Part IX: A Summary Of

Part IX: A Summary Of The Previous Arguments.

In the previous parts, we examined the ways in which every human being is unified to God:

Part V: As created, and by the created things we are made of, we are unified to God through existence.
Part VI: As natural beings, and by the natural things we are made of, we are unified to God because he is the intelligent cause of per se determination.
Part VII: As living beings, and by the living beings we are made of, we are unified to God as imperfect agents, because he is the perfect eternal being who makes possible any imperfect participation in eternity.
Part VIII: As knowers, we are unified to God because he is the perfect immaterial object in which all knowledge naturally seeks its fullness. Since this desire is a desire to be unified not with a thing, but with a person, the desire for this particular knowledge is not for mere knowing, but for a unity of love in friendship with God himself.

All these unities are essential to man, and because they are essential, they are continual. To be human means to be receiving existence, nature, life, knowledge and love from God. Again:

-God as creator is the cause of existence simply speaking, so to lose his action is to loose existence simply.
-to be natural means to be per se determinate, but this very determination is the activity of the divine mind.
-to be alive means to have self motion related to the perfectly eternal. Similar considerations apply to knowledge. To exist as a knower means to desire divine friendship*.

* People disagree about what exactly they naturally desire, of course, just as they disagree about what exactly is naturally healthy. But the disagreement is beside the point.


Part VIII: Unity to God

Part VIII: Unity to God Through Knowledge*.

A knower is able “to take things in”. There are no doubt a thousand divergent precisions we can make in this statement, I only speak of knowledge as a power to take things in because it allows for a general agreement from which to start.

Knowledge is distinguished, however, from another kind of “taking things in” that is common to all living things, sc. nourishment. The difference between the two is clear enough: eating destroys what it takes in, but knowledge does not. But eating destroys because it takes another thing into itself materially; and therefore all knowledge takes another into itself immaterially.

Both knowledge and eating imply an other, but not in the same way. Eating is not perfect so long as the other still exists (this would mean it was yet to be digested), but the very perfection of knowledge is the possession of the other as such. This other means the same thing as object. Knowledge, therefore, contains objectivity in its very account, and so to wonder “whether knowledge is objective” is the same as to wonder whether knowledge exists at all. But to wonder whether knowledge exists is a childish concern that cannot survive the most basic liar- paradox refutation.

Since the perfection of knowledge is the object as object, to know means to be an other as other. This being other happens because the knower exists in an immaterial way, and is able to take things in immaterially. The knower, then, will find its greatest happiness in the immaterial world, in the friendship with the most perfect immaterial other. And this being all call God.
*Knowledge is divided into two kinds, sensation and intellectual knowledge. Much of what we say here is true of both kinds, although it is only unqualifiedly so with intellectual knowledge.


Part VII, That All Living

Part VII, That All Living Things Are Unified To God

Nature adds activity to creation, but life adds to nature activity for the sake of a self. When we spoke previously of natural things “moving themselves”, it was always important to add that we said “self motion” only to distinguish nature from art. Nevertheless, just because the natural thing has no external human cause, does not mean that it lacks an external cause of its action: the motion of bodies falling toward one another does not become less natural if we ascribe it to an external cause, nor does the activity of natural selection become any less natural because it requires some external agent. In fact, there is one sense of the word “nature”, namely “ecosystem”, in which nature is necessarily an extraneous cause to any particular nature: for it orders the whole “balance of nature” in the ocean, forest, earth, solar system, etc.

“Nature” then, requires the idea of activity, but it need not be the activity of an intrinsic agent. Natural things, therefore, require passivity, but do not require self agency. It is not even clear what “self” could possibly mean in the case of a non- living natural things. Life, however, cannot be understood apart from some self– by which we mean a being that both is a mover, and the one that benefits from the motion. The cell that dilates its membrane to take in nutrients is the same cell that lives off of them; the same rose that spreads out its leaves is the one which benefits from the sun; the same animal who chases down prey gets to feed himself with it.

But though life is activity by self and for self, it does not follow from this that all goods a living thing seeks are good for it only as a self. When a living thing reproduces, it is is not only good for the self as such, but also for the self as a member of a species. But a species cannot come to be or pass away, since it is neither identical to the individual, nor to a collection of individuals. Reproduction, then, is a participation in the immortal and eternal, regardless of whether one participates in it by desire, or by action. But what desires the immortal and eternal, by that very fact, desires what is perfectly immortal and eternal: and this being all call God. And so to be alive means to be unified to God, not merely in a passive way, but by the most intimate activity of the self.


Part VI: The Union of

Part VI: The Union of Natural Things To God

The word “natural” is one of the many words derived from the Latin “nasci” meaning “to be born”. The participle form “natus” was present in many Latin words beginning in “nat-“: most of which have reference to birth or “coming forth”. Once we know to look for this, we can see the same quality in the “nat-” words in English: “natal” simply means birth, as does “nativity”. “Nascency” meaning “birth or origin” is from the same root, as is “nascent” meaning “beginning to exist” . Our word “nation” connotes “a people all born in the same land”, and a “native” is one who was born in a certain place.

Since the word “natural” is a part of a community of words that all relate to the idea of birth, it is best to see the later developments of the word arising from this root idea. A few meanings of the word relate explicitly to birth: “a natural leader” is someone who was born to lead, and “natural parents” are synonymous with “birth parents”.

This idea of birth contains the idea of what arises motu proprio, spontaneously, and apart from human intention. This might be first said of living things: trees drop seeds, shoots spring up- but plenty of non- living things arise spontaneously apart from human design. Summer rains, climate patterns, the aurora borealis, flooding rivers, and even the decay and death of things are all called “natural”. “Natural things” is a more general class than “living things”, yet there is a certain similarity to living things in that natural things arise “on their own”- at least in the sense of coming forth separately from human initiative.

When we compare natural things to the created things we took up in Part V, we see that “to be natural” adds to the idea of “to be created” the idea of activity. This activity is sometimes in the thing only as a passive power (as in the water that flows downhill), but regardless of this, the activities we call natural are determinate activities. This is what allows us to oppose natural activities to artificial ones- they differ in agent but are alike in being determinate. It is this very determination that allows us to study natural things- or even to name them. If some activity lacked determination altogether, we wouldn’t even recognize it as a species of action to be named. .

But to have determination of action means to have a term of action. But “term” in this sense means “end”. It makes no difference whether this term is a static point to be reached and rested in (like “maturity” or “digested”) or whether the term of the action is the action itself (like “seeing” or “playing guitar”) in both cases it is the a term of the action that arises as an end.

But to have a term, or an end by nature is to have a term of action even before the activity. It is the having of this term even before the activity that allows everyone from a two year-old to a scientist to predict natural activities (why else would we move out of the way of a tree falling towards us? Or place meat on a flame to cook it?)*

Whatever, therefore, moves a thing to a term per se**, moves it to a term that is determined prior to the action. But a term that is determined prior to action is possessed prior to action, since it is determining actions while, and even before*** they happen. But to possess a term prior to acting toward it requires knowledge in one way or another. But the knowledge is obviously not the knowledge of the natural thing, and by definition it is not the knowledge of a man working by art. To be natural, therefore, which means to have determinate activity apart from human intention, means to have a unity with a being whose knowledge governs all natural things, and through whose very governance all things receive their existence as natural. And this being all call God.
*”acting for an end” is often made out to be something less obvious than it is. Any determinate action, by definition, has an end. See pp. 7 here
** It is important to pick the proper term here, and it is not always clear what the term is. The only thing proved here is that there is some term, from which every action takes its species. Still less is it clear what exactly the proper good of a determinite action is- that there is some good is almost axiomaic, what exactly the good is is somethimes hard to determine: consider the particular determinite action of carbon dioxide or sulfuric acid forming.
***This before is not temporal, but causal, it indicates that the action is always determined.


On Beatitude, Part V: The

On Beatitude, Part V: The Ascent of The Goods We Receive From Union With God

A.) As Creatures

Man is naturally unified to God in five ways: as a creature, a natural thing, a living being, a knower, and a lover. These unions may be more or less perfect in many different ways, and each will be dealt with in turn. We turn first to the union that man as a creature has to God

To be Created is the first good of any creature, and it is the good upon which all its other goods are based. To create means to be the efficient cause of existence simply speaking, and its effect is a creature, or a contingent being. Since the proper effect of creation is a sort of thing, and a sort of thing is atemporal, it makes no difference whether we regard creation as the temporal beginning of existence of a contingent thing, or the temporal maintaining in existence of a temporal thing. To distinguish between these two is accidental to the act of creation.

Said another way, creation is the making of what is essentially contingent, but what something is essentially it is for as long as it exists, just as a man is alive for as long as he exists . But to be contingent means to be dependent on another for existence- and so it is irrelevant to the act of creation to differentiate between the act at 5:15 (when, perhaps, a creature begins to exist) or at 5:30 (when perhaps it has existed for 15 minutes).

Creation is the fundamental and first union of all creatures to God, a union without which no further union is possible. In creatures for whom to exist is the ultimate good, this union is also their ultimate good.


Beatitude Part IV: That The

Beatitude Part IV: That The Immaterial Principle of Human Life Is Directly Created By God.

The immaterial part by which man lives subsists separately from matter (by definition, see post III).
But matter is that out of which something comes to be (see post II).

And so the immaterial part presupposes nothing out of which it comes to be.
But what presupposes nothing in its coming to be can only be made by that which presupposes nothing in its bringing things forth (reformulation of conclusion)

But that which presupposes nothing in bringing things forth is the first principle of all things (by definition).
And this first principle all call God.

On Beatitude II- Material and

On Beatitude II- Material and Material Things

“Material” means “what something is made out of ” or “what we turn into something”. We call cloth “material” because we make clothes out of it, and a comedian calls his jokes his “material” because he makes a show out of them*. The word comes to mean “something that is necessary to do something” (as in “course materials”, “class materials” or “study materials”). In both these usages, however, we call something material because it is related to something else that comes to be from the material.**

Material as such does not exist except in relation to something that comes to be from the material. What comes to be from something, of course, also has a dependence on it- there are no clothes without cloth, or comedy shows without jokes, etc. But though there is a dependence both on the part of material to what it makes, and vice versa, we must always preserve the idea of “the thing that comes to be” as distinct from “the material”, otherwise we lose the very idea of what material is (and for that matter, we lose the idea of what comes to be.)

Material things, then, are things that come to be from something else- the something else being the material, or the matter. A material thing then, will have by definition composition: for material can never be identified with what comes to be from it. But the thing is also one (it is not “things”). Therefore it is a composite.

The composites can also be multiplied out. The only requirement for multiplying them out seems to be that one has enough of the stuff to make them out of, e.g. so long as the conditions under which one cake gets made persist, the only thing needed to make many cakes is more of the ingredients (i.e. materials) out of which a cake gets made. It is for this reason that matter is said to be the reason for why material things are individuated, and therefore multiplied.

In sum:

1.) Material exists in relation to what comes to be out of material
2.) One thing that comes to be out of material is called “a material thing”
3.) Material things are composites of material/ matter, and that which comes to be from matter.***
4.) The matter of material things is the principle of individuation, and multiplication.

*No one calls jokes “material” unless they are used in a show.
**Like the above, no one calls books “materials” unless the books are used to make up the class.
***”That which comes to be” is the material thing as such, but since the material thing as such cannot be identified with the matter, there remains a part of the material thing that is distinct both from the matter and the material thing.


On Beatitude I: That Ultimate

On Beatitude I: That Ultimate Happiness is not in This Life*
SCG, Book III, chap 48, in summary syllogistic form.

(read the text in Latin
or English)

2.) Happiness terminates desire.
Knowledge in this life increases desire.

3.) Happiness requires that a good can be held stably.
No good in this life can be held stably

4.) It is fitting that the time of possessing perfections exceed the time of attaining perfections.
Perfection takes most of this life to attain.

5.) Happiness is a perfect good.
The perfect good has no mixture of evil.
All in this life has some mixture of evil.

6.) Death causes sorrow.
All men die.

7.) Happiness is second act.
In this life, second act is not always.

8.) The greater the good, the greater sorrow to loose.
If happiness were perfect in this life, we would loose it at least in death.

*the next twenty-four posts will relate to beatitude/ happiness


We come to understand the

We come to understand the subjects of science through observation, but observation of certain subjects is imperfect. For the astronomer, the motion of the planets is too far away; for the chemist, the activities of the atoms (and even their existence) is too remote and difficult to see; to the physicist, electricity, heat, magnetism, radiation etc. are all invisible- and often fleeting in nature (a flash of static, a lightening bolt, an explosion).

There are many ways of dealing with this problem, but the best and most common way is to understand the subject of the science mathematically. This does not change the subject of the science- the astronomer still strives to understand the motions of the planets as such; the chemist still tries to understand the ultimate material parts of things, etc. In the mathematized physical sciences, a certain subject matter is understood by means of being quantified and actually measured; as opposed to when we understand mathematics, when quantity is the subject matter. Simply put: astronomy studies orbits, math studies quantity.

The mathematizing of physical things allows us to understand more about the order of physical things- and sometimes it is the only order we understand about the things as such, or the foundation of all order*. Because every science is an ordered body of knowledge, it s therefore essential to mathematize certain scientific subjects.

But since mathematics cannot be identified with the subject matter as such, there will be some parts of a mathematized physical science that are not necessary parts of the scientific subject.What I mean is that since mathematized physical science deals with a mathematical and measured subject, there is in it things that are proper to mathematics and measurement, and things that are proper to the subject, just as a red dress has characteristics that are proper to red, and proper to a dress. Both characteristics can be said to belong to a certain thing, but they are not identical.

Compare, for example, the following quantifications: A boy’s body is three feet tall, and a boy’s body is divided in mean and extreme ratio at his navel. Or perhaps this: an orbit is one million miles around, and an orbit is an ellipse. The second thing in the comparisons (mean and extreme, an ellipse) exists separately from some artificially determined unit, whereas the first does not. If a planet’s orbit isn’t quite an ellipse, or a boy’s navel does not quite divide his body into mean and extreme ratio, we still say something like “this is what nature intended”. But if a boy is three feet tall, we don’t object that he should have been 90 centimeters. Not every quantity belongs to a thing in the same way. Some quantifications, in other words, are closer to the nature of the thing than others. Numbers are very close, for example, to the elements of the periodic table, (Hydrogen is 1, helium 2, lithium 3, etc.), as are the ratios that constitute the specific difference of tones (2:1 is an octave, 3:2 is a fifth)

A more subtle aspect of quantification is the “functional definition” which does not seek to tell us what something is, only how it is measured. Hence heat gets defined in chemistry by “temperature differences”, for where everything is the same heat, there can be no measurement of heat (heat is measured by a length, and the length is created by something hotter and something cooler). So too, energy is defined by actually moving something. People often get confused by the paradoxes that come from thinking that a functional definition is telling us what something is (for example, the chemist believes that if everything were the same heat, there would be no heat, and if nothing was actually moving, there would be no energy expended. These paradoxes proceed from confusing a thing with the measurement of a thing.)

A certain kind of functional definition is actually capable of appearing to transcend the distinction of contraries. The classical example was Galileo’s insistence that a circle was a polygon with infinite sides. But a better example is “zero velocity”which means the same thing as “rest”- is the opposite of motion (and a fortiori of velocity). Probability theory also defines “necessity” as being “a probability of one” i.e. 1/1 probability.

Mathematized physics will also lead to the identifying of two things when they are unified in quantity (equal). A well known example of this is electro magnetic force, which is founded on the discovery that electricity, light and magnetism all move at the same speed. The evidence will have to do.

The wild success of mathematized sciences has not been attended by thinkers who can accurately parse the distinctions that arise between measurement and reality, appearance and fact, etc. What’s new- philosophers have been dropping the ball at explaining nature for a while now.


According to the First Meaning

According to the First Meaning of Evolution

It is often overlooked that most accounts of the origin of the species do not assert the evolution of material living beings. They assert the selection of things, which is quite different. “Selection” denotes extraneous activity; but evolution denotes immanent activity- i.e. a sort of “blossoming” or unfolding of the potencies within matter. More of a place needs to be made for evolution in the account of specific origins, since these origins are accounts of what living things do- and to be alive is to have immanent activity.

Overlooking the difference between selection and evolution might be the cause of some serious confusions. Selection gives rise to the idea of “random mutation”, which seems to me an appeal to ignorance, i.e. “we don’t know why mutation happens”*. When it is assumed a priori that the mutation is random, we can only expect a ritard in the search for the natural, internal causes of specific change.

St. Augustine is often quoted as advocating what people call “evolution”. My suspicion is that Augustine’s evolution is evolution properly speaking, as opposed to our modern idea of selection.

Internal causes, and the immanent activity of evolution might also help to explain the speed at which the origin of the species sometimes happens.

Most likely, the the true origin of the species is the result of both selection and evolution. We either give these accounts, or we refuse to give an account at all- species don’t after all just simply “poof” into existence, for the plain reason that nothing in the world ever “poof’s” into existence**.


*a whale, a wolf, a monkey, etc. are not like Quantum entities, where indeterminacy in form is so extreme as to make claims of randomness more than simply assertions of ignorance.

**This does seem to be the thrust of the anti- Darwinian insistence on the “Cambrian explosion”. They seem to be insisting that there was a big “poof” an then there were species. Scientific accounts require more than this.


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