Vomit the Lukewarm
On Loving Creatures for the Sake of God
The axiom "love all things/ creatures for the sake of God" is often understood to call one to devalue the creature. Depending on the circumstances, this may be what is called for. But it is worth noting also that:
1.) Anything loved as a means to God takes on a sort of infinite dignity. For God is an end infinitely good, and every means, as such has a necessary relation its end.
2.) It's the nature of man to love all things for the sake of some one thing. If this thing is not God, it will be a creature. The if we choose the creature, we will come to relate to the creature as something that disappoints us and fails to satisfy- or else we will simply give the creature a sort of illusory existence that it does not have. In a word, seeing creatures as an ultimite end leads to either hatred or illusions of them. This is not only true of the "usual suspects"; sex, money, power, etc. but also one's own country, a great historical figure, a family, or speculative knowledge.
3.) It is impossible for Christianity to have any real contempt for creatures. Christianity teaches that the end of human life is to become truly divinized. No higher opinion of human creatures is possible.
4.) It can be falsely inferred that because we must love all things for the sake of God, that the things themselves become "expendable" or things we should have no attachment to as such. Not so. A man's wife is one of only seven gates in the universe through which he can obtain sanctifying grace. To love her is to increase his participation in the divine life.
5.) No relation can be understood, or loved, apart from the thing it relates to. But the being of any thing is nothing other than a participation and emanation of the divine life.
6.) This Argument
. This question closes, and is in some sense the height of the things that can be naturally known of God.
7.) Theology is the order of the knowledge of God. But the first principle of theology
is that man is called to an end beyond himself, in other words, that the creature was called to divinization.
Some Re-runsHere are two posts that I originally put up as comments to an article that pitted the Intelligent Design theorists against those who are atheists for the sake of evolution. The occasion for the article was the Topeka school district's decision to... teach something or not teach something: I don't remember. The debaters were hotly contesting the nature of scientific method. I said:
The problem here is that science means two things:
a.) Any objective, dispassionate body of knowledge that is based in certain known principles and proceeds to certain known conclusions. (henceforth, I'll call this "science a")
b.) Any body of knowledge that begins with a falsifiable hypothesis, and through prediction and experiment establishes its truth. (henceforth, "science b")
I have no doubt that every science "b" is a science "a", but not every "a" must be a "b". The problem with everyone these days is that they assume that every a is a b- as though every science must have one method: which makes no more sense than assuming every science must use the same instruments. The lamentable result of all this is that philosophy, theology, and even logic are not considered "scientific"- and hence it is viewed as ridiculous that there could be any such thing as a science concerning God. The evolutionists agree with this, and so they mistakenly deny that God is scientifically known; and the IDers hold that there is a science of God, but they mistaskenly try to force him into science "b". Both positions are partially true, and partially false. The evolutionist is right to assert that there is no knowledge of God by science b, but he is wrong to assert that there is no science of God, and the IDer is right to affirm a science of God, but wrong to place it in science B (I stress the word "in". As soon as God comes up, one is, by definition, not considering nature as such, for God is a supernatural being.) But it does not follow from this that there is no science of God. THIS is the science that the kansas folks should desire to know and teach...
"The study of nature" is related to the study of God, but the IDers, and the atheist-for-the-sake-of-evolution crowd do not recognize the proper way in which God is manifest from the study of nature. The proof for this is in trhee parts:
I.) What is the study of nature?
II.) What Place does God have in the study of nature?
III.) What is metaphysics, and how does it relate to the study of nature?
The study of nature involves more than one science, and it has more than one method, just as it has more than one instrument. In fact, the study of nature means two things:
1.) the study of nature as nature. This science, however, has two parts, since nature as such is a principle of change- it can mean either:
a.) change inasmuch as it is quantified and measured, or understood in a way that is fit for measurement and treatment by mathematics, or
b.) change considered in light of the principles of change as such- matter, substance, form, causality, etc.
2.) the study of nature can also mean nature taken more particularly, for example, inasmuch as it is living (biology) or energy (thermodynamics) or composed of matter (chemistry). Any of these sciences might divide up further into, say, organic chemistry, or human anatomy.
God, who the IDers want to prove, and the Atheist-for-the-sake-of-evolution want to deny, is found as the term of natural science 1b. This God manifests himself as the Unmoved Mover, who is immaterial and unchangeable. It is important to stress that God is the TERM of the science- he ENDS the science of nature 1b. This is not to say that the science of nature 1b is incapable of further refinement, but every refinement takes place prior to the proof for the unmoved, immaterial mover.
The problem with the IDers is that they think that God should show up in a science #2. Even if they're right, they wouldn't know anything about this God beyond proving that he made something. Even then, they would have no principles by which to come to a fuller understanding of this God- they couldn't prove, for example, that he was eternal, benevolent, one, omnipotent, imperishable, good, immaterial, personal, living, a lawgiver, that he cares about men, that he was the highest end of human life, and a bottomless fount of other truths. All these things can be proven if we start with natural science 1b. For proof of this, read the Summa.
The other problem with IDers is that they don't understand that God is the terminal point of any science of nature. The above critiques that say "if we believed in this God, it would end our science" are in a certain sense true. God is above nature- he is not natural- when we speak of "the divine nature" we use the word "nature" analogously.
Metaphysics involves the study of immaterial being. If it did not, then natural philosophy (which studies changeable things) would be the same as metaphysics. The problem with metaphysics is that its subject matter is not self-evident. As far as we can tell from simply opening our eyes, "to be" means "to be material". Metaphysics, then, must prove the existence of its subject matter. This will happen necessarily if we begin with natural science 1b. it will not happen if we begin with anything else. We must consider matter as such if we want to have any hope of establishing the existence of something immaterial. Even if some specialized science were to do this (as can happen, for example, in the science of the human soul, or perhaps as happens in ID) this still requires an appeal to the principles that are laid down in natural science 1b.
Unless IDers turn to science 1b, they will continue to lose arguments, and they will at best end up with a concept of God that is totally infertile- incapable of producing a further science. They simply don't have the tools to understand God in any deeper way. They will also be unable to answer the critiques of the atheist-for-the-sake-of-evolution crowd, who rightly claim that the positing of a God is a sort of term to the science of nature.
A ______ of Banez' Commentary on Aquinas' 1 Q3, A4.
(I don't know what to put in the blank. To call this a translation would be an abuse of language. I wasn't interested in translating Banez so much as trying to find a voice in him.)
The conclusion of this article is de fide
: Ex. 3 "I am who am". The Fathers all agree to this conclusion. How then, can it be proved? Because we can understand many things, which to deny involves denying the faith.
This article contains very subtle ideas, and before we come to them, we should understand:
1.) How are proper accidents caused by essential principles? The cause here is a certain kind of efficient cause, not one making a new substance, but working through emanation
, the way the nature of the sun produces light in the air, or the way ice makes water cold, or even as a stone can be said in a way to be an agent cause of its own fall.
2.) Why is it that no thing suffices to be the cause of its essence, if its esse
is caused? We can, for example, account for why man can laugh, simply by pointing to his definition. Why can we not account for esse
in the same way? We state, for now, that proper accidents already presuppose some essence in act, emanating the proper accident, so for esse to be a proper accident implies contradiction. A thing can only be said to cause its essence in the way that the transparent causes light. Esse
, then, is received into essence composed from essential principles and it is specified by them. Yet esse
receives no perfection from this specification, in fact, esse
is more constrained by this- descending to the level of the secundum quid
, sc. the esse
of this man, or this angel- it is not perfection simpliciter
. No Thomist would dare deny that esse
is the act of all form and nature, or that it is other than received and perfective of what receives it. In a certain sense though, since it is received, we might say that it is because of this imperfect.
3.) Re. The second proof that Aquinas gives: Why is it that goodness, or humanity aren't spoken of
as actual, unless esse is spoken of
as given? Cajetan says that this is grounded in the idea that nature stands to esse as potency; that goodness or humanity are only seen as actual when we say "humanity is". The solution isn't wholly satisfactory. Something is spoken of when it has a corresponding thought, but be can have a perfectly formed thought of something that does not exist- say, a circular orbit. When Cajetan responds to this sort of objection saying that esse is a sort of ultimate act, we say that esse seems more like the first act, than the ultimate one. It seems to me that St. Thomas means that with respect to how we understand esse, either it really exists, or it only exists potentially. Thomas' doctrine is grounded in the fact that ens is the object of our intellect. In all things other that God, we can abstract from either esse actu, or non esse actu, and define according to this abstraction.
4.) Concerning the solution of the second argument: When we say "God is" we seem to mean "God has
esse". And so since it's true to say "God is", and yet at the same time we affirm that God is
esse, the proposition seems both true and false at the same time. To this, we say that the esse of God is simpliciter
what we seek in asking in the question "what is God?", but it isn't sought simpliciter
in the question "does God exist?", except as it is a sort of ground for the truth of the proposition. In natural things, we don't seek esse when we ask "what is it?" And we seek esse simpliciter
when we ask "does it exist?" Because of this, we don't just understand the proposition to be true, but we also understand the very esse of the thing- and we know it in the very way it is knowable. When we answer the question "does God exist?" we understand esse as it relates to the truth of the proposition, but not as it relates to the very way God is knowable.
Teresa of Avila
St. Teresa, a Doctor of the Church, saw one one of the greatest lights in the spiritual life as a good confessor
. Her particular confessor was Domingo Banez, a man who claimed his theology did not differ "by so much as a finger-nail's breadth" from the teaching of Thomas Aquinas. Banez, in fact, has claim to being the
conduit of St. Thomas' thought to the modern world. He was not simply an orthodox thomist, but an historic one.
Which makes this work
one of the many faces of orthodox thomism. My suspicion is that one can gauge the strength of their spiritual life by how much of this book they agree with ('agree' taken in the broad sense. We can agree with a man, and food can agree with us.)
Also, from the same site
, one can get the works of another, more straightforewardly Thomist mystic, John of the Cross.
Jottings on the same topic
1.) The submission to the object is the most necessary and defining character of wisdom: see John 7:18 2.) sponsa entis anima.
(the soul is the bride of being)
3.) We are in the false habit of seeing objectivity as amoral. The news, which makes quite a show of its "objectivity" does not say, for example, "look at the evil deed done by these wicked men" when it covers a cold- blooded murder. And yet this description is perfectly objective. In fact, we do not understand the world correctly until we see certain things as wicked, and others as good. Modern news reporting, in this respect, cultivates ignorance (although as a whole it is very good in its insistence on checking sources. This aspect of modern news writing should not be lost).
4.) The object, formally, is something man receives from the world. In this respect, its opposite is art, which man creates in the world. When men reject submission to the object, they can do no other than turn to art. But by their very turning against the object, they will distort the very art that they fall into. Art will become revolutionary, since it will not desire to be measured by any kind of object, even one of art. One kind of art will define itself by smashing the art that came before it, and that art will get smashed by another art coming after it, that defines itself by smashing its art. We must be either contemplatives or revolutionaries.
5.) The goal of sophistry is to shock
Clement of Alexandria
6.) The revolutionary mindset is idolatry, and idolatry despair.
7.) Drug use robs us of the pleasure of the object, and of its apprehension. All intemperance does.
Saying the Same thing Ten Times.
I see a rose
I see a rose in the world.
I see the world.
A rose is both in awareness, and in the world.
My awareness is of the rose in the world.
Something in the world sees a rose.
The world (through a part) sees the world.
Being sees Being.
Being sees itself.
Being comprehends itself as other.
God as Pure Act
Just as the worker determines the material, so the completion determines the worker. For both the material and the worker are ordered to the completion. And so if anything is in the process of determination, the completion must be given (in fact, there is no difference the determination and the completion, one could use the terms interchangeably in English: to be determined is to have the completion, either actually, or in the mode of intention).
But in all things that are in motion, we can distinguish two aspects of its ability to move, for ability to move can be considered either actively or passively. The man, the bat, and the ball are able to move. So whatever is in motion can be distinguished into worker and material, even if they are one in the same subject. And so whatever is in motion is being moved by its determination or completion. But the determination of the natural thing to a completion is though its participation in the mind of the author of its nature, and author which is intrinsic to the nature, by whose efficacy the very mobile being has a determite nature. This nature is in fact, in its truest sense, nothing other than a participation in the intellective determination of God. Said another way, the truest sense of anything's nature is that way in which they are recieving their determination from the divine mind.
But if the actual existence of nature is, at its ground, nothing other than a sort of determination by the divine mind, then outside of this determination there is no such thing as nature. But we know nature by its mobility. Therefore the divine being is absolutely without motion. But every incomplete act is said, in english, of a mobile- So God is an utterly complete act. But he is not a complete act that has come to be, for then he would not be wholly without motion. Neither is he able to come to be, for then he would be measured by motion. We can only concieve him as having absolutely no ability to become in anyway. He is more than a complete act: we can only conceive of him as that which makes the act complete, without having to become complete, or with any order to becoming some new completion. This is why we first call God act only, or pure act.
God As Pure Act
, Part VIIIThe intimacy of the author of nature with any natural agent, in all acts.
As said before:
In any act for a completion, we can distinguish the completion, the worker, and the material. Absent any one of these, the whole act immediately ceases. To the extent that any one of these is defective, the act will also be defective.
In a natural thing, all are one, like a doctor healing himself, or a barber shaving himself. The completion, however, is not present in the natural thing as an existent being, and yet it is present as a cause. But to exist as a natural thing is to be in matter. The completion, therefore, is not present in the natural thing as material. It must then be present immaterially. It is the presence of a knower in the natural thing as natural, and defining even natural ends, as it were, from the inside out.
But in all our art, we can only act on nature extrinsically. If we were to be the intrinsic cause of nature, we would be the author of nature. Therefore the author of nature is within all nature, so intimately as to be the cause of all causes within it. So long as any nature acts, the author of nature has already acted within it (in causality), and is still already acting (with the act, even an act done by a nature or an individual).
God as Pure Act
, orbiter dicta
-Most who study Aristotle find it awkward that he defines maturing and augmentation (both called "growth" in English) as motions. When we want to speak about the wheat growing, or icicles growing on the eaves, we don't say "look, the wheat is moving". But this is not because we don't see these things as motions, but only because we don't tend to use the word m-o-t-i-o-n. It's perfectly natural in English to use a synonym for moving, sc. "going": "the leaves are going from green to red"; "the lake went from being totally open, to being frozen over".
Another lovely English synonym for moving is "turn", which since it is rooted in the idea of things that are rotating, contains the idea of the thing only being able to move in relation to something fixed. Wheels turn, colors turn, men turn. And then there's that song we've all had beat into our heads "turn, turn, turn". While I'm not sure that the Birds (Byrds?) got the Coheleth's vibe, the song is pretty good at conveying the first idea we have of nature.
-As the previous posts should have shown, English speakers undertand the "completion" of a natural process a little easier than the "perfection" of a natural process. The words, however, are really synonymous: both the complete and the perfect are said of what lacks nothing due to it. The confusion happens only because we use the word "complete" so often only per accidens, as when we say that a paper is complete because we wrote five pages of garble, or when we say we've completed a test because we've given an answer to every question, no matter how awful (indeed, incomplete) our answers are. But we haven't completed a test or a paper, except per accidens.
- The only difficulty people have with understanding the accepting the axiom "everything which is moving, is being moved by another" is how it can account for uniform motion in a straight line. It is not the case that projectile motion as such is difficult, because every projectile motion can be distinguished into the natural motion of falling to the earth, and the inertial motion of moving foreward. But no one doubts that the projectile, as moved gravitationally by the earth, is "being moved by another"- take away the earth, or the space/time medium in between the downward motion would immediately cease*.
The real reason that uniform motion in a straight line is viewed as having no cause per se is because the first measure of something is not measured, physics deals with motion as measured, and uniform motion in a straight line is the measure of all motions (because all motions are measured in relation to traversing some uniform space in a uniform time).
I believe that it's true that we must not explain uniform motions in a stright line as being moved by something moving- but then again, the ancient physics was always able to tell you that the cause of the first moving thing was not itself moving. The question of "what is moving things in uniform motion in a straight line" is not a question that is contained within the science of physics. The answer can only be found after
(in Greek, Meta
*this is one of the many ways in which modern hypothetical physics is better at supporting Aristotle's physics than Aristotle's own hypotheses. On the ancient account, if the earth were to disappear, a falling rock would keep moving toward the center of the earth, even though there was no body at the center to act. "the center" is not a place, if separated from a body. The modern theory can give us a per se place to which motions tend. Gravitational force absolutely cannot be without body.
**and yes, this is the coolest pun that I have ever managed to eek out.
(real dorks will be able to spot another pun in even the line just said)
God as Pure Act
, Part VIIWhere this argument completes to
1.) as to an account of what "act" means
: Every completion is called such because it lacks nothing intended or desired
The word "act" in English, relates to completion.
So the word act relates to the idea of lacking nothing intended
but whatever lacks nothing intended or desired, English calls "perfect"
So the idea of an act necessarily relates to perfection.
2.) As Pure act can be shown to exist
a.) as a being who moves all, but is immobile in every respect (not simply as the end is immobile, with respect to this action)
b.) As the one which causes, but is wholly uncaused (unlike the worker, who's work would cease without the end.)
c.) as the creator of all things, even of those things which may have always been in time
d.) as that to which all things are ordered absolutely, and the measure of all perfections (unlike an end or a measure which is only an end or measure for some.)
e.) as the intelligent director (what is purely completion or perfection cannot lack the highest intelligence, and all intelligence desires to direct, and not to be directed.)
f.) and from other ways that are based on things seen in the world, and seen within the inner life of man.
g.) In any way that pure act might choose to maifest himself, and give to man what he could not have found by his own powers, either absolutely speaking, or in the case of his own powers being too weak to see what reason of itself can see.
We choose to verify his existence in the way that appeals to what is most well known to us- that things move. To this point, we have only dealt with the sorts of motions about which it is true to say are incomplete acts.
God as Pure Act
, Part VThe relations between the various aspects of incomplete acts
Every incomplete act has three aspects: that to which, that by which, and that out of which. All three are necessary for an incomplete act, so much so that if any one of these aspects were to cease being, the incomplete act would immediately cease to be. If the completion ceased to be (that to which) the act would immediately lose any reason to be called "incomplete", for it was only named such by its completion. That the thing completing is necessary for the incomplete act is too obvious to mention (the "completing thing"can be either that by which, or that out of which). If we lack either things to build out of, or builders, we won't have the act of building either.
There is also a relation between all three aspects as regards moving and being moved*. That out of which something is being completed (the materials) is wholly being moved
; that by which a thing is being completed (the worker) both is moving
the materials and being moved
by the completion, and the completion is moving
the builder and is itself not moving
. The sense of "moving" is not absolutely identical in each case, but there is a proportion between them- we can be moved by ropes, and moved by beauty. As there is a relatin of moving and being moved, there is also a relation of order.
God as Pure Act
, Part IVDifferent aspects of incomplete acts
Incomplete acts are acts in the process of being completed. This means that incomplete acts are in the process of changing, i.e. of continually moving toward whatever the completion of the act is*.
We can distinguish several different parts of an incomplete act. The most obvious is the term of the action, or the completion. It is in virtue of this that we are able to call the act "incomplete" in the first place. This completion is whatever the particular action is determined to making: a house, a car, a nest, water, a molecule, a scab, rain, a skilled bowler, health, whatever. In general, anything that comes to be from a process that is determined to that completion.
The next aspect of an incomplete act is best illustrated by a sort of fill in the blank
"_________ is able to make a structure" (a tent, a behive, an insulin molecule, whatever- assume its a deck)
two sorts of things can go in the blank.
1.) Joe (a guy who happens to be a carpenter) and his tools. He can make a deck.
2.) This pile of stuff I got at Home Depot (deck boards, cement, screws). This can make a deck too.
In general, there is something that is being made (2), and something not made, but which makes (1). Nothing stops these two from proceeding from the same thing: a barber might shave his own face or a seed might grow its own roots. But though these two aspects might be united in the same thing**, the two aspects are different from each other- for what makes is not what is made, otherwise the parent would become his offspring (and what could be more opposed than contradictories: sc. "is made" and "is not made"?)
And so the incomplete act, again, according to the way we speak of "an incomplete act" in English
, can be distinguished into three different aspects: The completion, the thing that is being made, and the thing that actively makes. These three are, in shorter form, that to which, that out of which, and that by which something becomes complete.
*Again, all that is said here is All incomplete acts are changing
. It is is irrelevent for the purpose here whether All change is an incomplete act. The problem is that there is a great deal of skepticism, confusion, and hot tempered debate about one particular kind of changing: sc. a certain kind of uniform motion in a straight line, and this confusion can make it tedious to show the way in which every changing is an incomplete act. In certain ways, one is confused if there even is a real problem: do certain
defenders of uniform inertial motion claim that the change is always incomplete (without reference to a completion- i.e. a contradiction); or that it is like seeing, where the action is complete at every moment? If the claim is that it is never complete per se
, we would have to further distinguish between natural and violent and artistic motion. This is a post in itself- and one that is not necessary now.
**indeed, it seems more fitting that the two should be united in one thing, since they are so intimitely united in act: e.g. both boards and carpenters make houses.
God as Pure Act
, Part IIIThree related meanings of "an act" in English, and the first principle needed to explain what pure act is, and whether it exists.
In English, the noun "act" relates to completion or being done. This happens either because an act is complete, or it is completing. Some acts are complete, either because some process was concluded (an act of congress) or because the process is complete in itself (like seeing or thinking or loving). Some acts are completing, like the act of building or maturing or running a circular track.
Acts which are completing can be called "incomplete acts" and they all involve changing. Whenever the particular incomplete act is complete, the changing must stop. For example, nothing can keep building what has been built, nor can something mature keep maturing. To be more exact, the incomplete act involves changing because the incomplete act simply is
a process of changing.
So an incomplete act is changing
. This is the first principle we need to understand to understand about act in order to understand God as pure act.
God As Pure Act
, Part IIAct as Completion
An act, in English, has many meanings, but we are focusing on one of the first, which relates to action: the act of stealing
declaring something illegal. The difference between "stealing" and "the act of stealing" is that "the act of" draws out the idea that the action is continuous and a sort of whole, i.e. an act is something being done
All the acts that are being done can be viewed as continuous, but some of them are continuous like seeing, sensing, and thinking, and others are continuous like building and declaring something illegal. While I perform the act of seeing, it is true to say during that very act
, that I have seen before; but while I perform the act of declaring something illegal, it's not true to say that during that very act
I have declared something illegal. An Act, then, is either something immediately complete, like seeing, or it is an imperfect act that aims towards completion.
An act, then, denotes completion of the continuous, i.e. completion of something being done. Either the act is complete throughout, or it aims at some completion. But the act cannot be understood apart from the completion, for the completion fixes the nature of the act (there are other causes too, but the completion is necessary). What I mean, for example, is that the final structure determines that the worker performs the act of building
(as opposed to some other unrelated act, like writing, or flying, or eating) Because the completion, the thing built, is necessarily related to the act of building. The act of anything is defined by its completion.
Because act necessarily relates to completion, English uses "an act" to also mean the very completion itself, as when it talks about "an act of Congress". This sense of act means something that has been done.
And so the first thing to point out about the word "act" when used as an English noun, is that it is a continuous thing necessarily related to completion, either a completion already present, in the act, or a completion coming to be from the act, or a completion that has come to be from the act.
God as Pure Act
, Part One
No one has yet explained what it means to call God "pure act" in English
. In explanations of God as pure act, the word "act" is used as a quasi Latin word- which makes it worse than simply unintelligible, it makes it jargon. All good philosophy should detest jargon. If we thought about philosophy the way the Greeks did in their Golden age or the way the Medievals did at the University of Paris, we English speakers would chastise anyone who used an idiom like "pure act": what kind of act is 'pure'? Is a pure act like a stage act? Like an act of Congress? Is the third act of Hamlet a pure act, or is the thing the actor does an act? A good amount of wonderful philosophy never gets done because people never bother to ask dumb sounding questions about the root meaning of words. In fact, let me be the first to lay down an objection to calling God "pure act":
1.) An act is something that is done or performed
But God is not something done or performed
God, therefore, is not pure act.
or another one:
2.) No person is an act.
God has personhood
God, therefore, is not an act.
If you counter that the word "act" here means "perfection", I can only ask for one instance, in the whole history of English, where "act" has meant "perfection"*. For that matter, I can't think of a sincle time in Latin
Literature when "actus" or any of the derivatives of "agere" meant "perfection".
Why, in light of so damning an objection, does it make sense to call God "pure act" in English
? This series of posts will give an argument for why an Engligh speaker can prove the existence of a being who he can call "pure act".
*Let's lay to rest the possibility right now- and so, from the OED: ACT
1. a. A thing done; a deed, a performance (of an intelligent being).
H. Fame 347 And al youre actes red and songe [MS. Bodl. actys].
Abs. & Lim. Mon. (1714) 99 Thay have no Hertys to do so terryble an Acte.
Ps. lix. 12 Thorow God we shal do greate actes, for it is he that shal treade downe oure enemies.
1584 D. POWEL
Lloyd's Cambria 99 The prowesse and worthie Actes of the ancient Brytaines.
1611 BIBLE Transl. Pref., As worthy an acte as euer he did.
Hudibras III. i. 925 An act and deed that makes one heart Become another's Counter-part.
Par. Reg. III. 74 And snatch some portion of their acts from fate.
1832 J. AUSTIN
Lect. Jurispr. xviii. (1879) I. 427 The only objects which can be called acts are the consequences of volitions..The involuntary movements which are the consequences of certain diseases are not acts.
b. A thing done as the result, practical outcome, or external manifestation of any state, and, whence the state may be inferred.
Serm. (1771) I. ii. 27 God required of him this act of obedience.
Comm. II. 477 This hath been declared by the legislature to be an act of bankruptcy, upon which a commission may be sued out.
Mod. It would be the act of a madman.
c. Any operation of the mind, as distinguished from the content or object of that operation. Also attrib., as
act psychology, psychology regarded as the study of such acts; = INTENTIONALISM
Essay (ed. 2) II. xxi. §30. p. 134 Desiring and willing are two distinct Acts of the mind.
1890 W. JAMES
Princ. Psychol. II. xx. 168, I can[n]ot feel them by a pure mental act of attention unless they belong to quite distinct parts of the body.
a1927 E. B. TITCHENER
Systematic Psychol. (1929) iii. 194 The importance of the ‘act’ in modern psychology derives from the work of Brentano.
1934 H. C. WARREN
Dict. Psychol. 5/1 Act psychology. 1. A system of psychology which holds that every psychical phenomenon is characterized by the intentional inherence of an object. 2. A system..in which the data are psychic activities, usually of a subject upon an object.
1936 A. J. AYER
Lang., Truth & Logic vii. 188 We do not accept the realist analysis of our sensations in terms of subject, act, and object.
d. spec. The act of procreation; sexual intercourse. With the.
Merch. V. I. iii. 84 When the worke of generation was Betweene these woolly breeders in the act.
1611 BIBLE John viii. 4 This woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
1923 H. CRANE Let. 9 May (1965) 133 They do everything but the Act itself right on the stage.
1930 D. H. LAWRENCE
A Propos of Lady Chatterley's Lover 12 Balance up the consciousness of the act, and the act itself.
1959 N. MAILER
Advts. for Myself (1961) 177 They do not talk about the act when it has failed to fire.
2. A state of accomplished fact or reality, as distinguished from subjective existence, intention, possibility, etc. Obs.
Barth. De P.R. IV. i. (1495) 78 The noblest thynges of shappes of kynde and of crafte that be hydde comyth forth in acte and in dede.
John IV. iii. 135 If I in act, consent, or sinne of thought Be guiltie.
Antid. agst. Ath. Ep. Ded. (1712) 2 Plato, if he were alive again, might find his timorous supposition brought into absolute Act.
Prim. Orig. Man. 109 They are only in possibility, and not in act.
3. ? Activity, active principle. Obs.
Barth. De P.R. III. xxiv. (1495) 74 The soule is acte and perfeccion of the body.
1652 J. BURROUGHES
Exp. Hosea v. 92 Grace is called the Divine nature, and God (we know) is a pure act, and it is called the life of God.
Fables clxv. (1714) 179 Nothing can be more contrary to God Himself, who is a Pure Act, then the Sleeping and Drowsing away of our Life and Reason.
Priv. Thoughts I. 18 But my Reason tells me, God is a pure Act, and therefore How can He suffer any Punishments.
4. a. The process of doing; acting, action, operation. (L. actus.) arch. exc. in
Act of God: action of uncontrollable natural forces in causing an accident, as the burning of a ship by lightning.
VII. 579 The acte of Frenshmen standynge moche in ouer rydynge of theyr aduersaryes by force of speremen.
Idea 860 Wise in Conceit, in Act a very sot.
1635 J. SWAN
Spec. Mundi v. §2. (1643) 130 The Materiall cause [of the rainbow] is not water in act.
Ess. on Man ii. 105 The rising tempest puts in act the soul.
Task VI. 340 To give such act and utt'rance as they may To extasy too big to be suppress'd.
1850 MRS. BROWNING
Poems II. 193 And hear the flow of souls in act and speech.
1882 Charter-party: The Act of God, the Queen's Enemies, Fire, and all and every other Dangers and Accidents of the Seas..always excepted.
in the act: in the process, in the very doing; in the interval, however momentary, between the inception and completion of the deed; on the point of. (L. in actu.)
1596, 1611 [see sense 1d above].
Hudibras III. i. 666 And off the loud oaths go, but, while They're in the very act, recoil.
c1746 J. HERVEY
Medit. & Contempl. (1818) 220 It is in the very act to fly.
Vind. Eccl. Angl. 86 He was in the very act of death.
Arms & Armour v. 78 When armour was in the act of ceasing to be worn.
5. Something transacted in council, or in a deliberative assembly; hence, a decree passed by a legislative body, a court of justice, etc. (L. actum, pl. acta.)
1458 in Dom. Archit. III. 43 This was preved acte also in the perlement.
Josh. xxiv. 26 Iosua wrote this acte in the boke of the lawe of God.
3 Hen. VI, II. ii. 91 You..Haue caus'd him by new act of Parliament, To blot out me, and put his owne Sonne in.
1640-1 Kirkcudbright War-Com. Min. Bk. (1855) 98 All fugitives must be apprehendit and punished conforme to the actes.
1693 Mem. Count Teckely II. 91 The Male-contents demanded a general Act of Indempnity.
a1704 T. BROWN
Praise of Wealth Wks. 1730 I. 83 Before this proclamation passed into an irrevocable act.
tr. Hist. Quakers II. VII. 66 They asked him if he knew not of an act against meetings.
Hist. Eng. I. 373 An act of attainder was passed against York, Salisbury, their wives and children.
6. a. A record of transactions or decrees; any instrument in writing to verify facts. (L. actum, pl. acta.)
Ezra vi. 2 A boke, & in it was there an acte wrytten after this maner.
Hudibras I. i. 143 He could reduce all things to Acts.
Festiv. & Fasts (1739) 7 In the Acts of the Martyrdom of St. Ignatius we find.
Parergon 27 Judicial Acts are said to be all those Writings, and matters which relate to Judicial Proceedings, and are sped in open Court at the Instance of one of the Parties Litigant; and, being reduced into writing by a Publick Notary..are recorded by the Authority of the Judge.
1789 Constit. U.S. iv. §1 Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state.
Mar. Fal. I. i. (1868) 315 The ducal table cover'd o'er With..petitions, Despatches, judgements, acts, reprieves, reports.
Acts (of the Apostles), name of one of the books of the N. Test.
Serm. on Palme sondaye (1823) 55 It appereth playnly in the x. of the actes.
Erasm. Paraphr. Rom. Argt., As Luke in the xxi chapiter of thactes reherseth.
tr. Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. II. x. 59 It is also recorded in the book of Acts.
act and deed, part of a formula used when signing a legal instrument and putting a finger on the seal at the end of the transaction.
1756 D. GARRICK
Let. in C. Oman David Garrick (1958) 177 The act and deed of the wife, in such cases [sc. business matters], pass for nothing.
1827 BARNEWALL & CRESSWELL
Reports V. 671 [He] produced the parchment, placed it on the table, signed his name, and then said, ‘I deliver this as my act and deed’, putting his finger at the same time on the seal.
1877 W. S. GILBERT
Sorcerer I. p. 9 They deliver itthey deliver it As their Act and Deed!
1910 Encycl. Brit. I. 156/2 In law it means any instrument in writing, for declaring or justifying the truth of a bargain or transaction, as: ‘I deliver this as my act and deed.’
7. a. A ‘performance’ of part of a play; hence, One of the main divisions of a dramatic work, in which a definite part of the whole action is completed. Also often fig. (L. actus.)
?1520 Terens in Englysh (Andria) The furst scene of the furst Act.
tr. Erasmus's Praise of Folie sig. N iv verso, Resteth now the fifte acte or parte, wherein it behoueth them to shew foorth all their cunning and profunditie.
Gorboduc (title-p.), The Tragedie of Gorboduc Where of three Actes were wrytten by Thomas Nortone, and the two laste by Thomas Sackuyle.
Ibid., sig. A iiv The Order of the dme shewe before the firste Acte.
Hen. VIII, Epil. 3 Some come to take their ease, And sleepe an act or two.
Mad Lover I. 21 Away then: our Act's ended.
Rambler No. 156 8 An act is only the representation of such a part of the business of the play as proceeds in an unbroken tenor, or without any intermediate pause.
1769 Junius Lett. xxiii. 112 Can age itself forget that you are now in the last act of life?
1858 DE QUINCEY
Grk. Trag. in Wks. IX. 64 The very meaning of an act is, that in the intervals, the suspension of the acts, any possible time may elapse, and any possible action go on.
Norm. Conq. II. x. 507 We are approaching the close of the first act of our great drama.
b. An interval or interlude in a play. Obs.
1606 J. MARSTON
Parasitaster Actus Quintus. Whilest the Act is a playing, Hercules and Tiberio enters, Tiberio climes the tree, and is received above by Dulcimel.
Dict., Acte..an Act, or Pause in a Comedie, or Tragedie.
Mids. N. III. ad fin., They sleepe all the Act.
Changeling III. i (stage-direction) In the act-time De Flores hides a naked rapier behind a door.
c. One of a series of short performances in a variety programme, circus, etc. Also, the entertainer or entertainers (considered collect.) by whom an act is performed. Cf. double act s.v. DOUBLE
1890 ‘BIFF’ HALL Turnover Club vi. 63 The usual attraction was ‘Professor Etherio, the flying man’, who did a rope~walking act.
1912 Stage Year Bk. 1912 39 The boom in bare flesh..Even those managers who..had refused to give engagements to this class of ‘act’, were soon tumbling over one another.
1933 P. GODFREY
Back-Stage xviii. 228 Their act was booked for a tour by the African theatres.
1959 Times 16 Oct. 12/3 The team had completed their twists, loops and all the tricks of their acts which had been seen..in..other air shows.
1919 F. HURST
Humoresque 300 Two specialty acts and a pair of whistling Pierrots.
1929 Daily Express 12 Jan. 3/5 New comedy acts are needed most. These, if found, will be helped to find better material and to buy attractive costumes.
1971 Rolling Stone 24 July 12/2 The customers..aren't going to be able to take a chance on the unknown or lesser known acts if the record is priced too high.
d. transf. An imitation of a theatrical part, a piece of acting; a display of exaggerated behaviour; pretence (of being what one is not); esp.
to put on an act (colloq.), to show off, to talk for display, to behave insincerely, to act a part. Also in other phrases:
to get into the act (colloq., orig. U.S.), to become a participant; to involve oneself in some (successful, fashionable, etc.) venture or activity; also
(to be) in on the act;
to get one's act together (colloq., orig. U.S.), to (re-)organize effectively one's (muddled or disorganized) life, business, etc.
Peter Pan in Plays 20 We are doing an act; we are playing at being you and father.
1934 F. BALDWIN
Innocent Bystander (1935) viii. 145 When he spoke of the theatre he wasn't putting on an act. He was himself.
1934 J. O'HARA
Appointment in Samarra (1935) viii. 235 You put on some kind of an act with Caroline, and..she fell for it.
1939 A. HUXLEY
After Many a Summer II. v. 220 It was such a relief not to have to put on that act with Pete for the benefit of uncle Jo.
1946 M. DICKENS
Happy Prisoner viii. 158 This girl's not naturally like that. She's putting on an act.
1953 X. FIELDING Stronghold III. ii. 192 This might have been an act designed to impress us.
1959 Times 1 Apr. 8/3 Some men were injured and some were ‘putting on an act’. (b)
1947 Current Biog. 1946 168/1 The Durante quips (‘I've got a million of 'em’, ‘Everybody wants to get into da act,’..) are ‘timelessly colorful’.
1951 ‘J. TEY’
Daughter of Time viii. Morton had been very much ‘in on the act’.
1958 Spectator 22 Aug. 239/1 President Chamoun got back into the act by announcing that they would not be asked to withdraw from the Lebanon.
1967 Listener 22 June 835/2 No one for a moment supposes that Friendly will not be in on the act.
1969 M. PUZO
Godfather II. xiii. 188 The author..came west on Johnny's invitation, to talk it over without agents or studios getting into the act. (c)
1976 Billings (Montana) Gaz. 17 June 1-G/1 (caption) Winfield, after giving it careful consideration, I have decided to get my act together and split!
1977 C. MCFADDEN
Serial (1978) iv. 15/1 Like, I can't get my act together... Leonard, I need you. I want you to help me get clear.
1984 Times 22 May 3/1 We need to get our act together... Users have been divided so far and are being picked off by the publishers one by one.
act-drop = DROP
1884 [see EXECUTE
1890 G. B. SHAW
in Star 28 Apr. 2/3 She made a very marked impression which the audience gave vehement emphasis to after each descent of the act-drop.
1896 [see DROP
1960 Times 29 Sept. 16/7 An act-drop is lowered to display a multicoloured abstract design.
8. In the Universities, a thesis publicly maintained by a candidate for a degree, or to show a student's proficiency.
At Oxford, the Act took place early in July. The graduates kept Acts, or discussed theses, on Saturday and Monday; on the intervening
Act Sunday, two of the new Doctors of Divinity preached
Act Sermons before the University. The Act was last held after long interruption in 1733; in 1856 the name, with all that related to the ceremony, was removed from the Statute-book, and only survives in the appellation
Act Term sometimes given to Trinity Term. At Cambridge, the name is still given to the thesis and accompanying examination required for the obtainment of the doctor's degree in Divinity, Law, and Medicine.
tr. Erasmus's Praise of Folie sig. M iv verso, At their Actes and Comencements ye dooe see theim swadled in with so many cappes, coyues, and furde hoodes as they weare.
1592 T. NASHE
Strange News I. 279 Acts are but idle wordes, and..Pumps and Pantofles...therefore do no Acts..onelie..to Oxford they trudge,..and there are confirmed in the same degree they took at Cambridge.
1607 [R. PARKER
] Scholas. Disc. agst. Antichrist I. ii. 89 For proofe heereof, what need I goe further then to an Vniuersitie Acte, where before a confluence and concourse of people,..a Doctor incipient in Diuinitie publisheth these verses.
1641 F. GREVILLE
Disc. Nat. Episc. II. vii. 118 They desire they may have leave (as Probationers) to exercise, or keepe Acts, before the Church; 'till the Church shall approve of them.
Disc. Apol. 42 At the time..were divers created Doctors without attendance to keep Acts.
Ath. Oxon. II. 182 Upon Act Sunday the same year he preached the University Sermon at S. Maries.
Paroch. Antiq. II. 58 This method was first reflected on by Mr. Peter Heylin, in an Act sermon at St. Mary's in Oxon, July 11, 1630.
1713 Guardian No. 72 (1756) I. 320 This paper is written with a design to make my journey to Oxford agreeable to me, where I design to be at the Publick Act.
in Fraser Life vi. 207 The approaching Act at Oxford is much spoken of.
1877 Camb. Univ. Calend. 51 The Degree of Bachelor in Divinity, for which the requisite Exercises are, one Act, and an English Sermon. The Act is required to be kept in the following manner:..The Candidate shall read a thesis composed in Latin by himself on some subject approved by the Professor; the Professor or graduate presiding, shall bring forward arguments or objections in English for the Candidate to answer, etc.
9. An auto da fé, or act of faith; a burning of heretics. Obs.
Annals of Ref. xx. 228 In this act also were burnt the bones and picture of D. Ægidio.
ADDITIONS SERIES 1993
a hard (or tough) act to follow: an outstanding performance, one which is difficult to rival; hence, someone or something hard to equal. colloq. (orig. U.S.).
1975 Chemical Week 12 Mar. 22/1 Tough acts to follow:..companies in three other principal CPI segments are somewhat less sanguine about topping last year's results.
1975 Business Week 3 Nov. 24 (heading) A hard act to follow; after the third-quarter surge in GNP, growth is sure to be slower.
1981 P. F. BOLLER Presidential Anecdotes ii. 24 It was not easy being the second President of the United States; George Washington was a hard act to follow.
1983 Listener 29 Sept. 24/3 But Olivier, to say the least, was a hard act to follow.
1986 Sunday Express Mag. 6 Apr. 18/4, I was rash enough to remark that Wogan was a hard act to follow, and Jameson jumped down my throat.
DRAFT ADDITIONS MARCH 2005
Act of State (also with lower-case initials), an act passed (or occas. performed) by the executive power of an independent state, esp. an act which relates to foreign affairs or foreign citizens.
Of Aduancem. Learning II. sig. I, It was giuen, not by a formall Decree or Act of State, as it was used amongst the Romane Emperours; but by an inward assent and beleefe.
1684 T. SOUTHERNE
Disappointment III. i. 31 And by an act of State, this very day We are oblig'd, as all good Subjects ought, To bring by turns our Wives and Daughters in.
1780 Parl. Hist. Eng. (1814) XX. 1167 The idea of an act of state, or the resolution of the Crown.
1883 J. F. STEPHEN
Hist. Criminal Law II. xvi. 61 The question to which I refer is, whether the criminal law applies to what have sometimes been described as acts of State?
1942 H. BYAS Govt. by Assassination xxiv. 324 The Japanese Emperor is not an autocrat; every act of state must be made on the advice and responsibility of an official person.
2004 Herald Sun (Melbourne) (Nexis) 24 Jan. 16 He also said he needed to make a proper examination of the facts before being able to decide on whether the alleged false imprisonment of the asylum-seekers amounted to an act of state.
All engaged people think at some time after the proposal "It just hit me, we're getting married".
Did they not know that they were getting married before? Obviously, they did in some sense know- but just as obviously, they didn't understand marriage as deeply as they came to understand it. In fact, it's true to say after one gets this kind of deeper appreciation of marriage "I never understood marriage until now".
This deepening understanding of things already known, called contemplative
, is what makes for philosophical understanding most fully. Philosophy is based on obvious things that we can easily fail to appreciate (e.g. I am one man; some things can be, other things are; "human" is said fully of Peter and Socrates, of each and both together; all knowledge is based in the senses; a thing acts insofar as it is in act; the good is diffusive; all act for the good etc... all these and many, many more.) The growth of philosophical knowledge doesn't come so much by learning some exiting, novel, and unthought of idea; but by coming to appreciate the depth of the certain truths we knew all along- truths we saw as relatively trivial or as mere formulated axioms.
Those who don't want to contemplate (for whatever reason- impatience, arrogance, love of novelty, or the hatred of everyday knowledge that drug-lovers cultivate*) will tend to view philosophy as a meaningless word game, or as an unfulfilling vanity. One common response to this perceived vanity is to seek out one of the flashy, exiting philosophies that demands no meditation and can be perfectly learned even by the young. There is no point in giving examples of such flashy philosophies- they will be replaced by others momentarily. The books that now command the heights of the bestseller lists and are taught at all the great universities are destined to soon be nothing more than the forgotten items of a garage sale.
And it wouldn't matter even if somehow, per impossibile
, some of these flashy, non-contemplative philosophies were taught even to the end of the world, because it is only through contemplation that we can escape the vanity of the saeculum
that human life and human thought finds itself in. We don't need new axioms or new systems or new philosophies. We need to come to a deeper and more profound realization of the things we already know.
Much the same applies even to supernatural theology. What takes the place of "the obvious" that the philosopher should contemplate is "the familiar orthodoxies" of theology. Many people can imagine nothing more stifling than the Creed- How basic! How shallow! Why not seek out the deeper meaning of Christianity? But this is all vanity- The deeper meaning of Christianity, the "new perspective on the faith" isn't found apart
from the Creed, but within it,
in continual return
to it by contemplation.
* In general, the love of extreme sensation of any kind will choke off the desire to contemplate- pornography, gluttony, rap and club music, etc. All of them lead to a devaluing and disinterest in common, everyday reality. We can no longer find delight in anything that is not extreme, over the top, revolutionary, etc.
Perennial Philosophy in Riddle Form.
"Riddle form" is an idiom I made up after about two minutes of thought about what to call the mode of teaching common to the Pre-Socratics, Christ, and eastern philosophers. If there is a commonly accepted name for this form of teaching, please tell me what it is. The mode of teaching is characterized by paradox, parable, and enigmatic statements- and above all, by brevity.
Nothing impedes certain ideas of Plato, Aristotle, and Thomas Aquinas from being put in riddle form, so I thought I'd try it.
1.) How many hammers replace the smith? To what fruit does the blossom grow?
2.) Do I choose that these seeds hit the earth, and this one hits the stone?
3.) Without the shrine, neither the pilgrim. Without heating, neither heat.
4.) The blind man can awake midday, and the man with sight, midnight.
5.) Listeners don't divide the words among them.
6.) How many pictures are in the model, or loaves in the pan?
7.) One is left, another right, which is "hand"?
8.) How large is stone
? could we make stone
, to measure stone
9.) If all is this, then these are not human.
10.) I define an extinct, and a kind that will not be.
Thesis: Every completed action is perfect
1.) Terms used contrary to common usage are used improperly. Not every completed action is called perfect: a completed test is not necessarily a perfect test, in general a completed act is not a perfect act.
2.) Perfection connotes goodness or desirability. But completed things can be neither good nor desirable, e.g ugly and evil things.
3.) A perfect thing is a thing which lacks nothing due to it. But completed actions can lack things due to them, even by intention: as when we choose the lesser of two evils.
Perfection means lacking nothing due. Completion means attaining a term.
Things directed by intelligence, as such, intend a completed action that lacks nothing due,
but every attaining of a term is directed by intelligence
To the major: Problem #3
I respond: What is due follows what is possible, for nothing impossible can be said "to be due" to something. But what is possible can mean two things: what is possible simply, and what is possible in certain circumstances. If intention to the imperfect is understood as the most perfect possible, yet relatively imperfect, I concede, if imperfect in its mode, I deny.
To the minor:
a.) Whatever had existence in the mind alone as directive, directs by intelligence.
b.) but every term attained had existence in the mind alone as directive.
a. is evident.
b. follows from a term taken per se, not per accidens. For to attain a term, per se, means to attain a term that is the per se term of the action, e.g. a book is not called "complete" if the author abandons it, or dies before he finishes- for the story terminates writing. A rose does not attain the term growth if it dies before flowering- for maturity terminates growth.
These per se terms, therefore, must be viewed as directive, for growth is defined in relation to maturity, and story writing is defined in relation to the story. The terms of these actions, then, are therefore causes of the action. But to be a cause is to be responsible for existence. But the term of action does not exist in reality (otherwise it would not be tended toward, but attained), and so it follows that per se terms of action exist in mind.
to problem #1
If completions is said per accidens I concede
, if it it is said of completions per se, I deny
. Completed actions are only called "imperfect" per accidens, as when a paper is called "complete" because it is a certain number of pages long. But the proper completion of a paper is not a word count or a length. It cannot be the term of the action as such, other wise "a paper" could not be defined apart from a word count.
If evil is understood to be something intended per accidens, I concede
, if per se intended, I deny
Back in a week or so, went out for the Fourth.
Imagination An Intellect
: a note seeking an article
Much of what gets called philosophy resolves to the imagination, and goes no further. The knowledge is not properly of intellect, but of sense. Some examples:
1.) The account of universals as classes or collections.
2.) The attempt to account for knowledge as a mode of consciousness (consciousness is a kind of sense knowledge).
3.) Calling consciousness "the sum of mental states".
4.) The belief that the greatest goods are material goods.
5.) The denial of substance, causality, and the things which relate necessarily to these.
7.) The preference of history over nature (history is properly in memory).
8.) In general, the denial of metaphysics.
The sense in which intellect more manifests what things are. How is intellect more like things? Why is it that an immaterial mode more manifests what a material thing is?
Idea: A thing is its nature. nature is neither particular or universal...