The perfect is known by

The perfect is known by a certain negation- it is that to which nothing can be added or taken away. In our experience, this consists in the thing being limited- that is, something lacks pefection if it goes beyond the limit, or if it falls short of it. Call this limited perfection, which in our experience is the only kind of perfection there is.

But we can also understand that perfection could occur if the the perfect being had a certain infinity, for if something is unlimited, it is also something to which nothing could be added or taken away. This is shown even in the material and imperfect infinity of mathematics: to add or subtract anything from infinity leaves one with infinity.

These are two different meanings of perfection, one limited and the other unlimited. Though we are using one word “perfection” to speak of both, the word is not a genus to which limited and unlimited are species, the way that “tree” can be said of oak and maple. Rather, from the first idea of perfection “that to which nothing can be added…” we notice another meaning of “what cannot be added to”. The same word means two different things, and yet the meaning of the first leads us by the hand to the meaning of the other. Perfection means something different when said of the unlimited and the limited, and yet we still need to understand the first meaning of perfection before we can understand the second one.

Remembering Mozart’s Ave Verum.Ave Verum

Remembering Mozart’s Ave Verum.

Ave Verum is perfect. I mean that more as a fact than as praise.

There are certainly other ways that art could be, and therefore be perfect. But there is a limit on the height of the object that can be attained by our senses, emotions, and imagination- and if it’s not Ave Verum, it’s something else that Mozart wrote.

Error is more common among

Error is more common among animals than truth. This is shown by our instinctive urge to make wild inductions on the basis of almost no evidence: we eat one bad burger at one restaurant once, and we assume the whole chain is dirty; we see one news report about one thing, and we immediately feel like there might be a “crisis” (the news, in fact, counts on this instinctive desire to make improbable inductions as a rule- hence the “lead story format” that is common to all media.) Give a man two examples, any two hard cases, and you can convince him that there is a crisis over anything.

It is the desire to escape this that leads man alternately to seek after a more systematic knowledge of things. Concerning contingent things to be dome, he seeks prudence, by trying to model himself after the prudent men he sees; and concerning necessary things, he seeks science by discipleship to a reliable teacher.

There is a strange argument

There is a strange argument going about that one cannot be a philosopher if he has religious devotion. If this were true, we would never be able to figure out if an argument was philosophical by reading it. Give whatever argument you think is patently philosophical: all being is good, universals are found in mind as regards the-state-of-universality, etc. Are these arguments philosophical? Not if we would believe certain interpretations of the “Athens vs, Jerusalem” crowd- for some would have us believe that we have to interrogate the author as to his motivations- and then have to take him at his word over whether his argument was philosophical or not.


The seed grow by itself?

The seed grow by itself? Yes, if we are speaking of the agent. No, if we mean it can do so without water or soil.

Sketch of A Theological Argument

Sketch of A Theological Argument From the Nature of Material Beings

We call something “material” because some thing is made out of it. The material is not the same as the thing: metal is not a car, and wood is not a tree or a house.

In art, we start from certain given materials and form them according to our ideas. This idea is always essential to the art: a sign of this is that we call a painting “a De Vinci” a book “Plato” and a recording “Mozart”.

In natural things, the materials are not given and are not formed according to our ideas. They are formed by some internal power. This kind of coming forth- apart from art- is what we first call “nature” or natural.

And yet the material is not the same as the natural thing. Material is distinct from the material thing, and so the natural thing stands to its matter as a whole to a part, as an end to a means.

But in natural things, this order of means to end is intrinsic, and if it is intrinsic, it cannot come to be by chance. For example, letters might fall together by chance to spell “cat”, but c-a-t does not mean cat by chance. This intrinsic, meaningful order of means (the letters “a” “t” and “c”) to an end (giving a word to name what Fluffy is) is not the sort of thing that chance can do.

If not by chance, then by intelligence. But it is not an intelligence like ours, which takes natural things as given, and works from them- it is an intelligence that is more intimately within the things, which does not presuppose any natural things. We oppose our art to nature because art moves extrinsically, and nature moves intrinsically. If nature is being moved by intelligence, it is being moved from within- in fact its very nature consists in being moved from within. We call it being moved even though we realize that it is not a “being moved” as we understand it, for when we move something there is some given thing with a nature that is “already there”, but for the intelligence that is moving nature from within, no nature is presupposed.

But if no nature is presupposed, then the whole nature proceeds from the action of the intelligence that is within it. The nature both exists and acts though the intelligence that is giving it being and the power to act.

In sum:

Material beings come to be, and act in virtue of an intrinsic order between the material and the material thing.
No intrinsic order can be by chance.

but The order of natural things is intrinsic to them
So all material beings come to be and act by intelligence acting within them.

But the intelligence that is causing natural things cannot presuppose natural things, for then nature would be art.

So the intelligence that is moving natural things exceeds infinitely the power of any finite intelligence, that takes knowledge from nature.


And it came to

And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, [Art] thou he that troubleth Israel?

And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.
Now therefore send, [and] gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table.
So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD [be] God, follow him: but if Baal, [then] follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
Then said Elijah unto the people, I, [even] I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets [are] four hundred and fifty men.


St. MatthewOne of the poems

St. Matthew

One of the poems I would have written long ago, if I had any ability to write poems, would have been about St. Matthew reflecting on his decision to write his gospel- and most especially, his recording the words of institution at the last supper: “this is my body”.

Something in me says that St. Matthew was almost indifferent to writing his Gospel, in the sense that it was self- evident to him, even beyond needing to be said, that the good news of Christ would be spread regardless of whether he wrote anything down or not. Matthew did not bother to explain his Gospel, he did not intersperse the Gospel with any commentary or interpretation, because he did not see his Gospel the only way that the story would ever be told. I suspect that Matthew’s main motive for writing the gospel was the desire to spend all of his time talking about Christ, and remembering how sweet it was to be in his presence.

Matthew knew that the truth about Christ would be known throughout the world forever, even if he never wrote anything down, even if Christ were abandoned by all his Apostles, even if Christ had never done a single miracle. Consider the plain fact that Christ was perfectly content to die without having committed a single word to paper, and without ever commanding, requesting, or even hinting that his disciples write a single word about his life*, or anything he had done.


*As far as I know, Christ only commands John to write to the seven churches in Asia Minor, but he commands nothing to be said about his life, his doctrines, or even his Sacrifice on the Cross.

Meditation on A Child.If I

Meditation on A Child.

If I consider him as made out of something, he can be given four accounts:

1.) He is himself, for what he is made out of makes him.

2.) He is his parents, for he is made out of them, and in this sense is nothing other than the subsistence of his parents in another place.

3.) He is the earth, for what he is made out of reduces to what came out of the earth (and the things of earth out of the stars)

4.) He is every human generation that came before him, for all he was made out of was derived from his parents, but his parents derived this same thing from their parents, and so on.

If I consider him as human, then he is not caused by anything mentioned above, for none of these things can be cause a human as human. Neither the child, nor his parents, not the generations that came before him are the cause of man, for they were all already human. Neither did the earth make this child apart from the co- generation of his parents. Similar considerations apply when we consider the child as existing, or having being.

And yet the child is obviously both made out of things, and human, and existing. None of these things constitute the child partially, for the same being is considered totally human, totally what he is made of, and totally existent. The causes, however, are diverse. Many different causes flow together to make a single effect. This child is being caused by more than one thing.


I’m With Gerrigou- Lagrange:Reasons for

I’m With Gerrigou- Lagrange:

Reasons for the Last Judgment

St. Thomas explains these reasons. First, dead men live in the memory of men on earth and are often judged contrary to truth. Spirits, strong and false, like Spinoza, Kant, and Hegel, are judged as if they were great philosophers…

read the whole thing here.

« Older entries