Thursday, July 29, 2010

Any Ideas on How to Reconcile These? (John Paul II's Fides et ratio & the Pre-Conciliar Popes)


How can we reconcile this:

"The Church has no philosophy of her own nor does she canonize any one particular philosophy in preference to others. (Cf. Pius XII, Encyclical Letter Humani generis (12 August 1950): AAS 42 (1950), 566.) The underlying reason for this reluctance is that, even when it engages theology, philosophy must remain faithful to its own principles and methods. Otherwise there would be no guarantee that it would remain oriented to truth and that it was moving towards truth by way of a process governed by reason. A philosophy which did not proceed in the light of reason according to its own principles and methods would serve little purpose. At the deepest level, the autonomy which philosophy enjoys is rooted in the fact that reason is by its nature oriented to truth and is equipped moreover with the means necessary to arrive at truth. A philosophy conscious of this as its “constitutive status” cannot but respect the demands and the data of revealed truth."
"Suam ipsius philosophiam non exhibet Ecclesia, neque quamlibet praelegit peculiarem philosophiam aliarum damno. [Cfr. Pius XII, Litt. Encycl. Humani generis (12 Augusti 1950): AAS 42 (1950), 566.] Recondita huius temperantiae causa in eo reperitur quod philosophia, etiam cum necessitudinem instituit cum theologia, secundum suam rationem suasque regulas agere debet; nullo modo alioquin cavetur ut illa ad veritatem vergat et ad eam per cursum ratione perpendendum tendat. Levis auxilii esset quaedam philosophia quae non procederet ratione gubernante secundum sua ipsius principia peculiaresque methodologias. Quod huius rei caput est, autonomiae radix, qua philosophia fruitur, in eo invenitur quod ratio natura sua ad veritatem vergit ipsaque praeterea ad eam consequendam necessaria habet instrumenta. Philosophia huius « statuti constitutivi » sibi conscia facere non potest quin servet necessitates quoque et perspicuitates veritatis revelatae proprias." (Pope John Paul II, Fides et ratio, § 49).

With this?

"Thomas should be called not only the Angelic, but also the Common or Universal Doctor of the Church; for the Church has adopted his philosophy for her own, as innumerable documents of every kind attest (cuius doctrinam, ut quam plurimis in omni genere litterarum monumentis testata est, suam Ecclesia fecerit)." (Pope Pius XI, Studiorum Ducem, § 11).

Or with the fact that Pope Benedict XV called the Twenty Four Thomistic Theses "the preferred doctrine of the Church" (in his letter to Fr. Edouard Hugon concerning his book on the said theses)?

Notice that the text of Fides et ratio cites Ven. Pope Pius XII's Humani generis. No particular text of Humani generis is referred to, but just the document in general. Humani generis does address the relationship between philosophy and the Church, yet it does not say what Fides et ratio says.  Rather, if we look at that encyclical as a whole, far from supporting the Fides et ratio claim, it seems rather to push in the opposite direction, going as far as calling scholastic philosophy "Our philosophy" and "Our perennial philosophy":

"14. In theology some want to reduce to a minimum the meaning of dogmas; and to free dogma itself from terminology long established in the Church and from philosophical concepts held by Catholic teachers, to bring about a return in the explanation of Catholic doctrine to the way of speaking used in Holy Scripture and by the Fathers of the Church. They cherish the hope that when dogma is stripped of the elements which they hold to be extrinsic to divine revelation, it will compare advantageously with the dogmatic opinions of those who are separated from the unity of the Church and that in this way they will gradually arrive at a mutual assimilation of Catholic dogma with the tenets of the dissidents. 
15. Moreover, they assert that when Catholic doctrine has been reduced to this condition, a way will be found to satisfy modern needs, that will permit of dogma being expressed also by the concepts of modern philosophy, whether of immanentism or idealism or existentialism or any other system. Some more audacious affirm that this can and must be done, because they hold that the mysteries of faith are never expressed by truly adequate concepts but only by approximate and ever changeable notions, in which the truth is to some extent expressed, but is necessarily distorted. Wherefore they do not consider it absurd, but altogether necessary, that theology should substitute new concepts in place of the old ones in keeping with the various philosophies which in the course of time it uses as its instruments, so that it should give human expression to divine truths in various ways which are even somewhat opposed, but still equivalent, as they say. They add that the history of dogmas consists in the reporting of the various forms in which revealed truth has been clothed, forms that have succeeded one another in accordance with the different teachings and opinions that have arisen over the course of the centuries.
16. It is evident from what We have already said, that such tentatives not only lead to what they call dogmatic relativism, but that they actually contain it. The contempt of doctrine commonly taught and of the terms in which it is expressed strongly favor it. Everyone is aware that the terminology employed in the schools and even that used by the Teaching Authority of the Church itself is capable of being perfected and polished; and we know also that the Church itself has not always used the same terms in the same way. It is also manifest that the Church cannot be bound to every system of philosophy that has existed for a short space of time. Nevertheless, the things that have been composed through common effort by Catholic teachers over the course of the centuries to bring about some understanding of dogma are certainly not based on any such weak foundation. These things are based on principles and notions deduced from a true knowledge of created things. In the process of deducing, this knowledge, like a star, gave enlightenment to the human mind through the Church. Hence it is not astonishing that some of these notions have not only been used by the Oecumenical Councils, but even sanctioned by them, so that it is wrong to depart from them....
30. Of course this philosophy deals with much that neither directly nor indirectly touches faith or morals, and which consequently the Church leaves to the free discussion of experts. But this does not hold for many other things, especially those principles and fundamental tenets to which We have just referred. However, even in these fundamental questions, we may clothe our philosophy in a more convenient and richer dress, make it more vigorous with a more effective terminology, divest it of certain scholastic aids found less useful, prudently enrich it with the fruits of progress of the human mind. But never may we overthrow it, or contaminate it with false principles, or regard it as a great, but obsolete, relic. For truth and its philosophic expression cannot change from day to day, least of all where there is question of self-evident principles of the human mind or of those propositions which are supported by the wisdom of the ages and by divine revelation. Whatever new truth the sincere human mind is able to find, certainly cannot be opposed to truth already acquired, since God, the highest Truth, has created and guides the human intellect, not that it may daily oppose new truths to rightly established ones, but rather that, having eliminated errors which may have crept in, it may build truth upon truth in the same order and structure that exist in reality, the source of truth. Let no Christian therefore, whether philosopher or theologian, embrace eagerly and lightly whatever novelty happens to be thought up from day to day, but rather let him weigh it with painstaking care and a balanced judgment, lest he lose or corrupt the truth he already has, with grave danger and damage to his faith.
31. If one considers all this well, he will easily see why the Church demands that future priests be instructed in philosophy "according to the method, doctrine, and principles of the Angelic Doctor" (ad Angelici Doctoris rationem, doctrinam et principia), since, as we well know from the experience of centuries, the method of Aquinas (Aquinatis methodum ac rationem) is singularly preeminent (singulari praestantia eminere) both for teaching students and for bringing truth to light; his doctrine is in harmony with divine revelation, and is most effective both for safeguarding the foundation of the faith, and for reaping, safely and usefully, the fruits of sound progress.[9]....
32. How deplorable it is then that this philosophy, received and honored by the Church (philosophiam in Ecclesia receptam ac agnitam), is scorned by some, who shamelessly call it outmoded in form and rationalistic, as they say, in its method of thought. They say that this philosophy upholds the erroneous notion that there can be a metaphysic that is absolutely true; whereas in fact, they say, reality, especially transcendent reality, cannot better be expressed than by disparate teachings, which mutually complete each other, although they are in a way mutually opposed. Our traditional philosophy (philosophiam nostris traditam scholis), then, with its clear exposition and solution of questions, its accurate definition of terms, its clear-cut distinctions, can be, they concede, useful as a preparation for scholastic theology, a preparation quite in accord with medieval mentality; but this philosophy hardly offers a method of philosophizing suited to the needs of our modern culture. They allege, finally, that our perennial philosophy (philosophiam perennem) is only a philosophy of immutable essences, while the contemporary mind must look to the existence of things and to life, which is ever in flux. While scorning our philosophy, they extol other philosophies of all kinds, ancient and modern, oriental and occidental, by which they seem to imply that any kind of philosophy or theory, with a few additions and corrections if need be, can be reconciled with Catholic dogma. No Catholic can doubt how false this is, especially where there is question of those fictitious theories they call immanentism, or idealism, or materialism, whether historic or dialectic, or even existentialism, whether atheistic or simply the type that denies the validity of the reason in the field of metaphysics.

Is Fides et ratio's reference to Humani generis an error, then?  Or perhaps it is a tacit attempt to cushion the extreme claim that the Church has no philosophy?  How do we reconcile these two claims?  Or maybe the two doctrines are irreconcilable?  Any comments would be appreciated.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Garrigou-Lagrange on the 24 Thomistic Theses

On the 96th Anniversary of the "Twenty Four Thomistic Theses" (July 27, 1914)
From Garrigou-Lagrange, OP - Reality: A Synthesis of Thomistic Thought

Chapter 55: The Twenty-Four Thomistic Theses

By the Motu Proprio of June 29, 1914, Pius X prescribed that all courses in philosophy should teach "the principles and the major doctrines of St. Thomas," and that in the centers of theological studies the Summa theologiae should be the textbook.

Origin Of The Twenty-Four Theses

The state of things which Pius X intended to remedy has been well described above (p. 343ff) by Cardinal Villeneuve. We repeat here briefly the Cardinal's contentions:

a) Authors try to make St. Thomas the mouthpiece of their own pet theories.

b) Hence contradictory presentations by teachers and writers, confusion and disgust among students.

c) Hence, Thomism reduced to the minimum on which all Catholic thinkers can agree, hence to a blunted traditionalism and an implicit fideism.

d) Hence, carelessness in the presence of extremely improbable new doctrines, abdication of thought in the domain of piety, practical skepticism in philosophy, mysticism based on emotion.

Against this withered and confused Thomism, Pius X prescribes return to the major doctrines of St. Thomas. What are these major doctrines? The Congregation of Sacred Studies, having examined the twenty-four fundamental theses presented by Thomistic professors of various institutions, replied, with the approval of the Holy Father, that these same twenty-four theses contain the principles and major doctrines of St. Thomas. [1335]

What shall be the binding force of these theses? They are safe norms of intellectual guidance. [1336] This decision of the Congregation, confirmed by Benedict XV, was published March 7, 1916.

The next year, 1917, saw the promulgation of the New Code, which [1337] makes the method, the principles, and the teaching of St. Thomas binding on the professors and students both in philosophy and in theology. Among the sources of this canon the Code cites the decree of March 7, 1916.

Pope Benedict XV, on various occasions, expressed his mind on this point. He approved, for instance, in a special audience, the intention of Fr. E. Hugon, O. P. to write a book [1338] on the twenty-four theses. The author of the book [1339] reports that the Pontiff said that he did not intend to impose the twenty-four theses as compelling internal assent, but as the doctrine preferred by the Church. [1340]

It gradually became known that these twenty-four theses had been formulated by two Thomists of great competence who, throughout their long teaching career, had been teaching these theses in juxtaposition with their respective counter-theses.

Is the real distinction of potency from act a mere hypothesis? Some historians of great name, who in special works have expounded the teaching of St. Thomas, saw in the real distinction of potency from act a mere postulate. And an excellent review has, for forty years, carried a series of learned articles which culminate in this conclusion: the doctrine of real distinction between potency and act is an admirable hypothesis, most fertile in results.

Now if this distinction were but a postulate or a hypothesis, then, however strongly suggested it might be by the facts, it would still not compel the mind's assent. What becomes then of the proofs for God's existence, which are based on that distinction?

Those who formulated these theses, on the contrary, saw in the distinction of potency from act not a mere postulate or hypothesis, but the very first principle, the necessary foundation for all the other theses. In truth, if we study the commentaries of St. Thomas on the first two books of Aristotle's Physica and books three and four of his Metaphysica, we see that real distinction of potency from act imposes itself necessarily on the mind which attempts to harmonize the principle of contradiction or identity [1341] with that of becoming or multiplicity. [1342]

"That which is, is, and that which is not, is not. That's a sentence we cannot escape from." This is the formula of Parmenides, which makes of the principle of identity not merely a necessary and universal law of reality, but a law which governs all processes of becoming. A thing supposed to be in process of becoming cannot arise either from being or from non-being. Not from being, which already is: the statue cannot come from a statue which already is. Not from non-being: out of nothing comes nothing. Hence all becoming is an impossibility, an illusion. If you set yourself to walking, to disprove Parmenides, he retorts: Walking is a mere appearance, a sense phenomenon, whereas the principle of identity is a primordial law both of the mind and of reality.

For the same reason Parmenides concludes the impossibility of more than one being. Being cannot be diversified by itself, nor by something different from itself, which could only be non-being, i. e.: nothing. Hence being is one and immutable. Parmenides here, like Spinoza later, confounds being in general with divine being.

With Parmenides, Aristotle too, against Heraclitus, defends the principle of contradiction, which is the negative form of the principle of identity: being is being, non-being is non-being, we cannot confound the two.

But Aristotle shows too that the process of becoming, which is an evident fact of experience, is to be harmonized with the principle of identity and contradiction by the real distinction between potency and act. This distinction, accepted, however confusedly, by natural reason, by the common sense of mankind, is indispensable in solving the arguments of Parmenides against the reality of generation and multiplicity.

That which is generated, which comes into existence, cannot come from an actually existing thing: a statue does not arise from something which is already a statue. Nor can it come from that which is simply nothing. [1343] But that which comes into existence comes from indeterminate potential being, which is nothing but a real capacity to receive an actual perfection. The statue comes from the wood, yes, yet not from wood as wood, but from wood as capable of being carved. Movement supposes a subject really capable of undergoing motion. The plant, the animal, comes from a germ capable of definite evolution. Knowledge comes from the infant's intelligence capable of grasping principle and consequences.

That there are many statues, say, of Apollo, supposes that the form of Apollo can be received in diverse portions of matter, each capable of receiving that form. That there are many animals of one specific kind supposes that their specific form can be received in diverse parts of matter, each capable of being thus determined and actualized.

Potency, then, is not act, not even the most imperfect act conceivable. Potency is not yet initial movement. Potency, therefore, since it cannot be act, is really distinct from act, and hence remains under the act it has received, as a containing capacity of that act which it receives and limits. Matter is not the form which it receives but remains distinct under that form. If potency were imperfect act, [1344] it would not be really distinct even from the perfect act which it receives.

In the eyes of Aristotle, and of Aquinas who deepened Aristotle, real potency, as receiving capacity, is a necessary medium between actual being and mere nothing. Without real potency there is no answer to Parmenides, no possible way to harmonize becoming and multiplicity with the principle of identity, the primordial law of thought and of reality. Becoming and multiplicity involve a certain absence of identity, an absence which can be explained only by something other than act, and this other something can only be a real capacity, either to receive the act if the capacity is passive potency, or to produce the act, if the potency is active. But active potency is still potency, and hence presupposes an actual mover to actualize that potency. Hence arise the four causes, matter, form, agent, and end, with their correlative principles, in particular that of efficient causality, of finality, of mutation. Thus, in his first proof of God's existence, St. Thomas writes: [1345] 

Nothing can be moved except it be in potency. The thing which moves it from potency to act must be actual, not potential. Nothing can be reduced from potency to act except by being which is not potential, but actual.

This proof, it is evident, rests on the real distinction of potency from act. If that principle is not necessarily true, the proof loses its demonstrative power. The same holds good for his following proofs.

This truth was clearly seen by those who formulated the twenty-four theses.

Derivative Propositions

In the Thomistic Congress, held in Rome (1925), we illustrated the inner unity of the twenty-four theses by showing the far-reaching consequences of the distinction between potency and act. The points made in that paper we here summarize.

In the order of being we note ten consequences of the principle that potency is really and objectively distinct from act.

1. Matter is not form, but really distinct from form. Prime matter is pure potency, mere receiving capacity. Without form, it can simply not exist.

2. Finite essence is not its own existence, but really distinct from that existence.

3. God alone, pure act, is His own existence. He is existence itself, unreceived and unreceivable. "Sum qui sum. "

4. In all created person, personality is really distinct from existence. [1346]

5. God alone, existence itself, can have no accidents. Hence, by opposition, no created substance is immediately operative; it needs, in order to act, a super-added operative potency.

6. Form can be multiplied only by being received into matter. The principle of individuation is matter as preordained to this particular quantity.

7. The human soul is the sole form of the human body, since otherwise it would be, not substantial form, but accidental, and would not make the body one natural unity.

8. Matter, of itself, has neither existence nor cognoscibility. It becomes intelligible only by its relation to form.

9. The specific form of sense objects, since it is not matter, is potentially intelligible.

10. Immateriality is the root both of intelligibility and of intellectuality. [1347] The objectivity of our intellectual knowledge implies that there is in sense objects an intelligible element, distinct from matter, and the immateriality of the spirit is the source of intellectuality, the level of intellectuality corresponding to the level of immateriality.

In the order of operation, we note six consequences.

1. The operative potencies, the faculties, are distinguished specifically by the formal object and act to which each is proportioned.

2. Hence each faculty is really distinct, first, from the soul itself, second, from all other faculties.

3. Each cognoscitive faculty becomes, intentionaliter, i. e.: in a supramaterial order, the object known, whereas matter cannot become form.

4. Whatever is in motion has that motion from something higher than itself. Now, in a series of actually and necessarily subordinated causes regression to infinity is impossible: the sea is upheld by the earth, the earth by the sun, the sun by some higher source, but somewhere there must be a first upholding source. Any cause, which is not its own activity, can have that activity ultimately only from a first and supreme cause which is its own activity, and hence its own existence, because mode of activity follows mode of being. Hence the objective necessity of admitting God's existence.

5. Since every created faculty is specifically constituted by its own proper object, it follows evidently that no created intellect can be specifically proportioned to the proper object of divine intelligence. Hence the divinity as it is in itself, being inaccessible to created intelligence, constitutes an order essentially supernatural, an order of truth and life which transcends even the order of miracles, which are indeed divine deeds, but can be known naturally.

6. The obediential potency, by which the creature is capable of elevation to the supernatural order, is passive, not active. Were it otherwise, this potency would be both essentially natural, as a property of nature, and simultaneously supernatural, as specifically constituted by a supernatural object, to which it would be essentially proportioned. The word "obediential" relates this potency to the agent which alone can raise it to a supernatural object, to which, without that elevation, it can never be related and proportioned. Here lies the distinction between the two orders. The theological virtues are per se infused only because they are specifically constituted by a supernatural object which, without grace, is inaccessible.

Revelation admitted, the real distinction of potency from act, of finite essence from existence, leads us to admit, further, that in Christ, just as there is one person for the two natures, so there is likewise one existence for those two natures. The Word communicates His own existence to his human nature, as, to illustrate, the separated soul, when it resumes its body, gives to that body its own existence. Similarly, in the Trinity, there is for the three persons one sole uncreated existence, namely, existence itself, identified with the divine nature. [1348]

Such are the consequences of the distinction between potency and act, first in the natural order, then in the supernatural order. The brief analysis just given shows what the Congregation of Studies had in mind when it declared that the twenty-four theses are safe norms of intellectual direction. The supreme authority [1349] does not intend these theses to be definitions of faith, but declarations of the doctrine preferred by the Church.

Forgetting The Twenty-Four Theses

We have noted above the state of things that led to the formation of the twenty-four theses. Now, thirty years later, the same conditions seem to have returned. Lip-service to St. Thomas is universal, but the theses defended under his name are often worlds apart, and even contradict the holy doctor. Can a man be called Thomist by the mere fact that he admits the dogmas defined by the Church, even while he follows Descartes in his teachings on the spiritual life, or denies the evident principle of causality, and hence the validity of proof for the existence of God.

A small error in principle is a great error in conclusion. This is the word of St. Thomas, repeated by Pius X. To reject the first of the twenty-four theses is to reject them all. This reflection led the Church to approve the twenty-four.

But are not the truths of common sense a sufficient foundation for Catholic philosophers and theologians? They are, but not when they are distorted by individualistic interpretations. If these truths are to be defended today, against phenomenalists, idealists, and absolute evolutionists, we must penetrate to their philosophic depths. Without this penetration we lose all consistency, even in fundamentals, and fall prey to a skepticism, if not in thought, at least in life and action, to a fideism which is the dethronement of reason and of all serious intellectual life. And if it be said that sincerity in the search for truth remains, then we must retort that a sincerity which refuses to recognize the value of the greatest doctors whom God gave to His Church is surely a doubtful sincerity, destined never to reach its goal. Common sense is a term to conjure with. But let it be genuine common sense, fortified by deep analysis of man's first notions and man's first principles. Otherwise, deserting Thomas of Aquin, we may find ourselves in the poor encampment of Thomas Reid.

Here we may well listen to Pierre Charles, S. J.:

In favor of the history of dogma, and in discredit of metaphysics, an extremely virulent relativism had been, almost without notice, introduced into the teaching of doctrine. Psychology replaced ontology. Subjectivism was substituted for revelation. History inherited the place of dogma. The difference between Catholics and Protestants seemed reduced to a mere practical attitude in regard to the papacy. To arrest and correct this baneful and slippery attitude, Pius X had the proper gesture, brusk and definitive. Anglican modernism today shows all too well the frightening consequences to which, without the intervention of the Holy See, doctrinal relativism might have led us.

Papal condemnation has brought to light, in many Catholic theologians, a gaping void: the lack of philosophy. They shared the positivistic disdain for metaphysical speculation. Sometimes they proclaimed a highly questionable fideism. Fashion led them to ridicule philosophy, to jeer at its vocabulary, to contrast its infatuated audacity with the modesty of scientific hypotheses. The pope, by describing and synthesizing the modernistic error, compelled theology to re-examine, not so much particular problems, but rather fundamental religious notions, so skillfully distorted by the school of innovators. The philosophic bone-structure began to reappear ever more clearly as indispensable for the entire theological organism. [1350]

"We admonish professors," Pius X [1351] had said, "to bear well in mind, that the smallest departure from Aquinas, especially in metaphysics, brings in its wake great harm."

An historian of medieval philosophy has recently said that Cajetan, instead of limiting himself to an excellent commentary of the Summa, was rather bound to follow the intellectual movement of his time. The truth is that Cajetan did not feel himself thus called by Him who guides the intellectual life of the Church on a higher level than that of petty combinations, presumptions, and other deviations of our limited intelligences. Cajetan's glory lies in his recognition of the true grandeur of St. Thomas, of whom he willed to be the faithful commentator. This recognition was lacking in Suarez, who deserted the master lines of Thomistic metaphysics to follow his own personal thought.

Many a theologian, on reaching the next world, will realize that here below he failed to appreciate the grace which God bestowed on His Church when He gave her the Doctor Communis.

In these late years one such theologian has said that speculative theology, after giving beautiful systems to the Middle Ages, does not today know what it wants, or whither it is going, and that there is no longer serious work except in positive theology. He is but repeating what was said during the epoch of modernism. In point of truth, theology, if it disregarded the principles of the Thomistic synthesis, would resemble a geometry which, disregarding Euclidean principles, would not know whither it is going.

Another theologian of our own time proposes to change the order among the chief dogmatic treatises, to put the treatise on the Trinity before that of De Deo uno, which he would notably reduce. Further, on the fundamental problems relative to nature and grace, he invites us to return to what he holds to be the true position of many Greek Fathers anterior to St. Augustine. The labors of Aquinas, the labors of seven centuries of Thomists, are either of no value or of very little value.

Alongside these extreme and idle views, we find an eclectic opportunism, which strives to reach a higher level between positions which it regards as extreme. But it is destined to perpetual oscillation between two sides, since it can not recognize, or then cannot appreciate, that higher truth, which, amid fruitless tentatives, the Church unswervingly upholds and opportunely repeats, as she has done in our own time by approving the twenty-four theses.

We must grant that the problems of the present hour grow continually graver. But this situation is an added reason for returning to the doctrine of St. Thomas on being, truth, and goodness, on the objective validity of first principles, which alone can lead to certitude on God's existence, which is the foundation of all duty, and to attentive examination of those prime notions which are involved in the very enunciation of the fundamental dogmas. This necessity has been recently reinculcated by the Right Reverend St. M. Gillet, general of the Dominicans in a letter to all professors in the order. Msgr. Olgiati urges the same necessity in a forthcoming book on "Law according to St. Thomas." By this road alone can we reach the goal, thus indicated by the Vatican Council:

Reason, illumined by faith, if it seeks sedulously, piously, and soberly, can attain a most fruitful understanding of revealed mysteries, both by analogy with natural knowledge and by the interwoven union of these mysteries with one another and with man's last end.

Who more surely than St. Thomas can lead us to this goal? Let us not forget the word of Leo XIII, on the certainty, profundity, and sublimity of the saint's teaching.

In the life of the priest, above all in the life of a professor, whether of philosophy or not, it is a great grace to have been fashioned by the principles of St. Thomas. How much floundering and fluctuation does he thereby escape: on the validity of reason, on God one and triune, on the redemptive Incarnation, the sacraments, on the last end, on human acts, on sin, grace, virtues, and gifts! These directing principles of thought and life become ever more necessary as the conditions of existence grow ever more difficult, demanding a certitude more firm, a faith more immovable, a love of God more pure and strong.


1335 Cf. Acta Apost. Sedis, VI, 383 ff.

1336 Proponantur veluti tutae normae directivae.

1337 Can. 1366, § 2.

1338 Les vingt-quatre theses thomistes, Paris, Tequi, 1922.

1339 Ibid.: p. vii.

1340 P. Guido Mattiussi, S. J.: had written already in 1917 a work of first importance on this subject: Le XXIV tesi della filosofia di S. Tommaso d'Aquino approvate dalla Sacra Congreg. degli Studi, Roma.

1341 Parmenides.

1342 Heraclitus.

1343 Real potency of movement, say, for example, in a billiard ball, is not the mere negation, the mere privation, of movement, nor even the simple possibility of existence; though the latter suffices for an act of creation, which does not presuppose any real subject, any real potency.

1344 Suarez holds that prime matter, since it is not pure potentiality, but involves a certain actuality, can exist without form. This view shows why he likewise maintains that our will is a virtual act, capable, without divine premotion, of passing to second act.

Leibnitz substitutes force for real potency, active or passive. In consequence, passive potency disappears and with it prime matter Movement too can no longer be explained as a function of intelligible being, primordially divided into potency and act. Further, force itself, supposed to explain all else, is a simple object of internal experience, unattached to being, man's first intelligible notion. This dynamism of Leibnitz breaks on the principle that activity presupposes being.

1345 la, q. 2, a. 3.

1346 Created person, like created essence, cannot be formally constituted by what belongs to it only as a contingent predicate. Now only as a contingent predicate does existence belong to a created person. Peter of himself is Peter, nothing more. He of himself is not existence, and in this he differs from God, who alone is His own existence. To deny the real distinction in creatures, of person, of suppositum, from existence is to jeopardize also the real distinction between essence and existence. In every created substance, says St. Thomas (Cont. Gent.: II, 52): quod est differs from existence. Quod est is the person, the suppositum. It is not the essence of Peter, it is Peter himself. Existence, says St. Thomas again (IIIa, q. 17, a. 2, ad 1): follows person as that which has existence. Now if existence follows person, it cannot constitute person. Each of the two concepts, created person and created existence, is a distinct and irreducible concept.

1347 Ia, q. 14, a. 1.

1348 Cf. IIIa, q. 17, a. 2, ad 3.

1349 See above the words of Benedict XV (note 1336).

1350 "La theologie dogmatique hier et aujourd'hui" in Nouvelle revue theologique, 1929, p. 810.

1351 Pascendi and Sacrorum Antistitum.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

"Human Actions" (Actus Humanus) vs. "Actions of a Man" (Actus Hominis)

From Summa Theologiae I-II.1.1c et ad 3:

Objection 3. Further, then does a man seem to act for an end, when he acts deliberately. But man does many things without deliberation, sometimes not even thinking of what he is doing; for instance when one moves one's foot or hand, or scratches one's beard, while intent on something else. Therefore man does not do everything for an end.

I answer that, Of actions done by man those alone are properly called "human," which are proper to man as man. Now man differs from irrational animals in this, that he is master of his actions. Wherefore those actions alone are properly called human, of which man is master. Now man is master of his actions through his reason and will; whence, too, the free-will is defined as "the faculty and will of reason." Therefore those actions are properly called human which proceed from a deliberate will. And if any other actions are found in man, they can be called actions "of a man," but not properly "human" actions, since they are not proper to man as man. Now it is clear that whatever actions proceed from a power, are caused by that power in accordance with the nature of its object. But the object of the will is the end and the good. Therefore all human actions must be for an end.

Reply to Objection 3. Such like actions are not properly human actions; since they do not proceed from deliberation of the reason, which is the proper principle of human actions. Therefore they have indeed an imaginary end, but not one that is fixed by reason.

Praeterea, tunc videtur homo agere propter finem, quando deliberat. Sed multa homo agit absque deliberatione, de quibus etiam quandoque nihil cogitat; sicut cum aliquis movet pedem vel manum aliis intentus, vel fricat barbam. Non ergo homo omnia agit propter finem.

Respondeo dicendum quod actionum quae ab homine aguntur, illae solae proprie dicuntur humanae, quae sunt propriae hominis inquantum est homo. Differt autem homo ab aliis irrationalibus creaturis in hoc, quod est suorum actuum dominus. Unde illae solae actiones vocantur proprie humanae, quarum homo est dominus. Est autem homo dominus suorum actuum per rationem et voluntatem, unde et liberum arbitrium esse dicitur facultas voluntatis et rationis. Illae ergo actiones proprie humanae dicuntur, quae ex voluntate deliberata procedunt. Si quae autem aliae actiones homini conveniant, possunt dici quidem hominis actiones; sed non proprie humanae, cum non sint hominis inquantum est homo. Manifestum est autem quod omnes actiones quae procedunt ab aliqua potentia, causantur ab ea secundum rationem sui obiecti. Obiectum autem voluntatis est finis et bonum. Unde oportet quod omnes actiones humanae propter finem sint.

Ad tertium dicendum quod huiusmodi actiones non sunt proprie humanae, quia non procedunt ex deliberatione rationis, quae est proprium principium humanorum actuum. Et ideo habent quidem finem imaginatum, non autem per rationem praestitutum.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Card. Ratzinger: The Novus Ordo Reform was "a Banal On-the-Spot Product"

From Cardinal Ratzinger's preface to La Reforme liturgique en question, by Klaus Gamber, Editions Sainte-Madeleine.

The Mass Reduced to a Show
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

A Young priest recently told me: "Today we need a new liturgical movement." He was expressing a desire that, these days, only deliberately superficial souls would ignore.

What matters to that priest is not the conquest of new, bolder liberties. For, where is the liberty that we have yet to arrogate ourselves? That priest understood that we need a new beginning born from deep within the liturgy, as liturgical movement intended....

In its practical materialization, liturgical reform has moved further away from this origin. The result was not re-animation but devastation.

On the one hand, we have a liturgy which has degenerated so that it has become a show which, with momentary success for the group of liturgical fabricators, strives to render religion interesting in the wake of the frivolities of fashion and seductive moral maxims.

Consequently, the trend is the increasingly marked retreat of those who do not look to the liturgy for a spiritual show-master but for the encounter with the living God in whose presence all the "doing" becomes insignificant since only this encounter is able to guarantee us access to the true richness of being....

Therefore, a new spiritual impulse is necessary so that the liturgy becomes a community activity of the Church for us once again and to remove it from the will of parish priests and their liturgical teams.

There can be no "fabricating" a liturgical movement of this kind, just as there can be no "fabricating" something which is alive. But a contribution can be made to its development by seeking to re-assimilate the spirit of the liturgy and by defending publicly that which was received.

The new beginning needs "fathers" who would serve as models, who would not content themselves with just showing the way.... It is difficult to express in just a few words what is important in this diatribe of liturgists and what is not. But perhaps what I have to say will be of use. J.A. Jungman, one of the truly great liturgists of our century, offered his definition of the liturgy of his time, as it was intended in the West, and he represented it in terms of historical research. He described it as "liturgy which is the fruit of development."

This is probably in contrast with the Eastern notion which does not see liturgy as developing or growing in history but as the reflection of eternal liturgy whose light, through the sacred celebration, illumines our changing times with its unchanging beauty and greatness. Both conceptions are legitimate and by definition they are not irreconcilable.

What happened after the Council was totally different: in the place of liturgy as the fruit of development came fabricated liturgy.

We left the living process of growth and development to enter the realm of fabrication. There was no longer a desire to continue developing and maturing, as the centuries passed and so this was replaced--as if it were a technical production--with a construction, a banal on-the-spot product.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Quaeritur: What is the Best Edition of the Summa?


Quaeritur: What is the absolute best pre-Vatican II edition of the Summa Theologica of St Thomas, in Latin. And please don't just say the Leonine.  I want a publisher, and a year of publication. My ideal edition would be very developed, bring us right up to Vatican II, with tons of excellent footnotes, commentary, and scholia. Would it be Cajetan commentary? I don't know. You would know. Let me know. Let us all know, please. My ideal edition would also be in as few volumes as possible. If my ideal edition is not your ideal edition, please compare contrast, elucidate, and extrapolate. Thanks for your help professor.

Respondeo: In my opinion, there is no single, perfect edition; there are only many different good versions, each of which has its advantages and disadvantages.

1. The best text is that of the Leonine edition (pictured); this is the best critical edition (best critical apparatus), and it also has the advantage that it includes Cajetan's commentary. It has the disadvantage of being enormously voluminous (9 huge vols + index), out of print, and very expensive (unless you get the PDF from ITOPL). I use this work only for articles and books that I intend to publish, or for Cajetan's Commentary:

Sancti Thomae Aquinatis. Opera omnia iussu impensaque Leonis XIII P. M. edita, t. 4-12: Summa theologiae Ex Typographia Polyglotta S. C. de Propaganda Fide, Romae, 1888-1889.

2. The best as far as bibliography is the St. Paul edition: it includes extensive bibliography for every treatise and question, plus great footnotes. It also has the advantage of being a single (though rather large and heavy) volume:

Sancti Thomae de Aquino. Summa theologiae. Editiones Paulinae, Alba-Roma, réimprimée souvent à partir des années 1955.

3. Now, neither the Leonine edition nor the St. Paul edition is really the most useful for casual study and research. In my opinion, the best as far as study tools (outlines of parts, generous anthology of commentators, etc.) is the Marietti edition:

Sancti Thomae de Aquino. Summa theolgiae. Ed. Petrus Caramello. Taurini: Marietti, 1952.

4. But these three versions so far are far too bulky and uncomfortable to take out of your library. The best version, in my opinion, as far as size, weight, and feel of the volumes, is the Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos (BAC) edition. I like this version because I can easily take any one of the five volumes on the road with me and read it any time I have a break, without it being too burdensome (as far as weight and size) and it is also quite sturdy so it does not get damaged easily. This version is not to be confused with the Spanish translation (or the bilingual version) of the Summa, both published by BAC:

Sancti Thomae de Aquino. Summa theologiae. Madrid: Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos, 1995.

5. Now, all four versions so far only contain the Latin text. If your Latin needs a little help (as is the case with most of us) the best side-by-side Latin-English version is that by NovaAntiqua:

Saint Thomas Aquinas. Summa theologiae. Scotts Valley, CA: CreateSpace, 2009.

N.B.: For those who are not planning on being professional Thomistic scholars, for those whose Latin is not solid enough to handle the Latin alone, and those who just want one version, I would recommend they get the NovaAntiqua version. For more serious scholars, I would urge them to get them all or most of them (the Leonine is a must, at least on PDF).

Request: If you ever scan the St. Paul or Marietti editions (or anything else), please feel free to share those files with me, as they can be immensely helpful.