We understand the Aristotle’s energia or entelikia (in English, ‘act’) first through motion. This means we understand what is actual through what is least actual. Similarly, we are prone to imagine what is most actual (operation) in terms of what is least actual (motion). There are certainly motions of things in the brain and in the eyes which are required for sense knowledge, but the activity of sensing is not a motion. The action of moving is not complete while happening, but the action of sensing or knowing is complete while happening. Heraclitus’s fragment is well applied to the activity of operation: “moving, it rests”.

(The experience of pleasure is also of operation, and vividly shows the reality of “moving, it rests”.)

The question of whether being is dynamic or static usually ignores the significance of Aristotle calling being an act. Being in one sense divides into substance and accident, but in another sense into act and potency, and at the summit of actuality is operation, which is the fulfillment and perfection of mere existence. When we consider the degrees of actuality, for example, it is better to say that God is an operation than to say he is a substance (to say this, of course, has the defect of not signifying his existence.)

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4 Comments

  1. Phil said,

    May 22, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    I just discovered your blog.

    Where can one get access to LTP ’45 – ’75? Or are those texts not available?

    And where can one get some type of historical account of Laval (as if it needs that qualifier) thomism?

    I signed up for McInerny’s collection of DeKoninck’s writings, but it still hasn’t reached me via Amazon – do you know of any delay? What a treasure to get in print!

    Thanks again for your writing,

  2. a thomist said,

    May 22, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    If you’re in Southern California, the LTP is at The Library of The Claremont School of Theology; in Dallas, it’s’ at the University of Dallas… generally, if there’s a university library which was around in the 40’s, or has a theological bent, they’ll have it. As a rule, you can’t check them out, but you can photocopy articles. At least half the articles are English- all are worth reading, but start with DeKoninck. Later on, it’s worth learning French to read the other half. If you don’t read French already, I learned by getting an article and translating a paragraph a day or so. In the beginning it’ll takes you an hour or more, but by the time you get to the end of the article you’ll be doing it with far less stress.

    Don’t bother reading any articles ater they switch to their new format around 1972. Sooner or Later, Laval might get around to putting all of them online, but we’ve been waiting or a while now, and nothing.

    The best accounts of Laval Thomism are still word-of-mouth. I have heard that Dekoninck (born in Belgium) searched Europe and found a line of thomists who could trace their teachers all the way back to St. Thomas. This is figurative, perhaps, but it makes a point- Laval isn’t just one school among many. When you see the penetration that Dekoninck had- not just in his own writing, but in all the theses he directed and is clearly present in- you see real the clearest fidelity and assimilation to the mind of St. Thomas. And he wansn’t the only one. The Dean of the School of Philsophy at Laval the year Dekonick was hired was Henri Grenier, the best of the manual thomists (there is a fantastic translation of his “Cursus Thomisticus” that you can still find). There was also Stanislas Cantin, who wrote beautifully on the soul (all in Ffrench, but the translation is easy- a great way to learn French, btw) And of course there was Dionne, who Dekoninck insisted was the real mind of the program (Dionne wrote almost nothing, and nothing in English. You have to know someone who knows someone to even get some transcripts of his lectures).

    The first volume of CDK’s writing was supposed to be released on April 1, then May 20th, and now I am told “The end of June”. Ugh.

  3. Phil said,

    May 23, 2008 at 5:08 am

    Thank you thank you. Why is there a seeming hesitation to commit the history of these, to my mind momentous, things to writing? Fear of slander? Lack of time? Too soon to the occurence? For someone like me who did not know or study under Laval, now that I read what little has been written, it is a goldmine. I studied philosophy at St Mary’s of California where Br Edmund Dolan taught and didn’t have the good sense to take a course from him while I could have…

    I read French, so that is not a problem.

    I also studied in Rome, and took a few courses with an excellent professor, P. Alain Contat. Here are a few links (which I found by Google, I have no idea who is putting up the texts):

    http://dicendumquod.net/id9.html

    http://dicendumquod.net/id5.html

    His “La relation de vérité selon Saint Thomas d’Aquin” amazed me. «La relation de vérité selon saint Thomas d’Aquin». (Studi Tomistici, 62: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Città del Vaticano, 1996)

    I have various notes from his class if you are at all interested.

    Thanks for the update on CDK – we wait with eager anticipation.

  4. Dr. John Duffy said,

    April 20, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    Incredible website.

    I want to know more about the impressed and expressed species of the internal and external senses. Where can I go for such information?

    I was, in 1954, a very close friend of Marcus Berquist, the founder of Thomas Aquinas in Ojai, CA

    Now I live in Iowa, ISA


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