Athing

Plato raises the idea that the (human) good might be pleasure or knowledge, but dismisses both. It can’t be pleasure, he says, for then any man who was pleased would be a good man; and it can’t be knowledge since knowledge is of something, and so all such an answer would amount to is answering the question “what is the good?” with “knowledge of the human good”, to which the obvious question is “so…what is the good?” These two answers might provide a general template for problems defining the human good: either we give something that could be present in someone not good, or we presuppose knowledge of the very good we’re trying to find.

Plato answers the question by analogy. Just as the eye has a double relation, on the one hand to a visible object and in another way to the sun, so too the soul has a double relation, both to the various similitudes of things in the world and to the good. By soul we should assume he means any sort of human awareness, not just for intellectual things but for moral things as well (Plato seemed less interested than Aristotle in the way in which these things are different). And so the good is what stands to the soul as the sun stands to the eye: that to which we have a natural ordination and in virtue of which anything given in awareness can constitute a world belonging to the soul, that is, a moral, intellectual, poetic or social world.

But what is the good then? Plato seems to be shifting the question, or at lest giving a very startling response. The good is not something in the world, whether riches or pleasure or knowledge or even virtue. The good properly seems to be that which constitutes the world of awareness as a world at all. The fundamental division in the human soul is on the one had towards any good that might be in the world, or even the world itself as a sort of good, and on the other hand to a transcendent source which can only be understood in opposition to a good given in awareness. To treat the transcendent good as though it was just another good like pleasure, knowledge, or even virtue is to miss the very way we come to know it. The transcendent good is no thing – it is even helpful to see it as nothing or at lest as athing (“not a thing but athing” is a catchy way to put it.) But this line of sheer negation can’t be absolute.

There is a temptation to see this athing as God, but this is too quick. The knowledge of athing is useful to theology but it is not limited to that. There is more than one thing that is athing. Even things themselves are somehow athing insofar as they have that within themselves by which they constitute a world. If there are logical problems with saying this, so much for logic in this particular application.

 

Susskind’s objection to probable natural laws

In his book The Black Hole Wars, Leonard Susskind does a fantastic job at articulating a problem in the transformation among contemporary physicists from believing that they needed to find necessary natural laws to believing that they could only find statistically probable laws (note that it is an objection or problem, not critique. It was meant to spur thought, not destroy a system). He puts the problem as a dialogue between a teacher and a student:

(loosely, from memory)

Student: Teacher, I really liked your lecture yesterday on probability, so I went home and decided to test it for myself. I flipped a coin a thousand times. The thing is, I got five hundred and thirteen heads, whereas you told me I should have gotten five hundred! What’s the deal?

Teacher: Oh, well, that’s easy. Today’s lecture is about exactly that- the margin of error. I’ll give you some equations that will explain why you can expect to have n amount of variation in the outcomes.

S: Great, so then when I go home I’ll be sure to get 500 plus or minus n when I flip the coin tonight. Great!

T: Well, no… but you’ll probably get something like that.

S: Wait, but you said you were going to explain probability, but all you’re doing is explaining probability by invoking another probability. This isn’t explanation, it’s just saying the same word over again. So what do you mean by probable?

T: I guess I mean that I would be really surprised if you didn’t get 500 plus minus n if you did that experiment tonight.

S: So that’s it? All this talk about probability is nothing but an index of how surprised you would be if something else happened?

T: I guess so.

Susskind speculates that this is what Einstein so objected to in the shift to merely probabilistic natural laws, sc. that they are merely speaking about a (numerically quantifiable) index the surprise we would have at something else happening. Our surprise becomes what we turn to as a metric for how we closely we are approaching the laws of nature, that is, surprise is inversely proportional to natural law in a quantifiable way. This involves the observer in the data in a way that he is simply was not involved before, even in Relativity. The observer in Relativity could be a measuring apparatus – there is no need to attribute consciousness into it. But surprise and expectation are essentially dispositions of something at least conscious, if not rational, since a spider (even though it is conscious) wouldn’t be surprised if his web were to stop a 747 at full throttle. If the plane snapped a thread in the web before it bounced off of it, the spider would proceed to remake the whole web in the same way he would have if the plane had plowed right through it. So if probability really is an index of surprise, then we can’t simply divide natural actions into the necessary and the probable. Necessity can be attributed to nature simply speaking and in a rigorous and impersonal manner apart from any rational observer. Probability can’t.

But, if we say this, don’t we either have to say that there is no contingency in nature, or that probability is not equivalent to the contingency in things? Neither option seems viable. But perhaps it isn’t so strange to deny the equivalence of contingency and probability: contingency is a sort of existence whereas probability is a way of reckoning outcomes. Perhaps outcomes can only be rational – or at least rational to us – in the measure that they are necessary. Absence of necessity would therefore be absence of rationality. We would deal with this absence in the usual way we do so – by using some being of ourselves to impose a structure on the world. Perhaps probability draws on that interior sense in the rational creature that we are not amazed at the regularity in things. Such an awareness seems to be, in its rudiments, a basic feature of consciousness, sc. it is drawn to what is out of the ordinary, strange, novel, etc.

The intentional as other than being, or Nothing

In the Thomist tradition that came out of John of St. Thomas (which includes the Maritain, the manual tradition and, for different reasons, the Laval school) “the intentional” is a distinct order of being, really divided from entitative being. To modify “being” with the adjective “entitative” is extremely bizarre  – what sense is there to speaking of “a being that is a being entitatively”? This is the same as speaking of “a runner that is a running runner” or “a speaker that is a speaking speaker”, not in the sense of someone who can speak and who actually is speaking (though even then it is a useless repetition), but in the sense that one wanted to talk about a sort of speaker that was characterized by speaking. As opposed to what? What other kind of speaker could there be? This is the sort of consummate strangeness that one confronts in trying to understand the order of intentional being.

Leaving aside the Scholastic tradition, the strangeness of intentional being is still readily at hand: To use a word like “being” or “all things” requires that all things as a whole be taken as an object, and yet this object – all things – must somehow admit of an “other” which knows it. But how in the world can there be an other to all things? To be other than all things is to be nothing at all. One cannot wiggle out of this with Scholastic qualifications, since one must always admit some “other” to whatever is qualified.

[Note that we are completely avoiding the word "subject". We are only focusing on how knowledge requires that "all things" be other. To call this other "subject" is to go beyond what we actually know and to trap us in a labyrinth that we never needed to enter in the first place. No sooner do we invent this supposed "subject" than we must conclude that the object is nothing but a modification of it - in trying to explain the object we end up denying that it exists. Never mind the fact that in calling the other "subject" we are putting being outside of being.]

There are two useful approaches to this problem. The first is to approach being though the Nothing, as Heidegger does. Taken from this angle, the problem of the intentional (or of immaterial being) reveals itself through the analysis of Nothing. We cannot impatiently jump to an apophatic theology here- there is too much work to be done in just ironing out the immateriality of the person. For too long this immateriality was taken as a being among other beings,  or even as part of a chain of being reaching from photons to God. But seeing it in this way led to inevitable contradictions and distortions in our view of the real. The person-so-far-as-being-is-an-object or question (what Heidegger calls Dasein) is put outside of being- even being itself is somehow outside of being. This was latent in the tradition from the beginning – to place the principle of contradiction at the foundation of thought means to understand being through its negation, i.e. Nothing.

The other useful approach is to stress that intentionality is being the other as that very other. We must make this total identification with the other for largely logical reasons – for unless we see knowledge as properly being the other as an other, then there will always be a contradiction in knowing being (and since contradiction itself involves the knowing of being, contradiction will be contradictory, that is, both a contradiction and not a contradiction simul)

These two approaches balance each other and develop each other in different ways. While the Heideggerian approach is a useful critique of the logical approach to being (“logical” could do with some clarification, but I get his sense), the second approach uses logic in a helpful way.  This sort of critical development of the intentional order is long overdue – for too long we have been trapped in rather primitive problems arising from a rudimentary and dialectical understanding of the intentional order (I’m reminded of this when I read debates about free will and grace, or in general the relation between various orders of being and their interaction. Our homogeneous imagining of “being” tends to trap us in problems and mysteries that would be dispelled if we weren’t assuming a basically mechanical relation between orders of being.)

How could Aristotle and St. Paul have complementary accounts of the person?

Aristotle gave two principles making a person: a soul and a body. St. Paul, perhaps taking a cue from Plato, gives three: soul, body, and spirit. We can see these accounts as compatible in different ways, but the way that most interests me is by considering that Aristotle’s account of man is taken in the line of what is proper to nature  whereas the biblical/ Platonic account requires more than what is proper to nature.

Aristotle’s account of human beings is taken from a book that is part of a larger project of the study of nature, but what Aristotle calls a nature is essentially a principle of motion. Even where the operation of the soul is not a motion (and vital operations are not motions as Aristotle defines the term) he is still chiefly interested in operations so far as they relate to motion and change – sensation explains the animal’s way of getting around the world, and reason is treated so far as it relates to sensation – which is why Aristotle only explains those parts of intellect that relate to the sensible world. But in man there is in addition to this a principle that does not formally relate to motion, but to the immobile, unchangeable, and eternal, that is, the divine. There are some indications that Aristotle recognized this, and he would have seen the need to develop the nature of the principle outside of natural science as such. Taken in this way, we need not regard his account of man in De anima as exhaustive, but as exhaustive of man as a nature, that is, a being that relates intrinsically to the mobile.

Again, form and matter are only of value to one who is questioning about the possibility of motion, that is, a process that is incomplete while on going. For one who is not puzzled by (or at least questioning) motion and becoming, matter and form are only answers to a questions he is not asking. In the measure that one finds immobile realities in nature, matter and form are not the best concepts to turn to. For this reason, there will be problems to address when we use matter and form to explain knowing, life, or even the relation that things have to things that know and are alive. This is not to deny the usefulness  of the matter/form binary when explaining these things, but it will more explain them so far as they relate to the mobile, and not so far as they are immobile.  So far as we consider life as complete at any moment of the one living, or knowledge as perfect at every moment of the knowing, or anything so far as they are relating to life or knowledge considered in this way, matter and form are not the best binary. We need another reality above and beyond these things – a reality that by its very nature transcends motion and so transcends nature. Spirit suggests itself as an ideal name for such a thing.

Note that, on this account, we have reason to extend the notion of spirit to include even the natural world so far as it is knowable. Spirit in this sense appears to be form so far as it rises above the mere potentiality of matter, and this is the source of the knowability of things, even to sensation.

Spirit can also be considered as synonymous with self. Taken in this way, we could consider matter and form as parts which are used by the self. My soul and my body are principles of my operation, not the self as self. Taken in this way, spirit seems to mean life so far as it is opposed to nature.

 

 

The Wolffian triplet, or three modes of necessary existence

One value of the Wolffian metaphysical triplet of soul, world, God is that it articulates three ways of necessary existence, or three ways in which something cannot not be. Whatever we attain to by the Cartesian cogito counts as soul, but whatever is common to your experience and my own is other than this. Again, just as it makes no sense to doubt the existence of soul as Descartes understands it (the source of thought while thought occurs) it makes no sense to doubt the other of the soul, even if we consider this other nothing but a relation to a term owing its existence to mind, as Idealists do (The debate between the Idealists and Realists is really whether the extramental has an absolute or relative existence, not whether it has existence simply; since if we identify existence as such with absolute existence we would make relations absolute non-entities. Berkeley, it seems to me, is pretty clear about this – he doesn’t deny the existence of the world or matter but denies that is existence is absolute and of-itself) This “other than soul” can exist either analytically or not, if not, it is world; if so, it is God.

The crucial point in all of this is that all these things are said in the order of existence where existence is taken as opposed to what something is. What Descartes calls “soul” cannot be known to be soul in such a way as to divide it from the other things we might call it. As soon as we try to articulate what is doing the thought we have fallen away from the original, absolutely certain vision of the cogito. Again, the vision we have of “world” does not allow us to answer the question whether its being is absolute or relative. One critique of all this would be to point out that these ideas of soul, world and God all seem pretty vacuous: what is the value of seeing a soul that we cannot tell apart from self, and cannot tell whether it is material or not? What is the value of seeing a world that might, for all we know, have only a relative existence and not an absolute one? For all the strength of the critique, it cannot reach its intended term of denying any value to the existential judgment. It simply goes too far to say that, say, the cogito argument gives us no knowledge of something in the properly existential order. Explaining away the existential because it provides no information about what exists is a piece of philosophical oversimplification and trickery – one might just as well turn the tables on the argument and point  out that it is meaningless to speak about what something is if it cannot exist in some way, thereby making all what questions mere extensions of existential ones.

Still, if existential awareness does not allow us to answer what the existents are, then how does this existential awareness divide into three different things? If we have an awareness of soul that cannot divide it from self, how can it divide it from God, or God from world? The safest answer is that existential awareness is always given in a mediated way to us, namely as mediated through some grasp of what exists, that is,  we have to use at least the word “something” to articulate an existential judgment: e.g. “the cogito argument tells us about the existence of something”. Like all knowledge, existential awareness is in the knower according to the mode of the existence of the knower, and our existence is not pure existence but an existence mediated by being a finite what. Note that all this requires is that we take “pure existence” as an idea which is useful in explaining why all of our existential judgments are mediated by essentialist ones, though there are all sorts of illuminating concepts which concern realities that do not or cannot exist.

Or is there even a simpler answer? No one could grasp existence without seeing some division between the necessary and contingent, the causal and the caused, the of itself and of another, etc. The cogito requires that “some existence be necessary”, but we can feel the slipperyness of the language when we say this – it’s not as if we wanted to say that the way in which the cogito reveals a necessary existence is the only way in which existence can be necessary, and in fact, we more want to divide the sort of existence revealed in the cogito from necessary existence. It’s not as if anyone wants to argue that “an existential awareness” is nothing but a mechanical voice saying “it is” over and over. Taken in this way, we might say that our single and unified existential awareness can articulate three different ways of developing the necessity of existence. The cogito develops it in one way, and the sense that this cogito reveals or relates to some other can be developed in different modes of necessity.

Santaism

There’s more than one way of looking at Santa. The simplest way, I guess, would be to accept him as a reality like any other. I’m not sure if my kids look at him this way (I don’t promote or discourage belief in him), but it is a peculiarly child-like consciousness. For my kids, Santa can be a reality like any other because all reality is new, odd, and little-experienced that I tehy have no sharp divisions between what is normal and what is fantastic, and they lack any clear standard to divide Santa’s factory from, say, Honeywell’s. As far as I can tell, my son’s consciousness allows the equal presence of monster trucks, hot dogs, the ’80’s cartoon Transformers and dragons; and my three-year-old daughter’s  metaphysics allows for Disney movie princesses to be real, though this seems to be tied up with the idea that she can dress up like them.  I wouldn’t call this consciousness ideal, but this doesn’t mean that such a consciousness doesn’t reveal a truth that is lost when such consciousness is lost.

The next simplest way to approach to Santa is through the binary of true-false or real-imaginary. Part of an American’s relation toSanta involves the recognition that he doesn’t exist. The recognition marks out a new sort of consciousness, one that not only has enough experience to divide what occurs in the normal course of nature from what is extraordinary, but which values the former above the latter. Knowing that there is no Santa is an important or at least common and signal part of maturity for Americans, and it is a testimony to what counts as a mature consciousness. We value not being duped by myth; by telling the difference between the extraordinary and what happens in the normal course of nature. Denying Santa is an important rite of passage to an urbane and scientific people.

Santa, stripped to the essentials, is a benevolent factory foreman and owner, and so anything given in his name  is given in a way that Americans can recognize as proceeding from the sort of benevolence we are very much attuned to. Santa unifies the consumption and distribution of consumer goods and makes them sacred, or at least he endows consumer goods with a magical quality that promotes and expresses our sense of peace on earth and goodwill towards men. We don’t believe that Santa exists, but we are entirely convinced of the value of the reality he sacralizes, and we can feel”his” effects within us. This reality has its upsides and downsides: no one can be proud of the gluttony of and extreme consumption, or the stupid jingles and appeals to the excesses of the mob – but at the same time we have the sense that we should be doing all this for others, and in this sense the Christmas celebration is also a critique of the me-centered consumerism. The the frazzle of the season suggests a sort of public penance – and a large part of the frazzle comes from our desire to put others before ourselves.  In this sense, there is something truly ideal about our civic Santa religion. One can add to this : who wouldn’t want a boss like Santa? Who doesn’t wish that Americans could produce goods like Santa again?

Most of all, it’s nice to be able to predictably enjoy an essential part of religion that has been largely suppressed from what we call “religion”. We would never call Santaism a religious expression, but this is simply because ever since the Reformation we’ve insisted that religion is entirely interior, non-public, and even dangerous to admit into public life. This was all nonsense, of course, and it only left us with the tacit agreement that we wouldn’t call our public religion “religion”, but it’s religion all the same. As I think over Christmas – the American secular holiday, not the mostly unrelated Christian feast day of the same name – I see in it an essential part of what religion is supposed to be. It is common, unifying, in touch with universal human realities, powerful enough to be exploited, subtle enough to be both an affirmation and a critique of its believers, etc. The religion is neither theist nor atheist (both categories are meaningless when applied to it), but if anything this shows us how to understand what we know already – that a religion as it actually occurs in the world does not always have a meaningful relation to either theism or atheism.

Accounting for what a substance is

While arguing that God is not in a genus, St. Thomas raises the objection:

Whatever exists in itself is a substance (or, we call things substances which exist in themselves)

Substance is a genus.

God exists in himself.

The major premise appears to be simply what substance means, since the account follows the way substance is usually explained.  The usual philosophy 101 approach to explaining what “a substance” is involves pointing out how accidents never exist by themselves (who hasn’t been told something like “you never see redness just walking down the street”?) and then defining substance in opposition to this.

Now in fact, Aristotle’s own account of substance was never this simple- substances can be either first or second substances, and second substances are universals. This provides at least an opening to argue that if something could never be a true universal that it could not be a true substance either. We can interpret STA’s arguments as making this point, since he explains that what he means by God is not something that admits the possibility of belonging to many, and therefore “God” cannot be a possible universal. That said, Aristotle never argues that what cannot be spoken of as a second substance cannot be a true first substance either, and it seems like an odd claim to make, as though real being (first substance) was contingent on intentional or logical being (second substance).

St. Thomas, however, resolves the objection by saying that substance cannot be what exists of itself, since this would be to claim that the genus of substance is simply being, while being is not a genus. The answer raises the problem of how being can first mean substance on this account, which Aristotle insists on, but it is more interesting to consider STA’s more precise account of the genus of substance as a quiddity which is apt to exist in another. On this account, the main difference between substance and accident is not whether one exists in another or not, but that there is a quiddity of substance but not of accident. This is a reference to Aristotle’s famous arguments about the “snub nose”, where he argues that, since “snubness” includes reference to a nose that if “snubness” existed of itself then we would have to speak of a “snub-nosed nose” (for clarity, Aristotle needed an accident that was said of only one subject). More problematically, the “snub” we just said would itself divide into “snubness of a nose”, giving us “snub-nosed nose nose” and so on ad infinitum. The problem with such a regress is that the putatively independent property never shows itself independently.

But how can we define substance as something apt to exist in another? Even if “existing in itself” was not a complete definition of “substance”, it seems strange to come to the point of defining it by the opposite property, that is, “being apt to exist in another” (presumably, “the other” in the case of substance is the subject or hypostasis.) A deeper problem arises from accounting for substance as a quiddity as opposed to a subject, since this certainly seems to make substance a part or principle of the substance-quiddity composite. But wouldn’t the composite be the substance here? It is by no means clear how, if we account for substance in this way, that we can say that a substance is given in experience. It is strange to insist that we coin a word like “substance” in order to speak of a part of some composite and not the existing composite itself given in experience.

As far as I know, only Rousselot deals with this problem, by saying that, given our mode of existence as subjects that do not exhaust what we are, we are only attuned to things so far as they are this sort of thing. For any natural subject to exhaust the whole of what he is would require that everything that was of the same nature as he collapse together into a single individual – a sort of angel-human or angel-dog – at once an individual and a complete exhaustion of the reality of the nature. As it stands, the natural world itself is a failure to be what it is.

12/22/12

One permanent value to hylomorphism is in the sort of composition it articulates about the world. The existence or unity of what is given in experience must be reduced to heterogeneous parts. The first articulation of these heterogeneous parts (in Plato) is taken from their relation to an intellect: there is something intelligible in things and something divided from this. The part that is not intelligible, however, appears to be only unintelligible to us and not in itself, and so this yields a serious blow to the division as a division made on the part of things. We can only call matter unintelligible in the way a deer can call bright orange invisible. It is more a statement about our limitations than a statement about things.

Variation on Republic 555c, taken theologically

Socrates: And so the democratic man pulls himself in two directions and is given no rest?

Chastekos: What do you mean?

S: Only this: you remember how we said before that, for the democratic man, the good is defined as freedom?

C: That’s right

S: But doesn’t such a man believe that freedom is due to him,  and that in this way that there is some fixed good that is due to him by an unalterable law?

C: That’s right.

S: But doesn’t he also believe that his own freedom is above law? After all, he has been raised from his youth up to believe that he is free to do whatever he wants to do, and he has celebrated the actions of those men who were once condemned by the laws but who now are seen as liberators, and he has been educated that those who the laws once called anarchists, shameless persons, and livers of extravagant lives are in fact the greatest of heroes and most worthy of emulation.

C: Indeed.

S: So the democratic man sees his freedom as both lawful and lawless, and for the same reason he will see himself both equal to all men so far as he is democratic, and superior to all men so far as anything – whether man or not – could fall under his power of choice and freedom.

C: Just so.

S: But to what can he turn to resolve this contradiction, if by turning to himself he finds only contradiction and if by turning to others he finds only his equal or someone under himself?

C: He can only turn to something godlike, something above himself.

S: And in turning above himself he will either judge that there is some being above him or not?

C: Exactly.

S: And in judging that there are divinities he will be a theist, and if not, an atheist?

C: Yes.

S: Take the theist first. We have said that such a theist will see that his good is both lawful and lawless?

C: Exactly.

S: But then he will not attribute the lawless part of his good to the divine being.

C: By no means.

S: So then He will see his God as a sort of check or guard against the disorder of his own inner life?

C: Yes.

S: God, then, will be a sort of benevolent tyrant or strongman who sets himself up against his lawless creatures, who in turning to themselves have no law within them.

C: This is exactly right.

S: And what about the atheist? It seems to me that he will explain the contradiction of his freedom in two ways: on the one, he can deny the cosmic tyrant, but following the principles he shares with the theist he will have to deny lawfulness altogether and attribute it to mere mythology or lies. But this is an extravagant opinion that is hard to maintain among many for any length of time. So it seems more likely that he will take this state of lawfulness and lawlessness as just given, or just not think about it.

C: That’s right.

S:But to take the contradiction as given is nothing but the insistence that one must not think about something but simply accept it, though not because it gives some ultimate reason. But this in fact is nothing but a different sort of tyranny we place ourselves under. It is an insistence by the will that something irrational be accepted without question.

C: Just so.

S: And so it seems that the democratic man, in his consideration of divine things, will be led to a tyranny of one kind or another, irrespective of whether he is a theist or atheist. In fact, it seems that the contradiction in himself it cannot be resolved by the gods, but can only repeat itself in his consideration of the gods.

C: That appears so.

S: But it strikes me now that there is also a way in which the theist might see God as the giver of lawlessness.

C: How so?

S: It is perhaps the most common theology among the lovers of freedom. God is invoked as the one who makes freedom divine and holy. He is the one who approves of all, and so makes approval of anything and everyone divine.

Testimony as opposed to rational proof

In his commentary on the Treatise on the Trinity, Gerrigou-Lagrange says that we should not speak of the scriptures proving that God is triune but we should rather speak of the testimony of the scriptures about the triune God. While it would be going too far to say that we should entirely replace talk of proving things with talk of giving the scriptural witness of things, we should at least be sensitive to the reality that the greatest mysteries of the faith – that is, those things that most deserve to be called revealed –  are things for which we more have testimony than proof.

The sharpest difference between rational proof and testimony is in the way they are common to many. Rational proof is common to many in its very principles, being given either to everyone or to those with the right perquisites (what STA calls “self-evident to the wise”) but testimony is common to many only by the testimony given. The principle of the truth of the testimony is hidden from many, who only have access to it through testimony. In reveling himself to the world, the orthodox Christian claim goes, God has chosen to rely on testimony more than rational proof, which is why he has given faith pride of place over knowledge. The value of faith, however, is relative; the absolute preference is for testimony over proof. Why this preference?

The strongest argument one could make for this preference is that is logically necessary, and there can be a decent argument for it- if revelation is most fundamentally the words of a God-man to the world then it is impossible that revelation come except by testimony, since what is seen or known by a God-man, properly and as such, simply cannot be seen or known by a world of non God-men. The desire to do away with testimony altogether is would be the desire that revelation not come through Christ. One can posit all the miracles and wonders that they want – such things can never close the gap that makes the testimony necessary. Given the necessity of testimony, there is even an argument to be made for the limitation of miracles, since miracles are more given in the line of evidence than the line of testimony, and if these two are opposed and the latter is logically necessary, there would be a reason not to do absolutely as many miracles as possible. The one with evidence is even at a certain disadvantage, since there is the danger in evidence taking the place of testimony.

 

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