Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Revolution of the Relation: Eros - Agape

The Key: Both Eros and Agape have the same ontological consistency, i.e. relationality, since Eros is the human person created in the image and likeness of Agape.

Eros and Agape are not about love, but about the meaning of person revealed by and in Jesus Christ as “privileged locus for the encounter with being, and hence with metaphysical enquiry.”[1] Eros and Agape are symbols of personal dynamism at opposite ends of the spectrum of personhood. Eros is the person seeking the good. Agape is Person creating the good. Agape creates Eros and fulfills its desires.

The task set by John XXIII for the Second Vatican Council was to adhere to the Truth of always while assimilating the developments of the modern world to better penetrate that Truth and radiate it. The Truth of always – the totality of Divine Revelation – is the Person of Jesus Christ. The developments of the modern world are science, the democratic state and globalism.

What has actually taken place in the post-conciliar period is what Benedict XVI has called a “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture.” On December 22, 2005, he addressed the Roman Curia saying:

“The hermeneutic of discontinuity risks ending in a split between the preconciliar church and the postconciliar church. It asserts that the texts of the council as such do not yet express the true spirit of the council. It claims that they are the result of compromises in which to reach unanimity, it was found necessary to keep and reconfirm many old things that are not pointless.”

Now, it is asserted, “it would be necessary to go courageously beyond the texts and make room for the newness in which the council’s deepest intention would be expressed, even if it were still vague.

“In a word, it would be necessary not to follow the texts of the council but its spirit. In this way, obviously, a vast margin was left open for the question on how this spirit should subsequently be defined and room was consequently made for every whim”
[2] (underline mine).

Twelve years ago, before being pope, Benedict remarked in response as to the “why” of the new Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Now we are close to the end of a millennium and in an entirely new historical period, indicated by schemas of thought, science, technology, culture and civilization, breaking completely with all that we knew previously. This is why it was necessary to reformulate the logic and the sum total of the Christian faith. This is the fruit of a reflection, over some years, by the universal Church to rethink, re-articulate and bring up-to-date her doctrine” (underline mine). Among the points of discontinuity was the reduction of Christian morals “to a catalogue of permitted or forbidden things,” the reduction of Revelation to Scripture, the encroachment of positivism as historical-critical method as the limiting access to Scripture, a proliferation of Church-structures[3], man-made ministries, global intolerance, etc.

“The Hermeneutic of Continuity”

Benedict quoted John XXIII:

“The Council wishes `to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion… Our duty is not only to guard this precious treasure, as if we were concerned only with antiquity, but to dedicate ourselves with an earnest will and without fear to that work which our era demands of us.’ It is necessary that `adherence to all the teaching of the church in its entirety and preciseness’ be presented in `faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another,’’ retaining the same meaning and message.”

He went on to say:

“It is clear that his commitment to expressing a specific truth in a new way demands new thinking on this truth and a new and vital relationship with it; it is also clear that new words can only develop if they come from an informed understanding of the truth expressed, and on the other hand, that a reflection on faith also requires that this faith be lived [theology done on one’s knees]. In this regard, the program that Pope John XXIII proposed was extremely demanding, indeed, just as the synthesis of fidelity and dynamic is demanding.”[4]

The “hermeneutic of continuity” is “person-as-relation,” which is “Eros.” This connects the Fathers of the Church (particularly Tertullian and Augustine) with modern epistemology: i.e., the recovery of the subject as being – “I” – by way of phenomenology.

Eros is “person-as-relation,” first, toward Agape.” This solves “the three circles of questions” that “had formed” at the time of the Second Vatican Council” and “were expecting an answer.”[5] The key is to understand that faith is not first an act of the faculties of intellect and will, but the act of the whole person. It is the gift of self to the Revealing Self of Christ. But the self wants to make this gift because it is Eros (made in the image of Agape) with Agape instilled in it as its fulfillment. When Agape reveals Him-Self, Eros says, “That’s it,” “That’s what I’m longing for.” Christ’s call to “great crowds” - one by one - : “If any one comes to me and does not hate this father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. And he who does not carry his cross and follow me, cannot be my disciple.” (Lk. 14, 26-27). Eros hears this call of the Absolute in whose image he is made, and yearns to say, “Yes.” This is the meaning of “Eros.”

It is the meaning of conscience. Conscience is Eros remembering who he is by tending toward some things and avoiding others. The very meaning of the value “good” and “evil” arise from the “remembering” or tendency of Eros for Agape. This is the reason why Benedict presents Cardinal Newman’s toast, first to conscience, then to the pope. Without the Eros of conscience, the Agape of the pope would be an extrinsic imposition on freedom. As it is, it is a response to a longing. Benedict said, “The anamnesis [the original remembering in Eros because of the tendency to the Absolute] instilled in our being needs, one might say assistance from without so that it can become aware of itself. But this `from without’ is not something set n opposition to anamnesis but ordered to it. It has maieutic function, imposes nothing foreign, but brings to fruition what is proper to anamnesis, namely, its interior openness to the truth.”[6]

First Circle: Belief and Modern Science

Eros (person-as-relation = to be = to be for) solves the problem of belief and the scientific method. Succinctly, “By definition, revelation requires a someone who apprehends it…. (R)evelation precedes Scripture and becomes deposited in Scripture but is not simply identical with it.”[7] Earlier (1988), Benedict said: “at the heart of the historico-critical method lies the effort to establish in the field of history a level of methodological precision which would yield conclusions of the same certainty as in the field of the natural sciences…. Now, if the natural science model is to be followed without hesitation, then the importance of the Heisenburg principle should be applied to the historical-critical method as well. Heisenburg has shown that the outcome of a given experiment is heavily influenced by the point of view of the observer. So much is this the case that both the observer’s questions and observations continue to change themselves in the natural course of events. When applied to the witness of history, this means that interpretation can never be just a simple reproduction of history’s being, `as it was.’ The word inter-pretation gives us a clue to the question itself: Every exegesis requires an `inter,’ an entering in and a being “inter’ or between things; this is the involvement of the interpreter himself. Pure objectivity is an absurd abstraction. It is not the uninvolved who comes to knowledge; rather, interest itself is a requirement for the possibility of coming to know…
“Here, then, is the question: How does one come to be interested, not so that the self drowns out the voice of the other, but in such a way that one develops a kind of inner understanding for things of the past, and ears to listen to the word they speak to us today?
“This principle which Heisenburg enunciated for experiments in the natural sciences has a very important application to the subject-object relationship. The subject is not to be neatly isolated in a world of its own apart from any interaction.”[8]

Second Circle: Believer/Citizen Resolving Church/State

Since belief is an anthropological act of self-gift, it is experience on a second tier, that of the subject. That experience produces a consciousness-conscience of the dignity of the self and the freedom and right to self-determination. Hence, only where there is faith, and the culture of faith giving this experience, is it possible to have a democratic society with the separation of Church and State as institutions. In this sense, Christian faith – Eros – is the grounding of a true humanism, a true secularity (true autonomy of self-determination) and a true civil order.

Third Circle: Believer/Tolerance Resolving Globalism

Global freedom can exist only if there is existential global truth. The universality – or “globality” - of concepts is an abstraction, and as such, do not exist. The only global truth that is universal and existentially real is the freedom and dignity of the self: “I.” This is arrived at, not by abstraction from sense experience, but by the experience of the self in the act of faith, or the lived experience of trust in a faith-culture. The self is experienced as being only by and in the act of self-transcendence.

Benedict proposes two fundamental ways of religious experience: Mysticism and monotheism.

Mysticism: “In mysticism, inwardness holds the first place; spiritual experience is posited as an absolute. That includes the view that God is purely passive in relation to man and that the content of religion can only consist of man plunging into God. God does not act; there is only the `mysticism’ of men, the gradual ascent to union.”[9]
“What is characteristic for this mysticism is the experience of identity: the mystic sinks down into the ocean of the all-one, irrespective of whether this is portrayed, with emphatic theologia negative, as `nothingness’ or, in a positive sense, as `everything.’ In the final stage of such an experience, the `mystic’ will no longer be able to say to his God, `I am Thine;’ the expression he uses is `I am Thee.’ The difference has been left behind in what is provisional, preparatory, and what is ultimately valid is fusion, unity.”[10] All individual religious distinctions fall away as provisional and preparatory for this one, deep and all pervasive – global – religious experience. It is “New Age.

Monotheistic Revolution: “The monotheistic way starts from a conviction that is the opposite of this: here man is the passive element upon whom God acts; here it is man who can do nothing of himself, but instead we have here an activity on the part of God, a call from God, and man opens himself to salvation through obedience in response to the call.”[11] Mysticism is really opposed here by faith. “The `monotheist’ holds that the absolutely contrary reduction is correct: the reduction of everything impersonal to persons”[12] whereas the mystic reduces the person to the impersonal state.

The signature statement of mysticism would be: “I am You.” Mysticism is totally tolerant in that it is now pervasive basis for affirming all religions as equal in that we have this mystical base of love, live and let live.

Solution to Globalism: The act of faith is the act of the “I” making the self-gift to the “I” of the revealing Christ. The believer is Eros awaiting the fulfillment of himself as person from Christ-Agape. Since faith is a culture in itself as cultivation of “I” by self-gift, it is open to all cultures and can be inter-cultural with them perfecting them as true cultures, i.e., the truth of the person (gift) and bringing about global unity. Globalism and the autonomy of cultures is the hopeful prospect for a shrinking world.

Benedict said: “The meeting of cultures is possible because man, despite all the differences of his history and social constructs, remains one and the same being. This one being man, however, is himself touched in the depth of his existence by truth. The fundamental openness of each person to the other can only be explained by the hidden fact that our souls have been touched by truth: and this explains the essential agreement which exists even between cultures most removed from each other…. Christian faith is… certain that in its core it is the self-disclosure of truth itself and therefore is redemption. For ma’s real poverty is the darkness to truth…. The communication of truth brings deliverance from alienation and division. It illumines the universal standard which does no violence to any culture abut leads each to its own center, since each culture is finally the expectation [Eros] of truth [Agape].”[13]


Image of God: EROS

Greek “Nature” Becomes Person (Eros) Intrinsically Tending to God


Gaudium et Spes

Chapter I:

“The Dignity of the Human Person”[RAC1]

The Human Person is “Eros”

Text: #12. According to the almost unanimous opinion of believers and unbelievers alike, all things on earth should be related to man as their center and crown.
But what is man? About himself he has expressed, and continues to express, many divergent and even contradictory opinions. In these he often exalts himself as the absolute measure of all things or debases himself to the point of despair. The result is doubt and anxiety. The Church certainly understands these problems. Endowed with light from God, she can offer solutions to them, so that man's true situation can be portrayed and his defects explained, while at the same time his dignity and destiny are justly acknowledged.
For Sacred Scripture teaches that man was created "to the image of God," is capable of knowing and loving his Creator, and was appointed by Him as master of all earthly creatures[1] that he might subdue them and use them to God's glory.[2] "What is man that you should care for him? You have made him little less than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him rule over the works of your hands, putting all things under his feet" (Ps. 8:5-7).
But God did not create man as a solitary, for from the beginning "male and female he created them" (Gen. 1:27). Their companionship produces the primary form of interpersonal communion. For by his innermost nature man is a social being, and unless he relates himself to others he can neither live nor develop his potential.
Therefore, as we read elsewhere in Holy Scripture God saw "all that he had made, and it was very good" (Gen. 1:31).

Comment by Josef Ratzinger[14]

Josef Ratzinger: Article 12. “The text of this article was particularly hotly disputed, precisely because it involved a decision about the whole theological approach and therefore the structure of the entire schema. General approval was given to the fact that no attempt was made to give a static philosophical doctrine of man on the lines of the neo-scholastic tradition, that the body-soul pattern had not been employed, and that, without any attempt at a complete and systematic doctrine of man, a mosaic of basic statements had been assembled which in conjunction formed a dynamic account of man, stressing history and essentially based on biblical data. Nevertheless, it seemed to many people, especially theologians from German-speaking countries, that there was not a radical enough rejection of a doctrine of man divided into philosophy and theology. They were convinced that fundamentally the text was still based on a schematic representation of nature and the supernatural viewed far too much as merely juxtaposed. To their mind it took as its starting-point the fiction that it is possible to construct a rational philosophical picture of man intelligible to all and on which al men of goodwill can agree, the actual Christian doctrines being added to this as a sort of crowning conclusion. The latter then tends to appear as a sort of special possession of Christians, which others ought not to make a bone of contention but which at bottom can be ignored. This was the real reason, for a protest against the `optimism’ of the schema (all these objections refer to Text 4). It was not a question of imposing a pessimistic view of man or of constructing an exaggerated theology of sin because of a certain correspondence with some forms of Lutheran thought. The text as it stood itself prompted the question why exactly the reasonable and perfectly free human being described in the first articles was suddenly burdened with the story of Christ. The latter might well appear to be a rather unintelligible addition to a picture that was already quite complete in itself. Consequently the text was blamed for only apparently choosing a theological starting-point in the idea of man as the image of God, whereas in reality it still had a theistically-colored and to a large extent non-historical view. As opposed to this, it was urged that the starting-point should be Christ, the second Adam, from whom alone the Christian picture of man can be correctly developed. Advocates of this position could point to the fictitious character of a supposedly rational picture of man and therefore say that the only realistic picture must start from the actual Christian creed which, precisely as a confession of faith, can and must manifest its own intelligibility and rationality. To this was objected that dialogue demands a gradual advance, which alone can open out some access to the center of belief. Ultimately the whole question of the relation between faith and understanding cmes up for debate here. It ca hardly be disputed that as a consequence of the division between philosophy and theology established by the Thomists, a juxtaposition has gradually been established which no longer appears adequate. There is, and must be, a human reason in faith; yet conversely, every human reason is conditioned by a historical standpoint so that reason pure and simple does not exist….

“The problems involved in starting from the idea of man as the image of God spring from the fact that in the Old Testament (leaving out of account the special view expressed in Wis 2, 23) this idea is left quite indeterminate in content. It only receives its full meaning from the fact that in the New Testament the Adam-figure and the doctrine of man as the image of God are transferred to Christ as the definitive Adam. Consequently this idea not only has its origin in the theology of creation, it becomes an eschatological theme, concerned less with the origin than with the future of man. It therefore appears less as a static endowment than as the dynamism of a premise located above man. It was implicit in the logic of the starting-point, once this was chosen, that its authors wanted to introduce Christology at the end and were not ready to admit it here, even though it forces itself on the attention here as an indispensable component of a Christian anthropology. Consequently the perspective remained exclusively that of the the theology of creation, but one which is not even adequate to the wealth of a Christian theology of creation, for this is only intelligible in eschatology; the Alpha is only truly to be understood in the light of the Omega.”

[In a word, EROS can only be understood as imaging AGAPE and tending toward it]

T hen, “With Augustine (De Trinitate, XIV, 8, 11) the image of God is interpreted as capacity for God, qualification to know and love God. That is what for Augustine give s the idea of man as the image of God its dynamic aspect; man is the image of God to the extent in which he directs himself to God; man disfigures his likeness to God by turning away from God…. Dominion over the world is only the consequence, not the content, of likeness to God… Work is not purely and simply likeness to God, even if it must be regarded as closely bound up with it. The clearly stated difference between content and consequence of man’s creation to the image of God implies an affirmation which has not been sufficiently taken into account in post-conciliar discussion.”

Note: The Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Chapter One” of Part One is entitled: “Man’s Capacity for God:” “The Desire for God: “The desire for god is written in the human heart, because man is crated by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for:

The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God. This invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being. For if man exists, it is because God has created him through love, and through love continues to hold him in existence. He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creator”[15]


“Eros” is the “Theology of the Body”[16]

Text: #14. Though made of body and soul, man is one. Through his bodily composition he gathers to himself the elements of the material world; thus they reach their crown through him, and through him raise their voice in free praise of the Creator.[5] For this reason man is not allowed to despise his bodily life; rather he is obliged to regard his body as good and honorable since God has created it and will raise it up on the last day. Nevertheless, wounded by sin, man experiences rebellious stirrings in his body. But the very dignity of man postulates that man glorify God in his body [6] and forbid it to serve the evil inclinations of his heart.
Now, man is not wrong when he regards himself as superior to bodily concerns, and as more than a speck of nature or a nameless constituent of the city of man. For by his interior qualities he outstrips the whole sum of mere things. He plunges into the depths of reality whenever he enters into his own heart; God, Who probes the heart,[7] awaits him there; there he discerns his proper destiny beneath the eyes of God. Thus, when he recognizes in himself a spiritual and immortal soul, he is not being mocked by a fantasy born only of physical or social influences, but is rather laying hold of the proper truth of the matter.

Comment by Joseph Ratzinger
“The whole article originally dealt solely with `the dignity of the human body,’ and the following article concerned `the dignity of the soul and particularly of the human intellect’ (Text 4). In Text 5 this division was suppressed and the whole constitution of man was included in Article 14 in order to oppose as much as possible any kind of dualism and to emphasize human unity even in this external way. That unity is so complete that man can only be described as simultaneously body and soul, each ain the other, not separate from it.
“Whereas the second part of the article chiefly deals with man’s soul, the first part attempts to present something like a theology of the body. The first words, `Corpore et anima unus’ go beyond the purely methodical division, and are intended to express the fundamental theme of the text: the inseparable corporeal- spiritual unity of man. The fact that he aim was to avoid technical theological terms as far as possible and yet notot leave room for any ambiguity, set clearly recognizable limits here to the Council’s attempt to state a convincing anti-dualist doctrine of man. Consequently it had to renounce the use of the possibilities offered by the Thomist formula: `anima unica forma Corporis.’ On its basis, for example, K. Rahner and J.B. Metz define the body as `the soul’s making itself present in the world, soul as it were in a certain “aggregate condition,”’ and can say that man does not really consist of two realities (`partial substances’) but is the one and constantly total reality of the anima `inasmuch as it is only really itself in real being-outside-itself… and as body.’…

“We hear the echoes of Augustin’s spiritual experience that `intimum’ and `summum’ coincide, that the distant Godis a God who is mot near to man, nearer than man is to himself, that man is only far from God because he is far from himself, that man fins himself and god by accomplishing a pilgrimage to himself, into his own inner depths, away from self-estrangement among things. Thus our text is influenced by two fundamental conceptsof Augustinian thought, by which the great Father of the Church aimed at a synthesis of biblical anthropology, more historical in tendency, with the metaphysical conceptin of antiquity. The first is the distinction between the `homo interior’ and `exterior.’ As compared with the corpus-anima schema, this introduces a greataer element of personal responsibility and decision regarding the direction of life. It therefore analyses amanmore on historical and dynamic than on metaphysical lines. The second is the concept of the `philosophia cordis,’ the biblical concept of the heart which for Augustine expresses the unity of interior life and corporeality….
“Perhaps we may regard these concepts of heart and interiority, with all they imply and the mental horizons they open out, as the real theology of the body presented by this section. For theology of the body cannot ultimately consist of a purely regional theology concerning the body in contradistinction to the soul, and listing the merits of the body. Its function must be to understand the body as a human body, describing it in its humanity as the corporeal embodiment of mind and spirit, the way in which the human spirit has concrete existence. It must therefore be a theology of the unity of man as spirit in body and body in spirit, so that a genuine theology of the body will be achieved in proportion as the `cor’ is spoken of as spirit `to the extent that it has come to the blood and therefore no longer merely spirit but embodied and therefore human.”[17]
Best Statement of Tendency of Eros Answered by Agape

Benedict XVI took his lead from St. Basil who said: “`The love of God is not founded on a discipline imposed on us from outside, but is constitutively established in us as the capacity and necessity of our rational nature.’ Basil speaks in terms of `the spark of divine love which has been hidden in us,’ the expression which was to become important in medieval mysticism. In the spirit of Johannine theology Basil knows that love consists in keeping the commandments. For this reason, the spark of love, which has been put into us by the Creator, means this: `We have received interiorly beforehand the capacity and disposition for observing all divine commandments… These are not something imposed from without.’ Referring everything back to its simple core, Augustine adds: `We could never judge that one thing is better than another, if a basic understanding of the good had not already been instilled in us’” (bold mine).

Benedict comments: “This means that the first so-called ontological level of the phenomenon conscience consists in the fact that something like an original memory of the good and true (both are identical) has been implanted in us, that there is an inner ontological tendency within man, who is created in the likeness of God, toward the divine. From its origin, man’s being resonates with some things and clashes with others. This anamnesis of the origin, which results from the godlike constitution of our being is not a conceptually articulated knowing, a store of retrievable contents. It is so to speak an inner sense, a capacity to recall, so that the one whom it addresses, if he is not turned in on himself, hears its echo from within. He sees: That’s it! That is what my nature points to and seeks.

“The possibility for and right to mission rest on this anamnesis of the Creator which is identical to the ground of our existence. The gospel may, indeed, must be proclaimed to the pagans because they themselves are yearning for it in the hidden recesses of their souls (cf. Isaiah 42, 4). [This is the meaning of eros]. Mission is vindicated then when those addressed recognize in the encounter with the word of the gospel that this indeed is what they have been waiting for. In this sense, Paul can say: the gentiles are a law to themselves – not in the sense of the modern liberal notions of autonomy which preclude transcendence of the subject, but in the much deeper sense that nothing belongs less to me than I myself. My own I is the site of the profoundest surpassing of self and contact with him from whom I came and toward whom I am going….

“Accordingly, everything which does not come from the subject is thought to be externally imposed. But the situation is really quite different according to the anthropology of conscience [i.e. the anthropology of eros] which we have tried to come to an appreciation of in these reflections. The anamnesis instilled in our being needs, one might say, assistance from without so that it can become aware of itself [This “assistance” is Agape]. But this `from without’ is not something set in opposition to anamnesis but ordered to it. It has maieutic function, imposes nothing foreign, but brings to fruition what is proper to anamnesis, namely, its interior openness to the truth…(inserts, bold and underline mine).

“The true sense of the teaching authority of the pope consists in his being the advocate of the Christian memory. The pope does not impose from without. Rather he elucidates the Christian memory and defends it. For this reason the toast[18] [of John Henry Newman] to conscience indeed must precede the toast to the Pope because without conscience there would not be a papacy. All power that the papacy has is power of conscience. It is service to the double memory upon which the faith is based and which again and again must be purified, expanded, and defended against the destruction of memory which is threatened by a subjectivity forgetful of its own foundation as well as by the pressures of social and cultural conformity.”[19]


Epistemological Threshold

Pure Nature:

Tendency to Intra-cosmic End

(A Theological Contrivance)

Philosophic Perspective: From the Experience of Sensation and Abstractive Thinking

Created Nature à Created End

State of Affairs Concerning the Received Meaning of Man: Karol Wojtyla: “The traditional view of the human being as a person, which understood the person in terms of the Boethian definition as rationalis naturae individua substantia, expressed the individuality of the human being as a substantial being with a rational (spiritual) nature, rather than the uniqueness of the subjectivity essential to the human being as a person.”[20]

Philosophic Origin of Man as a “Rational Nature/Substance”

Aristotle: “Parts of Animals:” “For to say what are the ultimate substances out of which an animal is formed, to state, for instance, that it is made of fire or earth, is no more sufficient than would be a similar account in the case of a couch or the like. For we should not be content with saying that the couch was made of bronze or wood r whatever it might be, but should try to describe its design or ode of composition in preference to the material; or, if we did deal with the material, it would at any rate be with the concretion of material and form. For a couch is such and such a form embodied in this or that matter, or such and such a matter with this or that form; so that its shape and structure must be included in our description. For the formal nature is of greater importance than the material nature.”[21]

The Argument:

A living being is self-moving.
A self-mover must be made up of heterogeneous parts: some moving and some moved (since a simple self-mover is to be in act and potency at the same time which is contradictory).
The order of the heterogeneous parts must have a cause. If not, we must posit chance or go to an infinite series. In both cases, this is = no cause, and therefore, no explanation = Irrationality.
By analogy to our own experience of art, there must be an idea or “form” in the mind whereby we order the parts for a particular end. This “form” is the cause of the order, and therefore of the being as this being. Such a being, made up of heterogeneous parts must obviously be greater than the sum of its parts, because it requires, beyond the parts, a cause of the order. Hence, in the organic, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
In the living organism, the “form” must be present to the parts (from within) to explain the being, its permanence and its kind of activity. This form is called the “nature.”
Aristotle defined nature: “Nature is a principle and cause of motion and rest in the thing in which it inheres primarily and as an attribute that is essential and not accidental.”[22]
As a principle of motion and rest, nature tends toward an end which will be accommodated to that nature. In a created being, the end will be created and is called a “natural” end.
In the case of man as a rational animal, his end will be within the visible world as any other animal, but of the higher order of rationality.
Any reference to the supernatural can come only by addition to the substantial nature, which the Church teaches to be “grace.” This must be a freely given gift of God since created nature cannot demand divine Life as a right of nature. Hence, the orientation of the human being is to a natural end by nature, and a supernatural end by the addition of God’s freely given grace.

Epistemological comment: Notice that the entire argument takes place within the experience of the senses and the use of abstract reasoning. This cannot be wrong. But is it adequate to the existential reality?

* * * * * * * * *

Comment of Etienne Gilson on Aristotle:[23] “Of the two kinds of parts which we have distinguished in living beings, the homogeneous and the heterogeneous, the second necessitates that one should take into consideration a peculiar type of causality. Different kinds of causes are at work in nature: the material, the formal, the efficient, and the final. All whose structure is homogenous can be explained by the efficient cause, which Aristotle calls simply `the end’ (telos), the `in view of which’ (to ou eneka), the `why’ (dia ti). Never does he use an abstract expression such as `final cause,’ and `finality’ he uses even less. He speaks of real objects or of elements of these objects which may be as real as they. If there is in the real a principle of unity – substance, for example – it is necessary that the four kinds of causes be able to return, in one manner or other, to this principle; a cause of any kind whatsoever is such only through it.

“Why is there heterogeneity in the structure of certain beings? Because they are living beings. A living being is a being which is born, grows, develops, comes to maturity, and, finally, through a process in the reverse direction, declines and dies. The living being then recognizes itself in this thing that changes, and as all change is motion, the order of the living is the order of motion. More precisely, it is that order of all which has in itself the principle of its own change. In abstract terms one says that the living being is endowed with spontaneity, not only in its reactions, but a fortiori in its operations and its actions.

“That the living being moves itself entails as a consequence that it is composed of heterogeneous parts. Indeed, to move oneself consists in having in oneself the cause of one’s movement. The living being is at the same time cause and effect, but it cannot be the one and the other in the same way. Aristotle expressly contradicts the Platonist notion which makes of life a simple source of motion, as if one single and identical thing could be motive force and thing moved at the same time and in the same way. It suffices to see an animal move about to ascertain that the parts which move take their point of departure from the fixed and the immobile. All living operations, all the growth of plants or animals, involve and require the differentiation of certain parts capable of acting one on another. Heterogeneity of parts is required for the very possibility of that causality operating on itself which characterizes the growth of living being.

“For the same reason it is necessary that the heterogeneous parts of the living being make up a certain order. The notion of order is inseparable from that of causality, which is itself an order of dependence. That which is cause under a certain aspect can be effect under another. The ability of a living being to move itself, even though it be only to assimilate and grow, involves therefore the organization the heterogeneous parts of which it is composed. This is why one says of living bodies that they are organisms or that living matter is organic. The finalism of Aristotle is an attempt to give a reason for the very existence of this organization.

“Aristotle is often reproached for his anthropomorphism, that is to say, for his habit of considering nature from man’s point of view. If to do so is an error, the reproach is justified, but Aristotle’s attitude in this regard had nothing naïve in it. He was conscious of it, just as he was of the reasons there are for adopting it. At the moment he begins the study of the parts of animals, he declares straightforwardly: `to begin with, we must take into consideration the parts of man. For, just as each nation reckons by that monetary standard with which it is most familiar, so must se do in other matters. And, of course, man is the animal with which we are all of us the most familiar.”[24]

“At first sight there is something disconcerting in this naiveté. It seems far too simple to evaluate the parts of other animals in terms of those of the human body, as one evaluates foreign currency in terms of francs or dollars. Upon reflection, however, there is something to be said in favor of this proposition, for in a certain sense it is true. It is not necessarily that man may be better known to us than the rest of creation, but, to begin with, whatever object is considered, the knowledge that we have of it is human knowledge which expresses itself in some human language; and next, the knowledge which man has of himself, imperfect as it may be, is by nature privileged. In knowing himself man knows nature in a unique way, because in this unique case the nature that he knows, he is. In and through the knowledge which man has of himself nature knows herself directly; she becomes conscious of herself in him, self-conscious one might say, and there is strictly nothing else that man can hope to know in this way.
[Notice that the epistemological assumption here is that man is “part” of the world, and not like Descartes, perched on some limb outside of worldly experience as a “thinking thing”]. Even other men, with whom he can communicate by language or any other sort of signs, remain for him parts of the `external world.’ In fact, all the rest of the universe is and remains for him the external world. Since then there is no other knowledge for each of us other than our own knowledge, things known exist for us only in relation to ourselves, and among these things there is only one that e can apprehend directly in itself, and that is what we are and what each call `I,’ `me.’

[Gilson does not advert to this, but he is employing the method of phenomenology in disclosing the experience one has of self that is other and beyond simple reflection on consciousness. What is hidden here – and it is the specific work of Karol Wojtyla – is the advertence to the experience of the self as being (not thought). This is the supreme crossing of threshold to a direct and unmediated access to the self – the “I” - as being].

“Fortified by his principle, Aristotle proceeds in a methodical manner from man to nature in his exploration of reality. The problem of the `end’ in nature is for him only one more occasion for applying this method, which he holds to be universally valid. In the present case, that of the relation of homogeneous parts to heterogeneous parts in living bodies, Aristotle will first remark, as a thing immediately obvious, that homogeneous parts cannot themselves by composed of heterogeneous parts; such a supposition would be absurd. Faces, let us say, and limbs are composed of flesh; flesh is not composed of faces or of limbs. From that flows an important consequence.

“Insofar as it is a question of problems where the parts involved are all homogeneous, matter is the sole cause to take into consideration, for matter itself is homogenous. [Of course, we know now that this is not true on a micro scale, but on the level of gross sense experience, it is]. At this level mechanical explanations by matter alone account for reality in a satisfying manner. Beings of heterogeneous structure, on the contrary, require a more complex mode of explication. The heterogeneity of their component parts necessitates that they necessarily have structure, and the question presents itself whether the existence of such structures is susceptible of the same kind of material explanation which works so remarkably well in the case o homogeneous beings.

* * * * * * *

“To explain heterogeneous parts by the same principles which explain homogeneous parts is to leave deliberately unexplained the heterogeneity of the heterogeneous….

“To the question `How does nature produce beings made up of heterogeneous parts?’ he responds by another question: `How does man fabricate objects made up of such parts?’ Art imitates nature; it must be then that nature proceeds in a manner analogous to that of art….

“That which comes first in the operation of art is the presence in the mind of the artist of a certain image or notion of the object to be produced. From that point of departure the artist begins by choosing material adapted to the structure of the future work. These would be, for example, heterogeneous parts: canvas, colors, and so on necessary to produce the particular picture which the painter has in mind. This necessity is a hypothetical necessity, the cause of which is the idea of the future picture already present to the mind of the painter. If the picture to be painted is such-and-such, then the constituent elements must necessarily be such-and-such.”

Finally, Aristotle explains that in giving an account of how a work of art is made, it is not sufficient to say “by the stroke of his tool this part was formed into a concavity, that into a flat surface; but he must state the reasons why he struck his blow in such a way as to effect this, and what his final object was; namely, that the piece of wood should develop eventually into this or that shape. It is plain, then, that the teaching of the old physiologists is inadequate, and that the true method is to state what the definitive characters are that distinguish the animal as a whole; to explain what it is both in substance and in form, and to deal after the same fashion with its several organs; in fact to proceed in exactly the same way as we should do, were we giving a complete description of a couch.”[25]

Substance: To Be In Self

Jacques Maritain: “(A) thing or nature that can exists by itself or in virtue of itself (per se) – and not in another thing (in alio), that is to say, in a subject previously existing…. A thing or nature whose property is to exist in itself.”[26] “Substance is the absolutely primal being of a thing, the radical principle of its activity and all its actuality. As Aristotle said, substantia est premium ens.[27] “The substance of an object, so long as that object exists, is as such immutable. Peter’s substance is that in virtue of which Peter exists purely and simply, that is to say, as Peter. So long as Peter exists, his substance as such cannot change. And when Peter’s substance does change (when Peter’s body becomes a lifeless corpse) Peter exists no longer, he is dead. Moreover, in itself substance is invisible, imperceptible by the senses. For the sense do not apprehend being as such, but present to us directly only the changing and the moving. In a certain sense, to be sure, it is indeed the substance of Peter that my eyes see, as it was truly Jesus whom the disciples saw at Emmaus, but my eyes thus apprehend the substance only in fact and materially, not formally.

“In other words the object seen or touched is something which while seen or touched is at the same time also a substance; but it is not seen or touched as a substance. AS a substance it is conceived, not seen or touched, and so far as it is seen or touched it is colored or exerting resistance, not being and substance. In the language of philosophy substance is intelligible in itself (per se) and sensible only accidentally (per accidens). That therefore in things which possesses most importance for us escapes the direct grasp of our senses and imagination, and is a pure object of the intellect, since the intellect alone are ends being as such (sub ratione entis).

“Observe that, if from the standpoint of existence substance is in things the being which is the primary and immediate object of the intellect, on the other hand to discover not only that a particular object possesses a substance, but also in what that substance consists, or what is its nature, we are obliged to take our stand upon that which reveals this nature to our senses, namely the operations, phenomena, or accidents, of the substance. In this sense we know the substance by the accidents.”[28]

Accidents: To Be In-Another

“Consider not such things as the laughter, movement, sorrow, joy, color, [we could add here: relation], which I perceive in Peter, and which make Peter exist in certain aspects. These things are capable of existence. But they obviously do not exist after the same fashion as substance. To exist they must belong to another being previously existing (if not in the order of time, at least in the order of nature). They exist as something which belongs to a being or subject already in existence. In this sense we say that they exist in something other than themselves.”[29]

Conclusion: According to the received theology, created rational nature (that we take to be man) is a substance that exists in itself and not in another. It tends to a natural (intra-worldly/cosmic) end according to the tendencies that are inherent in it as nature and as created.

Grace, understood as personal communion with God, can find no metaphysical category other than accident that is freely given to man as substance. Since the creature can demand nothing of the Creator as a “right” of nature (since it has no “right” even to exist), it is imperative to maintain that “nature” cannot demand grace. This sets up the conundrum that the human person is made for God, is incapable of achieving his existential end as union with God by himself, and yet cannot achieve God without grace.

[1] John Paul II, “Fides et Ratio,” #83.
[2] Benedict XVI, “Interpreting Vatican II,” Origins January 26, 2006 Vol. 35, No. 32, p. 536.
[3] “There are some very real grounds to fear that the Church may assume too many institutions of human law, which then become the armor of Saul making it difficult for the young David to walk. We must always ascertain if institutions which were once useful still serve a purpose. The only institutional element the Church needs is the one given to it by the Lord: the sacramental structure of the people of God, centered on the Eucharist” (underline mine); J. Ratzinger, 30 Days, No. 5 – 1998, p. 22.

[4] Benedict XVI, op. cit. 537.
[5] Benedict XVI, Idem.
[6] J. Ratzinger, J. Ratzinger, Keynote Address: “Conscience and Truth,” Proceedings of the tenth Bishops’ Workshop, Dallas, Texas, The Pope John Center (1991) 21.

[7] J. Ratzinger, “Milestones,” Ignatius (1997) 108-109.
[8] J. Ratzinger, “Foundations and Approaches of Biblical Exegesis,” Origins February 11, 1988, Vol. 17: No. 35, b.
[9] J. Ratzinger, “Truth and Tolerance,” Ignatius (2004) 36.
[10] Ibid. 33-34.
[11] Ibid. 36-37.
[12] Ibid. 37.
[13] J. Ratzinger, “Christ, Faith and the Challenge of Cultures,” Origins, March 30, 1995, Vol. 24, No. 41 679-686.
[14] H. Vorgrimler, Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II,” Vol V (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World): Part I, The Church and Man’s Calling, Introductory Article and Chapter I, “The Dignity of the Human Person” by Joseph Ratzinger; Herder and Herder (1968) 115-122.
[15] Vatican Council II, GS 19, .1.
[16] The meaning of the body in John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body:” “The body reveals man. This concise formula already contains everything that human science could ever say about the structure of the body as organism, about its vitality, and its particular sexual physiology, etc.” (Nov. 14, 1979). Adrian Reimers comments: “The human being, although it includes the entire reality of the biological, is more than the biological organism. The pope continues: `This first expression of the man, `flesh of my flesh,’ also contains a reference to what makes that body truly human. Therefore it referred to what determines man as a person, that is, as a being who, even in all his corporality, is similar to God.’ The biological order is abstract because it prescinds from the totality of what is human to regard only that which pertains to certain aspects of its organism. John Paul II remarks concerning the charges of `biologism’ in Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae vitae further develop this point: `In this discussion, natural law was taken to mean merely the biological regularity we find in people in the area of sexual actualization. This was said to be natural law.’ But all that the biological sciences can do is to identify biological regularities. The order of being, on the other hand, is expected to provide a basis for moral norms;” Adrian J. Reimers, “Karol Wojtyla on the Natural Moral Order,” The National Catholic Bioethics Quarterly, Vol 4, No. 2, Summer 2004 (The National Catholic Bioethics Center) 321.

[17] H. Vorgrimler op. cit. 126-129.
[18] In his letter to the Duke of Norfolk, Newman remarked: “Certainly, if I am obliged to bring religion into afterdinner toasts, (which indeed does not seem quite the thing), I shall drink – to the Pope, if you please, - still, to conscience first, and to the Pope afterwards.”
[19] J. Ratzinger, “Truth and Conscience,” op. cit. 19-20.
[20] Karol Wojtyla, “Subjectivity and the Irreducible in the Human Being,” Person and Community, Lang (1993) 212.
[21] Aristotle, “On the Parts of Animals,” I, 1, 640b.
[22] Aristotle, “Physics,” II, 1, 192 b 21-22.
[23] E. Gilson, “From Aristotle to Darwin and Back Again,” (Chapter I: “Aristotelian Prologue”) UNDP (1984) 1-16.
[24] Aristotle, “History of Animals,” 491a.
[25] E. Gilson, op. cit. 12.
[26] J. Maritain, “Introduction to Philosophy,” Sheed and Ward (1947) 224-225.
[27] Aristotle, “Metaphysics,” VII, 1.
[28] Ibid. 226.
[29] Ibid. 227.

[RAC1]The greatest influence on this schema, particularly on the understanding of person as “image of God” [and therefore eros] was Jean Danielou, S.J. See “Aportacion del P. Danielou en L a Primera Fase de Elaboracion de la Gaudium et Spes” in Dar Razon de la Esperanza, Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Navarra, Pamplona, 2004, 213-228.

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