The rest of Book Two is mapped out.
Chapter 4 That the philosopher and the theologian treat of creatures in different ways (alternate translation)
 Now it is evident from what has been said that the teaching of the Christian faith treats of creatures in so far as they reflect a certain likeness of God, and forasmuch as error concerning them leads to error about God. And so they are viewed from a different point by the aforesaid teaching, and by that of human philosophy. For human philosophy considers them as such; wherefore we find that the different parts of philosophy correspond to the different genera of things
 On the other hand the Christian faith does not consider them as such, for instance it considers fire not as such, but as representing the sublimity of God, and as being directed to Him in any way whatsoever. For as it is stated (Ecclus. xlii. 16, 17), Full of the glory of the Lord is His work. Hath not the Lord made the saints to declare all His wonderful works? Hence also the philosopher and the believer consider different matters about creatures. For the philosopher considers such things as belong to them by their own nature: for instance that fire tends upwards. Whereas the believer considers about creatures only such things as belong to them in respect of their relation to God: for instance that they are created by God, are subject to God, and so forth.
Notes There is a proper difference between theology and philosophy, which nobody disputes.
 Wherefore it argues not imperfection in the teaching of faith, if it overlooks many properties of things: such as the shape of the heavens, and the quality of its movement: since neither does the physicist consider the same characters of a line as the geometrician, but only such as are accidental thereto, as the term of a natural body.
Notes The lines—get it? get it?—between physicists and geometricians are blurred these days as any string theorist will tell you, but you get the idea.
 Any matters, however, that the philosopher and the believer in common consider about creatures, are delivered through different principles on the one hand and on the other. For the philosopher takes his argument from the proper causes of things, whereas the believer has recourse to the First Cause, for instance because it has been thus delivered by God, or because it conduces to God’s glory, or because God’s power is infinite. Hence (the teaching of faith) should be called the greatest wisdom, since it considers the highest cause, according to the saying of Deut. iv. 6: For this is your wisdom and understanding in the sight of nations.
Wherefore human philosophy is a handmaid to her as mistress. For this reason sometimes divine wisdom argues from the principles of human philosophy: since also among philosophers the First Philosophy makes use of the teachings of all sciences in order to establish its purpose. Hence again both teachings do not follow the same order. For in the teaching of philosophy which considers creatures in themselves and leads us from them to the knowledge of God, the first consideration is about creatures, and the last of God: whereas in the teaching of faith which considers creatures only in their relation to God, the consideration about God takes the first place, and that about creatures the last. And thus it is more perfect: as being more like God’s knowledge, for He beholds other things by knowing Himself.
Notes In comments to last weeks’ post YOS rightly emphasized that there is a big (I’d say infinite) difference between the first activation of a potential and the secondary activations of potentials, i.e. between the singular primary causes and the myriad secondary causes. Physicists deals only with the latter. Metaphysicists deal with the former. Theologians deal with the consequences of both.
 Wherefore, according to this order, after what has been said in the First Book about God in Himself, it remains for us to treat of the things which proceed from Him.
Chapter 5 Order of the things to be said (alternate translation)
 WE shall treat of these things in the following order. First we shall discourse of the bringing forth of things into being: secondly, of their distinction: thirdly, of the nature of these same things brought forth and distinct from one another, so far as it concerns the truth of faith.
Notes Sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun!
Categories: Philosophy, SAMT
Is this a plea for the Non Overlapping Magisteria avant la lettre?
Hans Erren writes “Is this a plea for the Non Overlapping Magisteria avant la lettre?”
So it seems; but more than that, it establishes primacy of religion (believer in First Cause) over physics while acknowledging that religion is not even trying to explain how things work, thus there is no defect in faith because of that lack of ability. It works so long as you keep these realms distinct.
Hans: You made me “google it”! Now I am going to have to further research the viewpoint contained therein! 🙂
In the interests of a more complete overview of St. Thomas’s brief, particularly in light of the distinctions he makes here between theology and philosophy, I include here a passage written by an actual theologian, an actual metaphysician, Rev. Donald J. Keefe, SJ, in Vol. II of his Covenantal Theology, regarding the theological, metaphysical, and hence, the philosophical inadequacies of classic Thomism. Aquinas is not defunct; but he is wrong. The distinction is important.
In passing, it should be obvious that part of Fr. Keefe’s project, as seen here in the following passage from his magnum opus, is to correct — to convert (yes, literally) — not dismiss, St. Thomas’s philosophy and his metaphysics by means of a sounder theology of the Catholic faith. That such a theological critique of both metaphysics and philosophy must and should be performed systematically, as a matter of sounder method, is by itself a lesson that Thomas-philes might profit from.
Two pull-quotes from the blockquoted passage below:
“This systematic impasse eliminates the rational possibility within the classic Thomist metaphysics of any material substantiality, whether of the species as a concrete universal, or of the isolated material individual, and does so without remainder.
“The conclusion is then forced: the notion of a material substance, insofar as concerns the classic Thomist format, is unintelligible, incapable of a coherent act-potency account.”
“The only analysis which can serve a theological metaphysics is that which remembers that the formal cause of the freedom of the Covenant is he whom Irenaeus and the tradition after him insisted upon naming, in his humanity as in his divinity, One and the Same, the second Adam.”
St. Thomas’s thoughts on philosopy and theology are well and good. Nevertheless, I believe that he led more people to God by his hymns, Tantum Ergo, Adore Te Devote, … than by all his works of theology and philosophy.
And if this is heresy, well… This bear of little brain is led to God more by music than by theology.
And, I’m not sure who said it, “If Bach exists, so must God.”
“St. Thomas’s thoughts on philosopy and theology are well and good. Nevertheless, I believe that he led more people to God by his hymns, Tantum Ergo, Adore Te Devote, … than by all his works of theology and philosophy.”
Am I constantly baffled by comments such as this. If they are meant as a personal comment, they are interesting tidbits about the utterer, but this is clearly not the intention here given the specific claims about the efficacy of St. Thomas’ anthems in contradistinction to his summas (on what grounds, I know not — but maybe they were uttered only half seriously?). What is at work here? Some secret distrust in the power of reason? Maybe a secret fear (to call it that) that what St. Thomas establishes by the power of argument an anti-St. Thomas could unravel by the same power? There is something to this, since we do not think Beckett’s Malone, lurching towards absolute nothingness, annihilates Shakespeare’s larger than life characters. If I were to say that I am not moved by St. Thomas anthems (as indeed I am not) but deeply moved by his summas (as indeed I am), I am pretty sure I would sound a philistine if I were to remark “His anthems are all well and good but”. All it would be — and to recurse back to my beginnings — is a commentary on my proclivities and insensibilities. And while there may be one or two people out there interested in my proclivities and putative lack of sensibility, I am not one of them; and this itself is nothing but a personal comment on my disinterestedness and a sure sign that I should just shut up.
JohnK quotes “This systematic impasse eliminates the rational possibility within the classic Thomist metaphysics of any material substantiality, whether of the species as a concrete universal, or of the isolated material individual, and does so without remainder.”
Reads like something from “scigen”
SCIgen is a computer program that uses context-free grammar to randomly generate nonsense in the form of computer science research papers. All elements of the papers are formed, including graphs, diagrams, and citations. Created by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, its stated aim is “to maximize amusement, rather than coherence.”
Compare to scripture:
G. Rodrigues, I apologize if I’ve offended you. My point was the following. Logic and rationality are well and good, but they are not in themselves convincing to the unbeliever. I doubt that anyone was converted to the faith by reading “Summa contra Gentiles”. Indeed, you can read all the criticisms by philosophers of Thomistic arguments.
On the other hand there are non-arguments, statements of beauty and majesty, in St. Thomas’s hymns that do convert the unbeliever. Somewhere there’s an anecdote about atheists who have found faith after listening to God. I can’t find that anecdote but here’s a relevant link.
So, to repeat: my point is not to denigrate the great Scholar’s philosophical works, but to suggest that as a mechanism for conversion, they are deficient. And did not he himself say near the end of his life, “All is straw”?
“Listening to God” —> “Listening to Bach”… PROOF READ!!!!
I have in fact heard of people being converted by the SCG especially the argument from motion. However, I think it is right to say that Beauty is often a more powerful source of conversion than Truth, not in itself but with respect to us. As Venerable Cardinal Sheen noted, many (if not most) people are prevented from conversion not for intellectual reasons but for moral reasons. It seems that Beauty inclines the appetite to the Good in ways that are less easily avoided than Truth.
“I apologize if I’ve offended you.”
I said they were “baffling” and I explained why. But if you are apologizing, then I must have given you the impression that I was “offended”, but I can assure you that neither is there a need for apologies, nor was I offended in any way (what is there in your comment to take offense at?).
“Logic and rationality are well and good, but they are not in themselves convincing to the unbeliever.”
This can be understood in a couple of different ways. If the unbeliever is irrational, then sure, no amount of rational argument can convince him. What makes an argument good is *not* its capacity for persuasion. If it were so, then any conversation would be automatically held hostage by the untutored idiot in the room. Persuasion belongs to rhetoric not dialectics. But I suspect this is not what you have in mind.
“On the other hand there are non-arguments, statements of beauty and majesty, in St. Thomas’s hymns that do convert the unbeliever.”
I will repeat myself, but other than as a commentary on personal experience, I do not know on what grounds you make such a claim. More to the point though, you *seem* to think that it is an either or; St. Thomas obviously did not thought so, having composed both the hymns and the Summas. Why not both? The second problem is what do you mean by “convert”? I do not doubt that there are experiences of the Grace of God of such a quality as being compelling. But they are also personal and incommunicable. What will you say to anyone that listens to Bach and comes unconvinced? That he is irrational? And what will you say to someone that listens to Bach, does experience the Grace of God, but rationalizes it away (as many are wont to)? Shrug your shoulders? Accuse him of being tone deaf?
Christans are entreated to make a defense of their faith to everyone that requires it, which, even if it includes other things like playing Bach records (more generally, and less facetiously, living out in Culture the Christian faith), *surely* includes laying out rational arguments. And to repeat myself, as I have been doing all along, where exactly does this distrust of the power of reason comes from? The catechism states, and I quote:
And a little later:
The first argument mentioned in 32 (unquoted) is the argument from motion, which St. Thomas codified in the First Way, and is characterized in the catechism as true and certain knowledge. In the quoted 36, it goes even further — “Without this capacity, man would not be able to welcome God’s revelation”. Once again, where exactly does this distrust of the power of reason comes from? The mere fact that that there are persons that disagree? For any given proposition, almost surely you will find intelligent and capable persons disagreeing on its truth status, including in particular, what does disagreement on the truth of a proposition entails or on the efficacy of Bach’s music in the conversion of atheists and heathen alike. Do you thereby refuse to believe in anything at all?