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DOMINICAN GUIDE FOR SHARING OUR SECULAR RESOURCES FOR THE STUDY OF THEOLOGY FOR PREACHING IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY CONTENTS Preface Diagram of the Classical Divisio Scientiarum Diagram of the Fields in a Modern University Introduction to the Guide I: Methodological Questions II Natural Science Questions III Ethical Questions IV Metaphysical Questions
Part I: Methodological Skills Introduction: A: The Fundamental Logical Relations 1). The Three Acts of the Mind. 2) Syllogistic Reasoning. 3) Grammar. 4) Univocation and Analogy. B: The Four Modes of Discourse 1). Poetic or Narrative Discourse 2). Rhetoric 3) Dialectical Discourse 4). Demonstrative Discourse C: The Four Scientific Questions. D: History of Methodology. Conclusion: Part II: Natural Science Introduction: A: History of Scientific Method 1). Ancient and Medieval Science a) Plato b) The Epicureans c) The Stoics d) Aristotle
2) Modern Natural Science. 3). Modern Scientific Method.. 4). Present Picture of the Universe a). Cosmological Evolution. b). Matter and Energy. c). Quantum Indeterminism. d). Biological Evolution. e). The Physical Meaning of Modern Models. (1). Difficulties in Physics. (2). Difficulties in Biology and Psychology. (3). Thomist Approach to Difficulties in Modern Science (a).Is Natural Philosophy the Same as Natural Science? (b). Mathematical Natural Science. (c). Mechanism, Idealism, or Thomism? B: The Foundations of Natural Science According to Aristotle and Aquinas 1). Natural and Artificial Observation. .2) A Thomist Critique of Modern Science. 3). A Universe in Process. a). Matter and Form. b). Causality. c). Substance and Accidents. d).Categories. (1). Intrinsic. (2) Extrinsic (Relational).. (3). The Physical Reality of the Categories. e). Advance from General to Specific. f). Is the Universe Self-Explanatory? (1). Existence of an Uncaused Cause. (2) Limited Scope of Natural Science. C: The Human Person, and Embodied Spirit 1). The Spirituality of the Human Soul. 2). Origin of the Human Soul. 3). The Powers of the Human Soul a) Dependence of Human Cognition on the Senses. b) The Affective Drives or “Passions” and the Human Will. c). Interaction of Human Nature and Culture. D: Do Also Pure Spirits Exist? 1). Popular Belief in Spirits. 2). Natural Science Arguments for Their Existence. Conclusion:
PART III ETHICS Introduction A: Value-free Science and Ethical Values. 1). Secular Ethics. 2). Christian Ethics. B: True and Illusory Happiness. 1). The “Is’ and the “Ought.” 2). Imperfect Natural Happiness and Graced Beatitude. 3). The Basic Needs of Human Nature. C: Why We Need Virtues? 1). Skills of Consistent Problem Solving. 2). The Four Major Virtues. a). Temperance. b). Fortitude. c). Justice. d). Prudence. 3) Auxiliary Virtues. D: Social Ethics. 1). The Three Forms of Prudence. 2). The Modern Social Sciences. 3). Family Ethics. a). The Natural Structure of the Family. b). Cultural Development of the Family 4). Politics. a). Community and Forms of Authority: b) The Common Good. c). Solidarity, Functionality, Subsidiarity. E: Economics and Technology in Service of the Common Good. (1). Economic Determinism. (2) The Technologies. (3) Environmentalism. F: The Fine Arts. Conclusion: PART IV METAPHYSICS A: The Problem of The Search for Wisdom. 1). How Can We Unify Human Knowledge? 2). First Philosophy Presupposes Yet Is Formally Distinct From Natural Science.
a). Could Natural Science Be First Philosophy? b). Unlike Nature Science, First Philosophy Studies the Essence of Immaterial Beings. c). Natural Theology is Not “Onto-theology.” B: Other Conceptions of “Metaphysics.” 1). The Platonic Tradition. a). Aquinas and Platonism. b). Scotus’ Conception of Metaphysics. 2). Modern Doubts About the Value of Metaphysics. a). The Turn to the Subject. b). The Kantian Definition of Truth as Consistency of Thought. c). Contemporary Continental Philosophy. d). Contemporary British-American Philosophy: C: Present Tasks of Metaphysics 1): Five Tasks for First Philosophy: 2). Ontology: Different Kinds of Being and Their “Properties. a). Different Kinds of Being:. b). Properties Analogically Common to all Kinds of “Being.” c). Other Transcendental Terms 3). Epistemology. a). Anti-dualism. b). Human Spiritual Powers. c). The Separated Soul. 4). Ousiology. 5). Aetiology; 6). Natural Theology. a). The Natures of Spiritual Beings. b). The Nature of Pure Spirits. (1). Specification and Powers. (2). Activities of Pure Spirits. c). The Real Distinction and the Limitation of Act by Potency. (1). In Changeable Beings. (2). In Spiritual Beings. (d). The Nature of the First Cause, God. (1). The Transcendent, Personal God. (2). The Problem of Evil. D: Reconciliation of Philosophical Traditions. Conclusion. QUESTIONS TEXTS
Preface The Order of Preachers through the centuries has preformed a notable service to the Church by developing theological resources for ministry in which secular and sacred learning were balanced in such a way as present the permanent truth of the Gospel in ways intelligible to a changing society. With the global opportunities opened up by Vatican II this service is even more needed, but the obstacles to providing it have been increased. There is a real danger that the Order will lose the common language so long provided it by the work of our brother St. Thomas Aquinas. Yet the preservation of this common language cannot be achieved by imposing a rigidity of thought that would isolate us from our times. The modern separation of the value free or “hard” sciences from the valuecreating or “soft” humanities (see the following Diagrams A and B) arose with the expansion of mathematicization of natural science in the seventeenth century and the denial of teleology in nature, especially following Kant. At the end of the twentieth century the rise of Post-Modernism has raised questions about this dichotomy by arguing that the value-free science of modernity actually conceal various “special interests” that undermine its supposed objectivity. Scientists, however vigorously reject these accusations and by means of their technological power continue to dominate our global multicultures. In order to remain open on this question in this guide we will arrange our questions in the following manner. It may seem strange that no section is given here to the history of philosophy. Certainly no discipline can be adequately understood in isolation from its historical development and cultural context, yet in theological curricula the time devoted to the history of philosophy is often excessive. Without an understanding of the particular sciences such historical surveys are so superficial as to be of little value. Moreover, the history of philosophy is so interwoven with the history of theology and the Church that they cannot even be surveyed separately in a manner useful to students of theology. Therefore, we would purpose that what Dominican students need are courses in Church history that give attention to the interaction of the principal thinkers in theology and philosophy as they have influenced culture. Without special courses in the history of philosophy in isolation, more time can be given to the following four areas. Yet, in presenting each of them attention should be given to the historical development of that area of learning. The purpose of this guide is to provide a set of questions that all Dominicans today must face in their preaching ministry and suggest some of the resources for theology provide by our Order’s great tradition in relation to the problems of today. It is not intended to exclude other questions or materials, nor to regulate how teachers are to present these questions but only to insure that significant elements of our tradition are not overlooked and neglected. Unless in the formation of our younger members these questions are raised and adequate information provided on the resources that are our rightful heritage, dialogue within the order will become difficult and our cooperative mission weakened. In order to keep in touch with new developments it is advised that this Guide be revised every ten years.
It may seem strange that no section is given here to the history of philosophy. Certainly no discipline can be adequately understood in isolation from its historical development and cultural context, yet in theological curricula the time devoted to the history of philosophy is often excessive. Without an understanding of the particular sciences such historical surveys are so superficial as to be of little value. Moreover, the history of philosophy is so interwoven with the history of theology and the Church that they cannot even be surveyed separately in a manner useful to students of theology. Therefore, we would purpose that what Dominican students need are courses in Church history that give attention to the interaction of the principal thinkers in theology and philosophy as they have influenced culture. Without special courses in the history of philosophy in isolation, more time can be given to the following four areas. Yet, in presenting each of them attention should be given to the historical development of that area of learning. The purpose of this guide is to provide a set of questions that all Dominicans today must face in their preaching ministry and suggest some of the resources for theology provide by our Order’s great tradition in relation to the problems of today. It is not intended to exclude other questions or materials, nor to regulate how teachers are to present these questions but only to insure that significant elements of our tradition are not overlooked and neglected. Unless in the formation of our younger members these questions are raised and adequate information provided on the resources that are our rightful heritage, dialogue within the order will become difficult and our cooperative mission weakened. In order to keep in touch with new developments it is advised that this It may seem strange that no section is given here to the history of philosophy. Certainly no discipline can be adequately understood in isolation from its historical development and cultural context, yet in theological curricula the time devoted to the history of philosophy is often excessive. Without an understanding of the particular sciences such historical surveys are so superficial as to be of little value. Moreover, the history of philosophy is so interwoven with the history of theology and the Church that they cannot even be surveyed separately in a manner useful to students of theology. Therefore, we would purpose that what Dominican students need are courses in Church history that give attention to the interaction of the principal thinkers in theology and philosophy as they have influenced culture. Without special courses in the history of philosophy in isolation, more time can be given to the following four areas. Yet, in presenting each of them attention should be given to the historical development of that area of learning.
B: THE FIELDS IN A MODERN UNIVERSITY VALUE-FREE SCIENCES Physics Chemistry Biology Experimental Psychology Mathematics Symbolic Logic Social Sciences VALUE-CREATING HUMANITIES Linguistics Literature Fine Arts Depth Psychology Logic and Hermeneutics Philosophy Religious Studies
INTRODUCTION TO THE GUIDE: In view of St. Thomas’ own view on the division of the sciences, this guide will take up the following four group of questions in this order. I: METHODOLOGICAL QUESTIONS: Dominicans in studying for preaching meet many questions of method and epistemological value. In this guide such terms as logic, (formal, symbolic, and informal), hermeneutics, critical theory, semotics, structuralism, etc.) will be included. These relate to theology, since Biblical exegesis and the interpretation of the documents of Catholic tradition in relation to the thought forms of the various modern cultures to which we preach involve hermeneutics and critical discourse in which we need to be skilled. II: NATURAL SCIENCE QUESTIONS Dominicans preaching to the modern world speak to a culture permeating by the discoveries of modern science and an understanding of the human species as a product of natural evolutionary forces. They must study the natural sciences as they have developed historically and the mathematics used in their theories along with the technologies they employ in research and which today give us control over our world. Questions will be raised as to whether the universe manifests a Creator who transcends the material order and whether the existence of created spirits, human or otherwise are manifested by natural effects. Thus in their preaching Dominicans are called to show the harmony between science and religion III: ETHICAL QUESTIONS Theoretical knowledge ought to bear fruit in practical life and Dominican preaching should always aim at promoting human welfare. Hence we must inquire as to the authentic goals of human life, individual, familial, and political and the choice of means to attain these goals. This study must also include the issue of environmentalism, that is, the right use of our technological control over nature and the human body. It must also consider the role of the fine arts in a humane culture. Since preaching concerns human life decisions, these questions are highly relevant to theology. IV: METAPHYSICAL QUESTIONS This meaning of this traditional term, used by John Paul II in Fides et Ratio and commended by him as the only effective means to overcome the postmodern fragmentation of knowledge, is today very ambiguous. For Aquinas metaphysics was the human wisdom or meta-science that compares and distinguishes all the other disciplines yet which is distinct from the foregoing methodology, natural science, and ethics in that it transcends sensible world and explores the relations between material and spiritual realities. Therefore as John Paul II argues, this discipline is needed in ministry to mediate between faith and reason in their full scope.
PART I METHODOLOGICAL SKILLS Introduction: Dominicans in their theological studies preparatory to preaching need certain skills necessary to understand theological texts and to analyze changing contemporary thought forms. Today this skill in interpretation and research is often called “hermeneutics” in order to include not only formal but also informal logic and even semiotic skills. It would be a mistake, however, not to relate hermeneutics to the long tradition of the “liberal arts” including linguistics and mathematics. What follows are only basic general issues of method. In each of the disciplines special methodological problems arise. A: The Fundamental Logical Relations Real or mind-independent relations between real objects that are studied in most disciplines must be distinguished from mental or mind-dependent relations that we humans construct to order or thinking and to express it in language. 1). The Three Acts of the Mind. An analysis of human discourse shows that human cognition, like that of other animals, is based on external sensation but, unlike that of other animals, is simultaneously produced by abstract concepts grounded in these sensations. These concepts are known directly by intuition (insight), but these insights must be clarified by propositions in which the subject concept actualizes the predicate concept, and then the implications of these propositions in relation to each other must be actualized by reasoning. Thus there are three acts of the mind called: (a) simple comprehension; (b) predication; (c) reasoning. 2) Syllogistic Reasoning. The simplest form of reasoning is the syllogism consisting of three propositions (premises) in which the predicate of one (the major premise) supplies the predicate of the third (the conclusion), and the subject of another (the minor premise) supplies the subject of the conclusion. The major and minor premises are linked by a middle term that is the subject of the major premise and the predicate of the minor premise. If the major premise is negative, so will be the conclusion. Certain other forms of the syllogism are valid and in modern symbolic logic there are a great variety of inferential forms but all that are valid can be reduced to and demonstrated by the foregoing simple affirmative and negative forms. 3) Grammar. These three cognitive acts are expressed in most languages as follows: (a) concepts are represented by words or phrases; (b) propositions are expressed by sentences containing a subject word and a predicate word; (c) reasoning is expressed by a series of sentences. A technique of grammar called “diagramming” can be used to make explicit the logic that is often expressed in very condensed language. 4) Univocation and Analogy. Concepts (terms) can have one sense (reference to a single object) and thus are univocal or several senses (reference to more than one
object) and thus are equivocal. If equivocal terms have no relation they are simply equivocal; if their different senses are somehow related they are analogical. If the relation between the two terms is that of a cause and its effect they are said to be “attributive” since the name of the effect is given to the cause or vice versa since an effect must somehow resemble its cause. If, however, three or four terms are related in the manner of a:b::b:c or a:b::c:d, then the similarity is between the relations between each of the paired terms and they are said to be “proportional.” If this similarity is with respect to what is essential to each of the terms, the analogy is said to be one of “proper proportionality,” but if it is merely accidental, it is said to be one of “improper proportionality” or metaphor. In current terminology, however, “metaphor” is often used broadly to cover any kind of analogy. An analogy of proportionality, proper or improper, can be grounded in an attributive analogy and is then said to be “virtually attributive.” 5) Structuralism is and influential modern theory that emphasizes that human thought and cultural forms tend, like computer logic, to be expressed as contrasting pairs: yes and no, dark and light, male and female, etc. The common literary devises of antithesis and parallelism manifest this. Underlying this is the basic logical task of clarifying contrasts by making distinctions between the senses in which words are used. Some have said that the principal task of philosophy is making such distinctions and it was a rule of scholastic disputation: “Affirm when possible, contradict seldom, but always distinguish.” B: The Four Modes of Discourse Human thinking and its expression in language as communication between persons can take four simple forms. Although of these simple forms two or more are often given mixed expression, one or the other will be principal. These are: 1). Poetic or Narrative Discourse such as is found in poetry, epics, novels, short stories, plays, films, etc. and is closely related to music and the plastic and performance arts. Its purpose is contemplative, that is, it is to be enjoyed simply as a human experience in which truths are conveyed in a concrete, sensuous manner so fitted to the human mode of cognition that they are beautiful and pleasing for their own sake, not for some use, and hence are recreative, that is, they prepare us for real life experiences. Literature because it employs sensuous metaphor and other forms of analogy has not only a cognitive but also an empathetic, affective, emotional element. While it may be temporarily arouse negative emotions it concludes in positive pleasure and rest (catharsis). Such narratives can be either fiction or history depending on whether what is narrated is imaginary or has actually occurred. The elements of such discourse are principally (a) the action described, (b) the characters who act or are acted upon, and (c) the thoughts they have or express, but these are conveyed through (d) language, sound (music), and physical movement and scenes (gesture, dance, spectacle). The principal historical periods of literary style need to be noted.
2). Rhetoric such as is found in preaching, political speeches, advertising etc. Its purpose is not contemplative as for poetic discourse, but practical, since it is intended to move the audience to some action. It can employ all the techniques of poetic discourse but should end not in the satisfaction of the audience but in its stimulus to action. Hence rhetorical discourse is much concerned with analyzing the interests and motives of the audience in order to motivate them to a given action; yet genuine rhetoric does not seek to arouse irrational but reasonable and virtuous motivation. It especially concerned with (a) generating trust of the speaker in the audience, (b) analyzing the character of the audience, (c) finding arguments that will move them to action. The historical development of rhetorical devices and especially, the theory of Christian homiletics. Renaissance humanism, and the post-modern theory of the “hermeneutic of suspicion” should be noted. Also the rhetorical character of law (as in the Old Testament Torah) and of history which usually has a political agenda should be noted. 3) Dialectical Discourse, in contrast to poetic and rhetorical discourse, seeks to appeal to reason apart from affective states of the audience. Its purpose is to clarify a problem and seek the conditions of insights that will furnish a genuine answer to that problem by arguing the merits of different possible solutions. In can take the form of debate between opposite positions, or simply an exploration and research concerning different hypotheses. Special attention should be given here to the history of (a) the scholastic disputation; (b) apologetic polemics; (c) modern “public media” and the current debate over “civic discourse” (Habermas). 4). Demonstrative Discourse, like dialectical discourse and unlike poet and rhetorical discourse, avoids affectivity. It seeks to provide a definitive and certain answer to a problem, although the type of certainty can differ for different kinds of problems. This kind of discourse achieves certitude by discovering the cause of an effect (a posteriori demonstration) or explains an effect by its cause (a priori demonstration). In any science, since effects are more evident to us than their causes, the existence of a cause must first be established, either by direct contact, or by a posteriori demonstration and then the scientific knowledge thus acquired is ordered from cause to effect a priori. C: The Four Scientific Questions. To construct any critical science that proceeds by dialectics and demonstration four questions must be asked and researched: (1) (2) (3) (4) Does the object to be understood exist (An sit?). How can it be defined (Quid sit?). What are its properties (Quale sit?). Why does it have these properties (Propter quid sit?).
An object can be defined only after researching its properties until insight is achieved as to what unifies them and thus defines the object. Why it is what it is (Propter quid sit?) is answered by showing that these properties are necessary effects of what it is (its definition, Quid sit?). Thus the conditions for demonstrative discourse ordinarily require a certain dialectical discourse through which the observed features of the
object are analyzed so as to determine what is proper rather than merely accidental to it are first determined and then its definition known by an insight based on these observed and identified properties. D: History of Methodology. All cultures, and for the West, the Greeks developed poetic and rhetorical discourse. Plato developed a dialectical, “Socratic” method of dialogue and this has parallels in India and China. Aristotle developed the first two steps of formal logic in his De Interpretatione (along with the Categories) and the third in the Prior Analytics; the first two forms of discourse in the Poetics and the Rhetoric; and the third and fourth in the Topics and the Posterior Analytics. His analysis of these forms of thought has held up throughout western history, although often they have become somewhat confused. Often, as in Hellenistic, Late Medieval, Seventeenth century, and Modernism doubts have arise whether genuine demonstrative proofs arriving at certitude are even possible and dialectical discourse has alone been fostered. Also, as in Post-Modernism it has been argued that actually all human discourse is Rhetoric masking a strategy of domination. Again Poetics has often been confused with Rhetoric as moralistic preaching or as an attack on conventions that limit individual freedom. St. Thomas Aquinas was original in insisting that Sacred Doctrine (theology) is not only practical aiming at conversion and the moral life, but that it is a true science, that is, primarily theoretical and demonstrative in structure as exemplified in the Summa Theologiae. Biblical exegesis has had a long hermeneutic history and today is passing from a phase of intense “historical-critical” research to a more “literary approach.” Conclusion: To interpret Biblical and ecclesial texts and other resources of the Christian tradition and express them in ways intelligible and motivation for modern audiences the carefully differentiated and developed methodology provided by Aquinas is indispensable. PART II NATURAL SCIENCE Introduction: It is a defined doctrine of Catholic Faith that the existence, power, wisdom, and providence of God the Creator can be known to human reason from God’s Creation of which we are a part. This doctrine is central to the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament; St. Paul (Rom 1:19-20) declares it, and it was defined by Vatican I and reaffirmed by Vatican II. This was a theme of the early Church Fathers and was accepted in Western culture until the seventeenth century. Even the founders of modern science such as Copernicus, Galileo, Robert Boyle, Newton thought that by advancing science they were glorifying God the Creator. Yet these founders of modern science by adopting a mechanistic foundation for Natural science they seemed to make the physical interpretation of their mathematical theories more and more ambiguous. A recent writer points out that although scientists
today agree on the mathematical models of the Standard Theory of Quantum Mechanics, there are at least eight different interpretations given by scientists of the physical reality it describes! How then did it come about that scientists today even if they are Christians, generally suppose that the scientific method excludes, even if it does not deny, any question about God’s existence? Faced with this blindness of modern science to the Creator many modern theologians are content simply to show that faith and science are not in contradiction, without attempting to draw anything from modern science for the enrichment of theology as writers before the seventeenth century, and notably St. Thomas Aquinas labored to do. Moderns and post-moderns argue that scientific conclusions can never be more than probable (can only “save the phenomena” as the Platonic tradition had always maintained because of its belief that certain knowledge comes from innate ideas). Hence some theologians conclude that is dangerous for theology to relate it to Natural Science lest, when Science changes, the Faith be discredited. On the contrary, in view of the immense success of modern science and its vast influence on the life and thought of our otherwise multicultural society, the theologian and preacher must face up to this problem in a more positive manner. Postmodernism has already raised serious questions about what the real truth-value of modern science is and environmentalism has raised even more serious questions about the effects of scientific technology effects on human life and our future. This today and for the coming years makes it easier to subject science to genuine inquiry and dialogue. A: History of Scientific Method 1). Ancient and Medieval Science: Natural Science as taught in modern universities originated with the Greeks who developed four different approaches were proposed, two of which absorbed the others and have predominated subsequently. a) Plato (following Pythagoras and Parmenides) held that certain knowledge of the sensible world is impossible because it constantly changes. To attain certitude, therefore, we must not depend on sense observation but on some kind of apriori knowledge (prior to sense experience) rooted in the human mind itself. Plato held that the evident certitude of mathematics proves that we have such innate ideas. Thus for Plato the order in the material world was a reflection of the order in a superior spiritual world. This led to what many today consider the first great scientific success the astronomy of Ptolemy that provided a mathematical model of the heavens whose predictions were successful but whose physical meaning was purely hypothetical and in fact quite wrong. This theory lasted until Copernicus replaced it with a similar hypothesis based on better data. b) The Epicureans adopted the theory of atomism, proposed by Democritus, that sought to explain the world as made up of tiny, unobservable particles moving in an empty space and by colliding with each other forming the various bodies that we do observe. This approach is called mechanism because a machine is also formed by a collection of movable parts.
c) The Stoics, like the Epicureans were materialists, but instead of atomism they held for energism in which orderly change in the world proceeded by the action of a material “spirit” (logos) or energy intrinsic to matter that it moved according to natural laws in an endless cycle of construction and destruction. Because the atomism of Democritus later adopted by the Epicureans could be easily be described mathematically Plato included it into his system for the material world but retained his belief in a higher spiritual realm. Ptolemy (1st century CE) developed the first great mathematical model for astronomy but which only claimed “to save appearances.” The Neo-Platonists also accepted something of Stoicism by holding that the material universe was animated by a World Soul. d) Aristotle against Platonism, mechanism, and energism proposed a mediating approach between Platonic idealism and materialism. He agreed with Plato on the existence of a spiritual realm and held that a non-material First Cause was the efficient cause of all change in the sensible world. Against Plato, however, Aristotle held that, although we know the material world only in its changes, nevertheless, because it has a certain stable order, we can know certain things about it with certitude. Aristotelianism prevailed in the Middle Ages along with Ptolemaic astronomy and other Platonizing tendencies both among Islamic and Christian thinkers. Only with Aquinas did a more consistent understanding of Aristotelian science emerge, and although Aquinas accepted geocentrism he showed that Aristotle’s hypothesis of an eternal universe can never be either proved or disproved. 2) Modern Natural Science. After Galileo promoted Copernicus’ heliocentric astronomy and the mathematization of Natural Science, Descartes and Robert Boyle replaced Aristotle’s foundations for Natural Science with mechanism and in England an empiricism. The empiricists did not clearly distinguished sense knowledge from abstract intellectual knowledge and this finally led to Hume’s skepticism about even the possibility of causal explanation of phenomena. Hence to save Newtonian science, Kant reverted to idealism, although he did, like Plato and Descartes, accept innate ideas. Yet, like these idealists, he supposed that certain knowledge such as is found mathematics cannot be based on sensible reality since that is always changing. Hence he posited that the human cognitive powers supply an a priori ordering of our sense experience to form a consistent, causal picture of the world. The physical reality itself remains unknowable. Since this a priori ordering of sense data is not possible for immaterial reali`ties, they cannot be known theoretically but their existence can only be assumed for practical purposes. Thus questions of religion, the human soul, and ethics fall outside the scope of theoretical knowledge and become purely practical assumptions. Throughout the nineteenth century, even after Kant, mechanism prevailed, but with Einstein’s relativity and quantum theory, Kantian idealism greatly influences modern science, except that in place of his confidence in rational categories innate to the human mind, most scientists rely on the hypothetical-deductive method. 3). Modern Scientific Method. The “scientific hypothetical-deductive method” by which modern science is making such remarkable advances proposes hypothetical
models usually of a mathematical type that can be verified, or at least falsified (that is replaced by a better model) from experimental or, at least, observed facts. Such a method can in principle only yield probable results for two reasons: (a) abstract mathematical models can only approximate physical realities; (b) verification proceeds by a priori reasoning from models to reality, but several such models can fit the same data. Yet what scientists really doubts that Copernican heliocentrism is true, or that the heart circulates the blood, or that water is H2O, or that biological evolution is true? Thus, granted that at any given time, much of what we call science is only probable, that is, pertains to dialectical, not demonstrative discourse, it has some certain conclusions. Since dialectical thought is usually necessary to provide the conditions of demonstrative thought, this situation is normal in any discipline. What is needed is careful criticism of what in Natural Science at any point in its history is certainly proved and what still remains dialectical. 4). Present Picture of the Universe At the beginning of the twenty-first century the picture of our universe provided by natural science has the following features. a). Cosmological Evolution. Scientific effort has shifted from emphasis on universal deterministic natural laws to an all-over historical, evolutionary account in which chance plays a major role. The universe began with the Big Bang prior to which if anything existed science has no access to it. The totality of matter was infinitely condensed and then began to expand, first at an enormous rate, later more slowly at the present rate and will keep expanding until everything ceases except random quantum fluctuations in space. For its first 10-39 seconds a single natural force existed but then differentiated into the four fundamental forces of gravity, electromagnetism and the weak and strong nuclear forces that have operated the cosmos during its subsequent 13 billion years evolution. It now has a diameter of about 13 billion light years and its space is “flat,” i.e. lacks any over-all curvature. b). Matter and Energy. In the universe much of the matter and energy (perhaps more than 90%) is “dark” and cannot now be observed. The known matter is largely hydrogen gas, the simplest of elements, which began to form very early. Spatial irregularities early in its history led to the formation of stars in galaxies and supergalaxies throughout space and in the depths of stars that are principally hydrogen undergoing atomic fusion the more complex atoms were formed as some 100 elements. Some of these elementary atoms then formed molecules, which, however, are relatively simple without the presence of living organisms. It is now believed that the atoms that are the smallest bodies that can have a sustained, independent existence and are composed of point particles that are called quarks of six types that form the electrons, protons, and neutrons that in definite numbers compose each elementary species. These act on each other in discrete quanta of energy transmitted by the four forces through “fields” of space.
c). Quantum Indeterminism. According to the Standard Theory of Quantum Mechanics which is now considered the basic theory explanatory of all nature it is not possible to determine to simultaneously the position and momentum of these elementary particles since such an observation determines one of these and changes he other. Hence natural laws state probabilities only (indeterminism) and the future of the universe is predictable only in very broad terms. d). Biological Evolution. At present we do know whether life exists anywhere except on this planet earth. The earth was formed by the gravitational collection of inanimate matter about 4.5 billion years ago and in its environment life emerged perhaps about 3.5 billion years ago and developed by random genetic mutations and “natural selection” through environmental changes, finally producing the intelligent human species about 150,000 years ago. The probability of this outcome of evolution is very low, and (according to the so-called “Anthropic Cosmological Principle”) would have been impossible if the universe were much different than it actually is. In about one billion years life on earth will cease to be possible. Whether there is life elsewhere in the universe is not known. e). The Physical Meaning of Modern Mathematical Models. (1). Interpretative Difficulties in Physics. This picture provided by natural science at the beginning of the twentieth century, however, presents many problems of physical interpretation, as scientists themselves agree. Einstein himself never accepted the indeterminancy principle. The shift from a law-like type of scientific explanation to a reconstruction of evolutionary history that is largely a matter of chance is also troubling. Some even question the physical reality of time. Again, so far efforts to unify gravity with the other forces have not succeeded and the main candidate for a solution to this problem, that is called Superstring Theory, which replaces the point particles with minute one-dimensional strings whose vibrations are supposed to explain the observed phenomena, has not proved testable. Furthermore, to picture a material universe as principally “empty” space that is at the same time filled with “fields” and all kinds of massless point particles seems contradictory. (2). Interpretative Difficulties in Biology and Psychology. Even more troubling is the fact that while the fact of the evolution of life is established, Darwinian theory is highly controversial, not just because of “creationist” opposition, but because it does not seem to account for the extreme biochemical complexity of living organisms. Again the so-called Mind-Body problem, namely, how abstract, self-conscious thought exhibited only by the human species can be explained by a quantified, physical system such as the brain, is by no means solved. As for psychology., the decline of Freudianism has left the field very disorganized. (3). Thomist Approach to Interpetative Difficulties in Modern Science
(a). Is Natural Philosophy the Same as Natural Science? Most of Aristotle’s Natural Science was based on his hypothesis of an eternal steady-state universe and geocentrism and is obsolete. Some Thomists (especially the Transcendental Thomists), therefore, treat his thought on the subject as an application of Metaphysics entitled “Philosophy of Science.” Others, like Jacques Maritain seek to preserve his foundational (dianoetic) views found in the Physics and De Anima as a true “Philosophy of Nature” formally distinct from modern science that they believe only “saves the appearances” (i.e. is perinoetic) as did Ptolemaic astronomy. But Aquinas himself, formally distinguishes a “mixed science” in which mathematical models are applied to physical reality from Natural Science proper, but holds that Natural Science is a unified discipline, whose foundational portion is provided in Physics and the De Anima are simply foundational parts of a single, unified Natural Science that deal with generic problems useful in treating all the more specific questions now researched by modern science. (b). Mathematical Natural Science. The mixed science (Mathematical Physics) that uses mathematical models as does so much modern science, thus for Aquinas plays a dialectical role in the service of Natural Science proper. This foundational part of this Natural Science is logically prior to Aristotle’s hypothesis of a steadystate, geocentric universe and hence was not disproved by the overthrow of his more specific arguments. (c). Mechanism, Idealism, or Thomism? Since today scientists are becoming doubtful about the mechanistic and idealistic foundations they adopted to replace Aristotle’s effort to find better foundations and admit their difficulty in finding a realistic interpretation of their mathematical models without such better foundations, it seems reasonable to reconsider Aquinas’ position, especially because, if correct, it provides a better relation between science and theology. B: The Foundations of Natural Science According to Aristotle and Aquinas 1). Natural and Artificial Observation. For Aristotle and Aquinas the very notion of “science” implies that detailed theories are rooted in more general and more certain truths that are known empirically in the most direct manner. We must always move from the better known to the less well known and for human abstract thought this means from the general to the specific. Now what is most general and best known to us about the sensible world is not mathematical models, nor is it what is observed by artificial instruments or through controlled experiments. What is best known and to what all other human knowledge must consistently conform is what we directly and naturally observe with our senses and thus can conceptualize directly. 2) A Thomist Critique of Modern Science. Natural science, however, is not mere “common sense” such as led the ancients to geocentrism. A critical analysis of natural observation is required, such as led even some ancients to realize that the apparent diurnal motion of the sun around the earth is merely relative and does not decide whether it is the sun or the earth that is moving. The rise of modern science falsified
everything in Aristotle’s scientific thought that depended on his hypothesis of an eternal universe and his geocentrism, but it did not disprove the foundations for natural science that he worked out in the Physics and the De Anima. It was this basic part of natural science that Aquinas principally employed in theology and if modern science can be rethought on this basis, rather than on a mechanistic or idealist basis that has been used since the seventeenth century, the relation between natural science and theology can become much more positive. This is not the task for those external to the scientific process but needs to be undertaken by scientists themselves once that they become better acquainted with it. 3). A Universe in Process. The Aristotelian-Thomistic foundational part of natural science that was not disproved by Copernicus and Galileo can be sketched as follows. a). Matter and Form. What we naturally observe with our senses is a world in change or process. Some of these changes are regular and indicate a certain stability and order that (pace Parmenides and Plato) permits intellectual abstract scientific analysis. When the concept of the “changeable” is analyzed it is directly evident that it is composed of an actual principle (form) that is observable and a potential principle (matter) that is known only relative to some form. These are correlative and cannot exist apart. The term “matter” as used in modern science, however, has independent existence without form. b). Causality. For changeable things the Principle of Non-Contradiction holds, because what actually is, is never observed not to be. This Principle grounds the science of logic for natural science. Thus it is possible to demonstrate the first theorem of natural science, namely that “Change presupposes the existence of the changeable.” From this the Principle of Causality is also evident, since to assert that something can change itself is contradictory, since that would mean that it give itself an actuality it does not have. Thus matter and form constitute the intrinsic material and formal causes of changeable things, although in modern science “cause” usually means only an agent or efficient cause.. c). Substance and Accidents. Changeable things are observable to us through their qualities such as shape, hardness, temperature to touch, or color to sight, yet they can undergo qualitative change while retraining their identity. Therefore we must, the distinction between a Substance and its Accidents, that is between changeables that have independent existence and accidents that depend on a substance for their existence becomes evident. Some accidents are the result of chance encounters with other substances, but some are properties that necessarily belong to a substance, such as gravity is a property of massive bodies. d). Categories.
(1). Intrinsic. That quality is not the only kind of accident can then be demonstrated from the fact that the simplest form of change is local motion and a substance in motion must have at least two parts, one that has passed a given point and one that has not yet passed it. Thus every changeable substance is a body having Quantity and Quality as intrinsic accidents, quantity related to its matter and quality modifying its form. (2). Extrinsic (Relational). Because the Principle of Causality requires that nothing can change itself, it follows that there must be more than one body in the universe and that change occurs because one body is an efficient cause that acts on the matter of another body that is a recipient. Thus in describing changeable thing we must also note their accidents of Agency and Receptivity, and furthermore the reality of the accident of Relation, since a cause and its effect are really related, and this results in other relations of similarity between bodies as regards their qualities, and relations of equality as regards their quantities. Because for a change to occur the agent must be specified to the recipient by contact, every body also has Place determined by the bodies in immediate contact with it and more loosely by its region or Environment that permits its stability. It can also, while remaining in the same place, change its Position. Finally, the changes of a system of bodies are measured by the most regular change in the system and this is Time. (3). The Physical Reality of the Categories. Thus every body studied by natural science can and must be empirically observed and described (defined) in terms of 10 general Categories: they are substances, having quantities, qualities, relations, agency, recipiency, place, position, environment, and time defined in the foregoing ways. The fact that quantity is the first of these properties of a material substance explains why we can consider it abstractly and thus ground the mathematical sciences in reality. These categories cannot be reduced to some broader, univocal genus, but are different kinds of being to which the very term “essence (nature)” and “existence” can only be applied analogically. Although these categorial concepts seem simple they have produced many controversies such as the contemporary controversy in physics over the nature of “time.” Ockham denied the reality of any of the extrinsic categories. Galileo rejected the reality of such secondary qualities as “color.” Locke doubted the knowability of “substance.” An especially important controversy is that over “quantity” as it is abstractly studied in mathematics. Today there are three theories about the “foundations of mathematics:” (a). the so-called Platonism of Russell and others that ascribes an undefined sort of “reality” to numbers. (b). the “Constructivism” of Brouwer that holds that mathematical concepts ar mentally constructed on the basis of the succession of moments of time, a Kantian view. (b). the Formalism of Hilbert that holds that mathematical axioms are arbitrary constructions represented by symbols. This was put in question of Kurt Gödel’s mathematical proof that a formal system cannot be proved by its own axioms to be either self-consistent or complete. This supports Aristotle’s view that
mathematics deals with the quantity of really existing substances considered abstractly apart from change and the other categories of accidents. e). Advance from General to Specific. The advance of natural science occurs by developing taxonomies (classifications) of substances and of those accidents which are the properties that distinguish the genera and species of substances and showing how they form systems and super-systems reaching finally the universe as a whole. As noted above, modern science has formed a remarkable taxonomy of inanimate chemical substances, and of animate biological species of plants and animals and come to a considerable understanding of the environment of living things and of the solar systems and the galaxies and some notion of the dimensions and history of the universe. At the macro and microlevel, however, of the fundamental forces (efficient causes) it often has difficult in finding a physical interpretation of its mathematical models. f). Is the Universe Self-Explanatory? (1). Existence of an Uncaused Cause. The foundational part of Natural Science cannot be completed without asking whether the universe is self-explanatory. It then becomes clear from the Principle of Causality according to which nothing can efficiently cause itself that every line of causality within the universe and the universe as a whole system of bodies must have a First Efficient Cause that is unchanged (an Unmoved Mover). This is most evident from the simplest and most easily observed kind of change, local motion, and this constitutes Aquinas’ famous First Way of proving the existence of “what is generally called God.” Because it is itself uncaused, this First Cause does not cause in the manner of physical causes that act only when acted upon. Thus the First Cause cannot be material. Hence the study of its nature or essence lies outside the scope of Natural Science. (2) Limited Scope of Natural Science. Modern science, therefore, is right to limit itself to the material world of bodies, but it mistakenly fails to admit that precisely for that reason it should affirm the dependence of the material world on some nonmaterial cause. Thus scientists who attempt to explain the existence of the world by saying that the Big Bang “just happened” or that it arose from “quantum fluctuations in empty space” or that it is just one of an infinite number of possible worlds contradict their own scientific method that requires them to seek a cause for every observed effect. Even if the world is eternal, as Aristotle hypothesized and as some scientists still hypothesize and as Aquinas held reason cannot show to be impossible, this argument for the existence of a First Uncaused Cause remains valid. C: The Human Person, and Embodied Spirit 1). The Spirituality of the Human Soul. In Aristotle’s’ De Anima and Aquinas’ fuller development of that argument, it is evident from human language, culture, and ability to achieve scientific knowledge that the human species, although its cognition
depends on the bodily senses just as does the cognition of other animals, differs from them in that it also has the power of abstract thought and self-consciousness. Hence the human intelligence must also be an immaterial unmoved mover relative to the body, but subordinate to the absolute First Cause and thus contingent. Since the intelligence is a qualitative property of the soul, it follows that the human soul also is immaterial. This human immaterial intelligence is a twofold power. The agent intellect is a contingent unmoved mover kept always in act by the First Cause and thus is able to raise the data coming from the bodily senses to the level of abstract intelligibility. The passive intellect (intellectus possibilis) is thus given specific information in abstract form that enables it to perform a specific act of abstract cognition by which the human knower is directly united to the object known and indirectly to its own act of knowing (self-consciousness). 2). Origin of the Human Soul. Because it is spiritual the human soul cannot be produced by material efficient causes but must be created directly by the non-material First Cause to complete a body appropriate to it. This creative act is not miraculous, but the Creator’s natural completion of an action in which he has used natural forces to produce such a body with the final cause of producing the human substance. The modern discovery of biological evolution is entirely consistent with this and in fact is more consistent than was the older view (conditioned by the Aristotelian hypothesis of an eternal universe) with the general principle that the First Cause uses secondary causes as instruments to accomplish its work whenever this is possible. 3). The Powers of the Human Soul a) Dependence of Human Cognition on the Senses. Thus to arrive at an intellectual knowledge of natural laws from our sensible experience of a changing world humans do not have to have innate ideas, as Plato supposed, or innate mental categories as Kant thought, but depend for the entire content of our natural cognition on our senses from which the intelligence abstracts such laws. Thus our knowledge depends (1). first on the five external senses, of which touch is the most fundamental and existential, (2) then on the four internal senses: (a). the common sense that unifies the data received from the external senses: (b). the sense memory that records objects in their chronological sequence, (c). the imagination which generalizes and recombines them, and (d). the evaluative (cogitative) sense that in the human species corresponds to animal instinct but which relates sense data to human needs and aims. This evaluative sense is the highest of the senses and most directly important in scientific thinking. Thus we sense relatively stable objects in our world and from an intellectual analysis of these experiences understand something of what and why it is as it is.
b) The Affective Drives or “Passions” and the Human Will. The evaluative sense relates especially to the human biological drives (passions, affections) which are of two kinds: (1). pleasure drives (concupiscent), that seek pleasure and avoid pain, and (2). aggressive drives (irascible) that seek to overcome obstacles to pleasure or endure the pain resulting from such obstacles. These drives are not as such conscious but they enable bodily changes that are sensed (principally by touch) as the emotions. Human intellectual activity frees us from rigid instincts and by enabling us to see the relation between goals and the alternative means to these goals enables us to make free choices and this is the faculty of the will that is able to regulate the bodily drives and to guide human activities to formation of culture. Like the intellect, the will is a spiritual power moved by the intellect and in turn moving it, yet it is superior to the will in that it first moves the will and its act of contemplation is the final goal of human life.. c). Interaction of Human Nature and Culture. While the modern social sciences tend to emphasis culture over nature, and often seem to hold that there is no such thing as “human nature” genetics and sociobiology make clear that culture must respect natural needs or become self-destructive. Humans, in a manner the far surpasses that of animal “societies” are social (political) animals because they need to share a vast amount of information that constitutes a culture. . D: Do Also Pure Spirits Exist? 1). Popular Belief in Spirits. In most cultures besides belief in some Supreme Principle there is a lively conviction that besides human persons there are also many other persons, subordinate to the Supreme Principle, who are ordinarily invisible to us, but who greatly influence our lives. These included not only the souls of dead ancestors, but also a whole range of spirits. While in polytheistic religions belief in such spirits can obscure the Supreme Principle, nevertheless they play a significant part in Judaism, Islam, and Christianity as the angels, who are created but superior to humans. Although modern science has discredited the existence of such spirits by giving physical explanations to many of the effects attributed to them, yet they remain in popular culture, in science fiction and occult practices. Christian faith maintains the existence of pure spirits, created as good and given by God certain responsibilities even in the visible universe. Some of these at the beginning of creation misused their free will to assert their autonomy and to hinder God’s plans. We must ask, therefore, whether natural science excludes the existence of such spirits or whether, on the contrary, it in some way manifests their existence. 2). Natural Science Arguments for Their Existence. St. Thomas Aquinas is called the “Angelic Doctor” precisely because he gave extensive consideration to this question, but Thomists disagree as to whether he held that their existence can be rationally demonstrated. Two points are clear: (1) he gave probable proofs for their existence; (2) further discussion of their natures pertains not to science but to
metaphysics. The demonstration favored by some Thomists is based on the fact that since the universe is a coordinated system of several relatively independent lines of causality, each of these must naturally have an unmoved mover subordinate to the First Unmoved Mover of the entire system. This is supported in modern science by its discussion of “fundamental forces.” Moreover the problems associated with finding an adequate scientific explanation for the origin of life and human evolution may indicate angelic guidance of the largely chance sequence of events that have produce so complexly unified a result as the human body and especially the human brain. The probable argument favored by others is that when we find a classification of natural species, the existence of a rudimentary species of a genus strongly suggests that higher species exist. Hence the existence of the human species as the least possible kind of spiritual being by reason of the dependence of our intelligence on our material body strongly suggests the existence of higher species of intelligences independent of the body. Conclusion: To preach Dominicans needs constantly to study what is known of human beings, their needs, and their relation to other creatures, material and immaterial. Hence they must have a critical understanding of the extensive resources for this achieved by modern science, so that they can relate these to a Gospel that honors the Creator. The foundations of Natural Science developed by Aquinas can greatly assist in this study. PART III ETHICS Introduction: the practical disciplines presuppose the theoretical but have a very different character, since there purpose is not knowledge of the truth for its own sake, but knowledge to guide action. The Pragmatists have argued that this is the real test of truth, and the Marxists have argued that practice determines theory just as theory determines practice. Many of the great medieval theologians such as St. Bonaventure, St. Albert the Great, Bl. Duns Scotus held that Theology is a practical rather than a theoretical science, but St. Thomas Aquinas held that it was principally theoretical, although eminently practical. In merely human knowledge, however, First Philosophy is eminently theoretical, but practicality is left to Ethics and the Technologies. A: Value-free Science and Ethical Values. 1). Secular Ethics. While ethical or moral questions occupy much attention in every culture the separation of questions of value from those of a value-free science has produced particular difficulties in Western society science the rise of modern science. The first reaction to this dilemma was the rise of Romanticism in the later eighteenth century. In Rousseau’s view civilized culture has corrupted natural human instincts or our “moral sense” or natural affections and can be recovered only by reviving these and this view that makes morality a matter of emotional preference (emotivism) has been favored by some Analytics philosophers and by certain psychoanalysts. Kant held the view that every individual must maintain their absolute freedom and
autonomy by setting up for themselves a consistent way of life compatible with social order, but supposed that reason would lead to consensus in this matter. Common today is a relativist and pragmatic view that we must respect the rights of others so that they will respect our rights, but that what rights consist in it’s a matter of cultural agreement only. 2). Christian Ethics. Christian theology has often been divided between two conceptions of morality: (a) that morality is obedience to laws willed by God or some other authority approved by God (voluntarism, duty ethics); (b) that morality is the choice of appropriate means to attain true (not just apparent) happiness which is the goals of human nature implanted in us by the Creator and elevated by his grace. For Aquinas the second view is the more fundamental, since God commands only what will lead us to the true happiness, natural and eternal, for which he created us. Voluntaristic views came to dominate Catholic moral theology in the Late Middle Ages and up to the Thomist Revival in the nineteenth century when the second view began to be renewed. The struggle over Proportionalism (which reflected voluntaristic attitudes but in a minimalizing, “liberal” manner) after Humanae Vitae resulted in its condemnation in the encyclical Splendor Veritatis for its denial that some concrete human acts are in all circumstances contradictory to the true end of human life (intrinsically evil) and therefore always immoral. B: True and Illusory Happiness. 1). The “Is’ and the “Ought.” The first principle of ethics is “Do good and avoid evil” and since this is an “ought” or performative statement it is a logical fallacy (naturalists fallacy) to attempt to do so. Nevertheless, every practical or performative proposition presupposes for its truth on certain theoretical (“is,” indicative) propositions, since human acts must be performed with actual powers having a certain teleology and in actual circumstances that limit its effects. “Do good and avoid evil” really means “Seek true happiness and avoid what leads to genuine unhappiness.” What is true happiness for us? 2). Imperfect Natural Happiness and Graced Beatitude. Faith teaches that only God has perfect happiness of himself but that by grace we have been called to share in that perfect happiness. Human nature, apart from race, has as its final cause an imperfect happiness appropriate to the limits of our finite nature. Grace does not deny this finality but includes and elevates it to a vastly higher goal of perfect happiness with God. Thus Aquinas would not accept the view of some theologians that we are ordered only to perfect happiness, though we cannot attain it except by grace. This minimizes God’s grace that is also required to elevate our final cause to the supernatural order. In our present fallen state we retain our nature with its finality although we are not even able to reach that natural happiness without grace. What is this natural happiness? Perfect happiness is a single good, the beatific vision of God, but imperfect happiness is an integration of several per se goods all of which must be satisfied to a degree but which are ranked as more or less important.
3). The Basic Needs of Human Nature. We need certain external goods such as certain material possessions and honor among those with whom we live, but these are only instrumental. The per se goods interior to our persons are in ascending rank of importance: (a) physical health and security; (b) a family in which to be born and educated, to find intimate love, and to continue the species; (c) a larger community to provide us with the many gifts of human culture; (d) a true understanding (contemplation) of our world, our friends and fellow citizens, and of God as revealed in creation. Thus ethics is a practical science that guides us to make free choices of means that will lead us to happiness and to avoid decisions that will hinder us in achieving that goal. C: Why We Need Virtues? 1). Skills of Consistent Problem Solving. Human bodily beings, unlike pure spirits who do not change their minds, are subject to many variations of perception and affective moods and often act inconsistently. Yet a single bad decision can raise great obstacles to their search for happiness. Moreover goods that are sensuous and at hand, although they may be unimportant or damaging for happiness, may appear important or effective for happiness. In particular physical pleasure (including comfort, that is, freedom from physical pain) that naturally should support good decisions, can itself become a dominating apparent good (addiction, vice). This is true also of exterior goods, material possessions and honor. Faith tells us that original sin has introduced powerful conflicts between such apparent goods and the true goods that reason discerns. Thus the human drives (passions, emotions) which nature intends to support good decisions often in fact hinder them; yet without such drives human action is lifeless. Hence ethics is not only concerned with particular decisions (cases) but with character, that is, virtues or skills in making good decisions in a consistent manner that overcomes internal conflicts between true and apparent goods. 2). The Four Major Virtues. A considerable number of such virtues are required to reach true happiness, but there are four principle (cardinal) virtues that deal with the four most difficult problems in human life. Two of these deal with the control of the physical drives common to humans and animals and hence are in the body. The other two are in the soul, one in the will and the other in the intellect.: a). Temperance (Moderation) is needed to control the pleasure drives, especially as regards food and sexual pleasure. b) Fortitude (Courage) is required to control the aggressive drives, so that we can overcome obstacles to happiness and endure difficulties in seeking it c). Justice. The problem for our will is that it is by will that we seek happiness for ourselves, but may not will the happiness of others, yet as social beings our
happiness depends on the common good we share with others in family and society. Therefore we need the virtue of Justice by which we respect the rights of others to attain happiness. It has three species: justice between individuals (commutative); between citizens and society (legal), and between society and its citizens (distributive justice). d). Prudence. Finally, our intelligence by which we both recognize what our goal of true happiness is and the goods that integrate it and also the appropriate means to such a goal requires the practical virtue of Prudence by which we seek the information we need to make good decisions. Prudence is both a moral virtue, both because it guides the other cardinal virtues and because it presupposes the will to seek true happiness, and it is also an intellectual virtue since it is correct thinking about natural human needs and the relation of means to ends. As practical knowledge it presupposes theoretical knowledge about human nature, the unvierse, and the Creator and thus the three other intellectual virtues of Insight (Understanding, Intuition), Science (in the broad sense of any systematic discipline), and Wisdom. By Wisdom is meant a unification of all knowledge required for the contemplation of truth that is the supreme good of human life. 3) Auxiliary Virtues. Aquinas develops a classification of the species (“subjective parts”) of each of these cardinal virtues and links them with auxiliary virtues (“potential parts”) needed to deal with less difficult life problems as they have a resemblance to problem that require these four major virtues. For each virtue he also indicates a pair of vices, one of which is excessive and one defective, in relation to that virtue which enables one to take a middle course directly to the true goal. D: Social Ethics 1). The Three Forms of Prudence. Because humans are social animals, the virtue of Prudence has three forms: a). the prudence required to guide the individual (individual or personal ethics);. b). the prudence required to guide a family (the relation between husband and wife, and the children, family or domestic ethics); and c). the prudence required to guide the larger society (the prudence of political leaders and of the free citizens). Less important social organizations and the various professions also require special prudences. 2). The Modern Social Sciences. These sciences, such as sociology, anthropology, sociobiology political science, civics, laws, economics, etc. attempt to treat of human social behavior in a descriptive and explanatory but “value-free” manner, as theoretical, not as practical disciplines. Certainly we can describe social behavior and seek to explain what we observe, but the actions we are describing are at least in part ethical or counter-ethical acts. Thus study of such subjects without a concern for social justice and the overcoming of poverty, war, and conflict seems futile. Thus it would seem that presentation of family and political ethics should be genuinely ethical.
3). Family Ethics. a). The Natural Structure of the Family. The ethics of the family is conditioned by the fact that human families have first of all a certain natural structure that can be explained by the need of the human species to survive through reproduction which in higher organisms is sexual because the recombination of genes increases viability in changing environments. For the species to survive, the permanent monogamous family is a natural requirement for the very long period of maturation required by the human child because of its very complex brain. This means a long pregnancy and period of child-care for the woman during which the husband must provide security and economic support. Consequently the human female, unlike those of other higher animal species, has no mating period, so that the man is bonded to her by regular intercourse. b). Cultural Development of the Family: Beyond these biological structures the manwoman relationship best develops as one of mutuality in complementarity by which the fullness of human nature is realized and intimately shared and it is because of its origin in this bonding that is at once biological and spiritual that the security of the child is based. The child receives from its mother especially the understanding of love, and from its father the courage to meet the realistic difficulties of life. Hence the unitive and procreative aspects of the human sexual union are inseparable and all sexual release outside marriage is contrary to the goal of true human happiness. At the same time the good of the family is inferior to that of the whole society that it grounds and to contemplation, hence, even in the natural order, under certain circumstances sexual needs can be sacrificed to these higher goods by a single, celibate life. 4). Politics. a). Community and Forms of Authority: The larger society of tribe, nation, and ultimately the world community is necessary to provide an adequate culture for its members who have different gifts and functions within the community. Nature has not provided any specific constitution for human society and it is a matter of communal agreement. The efforts by Marx and others to find social laws by which the development of some social scientists to find natural laws by which social structures can be predicted seems vain since free will choices cannot be predicted. The government of a society, however, cannot be based on simple consensus (anarchism, which Marx thought would be the ultimate historical outcome) because even if its members were all of equal intelligence and virtue and sought consensus by rational civic discourse, because in practical matters there is seldom a determinately right means to the common good. Hence every community (including the family) must have an agreed upon authority, whether it be by one person, an aristocracy, or the majority vote of a democracy, whose decisions all must obey even when they disagree with them, provided these are not certainly evil. Each of these three forms of government has advantages and disadvantages, but in most cases a mixed form (republic) is preferable.
b) The Common Good. In any society the goal to be sought should conform to the ranking of goods already mentioned for individual ethics, and the more spiritual in character is that good the more that it can be shared, while the more material the good, the necessarily more private its ownership (private) property) and use. Those in authority require not just individual prudence but leadership (regnative) prudence based on profound experience of human needs and failings. Thus the end of the human community is the virtue and happiness of all its members, with special concern for those least able to attain such happiness on their own. States, such as those based on “totalitarianism” in which the authority seeks its own good in preference to the common good are tyrannies and require reform and even revolutionary force when there is hope of improvement. Authority in a state has the duty to maintain law and order by the use of moderate and justly administered force and to wage a just war to defend the community against attack but ultimately a world community and government should be sought. Thus three basic principles need to be observed in a community: c). Solidarity, Functionality, Subsidiarity. Three organizational features are needed for justice in any society. (1). solidarity or dedication of government and citizens to the common good in preference to individual good. An important element of solidarity is the “preferential option for the poor” advocated by liberation theology. (2). functionality or an appropriate division of the various services provided by the community as a whole; (3). subsidiarity or the freedom of levels within the society to make those decisions that most directly affect them but with the proviso that higher levels of authority supervise these decisions to harmonize them with the common good, supplement them when necessary, and correct and educate the lower levels to respect the common good. E: Economics and Technology in Service of the Common Good. (1). Economic Determinism. Some have tried to show an inevitable evolution of human society based either on the advance of science (Hegel) or of technology (Marx’s theory of “dialectical materialism,” but history is unpredictable both because of human free will and of chance. Yet Marx was right in arguing that the development of scientific technology with economics as the architectonic technology that regulates the employment of other kinds sets certain limits on human culture. Modern science itself, as Robert Merton argued, could not progress so rapidly without the support of modern technology and economic profitability. (2) The Technologies. The number and kinds of technologies depend simply on human ingenuity. They are practical disciplines, supported by theoretical natural science; but their proper use is guided by ethics. The goals they seek to accomplish, however, unlike the goals of ethics that are fixed by human nature, are a matter of free
choice. Yet unless these goals are themselves subordinated to ethical goals technology becomes abusive and destructive. (3) Environmentalism. In fact modern technology while giving humanity greater control over nature, which is itself an ethically good thing, has often been very destructive of our environment and natural resources, as well as the health and wellbeing of humans. Modern environmentalism seeks to bring technology under ethical control so that it serves the true common good of human society, but unfortunately often is based on an inadequate or erroneous ethics. It is important to note that the natural order must be preserved for two reasons: (a). practically speaking, destruction of the environment destroys resources that are needed to meet true human needs; (b). but the highest ethical good is the contemplation of the truth, and the destruction of the diversity and order of natural things impoverishes human contemplation. F: The Fine Arts. These arts (including literature already discussed as the poetic or narrative form of discourse) because they produce objects are also technologies, but the purpose of these objects some use, but esthetic contemplation and recreation. This distinction, as already mentioned, is confused by those who consider them to be rhetorical, either to for the sake of teaching morals, or, as claimed by post-moderns, of manipulating others. Yet, although the true purpose of the fine arts is contemplative and recreative, and thus, by sensible imagery can move us toward deeper intellectual contemplation as in liturgy, since they serve human happiness they must be ethically controlled. When misused they can seduce to vice and error, as Plato feared. Pornography, commercialization, propaganda can all have artistic qualities, but are an abuse of the fine arts. Romanticism even tries to use the arts as a substitute for religion. Conclusion: Although moral guidance is given by legitimate through norms and laws that should be obeyed, these laws bind only if they lead to individual and social happiness by meeting basic human needs in their proper order of importance, the highest of which is the need for wisdom. These laws cannot be obeyed or proper decisions to true happiness be made consistently without the virtue of prudence, assisted by temperance, fortitude, and justice. The technologies and the fine arts must be used in conformity with morality or they become destructive of persons and their environment. . PART IV METAPHYSICS Introduction: As noted at the beginning of this guide, we are so overwhelmed today with “information” that it is seems increasingly difficult to make any real sense out of it. Even theology, once considered “The Queen of the Sciences,” is now lost in a sea of “specialized fields.” Must we be content with this fragmentation of knowledge?
A: The Problem of The Search for Wisdom. 1). How Can We Unify Human Knowledge? The Greek Stoics and Epicureans recognized only logic, physics, and ethics and reduced all reality to matter. The Platonists, although they believed that the prime reality is spiritual, followed the same tripartite division but in fact reduced all knowledge to the Ideas and those to the Idea of the One or Good. Aristotle, who agreed with Plato that the prime reality is spiritual, nevertheless insisted on the autonomy of the various sciences diagramed above. Thus for him and later for Aquinas the problem was how to unify human knowledge so that it would have the character of true wisdom. 2). First Philosophy Presupposes Yet Is Formally Distinct From Natural Science. a). Could Natural Science Be First Philosophy? Aristotle did not use the term “metaphysics” but spoke of First Philosophy. He reviewed each of autonomous sciences to see whether any of these could serve as this unifying meta-science. The logical sciences deal with mental relations not reality itself and are thus eliminated. The practical sciences were also eliminated because they presuppose theoretical knowledge, namely, Natural Science that studies human nature and it ethical needs and the natural forces used by technology. Mathematics, regarded by Plato as the road toward wisdom, was also eliminated because its subject was abstract quantity that is only a property, although the first, of material substances. Thus it might that Natural Science is First Philosophy, as many modern thinkers believe. b) Unlike Nature Science, First Philosophy Studies the Essence of Immaterial Beings. Yet in the foundations of Natural Science it is proved that the First Cause exists, but is immaterial. Therefore, since the study of the nature or essence of immaterial reality is outside the proper object of Natural Science, namely, changeable and hence material being, First Philosophy cannot be Natural Science, but is a valid science in its own right. Its proper object is “Being as Being,” that is, the whole of reality material and immaterial in relation to each other. It can, however, explore immaterial reality only through its observable material effects and hence its form of knowledge is only analogical. Thus it is a meta-science, having no data of its own, but reflects critically over the principles and conclusions of the other sciences, comparing and distinguishing their truths from one another. These spiritual realities studied in First Philosophy are: (1) The human soul as it transcends the body it is abstract intellection and freedom of will and as it survives the body. (2) Pure spirits, if they exist, in their intelligence, will, and guidance of natural forces in the universe. (3) The First Cause to which all material and spiritual beings are subordinated in their creation, conservation in existence, and action, whether free, natural, or chance.
c). Natural Theology is Not “Onto-theology.” Thus Aristotle also called First Philosophy “Theology” (using this in the Greek sense that included all spiritual beings). Contingent spiritual beings are included in the analogical concept of “Being as Being,” Yet Aquinas does not include the First Cause, which is Being Itself, Pure Act of Existence, whose existence and essence are identical, in “Being as Being.” The study of the First Cause through its freely created effects is not included in the proper object of First Philosophy but is its goal and the goal of all human knowledge and human life. Thus Aquinas Natural Theology does not fall into the error that Heidegger called “onto-theology” of considering God simply as “more of the same” that is, as the Supreme Being, since God infinitely transcends his creation. Aquinas is equally, if not more, emphatic about this absolute transcendence of God. B: Other Conceptions of “Metaphysics.” 1). The Platonic Tradition. a). Aquinas and Platonism. Although Plato dealt with spiritual reality and hus discussed many of the problems that for Aristotle pertain to First Philosophy, his way of unifying human knowledge, rejected the autonomy of the special sciences, and reduced all knowledge to the innate vision of the One. Thus he did not deal with the central problem of First Philosophy as Aristotle conceived it and thus to speak of Platonic “metaphysics” can be misleading. Before Aquinas, the commentators on Aristotle’s Metaphysics, including the great Islamic commentators, Avicenna and Averroes, Platonized that work. But St. Thomas himself, although he borrowed extensively from Neo-Platonic sources, thoroughly assimilated these materials to his reading of Aristotle as an independent metaphysics of the type explained above in C. b). Scotus’ Conception of Metaphysics. Soon after Aquinas, Duns Scotus, working in the Augustinian tradition, but drawing on Aristotle, reverted to a Platonic reading. Scotus held that Being as Being is a univocal concept and hence is the same in all the sciences and even includes God as the infinite mode of Being. Thus for him the term “First” in First Philosophy meant that although metaphysics may be pedagogically last to be studied, it is epistemologically prior to them, so that other sciences amount to a specification and application of metaphysical principles. On the contrary, for Aristotle and Aquinas the term “Being” has only an analogical and refers to many kinds of being studied in different sciences. God is the First Cause of the Being as Being that is the proper object of First Philosophy, but as such he is not included in that analogical concept but transcends it. Aquinas agrees with Scotus that the proper object of the human intelligence is “being” but since “being” has many senses, only step-by-step is the meaning of this term that first signifies existing material substance extended to spiritual beings and then only after their existence has been proved by Natural Science. Thus for Aquinas while quoad se metaphysical principles, when once attained, illuminate the whole of human knowledge, quoad nos they are known in their full universality and necessity only toward the end of the search for wisdom. William of Ockham, using a nominalist interpretation of Aristotle’s logic attempted to refute Scotus’ natural theology, thus promoting fideism in Pre-Reformation and
Reformation theology. After Nominalism declined the Scotistic notion of metaphysics tended to predominate over that of Aquinas especially through the influence of the seventeenth century writer Francisco Suarez S.J., who attempted to reconcile Aquinas with Scotus just as modern science was beginning its advance. Suarez influenced even the Protestant German universities. 2). Modern Doubts About the Value of Metaphysics. a). The Turn to the Subject. Descartes, reverting to Augustinian Platonism attempted to save metaphysics by grounding certain knowledge in innate ideas. But instead of holding for objective Ideas transcending the human mind as Plato had done, Descartes made “the turn to the subject” which sought certitude in human selfconsciousness (Cogito ergo sum, I think, therefore I exist) by which the clarity of our thought guarantees its certitude. For him the human soul is not the formal cause of the body, but Mind and Matter are different substances whose relation remains obscure. Thus after Descartes the Scotistic epistemological priority of Metaphysics in human knowledge is still further emphasized. Leibnitz and the very influential Christian Wolff supposed that Metaphysics deals with possible, rather than simply existing being. Although the British Empiricists beginning with Locke eschewed “metaphysics” which they identified with Cartesian, they accepted his view that what we know is not reality outside the mind but representations of the world. They did not essentially distinguish between sense knowledge and intellectual knowledge. This lead on the one hand to the Scottish Common Sense School that defended a natural theology without metaphysical analysis and the skepticism of Dave Hume for whom Natural Science can only be probable and Metaphysics is mere speculation. b). The Kantian Definition of Truth as Consistency of Thought. Kant, educated in the Leibnitz-Wolff tradition that assumed that certain knowledge cannot be derived from the senses was thus lead to subject metaphysics as he understood it to severe criticism. He concluded that our theoretical knowledge is restricted to the sensible world, while most of the themes of classical metaphysics have only a “regulative” function needed to support practical, ethical concerns. God and the immateriality of the human soul cannot be theoretically proved although belief in them supports morality. Truth for him, is no longer conformity of the mind to reality, as for most ancient and medieval thought, but a consistent ordering of the information coming from the senses. Reality itself (Ding an sich) is unknowable. c). Contemporary Continental Philosophy. After Kant the reaction of German Idealism (Fichte, Schelling, Hegel), often opposed by a materialistic Positivism that exalted Natural Science, was to construct a priori vast idealist metaphysical systems that even attempted to explain history but so exalted a priori reason that they did not admit either the autonomy of the special sciences nor the possibility of a revelation superior to reason. The Transcendental Thomism of Joseph Maréchal, Karl Rahner, and Bernard Lonergan seeks reconcilation with Kant and this idealistic tradition by alleging an a priori element in Aquinas’ thought in the dynamism of the human intellect that demands the existence of an Absolute as answer to its questioning.
Husserl attempted to return to a more critical, scientific philosophy by his Phenomenology which led him back to idealism, but which others have taken in a realistic and even Thomistic direction (Edith Stein, John Paul II). Others have followed Marx into historical materialism, or Nietzche into nihilism, or into Existentialism. Most influential of all has been Martin Heidegger (influenced by Scotus) who sought to “overcome metaphysics,” not by denying it, but by holding that Being (which for him is human experience) is always revealing yet concealing itself in the sense that reality appears to us differently as history proceeds. Hence, no metaphysical theory is final. In the Post-Modernism of Derrida and others this means that every attempt to formulate an account of reality (a “text”) remains always open to some new interpretation. d). Contemporary British-American Philosophy: Analytic Philosophy was rooted in British Empiricism and especially in Hume, but was influenced by Austrian Logical Positivists and then Wittgenstein who rejected idealist metaphysics and respected only the Natural Sciences who language they sought to clarify. In the United States this was joined to the Pragmatism of John Dewey and others who reduce theoretical to practical knowledge. In this tradition “metaphysics” understood as idealism is often rejected as “nonsense,” but more recently the problems (a) of giving a physical interpretation to the mathematical models of Natural Science; (b) finding a place for “values” in a value-free Science is opening up efforts to clarify the concepts that were formally considered metaphysical. Moreover, the Semiotics of Charles Sanders Pierce (also interested in Scotus’ views) attempts to overcome the split between idealism and empiricism that has plagued all of modern thought, by a theory of signs that both distinguishes and interrelates the mind-dependent and mindindependent elements in human cognition. C: Present Tasks of Metaphysics 1): Five Tasks for First Philosophy: The historian of Greek philosophy, Giovanni Reale, points out that Aristotle’s First Philosophy undertakes five different but related tasks that are respectively the: a). ontological (Greek ontos, being) task of distinguishing and relating the different kinds of “being;” b). epistemological (Greek episteme, certain knowledge) task of determining how we be sure that these different kinds of being really exist, that is, have “to be” (esse). c). ousiological (from Greek ousios, substance) task of showing which among these senses of the term “being” First Philosophy must inquire which sense is most fundamental. d). aetiological (Greek aetios, cause) task of criticizing the explanation of the different kinds of being in terms of their causes. e). theological (Greek theos, divine) task of treating of spiritual beings whose existence has been established by Natural Science but whose essences require investigation.
2). Ontology: Different Kinds of Being and Their “Properties. a). Different Kinds of Being: Created, contingent substances exist in relative independence and are either changeable and material (Natural Science has worked an extensive taxonomy of these) or spiritual (Natural Science proves the existence of the spiritual human soul, gives at least probable arguments for pure spirits and their specification), and demonstrates the existence of a spiritual First Cause). Changeable things have accidents that depend for their existence on substances; so do created spirits, the First Cause is absolutely simple. b). Properties Analogically Common to all Kinds of “Being.” Since “Being” includes all reality, substances and their accidents, its “properties” can only be “transcendentals” that is various aspects common analogically to all kinds of beings. The primary transcendentals are: (1). Unity and Diversity (the One and the Many, the many resulting from efficient causality), 2). The True and the False in relation to knowers (formal causality), and 3). The Good and the Bad in relation to desire and will (final causality). c). Other Transcendental Terms: Beauty is also a strictly transcendental term but reduces to the goodness of truth, that is its knowability. Aquinas says the beautiful is characterized formally by its clarity or knowability, and materially by the completeness and proportion of its parts. Five other terms that transcend the Categories but are not necessarily properties of every kind of being and are called the Post-Predicaments: opposition, prior, simultaneous, motion, and belonging to. In each of the sciences questions of unity and diversity, true and falsehood, goodness and badness, as well the post-predicamental terms are raised but have different, merely analogical senses. Errors arise in these sciences chiefly from confusion of these diverse senses. 3). Epistemology. a). Anti-dualism. Presupposing the proof of the non-materiality of the human intelligence and hence of the human soul of which it is a property given in De Anima III, Aquinas insists that all human intellectual knowledge depends on the images (phantasms) provided by the external senses. Each discipline has its own criteria of verification (epistemology), but in dealing with the transcendental of truth, Metaphysics develops a universal methodology that shows that truth is “the conformity of the knower to the known” in which the knower, in a special sense, is united with the object known. For humans, Aquinas was careful to avoid those interpretations of Aristotle’s brief, ambiguous conclusion about the non-materiality of human intelligence and thus to showed that the Greek would have contradicted himself if he had supposed, as some commentators claimed, that this intelligence is one for all human beings, since the human soul and body are correlative.
b). Human Spiritual Powers. Aquinas also shows that human intelligence requires two faculties, the passive (possible) intellect that performs the self-conscious acts of knowing and an active intellect that is an unmoved mover always in act that renders the images on which our abstract knowledge depends intelligible and thus specifies the passive intellect so that it can perform a particular act uniting the intelligence to some object. He also shows how the will is a spiritual power that is both activated by the intelligence and activates the intelligence which presents some good to the will and is then moved by the will in its freedom to command an act of seeking this good, but that the goal of the will is contemplation, an act of the intellect. c). The Separated Soul. Yet the soul as spiritual must survive the body and thus a serious problem is raised: if in this life human intelligence depends on the body, how can it know anything when separated from the body. Aquinas answer is that it then knows itself by direct information (which it cannot do in union with the body) and retains all its abstract knowledge gained in this life. As for knowledge of concrete things known in bodily memory he concludes that God must strengthen human abstract concepts to extend to singulars as do the connatural ideas of pure spirits. As The human will’s commitment of humans to an ultimate end cannot change after death, nor can it merit. 4). Ousiology: Since created beings are either accidents or substances, but accidents depend on substances for their existence, it is clear that substance is the primary sense of being. Some have claimed that while Aristotle’s metaphysics has as its proper object substance, St. Thomas’ metaphysics is about “to be,” (esse, existential act, the judgment of being), but this is an exaggeration, since substance is precisely “that which has independent existence. 5). Aetiology; Yet material and spiritual substances have very different modes of existence, since material substances can be generated from the matter of previous material as well as created ex nihilo, while spiritual substances can only be created ex nihilo and are incorruptible, although they depend on the First Cause for their conservation in being and their actions. The First Cause is uncaused and transcends even the category of substance. Spinoza’s view that God is causa sui is contradictory. 6). Natural Theology. a). The Natures of Spiritual Beings. Metaphysics, since its subject extends to immaterial being, has also the theological task of dealing with the nature of spiritual beings. While the existence of the First Cause, of the immortal human soul, and of pure spirits by their material effects pertains to Natural Science, the study of their essences as these can be known by analogy from their material effects is beyond the proper scope of Natural Science and pertains to Metaphysics. For Aristotle and the Greeks the term “theological” applied not only to God but also to all spiritual beings. b). The Nature of Pure Spirits.
(1). Specification and Powers. Aquinas has an extensive, but highly speculative, discussion of the nature of created intelligences that do not require a body. Because they are pure forms, though they only contingently exist, each spirit is a species in itself. They have no quantity but they do have intelligence and will as proper qualities or powers. Their specification is through the number of innate ideas by which they have natural (“evening”) knowledge of the universe as a contemplative mirror of the Creator but they do not know the future that unfolds in their innate ideas only as time progresses. They have free will, but their commitment whether to God or to their own autonomy as their ultimate end, once made, cannot be changed. Their hierarchy is threefold according as to whether their activity is primarily contemplation of the Creator or management of his creation, or a mediating role between the two. They are not in continuous time as our material things, but in a discrete time (aeveternity) according to the succession of their actuated ideas. (2). Activities of Pure Spirits. They do not occupy space but can control material objects in a volume of space proportionate to their specifying knowledge. They also have practical knowledge in that they are instruments at the service of God in governing the progress of the material universe and in teaching each other. They communicate with each other by a free act of the will opening their intelligence to other spirits and with human beings through influencing our imagination or perhaps by sensible apparitions. They cannot, however, act on the will of another spirit or of human beings. Because they are the nobler part of the universe they probably greatly exceed in number all subhuman species and all human individuals. With humans they form a single community of the contemplation and love of God through his creation. c). The Real Distinction and the Limitation of Act by Potency. Aquinas, emphasizes the distinction between God as Pure Act who essence and existence are identical and creatures in whom they are really distinct. This doctrine of the real distinction of essence and existence even in existing creatures and the doctrine of the limitation of act by potency have been recognized as characterizing Aquinas thought as against that of Scotus and Suarez (the XXIV Thomistic Theses of Pius X defining the Thomism favored by the Church). Aquinas held that these doctrines are implicit in Aristotle’s work but needed to be brought out clearly. (1). In Changeable Beings: Natural Science shows that in changeable beings the term “Being,” is composed of matter and form, that is, potency and act. But it is the form of changeables beings that gives existence to their matter and they do not have this form of themselves but from another (Nothing can change itself) changeable things). Hence changeable things do not have existence of themselves but from another and thus their existences are really distinct from and limited by their essences, that is, their actuality is limited by their potentiality, or capacity for change.
(2). In Spiritual Beings. Although spiritual creatures are not, like material beings, corruptible, they are produced in being out of nothing and sustained in existence and activity by the First Cause and sustained in existence and activity by that Cause, are incorruptible and hence have a particular kind of necessity, yet because they depend for their existence, conservation and activity on the First Cause their existence is also really distinct from their essence, as act from potency. Only in the First Cause that is Pure Act is act unlimited (infinite) by potency and existence and essence are identical. d). The Nature of the First Cause, God. (1). The Transcendent, Personal God. Metaphysics shows that God is Pure Act who necessarily exists and is absolutely infinite in being, simple, omniscient, omnipotent and all good. God, however, can be naturally known only analogically through his creation by causality (as cause God resembles his effects, eminence (God infinitely exceeds these effects) and negation (God is more Other than creation than like it). Yet, though God infinitely transcends creation he is, as St. Augustine says, “more intimate to every creature than each creature is intimate to itself.” By analogy to human persons whom He creates, God is known to be supremely intelligent and free, and creates freely out of love, needing nothing from his creation nor being in any way influenced by it, but creating it out of nothing, conserving it existence, and the is the first cause of all created activity whether natural, chance, or free, bringing it to its ultimate goal, the happiness of the community of intelligent persons. God has created a universe of many diverse things because each kind of thing and each individual person contribute some perfection to the universe that it would otherwise lack. Moreover, he has created spiritual beings with free will to share his freedom. (2). The Problem of Evil. Contrary to Leibnitz arguments that this is the best of all possible worlds, Aquinas holds that because God is omnipotent he could freely make a better unvierse than the one he has actually made, since his creative power is inexhaustible. While God is the cause of the activities of finite creatures which necessarily results in the destruction of one physical secondary cause by another through chance and evolution and permits his free creatures to do evil if they choose, he always brings greater good out of any such evil. Christian faith shows that the present state of the universe is due to evil free acts by pure spirits and human beings but that God will somehow overcome this at the end of history. D: Reconciliation of Philosophical Traditions. On some fundamental points the traditions of western philosophical thought, as well as those of global culture seem irreconcilable and decisions must be made as to which positions are true and which false. Certainly one must decide between the conviction of both the Platonic and Aristotelian tradition as against the Stoic-Epicurean an modern materialism that reality is not only material. One must also decide between Platonic idealism and its Cartesian and Kantian successors that grounds the certitude of knowledge in inner experience and the Aristotelian and materialist empiricism that grounds it in sense experience. Then, if one takes the more empirical view, a decision must be made as to whether intellectual
knowledge is essentially distinct from sense knowledge. Finally one must decide whether any certainty is possible in knowledge, or whether we must succumb to skepticism, relativism, probabilism, and current post-modernism. There is no inconsistency however for a Thomist to assimilate both the Platonic convictions about spiritual reality and the materialists defense of sense knowledge as against idealism. Conclusion. Thus the whole of human knowledge is unified as a wisdom that contemplates God as the source of all being, truth, and goodness. This metaphysical contemplation is the highest element of individual human happiness and of the common good of human society that exists to enable its members to attain that happiness. Yet this imperfect happiness appropriate to the limits of human nature has been frustrated by the tragic human history of sin and its inescapable consequences. Reason can find no answer to this dilemma, but God has provided a remedy to us through faith in Jesus Christ, Wisdom Incarnate. QUESTIONS These should form the basis of a comprehensive examination to be taken by all Dominicans in formation. 1). Compare the classical division of the sciences as presented by Aquinas, indicating the principles on which each of these sciences is founded and the scope of each, with the organization of the modern university and the rationale for this organization. (See Diagram A and B in Outline). 2). What are the classical four modes of discourse are useful in Biblical exegesis, in interpreting the official documents of the Church and its theological tradition as well as in the apologetic and ecumenical presentation of the faith and its preaching to our present culture? What are some current resources in the public media and critical theory for the use of these forms of discourse? (See Part I) 3). What is the relation of the Thomistic foundations of Natural Science to modern science? Explain (a) the four causes, (b) the categories, (c) the proof of the existence of an Unmoved Mover. Explain the modern mathematical hypothetical-deductive methodology of modern science. How is the Big-Bang cosmology and biological evolution compatible with (c)? (See Part II, A-B) 4). Analyze human nature as to its functions and their inter-relations. In what respects are we animals and in what respect different from other animals? What are the basic human needs and how are these related to the variety of human cultures? Are their superhuman created persons? (See Part II, C-D). 5). Explain the difference and relation between an ethics of duty and a teleological ethics? What is natural human happiness? What are the main problems faced in human life and what skills (virtues) are required to meet these problems successfully? What are the vices into which humans often fall. Explain the difference between the
prudence required by individuals, married people, and social leaders. Why is authority and obedience required in every human community. Discuss the forms of government and the process of social change and reform. (See Part III, A-D). 6).What have been the positive and negative effects of modern technology on the environment and modern culture. What is the relation between government and economics as it regulates production of wealth and the use of resources. (See Part III E 1-3). 7). What is the role of the fine arts in human culture and their relation to ethics? What criteria of excellence can be applied to them? (See Part III F). 8). Why is Metaphysics a valid form of knowledge and why do we need to study it? 9). What are the transcendental properties of the analogically similar types of being and how can they be discriminated in different disciplines? 10). How does all of human knowledge of creation lead to some true notion of the Creator? How do metaphysical principles, true and false, influence our understanding and preaching of the Christian faith? TEXTS (Translations of these passages of Aristotle are in The Basic Works of Aristotle, ed. by Richard P. McKeon (NewYork: Random House, 1941). I : METHODOLOGY Aristotle: a). Poetics, cc 1-22 , the elements of a narrative. b). Rhetoric, Bk I, cc. 1-3 purpose of rhetoric; Bk II, cc. 12-17 analysis of character of audience; c. 20 use of examples and enthymeme. c). Posterior Analytics, Bk I, cc. 1-2 nature of scientific knowledge; Bk II, cc. 1-4 the four scientific questions; c. 19, how we know first principles;. along with Aquinas’ Commentary, Bk I. lect. 1-6; Bk 2, lect. 1 and lect 20. Commentary on the Posterior Analytics of Aristotle, trans. by F. R. Larcher (Albany, NY: Magi Books, 1970) II: NATURAL SCIENCE A: The Universe 1). Aristotle, Physics, Bk I, cc. 1-9 matter, form, privation; Bk II, cc. 1-3, motion;. Bk IV: cc. 1-9 on place and the void with Aquinas’ Sententiam super Physicam, Commentary on Aristotle's Physics, trans. by R. J. Blackwell et. al. (New Haven: Yale, 1963) .
2). Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, Bk I , c. 10-14. On the existence of God. Summa Contra Gentiles, trans. by English Dominicans (London: Burns, Oates, and Washbourne, 1934). B: The Human Person Aquinas, Summa Theologiae I: qq.75-102 on the human person. Summa Theologiae, trans. by English Dominicans (London: Burns, Oates, and Washbourne 1912-36; repr. New York: Benziger 1947-48; repr. New York: Christian Classics, 1981) · III: ETHICS 1) Aquinas, Quaestio Disputata de Virtutibus in Communi .On the Virtues in General, trans. by J. P. Reid (Providence, R.I.: The Providence College Press, 1951) 2) Aristotle, Politics, Bk. III cc. 6-13 on forms of government; Bk IV cc.11-13, on best forms of government; Bk VII, cc. 1-13, the end of the state. IV: METAPHYSICS Aquinas’ 1). Super Boetium ‘De Trinitate, Questiones V-VI. The Division and Methods of the Sciences of the Sciences Questions V-VI of the Commentary on Boethius' ‘De Trinitate’ trans. byArmand Mauer, 4th ed (Toronto:PIMS 1984). 2). De Ente et Essentia, Aquinas on Being and Essence, trans. by A. A. Maurer (Toronto: PIMS, 2nd ed., 1968) 3). Quaestiones Disputatae: De Anima, a. 14, the immortality of the human soul. Questions on the Soul, trans. by James H. Robb (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 1984) · 4). Quaestio Disputata de Veritate, q. 1, a. 1, definition of truth; q. 11, on the teacher. The Disputed Questions on Truth, vol. 1 trans. by Robert William Mulligan, S. J. (Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1952; vol. 2 trans. by James V. McGlynn, S.J. (Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1953); vol. 3 trans. by Robert W. Schmidt, S.J. (Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1954).
2). Salvatore R. Maddi Personality Theories: A Comparative Analysis, 6th ed. (Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole, 1996). Chapters 1-8. 3) John H. Bodley, Cultural Anthropology: Tribes, States, and Global Systems, 3rd ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1999). III: ETHICS 2. John Brockman, The Third Culture: Beyond the Scientific Revolution (Touchstone Books, Carmichael, CA through Amazon.com, 1995). 3. Jacques-Francois Lyotard, "Answering the Question: What is Postmodernism?" in Jean-François Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, with a "Foreword," by Frederic Jameson, translated by Geoff Bennington, Brian Massumi and Regis Durand. Theory and History of Literature, Vol. 10. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984, pp. 71-82. 4). Joseph Silk, The Big Bang, revised ed. (W. H. Freeman, 1989). 5). Elliott Sober, The Nature of Selection: Evolutionary Theory in Philosophical Focus (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993 reprint). An Apology for the Religious Orders, trans. by J. Procter (London 1902; Westminster, Md.: Newman, 1950) · · Aristotle's De Anima with the Commentary of St. Thomas Aquinas, trans. by K. Foster and S. Humphries (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1951) · Aristotle on Interpretation: Commentary by St. Thomas and Cajetan, trans. by J. T. Oesterle (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 1962) · Catechetical Instructions of St. Thomas, trans. by J. B. Collins (New York: Wagner, 1939) · "Commentary on Aristotle's Politics," trans. by Ernest Fortin and Peter O'Neill, in Medieval Political Philosophy: A Sourcebook, ed. by Ralph Lerner (New York: Free Press of Glencoe, 1963) · Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle, trans. by J. P. Rowan (Chicago: Regnery, 1964) · Commentary on the Nichomachean Ethics, trans. by C. I. Litzinger (Chicago: Regnery, 1964) · · Commentary on St. John, trans. by James A. Weisheipl with F. R. Larcher, vol. 1 (Albany, NY: Magi Books: 1980) · Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians, trans. by F. R. Larcher (Albany, NY: Magi Books, 1966)
· Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians, trans. by F. R. Larcher (Albany, NY: Magi Books, 1968) · Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Thessalonians, trans. by Michael Duffy (Albany, NY: Magi Books 1968) · Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, trans. by M. L. Lamb (Albany, NY: Magi Books, 1966) · Compendium of Theology, trans. by Cyril Vollert (Herder: St. Louis, 1947) · De Caelo, by Aristotle, trans. by J. L. Stocks in The Works of Aristotle, vol. 2, ed. by W. D. Ross (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1930) · De Generatione et Corruptione, by Aristotle, trans. by Harold H. Joachim in The Works of Aristotle, vol. 2, ed. by W. D. Ross (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1930) · De Meteorlogicorum, by Aristotle, trans. by E. W. Webster, in The Works of Aristotle, ed. by W. D. Ross (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1930) · On Evil, trans. by Jean Oesterle, unpublished but forthcoming from University of Notre Dame Press · De Quatuor Oppositis, trans. by George Schaller, O.P. (Dover, Mass.: St. Stephen's Priory, Dominican House of Philosophy, 1963) · Faith, Reason, and Theology, Questions I-IV of the Commentary on Boethius' De Trinitate, trans. by Armand Maurer (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1986) · "The Letter of Thomas Aquinas to Brother De modo studendi," trans. by Victor White, O.P., Life of the Spirit (London: Oxford, Blackfriars, 1951) · "The Letter of Thomas Aquinas De occultis operibus naturae ad quendam militem ultramonatanum," trans. by J. B. McAllister (Washington, D.C.: Cath. Univ., 1939) · The Literal Exposition of Job: A Scriptural Commentary concerning Providence, trans. by Anthony Damico (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1989) · "On Buying and Selling on Credit," trans. by A. O'Rahilly Irish Ecclesiastical Record 31, 1928, pp. 164-165. On Charity, trans. by L. H. Kendzierski (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 1960) · On Generation and Corruption, trans. by Father Pierre Conway and F. R. Larcher, unpublished but circulated in photocopied form, 1964 · On the Heavens, trans. by Father Pierre Conway and F. R. Larcher, unpublished but circulated in photocopied form, 1963-1964 · On Memory and Recollection, trans. by John Burchill, O.P. (Dover, Mass.: St. Stephen's Priory, Dominican House of Philosophy, 1963) · On Meteorology, trans. by Father Pierre Conway and F. R. Larcher, unpublished but circulated in photocopied form, 1964 · On the Eternity of the World, trans. by Cyril Vollert (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 1964) · On Kingship, trans. by Gerald B. Phelan and revised by I. Th. Eschmann (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1946) · On the Power of God, trans. by English Dominican Fathers (London: Burns, Oates, and Washbourne, 1932-34) · On Spiritual Creatures, trans. by M. C. Fitzpatrick (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 1951)
· On the Unity of the Intellect against the Averroists, trans. by Beatrice Zedler (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 1968) · On the Uniqueness of the Intellect against the Averroists, trans. by Ralph McInerny, unpublished but forthcoming from Purdue University Press · The Opusculum on Lots of St. Thomas, trans. by Peter Bartholomew Carey, O.P. (Dover, Mass: The Dominican House of Philosophy, 1963) · Quodlibetal Questions I and II, trans. with an intro. and notes by Sandra Edwards (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1983) · The Religious State, the Episcopate and the Priestly Office, trans. by Father J. Proctor (St. Louis: Herder, 1902) · The Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, trans. by M. F. Toal (London: Longmans, Green 1955; Chicago: Regnery, 1957) · Treatise on Signs, by John Poinsot, trans. and edited by John Deely (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985) · Treatise on Separate Substances, trans. by F. J. Lescoe (West Hartford, Conn., 1959 qq. 5 and 6