Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Incentive to understand the heart

Reading Scripture, there is one word used often which is not easily defined: heart. Here are some places I saw it today:

"The Lord said in his heart, 'I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth.'" Gen. 8:21

The word is used twice here. First, reference is made God's heart. What does that mean? If it referred to the physical organ man has, then this would certainly be a metaphor applied to God (for names of material things are only said metaphorically of God, who is immaterial). Yet both uses of the word seem to point to something more immaterial or integral, certainly something interior. The Lord says something in his heart. This is opposed to the verses that come later when he speaks to Noah. To speak in his heart means in some way to bring forth thoughts or even words without delivering them. At least that is what the speaking referred to is. But what is the heart? Forming words would happen in the imagination, but prior to that is the coming forth of thoughts in the mind/intellect. So does the heart refer to the intellect? Now God does not think one thing now and another later, so what is spoken in his heart is spoken from all eternity, even if about a certain time and place. One more point on God's heart: he is speaking there about thing he will or will not do. He will not curse the ground, and in his heart is also the reason for that. So perhaps the heart refers to the mind insofar as it is ordered to action, or action upon another.

Then the same verse speaks of the imagination of man's heart. Is the imagination something that belongs to the heart? So what is the heart? If the heart is the mind as it is a principle of action, then the imagination may belong to it as the senses do. They are properly ordered to it, or at least by it, and they are unruly if they work apart from it. Adam's eyes betrayed him after the fall, and all men's imaginations try to rule the reason which ought to order them. This seems reasonable. The imagination of man's heart might even refer to something else. Perhaps it could refer to some delusion or disorder in man's heart, using imagination to contrast with the sense which has a present reality as its object. If such is the case, then God is saying something even more self-evident when he calls it evil.

"Blessed are the pure of heart." Mt. 5:8
"He has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Mt. 5:27

These passages from the Sermon on the Mount seems to fit fairly well the above interpretation. The second one could be taken in different ways. One who looks at a woman lustfully commits adultery in his heart. So if one intends to commit adultery or would even do so as long as certain consequences could be avoided, his heart is still the same as the actual adulterer. This involves choice or even desire, so these belong to the heart in some way. Committing adultery in one's heart could also mean going through the act in one's imagination. Yet that doesn't seem as essential as the intention of wanting that is at work. He says that the commission happens at once with the lustful look: using one's senses with a certain mindset is equivalent to carrying out certain sinful acts. This lustful look again reminds one of the opened eyes of Adam, not so much able to see more, but able to look without seeing what he ought.

Purity of heart will lead to seeing God. This does not seem to be an arbitrarily chosen reward. Somehow our heart is capable if seeing, and so purity in it will allow us to see God. Purity first means unmixed. So our heart, whether this be more like mind or will, somehow must have God as its object. It must attend to him and think what is true about him, and it must love him and order other faculties and actions toward him. God alone, and everything else only as ordered to him.

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De ente Outline, Chapter 4

Chapter 4: How essence exists in separated substances

  • [1] Intelligences are not composed of matter and form
    • This is repugnant: They are called "separated" substances, that is, separated from matter
    • A demonstration that they are immaterial
      • Forms are not intelligible in act except when separated from matter and its conditions
      • Nor are they intelligible except through the power of an understanding substance
      • Therefore, an understanding substance must be free from matter and its conditions
  • [2] One cannot even say there is a special kind of matter that belongs to intelligences
    • If unintelligibility belonged to matter insofar as it was bodily matter, then it would belong to bodily matter in virtue of some bodily form
    • But form is the principle of intelligibility in things, and even the bodily form is intelligible when separated from matter
    • Therefore, unintelligibility belongs to matter itself
    • And therefore, intelligences do not have any matter
  • [3] It is possible for forms to exist without matter
    • Whatever things are such that one is the cause of existence in the other, that one is able to exist without the other (this is not convertible)
    • Form and matter are such that form gives existence to the matter; therefore, matter cannot exist without form but form can exist without matter
  • [4] Differences between the essences of composed and simple substances
    • Main difference:
      • Essence of composed substance contains both form and matter
      • Essence of simple substance is only the form
    • First consequent difference:
      • Essence of composed substance can be signified as whole (man) or part (humanity); and only as it is signified as whole can it be predicated of individual (Pete is a man, but Pete is not humanity)
      • Essence of simple substance can only be signified as whole, for there is no other part to which the essence would stand (as form stands to matter in the composed)
    • Second consequent difference:
      • Essences of composed things are multiplied according to the division of designated matter; there can be many individuals in one species
      • Essences of simple substances cannot be received into matter and therefore cannot be multiplied; there is only one individual of each species
  • [5] Existence (esse) is not part of every essence
    • No essence can be understood without those things that are parts of its essence
    • However, every essence can be understood without understanding anything of its existence (e.g. one can consider man without considering his existence)
    • Therefore, existence is something other than essence
      (except for the following...)
  • [5] There is at most one being which has its existence the same with its essence
    • Multiplication comes about in the following ways
      • Addition of a difference (as nature of genus is multiplied into species)
      • Form is received into diverse matters (as nature of species multiplied into individuals)
    • Cannot be through the addition of a difference
      • If something were existence alone, then to add a difference would mean that it is no longer existence alone
    • Cannot be through the addition of matter
      • Then it would not be subsistent existence, but a material thing
    • Therefore, allowing that something is the same with its existence, there can only be one of these
  • [6] There is at least one being has its existence the same with its existence; a proof for God’s existence
    • Everything whose existence is other than its nature would have existence from another
    • Everything which has something through another is led back to one (as to a first cause) which has that something through itself
    • Therefore, there is something which is the cause of existence for all things that is existence itself
    • Otherwise, one would go on infinitely
    • (Note: Even though God is the same with his existence, this does not mean that his existence is self-evident to us. Since God’s essence is hidden to us, we can only learn through argument that God exists and that he is the same with his existence.)
  • [7] There is potency in separated substances (even without matter/form)
    • Everything that receives something is in potency with respect to that
    • That which has been received is the act of the one receiving
    • Therefore, the essence which is an intelligence is in potency to the existence which it received from God, and the received existence is its act
  • [8] There is a multitude of separated substances
    • It would be impossible for a multitude unless there were potency
    • The multitude is possible because there is a distinction between them according to grade of act and potency
      • The higher intelligence, closer to the first, has more of act and less of potency
      • One way of conceiving this is that by one concept, many things are understood; and the higher the intellect, the more can be understood through a single concept
      • The extremes of this are man, who must join his concepts and use arguments to go from considering one thing to another, and God, who understands all things through one concept
  • [9] On the act and potency in the human soul and material things

De ente Outline, Chapter 3

Chapter 3: How the logical intentions (genus, species, difference) belong to essence

  • [1] How universal notions (genus, species) are in an essence
    • It is impossible that a universal notion belong to the essence as signified through mode of part (“humanity”)
    • It is impossible that universal notion belong to essence existing outside the singulars (as the Platonists say)
      • For then species/genus would not be said of the individual (e.g. one cannot say Socrates is that which is separated from him)
    • Therefore, universal notions belong to the essence as signified through the mode of a whole (such as “man”) since it implicitly contains the individuals
  • [2-3] Essence as signified through mode of whole can be considered in two ways
    • According to its proper notion (absolute consideration)
      • Nothing is true of this except what belongs to it insofar as it is this sort of thing; all else is a false attribution
      • e.g. rational belongs to man absolutely considered, white or black do not, one or many do not
    • According to the existence it has in this or that one
      • This allows accidental predication of it on account of that in which it is
      • e.g. man is white (since Socrates is white), though white does not belong to man as man
      • Essence in this way has a twofold existence
        • Either in singulars or in the soul
    • Nature of man absolutely considered does not include existence at all, but it also does not exclude it
    • This nature absolutely considered is predicated of individuals
  • [4] How the universal notion belongs to the essence (more precisely than in [1])
    • Universal notion does not belong to essence absolutely considered
      • For then, wherever humanity was found, commonness would be found; but commonness does not exist in individuals
    • Universal notion does not belong to essence according to the existence it has in individuals
      • For human nature is not found in individuals in its unity
    • Therefore, universal notion belongs to essence according to the existence it has in the understanding
  • [5] How the intellect abstracts from what is universal
  • [6] Although “Socrates is a man” and “Man is a species”, it is not true that “Socrates is a species”
    • For species does not belong to man according to the existence it has in Socrates or absolutely considered
    • Species belongs to man only as an accident consequent upon its existence in the intellect, but not to man as man
  • [7] How predicability is in the notion of a genus
  • [8] Summary

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sign and Symbol

I started reading a book by Charles Williams called Descent Into Hell. In the first chapter there is an argument going on about how to portray the Chorus in an experimental play that is being put on. At some point there is dispute about whether the play is 'symbolical' or 'significant'. The modernist lady is pushing for the symbolic character of all art, whereas the sensible says it must be significant. A remark is made at some point about how anyone could possibly still think such a thing.

This is not the first time I have encountered this distinction. It has turned up every single year in my education. The first place I can remember is in Aristotle's De Interpretatione, where we discussed nouns and verbs. Again while reading Martin of Denmark on the modes of signifying. The place when we discussed it most was in reading Viete and Descartes in junior math. In algebra, one works with symbols. These marks do not of themselves 'mean' anything, but they are assigned and can be manipulated without attention to the things they symbolize. This is different from signs which require that you attend to the thing signified if a sign is really working as it ought. I did not think much of the distinction at the time, but I'm starting to see more in it.

Currently we are reading St. Thomas on the sacraments (which are signs of sacred realities) and I remember that St. Augustine started his treatise on Christian doctrine by distinguishing things and signs. A sign (hehe) that this distinction has become more important is that I am repulsed when I hear people call them symbols. The difference (as far as I can tell) is that the sign points to something beyond itself. Words necessarily mean something, point to something if they are really words.

Something worth attending to: there are natural signs but not natural symbols. This should highlight the exclusively artificial character of symbols. Natural signs are everywhere; as many as there are effects of causes. Smoke is a sign of fire, dark clouds signify a coming storm, a woman's unusually large middle signifies a child growing within her. In Aristotle's logic, we learn about the argument through sign (enthymeme), and though it seemed so weak compared to the syllogism, we rely on it for our knowledge of so many things. We need to trust that the appearance of nature is significant. Something in the modern philosophers reject that. Descartes doesn't want to learn from others, Hume denies cause and effect, and Kant doesn't allow that certitude can come from without.

This is not to say that symbols are bad. The creeds which the Church profess are often called symbols. Yet one must not jumble them with signs, for they are different in their what and their purpose. Since much of our learning will come by hearing or reading words, and words are signs, we must inquire into signs in order to root our intellectual life. The roots of the tree which has every discipline as its branch is logic.

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Gen. 3, More thoughts

Gen. 3, More thoughts

To quote the passage more exactly: "Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil." Here the Lord explicitly says in what way he is like Him, namely, in knowing good and evil. The oddity noticed before was that man could be more like God after having sinned. Yet this is not what makes them alike, it is knowledge, and primarily knowledge of evil which is new. Man in his original state surely was more completely ordered, and therefore would have been more capable of grasping the good. It is clear that Adam can see the goodness in God's creatures such that he is able to name them. He even has a certain notion of evil, which is seen when does not find a fit helper from the animals. Evil is the lack of a good, and he is aware of this lack of a companion. So what does he gain of knowledge after taking the fruit?

"Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew they were naked." Is this the new knowledge they received? It says in the last chapter, "And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed." It seems unlikely that they were naked but had simply failed to look at each other, and even less likely that they had never seen before. Perhaps the difference is the attention to the nakedness. The word "naked" does not signify a real thing, but a privation or a non-thing. Before sin, the man would look at his wife and see "bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh, she who was taken out of Man." He saw what was real about her and how she related to him. Now he fails to see this and only sees her nakedness. He sees what she lacks rather than a beautiful companion.

So why does it say their eyes were opened? I wonder what Hebrew word for open is. If it is something like "loosed", then the meaning could be that the eyes were at work apart from the governance of reason. Whereas he could look at her according to reason before, now his eyes move according to an animal passion, freed in the sense that a traitor is free from his country. A wicked freedom. Yet it seems "opened" is really meant, since the consequence is knowledge and the eye only knows when it is open. So the eye is opened in the sense that it now sees what it did not before: lack, privation, nakedness. (Perhaps even sin. Just as St. Paul says our risen bodies will shine forth with the glory of beatitude, so the original justice of our parents probably was visible through their bodies in some manifest way, and then this "glow" would have been lost with the loss of justice.)

So they know nakedness. Is this the knowledge which makes them more like God? Surely God knows evil if anyone does. The Psalmist speaks about sinners who act with the assurance that God sees nothing of their works, yet God is aware of their sins. He sees all. Whereas God must know this for the sake of giving justice (for evil is certainly not worth knowing of itself), man is not made happy through knowledge of sin or evil, but only through knowledge of God, and this through his good works. So man is made wretched in taking on this knowledge. He has also committed injustice, so the Lord must now punish him as he promised and not let him eat of the tree of life which would let him live forever. Perhaps there is mercy here, for who wants to live forever with the knowledge of sin? They are spared this and sent out. They have now a curse and a promise.

"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel."

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Genesis 3

Genesis 3

Why does God say "He has become like one of us"? Man has just sinned, but this does not make him like God. Does he really know more? If he does, is it a knowledge that makes him more like God? Is it a freedom that is alike?

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Outline of De ente, Chapters 1 and 2

  • “Small error in the beginning is a great one in the end.”
  • Outline
    • What is signified by “being/ens” and “essence”
    • How essence is found in diverse things
    • What it relates to the logical intentions (genus, species, difference)
  • Understanding should go from composed things to simple things
  • Therefore, we will consider ens and then essential

Chapter 1: What ens and essentia mean
  • [1] Ens per se is said in two ways
    • What is divided through the 10 genera
    • What signifies the truth of propsitions
  • The second way is said of anything (even “nothing” and “blindness”); the first way is only of what posits something in the thing
  • [2] “Essence” is from “ens” in the first way, and is that through which something is in its genus and species
  • [3] Other names for essence:
    • “Whatness/Quidditas,” since the genus and species tell what a thing is
    • “What it was to be,” that is, that through which something has it to be a what
    • “Form,” through form is signified the exactness of anything
    • “Nature,” taken to mean everything that can in any way be seized upon by the understanding, or it means the essence of thing as it is ordered to its proper operation
    • “Essence,” since through it and in it a being/ens has existence/esse
  • [4] Since ens is first said of substances, so essence is most properly in substances
    • Furthermore, essence is in composed and simple substances
    • But in the simple in a more noble way since they cause the composed ones
    • The simple essences are more hidden, so we begin with the composed

Chapter 2: How essence exists in composed substances
  • [1-2] What the essence of a composed thing is not
    • Not the matter alone
      • A thing is knowable and in its genus/species through essence
      • Matter is not a principle of cognition, nor does it place in genus/species
    • Not the form alone
      • Essence is signified by the definition of a thing, but natural things have matter in their definition (otherwise their definition would be like math definitions which do not have matter in them)
    • Therefore the essence comprehends matter and form
    • Not the relation between matter and form (or any other accident)
      • This would be an accident and extraneous, and would not make the thing known
      • Nor do accidents make a thing be simply, but only in a way (secundum quid); e.g. whiteness only makes a thing to be white, whereas the form makes a thing to be simply
  • [3] This account agrees with many philosophers and with reason

Important distinction: Designated and undesignated
  • [4] Difficulty: Since matter is the principle of individuation, it may seem that an essence that contains matter is only the essence of a particular; universals could not be defined
  • Solution:
    • Principle of individuation is not matter taken in any way
    • Principle of individuation is signate or designated matter, matter considered under determinate dimensions
    • This designated matter is not in the definition of man as man, but would be in the definition of Socrates
    • Undesignated matter is in the definition of man (not this bone or this flesh, but bone and flesh absolutely)
    • Therefore, the essence of man and Socrates do not differ except by according to the matter being designated (signate) or undesignated (non-signate)
  • [5] The essence of genus and species also differ according to designation, but not in the same way
    • Designation of an individual with respect to species is through matter under determinate dimensions
    • Designation of a species with respect to genus is through a difference taken from the form of the thing
      • Also, it is through something that is somehow in the genus
      • Whatever is in the species is in the genus in an indeterminate way
    • If this were not so, one could not predicate the genus of a species (e.g. one could not say man is an animal)
  • [6-7] Body is said in many ways
    • “Body” as it is in genus of substance (this is the sense taken below)
      • Said about that which has such a nature that the 3 dimensions can be designated in it
    • “Body” as it is in genus of quantity
      • Said about those 3 dimensions which can be designated in a body
    • “Body” can signify with precision
      • In this way, to add anything would put that thing outside of the signification of body; man would not a be a body in this sense
      • Body in this sense is therefore a part of a man (soul is the other part), and not the genus of man; in this sense, man has a body
    • “Body” can signify without precision
      • In this way, it signifies a certain thing that has such a form due to which 3 dimensions can be designated in it, but it allows that there be further perfections
      • Body in this sense will be the genus of animal and man, for it will implicitly contain everything in animal and man; in this sense, man is a body
  • [8] Animal stands to man in the same as body to animal

Genus, difference, species each signify the whole essence
  • [9] Genus, difference, species and definition signify the whole, but in diverse ways
    • Genus signifies whole as a certain denomination determining that which is material in the thing without a determination of the proper form
      • It is taken from matter, but is not matter
    • Difference signifies whole as a certain denomination taken determinately from the form
    • Definition or species signifies the whole and comprehends both the determinate matter (which genus designates) and the determinate form (which difference designates)
  • [10] Consequences
    • Man is a rational animal, but is not made up of rational and animal
    • Conversely, man is made up of body and soul, but is neither body nor soul (Taking body with precision, so that it is a component of man)
    • Man is only “composed” of rational and animal, inasmuch as the understanding of man is composed of the understanding of rational and the understanding of animal
    • [11] One genus predicated of many does not mean one essence in the many, for the unity of the genus is from indetermination
  • [12-14] How “humanity” and “man” signify the essence
    • Just as the genus signifies the whole species contained in it implicitly, so the species signifies indistinctly the whole that is essentially in the individual
    • “Man” can be predicated of an individual man, and it signifies the whole essence through the mode of a whole
    • “Humanity” signifies the whole essence through the mode of a part, for it signifies that by which a man is a man
      • Since individuated matted is not that by which a man is a man, it is not included in the signification of the word “humanity”; for this reason, it cannot predicated of an individual man

Finals week and summer coming up

Since finals week is near, I will be preparing by putting together a (hopefully orderly) outline of St. Thomas De ente et essentia. I'll probably post that on here when it is finished or near being so.

After that, the summer will begin. Having complete freedom with regard studies, I will probably just pick up the Summa and try to read it through, with a special attention to what appear to be self-evident principles. In order to practice manifesting what is self-evident, I will type up some posts about them here. Since I may study whatever I will, I may end up going to other topics that catch my interest (I intend to read the Old Testament prophets this summer, so that may show up).