. For if some have no graces to charm the senses, yet even these, by disclosing to the mind the architectonic spirit that designed them, give immense pleasure to all who can trace links of causation, and especially to those who are naturally inclined to philosophy. Indeed, it would be strange if mimic representations of them were attractive, because they disclose the mimetic skill of the painter or sculptor, and the original realities themselves were not more interesting, to all at any rate who have eyes to discern the reasons that determined their formation. We therefore must not recoil with childish aversion from the examination of the humbler animals. Every realm of nature is marvelous: and as Heraclitus, when the strangers who came to visit him found him warming himself at the furnace in the kitchen and hesitated to go in, is reported to have bidden them not to be afraid to enter, as even in that kitchen divinities were present, so we should venture on the study of every kind of animal without distaste for each and all will reveal to us something natural and something beautiful. Absence of haphazard and conduciveness of everything to an end are to be found in Natures works in the highest degree, and the resultant end of her generations and combinations is a form of the beautiful.3 But let us return to our problem. When we move from the realm of the Physics into that study which today takes the place of the De Caelo or from the De Anima to the De Animalibus, are we going from philosophy to science? Or, if the order were reversed, would we be going from science to philosophy? But can we in fact practice the one without the other? Relativity and quantum theory are often said to be scientific and not philosophical. Stated as a principle, this distinction puzzles me. I can see that Einsteins theory does not depend upon a definition of time of the type which Aristotle provides in his Physics, and that the ancient definition does not depend upon time as Einstein describes it. Yet both Einsteins theory and Aristotles definition have to do with nature in some way or other. The point is:

do these diverse ways relate to diverse purposes? To put it more exactly: do they divide the subject-term of the study of nature? It might be remarked that of course their purposes differ: in one case the aim is to know just what time is; in the other, to know what time it is, how to measure a length of it, or how to define simultaneity at a distance. The difference is plain, but does it oblige me to conclude that the time of mathematical physics has nothing to do with the time known and named before mathematical physics began? Let me refer again to the text we quoted from the De Partibus Animalium: it is a thirst for philosophy that sets one on to investigate sensible things in a fashion now called scientific as distinguished from the philosophic. Yet Aristotle and St. Thomas themselves use language which seems to support a real distinction between philosophy and science; because they speak of natural sciences in the plural; so that, if one of these is natural philosophy it would appear to be something other than the rest. Notice, however, how this plurality is explained: One science can be subject to another in two ways. First, when the subject of one science is a species of the subject of the higher science; in this way the animal is a species of natural body, so that the science of animals is subordinate to natural science. There is subordination in another sense, when the subject of an inferior science is not a species of the higher one but when the subject of the inferior science compares to that of the superior one as what is material to what is formal. 4 The latter kind of subordination is called subalternation. An instance of this is the way the science of optics is subordinated to geometry. But, if these two kinds of subordination be properly understood, it will become clear that, though they do give rise to distinguishable fields of study, they do not truly divide the subject of natural science. That the first kind does not have this effect is plain from the example: the study of animal is clearly an extension of the study of body. Let us see how the second also fails to generate an entirely new science. Geometry, to take up our own example, is used in optics for the sake of manifesting sensible phenomena, not for the sake of furthering geometry, a science which constructs its own subject and has no more than a remote foundation in reality. Mathematics is not about nature, yet we use it to manifest nature; for mathematics, in this respect akin to logic, is about subjects and their properties that follow from our mode of understanding consequuntur ex modo intelligendi, sicut est abstractio mathematicorum et huiusmodi .5 True, optics and harmonics are formally mathematical, since in them we apply to subjects of sense experience mathematical knowledge which, even when applied, remains mathematical.6 Though only materially natural, the subject which we aim to reveal is nonetheless natural. For this very reason we call such sciences more natural than mathematical: because everything is named and specified by its terminus: hence because the business of these sciences terminates in natural matter, even though they proceed through mathematical principles, they are more natural than they are mathematical. 7 Why should all the divisions of natural science be no more than material divisions, including even the distinction between the purely natural sciences and those which, though mainly natural, are formally mathematical? The reason is that sciences are formally distinct according to their modes of defining, and of these there are, generically, 8 only three, the natural, the mathematical, and the metaphysical. Whether it be man or rainbow that we describe or define, our description or definition must include sensible matter, and this is to define in the natural mode. The subjects of mathematics, however, are defined without sensible matter, though they would need it to exist outside the mind where they would cease to be mathematical. Finally, there are the definitions of metaphysics, namely, of subjects which are entirely separated or separable from sensible matter, although their real existence is not easy to establish. Any other mode of defining would have to be of non-sensible things with sensible matter, which is impossible except in a verbal way. Now, the whole point is

that sensible matter is a generic and univocal term, like the intelligible matter of mathematics9such as the continuity of a line or the units of a number. But matter is said analogically of sensible and intelligible. Yet, unlike sensible matter, intelligible matter gives rise to specifically distinct sciences not because of the specific differences, but by reason of different modes of defining, as can be seen in the radically distinct modes of construction. Metaphysical subjects are defined by excluding all matter, whether sensible or intelligible, and their definitions are in this sense, negative, although the definita are most positive. We must consider still another difficulty, one which is more obvious in our time, and that seems to justify the distinction between philosophy of nature and natural science. The ancients did not respect the prodigiously fruitful role of fictionslogical fictions, as Bertrand Russell calls them. Nor did Galileo or Newton, for the matter of that; a fact ironically brought out by Newtons famous hypotheses non fingo. (Newton actually contrived most fruitful fictions, though he failed to realize that they were fictions.) The contemporary mathematical physicist knows that he can probe into the world of nature only by means of mental constructions suggested in part by experience, in part by mathematics. They are fictions in the strict sense of this term, whose power we must not underrate. The atom, for instance, is largely a logical fiction. If you have any doubts, look at what has happened to atoms since Daltons days. (I say largely, for in physics the mental constructs must have some foundation in experience and experiment, else they could hardly lead to further knowledge of nature.) Let us look a bit more closely into this subject. Is the mode of defining in mathematical physics today still the same as in earlier times namely, with sensible matter? Yes and no. First of all, the definitions of mathematical physics are no longer definitions in the strict sense of this term. They are not even nominal. The astronomer cannot make much headway with nominal definitions of sun or moon, which may be verified by pointing to the sun or the moon. He has his own mode of defining and it is not even nominal, it is symbolic, although he uses words in describing measurement and experiment. The raw materials of his type of knowledge are already the result of measurement and experiment, gathered into and expressed by measure-numbers that are symbols. Now there is a curious fact about these symbols: they must in the end refer to a very particular concrete object found near the capital of France, the product of a convention, namely, the meter, or some similar device. For meter does not mean simply measure, or standard of length, though the word comes from the Greek metron, which means universally that by means of which the quantity of a thing is first made known. The mathematical physicist can get nowhere with such a definition. His definition of the meter is the distance between two lines on a certain platinum-iridium bar kept at the International Bureau of Weights in Paris, when this bar is at 0 C. or 32 F. Copies of this bar are kept elsewhere. Meter, in physics, is the name we have given to a certain physical object of our own making. It should be understood as a proper name, like Oscar. We have fair copies of the meter, in a laboratory or dry goods shop but the authentic one, the real Oscar, is in Paris. Now this is an individual thing from which, so long as the convention holds, we must not deviate. It turns up in all other measurementseven in the most unexpected of these, namely, in the definition of temperature which enters into the definition of the meter. For the platinum iridium bar is called a meter long when its temperature is 0 C., and the mercury column of our thermometer has a scale which is a graduated length. If the definition of meter were intended as an authentic one, like we gave of measure, it would be circular. It is a definition only in the original sense of delimiting and thus setting apart. One might object that there ought to be something universal about the meter, since there are many copies of the one kept in Paris, and that meter can be said of each. But the objection ignores the real issue. For no metal bar anywhere is a meter except to the degree that it is a fair copy of the original one in Paris, and the Parisian one cannot be predicated of

any but itself. It is true that if the Paris meter were destroyed, we would construct another, but our convention would still hang upon an individual object. The mathematical physicist is no doubt after universal knowledge, but the essential thing is that he no longer pretends to achieve it. He can scarcely dare, when his entire science must rely upon an individual object. Much the same is true of all the natural sciences as they advance towards greater concretion. Our definition of man as a rational animal is safe enough, but this tells us nothing about the anatomy and physiology that characterize man. To acquire knowledge of this kind we must perform experiments upon individuals, and further knowledge will depend upon these. Now a knowledge which continues to depend upon individual things may hardly be called science in Aristotles sense, for the simple reason that individual things are never sufficiently grasped. By episteme Aristotle meant knowledge about a universal subject, acquired by demonstration from first, self-evident, and proper principles. Even to him there was not much of it outside logic and mathematics. But if it be knowledge of the physical world that we seek, we will soon be launched on a sea of provisional generalizations, universals ut nunc, i.e., for the time being, and of hypotheses to be improved upon by further hypotheses. Though we move on in great strides, nothing final can ever come into sight. We are sometimes told that this precarious, provisional character of even the most exact branch of natural science, mathematical physics, must not be over-stressed. And the reason offered is that we achieve undeniable results. The results may be indeed most practical; but does this require that theoretical knowledge, which led to their success be speculatively true? We can launch artificial satellites on the basis of Newtonian physics, but does this prove that such physical theory is true? Practical success is always a sign that we are on the right track towards speculative truth, but to move towards a term and to have reached it are not quite the same thing. Daltons atoms, conceived as billiard balls, only much smaller, served their purpose and were nearer the truth than those of Democritus; but they were not the last word on the subject, nor are the atoms of today. Just because we can set down the word atom does not mean that there are atoms in the way that there are apples. Atoms are not atoms in the way apples are apples. As Heisenberg puts it: we cannot speak about the atoms in ordinary language. Now, all this faces us no doubt with a deep enough cleavage between diverse modes of knowing the things in nature. But does this cleavage restrict natural philosophy to our initial gropings under investigation? What we are agreeing to call philosophy of nature is experimental too, though not quite after the manner of mathematical physics nor even of advanced biology. I pointed out long ago that in the study of nature we must distinguish between strictly scientific knowledge (in Aristotles sense) and that which is called dialectical, as providing no more than an opinion. Now, opinions are still enunciated in words, and are in fact true or false if it be speculative knowledge that we mean to express. Notice, however, that an opinion is not a fiction in the strict sense of this term. It is, at bottom an inquisitive proposition. The opinion that the world is eternal still leaves open the question whether the world really is or has to be eternal. We can unfold what we mean by world and by eternal, but can we in truth say the latter of the former? The notions of world and eternal, though vague, have a relatively stable meaning. What we are questioning is not the meaning, of course, but their connection in a proposition. Is such a proposition necessary? Is the eternity of the world a fact? But in mathematical physics, when words are used to describe, not how things are in fact, but merely how a certain symbolic construction has been laid down, e.g., that of the atom, we must be aware that, unlike the terms used in a statement about nature, the symbols, the construction, and the names we choose to employ for the purpose of communication do not have a stable meaning. The only stable meaning the word atom ever had was that of indivisible. In other words, we are now entitled to question not merely the connection of the terms, but the very terms themselves. At any rate, these are utterly provisional, whereas what world or eternal stand for are not.

It should now be plain that our study of nature can proceed on three different levels: that of science, that of opinion, and that of terms that are themselves provisionalwhose meanings are accordingly unstable. There is no doubt that in point of certitude there are radical distinctions between these various modes of investigating nature: between vague knowledge that is certain and definitive, such as knowledge of what the word man stands for; knowledge that is tentative, of the kind we have in dialectical propositions; and knowledge that is both tentative and known to be provisional, provisional even as to the very terms we use to express it. The latter kind is nothing short of paradoxical, since greater exactness is paid for by increasing instability. These distinctions are quite relevant, but our great question is, do they divide the purpose of the study of nature? Will the three different methods require that science be formally divided in accordance with them? Do these provide us with different subject-terms? It may be useful to consider two extreme positions on this question. Some hold that if there is to be a natural philosophy it must remain confined to common generalities, such as the conditions of absolute becoming, the definitions of motion, infinity, place, time, etc. and that where we carry out investigations further, we then practice experimental science, as in seeking to know what the speed of light is. Others, again, believe that natural philosophy presupposes the experimental sciences, and is no more than a reflection on their method and on their present achievements and implications as compared to those of earlier science. Natural philosophy and philosophy of science would be much the same. Both of these conceptions are partly true, for these is no doubt that we must examine first of all the things we first name, and these are vague generalities. They are, in a sense, the most important and to neglect them will eventually spell disaster. The doctrine of prime matter, for instance, is essential to save the unity of the human individual. For if we held that man is no more than an accidental superstructure made up of electrical charges, a human person would be no more of an individual than an individual pile of bricks. But is it the sole function of the natural philosopher to be stubborn about the validity of such problems, about their possible and even definitive solutions? Does he cease to be a philosopher when he asks more concretely what a man is? When he asks what is the anatomy and physiology of the human brain? Or what are its chemical components? Why should the mind interrogating nature rest in vague generalities, no matter how important and how certain these may be? Is there anything unworthy about investigating mans organic constitution, or the activities of slugworms? It is of course true that no single individual can in our time ever hope to know the whole of even a single ramification of natural science, such as astronomy and botany, nor even list the unlimited number of questions men may eventually learn to ask about a relatively narrow domain of nature. Yet no matter how general or how particular, how certain or provisory, knowledge about nature will always be derived from, and must return to experience, external or internal. In each and every case, if the knowledge is to be of nature, the descriptions and definitions, no matter of what kind, must in the end include sensible matter. It does not seem possible, therefore, to set a rigid frontier between philosophy of nature and science of nature. The second opinion we described is likewise partly true. For if philosophy is to deserve its name, it will never confine itself to one narrow domain of nature or become indifferent to findings achieved by a particular research. A man may be a skillful investigator, but he will never be master of his science until he knows just what it is that he knows, the status of his own mind with regard to his particular subject; and until he comes to realize, if only vaguely, how much there is that he does not know. But the great shortcoming of this opinion, that philosophy of nature must be simply philosophy of science, is its inevitable failure to pay explicit attention to the vague generalities with which all thinking about reality must begin, and to which all later knowledge must be related. To rest in vague generalities is unsatisfactory to the inquisitive mind, but to rest in man is a swarm of atoms is no less reprehensible, for the simple reason that intelligence must demand a connection between this statement and the knowledge we already have of man, as expressed in ordinary language;


when we ask what man is, for example, or what he is made of, and how. Heisenberg puts it this way: Even for the physicist the description in plain language [as distinguished from that of theoretical physics] will be a criterion of the degree of understanding that has been reached.10 A wholly legitimate question may now be raised: does not our very criticism of these two opinions imply a distinction between natural philosophy and natural science? Does not our criticism allow that a man may be a skillful scientist without any desire to reflect upon what he has believed, and to see how this relates to his earlier knowledge? I grant that there do exist skillful scientists who see no point in philosophical questions, but it is equally true that most eminent scientists are, without exception, very much concerned with philosophical questions. And so I suggest that the existence of these two types of scientists can scarcely oblige us to divide the study of nature into two ideally distinct endeavors. To my mind, the distinction is a purely contingent one. The skillful scientist who has no further preoccupation is really only a tool; he is to the true man of science what a laboratory technician is to the physicist or biologist whom he serves. If he be called a scientist, it is only in virtue of a change in the imposition of the term science, and if one explained this to him, he would most probably object to being called a scientist in this new and exclusive sense. I have heard a skillful biochemist maintain that philosophical questions are impossibly difficult, if not wholly inane; whereas the scientists problems can become real and meaningful when he can reduce them to the simplest kind of questions. These questions he assumed to be entirely direct and cleare.g., what is the chemical structure of a protein molecule? so much so that a philosopher would consider them unworthy of his attention. Such a philosopher would be not worthy of the name. If a single man cannot engage upon specialized research in so many diverse fields, if the philosopher cannot hope to be much of a scientist, nor the scientist to be much of a philosopher, surely this is a state of things which both ought deeply to regret. As already suggested, there is no doubt that in the study of nature we are faced with two very different kinds of questions. Let me use time as an example. The name time is in common use, and used in a significant way. So we do have some vague knowledge of time, else it would not occur to us to ask what time is, as in Book IV of the Physics. The answer is that time is a measure of movement; more precisely, the number of a movement according to the before and after of movement. Now this requires that time itself be a movement, since a measure must be homogeneous with the measured. But it is not merely as a movement that time is the measure of movement. It will have the nature of measure by reason of its regularity and speed. And so we are led to the further question: where in nature is this movement to be found? Aristotle found it in the outer sphere of the universe. Has that earlier definition of time broken down along with the structure of the universe as he conceived it to be? The article on Time, its measurement, in the Encyclopedia Britannica, tells us that time is still defined in terms of speed and regularity, man is still in search of this true constant speed. Where to search for it is a question specifically pertaining to mathematical physics. I fail to see, however, how uncertainty as to where time is to be found can affect its original definition. The late Hermann Weyl, an outstanding mathematician, declared that the first step in explaining relativity theory must always consist in shattering the dogmatic belief in the temporal terms past, present, future. You cannot apply Mathematics as long as words becloud reality.11 There is a sense in which this is so. But will his statement be true if interpreted to mean that the time of mathematical physics has nothing at all to do with time as first named? Weyl was too good a philosopher to adhere consistently to such an interpretation of his words. There is a great deal of equivocation about the relation of the familiar world to the scientific one. Some writers seem to argue, either that the one has nothing to do with the other, or that only the scientific world is true. According to Max Born, and I think he is


right, Eddington was prone to over-stress, especially in his analogies, the role of mental construction in physics and did not sufficiently emphasize as Einstein had, the fact that such construction is utterly empty unless related to experience as the first and ultimate norm. The essential point is that the familiar elephant and the scientific one are not in different worlds: the scientific one does not banish the one who slides down the grassy hillside. If, for the solution of a given problem, the elephant can be replaced by two tons of a something else, this only goes to show that the problem was not about the elephant, but about two tons of whatever you choose. The elephant may have disappeared from our consideration; he has not disappeared from reality Eddington made a good point, of course. Still, our indebtedness to him should not allow us to forget that whatever slides down his grassy slope will be a thing of some kind or another, but decidedly not a pointer-reading. There is no reason why physics should deprive zoology of elephants, even though some biologists seem to believe zoology must eventually surrender to them despite protests from ranking physicists who would not know what to do with elephants as such. Professor Max Born has stated our case well: Physicists form their notions through the interpretation of experiments. This method may rightly be called Natural Philosophy, a word still used for physics at the Scottish universities. In this sense I shall attempt to investigate the concepts of cause and chance in these lectures. My material will be taken mainly from physics, but I shall try to regard it with the attitude of the philosopher, and I hope that the results obtained will be of use wherever the concepts of cause and chance are applied. I know that such an attempt will not find favor with some philosophers, who maintain that science teaches only a narrow aspect of the world, and one which is of no great importance to mans mind. It is true that many scientists are not philosophically minded and have hitherto shown much skill and ingenuity but little wisdom. I need hardly to enlarge on this subject. The practical applications of science have given us the means of a fuller and richer life, but also the means of destruction and devastation on a vast scale. Wise men would have considered the consequences of their activities before starting on them; scientists have failed to do so, and only recently have they become conscious of their responsibilities to society. They have gained prestige as men of action, but they have lost credit as philosophers. 13 Born seems to be understanding wisdom in a practical, moral sense. But I think he has more in mind than this. Practical wisdom is one that follows upon awareness that man, being what he is, cannot be looked upon indifferently by the physicist, for the simple reason that the true physicist must be a philosopher who realizes the limitations of his particular branch of science. Belief that his part is the whole, or that it is a self-contained whole, would be preposterously unscientific. What Born means, as I understand it, is that, no matter how skillful or ingenious, no one can be a true scientist without being a philosopher. Nor does a man bear witness to a temperamentum philosophicum if he does not realize that scientific investigations, taken in the narrower sense we have described, help the mind to escape from ignorance and, as Aristotle said, provide immense pleasure to all who can trace links of causation, and are inclined to philosophy. Indifference to the phenomena of sun and moon, to bugs and elephants proves the absence of philosophic temperament. Why, then, has the wholly artificial distinction between philosophy and science been so readily accepted? It has in some measure been forced upon us by inevitable specialization, or, to put it another way, by the limitations of the single brain. But these limitations are not to be projected upon natural science and its subject. The fact that no mathematician now knows more than part of mathematics ought hardly be taken to mean that the only subject of the science is confined to the part that he knows. The knowability of a subject should not be restricted to and identified with what a given man may actually know of it with some


exactness. This is another way of saying that what is knowable as to us must not be confused with what is knowable in itself. The unscientific limitation just mentioned finds ample illustration in the history of science. Let me quote an example of what I here intend. It is again from Born. He has in mind Laplaces idea of causality, namely, that the future is wholly predetermined in the past. An unrestricted belief in this type of causality leads necessarily to the idea that the world is an automaton of which we ourselves are only little cogwheels. This means materialistic determinism. Such a generalization, reared upon a still primitive astronomy, was unscientific, if only because it ignored human responsibility. It was no doubt an idee claire et distincte, yet, like most such ideas, utterly lacking in wisdom, if only because it clashed with a hard though intangible, fact of experience, just as obvious as the succession of night and day. Hypotheses of this type are those of a scientist gone mad or, if you wish, of a bad philosopher. Are we to conclude from this that it is precisely the business of the philosopher, as distinguished from the scientist, to defend things such as human freedom, and to show that determinism is an unsound hypothesis? I should say that the wise scientist too, should know as much, since he does and must philosophize. There is, nonetheless, a historical case for the distinction we reject in principle. The man who putters in a laboratory may not have time to concentrate upon the outcome of his convenient generalizations. Yet there ought to be someone able to warn us of logical consequences that clash with the whole of experience. No one may possess a head big enough to contain all the knowledge of nature now available; but general though vague, knowledge we do have, knowledge which can be explored up to a point without moving on to a further concretion. To call attention to the extreme relevance of our first and vague knowledge of reality, the sort that we express in ordinary language, may be the self-imposed task of some people, whom we call philosophers. Still, my contention is that if, in this redirection of their work, they see anything more than a limitation forced upon them by the shortcomings of the human brain, they are projecting this limitation upon nature as if real things stood in different worlds according as they are seen by philosopher or scientist. Small wonder if minds convinced of such a doctrine want to reduce all philosophy to a hopeless metaphysics in the empty air of unqualified verbal being. So far as I am concerned, I refuse to renounce myself for a mere swarm of electrical charges, no matter how much I may stand in need of them and know that I cannot exist without them. The need to bring out connections between our common concepts, expressed by socalled natural language, and the mathematical scheme of theoretical physics has been felicitously stressed by Werner Heisenberg in his Gifford Lectures. Remember the passage already quoted: Even for the physicist the description in plain language will be a criterion of the degree of understanding that has been reached. 14 If the physicists knowledge were believed to be quite divorced from common concepts and ordinary language, then we would of course have the kind of scientist who is not a philosopher. Such a scientist, I repeat, would not even be a true scientist, but a mere tool. Here is that relevant passage from Heisenbergs Gifford Lectures: . . . One of the most important features of the development and the analysis of modern physics is the experience that the concepts of natural language, vaguely defined as they are, seem to be more stable in the expression of knowledge than the precise terms of scientific language, derived as an idealization from only limited groups of phenomena. This is in fact not surprising since the concepts of natural language are formed by the immediate connection with reality; they represent reality. It is true that they are not very well defined and may therefore also undergo changes in the course of the centuries, just as reality itself did, but they never lose the immediate connection with reality. On the other hand, the scientific concepts are idealizations; they are derived from experience obtained by refined experimental tools, and are precisely defined through axioms and


definitions. Only through these precise definitions is it possible to connect the concepts with a mathematical scheme and to derive mathematically the infinite variety of possible phenomena in this field. But through this process of idealization and precise definition the immediate connection with reality is lost. The concepts still correspond very closely to reality in that part of nature which had been the object of the research. But the correspondence may be lost in other parts containing other groups of phenomena. Keeping in mind the intrinsic stability of the concepts of natural language in the process of scientific development, one sees thatafter the experience of modern physics our attitude toward concepts like mind or the human soul or life or God will be different from that of the nineteenth century, because these concepts belong to the natural language and have therefore immediate connection with reality. It is true that we will also realize that these concepts are not well defined in the scientific sense and that their application may lead to various contradictions, for the time being we may have to take the concepts, unanalyzed as they are; but still we know that they touch reality. It may be useful in this connection to remember that even in the most precise part of science, in mathematics, we cannot avoid using concepts that involve contradictions. For instance, it is well known that the concept of infinity leads to contradictions that have been analyzed, but it would be practically impossible to construct the main parts of mathematics without this concept. The general trend of human thinking in the nineteenth century had been toward an increasing confidence in the scientific method and in precise rational terms, and had led to a general skepticism with regard to those concepts of natural language which do not fit into the closed frame of scientific thought for instance, those of religion. Modern physics has in many ways increased this skepticism; but it has at the same time turned it against the overestimation of precise scientific concepts, against a too optimistic view on progress in general, and finally against skepticism itself. The skepticism against precise scientific concepts does not mean that there should be a definite limitation for the application of rational thinking. On the contrary, one may say that the human ability to understand may be in a certain sense unlimited. But the existing scientific concepts cover always only a very limited part of reality, and the other part that has not yet been understood is infinite. Whenever we proceed from the known into the unknown we may hope to understand, but we may have to learn at the same time a new meaning of the word understanding. We know that any understanding must be based finally upon the natural language because it is only there that we can be certain to touch reality, and hence we must be skeptical about any skepticism with regard to this natural language and its essential concepts. Therefore, we may use these concepts as they have been used at all times. In this way modern physics has perhaps opened the door to a wider outlook on the relation between the human mind and reality.15 Heisenberg has made our point. He has described for us the full meaning of natural philosophy. Having started with the concepts of natural language as we move on into the realm of symbolic construction controlled by the test of experience, we must be constantly ready to sweep into reverse, as it were, lest contact with reality be lost. In doing so we will use ordinary language, whose concepts appear more stable than the precise terms of scientific knowledge. If we keep the total aim of natural science in view, symbolic terms are inadequate: to isolate them from the concepts of natural language is to divorce them from nature and therefore from real science. Bertrand Russell, in Human Knowledge, conveyed the same idea, though he seems to forget it when he declares Mr. Smith to be no more than a collective name for a mere bundle of occurrences. Here is the passage in question: All nominal definitions, if pushed back far enough, must lead ultimately to terms having only ostensive definitions, and in the case of an empirical science the empirical terms


must depend upon terms of which the ostensive definition is given in perception. The Astronomers sun, for instance, is very different from what we see, but it must have a definition derived from the ostensive definition of the word sun which we learnt in childhood. Thus an empirical interpretation of a set of axioms, when complete, must always involve the use of terms which have an ostensive definition derived from sensible experience. It will not, of course, contain only such terms, for there will always be logical terms; but it is the presence of terms derived from experience that makes an interpretation empirical. The question of interpretation has been unduly neglected. So long as we remain in the region of mathematical formulae, everything appears precise, but when we seek to interpret them it turns out that the precision is partly illusory. Until this matter has been cleared up, we cannot tell with any exactitude what any given science is asserting. 16 There is no doubt that our view is not popular among contemporary scholastics. It appears so much more simple to have a neat set of theses called philosophy of nature, and to relegate more concrete investigations to the scientists. But such a distinction is a purely pragmatic one, and merely reflects the impossibility for an individual to work in all the fields of this one subject, natural science. The bewildering progress of natural science reveals not only the bottomless depths of nature and the ineffable variety of natures works shows, at the same time, the unexpected limitations of any human mind, and the devious modes of knowing it must resort to, even in the study of things immediately around us. Still, to enquire what any object of nature is, and to pursue the enquiry down to the last detail, is surely a pursuit which deserves to be called philosophy. To answer such a question, all the branches of natural science should be brought into play, and each of these remains open to infinity. At least this much we know. 1. Physics, Bk. I, ch. 1, 184al7-184bl4. 2. My Philosophical Development (New York, 1959) p. 133. 3. On the Parts of Animals, Bk. 1, ch. 5, 645a-25. Cf. On the Heavens, II, 12, 291b25. 4. In I Anal. Post., 1.5. 5. In I Sent., d. 2, q. 1, a.3. 6. Nam geometria considerat quidem de linea quae habet essc in materia sensibili, quae est linea naturalis: non tamen considerat de ea in quantum est in materia sensibili, secundum quod est naturalis, sed abstracte, ut dictum est. Sed perspectiva e converso accipit lineam abstractam secundum quod est in consideratione mathematici, et applicat eam ad materiam sensibilem; et sic determinat de ea non inquantum est mathematica, sed inquantum est physica. In II Phy., 1. 5. 7. Ibid. It is true that physic-mathematical sciences are sometimes called species scientiae mathematicae. But this does not mean that they are a species of a genus in the way animal is a species of body. As St. Thomas explains: Interdum tamen dicitur aliquid esse species alicujus generis propter hoc quod habet aliquid extraneum, ad quod applicatur generis ratio.... Et simili modo loquendi dicuntur astrologia et perspectiva species mathematicae, inquantum principia mathematica applicantur materiam naturalem. Summa Theol. I-II, 35, 8. 8. The word generically is used because of mathematics which, when considered as science in the strict sense of this term, is twofold, namely arithmetic and geometry, each of which has its own mode of defining without sensible matter. 9. Cf. my Abstraction from Matter, in Laval theologique et philosophique, XIII (1957) 133-196; XVI (1960) 53-69. 10. Physics and Philosophy, (New York,1958), p. 168. 11. The Mathematical Way of Thinking. Science, XCII (1940), 439. 12. Natural Philosophy of Cause and Chance, (Oxford, 1949) pp. 1-20. 13. Born, op. cit., p.3.


14. By natural language Prof. Heisenberg does not mean a language that is natural to us as our organs of speech are natural, as if nature provided us with a language the way that she produces feet and brain. Unless we call the grunts and groans of man or beast language, this term refers to artifacts that signify by convention. Using ordinary language we should always be able to refer its words back to common knowledge of things first known, a knowledge which may lead us to further knowledge of things, requiring either new impositions upon words already in use, nor even, simply, a new word. An example of a new imposition would be the word soul, which first meant breeze or breath; an instance of a new word is Godno matter what its etymological originfor God can be known only at the term of a discourse, and once known we impose the name as entirely proper to Him. I do not mean that in doing so we spell out a new word. The point is that in virtue of the imposition the name now has a single meaning incommunicable to anything else, except by metaphor. 15. Op. cit., pp. 200-201. 16. Human Knowledge (London, 1948), p. 2516.

n. 3. Charles De Koninck, The Hollow Universe, Ch. III, The Lifeless World of Biology. p. 84:
Of all our normal language it is true that, whether its words be used as metaphors, given new meanings, or meanings long worn out and now revived, they still imply reference to something already known, something that may be quite certain, no matter how fuzzy at the edges.1

All analogical terms are examples of what is meant. Take, for instance, the Greek logos, several of whose meanings are retained in our word reason. Prescinding here from the historical order of its various impositions, logos first stands for the conventionally meaningful sounds or written signs produced by man for the purpose of communication: words, phrases, and speech, as distinguished from the thought they are intended to convey. Then it can mean the thought itself which the sounds are aimed to express. It was further imposed to mean what the thought names, and, again, the definition or what it is that the name signifies. It may also mean proposition, argument, discussion, discourse, or treatise. Finally it has other abstract meanings such as notion, e.g. the notion of circle; or the reason or ground for something, as in Xanthippe threw a pail of water on Socrates for the reason that he came home too late, or the flat triangle has its three angles equal to two right angles for the reason that its exterior angle is equal to the opposite interior angles. The same word was again extended to mean the power of reason, the faculty; then, too, the exercise of this power, as in judgement, opinion, justification, explanation. It can also mean proportion, rule, and hypothesis. But the first imposition remains throughout important, inasmuch as the plain, unqualified, unanalysed meaning of word is more known to us, while all the other meanings of logos are somehow related to this first one.

N.B. One should also consult Dr. De Konincks paper Abstraction from Matter. 2. The common conceptions of the understanding: Three Sources of Philosophy. n. 4. Charles De Koninck, Three Sources of Philosophy (Reprinted from the Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association , The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, 1964, pp. 13-17): 16

Discussing the fact that we first say all of threeof only two we say bothSt. Thomas observes that we follow this way of speaking because conceptions that are commonly held by all proceed from an inclination of nature that is prior to any deliberate and constructive endeavour to learn. This constructive endeavour gives rise to proper conceptions propriae conceptiones uniuscujusqueand a way of speaking appropriate to these. 1 Other examples of common conceptions would be those gathered under the word one, for instance; or being, or same. What we call movement, or place, or time are conceptions narrower in scope but still common. Ordinary language holds a vast number of such conceptions, and reveals distinctions not always easily accounted for. As Heisenberg observes, we do not speak of a piece of water, at least not in the same sense in which we speak of a piece of bread. Paul Valery wrote: Every man knows a prodigious amount of things, of which he does not know that he knows them. This search alone exhausts philosophy. Valerys remark may be an exaggeration, yet it is an instructive one. Proper conceptions can become hopelessly out of touch with the common ones which should engender them, and the gulf between the former and the latter can even become infinite, inasmuch as [13-14]

In I de Coelo, lect. 2.

the possibilities of defining something badly or inadequately are as countless as the ways of missing a target. And I take as examples the distance between motion, infinity, place and time as we first know and name them on the one hand, and on the other, the definitions we compose to bring home to us more distinctly what these things are. Whereas the definiendum is a common conception, the definition, expressing more distinctly what the thing is, is a proper conception whose value must depend upon what is already vaguely known. Conceptions are called common not only because they are commonly held by all but also because of an intrinsic commonness that explains why they are proportionately vague or confused. The things we are most certain of, whether expressed by word or proposition, are less exactly known in direct proportion to our greater and greater certitude. As was suggested above, there is a direct proportion between the [14-15] inescapable certitude of the things most commonly yet most vaguely known and the difficulty of defining or describing them. Yet, if we did not have such preexistent knowledge, we would ask no question about anything, nor would we communicate with one another except by sniffs and grunts. The reason for the difficulty of reflection upon our common conceptions is that, while most known to us, they are least knowable in themselves, just as what is most knowable in itself is least knowable to usexcept in mathematics. For instance, as St. Thomas explains, this name act, which is posited to signify actuality and completeness, namely form, and the like, such as the act of any sort of operation whatever, is derived, as to the origin of the term, chiefly from motion. Since words are signs of intelligible conceptions, we first impose names upon the things we first know, even though these be posterior in the order of nature. Now among all other acts, the one that is most known and apparent to us is motion, as known to us sensibly. Hence it is upon this act the name act was first imposed, and from motion it was extended to other things. As we move away from first and common conceptions and from such earlier meanings of words, we become more engaged, as we should, in proper conceptions and expressions appropriate to them. But the crucial point is that our proper conceptions, no matter how good and true, should never be divorced from, and then substituted for, the common ones.


In II Meta., lect. 3.* Yet it is precisely our common conceptions that are sometimes called trivial, on the foolish assumption that what all in fact agree upon can be of no importance and must be irrelevant to the high pursuits of philosophy. It is true that if we shut ourselves rigidly within notions or propositions quae communiter cadunt in conceptione cujuslibet intellectus we shall never begin to philosophize. But philosophy nevertheless depends upon knowledge that is prior to and independent of philosophy. Should we attempt to cut ourselves loose from the common conceptions, drifting away from our moorings, we shall soon find ourselves trapped in verbiage and, in the inescapable terms of common conceptions, forever arguing against their relevancemuch as the person holding that all statements are false, or that all is contingent, cannot escape the implication that this statement likewise must be false, or that not all things are contingent, since at least the statement that all things are contingent is held to be necessary by the one who makes it. The distinction between common and proper conceptions allows us to define what a philosophical system is and, accordingly, how to construct one. As Spinoza and Hegel understood it, a philosophical system is one that starts from proper conceptions as if they could be substituted for common ones. This approach has the apparent advantage of a freedom to which we may never lay claim so long as we must insist on the priority of common conceptions. But, after committing ourselves to the wrong sort of beginning, we can indulge in endless acrobatics within our heads, regardless of awkward fact. Definitions now become arbitrary. We choose our definitions and follow through by assuming the reality of the definita we have posited by defining. Now, once something second is taken as first, we can fabricate as many philosophical systems as we please. If, for instance, we substituted Aristotles definition of motion for what the definition defines and then forgot all about the definiendum, we would at once have materials for a system.

In other words, when a name that stands for a common conception is thereafter used for its elaborated definition as if the definition henceforth became its first and sole meaning, we are on the way to a system, and the first and final term of resolution would be to that name, divorced from what we really know before inquiry. We would in fact have as many irreducible systems as there are languages, and within each language there would be as many systems as there are diverse meanings of the words referred to in that way. Meanwhile, we maintain the common conceptions as the first inescapable source of philosophy for the reason that in hujusmodi principiis stat omnium demonstrationum resolutio.1 In Boethii de Hebdomadibus, lect. 1.

N.B. The correct reference is to Book IX, lect. 3; see further below. I give the text with my own translation elsewhere.


Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, In I de Coelo, lect. 2, n. 13 (tr. Larcher & Conway):
13. Thirdly, he proves at [8] the same by appealing to the general way we speak. And he says that we even assign names to things according to the aforementioned method, in which perfection agrees with the number 3. For when there are two things, we say both, thus we speak of two men as both but we do not say all, which we use for the first time in the case of three. And we all in general use this way of speaking, because na ture so inclines us. For whatever is peculiar to individuals in their way of speaking seems to arise from the particular conceptions of each, but what is generally observed among all would seem to arise from natural inclination.1

Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, In IX Meta., lect. 3, n. 11 (tr. Charles De Koninck):

(And he says that) this name act, which is posited to signify actuality and completeness, namely form, and the like, such as the act of any sort of operation whatever, is derived, as to the origin of the term, chiefly from motion. Since words are signs of intelligible conceptions, we first impose names upon the things we first know, even though these be posterior in the order of nature. Now among all other acts, the one that is most known and apparent to us is motion, as known to us sensibly. Hence it is upon this act the name act was first imposed, and from motion it was extended to other things.2

3. The method of knowing. n. 5. Charles De Koninck, The Unity and Diversity of Natural Science, Mlanges l Memoire de Charles De Koninck, pp. 5-25 (excerpt):
The need to bring out connections between our common concepts, expressed by socalled natural language, and the mathematical scheme of theoretical physics has been felicitously stressed by Werner Heisenberg in his Gifford Lectures. Remember the passage already quoted: Even for the physicist the description in plain language will be a criterion of the degree of understanding that has been reached. 14 If the physicists knowledge were believed to be quite divorced from common concepts and ordinary language, then we would of course have the kind of scientist who is not a philosopher. Such a scientist, I repeat, would not even be a true scientist, but a mere tool. Here is that relevant passage from Heisenbergs Gifford Lectures:

tertio ibi: assignamus autem etc., probat idem per communem usum loquendi. et dicit quod etiam assignamus vocabula rebus secundum modum praedictum, quo scilicet perfectio competit ternario. si enim aliqua sunt duo, dicimus quod sint ambo, et duos homines dicimus ambos: non autem de his dicimus omnes, sed primo hoc vocabulo utimur circa tres. et istum modum loquendi sequimur communiter omnes, propter hoc quod natura ad hoc nos inclinat. ea enim quae sunt propria singulis in modo loquendi, videntur provenire ex propriis conceptionibus uniuscuiusque: sed id quod observatur communiter apud omnes, videtur ex naturali inclinatione provenire. 2 secundo ibi, venit autem ostendit quid sit esse in actu; et dicit, quod hoc nomen actus, quod ponitur ad significandum endelechiam et perfectionem, scilicet formam, et alia huiusmodi, sicut sunt quaecumque operationes, veniunt maxime ex motibus quantum ad originem vocabuli. cum enim nomina sint signa intelligibilium conceptionum, illis primo imponimus nomina, quae primo intelligimus, licet sint posteriora secundum ordinem naturae. inter alios autem actus, maxime est nobis notus et apparens motus, qui sensibiliter a nobis videtur. et ideo ei primo impositum fuit nomen actus, et a motu ad alia derivatum est .


. . . One of the most important features of the development and the analysis of modern physics is the experience that the concepts of natural language, vaguely defined as they are, seem to be more stable in the expression of knowledge than the precise terms of scientific language, derived as an idealization from only limited groups of phenomena. This is in fact not surprising since the concepts of natural language are formed by the immediate connection with reality; they represent reality. It is true that they are not very well defined and may therefore also undergo changes in the course of the centuries, just as reality itself did, but t hey never lose the immediate connection with reality. On the other hand, the scientific concepts are idealizations; they are derived from experience obtained by refined experimental tools, and are precisely defined through axioms and definitions. Only through these precise definitions is it possible to connect the concepts with a mathematical scheme and to derive mathematically the infinite variety of possible phenomena in this field. But through this process of idealization and precise definition the immediate connection with reality is lost. The concepts still correspond very closely to reality in that part of nature which had been the object of the research. But the correspondence may be lost in other parts containing other groups of phenomena. Keeping in mind the intrinsic stability of the concepts of natural language in the process of scientific development, one sees thatafter the experience of modern physicsour attitude toward concepts like mind or the human soul or life or God will be different from that of the nineteenth century, because these concepts belong to the natural language and have therefore immediate connection with reality. It is true that we will also realize that these concepts are not well defined in the scientific sense and that their application may lead to various contradictions, for the time being we may have to take the concepts, unanalyzed as they are; but still we know that they touch reality. It may be useful in this connection to remember that even in the most precise part of science, in mathematics, we cannot avoid using concepts that involve contradictions. For instance, it is well known that the concept of infinity leads to contradictions that have been analyzed, but it would be practically impossible to construct the main parts of mathematics without this concept. The general trend of human thinking in the nineteenth century had been toward an increasing confidence in the scientific method and in precise rational terms, and had led to a general skepticism with regard to those concepts of natural language which do not fit into the closed frame of scientific thought for instance, those of religion. Modern physics has in many ways increased this skepticism; but it has at the same time turned it against the overestimation of precise scientific concepts, against a too optimistic view of progress in general, and finally against skepticism itself. The skepticism against precise scientific concepts does not mean that there should be a definite limitation for the application of rational thinking. On the contrary, one may say that the human ability to understand may be in a certain sense unlimited. But the existing scientific concepts cover always only a very limited part of reality, and the other part that has not yet been understood is infinite. Whenever we proceed from the known into the unknown we may hope to understand, but we may have to learn at the same time a new meaning of the word understanding. We know that any understanding must be based finally upon the natural language because it is only there that we can be certain to touch reality, and hence we must be skeptical about any skepticism with regard to this natural language and its essential concepts. Therefore, we may use these concepts as they have been used at all times. In this way modern physics has perhaps opened the door to a wider outlook on the relation between the human mind and reality.15 Heisenberg has made our point. He has described for us the full meaning of natural philosophy. Having started with the concepts of natural language as we move on into the realm of symbolic construction controlled by the test of experience, we must be constantly ready to sweep into reverse, as it were, lest contact with reality be lost. In doing so we will use ordinary language, whose concepts appear more stable than the precise terms of


scientific knowledge. If we keep the total aim of natural science in view, symbolic terms are inadequate: to isolate them from the concepts of natural language is to divorce them from nature and therefore from real science. Bertrand Russell, in Human Knowledge, conveyed the same idea, though he seems to forget it when he declares Mr. Smith to be no more than a collective name for a mere bundle of occurrences. Here is the passage in question: All nominal definitions, if pushed back far enough, must lead ultimately to terms having only ostensive definitions, and in the case of an empirical science the empirical terms must depend upon terms of which the ostensive definition is given in perception. The Astronomers sun, for instance, is very different from what we see, but it must have a definition derived from the ostensive definition of the word sun which we learnt in childhood. Thus an empirical interpretation of a set of axioms, when complete, must always involve the use of terms which have an ostensive definition derived from sensible experience. It will not, of course, contain only such terms, for there will always be logical terms; but it is the presence of terms derived from experience that makes an interpretation empirical. The question of interpretation has been unduly neglected. So long as we remain in the region of mathematical formulae, everything appears precise, but when we seek to interpret them it turns out that the precision is partly illusory. Until this matter has been cleared up, we cannot tell with any exactitude what any given science is asserting. 16 There is no doubt that our view is not popular among contemporary scholastics. It appears so much more simple to have a neat set of theses called philosophy of nature, and to relegate more concrete investigations to the scientists. But such a distinction is a purely pragmatic one, and merely reflects the impossibility for an individual to work in all the fields of this one subject, natural science. The bewildering progress of natural science reveals not only the bottomless depths of nature and the ineffable variety of natures works shows, at the same time, the unexpected limitations of any human mind, and the devious modes of knowing it must resort to, even in the study of things immediately around us. Still, to enquire what any object of nature is, and to pursue the enquiry down to the last detail, is surely a pursuit which deserves to be called philosophy. To answer such a question, all the branches of natural science should be brought into play, and each of these remains open to infinity. At least this much we know. <> 14. By natural language Prof. Heisenberg does not mean a language that is natural to us as our organs of speech are natural, as if nature provided us with a language the way that she produces feet and brain. Unless we call the grunts and groans of man or beast language, this term refers to artifacts that signify by convention. Using ordinary language we should always be able to refer its words back to common knowledge of things first known, a knowledge which may lead us to further knowledge of things, requiring either new impositions upon words already in use, nor even, simply, a new word. An example of a new imposition would be the word soul, which first meant breeze or breath; an instance of a new word is Godno matter what its etymological originfor God can be known only at the term of a discourse, and once known we impose the name as entirely proper to Him. I do not mean that in doing so we spell out a new word. The point is that in virtue of the imposition the name now has a single meaning incommunicable to anything else, except by metaphor. 15. Op. cit., pp. 200-201. 16. Human Knowledge (London, 1948), p. 2516.


n. 6. Charles De Koninck, Introduction to the Study of the Soul. Preface to Stanislas Cantin, Prcis de psychologie thomiste (Quebec: Laval University, 1948) (Eng. tr. Bruno M. Mon-dor, O.P.):
I. THE STUDY OF THE SOUL AND THE STUDY OF LIVING THINGS If one deviates slightly from the truth in the beginning, the deviation will increase thousands of times as a natural consequence. That is why one must never pass cursorily over the preliminaries of a doctrine, or presume that they are sufficiently known; they merit, on the contrary, all our attention. We suppose as known the principal problems touching mobile being in general and its major divisions: mobility according to place, which is the most common; and mobility according to quantity, which is restricted to animated beings. Aristotle has discussed the principles and properties of mobile being and its major divisions, in general, in the book the Physics. The De Caelo et Mundo and the De Generatione et Corruptione study in particular the two first species of mobility. These last two works which treat of subjects, the study of which demands very circumstantial experience, and of which many of the theories remain more or less provisional, are in a great measure outdated and replaced by physics and chemistry; whereas the books of the Physics, insofar as they do not resort to phenomena and to theories which depend upon subsequent treatises are impervious to time. You are beginning at present the study of the third species of mobility, that of the animated mobile being, of the living body, and behold! the first difficulty is raised on the subject of the very title of this treatise. The word psychology signifies that it is indeed the soul, and not the living or animated mobile being, which is the object of this discourse, of this treatise. The books of the Physics had for their subject mobile being as such, the De Caelo treated of mobile body; the De Generatione et Corruptione, of things which come into being and perish at the term of a movement according to quality, called alteration. Nevertheless, the treatise on the soul studies at first onset not the animated mobile being, the living body, but resolutely that which is in short only a principle of the natural living beings: their proper and intrinsic principle which we agree to call the soul. Wouldnt it be convenient to consider and define in the first place the natural living being in general, and then to show what is the characteristic of its form? The general properties of living bodies as such once established, those of the soul in particular would secondly be sought. It is, however, in the inverse order that one ought to proceed, as St. Thomas expressly affirms. The study of living things ought to begin from the study of the soul in itself, and it is only in the last place that the general consideration of living things can be entered upon: But in the last place is ordered the book which pertains to the common consideration of living things. Such is the order to be followed, and for a very good reason. From the outset of his commentary on the De Anima, St. Thomas says that it is necessary to consider first the things which are common to all animated beings; now what is first common to all animated beings is the soul: for in this they all agree. And yet, at first sight, this reason leaves a doubt. In fact, couldnt be said just as well, if not better, that which all these species of living things have in common, is that they are living beings? Let us not forget, however, that we are here in the philosophy of nature: we are studying natural things. Now, among the latter, there are some which are simply bodies and magnitudes, just as stones and other inanimate things; others have a body and magnitude, just as plants and animals, and their principal part is the soullikewise it is more according to the soul than according to the body that these things are what they are. Therefore, that by which living bodies are what they are, is not the common attribute of living, but that very thing in virtue of which we call them, more precisely, animated things. But that increases the difficulty. In order not to be obliged to repeat with respect to each species all that each species has in common with the others, science must very reasonably treat in the first place about that which is commonas much as possible. We say as much


as possible for, on the one hand science must begin with what is most known by us, and on the other hand, what is most common is not always the most known. For example, there are without doubt, some elements common to all natural beings; but in the course of history, all that the sciences have taken for elements (for the ancients water and earth, air and fire) could have always been resolved into more primitive entities, since in all strictness elements must be understood as the things into which bodies are ultimately divided, while they are no longer divided into other things differing in kind. On the other hand, it is very necessary that this most common thing, with which a science begins, be also the most known by us. But, how could it be affirmed that, of all living beings, it is the soul which is known first, when its existence has been denied by so many persons among whom are numbered philosophers and savants of renown? And wouldnt honest folk be astonished if they were told that the carrot has a soul and this is not a metaphor? <> V. THE ORDER TO BE FOLLOWED IN THE STUDY OF LIVING THINGS .Since the forms and the operations of the living things that surround us are of a great diversity, the souls that are their principles ought also to be diversified. And in that case, which one ought we to study first? We fear that the answer will come to us too promptly. Indeed, we have learned for a long time that science ought to proceed from the general to the particular, but we doubt whether the sense of this principle of method is always understood and whether its import is always seen. There is, it is true, the reason of economy: in order not to have to repeat for each of the multiple species all that they have in common among themselves, it is better to study the communia at the beginning, once and for all. But we have already pointed out that this question is not so simple. Since it is here a question of apprenticeship, it is necessary that the common things be at the same time most knowable for us. Furthermore, that the first data may be easier to know, it does not follow that their study and the research of the common properties to be defined and to be demonstrated will be equally easy. It is precisely in the doctrine touching upon these common things that the errors are very numerous and consequently very widespread. We get a clear idea, in studying the Physics, that if the fact of movement is easy to ascertain, and very certain, it is difficult to see in what it consists, just as modern philosophy never ceases to prove. The disagreement on the most elementary notions is so radical that most of the learned men turn away from them (when they do not declare them vain) in order to apply themselves then and there to the particular: the fundamental problem of movement becomes, then, a problem of mechanics which begins with the law of inertia; the science of life begins, not with the study of the soul, but with cytology, the previous question being useless, insoluble, reserved to the philosophy which searches in a dark room for a black cat that is not thereas has been said of Metaphysics. It must be admitted, nevertheless, that this process has borne some fruit. What order is to be observed in the study of the living, conforming to the method which St. Thomas calls processus in determinando, in opposition to processus in demonstrando? For the reason given above, we do not consider first of all the living as such, but rather that in virtue of which it is living, namely, the soul. It is, therefore, the soul, envisaged in all its generality, according to its communissima ratio, that we will seek to define first. Then, we ought not to content ourselves with the common definition, but seek the proper definition of each part of the soul. Consequently, for each species of animated being, it is necessary to seek what is its soul; in order to know what is the soul of the plant, what is the soul of man, and what is the soul of the beast. It is with a purpose that we asked ourselves what order is to be observed in the study of the living, and not only the soul. The treatise on the soul, in fact, is only the first part of the study of the living. In his commentary on the De Sensu et Sensato which is placed immediately after the treatise on the soul, St. Thomas outlines the study of the living: the


Philosopher begins the teaching of natural science by starting with that which is most common to all things of nature, namely, movement and the principle of movement: then in the end, he proceeds by the mode of concretion, that is to say, of application of the principles common to determined mobile things, some of which are living bodies. With these he begins again the same procedure, dividing his study into three parts: in the first, he considers the soul in itself, as if he were studying it in an abstract manner; in the second, he studies the things of the soul in a concrete manner, that is, through the mode of application to the body, but by adhering to the generalities; in the third, he applies all these considerations to each species of animals and of plants, by determining what is proper to each species. The first of these studies is contained in the book De Anima; the third, in the books De Animalibus et Plantis. With regard to the intermediate study, it is found included in the books which he wrote on the subject of things which belong commonly to either all living animals, or to several genera of animals, or even to all the living: this is the object of the present treatise. VI. THE PROCESS OF CONCRETION IN THE STUDY OF LIVING THINGS The process in determinando is the order which we follow in the consideration of the different subjects and principles of a science insofar as they are more known by us. Now, that which is most known by us and more certain is the confused. Thus it is that we notice first of all that this object is a figure, that it is a closed curve, and finally that it is an ellipse. Likewise, man is known first as an animal. We find this order, as much in intellectual knowledge as in sensible knowledge. As long as we know the ellipse solely as a figure or as a closed curve, we do not distinguish it from the other species of figures, or of closed curves; as long as man is not known in that which distinguishes him from the beast, our knowledge is confused. But this confused knowledge is also more common, more universal: for the polygon is equally a figure, the circle is a closed curve, and the horse is an animal. Likewise in science, we consider things according to that which, in them, is first of all more known, to go thus by degrees toward that which is more knowable in itself: for, manifestly, man is more knowable in himself than animal, being animal and reasonable, he is more distinct, more in act and consequently more knowable in himself. We are advancing from subject to subject following this order of community. In the science of nature, we try to know in the first place what is proper to a thing insofar as it is mobile, then what is true of it with regard to its mobility according to place, etc. A last term of all this process would be, for example, the study of the characteristic gait of the elephant. Certainly, it would be impossible for one man to embrace the vast domain which separates the consideration of the mobile being and that of the flight of the dragonfly: that is, all the natural sciences. Moreover, each of the multiple natural sciences which already have to borrow from the field of the others, can extend indefinitely in its own bosom. Such would be, nevertheless, the order which he would have to observe in order to have a well-ordered overall view. The process in demonstrando also, is determined by the principle that we ought to go from the more known to us to the less known. But it differs from the first by the order which we follow in the research and the demonstration of the properties of a given subject. In the process in determinando we go from the less determined subject to the more determined subject: we seek to know first of all the nature and the properties of the soul in general, and then the nature and the properties of its different species: whereas the process of demonstration is the order which is followed in the acquisition of the scientific knowledge of a given subject. While the first process is common to all the sciences, the second can vary from one science to the other and even according to the different parts of one science. Thus mathematics and the physico-mathematic sciences demonstrate through the formal cause alone; natural science applies itself, besides, to knowing things by that of which they are made, by that which makes them, and by the good which moves the agent to produce them. The entire book II of the Physics is consecrated to this part of the general method of the


study of nature which we call the process of demonstration, but each treatise will have besides its particular procedure. Thus it is that in mathematics, where the most known by us can, from the point of view of demonstration, be identified, in principle, with the most known in itself, the demonstrations will be a priori: the reasons given by us are at the same time the first reasons in themselves. But in natural science most of the proofs remain a posteriori. The first demonstration which you will learn in the present treatise is precisely of this sort: the soul is the first act by of a natural body endowed with organs, because it is that by which and primarily, we live, feel, move and think. The process in demonstrando consists, therefore, in no wise in bridging the gap between the different subjects of the process in determinando as if, from the nature and the properties of the soul envisaged in all its generalities, the nature and the properties of the species were able to be inferred. There is, therefore, no cause to attribute to ourselves an Hegelian method, which confuses the two processes. The process in determinando is at the same time a process of concretion. The universal, in fact, taken in the sense in which we understand it in the present process, is compared to the particulars of which it can be affirmed, like the abstract to the concrete, like movement to local movement. At the beginningthat is, as long as we are still in the general and confusedwe are far from the determination, from the perfection, from the knowability proper to things. Through an abstraction of this kind, our knowledge is very poor, and it is by going gradually toward the specification of objects, toward their ultimate distinction, their concretion, that science is enriched. In natural things, says St. Thomas, nothing is perfect as long as it is in potency; a thing is absolutely perfect when it is in ultimate act; in the intermediate state between pure potency and pure act it is not absolutely, but relatively perfect. Likewise for science. Now, the science which is had of a thing only in general is not a complete science according to the ultimate act; it is something intermediate between pure potency and ultimate act. For he who knows a thing in general actually knows something about that which is the proper reason of this thing, but the rest, he knows only in potency. Likewise, he who only knows man insofar as he is an animal only knows in act one part of his definition, namely, the genus: the constitutive differences of the species, he does not as yet know in act, but only in potency. Whence it manifestly follows that the complete science demands that we do not stop at generalities, but that we proceed to the species The proper being of things is, then, their ultimate difference, which attracts us and liberates the intellect from this indetermination of the universal. Science being the perfection of the intellect that seeks this perfection, one naturally wishes to know what makes a beaver a beaver; what makes a man, man, with regard to all that distinguishes them from all other things, body and soul. It is the author of the Metaphysics and of the De Anima who wanted to know why dogs run obliquely. He did not rest content with mobile being, nor with animated body, nor with the beast, nor with the quadruped. And in this the process of concretion consists. It is, therefore, in this direction, so scorned by a certain type of philosophy, that the perfection of science is to be found, as St. Thomas says when beginning the study of shooting stars, comets, rain and snow, lightening, earthquakes, et alia hujusmodi. VII. THE TWO GENERA OF UNIVERSAL CAUSES IN THE STUDY OF LIVING THINGS. In this process of concretion, to the relation of the universal to the particular of which we have just spoken, is added another which is in some way the inverse of the first. The more the process approaches the distinct knowledge of the particular, the more do we approach that very way to a universality which, in distinction to universality in praedicando, is such [i.e. universal] by its actuality, by its extreme determination which embraces the multiple in its variety and its distinction. The perfection of our knowledge of the universal in causando will depend on the degree of distinction according to which we will know the particular.


Let us remark first of all that if, from the point of view of predication, the species is the subjective part of the potential whole which is the genus, from another point of view, that of distinct knowledge, the relation of the universal to the particular is in some way inverted. The species, in fact, is in itself an integral whole which contains the genus as a part. Thus it is that man, who can be called animal, is more than an animal; he is moreover reasonable. As long as we do not grasp distinctly these actual parts, knowledge of the integral whole remains confused, like that which we have of the subjective parts of a potential whole. But from that moment when we know them in a distinct manner, we grasp precisely this relation upon which the species is more common than the genus. What, in the first perspective, was envisaged as a whole is now a part; the particular includes the more universal et amplius: according as the less common contains in its notion not only the more common, but also other things, as man [contains] not only animal, but also rational. A number of modern philosophers would conclude from this that here, then, is a part greater than its whole; so that the principle of contradiction itself would be set aside. Yet, as we have indicated, it is a question of totally different relations. In effect, the unity of the genus which we predicate of man, of horse, of the bee, etc., is purely logical; the predicable genus animal has its form and its unity from reason which can abstract from the differences, without which, nevertheless, it is impossible to be, in reality, animal. There is not, therefore, in nature, in addition to the form by which man is man, and that by which the horse is horse, a common form by which the different species of animals would be animals. The form by which man is man, is at the same time the form by which he is animal, and it is by its form of horse that the horse is animal. Hence, to know the animal distinctly is to know it insofar as it is man, or horse, or bee, etc. The universal whole which is the same genus animal does not contain its parts in act, but only in potency, and this is the reason why they are called subjective. But if we said that it contains them only in potency and that the potency is a potency for an act, we would point out that potency in cause is defined precisely in the line of predication in which the predicable is like a form in comparison to all that of which it can be predicated. (Thus, in the attribution: man is an animal, or: the horse is an animal, man and horse are subjects and animal is the form.) In effect, from the point of view of the things signified, this genus is founded upon the natures and it is posterior to these; it is in the natures distinct according to their ultimate form that actuality is found, but never in the genus which owes its unity and its universality to the abstraction from this actuality. As soon as we consider animal in the species, it is no more than a part of a more comprehensive whole. Thus, the species is not in any way an elaboration of the genus. But shall we say, the genus which is found thus surpassed, being no longer a form, but a subjectsince man, for example, is an animal by his form of manis no longer, in this regard, the predicable of other species; we have from that moment, not withstanding, abandoned more comprehensive universality which expresses the unity of innumerable species. It will be added, perhaps that science ought precisely to surpass the particular, in order to go towards an ever-greater universality, free to return to the particular to view it from above as a restricted concretion of the universalparticipation. We have not arbitrarily chosen this objection. It is fitting to pause here in an introduction to the study of the soul. In the first chapter of his treatise, Aristotle points out that we must be careful not to ignore the question whether the soul can be defined in a single unambiguous formula, as is the case with animal, or whether we must not give a separate formula for each sort of it, as we do for horse, dog, man, god (in the latter case the universal animaland so too every other common predicatebeing treated either as nothing at all or as a later product). Now in this regard, St. Thomas recalls that in fact the Platonists affirmed the existence of separated universals, that is to say, of forms and ideas which were, for particular things, causes of their existence and of knowledge (which we have of them); for them, there existed a separated soul, a soul in itself, which


served as cause and idea to the particular souls; from this came all that we find in these particular souls. According to the philosophers of nature, on the contrary, universals were only particular substances, and the universals were nothing in reality. Thence the question: is it necessary to seek only the common notion of the soul, as the Platonists said, or the notion of this soul or of that soul, as the philosophers of nature said, namely, the soul of the horse or of the man, or of the God. (Aristotle) says of God, because of the belief of those philosophers in the divinity of celestial bodies which they said were animated. Consequently, according to the conception of the Platonists, the definition of the soul in general should signify at the same time the very perfect and universal cause of all the species of souls. So that, to the question: who makes shoes? the response: the artisan, would be more pertinent than the response: the cobbler. Artisan should signify more, it seems, since it can equally be affirmed of the tailor, the mason, etc. There is, therefore, a cause higher, anterior and universal, whereas the cobbler is only a particular cause, proximate and proper. But doesnt it follow that the knowledge of the reason of things becomes deeper in proportion as we rise to a more confused generality? Indeed, the doctrine in question was not so simple, and the Platonists would reply easily that the indetermination in which this generality leaves us comes from the darkness of an intellect imprisoned in a body. We ought without doubt to inquire about the causes higher, anterior and universal, as much as possible. But if more often we should not know how to grasp them, yet it is necessary to be aware of them. Be this as it may, we should take upon ourselves the inverse direction of that which we have just described. In fact, the expressions cause higher, the universal, proximate, etc. are fundamentally equivocal. Thus it is that artisan, in comparison to carpenter, is an anterior cause, higher, universal, in the logical order, according to predication, but not according to causality. In the example given, universality only expresses the indetermination of our knowledge of the cause. In reality, it is the proximate cause, the art of the carpenter, which is the primary and supreme cause in the order given. When we affirm that science ought to seek to know things through their primary, supreme, ultimate causes, it is manifestly not a question of causes which are such in the order of predication, which causes leave us in confusion with regard to the proper nature of things. Nevertheless, in rejecting the apparently easy conception of the Platonists, we must not abandon at the same time the search for causes which are universals in the very line of causality. For we have not deceived ourselves that such causes exist and that in them we will have a more perfect knowledge of particular things. Thus, the art of the tailor is a particular cause and first in a given order. But why this art? Why these garments? Why doesnt nature clothe us? We will find finally the primary reason in the intellective soul which as comprehending universals, has a power extending to the infinite; therefore it cannot be limited by nature to certain fixed natural notions, or even to certain fixed means, whether of defense or of clothing, as is the case with other animals, the souls of which are endowed with knowledge and power in regard to fixed particular things. Instead of all these, man has by nature his reason and his hands, which are the organs of organs ( De Anima iii), since by their means man can make for himself instruments of an infinite variety, and for any number of purposes. This cause may be called universal according to causality, not only because it is the determined cause of all the intermediary causes up to the garment, up to the art which conceives it and produces it, but because it is still that which is the cause with regard to the art of the cobbler, mason, carpenter, etc. Insofar as man is in some way the end and principle of all the arts, he is, in this respect, a universal cause. Likewise, when we demonstrate that in nature all other things preexist, as certain instruments, preparatory to the understanding, which is the last perfection intended in the operation of nature, we recognize in the human intellect a universal final cause. Still, the perfection with which we will know such a cause will depend always on the degree of distinct knowledge which we have of things with regard to which it is a universal


cause. This means that in the knowledge of this cause there will be for us degrees of endless perfectibility. St. Thomas was able to write the words we have just cited, without, however, teaching a doctrine of evolution. Doubtless we will never know the fundamental and universal laws which command the process or organization of the matter in view of the intellective soul. Nevertheless, we can know in a general way that these laws exist; that man is the good of the whole cosmos, of all the vegetal and animal proliferation, however difficult it may be to see it in a concrete manner. What is Andromeda doing here; the hippopotamus; the fly; and innumerable species which we would never have known; to say nothing of the clod of earthpoor relative of astronomyawkward sine qua non for the astronomer. General knowledge of a very precise reason in itself is immediately the occasion for precise questions, some of which are fruitful, but others embarrassing like the remarks of an enfant terrible. Those latter were the most successful sophisms of history. In this regard, it is fitting to recall the proverb: fools shouldnt see things half-done. VIII. THE INTERMEDIATE CHARACTER OF OUR SCIENCE Have we distinguished the two genera of universality to exclude from science the universal in praedicando? Not in the least. Not only is it essential to the order of apprenticeship and to the state of imperfect science, but it is necessary to all human science however perfect it may be. In fact, when it is a question of a science properly so-calledof a certain knowledge through causesthe progress of this science according to the process of determination will not consist in substituting the new for what had been previously been established. Besides the fact that the general definition of the soul, for example, will not change in the course of the treatise, the universality of the predication remains essential to the unity of our science. In fact, although the universal in praedicando does not exist in things, it is nevertheless founded on them and what we say of the soul in general is true of every soul in particular: it is true that the rational soul is the first act of a body furnished with instruments, and that it is true also of the soul of the cat. Consequently, if it is necessary to attribute to our intellect the confusion in which the general definition of the soul leaves us with regard to the different species, it remains nonetheless true that this definition expresses in a relatively distinct manner what the different species have in common, and what separates them from all other things. Let us suppose that we were treating in an isolate manner of the different species, not only would we have to repeat often the same things, but also we would have to know that we repeat them. Now, although the natures of which we say the same thing are not the same in virtue of a common natural form, distinct from that by which man is man and cat, cat, we can however grasp what they have in common only by means of such a universal. On the one hand we cannot grasp simultaneously in one and the same concept many distinct objects except at the expense of distinct knowledge; on the other hand, we cannot consider the unity of many objects except by grasping them simultaneously. For it is one things to have a distinct knowledge of many objects, which is developed in a successive consideration, and quite another thing to have the simultaneous consideration of the same objects by means of one single concept. From this is seen the intermediate character of our science which always wavers between the confused universal of which it cannot rid itself, and the universal in causando which it never seems to grasp completely. It will not truly be free excepting if the latter were at the same time at the beginning of our knowledge; if that which is most actual in things were also most known by us. It is now evident, says Aristotle, that a single definition can be given of the soul only in the same sense as one can be given of figure. For, as in that case there is no figure distinguishable and apart from triangle, etc., so here there is no soul apart from the forms of soul just enumerated. It is true that a highly general definition can be given of figure which will fit all figures without expressing the peculiar nature of any figure. So here in the case of soul and its specific forms. Hence it is absurd in this and similar cases to


demand an absolutely general definition, which will fail to express the peculiar nature of anything that is or again omitting this, to look for separate definitions corresponding to each infima species. The cases of figures and soul are exactly parallel; for the particulars subsumed under the common name in both casesfigures and living thingsconstitute a series, each successive term of which potentially contains its predecessor, e.g. the square the triangle, the sensory power the self-nutritive. Hence we must ask in the case of each order of living things, what is its soul, i.e. what is the soul of plant, animal, man? Why the terms are related in this serial way must form the subject of later examination. But it is only at the end of the Metaphysics, well beyond the treatises of natural living things, that he will determine the cause absolutely and universal in causando. <> XVI THE PROCESS OF INTENTION AND COMPOSITION We have seen that the ancients thought that they knew these first principles, but we have called attention to the fact that such a knowledge is for us as a limit which we cannot reach. On this point, the testimonies of the most eminent savants are not wanting. Why is this so? The answer is unanimous: the measurements upon which the whole scientific construction is established are never more than approached. In this regard, it is necessary to consider first the impossibility of an infinitely precise measurement in the domain of the continuum. It would be necessary, in effect, that the standard of measure be a magnitude equal to zero. In reality, this standard, however small it may be, is simple by hypothesis onlyaccipitur ut simplex per suppositionem. But whenever it is a question of seeking the universal and fundamental principles of this order, every lack of precision is of consequence. Secondly, it is necessary to define the physical properties by description of their process of measurement, which, in order to be adequate, should comprehend and express all the circumstances of the mensuration. Now, that is impossible; for it would be necessary previously to know in a precise manner the principles which govern the totality of the physical world: it would be necessary to be a separated intellect who would not have any need of experience in order to know the worlda god contemplating the external world, as Eddington says. But why cant we proceed, in this order of things, as we have done in the Physics and as we will do in the abstract study of the soul? The definition of movement, for example, is not provisory, and that of the soul will be entirely definitive. On the other hand, a similar definition of the nature of light would be an intolerable barrier. Why isnt the advance toward these principles that of the process of concretion? We shall find the answer to this question by dwelling on the Prooemium to the De Caelo of St. Thomas. In practical reasons consideration of a house, we can distinguish four processes. Firstly, there is the process according to the order of apprehension. The builder of houses, for example, grasps in the first place the form of the house in an absolute manner, in order to apply it then to the matter. Secondly, there is the process according to the order of intention: the artisan intends to construct the house in its entirety, and it is in view of this totality that he does everything that he does with regard to the parts. Thirdly, there follows the process according to the order of composition, in which the stones are cut, for example, in order to assemble them into a wall. And fourthly, there is the order of maintenance of the work, according to which the artisan lays first the foundation upon which rests the other parts of the house. In the consideration by speculative reason, we can find processes corresponding to those of practical reason. Thus it is that we consider first the most general, in order to consider afterwards the least general. This is what we have called the process of determination, which corresponds to the order of apprehension in the arts. Thus in the study of nature, we


commence with the communissima of the book of the Physics, which has as subject mobile being insofar as it is mobile: and we shall do likewise in the study of living things, which begins with the consideration of the communia omnibus animatis, postquam vero illa quae sunt propria cuilibet rei animatae. Then follows the order which corresponds to that of the intention, in which we proceed from the ensemble, the whole, toward its parts. But, it is to be remarked that this whole which we are thus considering in the first place is opposed, not to any part whatsoever, but very precisely to the parts according to matter, as opposed to the parts according to species prout scilicet totum est prius in consideratione quem partes, non qualecumque, sed partes quae sunt secundum materiam et quae sunt individui. The material parts are the parts without which we can, however, consider the whole. Thus we can consider the circle without considering the semicircle, or animal without considering foot, or man, without Socrates; on the other hand, we would not be able to define semicircle without circle, nor foot without animal, nor would we be able to consider Socrates without man. Besides, the formal parts (partes speciei et formae) are essential to the consideration of the whole. The three lines of a triangle, the rational soul, and the body composed of flesh and bones, are essential to the definition of a triangle and a man. Let us note, moreover, that in order to have the perfect definition of man it would be necessary to know him with regard to the elements without which he could not be man. Therefore, the consideration of the whole according to the order which corresponds to the intention of practical reason, will depend on the knowledge of the formal parts, without which we cannot truly know it: hujusmodi enim partes sunt priores in consideratione quam totum, et ponitur in definitione totius, sicut carnes et ossa in diffinitione hominis. Applied to the science of nature, this means that we cannot attain knowledge of the material universe in its totality except in proportion as we know its formal parts, that is to say, the parts which are essential to everything insofar as it is a part of the universe. For the ancients, these partes speciei of the universe were nothing other than the elements, namely, the simple bodies, envisaged from the point of view of gravitation. This is the reason why we made the treatise De Caelo correspond to experimental physics. These parts of the universe and the laws which govern them are common. The weight of a man placed on a weighing machine is registered just as that of a stone. The principles which are primary in this universal orderthat is to say, the principles of the physical world considered in itself are applied just as well to living bodies as to non-living bodies. From the point of view which occupies us at present, the living things, principal parts of the universe in other respects, are partes materiae, and not partes speciei et formaethey are not part of the definition of the whole in question. In the third place, there is a process which corresponds to that of composition in the arts. It is especially this order of composition which will detain us, and we will soon see the reason for it. Following this order, we go from simple things to composed things in order to know the latter as much as we can know them through their simple components, in brief, in order to see the role of the components in the constitution of the totality. Knowing the formal parts of the universe, we would understand the totality which they compose. However, such a comprehension of the totality would be limited to what it is in virtue of these common parts taken as such. For there are, in the universe, wholes which do not owe all that they are to the formal parts alone which constitute them as parts of the universe. This is manifestly the case with living bodies. Although being verified of those bodies, the universal principles do not suffice to explain the living body insofar as it is living. In digesting food or in lifting an arm, we do not act contrarily to the laws of the physical world. And yet, those operations cannot be brought back to the sole knowledge of the formal parts of the universe and of their laws, however perfect this knowledge may be. We are here in the presence of a composition which is other than that of the universe, but which involves nevertheless, the same parts of the universe. These wholes, in effect, have in turn proper formal parts by which they differ specifically from every other totality. The partes diffinitivae of man are not those of other natural living things. Let us note, however,


that these proper parts presuppose the first. But the parts which distinguish one thing from another must not be conceived as inserted, after the manner of a wedge, between the parts of the universe; some parts are not mixed with other parts. It is a matter, in effect, of parts by which the whole is defined, and not of fragments. With regard to man, the formal parts of the universe, whatever they may be, are parts of man by the form of man. Surely, whenever we concern ourselves with the sole point of view of these parts of the universe envisaged as such, the totalities in question are no longer reckoned in their specification: the difference of a man and a paving stone placed on a weighing machine is not registered. But it is nonetheless true that the man is not a soul associated with parts of the universe: the latter are indeed parts which compose the body of man, and this body is a formal part of man insofar as he is man. It is in pursuing this route that we would soon see the parts of the universe assume at once an altogether other aspect.

Cf. also Charles De Koninck, Introduction to the Study of the Soul. Preface to Stanislas Cantin, Prcis de psychologie thomiste (Quebec: Laval University, 1948) (Eng. tr. Bruno M. Mondor, O.P.), sec. XIV. The Equivocation of Sensible Matter:
His theory concludes at the coincidence between what is most elementary in itself in material things and what is the most elementary for us in our knowledge. And as, in fact, touch is the sense of certitude par excellence, the identification of what is first in things from the point of view of matter with what is moreover the best know by us, as hypothetical as this might be, will not be less tenacious. It will become too reassuring to be put into doubt. And so it was held for a number of centuries. It is understandable why the principle of the primacy of experience in natural science, principle on which Aristotle insists in the treatise where he sets forth the theory of elements, remained so long inoperative in this domain. <> It would not be sufficient to see in this theory a very primitive outline of experimental science. It is important before all else to grasp its fundamental hypothesis: the primary and elementary material causes of things are defined by the proper sensibles, and what is more, by the most elementary sensible qualities.

Cf. also excerpt from PART XIV p. 3:

[I]t will be necessary to say henceforth that reason is employed in another way, not as furnishing a sufficient proof of a principle, but as confirming an already established principle, by showing the congruity of its results, as in astronomy the theory of eccentrics is considered as established, because thereby the sensible appearances of heavenly movements can be explained; not, however, as if this proof were sufficient, forasmuch as some other theory might explain them.


n. 7. Prefatory Remarks to A General Introduction to the Study of Nature by Charles De Koninck. Manual, Prentice Hall. Corrected by T. De Koninck and C. De Koninck. (A final version of this is Random Reflections on Science and Calculation, in LTP.)
PREFATORY REMARKS The purpose of this Introduction is to show what are the subject and principles of what Aristotle calls the science of nature or natural philosophy. We shall attempt this by way of an exposition of the first two books of his Physics. The reader should know from this very beginning that we are not wholly unaware of the extent to which the meaning of the words just employed has changedviz. science, subject of a science, principles of a science, and science of nature. It would be difficult to find a single instance in which the same words still mean the same thing. Plainly, we cannot afford to neglect this fact. Many a teacher called upon to give an elementary course in the Philosophy of Nature which sometimes goes under the title of what is actually only one of its parts, viz. Cosmologywill feel impatient when we show some measure of solicitude for the scientific climate that is proper to our day. Why should we bother about it, he might say. We have the mandate to teach the subject, so let us get down to business. Precisely, can we reasonably get down to it? In fact, is there such a subject? For some reason or other we may be already convinced that there is. But that is not the point, when in teaching one must begin from what is known to the listener. Now his preliminary informationif only that which was gathered from the headlinesin an elementary course in some special subject of philosophy is very different from that of the beginner of some half century ago. One would compound the confusion by ignoring the difference. No philosopher we hold in esteem thought he could neglect the opinions of his times. It would be most unfair to let the student believe that what is meant by science in the philosophy of nature must be roughly the same as what is meant by science todayonly to learn eventually that they really have no more in common than a dog and the constellation that goes by the same name. Yet the fruits of modern science grow with cosmic violence. What then? The first thing to be noted is that all that will be said in this Introduction will be expressed by means of words. 1. Science of nature and the use of words.

It has latterly become rather obvious that the giant strides of the mathematical study of nature are concomitant with a general emancipation from the use of words. The mathematical physicist does not know what he is talking about until he can have recourse to symbols that are not names. At the same time this very statement uses nothing but words, and it is difficult to see how one could make such statement in any other way. One might suggest that this statement could be symbolized by the sign S. But the interpretation of the symbol would have to refer to the statement made in words. When Sir Arthur Eddington shows so convincingly that the exact science of nature can get nowhere until it has reduced its definitions to measure-numbers, and that these are expressed in terms of mathematical symbols, not words, he uses words to show it. Even the terms exact, science, symbol, and nature he employs as words intended to mean something in the way that words do. Indeed he does so while showing just how the physicist obtains his measure-numbers and is concerned only with them. By length, for instance, which is otherwise defined as what is extended in one dimension, he, as a mathematical physicist, means when we take a reasonably fair copy of a certain platinum-iridium bar kept in Paris...and apply it successively or by division to know the distance between A and B, the result of the operation may be expressed by Lx. Thus defined, the standard of length can of course have no length, when there is no other standard, so that length only is once the


measurement is had. In turn, weight is when using a weighing-machine..., and so on for all the basic definitions. The importance of when in these definitions can hardly be exaggerated. If the physicist said length is... instead of length is when... he would refer to a mode of definition which aims to state what a thing is absolutely, and not merely what the name or symbol is intended to mean. Having thus defined length he may tell us this is length, but this only another way of saying that that is all he can be concerned with. In mathematical physics definitions should be no more than interpretations of the symbols chosen, by describing how the measure-numbers were obtained. It is interesting to note that if only this type of definition were valid in any field, then the definition of man would have to be like when I tread on something and it produces a series of sounds such as Where do you think youre going? And that is man. It is also plain that when interpreting the time-symbol t the mathematical physicist does not intend even a nominal definition of the word time as this term was and is still used without specific reference to the way in which the measure-number is obtained. The same holds for the very expression mathematical physics, meaning a certain type of knowledge about nature. He would not try to define in terms of measure-numbers what the word nature stands for, although we might point out that even his kind of definition has something to do with what we call nature. Take, for instance, the following statement made by Einstein: It is my conviction that pure mathematical construction enables us to discover the concepts and the laws connecting them which give us the key to the understanding of the phenomena of Nature. Experience can of course guide us in our choice of serviceable mathematical concepts; it cannot possibly be the source from which they are derived; experience of course remains the sole criterion of the serviceability of mathematical construction for physics, but the truly creative principle resides in mathematics. He makes clear what he means by physics when he adds that by itself such construction can give us no knowledge whatsoever of the world of experience; all knowledge about reality begins with experience and terminates in it. Conclusions obtained by purely rational processes are, so far as Reality is concerned, entirely empty. 1 We do not know how he would have interpreted the names Nature and Reality though he might have suggested that to the physicist they are what the measure-numbers somehow refer to, and the test of the relevance of rational construction to his purpose. We are confident that he would not have confined himself to Nature is when using such or such a standard of measure...etc.,although in doing so there would be reference to nature, and to what he already know reality to mean. 2. The symbolic world of mathematical physics, and the symbolically constructed fictions of mathematical logic. Once Eddington has made it clear that from the mathematical physicists standpoint the world is a symbolic onein the sense that what he knows of it can be conveyed only by symbols and involves a generous share of fiction, starting from and referring to metrical structurebut that whatever the symbols convey is not all that the world is, he goes on using words to bring home his thoughts on the subject. Hence, to employ either words or symbols is not a matter of choice: now one, then the other, is imposed upon us according to what we wish to express. We are sometimes led to believe that the use of symbols is a way of economizing words. That is not the whole truth. Their use certainly economizes thought. But it is far more important to realize that the mathematical physicist, as well as the mathematician, does not use symbols instead of names for the sake of abbreviating his equations, but because he could not resolve them by operating on names.


As we shall see further on, the art of calculation simply cannot be concerned with objects in the sense of what names refer us to, like man, horse, or nature. Even what the ancients had named number or figure is of no formal interest to it. H. Poincare said Mathematicians do not study objects, but the relations between the objects; it is therefore indifferent to them when the objects are replaced by other objects, so long as the relations do not change. Not the matter, but the form is their concern. And the objects that are of no concern to him are not merely those like horse or apple, but numbers and figures as well. Now what about the objects that neither mathematician nor mathematical physicist is concerned with? What has happened to the number, e.g., three, which we had named before putting it into an equation, or to the time we named before we manufactured the measure-number by the clock? The operations upon the symbols may have been so proficient that we forgot, or believed we should now forget, what those names meant while we were using them. Could we really replace what the word man meant by referring henceforth to no more than the mathematical physicists view of him as a swarm of electric charges? This no doubt man is, but is it what it is to be a man? It must be true that if the physicist could produce that particular kind of swarm he would have indeed produced a man. But why would we call it a man unless it were like what we already identified as a man? 3. Where words remain in use.

If neither the mathematician nor the mathematical physicist can be no more than hampered by the use of names, apparently they must use them when they want to convey what their knowledge is about and especially what it is not concerned with. In saying that they cannot be concerned with things as they are named, they are using names to say it, though they are admittedly not speaking qua mathematician or mathematical physicist. The question we are trying to raise here is this: can there be true knowledge of what the names we use about nature are intended to mean? Can the things they refer to be defined and used to demonstrate something in a way which deserves to be called scientific? Must the term science be restricted to the art of calculation and its application? What did we mean by change, movement, infinity, and time before we defined them by measurenumbers? Has their meaning now become mere fancy? It has been suggested that the only reason why we shall continue to use words is that they are necessary to communication in the order of behaviourthat language is essentially practical. No court of law would excuse manslaughter as being no more than a disturbance produced in a particular swarm of electric charges by another swarm reasonably like the former. So we continue to believe that Mr. Smith is there in some fashion or other perhaps not too clear, and that he after all still has rights and obligations, even as we do. But it seems that so soon as we forget about the practical orderabout how we should behave and treat our neighbour, and all such things expressed by namesand apply ourselves to scientific investigation, things like man and his doing are irretrievably left behind. If the thing (while even thing may be distressingly unscientific) we call man does persist, it is only as what turns up for breakfast or is summoned to pay taxes, or allowed to sleep, and in some event even to study physics. It is no doubt significant that words are used to tell us these things, and that these things would not be told unless in using words our thought were turned to something recognized as their meaning. Nor is it less significant that the practical life should force their use upon us. And there is no denying that many of the words which for centuries remained basic in philosophy, like matter, form, action, originally referred to the order of making and doing, and not to the things of nature; and time may well have meant something we do not have enough of. Surely these facts are worth looking into, however little scientific a curiosity about such things may seem.



If all definitions were to be of names or of symbols only.

If it must be assumed that there can be no true knowledge of things as we name them, but only of what can be expressed by the symbols of logic and in calculation, then what we say about this or any other kind of knowledge in using words could hardly be true. Let us put it still another way. If, as Stuart Mill said, All definitions are of names, and of names only, such that the things named cannot be defined in themselves, however tentatively, meaning that we cannot know what they are but only what is that name we use to signify them, and since there cannot be a science of the names themselves in as much as they signify no more than by convention, it is clear that there can be no science of anything to the extent that it is named. On the other hand, what Mill says applies literally to the symbols of the art of calculation, whether applied in mathematics or in physics: to define is simply to interpret the symbol by explaining how it is to be taken, not by stating what the thing named is. For instance, when asked to define the number two, the art of calculation will never try to tell us what two is, because what two is never enters into the operation of calculation. In that activity, two is only a term with a function similar to what which it fills in an equation like 2 plus x = 5. Whether two here is actually one two or two ones can make no difference. The only unity two possesses in such an equation is the unity of a symbol; and what ever sort of unity 2 may enjoy apart from that assigned to it as an operational symbol is quite irrelevant to a definition derived from its operational use alone. Lord Russell puts it this way: We naturally think that the class of couples (for example) is something different from the number 2. But there is no doubt about the class of couples: it is indubitable and not difficult to define, whereas the number 2, in any other sense, is a metaphysical entity about which we can never feel sure that it exists or that we have tracked it down. It is therefore more prudent to content ourselves with the class of couples, which we are sure of, than to hunt for a problematical number 2 which must always remain elusive. Accordingly we set up the following definition: The number of a class is the class of all those classes that are similar to it. Thus the number of a couple will be the class of all couples. In fact, the class of all couples will be the number 2, according to our definition. It is admittedly difficult to see how any other way of being two could be relevant to the equation 2 plus x = 5. In this context, therefore, Aristotles definition of number as a plurality measured by one must appear awkward, and is certainly useless. But Aristotle was trying to convey what number is, not what an operational symbol may stand for. Definitions of the same type appear in connection with geometry. Hermann Weyl had this to say in illustration of what he meant by creative definitions: Thus, in geometry, the concept of circle is introduced with the help of the ternary point relation of congruence, OA = OB, which appears in the axioms, as follows, A point O and a different point A determine a circle, the circle about O through A; that a point lies on this circle means that OA = OP. For the mathematician it is irrelevant what circles are. It is of importance only to know in what manner a circle may be given (namely, by O and by A) and what is meant by saying that a point P lies on the circle thus given. Only in statements of this latter form or in statement explicitly defined on their basis does the concept of a circle appear.


Especially deserving of attention is the neat statement that For the mathematician it is irrelevant what circles are. Further on, Hermann Weyl lays out his understandingmost mathematicians do share his viewof what is now meant by the concept of number: If one wants to speak, all the same, of numbers as concepts or ideal objects, one must at any rate refrain from giving them independent existence; their being exhausts itself in the functional role which they play and their relations of more or less. (They certainly are not concepts in the sense of Aristotles theory of abstraction.) Turning now to the mode of definition in mathematical physics, we have Eddingtons incontrovertible statement about what a definable with is: Never mind what two tons refers to; what is it? How has it actually entered in so definite a way into our experience? Two tons is the reading of the pointer when the elephant was placed on a weighing-machine. It was never intended to reveal what weight is apart from this particular mode of defining, viz. by describing how the physicist obtains this kind of measure-number. 5. Just what is implied when we are told that science is no longer concerned with objects. We have been told that the mathematician is not concerned with objects, he cannot get very far with the number, like two, of which Lord Russell says that it is a metaphysical entity about which we can never feel sure that it exists or that we have tracked it down. And to the geometer in particular, it is also irrelevant what circles are. We must be aware of the implication of this fact with regard to what was previously called mathematical science, and which had to do with quantity, this being either number, the subject of arithmetic, or continuous quantity, the subject of geometry. According to Aristotle, these subjects are to be defined in metaphysics, while the mathematician assumes them, but replaces them by symbolic construction or creative definition, as we were told. Now it is important to note that these constructions are not intended to replace those subjects absolutely. The latter are simply left out, because, it is said, we can never feel sure that they exist or that we have tracked them down. Hence, they who would continue to apply their mind to those subjects would be seen as moving about on slippery ground. We may perhaps make clear what has happened by comparing what Poincare said to be the concern of the mathematicianviz. the form, and not the object that he also calls the matter with what the Greeks (Plato and Aristotle in particular) called the matter and the form of a number. Aristotle distinguishes a matter and a form that constitute a number intrinsically, they being related as potency to act. The matter of a number is the units that compose it in the order of material cause, like the pieces of wood that make up a table, or, better still, like the limbs that make up the body of a man. By the form of a number, he meant the particular kind of unity and order which is exhibited by adding a unit to a unit, a unit to the number obtained, and so on for all the integers. The addition does not fabricate the number but merely brings to mind new kinds of number which, though they are not conceived as existing in reality the way Socrates does, nevertheless are considered as having certain properties which are true even when we do not actually consider them. Number, thus understood, is defined as a plurality measured by oneone being the principle of number. Now, any proper measure must be one in kind with the measured, meaning, here, that to be in number the units must be of the same nature. The particular kind of unity that is proper to any given number depends upon the homogeneity of its components. Otherwise we have no more than a sort of heap (Metaph. 1044a). The number two, then, isnot the same as two mere units of any kind.


Still, even when objects are not of the same kind, we can count them nevertheless, like the objects in this roompersons, desks, chairs, coughs, absences, the relations of reason that we have in mind, and even those which we ought to have but do not. Thus we have a number that applies to the heterogeneous elements of a heap or mere aggregate, a number which we use to express how many objects are there in the room. This type of number arises in the act of sheer counting. It is the number of the art of calculation which was called logismos or logistike number may have, it is provided in the operations of additions, multiplication, subtraction, and division. Its unity is independent of what the things are that we refer to as being such or such in number; this is the number which has been defined as the class of all those classes which are similar to it. Thus the number 2 is the class of all couples, no matter what their kind or the the kind of their elements. Nor do the couples or their units have to be couples or units in any positive sense, for if number is defined by the operation, whatever the operation may be applied to will by that very fact be such a number, like zero, or a fraction, or an irrational number. And number, thus understood, is admittedly not an object in the sense in which the number two that is one two is an object. It is a convenient fiction which our mind has produced. Though a fiction, it is nonetheless proficient, as can be see from the fact that we can count things regardless of what they are. Thus, what the things are is of no account to the calculator. The indifference of this number with regard to the nature of the numbered is equaled only by the indifference of the heap as a heap. The science of arithmetic, as Aristotle and Euclid understood it, is about the numbers that are per se one; unlike logismos, it does not abstract from what the things are that it applies to: to be the subject of a science as they understood this term, these must be one per se. What Whitehead says about arithmetic is true only of the art of calculation which the science employs: Now, the first noticeable fact about arithmetic is that it applies to everything, to tastes and to sounds, to apples and to angels, to the ideas of the mind and to the bones of the body. The nature of the things is perfectly indifferent, of all things it is true that two and two make four. Thus we write down as the leading characteristic of mathematics that it deals with properties and ideas which are applicable to things just because they are things, and apart from any particular feelings, or emotions, or sensations, in any way connected with them. This is what is meant by calling mathematics an abstract science. Perhaps we ought to make explicit that the nature of things is indifferent to the point where all that Whitehead mentions can be gathered under a single number. 6. The expression mathematical science now has a new meaning.

Arithmetic, as it is understood in this context, has nothing to do whatsoever with the subject of what the ancients called by that same name. In fact, most moderns would say that what the ancients had in mind was not a science at all. This is what Lord Russell implies when he says its subject would be something about which we can never feel sure that it exist or that we have tracked it down. On the other hand, there is no doubt about the class of couples: anything, thing or no, will belong to it, if it is a couple no matter what of. Thus mathematics as it is understood today has put aside everything that might be called into question in any way. To possess what is left we do not even have to discuss whether anything corresponds to the fictions, nor whether these are only in the mind. To save their value, even logical in logical fictions does not have to be tied down to what is in or of the mind. It is enough that logical should refer to logismos; whereas it should certainly not refer to logic in the Aristotelian sense of this term. A further point is worth noting here. The art of calculation does not take into account whether a number is a group of actually divided elements, or whether it is a one that is divisible yet not divided. Whatever is to the right of the symbol of equality is essentially the same as what is to the left of it. Thus 1 + 1 = 2 is exactly the same as 1 + 1 = 1 + 1.


Hence, whether 2 stands for one two, or for two ones of any kind, is completely indifferent. Whether the number it applies to is actually one or actually many is of no account here. Such is the case of all the basic laws of the art. We may neglect, then, whether a number is an aggregate of units, as is said by some [e.g. Thales, who is said to have defined number as a bundle of units]; for two is either not one, or the unit is not present in it in complete actuality. Likewise with regard to magnitude, whether the line is actually divided or only potentially so, is irrelevant to the art of calculation when applied to it. Moreover, whether a line contains an infinity of points in potency or in act, is indifferent. Of the infinite no more is required than that we should be able to define it operationally. The distinction between act and potency is simply beside the question. Infinite classes can indeed be easily definied in this way. But whether there is an infinite class in the way there is a number that is per se one is a matter irrelevant to what the art defines and applies to. To it, such questions can be no more than obtrusive. 7. The mathematics that abstracts from the distinction between per se and per accidens. All this implies that logismos side-steps the distinction between what is per se and what is per accidens, either as to being or as to unity. That the mind can transcend this division is plain from the fact that we can string together the following incidentally connected baldheaded pale barn-building flute-playing thrice-married ill-tempered barber. We cannot name what it is to be such a particular accidental ensemblealthough it may be Oscar but we can make a symbol stand for it. In terms of the calculus of classes, anything which is all those things together belongs to the class that is the logical product of the classes baldheaded, pale, barn-building, etc., and the product may be represented by the single arbitrary sign h.


n. 8. Resume of lecture notes of Methodologie Generale given by M. Charles De Koninck. 1938-39: I. Knowledge in general, which consists in becoming another as other. That is a definition of objectivity which at the same time manifests what subjectivity is. A being which is purely and simply subject is incapable of going out from itself, is closed to all that which is exterior to it as it is closed for itself. It does not know itself, for if it did it would know itself as other (in the cognitive sense). Other means simply object. II. Intellectual knowledge. This is necessary to understand if we are to know what science is. This knowledge extends to all things absolutely. No need for demonstration; merely a little dialectics to cause the fact to be observed. The soul is in a certain manner all things. The sensitive soul of the animals is in a sense all sensibles, but in the case of the intellectual soul, it is a question of all things in a completely rigorous sense. Nam unaquaequae intellectualis substantia est quodammodo omnia, in quantum totius entis comprehensiva est suo intellectui III CG 112. How do we know all things? It is impossible to pose the question without at the same time knowing all things. How could the question arise unless you knew all things? The reply is implied in the question. One cannot know that he does not know all without knowing all. To the question: what is the extent of our intelligence, the reply, in all frankness, is that we know all, and this without exception. What exception can be imagined? The exception is again among the things which are. All things, that is, all which is not nothing, all which is not impossible. Hence we arrive at the paradox that it is impossible to know nothing sans knowing everything, or rather that it is impossible to know that one knows nothing without knowing everything. This is a paradoxical idea: one can know all and know nothing in a certain manner. This manifests the nature of our intelligence, for although it extends to all things, yet considered in itself it is in potency. All this is implied in the principle of contradiction, which is, that a thing cannot be and not be at the same time and in the same respect, and since this principle is first, without which nothing else can be known, it is impossible that we know something without knowing everything, since everything is implied in this principle. The principle applies to everything which is possible. Therefore, there is an absolute co-extensivity between being and non-being, being and the impossible, that is, that non-being is absolutely outside being. Being is not opposed to nonbeing in a certain respect, but it is entirely opposed to it, the impossible is excluded absolutely from being. As this opposition between being and non-being is absolute, and absolutely universal, we have an opposition of contradiction. [end of p. 1]


n. 9. Charles De Koninck, Letter to Mortimer Adler, Quebec June 15, 1938 (excerpt):
12. I would readily agree with you that the history of philosophy grows in spiral form. But I do not think that this holds for philosophy itself as science, unless as in Hegel, philosophy were the history of philosophy. On the contrary experimental science evolves essentially in spiral form, by way of successive substitutions, as in all dialectics. The history of philosophy describes a spiral in so far as it is dialectical. I will add to this a few points on the philosophy of history. I distinguish it as I do with philosophy of nature: science and wisdom. As science, philosophy of history is philosophy of nature. History is essential to nature because of time: it is essential to nature sub statu motus existens, that is in so far as our universe is subject to evolution and profound novelty. If there must be evolution along relatively unpredictable lines, this growth must assume a spiral form. Here we join Maritain with his distinction between univocism and analogy in the conception of history. We might add equivocism (i.e. complete heterogeneity of the various stages) if Maritain has not done so; this being, I understand, Bergsons position. Now all this we may show a priori. We can show, starting from any given mobile being, that the universe must evolve toward mind: i.e. a term essentially immobile, otherwise movement itself would be a contradiction. Spiritual immobility alone is an immobility which has ratio termini. Now if the universe was intrinsically predetermined as to the various lines along which this evolution must take place, that would mean that matter is intrinsically disposed to the human form: then history would not exist. There would be no reason why the term of evolution should not exist from the start.

n. 10. Charles De Koninck, Le Cosmos, Laval (1936) (typescript, pp. 40-44) (insertions [in square braces] by B.A.M., as are the footnotes).
(1) The sum total of bodily beings that make up nature is partitioned in four species: men, animals, plants, inorganic substances. These only are philosophically definable. These four obviously constitute a hierarchy: one higher than the other in perfection. They are essentially different (ontological species): one has or has not life, one has or has not sense life, one has or has not intellectual life; there is no middle. In spite of essential difference[s] the four have something in common: men are animals along with dogs; they in turn are vegetative along with plants, and along with inorganic substances they are bodily beings. Yet man is not the mere sum of [the] four (an aggregate); he is one being (not several substances conjoined). (2) Man is the raison detre of the Universe (the final explanation and end of all other earthly beings) For: a) Nature cannot be ordained to God except through man; since the Universe has its end in God, it must be that it is capable of a return to its Source, and only an intellectual creature [is capable] of that return. b) No movement properly so-called 1 can be simply an end in itself; movement consists in going toward something; there cannot be just movement for movement[s sake]; hence the final term of every mobile being must be something immobile: a being which insofar as it is the terminus, has not to pursue its existence; it will have a successive existence as a composite being, but will be above time by reason of its spiritual form this is man. (3) Man is the raison detre of Matter the Matter in every bodily being is an appetite (a desire) for the human form. For: a) every bodily being, although one in substance, has two substantial principles,, viz. Prime Matter, and Form; Matter is pure potency, pure determinability; it is the same in all bodily beings Prime Matter as pure indetermination

The text reads, No movement properly so-called called, etc.


reunites all material beings in one same matrix, which is common to them all; it is potency to all forms, from the highest to the lowest. b) Prime matter is an appetite, a desire for the highest form (See S. Thomas in C. Gent. III, c. 22). (4) In the order of nature Man is posterior to other bodily beings. Man is as much the raison detre of all possible natural forms, as he is of Prime Matter. Every natural form is turned in the direction of man. The essential desire of Prime Matter, which extends indefinitely beyond any form that it has received, is to be actuated by the immobile form of man. And in this perspective the infra-human forms are much less final states than tendencies. Thus there is a scale of natural forms, as steps from one to the other. We are speaking here of the order of nature, and not for the moment of the order of time. But if it can be said in advance and with certainty that matter will receive the human form without that the existence of any mobile being whatsoever would be contradictory in advance philosophy has no means of predicting what intervening forms will actually be realized. Intelligence must ultimately come to matter, but only Science can discern the devious pattern that nature takes to arrive at it. The fixity of infra-human forms is then a counterfeit fixity. We are naturally metaphysicians, and from that [comes?] the inclination to assimilate the cosmic hierarchy to a series of whole numbers, and to the immobile hierarchy of pure spirits; whereas there is only an analogy between them. (5) A temporal order in the realization of this hierarchy is postulated by philosophical principles. The mobile as mobile tends toward the spiritual form of man. The movement to this end is proportioned to the degree of perfection. The degree of perfection is determined by the form. Under this aspect every form is invariable and immobile, for by definition a form constitutes a being to be what it is. If the form as form were variable, a being would never be what it is; if the form as such were unmovable, movement would be contradictory. Form is then the principle of the diversity of movement without being itself in movement.

The desire of matter, although fulfilled in the measure of the perfection of the form actuating it and in that measure the composite enjoys a certain finish and rest remains unsatisfied until it gains the spiritual form of man. Under no matter what form [matter] may be, it reaches out toward more perfect forms. Thus matter is in its turn principle of movement. But to be principle of movement belongs to neither matter alone, since it is necessarily associated with form; nor to form alone, since it is in itself invariable. In order that there be a determined principle of movement there must be at the same time matter and form. But no nature remains closed in on itself. This must be clearly understood. Id enim per se videtur esse de intentione naturae quod est semper et perpetuum (St. Thomas, I, q. 98, a. 1) That seems to be essentially in the intention of nature which is always and perpetual. Mobile beings do not advance on a perpendicular plane to fall flat at the end of their course. That would be the same [as] to say that their form is the principal end, and that their essential orientation toward the spiritual form is entirely accidental, whereas the latter is their raison detre. But is not nature a principle of movement, and is not the activity or passivity of the mobile of the accidental order? Consequently, is not the perfecting demanded by nature simply of the accidental order? And does not any natural being whatsoever reach its end when it is finished? Let us say that the particular end of natural beings consists in their individual completion of the accidental order. But this particular end is not their principal end. It is true that the more a being is perfect, the more the particular end coincides with the principal end. Matter and form are not accidental principles, but essential. Now these essential principles are the one[s] that are reaching up toward spirituality, and the accidents are only instruments of the substance. If one were to say that the composite finds its raison detre in the actuation of its accidental powers and potentialities, the implication would be that substance is for the accidents, and that an infra-


human being is willed principally for itself. A nature is essentially a principle of ascending movement; it is from the very depths of its being a striving upwards. A being the essence of which is composed of matter and form can have its complex existence realized only successively. The unfinished character essential to every hylemorphic substance is the cause of time. The hylemorphic substance is perfectible from the point of view of essence. If a nature were absolutely finished from the point of view of essence it would no longer be hylemorphic; it would no longer be nature in the strict sense of the term. Therefore, successive and continuous duration is above all a sign of a qualitative enrichment that takes time. Every nature tends to surpass itself, since its very essence is ordained to forms always higher, until it reaches a term that is immobile. (6) The notion of generation in nature Generation and corruption are explained through matter and form. The cosmic beings that appear and disappear, one after another, and one from another, are drawn from the potency of matter by beings already in existence, and they are reduced to potency in their corruption. Prime matter is not a kind of reservoir that contains in a latent state determined forms that only await the occasion to come into the open. Forms can be contained therein only after the manner of possible cleavages in a line indefinitely divisible. On the other hand generation of new substances is in no way a creation, but the act in which a given composite draws out another from the potency of Prime Matter. Be it understood that Prime Matter is created, or rather co-created (since it cannot subsist outside of a composite), and that any composite being whatsoever is, as a finite being, a created being. Under this aspect the universe opens directly on God. But that does not prevent a composite being from being truly engendered, nor a created being from being its generator. This brings us to a very important [point], viz. that from the moment of the existence of the first composite being (granted that the world had a beginning in time) all the natural forms possible were given in the potency of Prime Matter. From then on no special creative act is necessary to draw them from potency into [41-42] actuality, provided there exists a sufficient created cause, whatever it be. And, if this sufficient, and created cause exists, the generative causality must be attributed to it in virtue of the principle of divine government through second causes. The principle of sufficient causality demands that the cause in question be on the same level at least as the effect produced. No being can draw from the potency of matter a composite that is superior to itself, at least not as principal cause. It is, then, absolutely impossible for any plant to engender an animal as principal cause. (7) Philosophical principles call for the functioning of natural beings as instrumental causes of the origin of higher natural beings. Some are reluctant to see in nature a generalized ascending movement towards forms more and more perfect from the imperfect forms. St. Thomas did not hesitate. (See in De Potentia, q. 4, a. 11) The reluctance of modern Schoolmen is easily explained. Since the time of Suarez they have boxed in the universe. They want to explain everything in nature by intra-cosmic causes. Suarez by denying the demonstrative value of the arguments of St. Thomas to prove in a strictly rational way the existence of pure spirits, cut asunder every essential link between the cosmos and the created spiritual world. If we sterilize the world from its very beginning nothing new can come out of it. Creationism which under all aspects opens the world directly on God bypassing the universal hierarchy, implicitly rejects what is essential to the universe, UNITY OF ORDER. True, in this Creationist view there is an ascending movement that actually takes place in the most elementary of vital functions nutrition. Grass assimilates air and water; the cow assimilates grass; man assimilates the cow. But this cycle or movement remains closed in on itself, if there had been always, inorganic beings, plants, animals. The world in this view is open only to individual multiplication. An ascending movement of this kind is not realized by the internal push of lower natures ordained to higher, but by an influence from above


them that they passively undergo. In other words, in this hypothesis of a cycle closed in on itself in time, the perfect ought to precede the imperfect not only in the order of nature (incontestably true), but also in the order of time. Or, at least, they must co-exist. The idea of progress is thus reduced to a purely quantitative increase. At bottom that is a kind of evolution which is only a dispersion, or a regression. The Ontological view of nature demands something else. We have seen through analysis that the movement deeply rooted in the very nature of mobile being is toward essences more and more complete and perfect. The superior composite being is not something absolutely new with regard to the composite from which it was drawn. It was given in the potency of matter. This excludes at one and the same time univocity and equivocity: two extremes that destroy the very notion of pure potency. If it were univocity, matter would be potency of only one species of composite being; if it were equivocity, the composite beings of different species would have nothing naturally common between them. Matter ties together all composite beings in one same natural genus. Further, the new composite being always contains virtually the perfections of its predecessors which it surpasses. The new, moreover, is realized within well defined extremes: the original cosmos and man. All intermediary forms will bear far reaching traces of these extremes. Without a doubt, the individual form of a composite being is invariable. An evolution of the substance is impossible. But the form is not the nature. Indeed form considered apart from its relation to matter is no longer nature in the strict sense of the term. Yet, an ascending movement in the substantial order is called for. We know in advance that this ascending movement can be realized only in a discontinuous succession of substances more and more rich in perfection of being. But how establish between them the deep rooted bond that allows us to say that the superior substances were drawn out of the inferior? It is formally realized in dispositive alterations. While the evolution of [42-43] substance into substance is impossible, the entire composite is capable of an enrichment that disposes it to a superior whole composite. We know that an individual composite cannot of itself produce alterations that would terminate in a composite of a superior order. Accidental capacities are measured only by their determined and invariable substance. Yet nature demands an ascending movement by way of alterations. How can that be realized without there being already a superior natural substance? Again we run up against a conception of a spatio-temporal universe closed in on itself, and as cosmos having no extra-cosmic cause. Already the inorganic world obliges us to appeal to a spiritual influence or pressure that puts it in motion, the inorganic withal not having an active principle of motion within itself. This spiritual pressure or push comes not from a univocal cause on the level of the effect, but equivocal a superior substance that contains virtually the perfections of that which is inferior to it, that is more powerful and more efficacious than all the subordinate causes. (See St. Thomas C. Gent. III, c. 23) This pressure naturally exercised on the cosmos since natures themselves demand it suffices to draw out of the potency of the composite given in the beginning all the forms that are necessary to reach the end. And since this pressure is natural, it must act on natures according to the laws inscribed in them. In this ascending movement by which more perfect beings are drawn from less perfect, the given intra-cosmic composite is only an instrument, the spiritual agent being the principal cause. The spiritual pressure will not draw any nature out of any composite whatsoever. The instrument, although it produces an effect superior to itself under the influence of a superior cause, implies nevertheless essential limitations. The more perfect the substances engendered, the more will they be in their turn perfect instruments. St. Thomas with the ancients thought he recognized in celestial bodies the instruments which spiritual substances use in acting on the cosmos. (See in De Pot. a. VI, a. 6, ad 10) St. Thomas made exception for superior animals, the first of which, for him, had to be directly formed by a special intervention of God (although this intervention would be natural, as in


the case of the creation of human substantial forms). Yet in this matter he departs from the tradition of the Fathers for purely experimental reasons (not philosophical): ...videmus enim sensibiliter quod aliquis debilis effectus producitur ab agente remoto, sed fortis effectus requirit agens propinquum... (De Malo, XVI, a. 9, c.) If we today are incapable of identifying the instrument, we are none the less necessitated to affirm its existence. While we thus re-integrate in the universe the spiritual activity that works in it, we do not agree with those of old who saw spontaneous generations spring up on all sides. It belongs to experimental science to find where under and under what conditions life arises. Let us add, however, that the passage from the inorganic to the organic probably will never be definable from the scientific point of view the two are as irreducible as physics and biology. Is there any need to point out that the concept here proposed does not in the least touch the adage: omne vivens e vivo, a necessary principle in philosophy. What we here reject is the view that the living source of life must be a univocal cause. The principal cause of cosmic life and of its ascending upsurge is neither of the same species nor of the same natural genus; it is none the less a living being. (8) Origin of the Human Soul and the Human Body the human soul, although Form of the body, is not drawn out of the potentiality of matter. (It must be immediately created by God). Nevertheless every body is ordained to it either mediately or immediately. The matter that is informed by the human soul must have a proximate disposition to it, and this proximate disposition necessitates that information. The disposition that is the product of the working of nature is not constitutive of the human body, since the body is not human save through the spiritual form that actuates it. Yet that product is the immediate disposition for the human body. Under the influence of pressure exerted in it by a spiritual [43-44] agent entire nature (sic) works toward the bringing forth of this disposition. This disposition is realized in an incipient way in the measure of progress up the scale of plants and animals. It would seem that the evolution of the human body would follow lines sketched by St. Thomas in his teaching on the evolution of the human embryo: a succession of forms, the inferior preparing matter for the superior until finally matter is proximately disposed to the soul (See II C. Gent. c. 89: Nec est inconveniens si aliquid intermediorum etc...) We have abandoned the doctrine in this particular application, but it is unquestionably valid for cosmic evolution in general. (9) The First Man Let us say that in the case of man there exists a prior man who as generative cause is sufficient to bring about the disposition for the human soul. This is univocal causality. Cannot an equivocal cause realize the same effect? And is it not natural to invoke it for the disposition of the body of the First Man[?] Yes, I say First Man. True, one could raise the point that if this spiritual pressure were sufficient to lift up nature even to the disposition for the human body, and if this equivocal causality is even more perfect than that of [a] univocal cause, the latter would have no reason for its existence. Why would not human beings arise everywhere without human parents? That is nonsense. We have recourse to equivocal causality only when a univocal cause is insufficient to explain an effect. Therefore, from the moment that there is given a sufficient univocal cause, the equivocal cause becomes on this head, and in virtue of ontological economy, superfluous. In other words, if all humanity can have its origin in one unique first individual, the contrary hypothesis is absolutely without reason. The constitution of this univocal cause is precisely the end of the spiritual pressure. Just as God manifests His power by creating effects which are cause in their turn, so this equivocal causality reaches its peak, when it succeeds in producing an effect that will be henceforth independent. Creationism is a disguised renewal of the old doctrine of those who deprive beings of nature of their proper activity, a doctrine energetically combated by St. Thomas (C. Gent. III, c. 69).


If by human body we mean a subject disposed in its ultimate disposition for the human soul, we must hold with S. Augustine that the human body was in the potency of matter from the beginning according to seminal reasons. By seminal reasons we understand the initial composite (matter and form) of the cosmos, the ultimate end (man), the efficient cause (the spiritual agent and the composite). If by making a human body we understand the preparatory and dispositive work preceding in time the formal constitution of the human body, we must say that the human body originates by way of an evolutionary process, and that the evolutionary process had man as its objective from the start.

Cf. Lawrence Dewan, O.P., The Importance of Substance (Jacques Maritain Center: Thomistic Institute) (excerpt):1
ESSENCE AND EVOLUTION To complete this meditation on the importance of essence and substance, I wish to look at some of the things Charles De Koninck said about species in his presentation of cosmic evolution.(77)(78) This is important because many people would say that the very notion of a species is questionable,(79) and that Aristotelian substantial form is an idea which can be blamed for thousands of years of intellectual (and seeming natural) stasis. (80) What I am most interested in in De Konincks study is the conception of the forms and essences of material things. (81) He presents a view of these absolutes as being very weak absolutes. The texts I think of in St. Thomas that help see where De Koninck is going are such as ST 3, on diverse substances or essences as having diverse powers of effecting unity; SCG 2.68 (cited by De Koninck) on the greater unity of higher form; (82) the doctrine of partial form in the In De caelo;(83) and the general doctrine of hierarchy of form in Thomas.(84) I would say that De Koninck is explaining the oft-repeated doctrine that natural forms are educed from the potency of matter, being present in matter not actually but potentially. What then is De Konincks conception? He tells us that Thomas distinguishes between necessary forms and contingent forms. De Koninck says: ... Those forms are necessary which are entirely determined, and which constitute, [p. 123] just by themselves essences - the pure spirits; and the forms which determine their matter sufficiently so as to be inseparable from it - [the forms] of the celestial bodies in an outmoded astronomy and those of men in the definitive future state of our universe. The forms of corruptible beings are contingent.(85) Among these beings, we distinguish those which are entirely corruptible secundum totum et secundum partem; and those which are only in part [corruptible], - such as men in the present state of the world. Thus, we obtain forms that are absolutely contingent, and forms which are contingent secundum quid. Natural beings are contingent because there is in them a real potency for not-being: prime matter. [pp. 122-123]

I take it that in the above he is calling the human soul a secundum quid contingent form, i.e. contingent in a certain respect. He goes on to explain his conception of contingent form:
Precisely what do we mean by the contingency of the form? Indeed, the form is not contingent because its co-principle is for it a potency towards not-being; the composite is corruptible because its form is contingent. It is the contingency of the form which is the intrinsic reason for the precariousness and the uncertainty of its [the composites] existence. That is why we can conceive of a form which would not be contingent, in spite

( [12/18/08])


of its union with matter - the human form after the resurrection, where the composite is incorruptible.(86) And he continues, underlining indetermination: The upshot is then that the form is contingent because it is not sufficiently determined in itself. Indeed, it is the lack of determination and the incapacity to individuate itself which call for matter,(87) and which are the ultimate cause of the essential complexity of mobile being. The existence of cosmic essence will be complex in its way, i.e. successive and continuous.(88) Indeed, the nature of existence is measured by the nature of essence. Quantum unicuique est de forma, tantum inest ei de virtute essendi.(89) If the form is not necessary, its existence cannot be totally assured. Having thus focused on the ontologically hierarchical character of form, he goes on: This need for matter which is the form [quest la forme] introduces into it [the form] an irreducible obscurity. Of the cosmic form(90) there cannot be a distinct idea, [an idea] independent of the idea of the composite; even the separated human form implies a relation to matter. And the matter which enters into this idea is not determined save as also signifying determinability relative to an infinity of other forms. A non-subsistent form is not a quiddity in the strict sense. This is to say that the different sub-species, such as the canine species and that [p. 125] of the elephant, cannot be absolutely opposed, as are the individual-species which are the pure spirits; this is also to say that their definition will include the notion of matter, i.e. the possibility of an infinity of other sub-specific forms which can be drawn forth from matter. If they were determined in the matter, there would be of each one of them an idea independent of matter; and it [matter] would not be pure potency; there would be latitatio formarum, or else all the forms would come along ab extrinseco.(91) I must say that, reading the above, I was not sure why De Koninck was speaking of subspecies. This comes out much more clearly in his slightly later Revue Thomiste article, wherein he is much more explicit regarding natural species as distinct from sub-species. There he says: ... the different natural forms are not contingent from every angle. The contingency only affects the sub-species; but since the sub-human natural species are only realized in subspecies, the importance of this contingency is appreciable. Let us suppose, to illustrate this idea, a finite intelligence contemplating the world at the moment when there was in it no thing actually alive. This intelligence could foresee infallibly the coming of man into this world and also all that conditions absolutely the determination of matter in view of the human composite: it foresees the plant and the brute, but it is impossible for it to foresee all the concrete ways in which the natural species will be realized. These species, which are quasi-genera relative to the sub-species, are certain, a priori, because they constitute irreducible degrees of being: there is no intermediary between being, living, knowing, and understanding. Besides, the absolute character of this gradation finds its foundation in the idea of man whose soul is formally sensitive, vegetative, and form of corporeity. Because the soul of man is all that, not merely eminently but formally, these degrees of being are susceptible to being distinctly realized outside of him. The inorganic, the plant, and the animal are specieslimits and [are] certain. But it is impossible that the proper determination of the subspecies which realize in a particular way these natural species participate in this certitude. Otherwise, the ways in which the animal and the plant can be realized would be


determined in advance in matter; or, again, the matter included in the idea of man would signify explicitly all and the only possible forms: this is to say that there would not only be an idea of matter, but determinate ideas.(92) He goes on to say that all sub-species were at a given moment future contingents. Thus, cow as cow is philosophically indefinable. Its determinate truth is a posteriori. And: The fixity of sub-human forms is thus only a counterfeit fixity. We are naturally metaphysicians: hence, the need to see the necessary and to assimilate, in the present case, the cosmic hierarchy to the series of whole numbers or to the immobile series of pure spirits, though there exists between them only an analogy.(93) Perhaps you see why I wished to qualify the meditation on substance in itself with these observations, so interesting from the viewpoint of evolution. Coming back to the Qubec paper, we see that De Koninck is able to convey the unforseeability of just what particular forms will emerge as nature moves towards its goal: Thus, the existent varieties are analogous to the cuts made in a continuum which are determinately true only a posteriori. Consequently, the determination which is a material form is something yet to be made [est faire], precisely as determination. If it were entirely made in advance, then generation, for example, would be a pure launching into existence of a form already determined in the matter. [pp. 124-125] We go on, now, to consider the field of species. We are told: Two neighboring angelic forms are infinitely close in that they admit no intermediary species; they are also infinitely distant in that a transition from one species to the other is impossible, because they do not have in common a physical genus; they are absolutely heterogeneous. Natural sub-species, on the contrary, are infinitely close by their common natural genus; infinitely distant by the real possibility of an infinity of other intermediate sub-species. Thus, the vegetal realm has no absolute extreme limits. Between the most perfect of plants that exist and the lowest of animals, there is the possibility of an infinity of more perfect plants and of less perfect animals, even if this infinity is incompossible, from the viewpoint of existence. [p. 126] And at last we come to some remarkable conceptions of the natural species and the subspecies: ... Natural species should be conceived of as zones of probability. No natural and individual form is an absolute type of a sub-species, nor [is] any sub-species [an absolute type] of its natural species. The dog, the carrot are statistical entities like the Frenchman or the Englishman. None of the elements exhausts the essence of its class. (That is why racism, which erects nations as absolute entities, and its contrary, atomism, are forms of determinism. The satirical poet is right to say: All men are fools, and, despite all their care, Differ among themselves only as to more or less. Because the reasonable man also is only a statistical entity.) [pp. 126-127] It is hard to say what to attribute to form, and what to attribute to matter here. And what is meant by a statistical entity? This makes it seem as though it is the truly statistical mode of knowing which gets at the specific real. Have we lost the property of form here? Perhaps


not. Rather, it might be said that form only comes into its own in intellectual consider-ation. (94) The sensible real is only potentially intelligible. As Thomas says: ... the intelligible in act is not something existing in natural reality, as far as the nature of sensible things is concerned, which do not subsist outside of matter. (95) De Koninck is challenging us to take seriously the form as perfection of matter, and even as only a partial perfection of matter, matter which is open to an infinity of such partial perfections. Here, we get an important point as to what De Koninck means to say about nature and its evolutionary process. He tells us: The higher one climbs in the hierarchy of species, the more the forms become necessary and consequently intelligible. Quanto magis distant a materia, tanto magis necessariae. (96) But only the human form will have an existence which is totally assured, by the fact that it is spiritual and that its duration [sa dure], leaving aside the time which it involves by its union with matter, is eviternal. The idea is constantly to give us more and more a sense of the nature of corporeal forms, as having something of determination and something of indetermination. Obviously, De Koninck is giving us an interpretation of Thomass doctrine. The merit of it, as I see it, quite aside from modern interests in evolution, is the extent to which it adds to the intelligibility of educing form from the potency of matter. Is his argument compelling? His contention is that if the sub-specific forms were determinate, we would find ourselves in a doctrine of hiddenness of forms or else in a doctrine which gives a definite idea or ideas of matter. Yet he allows his hypothetical observer to foresee, not only the human form, but even the natural forms or quasi-genera. The question then is: if one can foresee any form at all, without ruining the doctrine of educing from the potency of matter, why cannot one posit that one can see all forms within the zone of the natural forms? I suppose the answer must lie in the need to preserve the indetermination, the infinity of possibilities, which such matter has.(97) What is clear is that De Koninck helps us see the many levels of form which Thomas really has in mind. And that is all to the good. I have never heard any public discussion of this doctrine of De Konincks (perhaps I have just not been in the right place at the right time), but I think it merits exploration. ENDNOTES <> 77. De Koninck, Charles, Le problme de lindterminisme, in LAcadmie Canadienne Saint-Thomas dAquin (Sixime session, 9 et 10 octobre 1935), Qubec, 1937: Typ.LAction Catholique, pp. 65-159. De Koninck published a shorter study on the general idea of indeterminism, Thomism and Scientific Indeterminism, in Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association (for 1936), Washington, 1937: Catholic University of America Press, pp. 58-76. In this (p. 68, n. 20), he refers us to the Qubec item for more detail. Subsequently he published Rflexions sur le problme de lIndterminisme, Revue Thomiste t. 43 (1937), pp. 227-252 and 393-409. - I would like to have used some material from the recently published Le cosmos (1936) - Extrait, Laval thologique et philosophique 50 (1994), pp. 111-143. However, I call attention to this important paper,


which presents evolution as requiring the causality of an extra-cosmic pure spirit. - The footnotes in what follows are mine, not De Konincks, unless indicated. 78. De Koninck (Le cosmos) says: And if we do not seem able to follow the Angelic Doctor, is it not because we have excluded from the universe the efficient and sufficient cause moving the cosmos and pushing it upwards? Our timorous attitude is only too easily explained. Since Suarez we have resolutely put a plug on the worlds top side: we wish to explain everything in nature by means of intracosmic causes. Suarez, in denying the apodictic value of the arguments presented by saint Thomas for demonstrating on strictly rational lines the existence of pure spirits, cut every essential link between the cosmos and the created spiritual universe. Let us add to that his hybrid notion of prime matter, and we arrive logically at the barbarous creationism of our philosophy manuals. It is obvious that if we sterilize the world from its outset, nothing more can come forth. Creationism, which from all angles opens the world directly on God, passing to one side of the universal hierarchy, implicitly rejects what is essential to the universe: unity of order. [129] De Koninck says that since Suarez the Scholastics abandon more and more the ontological study of nature. They think that scientific explanations replace the philosophy of nature. The philosophers concentrate only on notions of interest to the theologians. Cosmic repulsion may explain the expansion of the universe, and the theory of genes explain mutations, but none of that is an explanation of why anything is in motion. He says: ... none of that can explain the simple deplacement of a material point from the ontological point of view. And to do that, one cannot have direct recourse to the general notions of metaphysics - we must find appropriate causes. If I have a headache because God wills it, that does not prevent my attributing it to a too long evening, and [does not prevent] its being removable by an aspirin. [129] And he continues: Now, I say that no intracosmic cause can provide for me an ontological explanation of the movement of the moon, not that the movement of the moon interests me particularly in philosophy of nature, but it is the movement of an inorganic phenomenon, and it is as such that I consider it. [130] 79. Michel Delsol, O mne la biologie moderne? Questions aux thologiens et aux philosophes, Laval thologique et philosophique 52 (1996), pp, 339-353: the second section is entitled The Disappearance of the Notion of Species. The idea is that the picture of the species as something well defined is to be abandoned: pp. 340-341. 80. Cf. e.g. David L. Hull, The Effect of Essentialism on Taxonomy - Two Thousand Years of Stasis, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science , XVI (1965), no. 60, pp. 314-327 and no. 61, pp. 1-18. 81. I set aside for another time discussion of the general conception De Koninck has concerning the philosophy of evolution, particularly as presented in Le cosmos. 82. SCG 2.68 (para. 6, i.e. Hoc autem modo mirabilis...), where Thomas concludes: ... But something is not less one [if composed] out of intellectual substance and corporeal matter than out of the form of fire and its matter, but perhaps more [one]: because the more a form conquers matter, the more a unit [ magis unum] is brought about out of it and matter. 83. In De caelo 1.6 (63 [6]).


84. See especially SCG 3.97 in its entirety. 85. I would underline that this is true of them, not as form, but as such form. See my paper, St. Thomas Aquinas against Metaphysical Materialism, in Atti delVIII Congresso Tomistico Internazionale, Vatican City, 1982: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, t. V, 412-434. 86. Notice here that he has this idea of the human soul in the present state as in a measure contingent. This is a recognition of the essential incompleteness of the human form. His eye is on the composite. 87. Cf. CM 5.10 (905): ... matter is included in the first mode [of substance, i.e. particular substance], because particular substance does not have it that it be substance and that it be individual in material things, save by virtue of matter [ex materia]. (my italics) 88. Here, I would note that the esse of temporal things is only per accidens measured by time; but it is measured by time. Cf. Quodl. 4.3.2 [5], summarized in Endnote b. 89. De Koninck gives no reference for this, but it is doctrinally the same as what is said in In De caelo 1.6 (Spiazzi #62 [5]): each thing is, i.e. has being, through its form; hence, just so much and for so long each thing has of being, viz. just as great as is the power of its form. 90. This means the sort of form which we find in the world of generation and corruption. 91. On these two positions concerning form, see ST 1.45.8; latitatio formarum, i.e. the forms are hidden in the matter, considers the forms as already actual but lying low; obviously, the coming of forms from outside also views them as having complete being. Thomass doctrine is that higher, i.e. spiritual, beings employ movement and change to exercise causality upon composite, i.e. material, agents, which bring form out of the potency of matter into act: cf. ST 2. 92. De Koninck, Revue Thomiste, p. 234. In the Qubec article, in a footnote (and again, one much more intelligible when one has read the RT article) he says: ... By existent varieties I mean the sub-species included within the limits of absolute natural species. Note nevertheless that a sub-species which constitutes in fact a limit of a natural species is never the absolute limit of this natural species. It tends towards a limit which is to be found at infinity. In the last analysis, the absolute character of natural species is founded on matter as essentially ordered towards its ultimate act, towards its last end - the human form, which is formally and in eminent fashion, at once sensitive, vegetative, and the form of corporeity. [p. 125, n. 1] What he seems to mean is that the absolute lower forms are likenesses of what we see in the highest form of matter, and that it is matter, as calling for that highest form, which calls for forms which possess that sort of likeness. 93. Revue Thomiste, p. 235. 94. ST 1.75.5 (444a6-11): ... the intellective soul knows some thing in its nature absolutely, for example, the stone inasmuch as it is a stone, absolutely. Therefore, the form of the stone, absolutely, according to its proper formal character, is in the intellective soul... 95. ST 3. 96. He is speaking of the cosmic forms, and so cf. such texts as ST 1.76.1 (449b37-450a5), or ST 1-2.85.6 (1181b4-27) on forms as aiming at incorruptibility. 97. On the infinity of forms to which matter is in potency, cf. CM 1.12 (198) and ST 3.


Jacques Maritain Center: Thomistic Institute. The Importance of Substance. Lawrence Dewan, O.P.

Cf. also Dave Quackenbush, De Konincks Cosmos. Lecture given at Thomas Aquinas College on March 11, 2011:1
Charles De Koninck was born in Belgium in July of 1906, and died in Rome in February of 1965 - he was 58. De Koninck taught Mr. Berquist, Mr. McArthur, and Mr. Neumayr. Mr. McArthur and Mr. Berquist both said that they entered philosophy because of hearing Dr. De Koninck lecture. So I think it is fair to say that we would not be here, tonight, without De Koninck. I met De Koninck in some old mimeographs the tutors were reading during my senior year, and later I found more old class notes in an file cabinet at Notre Dame. When I asked Dr. McInerny where the photocopied class notes came from, he told me about the Charles De Koninck archive at the University of Laval. Next thing I knew, we had decided that I should fly up there and photocopy the whole thing. So I did, enjoying the hospitality of Thomas De Koninck, son of Charles, a philosopher himself who has continued his fathers work, and a very kind gentleman. I spent, I think, six 10-hour days, photocopying non-stop, manually, about 10,000 pages of mostly unpublished notes and article drafts. The archive has now been scanned, and is readily available to anyone interested. Dr. Ralph McInerny was another Thomist who studied with De Koninck. And he devoted himself in the last years of his life to a strenuous effort at producing an English edition of De Konincks collected works. Dr. McInerny told us this project was motivated by piety, by the strong realization, as he neared the end of his own days, of what an extraordinary blessing it had been to be a student of De Koninck. In a memoir written several years ago, McInerny recalled his time with De Koninck more than 50 years before. I want to start by reading a bit from that: De Koninck once wrote that his ambition was simply to be a faithful student of his master Thomas Aquinas. Discipleship seems to have either of two results. The disciple never emerges from what the master had accomplished and is content to retail it. Or, and this was the case with De Koninck and other giants of the Thomistic Revival, Thomas was followed because his starting points were the inevitable ones, and by acknowledging and seeing where they led, one could go far beyond the text of the master while at the same time claiming that what one said was simply an organic extension. It is only in this second way that a tradition can live. And Charles De Koninck was the liveliest Thomist I have ever known. I mention these things, before turning to a sketch of De Konincks account of the world, because I feel a similar duty of piety to De Koninck and to this community. So, for what it is worth, I offer to you my own view that De Koninck is in every way at the heart of what enables this College to stand in the tradition of living Thomism, and of the intellectual tradition of the Catholic Church. As a College, we should turn to him in gratitude - to his thought, and to the faith and spirit that inform it. What I will principally sketch for you tonight is De Konincks account of an adequate philosophy of the cosmos, as he thought such an account was available to the philosopher of the 20th century. But first, some more general remarks about the significance of that

( 113e9xNK_yw/edit?h [3/29/11])


account. While still quite a young man, in his first years at Laval, he wrote a book called Cosmos. Lets notice first what a remarkable thing it was for a man to compose a book with such a title before he was 30 years old. Some might see presumption here. I see a confirmation that philosophy must arise from a great and daring love of wisdom, the kind of love characteristic of the energy of youth. During these same years, in the mid-30s, De Koninck taught a class on Nietzsche, in which he heaped contempt on those distressed by the force of Nietzsches affirmation of will. De Koninck saw in Nietzsche a kind of providential sign of the revolt of nature against the diminished desires of modern man. Nietzsche wanted it all, but didnt know what that meant. De Koninck thought that the Catholic philosopher ought also to want it all, to want to know the meaning of the whole world, and its goodness. The difference, he believed, was that the Catholic philosopher knew, as a fruit of faith, that the Good itself wants to give itself to us, and that the world we seek to know has something to do with this. The Catholic philosopher has reason to expect the whole cosmos to be a sign for him, a means of knowing and loving God. This is the first, and governing, point to make about natural philosophy as De Koninck understood it - to philosophize is to ask about the whole of things, about reality, about the entire world and what it means. De Koninck loved and mastered the formalities of philosophy, and the distinctions between disciplines, but he never forgot that the divisions of philosophy are subordinate to the pursuit of Wisdom. The philosopher studies the natural world, from its astonishing details to its mysterious totality, in order that from such knowledge might arise a wisdom of the source. Natural philosophy, precisely in remaining true to itself, seeks to be surpassed by metaphysics, by a knowledge of the immaterial. Inevitably then, the philosopher asks about the cosmos, including the human. He attends to it in all its dimensions of time and space, the very small and the very large, the simple and the complex. Above all, he asks what to make of the whole thing, as one thing. Aristotle did so, and Charles De Koninck thought that there was no good reason for a Catholic philosopher in the 20th century to shy away from doing so as well. But while Aristotle could, perhaps, trust hopefully that gazing at the night sky would reveal fundamental signs of the causal unity of the cosmos, and trust as well that the ordinary experiences of common substances would reveal the unchanging nature of the first material principles, things were a bit more complicated for a philosopher in the 20th century. Reality had become a rather ungainly, and moving, target for specu-lation. In recent centuries, we have become aware that the material cosmos is billions of years old, and of a size that threatens, in my case quite successfully, to overwhelm our capacity to imagine, even to understand. We have discovered that the periodic elements themselves did not exist for hundreds of millions of years, that they were born at particular times in the cores of stars, and that those very particles are more like dances of mathematical energy than Newtons inert bits of stuff. We have learned as well that life began relatively recently, after billions of years of a lifeless cosmos, that the various species of living beings have shown up in a bizarre and glorious pageant, roughly in order from the imperfect to the perfect, over the past 3 billion years. In what Aristotle thought he saw as a permanent, ordered and complete set of living kinds, we now know that we see only the latest living edge of life on earth. Perhaps most startling, we now know that the vast, overwhelming majority of kinds of living things that ever existed, are extinct. We wonder what Aristotle could not whether they lived in vain?


The very structures of living things have, in the past century, been revealed to be complicated and wonderful in ways that compete quite well with more cosmic stunners like 100 billion galaxies. There are new infinites in every direction, within and without. And man himself, we now see, is embedded organically, mysteriously, in this amazing world. If you are not astonished almost beyond words by the turn that human knowledge of the universe has taken in the past century, you are not paying attention. 10 years before De Koninck wrote Cosmos, an astronomer in Pasadena, Edwin Hubble, announced to the world that the Milky Way Galaxy was not the whole of creation, but a minute island in an ocean of galaxies the current estimate, in the visible sky, is 100 billion Milky Ways. It is hard to imagine a moment more apparently hostile to the hope of discerning a conclusive meaning to the whole of material creation. 10 years later, as he wrote Cosmos, De Koninck was aware of the brand new, and still extremely controversial, theory of Belgian priest Monsignor George Lemaitre also at Louvain that the universe was expanding from an original condition of unity, at a determinate moment in the past. So, much has been revealed by science to the philosopher. And as with all revelations, those of science have not always been very welcome. It was a dizzying, potentially upsetting, disorienting, time to be a Catholic natural philosopher. And at this, perhaps culminating, time of transformation of the scientific account of the world, the young Charles De Koninck composed his daring account of the whole shebang. De Koninck thought that modern Thomists simply didnt know what to make of the situation. Aristotle and St. Thomas and Dante understood the causal order of the world to be embodied, literally, in a naturally eternal, spherical universe. Today, in my own experience, it is hard for us even to imagine what it would be like to believe [in] such a thing. And yet we read texts of Aristotle and St. Thomas in which the most fun-damental philosophical questions are considered in light of the truth of this remote image of the world. De Koninck thought we are tempted by this situation to do one of two things, either of them bad. Put simply, either we abandon crucial parts of the philosophy which, for our masters, appeared to be incarnate in their now surpassed image of the cosmos, or we abandon the conviction that such philosophy depended in any way for them on that image. Either we conclude sadly that our hope of understanding the world passed away along with the celestial spheres and the four elements, or we claim that our philosophy survived, miraculously, unscathed from the shipwreck of the ancient image of the world. De Koninck thought we could do better. In this he spoke out of the heart of the true perennial tradition. God does not cease speaking to us through creation as we understand it better. Perhaps revelation is a loaded term for this situation? Lets think about that. Surely, we must say that God intended for the cosmos to be revealed to man and by man gradually, through history. And when we contemplate the astonishing turn this knowledge has taken in the recent past, can we doubt that it is part of Gods providence that man should come to be increasingly provoked by the nature of creation? Is this increased knowledge of nature itself a principal aspect of cosmic history? Are the histories of the cosmos, and of man, one history and if so, can reason begin to anticipate the culmination of this history? De Koninck tackles all these questions in the remarkable book of his youth. Now Ill try to give you a first glimpse at how he does so. What follows is not so much an argument, as a tour, of some of the principal judgements at which De Koninck thought natural philosophy could arrive regarding the cosmos.


So what, according to De Koninck, is the cosmos? The short answer is that the cosmos is mobile being - that the whole of physical reality is fundamentally one creature, moving toward its maturation, its perfection, in order to return to God . De Koninck thought that the much disputed evolution of biological species was, for the philosopher, one aspect of the motion of the entire world toward God. Writing at a time when most Catholic phil-osophers saw in the idea of evolution a threat to Catholic and philosophical truth, De Koninck insisted that we should want evolution, and not just biological, but cosmic, evolution, to be true . The idea of evolution was particularly convincing to him precisely because Divine power is most present where created causes are most causes. An evol-ving cosmos is a cosmos with a nature, an intrinsic principle of motion toward its own perfection. In such a world, the Divine wisdom gives to every creature the privilege of joining in the work of ascent, of return to God the first principle. When we diminish the causal role played by creatures, we diminish the principal good God intended in creation - the universe as one thing, having a unity of essential, and consequently of causal, order. But Is Evolution True? De Koninck thought that evolution the ascent, forming a cosmic history, of the kinds of physical substances that exist follows necessarily from the philosophical principles of Aristotle and St. Thomas: The philosophy of nature, being certain knowledge through causes, is able to reach only what is essential to nature, and necessary, such as the matter/form composition of natural substances, the contingency which this composition entails, the necessity of evolution, [and] the necessity of humanity as the final end of this entire ascension of the world. This point is worth repeating De Koninck identified evolution, and the culmination of evolution in man, as two of the few strictly demonstrable truths of natural philosophy. But what about philosophical objections to evolution, against the higher arising from the lower, or one kind of thing causing something specifically different? Are not the species of corporeal beings eternal? De Koninck thought we need to remember what corporeal beings are, and what makes them different from angels. Modern philosophical objections to evolution, he said: attribute to natural beings . . . properties (that) are specific (to) purely spiritual creatures. Our Philosophy of Nature reeks with sins of angelism, it is often no more than bad angelology. What does this mean? Without noticing it, we too often think about material substances, cosmic beings, as though they were pure spirits, immaterial beings. We dont, of course, forget that bodily things are, or have, bodies, but we dont think carefully enough about the difference matter makes. What does Aristotle teach us is the common feature of every cosmic substance? Composition from matter and form. De Koninck contrasts such cosmic essence[s] the essences of possible corporeal substances with angelic essences this way: What pure spirits have that is quite specific by opposition to cosmic beings is simplicity and perfect determination of essence. Because the angelic essence is simple, it is received once and for all, in its entirety. Angels have no past or future. They are perfectly what they are, all at once, with no potency to be anything else. This is good. Cosmic beings rocks, plants, planets, dogs on the other hand,


have essences that are complex. And one of the principles of their complex essence is purely indeterminate, namely, matter. Since the way things exist follows from what they are, beings with a complex essence have a complex existence. This is, relatively speaking, bad. From such unfortunately complex existence the story of our cosmic lives arises the necessity of time. A being with a complex essence must have a complex existence. That means an existence received successively. But this successively received existence must be always that of the same being, so it must be successively and continuously received. But successive and continuous duration is precisely the definition of time. So the career of a cosmic, a physical, a natural being, is inevitably spread out across the dimension we call time. My now is not my then being what I am now is mysteriously, continually, divided from what I was and from what I will be. I am complex in a way that I experience as a defect of unity, an imperfection in the way I am. This is true of rocks, electrons, planets. Natural beings are busy in pur-suit of existence, and spend time in doing so. We are not used to thinking this way, perhaps. But from this perspective, the longer something exists, the more its existence is dispersed, spread out. From this perspective, De Koninck says, Natural subhuman species should be considered as more and more audacious attempts to detach the world itself from the dispersion of time, in order to dominate it from outside, instead of being borne away by it. Matter, and the correlative imperfection of corporeal forms, make the course of cosmic existence contingent as well. Only natural beings have a future, and that future cannot be perfectly determined to be one way or another, because natural beings are insufficiently determined, insufficiently real, to make that part of their existence which we know as their future be necessarily one way or another. From these consequences of the matter/form composition of natural substances, De Koninck thought we can see the necessity of evolution culminating in humanity. But he also understood that drawing this conclusion, even from the most basic principles of natural philosophy, was made much easier by the modern scientific discovery that the cosmos has, since its origin, been developing toward structure, complexity, interiority, and life. The vast, cooperative, complex, ordered endeavor of modern natural science to assemble what is, in effect, a cosmic natural history, was not available to St. Thomas. It was available to De Koninck. He thought this natural history could provide the philosopher crucial extrinsic support for strictly philosophical conclusions. His argument shows how natural science, although not itself achieving philosophic certitude, can serve the philosopher. Man must be the reason the cosmos exists, the reason matter exists, and the reason that all other natural forms exist. 1. Man is the reason the cosmos exists its final explanation and its end, or goal. This can be seen in several ways. First: no motion can be an end in itself. Movement is a going toward a good which is not possessed. It is contradictory to think of a motion as good in itself its very account denies this possibility. So the final term of any mobile being must be something simply immobile, something achieved which means something above time. This term is man, who as a spiritual being does not pursue his existence in time, although he remains in time in so far as he is corporeal. Further, the universe, and all its parts, have their final end in God. This means that creatures must be capable of a return to God. But the corporeal universe, the cosmos, can only achieve that return to God through man, for only an intellectual creature can return to God. For these reasons, a physical creation without man is literally unthinkable - a contradiction. A world cannot exist in order to be indefinitely separated from its own existence, and indefinitely separated from itself by space. By the very fact that it is made for intelligence, it is


necessary that it be able to be present to itself; it is necessary that an intelligence be able to restore this entire ensemble to its principle, and that the world become a kind of hymn. In order to arrive at that, it is necessary that time be arrested and that it be immo-bilized, and that space be entirely penetrated and present. Now, that cannot be done but in an intelligence, which is as such outside of space and outside of time. And our universe will be immobilized at the moment when intelligence will have made its conquest. So man and his return to the Creator are the reason for which the entire cosmos exists. Man, thought De Koninck, is the way the material creation enables itself to return to God. 2. In addition to being the reason for which the cosmos exists, man is also the reason for which matter exists. The matter in every bodily being is properly understood as an appetite, a desire, for the human form. Matter is intelligible by reference to act but no act which remains mingled with potency can be the principal goal of matter. As pure potency and determinability, matter is the same in every being. It is an appetite or desire for all forms, the lowest to the highest, but most properly it is a desire for the highest form, which is the form of man. So the human form is desired principally by all matter. 3. Man is also the reason for being of all possible natural forms, as much as he is of matter. Natural forms are like attempts to satisfy the desire of matter for the perfect immobility of the spiritual human form. Accordingly, each natural form is turned in the direction of man. Infra-human forms are attempts at immobile act, as though each were an attempt at the human form. From this perspective the infra-human forms are much less final states than tendencies. They are, recall, more and more audacious attempts to detach the world itself from the dispersion of time. And so we arrive at a cosmic hierarchy. The possible infra-human natural forms form a continuum. De Koninck thought that only four natural species are philosophically definable, necessary, within this continuum - inorganic, plant, animal, and man. Man must be a body, he must be a living body, a sensitive body, and he must have a rational soul. Accordingly, these degrees of being must exist. All other, more specific, degrees of being may or may not exist like particular places one may or may not set ones foot in a walk with a determinate starting point and a determinate goal. Animal was necessary, turtle was contingent. So the actual infra-human forms constitute a scale, as of steps from one form to the next, whose order has the human form as its principle. This is not to speak yet of an order in time, but an order of natures: The fixity of infra-human forms is then a counterfeit fixity. We are naturally metaphysicians, and so we incline to assimilate the cosmic hierarchy to a series of whole numbers, and to the immobile hierarchy of pure spirits; whereas there is only an analogy between them. This, notice, is what De Koninck means by bad angelology. But must we postulate a temporal order in the realization of this hierarchy of actual forms? What prevents the ultimate and intrinsic end of the cosmos from being realized from the beginning?


From the beginning, matter is essentially ordered to man, to this intelligence that has need of passive experience, therefore of sensation and animality, which entail vegetative life and corporeity. If matter does not have this act right away, this is because orig-inally it is not sufficiently disposed and first much must be done, a work which consists in eliciting ever more simple quidditative determinations. The cause of this resistance of the world is nothing other than the indetermination of matter. But we are still, necessarily, speaking of a world of fundamentally contingent events. Although intelligence must come to matter, the manner of its coming is contingent. The particular infra-human forms have arisen from matter like cuts in a line - there are infinitely many cuts that might be made, and no way to know in advance which ones will be made. So all infra-human forms more particular than inorganic substance, plant and animal, are contingent. This contingency is a universal property of material beings, arising from the indetermination of the matter which is an essential principle of them all. The corresponding incompleteness or imperfect determination of natural forms is a correlative source of the contingency of the natural. Only natural science, or methodical natural history, can discern the actual path that nature takes to arrive at man, and only after the fact. The cosmos will, then, necessarily pursue a contingent ascent toward the ultimate disposition of matter to receive the form of man. Evolution, De Koninck says, consists precisely in the formation of an adequate corporeal instrument to serve the human spirit the least of the created intelligences. But matter is not, all by itself, the principle of motion. For there to be a determined principle of motion, there must be matter, which desires, and form, which determines the kind of motion by which the desired end can be pursued. Both matter and form are essential parts of any nature. How a composite can be changed will follow from what kind of being it is now from its form. So different natural substances will be in motion toward man differently, according to their different, contingent, degrees of perfection. How can new natures come to be? Generation of new substances occurs as the term of alterations in existing substances. Every natural composite is generated by another natural composite through alteration. In such generation, substantial form is elicited from matter by an agent of generation, by means of instruments. To generate is just to draw a possible natural form, already given in the potency of prime matter, into actuality. So if a new form, higher than any existing corporeal or cosmic form, is to be elicited from matter, it will be elicited by the causality of existing corporeal forms. The natural way for any substance, new kind or not, higher or not, to come to be is as the term of alterations of existing substance. After initial co-creation of prime matter in the original composite beings, no special creative act is necessary for such generation. All possible corporeal forms are given in the potency of matter, and need only be drawn into act. There remains the question of the principal agent. How can new beings, more perfect than any previous cosmic beings, be generated without the direct intervention of God? De Konincks answer is that modern scholastics have departed from St. Thomas in rejecting the purely philosophical demonstration of the existence and causality of pure spirits, of angels, who as nobler parts of the universe are related to the cosmos precisely as universal causes. Having forgotten the philosophy by which we understand the difference between angels and corporeal beings, we have made two errors. We have unknowingly attributed angelic attributes to corporeal beings perfect determination and simplicity of essence. And we have forgotten that the universe includes intelligent causes at work in the cosmos. So pure spirits are the intelligent agent causes which, responding to the natural desire of the cosmos, suffice to draw out of the original composites with which the cosmos began all the forms


which are necessary for it to reach its end. Since this angelic causal power is natural, it must act on natures according to the laws inscribed in them: In the ascending movement by which more perfect beings are drawn from less per-fect, the given intra-cosmic composite is only an instrument, the spiritual agent being the principal cause. The spiritual pressure will not draw [just] any nature out of any composite whatsoever. The instrument, although it produces an effect super-ior to itself under the influence of a superior cause, implies nevertheless essential limitations. The more perfect the substances engendered, the more will they be in their turn more perfect instruments. De Koninck insists that the development of the biosphere is an increasing elevation above time. Not metaphorically, but really, a being is lifted above the conditions of space and time in the measure that it is perfected. And this elevation, in turn, corresponds to the degree of life it has. To live is to triumph over the separations of space and time. In its local motion, with accumulated memory of its experience at prior locations, an animal labors at the great project of unification. This, he says, is the profound sense of the locomobility of knowers, a power that frees them from the shackles of their spatiality, and which in the final instance is at the service of the exploring intelligence. The necessity of humanity as the specific term of the cosmic motion does not mean that the cosmos reached its natural perfection when man came to be. What did the evolutionary perspective imply for De Koninck about the naturally perfected cosmos that lies ahead? Man as knower, and as maker, tends to complete the subordination of cosmic matter to himself. This not Baconian hubris it is the purpose of the world. He tends toward ubiquity by extending his presence, his sense knowledge, and his intellectual knowledge, to the whole of the cosmos. In thus making the world more and more simply one in his knowledge, he overcomes in himself its separation from itself. In man, the cosmos increasingly tends as well to transcend its separation from itself in time. Past and present are increasingly collected in the knowledge of man, and the whole of cosmic existence thus increasingly achieves a unity which, without man, is utterly lacking. From this perspective, the entire cosmos may be viewed as an impulse toward the perfected life of thought. We can consider the maturation of the cosmos as a tendency toward the thought in which all its parts are united and lived; the cosmos thus tends to compenetrate itself, to touch itself in the intelligence of man, in which it can realize (the) explicit return to its First Principle. What would be the ideal state that we would pursue in time and in thought? De Koninck asks. I would wish to exist all at once. I would wish that all things be present in me all together. I would wish to contemplate them in an instant immobile and indivisible. I would wish to have a present which has no past, and which is never separate from the future. But it is clear that the man who anticipates this culminating condition is not an I, but a we. It is humanity, not isolated men, in whom the self-possession of the cosmos will reach perfection. The perfected cosmos will be, on this view, a common good, possessed as such by the perfected human community. In fact, the entire cosmic ascent can be viewed as well as an ascent of love, of desire for the good. Moved originally from without, before the coming of life, the cosmos increasingly desires its perfection with a love from within, culminating in the rational desire called will. In man, the cosmos loves itself explicitly.


Each individual being, of course, has its particular end. But for a lion, for example, to be all that a lion can be for it to reach its own individual completion in the accidental order is not the principal end of a lion. Even the essential principles of the lion, its matter and form, are seeking spirituality, the immobile act. The accidents which perfect the lion as lion may be all that this lion can achieve for itself as an individual toward this goal. But this is not the same as saying that the perfect day of hunting is all that either the matter or the form of the lion are for, all that they, and the lion, are ordered to, all that they desire. Nor is the species to which every individual is proximately ordered an end in itself. To have an essence composed of matter and form is to have a perfectible essence. Nature may bring about many lions so that the leonine nature can continue to exist, and to exist well, as what it is. But this specific existence itself, spread out over indefinitely many individuals, must in turn be ordered to something higher. It is good that lions continue to be, for a time, but nature seeks perfect lions so that there can, eventually, be more perfect natural beings. The whole of nature is essentially a principle of ascending movement, an intensifying desire for the culminating good: Lower natures serve universal nature even in generation. When a higher nature is elicited from the potency of a lower nature by equivocal generation, this eliciting is . . . always natural in the degree that it responds to the desire of the lower nature as ordered to the good of universal nature and to the ultimate intrinsic end of the world. Every part of the universe, even the humblest and farthest removed from the One Who is goodness by His essence, tends naturally and more intensely toward the good, intrinsic and extrinsic, of the universe than towards the good of its genus, of its kind, and last towards its own. Nature, De Koninck says, is generosity, and evolution is, for the ascending natures, a gift of self in the precise degree that it is a work of nature. All infrahuman things, he says, are love of and desire for man by their very tendency toward the explicit love of God. Accordingly, in cosmic evolution, he saw not only an attempt by the world at self-possession in knowledge the cosmos also tends to be united to itself and possess itself effectively in love. The world tends toward this self-knowledge and self-love, he says, not, doubtless, as ultimate end, but as the pre-condition of the explicit return to the First Principle by love. Cosmic development seeks perfect self-possession in preparation for self-donation to God. And it is on man that this highest hope of the world rests. I want to conclude by remembering once again the importance, the dignity, that De Koninck attributed to the natural sciences. It is unreasonable, he repeatedly said of evolution, to judge a theory by the abuses that are made of it. He certainly thought the same of the tendency of philosophers to be ungrateful to the sciences. I expect that Charles de Koninck thanked God fervently for the blessing of being alive when he was, at a time of glory and triumph for the natural sciences. But I believe he thanked God more fervently for the blessing of having a glimpse of the higher truths which he believed that science helped the philosopher, and the theologian, to reach. At the conclusion of the first part of Cosmos, entitled The Scientific Point of View, De Koninck articulated both the importance, and the dignity, of the scientific effort: Science, while being only a flat projection of what has relief and depth, enables us to foresee the immense effort and the prodigious cost nature invests in the preparation for the coming of man. And whether he knows it or not, everything that happens in the world is done for him. The scale of natural species is only a scale of assault. If man is the ulti-


mum in executione, he is nonetheless the primum in intentione. The all too poor account that we have given enables us to suspect the richness of the human being who contains virtually all the degrees of perfection of that which is below him. And it is not only in the formidable display of power that we should look for this richness: the reaches of space, the unimaginable masses, the vertiginous speeds of astronomy are not worth a lily. But we have also seen that we have need of the stars to understand the lily. We will only be able to understand ourselves when we understand the universe. Our present is filled with the past. The more profoundly we understand the world, the better we comprehend that we touch it only with the feet, and that with our head we touch the bottom rungs of another hierarchy of which nature is only a fleeting shadow. Cosmos, the book, was never published. It has been suggested that this was because De Koninck reconsidered some of its principal ideas. I believe that this is not true. To mention just one, but in my view, decisive, indication of this: when, in 1962, a French journal devoted an entire issue to honoring him, De Koninck chose the central chapter of Cosmos, entitled The Cosmos as Impulse toward the Life of Thought, to be published for the first time. But 1962 was a long time after 1936. In my view, the likely reason the book was never published was that De Koninck decided that those who would read it were not ready for it. In 1936, Catholic intellectuals who publicly embraced evolution were viewed with suspicion, at best. One of the greatest philosophical souls of the 20th century, whose understanding of the world was remarkably akin to De Konincks, spent his entire productive life in various forms of banishment from the world of ideas because of those views. Teilhard de Chardin, a great scientist, great philosopher, and holy priest, had been banished to China by the Jesuits because of the inconvenient popularity of his views on cosmology, evolution, and the place of man in the world. Those views were substantially the same as De Konincks. Aristotle fled rather than let Athens sin twice against philosophy; Descartes changed his publishing plans after seeing what happened to Galileo. I believe De Koninck probably took the prudent path as well. Nietzsche speaks of the mask that great men must wear, and of the pain they bear. In 1952 Teilhard wrote to a friend from his final place of banishment, New York City, that the University of Laval at Quebec is about to hold a congress on Evolution. Naturally no one has thought (or dared) to ask for a contribution from me. . . . In the publication of the proceedings of the conference, hosted by De Koninck, mention is made by one of the presenters of De Konincks well known views on evolution, and a promise is made of their publication in a later edition of the Laval Journal. This never happened. Teilhard died two and a half years later, still probably thinking that Charles De Koninck was a rear-guard apologist for the Vatican on evolution. It saddens me that these two champions of the view that Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Cosmos and of History never met, and it may still be worthwhile to ask why they didnt. It took courage to trust, in those confusing years, that natural science was working in service of the glory of the Lord. For having that courage, both men are my heroes. Ron McArthur wrote his dissertation under De Koninck on the subject of universal causality. I propose that we would do well to recognize in Charles De Koninck educator of our Founders and liveliest of Thomists a universal cause of Thomas Aquinas College.



n. 11. Charles De Koninck, The Wisdom That is Mary, The Thomist, vol. vi., no. 1, April, 1943, pp. 2-3:
What is proper to wisdom? The adage says: Sapientis est ordinareTo order pertains to him who is wise. How are we to understand the term, to order? To start with, what is order? Two things are included in the notion of order, distinction and principle. Principle is that from which something proceeds in any way whatsoever. Principle implies proceeding. Proceeding or procession is movement from a principle, movement which can be understood in the broad sense of any action, the action of thinking as well as of physical motion. Accordingly as the principle is a principle of place, a principle of time, or a principle of nature, order will be divided into local order, temporal order and the order of nature. Of these three orders the last is the most profound, since it implies the notion of origination, inasmuch as nature is that from which is born [2-3] first the thing which is born: ex qua pullalat pullulans primo. Under another aspect order is divided into universal and particular order accordingly as the principle is absolutely first, or first in a given genus only. What order is in question in the adage: It is the part of the wise man to set things in order? It belongs to the wise man to set things in order, says St. Thomas, Because wisdom is the highest perfection of reason, to which it properly belongs to know order. 4 Since order implies principle, and principle implies relation, the intellect alone can grasp order as order. Since the intellect (in opposition to the will) draws things to itself, and proceeds by passing from one to the other, it can compare and formally grasp the relation of one thing to another, the intellect therefore possesses within itself the primary root and reason necessary for ordering thingscomparing them among themselves and establishing a relation of one to the other.5 However, the mere knowledge of an order is not, as such, sapiential. Simple apprehension can attain order, and every science involves a certain order. Wisdom will only be the highest perfection of reason insofar as it implies an order proceeding from a principle which is wholly first. The verb, to order, expresses this originative primacy. It is not to be ordered, says Aristotle, but to order, which belongs to the wise man. 6 That is why wisdom is radical. It not only shows the interlocking of one thing with another, but it grasps things in their primary root, wherein all things that proceed therefrom are, in a certain way, precontained; and it grasps this root under its proper formality of origin. If this root were not at the same time origin, the absolutely first principle would be in dependence upon that of which it is the first principle; the multiple would then be, as such, the nature of a first principle. Wisdom may be predicated substantially of a thing which in its being and operation is of the nature of the first principle whence proceed in a certain way all things by way of origination. It would not suffice for it to attain the primary root solely according to knowledge, because then it would be wise only; but it must substantially possess the nature of a first principle, and know itself as such.
4 5

In I Ethic., lect. 1, (edit. Pirotta), n. 1. John of St. Thomas, Cursus Theologicus, (edit. Vives), T. VII, disp. 21, a. 1, 744b. 6 Aristotle, I Metaph., cap. I, 982 a 15.

Cf. ibid, , pp. 4-5; 8-9:

Generation means vital origin and assimilation. It is the procession of a living thing from within a living thing conjoined as a principle of life and which assimilates the product of generation to its proper nature by virtue of this very procession. Generation consists therefore in expressing a likeness propagative of the nature of the generator. The generator draws that which is generated from its very substance while forming it. If the Blessed Virgin is truly a generator, this definition must truly apply to her. Let us here note that although in


the act of conception the mother is solely a passive principle which, while properly a nature, does not of itself imply an active and expressive assimilation, nevertheless, considered in [45] her relation to the one engendered, the mother is properly an active principle which vitally assimilates the one engendered. An assimilative action takes place formally in the production of the passive principle of conception, a production which results from the active generative power of the woman, in view of the one engendered. For this reason, the mother participates actively in the vital assimilation of the one engendered. She is properly a genetrix. Birth regards primarily and principally the being of the hypostasis and the person. <...> Being truly the mother of God,31 the Blessed Virgin is bound to the hypostatic order in the most intimate way possible to a pure creature. Hence, says St. Albert, since birth primarily and principally has respect to the being of the hypostasis and the person, and secondarily to the nature, the Blessed Virgin is

St. Thomas, III Pars, q. 35, a. 4, c. [8-9]

called the mother of Christ according to the hypostasis, which hypostasis is God and man, and this is why she is the mother of God and of the manalthough she is not consubstantial with God except with respect to His human nature, since consubstantiality taken in itself means nothing other than convenientia in substance. Birth, then, belongs primarily and of itself to the person, and to the nature by consequence and secondarily. 32

St. Albert, In III Sententiarum, dist. 4, a. 5, ad 2, T. 28, p. 85b.


n. 12. Charles De Koninck, Education Before the Age Of Reason. Taken from The Impor-tance of Education Before the Age of Reason. Commencement Address to the Graduates of Saint Marys College. Notre Dame, Indiana (June 2 & June 3 1960) (Rpt. Fidelity Magazine, Vol. 12, December, 1992, pp . 17-21):
.Now, it is the mother who is more especially the first educator and teacher, as standing nearest to the child by nature. She is there from the start, and, as Plato taught: do you realize that the beginning of anything is most important, especially for something both young and tender? For it is then especially that it is shaped, and takes on any mould that one wants to impress on it. For a man, he adds, though gentle and capable of becoming the most divine of all animals if rightly trained, if brought up badly, can be the most ferocious of all creatures upon the earth. So important is this early formation that Aristotle and St. Thomas went so far as to say that unless a child has been encouraged to like what is beautiful and to dislike the wrong and ugly before the so-called age of reason, it will be almost impossible for him to act by virtue in later life. Notice, now, that it is education, by example, discipline and word, before the child is sent to school, with which we are concerned. When we hear the word education we think immediately of school, whereas the most important and lasting education must normally be provided by parents at home. By education here I mean both moral training and other teaching. The aim of moral training is to instill into the child the right habits before he can act on his own account, thus providing him with the opportunity to become a good person. We must be aware that a child lives in a condition which is most precarious, for the habits he acquires will in the main depend upon the habits and thinking of his parents and of other persons with whom he grows up. All parents naturally want their child to achieve happiness. But what is happiness for the parents? If it is true human happiness they are after, happiness in a life of action. I think that all here present would agree that the man who is temperate, brave, just and prudent, and who enjoys sufficient welfare, is a good and happy man. For it is on account of pleasure that we do evil deeds, and on account of pain we abstain from noble ones. Happy is the man who delights in abstaining from excessive pleasure of the kind shared with the lower animals, while he who is annoyed at restraint is self-indulgent and must rely on random thrills. In this he is not unlike the beast who can only be restrained by the menace of pain. To be happy one must also be able to stand ones ground against things that are terrible, and delight in this or at least not be grieved by it beyond reason. This is courage. While the man who is overcome by terror to the point where he prefers moral death to natural life is a coward. Now, unless one has been brought up in a particular way from childhood, temperance and fortitude in later life will be practically impossible. Accordingly, if we allow our children to form the habit of over-indulgence in quality or quantity of food, if we allow them to believe that there is always a way of avoiding danger and that a man is honest so long as he is not caught, and good so long as he is good at something such as plumbing, playing the piano, firing things into orbit, or making money, the life for which we are preparing them is one of misery. Now, all these predetermining qualities, or lack of them, come to the child between cradle and school. Plato, Aristotle and Menicius consider the right music as essential to child-training. And vulgar music, attuned to the disorderly cravings of our nature, is fatal. Music imitates the passions in its own special way, for passions themselves are movements; and as George Santayana so shrewdly observed, it is less the music that moves than we who move with it.


De Koninck, Charles Education Before the Age of Reason December, 1992 pp . 17-21 Fidelity Magazine, Vol. 12


n. 1. Emmanuel Trpanier, In Memoriam Charles De Koninck:

In Memoriam Charles De Koninck by Emmanuel Trpanier

It is with the most profound sadness that the Universit Laval learned on the thirteenth of February of the sudden death of the eminent dean of its faculty of Philosophy. Mister Charles De Koninck passed away in Rome the same morning at the age of fifty-eight. Theological adviser to His Eminence Cardinal Roy at the third session of Vatican II, he had just come to participate in the work of a subcommittee of the Council. In spite of an attack of grave illness, he accomplished this last service with the greatest generosity. Born in Thourout Belgium on the twenty-ninth of July, 1906, Charles De Koninck spent his childhood in Detroit, Michigan where his family had emigrated. He returned to his country of origin in 1917 in order to do secondary studies there at the college of Ostende, theological studies in the Dominican Order, then philosophic studies at the University of Louvain. He received his Doctorate in Philosophy in 1934, immediately afterward he came to Qubec where the Universit Laval had the exceptional fortune of attaching him to its Faculty of Philosophy in the process of being formed. Mr. De Koninck dedicated his career as professor to the teaching of the philosophy of nature and the philosophy of the sciences, of which he held the chair beginning in 1935. The esteem and authority which he had from the very first acquired resulted in his being named dean in 1939. That is what was, for seventeen years, contributing in every manner to the development and to the prestige of a young faculty. He had been back at this post since last June. All his former students would testify to the decisive influence which he exercised on their orientation and to the complete devotedness with which he showered them. He held that teaching should prepare professors of the elements of philosophy and his primary concern in his courses was to insure the comprehension of the first and fundamental notions. He was himself proof of their ability to influence. All his students venerated in him an authentic master; but they awarded him a special favor who, very numerous, had the advantage of preparing their doctorate under his direction. A direction demanding but attentive, in which the student benefitted from the most enriching intellectual and human contact. Mr. De Koninck published works in Flemish, in French, in English; certain of them have been translated into other languages. He collaborated in many reviews in Canada and elsewhere. The readers of the Laval Thologique et Philosophique can measure the irreplaceable loss which our review has suffered in his person. He was its spirit at the same time the most precious of its collaborators. His most important contributions were his defense of Saint Thomas, Sur la primaut du bien commun (1945); Introduction l'tude de l'me (1947); Un paradoxe du devenir par contradiction (1956); Abstraction from Matter (1957 and 1960). His numerous articles on the Most Blessed Virgin were collected in long volumes: La pit du Fils (1954) and Le Scandle de la mdiation (1962). Let us add that Mr. De Koninck published also: Le Cosmos (1936), La sobrit (1951), The Hollow Universe (1960), Tout homme est mon prochain (1964). The reputation of Mr. De Koninck, like his eminent services, won for him as many distinctions as honorific invitations. He was a member of the Royal Society of Canada, member of the Roman Academy of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Commander of the Order of


Saint Gregory the Great. The Canadian Society of The History and Philosophy of The Sciences counted him among their founding members; the Canadian Association of Philosophy had elected him as their president in 1963-1964. Greatly esteemed in the United States where he had been a sought-after lecturer for twenty-five years, the American Catholic Philosophic Association awarded him the Aquinas-Spellman Medal at their 1964 meeting. The University of Notre Dame, Indiana, received him as visiting professor from 1957 to 1964; McMaster University of Hamilton, Ontario, invited him to give the Whidden Lectures in 1959, and Lafayette University, Indiana, the Matchette Lectures in 1960. He would have been next August the principal lecturer at the International Congress of Catholic Universities in Tokyo. Mr. De Koninck was always and with all his soul a Christian of profound faith and a dedicated servant of the Church. His intellectual activity itself receives the most vivid illumination from that virtue of piety which he celebrated with so much love. As a philosopher, he was always faithful to Saint Thomas, and, consequently, to the one whom Saint Thomas names with respect The Philosopher. If it is true that he hardly loved being called a Thomist, it is because he abhorred whatever suggests the idea of the Philosophic System with its artificial construction and the narrowness of its perspectives. He had that breadth of spirit that gives to the teaching of Saint Thomas the quality of living and open thought; he knew how to draw from it, as from the most current thought, the positions which he held on indeterminism, evolution, the status of the experimental sciences, or the critiques which he made of personalism, totalitarianism, and of Marxism. Fidelity to his masters met in him with an ardent preoccupation with the present. He manifested the same qualities of mind as a theologian. He was of the tradition of scholastic theologians in which philosophy is so greatly taken up in the service of the faith. And he maintained this tradition in the forefront of the life of the Church. His studies on the person and on the death of the Blessed Virgin were written about the time of the promulgation of the Dogma of the Assumption. When the time of the Council had come, the grave problems caused by the updating of Christian thought attracted his reflection very early. He applied himself to defining the just conception of the secularism of the State and of freedom of conscience. He employed himself likewise in seeking doctrinal reasons what could be the foundation of a solution to the problem of birth control. He considered it a great fortune to be called to carry on his work in the framework of the Council. His sudden end there allows us to see the crowning of a life of study and of influence. Mr. De Koninck had acquired an international reputation. But for us his colleagues, who led the everyday life of work with him, how could one render homage to his memory without evoking the cordial intimacy which his personality, at once so rich and so human, sustained. At the thought that he will no longer be there, always welcoming and available, in the secret of our hearts we mourn his death. To Mrs. De Koninck, to his son Thomas, our colleague, to all the members of his large family, we offer our liveliest condolences. May they be assured that we share in their sorrow. Translated from Laval Thologique et Philosophique, volume XXI, number 1, 1965.


Selections from the Writings of Charles De Koninck Compiled by Bart A. Mazzetti

(c) 2013 Bart A. Mazzetti. All rights reserved.