Vomit the Lukewarm
A Consideration of the First Principle of Progressivism
Progressivism is the belief that human perfection continually increases- i.e. the men of former times were not as perfect as we are. There is some truth to this: the word "primitive" for example, means both "historically first" and "undeveloped" or "unrefined". Progressivism even seems to admit of a strict proof: all men seek the good, but the good is only attained by a process of learning andexperiment which can often take several ages or generations. The clearest examples for progressivism in history are taken from the mechanical arts- we can observe how tools and weapons gradually progressed from sharpened stones to chainsaws and cruise missiles; we can observe even more clearly- even visually- the progression from the Wright flyer to the Space shuttle.
Certain other arts are clearly not progressive: Cicero's prose is every bit as polished as Thackeray or Cardinal Newman; the insights into human nature are just as shrewd in Solomon or in Shakespeare or in Dostoyevsky; the epics or Homer and Virgil- or Greek and Roman poetry in general- has not been improved upon, nor will it be; and the L.A. Cathedral did not develop any primitive notions of beauty in, say, the Parthenon, the Temple at Delphi or the Gardens of Babylon.
In general, those arts are not progressive if their product is something valuable in itself, because of its own intrinsic goodness or beauty; and they are progressive if they aim at a certain power or control over something. The clearest example of the progressive arts are the tool making arts, and a tool clearly has its whole good in a power it gives us. Medicine is a sort of middle case, for it is clearly progressive and it is ordered to something good in itself- but inasmuch as we see medicine as a progressive discovery of medicines and techniques, then we can see it as a sort of tool making art.
Certain progressive arts are also necessary for philosophy. Man comes to know nature both though an analogy to art, and through an awareness of his own inner life, which makes it fitting that he needs to understand nature through an art that treats of his own life as such- the art of medicine. This is what happened historically- Socrates based much of his moral philosophy on various analogies to the medical art; Aristotle famously claimed that the clearest example of what nature is is a doctor healing himself; and the fundamental doctrine of analogy is best understood through the word "healthy" as it is said of a healthy body, a healthy color, and a healthy diet.
There is another sense in which philosophy can be seen as progressive, as St. Thomas displays here
In another sense, since man learns by experience, his learning is always progressive.
But there is more to the idea of progressivism than the sort of progressive learning that the above examples speak of. Were there not, there would be no opposition between progressivism and conservatism. The difference between the two seems to be a matter not of absolute exclusion, but of emphasis. The progressive mind is the one that places the greatest emphasis on the sorts of things that progress, whereas the conservative places less emphasis on these things. The Conservative tends to emphasize the ways in which past ideas measure present ones, and the progressive tends to draw out the ways in which present things measure or judge past ones.
A Post Inspired by Von Balthasar
Von Balthasar articulates the first principles of his Theology in an essay posted here
. I thought the essay was lovely. I had profound agreement with some parts, I had reservation about other parts, and in was unsure about most parts. I thought it could be a fine essay if taken one way, and a destructive essay if taken in another way. Rather than go through the whole essay point by point, I'll use his essay as a sort of schematic, and attempt to answer the same questions as he's answering. I make no claim as to whether I'm saying the same thing as he or a different thing, or whether we contradict or not.
We start with the principle of contradiction. Man is absolutely certain, such that he cannot not be certain, that this principle applies to all things without qualification. And yet, at the same time, the only things that man knows are limited and changeable. These two things known are presupposed to all of man's intellectual knowledge, in the sense that all that is known must presuppose the truth of the principle of contradiction (in all of its unlimited scope) and the things gathered from the limited, sensible world.
The first attempt to harmonize these two givens of human knowledge is to think that there is no difference between all things and the collection of the limited sensible things in the world. In other words, we think that all being is limited and changeable. This position is taken as a postulate, a given. The position feels sober and rational to man- it is presently described as "scientific"*, although in the past it has been called "of reality" (de rerum natura), or "empirical" (from empirice
= founded on experience). The position might also be called materialism, but we should caution against making the position too particularized. The idea at root is that all there is are the things we can see an touch and feel, etc. It is this position that seems safe, sober, real, and scientific.
And yet this same position is a cause of revulsion and horror, or at least of unease. First of all, the scientific position requires man to sever ties with his Fathers and tradition, who believed that there was more to the world than material and sensible being. To believe that all tthere is is what we can see also requires man to accept as final and absolute
the manifold irrationalities of the world, a world which reveals itself too often as a "vanity of vanities". This unease proceeds both from reason and from a desire for comfort, just as the desire to be "scientific" does.
This simultaneous comfort and discomfort with the postulate "all being is material", this simultaneous pull of man's whole being in different directions is a dispute about whether all being is material.
One response is to this dispute is to affirm with even more vigor that all being is material. Although naive materialism is an expected and natural disposition of the human mind- it is different to claim that all being is material in an explicit manner, with a full assertion of all the points of unease that the position implies.
Another response to the unease we feel about whether all being is material to take the opposite
position as a given
. In this way, we take it as a given that all being is not the same as the limited, changeable, and sensible.
Another response is to attempt to prove
, on the basis of what is given from the sensible world, that there is some connection or separation between "all things" and "limited, material things".
To the extent that man fails to prove whether all things are material or not, he must suffer a lifelong unease within himself, an unease which fundamentally cripples his thought at the root. Some will take as a given that all things are material, others will take as a given that not all things are material, but both will have to deaden a voice within themselves- and each voice speaks with its own comforts and claims to being reasonable.
One kind of proof is an argument from authority. The argument from authority implies discipleship, for man is a disciple to any authority he allows to rule his thought. On the one hand, this sort of argument and proof is possible for all, but on the other hand, discipleship can only be based on an informed belief, and belief is informed by truth. The argument from authority, then, must be based ultimately in a foundation other than the word of the authority. Discipleship must be informed by some truth.
It is this other truth, this proof that is other than the argument from authority, that we look to if we hope either to transcend, or to stay within the limits of the material world. Any metaphysics must be based on this proof. So long as we do not prove whether or not all things are material or not, the comfort we take from dogmatically assuming one of the contraries will be fundamentally unstable. As far as human knowledge is concerned, to take as a given "all being is material" or to take the opposite as a given, is to start halfway and never get to the roots of things. Without such a proof, all our science is at least ungrounded, if not a mere sorcery of charming words and rhetoric.
I have thus tried to found a first philosophy on the first things man knows to be true, and to proceed to prove from them that not all being is material. In other words, from these material beings, we can proceed by analogy to an immaterial being. These arguments I make appear at first to be mere word games, or vanities of thought- and it is rational to see them as such. At the same time, man usually does not think the argument vain with his whole being- for man has an inner conflict as to whether all things are material or not, a conflict which calls out by nature for a grounded proof. All attempts to transcend the material world by fiat, or to explicitly deny the possibility of this transcendence by fiat, are intrinsically unsatisfying and unstable conditions.
*Though I call the mode of thought that recognizes only material beings "scientific" there is no perfect term for the way of thinking. Indeed, this way of thinking is most often not even put into words- it is the child unnreflectively assuming that angels are toga-clad with wings, or that the spirit of a man or of God is a sort of cloud in the dim outline of a man. Even after a man asserts that some beings are immaterial, he still tends to understand them with material images: points of light, dots, men with wings on clouds, triangles in circles, etc.
, Part TenThe proof from the mind's object.
The human mind knows universals.
universals are immaterial (if not, they would be particular things- the "idea of cat" could walk into the room as easily as a cat)
the thing as actually known, and actual intelligence are the same (the object is all the act of the mind, just as color is all the actual seeing)
so the mind is immaterial
And mind is clearly a thing.
So mind is an immaterial thing
But inasmuch as something is material it can become something else (materials are things we turn into other things)
But mind is immaterial
so it cannot become something else.
But whatever cannot become other than itself, cannot die, for all that dies becomes something other than itself- a non-being.
Objection #1.) If the mind cannot become other, then the mind cannot know, for knowledge is being another as other.
the mind becomes other in such a way as it remains itself- I concede.
the mind becomes other in such a way as it ceases to be itself- I deny.
For a material thing to be another is its destruction, but for a spiritual thing it is its perfection. In fact, one can conclude from this that the root of knowledge is immateriality- even in sensation- but in intellectual knowing this immateriality is total.
#2.) A collection of particulars reduces to particulars
A universal is a collection of particulars
to the minor:
a collective universal- I concede
a universal properly speaking- I deny
If a universal properly speaking is a collection of particulars; in other words if "man" meant "Peter, John, Paul..." then if we said "Peter is a man" we would mean "Peter is Peter, John, Paul...". In other words, the whole would be equal to the part.
, Part NineA preamble to a discussion on knowledge in the state of separation
The things which pre-exist in the Word of God, flow out from him in two ways: 1.) into the angelic mind, 2.) into their proper natures. They proceed into the angelic mind, moreover, from the fact that God infuses (impressit
) the similitudes of things on the mind of the angels which he makes to be in nature.
Summa I Q.56 a.2
. also Contra Gent. II, c. 100.
To know is to have another. This is obvious from a little meditation: What is knowledge? Knowing something. What is it to know something? to have something known. This something known, this "other" is wholly causative of knowledge in act: take away the other, the object, and we have no actual knowledge,
just as there would be no difference in actual vision
between taking away all the objects of sight and taking away the power to see.
The problem of what knowledge is like in the state of separation is understood through knowledge in the state of union. The difference seems to bethat in the state of union, we receive the natures processing from the divine mind through the mediation of the very natures themselves as they are subsistent, whereas other intelligences receive the natures of things directly from the divine mind, without having to know the individual subsistent natures first as they are produced. The difference seems to be similar to the difference between being able to be within the soul of a lover, and or simply reading their letters. It is the difference between being in Mozart's mind, and passively listening to his music.
What is the reason for the state of union? Two thoughts:
-the weakness of our intelligence. God knows all through one intelligible species, we need to make a separate intelligible species for everything known. The individual natures of things are like aids to us, they are sorts of examples that are meant to lead us to the mind of God.
-Matter is the aptitude of form, and in this sense the desire for it. But there can be no fullness of this aptitude or desire until matter is united to that which constitutes its limit. But Spirit is the limit of matter, in the sense that it is the first thing that the aptitude of matter cannot reach. In man, all matter finds its fulfillment by the joining in one essence of matter and spirit.
In the first sense, we understand man as unified to body because he is the lowest thing in the spiritual universe. In the second way, we see him as the highest thing in the material cosmos.
-The thing I know, as known, and my act of knowing are the same. The thing as known is immaterial, because as known it does not and cannot change.
- Matter/material cannot be understood apart from what exists to become something, and as such is undetermined. But all knowledge is of a determined thing- so much so that it cannot change, as known.
- Apologetics and polemics are necessary starts to any philosophical life, but if they don't lead to contemplation, they will lead to burnout. The point is to do this activity simply for its own sake.
-The human mind comes to its deepest awareness of a truth when it has to defend a truth against attack. This requires that the human mind hold some truth as worthy of defense, even though it is not fully understood why it is defensible. Hence, discipleship is necessary to come to the deepest awareness of truth.
-think of a word, then try to define it as well as the dictionary does. Try "green". I failed utterly.
-Read a thing like you wrote it. Imagine yourself saying it. People don't do this enough.
-Augustine distinguishes between the superior and inferior intellect. The first looks to eternal things and seeks to be counseled by them. The inferior looks to temporal things.
-St. Thomas quotes Augustine favorably often. Augustinians quote Aristotle favorably rarely or never. Ditto for the Plato/ platonists.
On the Necessity of Syllogisms To Attain Reasoned TruthDescription
: a Syllogism is a set of propositions that prove a conclusion by means of a middle term.
THESIS: The truth of all reasoning is caused by a proposition known to be true.
M: Truth as known reduces to the proposition
m: All reasoning is the attainment of truth from a truth already known
(con. becomes minor) So reasoning is reduces to a known proposition.
M: But everything that reduces to something is ultimitely caused by that same something.
So the truth of all reasoning is caused by some proposition known as true.
THESIS: The propositions that cause the truth of the conclusion contain a middle term.
M: Propositions reduce to simple propositions.
m: Truth as known reduces to the proposition.
So a truth as known reduces to a simple proposition.
But every known truth is either self-evident or proveabledefinition:
A self evident proposition means that the subject and the predicate have no intrinsic middle term
proveable means that the subject and the predicate have an intrinsic middle term
But the conclusion of a line of reasoning is clearly proveable.
So the conclusion of a line of reasoning reduces to a simple proposition(s) with an intrinsic middle term(s).
But the truth of a line of reasoning is being caused by another proposition (above)
So the truth of a line of reasoning is being caused by a middle term contained in another proposition.
, Part EightObjections and responses
1.) M: Whatever is damaged by damage to the body, does not have an operation that rises above the body
m: But the operation of the human soul is damaged by damage to the body.
To the minor
If the premise is said of the soul in the state of union, I concede
If the premise is said of the soul in the state of separation, I deny
The life of the human soul can be understood in two ways: first, inasmuch as the soul is a part of a complete person, and in this way the soul is giving life to a man; and second, inasmuch as the soul is itself alive, and capable of operation apart from being a complete human person. So long as the complete person exists, then the soul is a part, and as such can be affected or damaged by damage to the whole. This state-where a complete person exists- is called the state of union, a state in which all the soul's activities have some relation to the state of the body. The state after death is called the state of separation, where an incomplete human subject exists, which can be called a person only in an extended sense of the term.
2.) No incomplete person can have the operation of a complete person.
Knowledge is an operation of a complete person.
To the major:
No incomplete person can have the operation of a complete person in the same way that the complete person has it- I concede
No incomplete person can have the operation of a complete person in a different way- I deny
To know is to possess the form of another. In the state of union, the form of the other is recieved through the senses. If this were the only way of knowing, then it would be impossible for any purely spiritual being to be a knower. But not only is it possible
for a purely spiritual being to know, but a purely spiritual being is a more perfect
knower than a knower inmeshed in matter (as those who know by sensation alone.)
3.) No knower is conscious of a knowing operation apart from the body.
All knowers are conscious of their operations of knowing.
To the Major:
No knower is so conscious in the state of union- I pass over
No knower is conscious of of an operation apart from the body in the state of separation- I deny
The fact of human death creates the fact that man has a double existence as a knower and as a willer. Given that all men have such a difficult time understanding any state of life until they experience it, it should not be surprising that we have such a difficult time understanding, or even accepting the existence of the state of separation. A cocky twelve year old can have a far better understanding of what it means to be a mature, wise, reflective grandfather than the average person understands what it means to be a soul in the state of separation.
THESIS: The form/soul of a man has perpetual life
M: Whatever has an operation that rises wholly above matter, has a perpetual life
m: the form/soul of a man has an operation that rises wholly above matter.
M-a: What cannot change in itself cannot die
m-a: What is separate from matter cannot change in itself.
given from the very notion of matter- which is that which can be other, and that which can be other, as such, is matter.
Part SixUnderstanding the division of matter and form in man
(an excerpt from "The Meaning Of Nature" By Sheilah O'Flynn Brennan)
...Nature is a principle of movement in that which is. It is therefore a principle of motion in the mobile...
A mobile thing implies potency. It does not necessarily imply activity; this is the mark of the mover. Nature then is intimitely related to matter- even though form is nature more perfectly than matter is, since
a.) matter would not be a principle of movement without its relation to form, and
b.) no being would be a natural being in act except through its form
nevertheless, form is nature only insofar as it determines matter, for otherwise it would not be a principle of movement at all.
Where there is no matter, there is no nature.
In the measure that form rises above matter it rises beyond nature, it becomesfirst
a principle not only of being moved but of moving, andthen
a principle not only of moving but of operations that are not strictly speaking motions at all.
(n.b. in living things, the words "form" and "soul" are synonymous and can be used interchangeably
...a more perfect soul, the rational, can be the principle of intellection which, since it does not require an organ, does not involve movement at all... the rational soul as its principle, considered precisely in this way, is nature only in an improper or extended sense.
(but the soul can also be considered natural for three reasons:1.) The proportionate object for the human soul, in the state of union, is a material quiddity, attained through the senses, and the senses are dependent on material organs2.) Some motions / changes are properly human, and therefore proper to the soul in the state of union, e.g. laughing, talking. 3.) The human soul is the act of a human body, essentially ordered to being in the body for its perfection
- me again)
Hence, as the form emerges from matter, the thing which it determines rises above passivity, and then above movement, and therefore above mere nature also. Not that it loses what belongs to nature, it has all this and something more.
Part FiveImmortality and the definition of man
Human immortality is grounded in the essence of man as rational animal. To say this does not differ in the thing spoken of
from saying "everything that is said of man (like "immortal") is said of man." The concept of a man and of rational animal are the same; what is said of one is always said of another. This is what makes definition different from any other predicated truth. For example, When I say "man is bipedal" or "man sees colors", I realize that "bipedal" is a different concept from "man" (birds are bipedal too.) But the whole point of giving a definition is to say something that does not differ in concept from the thing it is said of. Though definitions are given as a sentence, the subject and the predicate are not different concepts. In a definition, the only difference between the subject and the predicate is that the predicate is a more distinct grasp of the concept, and the subject is a less distinct grasp.
Said another way, it would make no difference in speech if we were to say "rational animal" instead of "man"- this might be more clunky sounding, or unclear, but nothing we said would be false. But it would make a great difference in our speech if we were always to say "bipedal" instead of "man"- for then we would end up saying exactly the same things about men and a flamingos. And so the predicate of any definition is merely a more distinct articulation of the same concept expressed by the subject. Definition is the way in which our mind perfectly expresses one concept
according to the way we understand it- going from the less distinct to the more distinct.
When we say that definition perfectly expresses one concept, we don't mean that it tells us distinctly everything that can be said about the concept. This is to confuse a definition with a predicated truth. In a definition there is only one concept, known perfectly in itself; in a predicated truth, there are two concepts, one being known more perfectly through another. This is why it is obvious that everything that is said of a thing is grounded in the definition of that thing- for this is the same as saying that everything that is said of the concept is said of the concept. To the extent that we ignore, pervert, or misunderstand the definition of something, we can have no grounded and distinct knowledge of it.
To understand human immortality, we need to understand four things.Life:
Immortality means nothing other than perpetual life, but we must also account for the fact that human beings die. We must carefully distinguish the sense in which a man can both die and yet not die; the sense in which he can both cease to exist, and not cease to exist.Knowledge:
From intellectual knowledge, which is the effect, one can reason to a spiritual being, which is the cause. This sort of being must have perpetual life. Said another way, the perpetuity of human knowledge is a certain perpetuity of human life, because for rational animals, to exist is to be rational and animal (In my experience, much of the speculative error about human life proceeds from an insufficient meditation on what it means to be a rational animal. When we lose the definition as the first principle, all our reasoning is in vain.)Matter and Form
: These principles are necessary to explain both the living human subject and human knowledge. Life in man is a composite of form and matter, and what exists as composed ceases to exist when not composed. But the form of man is intellect, and intellectual activity is the immaterial possession of another's form. It is through matter and form, then, that we come to understand both human life and human knowledge, and through these we come to understand what it means for man to be mortal, and yet immortal; perpetually living and yet soon to die.
The Two Ways of Sophistry.
The most manifest kind of sophistry involves teaching error. A second kind of sophistic involves creating the occasion for error, and then doing nothing to remove it. The first kind of sophistry is quite pernicious, but the second kind is much more so. The second kind of sophistry has a thousand different masks and catch phrases, like:
a.) It tells us that philosophy places more emphasis on the question than the answer- as though philosophy was formally the love of ignorance, infinity and oblivion.
b.) It somehow construes love of wisdom to mean the lack of wisdom- as though we could never love the things we possess (don't we in fact love something more
when it is ours?). To love persuit more than attainment is something that belongs to human reason as ugly and deficient, not as full and divine.
c.) This sophistic perpetually describes different options, apart from the goal of defending any one of them. It places more emphasis on a description of options and alternatives than on a judgment as to the truth of the matter.
d.) This sophistic will by nature seek conterarguments to all positions at any cost. It demands that even the most outrageous or intrinsically impossible thought experiments be taken seriously and as reasonable. It stands on no principles, and desires none.
In a word, philosophy is something that should come from a teacher, and a teacher should help
people. One should never give occasion for doubt or confusion unless they intend to take it away.
Wisdom is something that should be loved, and we cannot love negation and ignorance.
More thoughts on the two kinds of new things learned.
-When we appreciate that knowledge involves coming to a deeper understanding of what is already known, it becomes evident how the arts are causes of learning. Art can become a substitute for experience- we can learn from Raskalnikov or Hamlet without having to live like either of them.
-The Greeks called anyone who was very skilled "wise", which makes sense when one thinks about how a skilled person understands their craft "from the inside". A skilled person is skilled not because he has a set of propositions that could be memorized by anyone, but because a skill is alive
-Latin understands the second kind of knowledge, i.e. wisdom, in relation to the sense of taste: sapiens
"a wise man" is from sapere
"to taste". This is a beautiful way to understand wisdom, for taste discerns the goodness of those things that are to become a part of our being. This is to see wisdom as a more intimate knowledge than knowledge understood in relation to vision.
To learn means to come to know something new, but but a known thing can be new in two ways. The first way is when we learn a new fact, another way is when we come to appreciate more deeply a fact we already knew. In the first way, we might learn that Helena is the Capitol of Montana, the Pythagorean theorem is so-and- so, that Plato believed all knowledge was recollection, or that all knowledge comes to be from the senses. In the second way, we might understand that having a baby changes your life in the way that a parent of a 18 month-old understands it; or we might understand how the Pythagorean theorem proceeds out of the first things of geometry; or we might understand how crime doesn't pay in the way a cop understands it.
A few observations about these different kinds of knowledge
-The first kind of knowledge can be understood as "extrinsic", while the second kind has more the character of something known "from the inside".
-The second kind has more the character of wisdom than the first does, for it is more characterized by depth. It is also a character of knowledge that should characterize what is called science, for science should be ordered to wisdom.
-Some facts are able to be understood more deeply, while others are not. It's hard to imagine how in can come to a deeper understanding of the fact that Helena is the Capitol of Montana.
-What is needed most often is not a search for new facts, but a deeper appreciation of the things we already know. There is more fruit in a mediation on the truth that all men are created equal than there is in memorizing a thousand different treatises of political theory.
-What is deeper is dependent on what is shallow- a guy can't come to appreciate the depth of something unless he holds it before himself long enough to peel away the layers it contains. We get these first things by discipleship, and we develop them by meditation.
-Something like this deepening of knowledge is seen in very good books- we value them for one reason when we read them the first time, and we come to see more in them everytime we read them. The opposite of this are books that, when we read them again, we wonder what we ever saw in them.
-One of the saddest traits of human reason is its resistance to discipleship. There's nothing as depressing as seeing someone about to make exactly the same mistake you once made, and know that it'll do do good to tell them they should't do it. It the frustration of the parent who can't for the life of him get his kid to believe that he has rules for the sake of the kid
. It's one of the many ways we can confront the weakness and deformity of human reason.
-I began to love roses because Vergil loved them. Everyone, I suspect, has at least one thing they started to love out of a desire to be more like someone who loved it.
-Aristotle died by 58. Thomas Aquinas by 50.
-Thomas Aquinas' major rivals were the followers of Averrhoes at the University of Paris. Their first principle of philosophy was the infallibility of Aristotle, who they claimed was a dispensation of divine providence, revealed to man to teach all natural truth. Aquinas' criticism of these men shows that while they claimed to only follow the littera
of Aristotle, they in fact divinized their own interpretation of the literal sense. This is typical of what happens when one tries to make a book the sole rule of right doctrine.
- Martin Luther, as everyone knows, taught sola scriptura
. His religion would have been better and more in line with what he wanted if he had taught "by the creed alone"
, a religion that would be entirely based on the Apostles creed. You think there are massive holes in such a religion? What are they? That the creed never mentions that it is the sole rule of faith? or that the Creed speaks of a "catholic" Church? All these would be met with the same boilerplate responses that are given to the exact same objections made against sola scriptura.
Luther wanted clarity. He should have sought it there.
And does anyone even believe sola scriptura anymore, anyway?
-Have Evangelicals forgotten about the Trinity?
Idea, Back Soon.
The Summa Theologicae, considered in its broadest division, first deals with God, then with man, then with man's union to God (in and through Christ). The Summa, since it is a work of revealed theology, has access to the doctrine of the Incarnation, and is able to assume a solid grounding in the precursor sciences to revealed theology, sc. Logic, Natural Philosophy, and Metaphysics. The Summa uses all of these precursor sciences liberally, but it does not explain them exhaustively. Other authors have given exhaustive accounts of the precursor sciences.
I was thinking of what a Summa of Natural Theology would look like. It would fit somewhere in between the Summa and the more exhaustive accounts of the precursor sciences.
I'll be away from the computer for a few days. I do not expect to post before the 19th.
Part ThreeExistence and operation in the next life
It is one thing to ask whether man has some existence after death, and another thing to ask whether man has any operation after death. Sometimes, a proof for human immortality does not directly prove that there is any human operation after death (of thinking, loving, hating, contemplation, sorrow,etc.) and sometimes it does prove this.
In those arguments that prove immortality by speaking of the soul, it amounts to nothing to show that the soul exists after death if one cannot also show that the soul has some operation. There is no difference between the soul having no operation and the soul ceasing to exist altogether, just as there is no difference between a blind man and a man who can never remove a blindfold.
In those arguments that prove immortality by speaking of a man as such- for example, those that would attempt to prove immortality by asserting the possibility of divine friendship (like arg. #5 below)- it is clear that some proof of operation would be concomitant with the proof for immortality. To speak of someone being a friend of God, whether in this life or a putative life to come, is to speak of some operation of knowledge. No one can be friends with a corpse.
Even if one proved that there must be some operation after death, there is a further difficulty of proving the way in which that operation will occur. Someone might become convinced of these two premises:
A.) man has an everlasting operation of knowing
B.) man cannot know apart from a body.
From this, our reasoner might conclude either that man gets a new body immediately after he dies, or that he gets an immortal body at some time in the future. In a word, he may give a proof for the resurrection (I lean toward thinking he would prove the resurrection thesis, for this
soul belongs uniquely to this
Much has been made in recent times of the opposition between the opinions of human immortality that assert "life in heaven" (or hell) and those that assert a resurrection of the body.
I assert that both these opinions are true, and knowable, though not knowable in the same way. I'll break up the question into two parts, and give each its own thesis:
THESIS: We can be certain by natural reason that each individual man has an intellectual operation after death, apart from the body.
THESIS: We can give probable reasons by natural reason that each individual man will rise from the dead at some time.
, Part TwoThe Architectonic Syllogisms
(An architectonic syllogism is simply one that gives a fundamental middle term. It has the benefit of focusing both sides of a dispute on one premise that must be affirmed or denied, proven or disproven. This is a rare thing to see in disputes.)
All conclusions are either "man is immortal" or "the human soul is immortal".
1.) All spirits are immortal
The human soul is a spirit
2.) All substances that know universals are immortal
a man is a substance knowing universals
3.) All things that cannot find happiness in a life of finite duration are immortal
Man cannot find happiness in a life of finite duration
4.) All things that are not fitting for God to do, are not done.
It is not fitting to make man without making him immortal.
5.) All that are called to eternal life are immortal.
Man is called to eternal life.
6.) If man is not immortal, then nothing within the cosmos is immortal.
but something within the cosmos is immortal.
7.) The evolution of material beings has attained a complete term in man
immortality is the aim of the evolution of material beings.
8.) The execution of divine justice is necessary.
The execution of divine justice requires that man be immortal.
9.) Whatever lives both within a body, and without a body, is immortal.
The human soul lives both within a body, and without a body.
10.) Whatever actually knows sometimes
when it is united to the body, but always
knows when it is not unifed to the body, is immortal
The human soul ...
11.) All things that are moved by God to an end, are moved to it without fail.
man is moved to immortal life by God.
12.) Whatever can be the friend of God, is immortal
man can be the friend of God.
13.) Whatever is not material, is not mortal
The human soul is not material.
14.) Whatever is made ex nihilo
, and is living, is immortal
The human soul is living, and made ex nihilo.
The first distiction is made between the arguments that can be said only
of the human soul, and those that are not only
said of the human soul. Arguments 1, 9, 10, 13, 14 are only true of the soul, and if one tries to substitute the word "man", the premise becomes false (by "man" we mean primarily this particular
human being, sc. Peter, Mary, etc.)
But since we distinguish, say, the soul of Peter from Peter (we don't ever say "Peter is a soul
" except as we might say "Peter is a hired hand
") we are able to distinguish two different arguments for immortality. Among the second kind of argument, sc. those that are not only said of the human soul, but are said of man, we can distinguish those arguments that are said of man as man (#5, 12), and those that are said of man, inasmuch as he has a soul (#2). Some arguments might be taken in either way, depending on how we read the words of the argument.
The question of immortality is hampered by the absense of the word "soul" in English, and even a widespread indifference to the very real and radical difference between a living man and a dead man. This distinction was the bedrock of the more ancient accounts of personal immortality. And what else could possibly be the bedrock? How could we confirm or deny human immortality, i.e. whether all of man is mortal or not, without giving some account of death and life? "Mortal", uh, ya know, means "able to die", and death is the absense of life in what has lived.
Man's inner life is treated by a clutter of theory: he is a consciousness, a subconscious, an activity of the brain, a behavior nexus, a maker of values, a spiritual person, an awareness, a "click", an inner flame, an inner child, an inner parent, an enabler, an introvert, an extrovert, a narcissist, an egoist, a pschotic, depressed, a legal agent, a nexus of responsibility... chances are anyone reading this blog can give at least fourty terms that label man's inner life without having to think too hard.
All these terms are nice, but who among us wouldn't be willing to consign all of them to oblivion if he could be certain of just one thing: that he himself will survive death, not in some merely poetic way, but in actual fact?
Autonomy in Things
(Persons, Sciences, points of view, etc.)
Autonomy is proportionate to divinity. Only a simply divine thing can be a simply autonomous thing. This proof can be made as rigourous and scientific as you please.
Related point: liberty in thought will always be proportionate to liberty in action. If we can think whtever we please, we can do whatever we please. Whoever places some actions as undoable must posit some thoughts as unthinkable- as the sorts of things that in some way demand censure, rebuke, and condemnation as something not to be thought.
From the Principle of Contradiction to The Existence of God.
Given: the principle of contradiction, however one chooses to articulate it. It is impossible to be and not-be (in the same respect); being cannot both be and not be without qualification nothing can both be and not be at the same time in the same respect; being is and cannot not be, impossibile est esse et non esse simul
From what is given in the principle of contradiction, to move to the existence of God (if anything were to be added to this, it must admit of self-evidence, like a definition or an essential notion)
THESIS: The division of being into potency and act is necessarily implied in the principle of contradiction.
It is given that what is actual is being. The proof resolves to showing that being includes the idea of the possible, i.e. potency.Arg. One
M: The contradictory of the impossible is possible (given from the words themselves)
m: being is the contradictory of the impossible
M-a: What cannot come to be is impossible-to-be
m-a: non-being cannot come to be
and since being absolutely excludes non-being, being is the contradictory of impossibility-to-be.
given the first Major premise in proof One, the possible is included in being.Arg. Two
m:We include in the principle of contradiction the qualifier "at the same time and in the same respect" because we first verify the principle of contradiction about changeable things.
M: Changeable things can either be or not be
So changeable being includes the idea of "can be" or potency, and the idea of changeable being is in the principle of contradiction- it is even in the principle according to our first understanding.
And since what is actual is obviously being, it follows that being is divided into potency and act.
THESIS: All being composed of potency and act is being caused by another.
M: All that is, and is only insofar as it is ordered to something else, is being caused by that something else (given by meaning).
m: All being in potency is, only insofar as it is ordered to act.
"What can be so and so" has "so and so" in its very notion, and is nothing without it. But potency means an ability to be actual. So its very notion is ordered to act. In other words "being ordered to act" is the very ratio
So all potency is being caused by being in act.
So in every being composed of potency and act, the potency is being caused by another.So now we consider the composed thing, inasmuch as it is in potential
This potency is either being caused by an act in the thing itself, or by an act in another.
If the act is in the thing iself, then the thing must be actual.
But it is given that it is in potential.
So the act must be from another.
So everything composed of being and act is being caused by another.
THESIS: All being composed of potency and act is being caused by GodGiven:
By God, I mean a being that is absolutely perfect
all act is perfect, and all perfect being is act. (for potency exists in relation to it as a term desired)
Composed being, as such, is being caused either by itself, or by another that is not composed
But it cannot be being caused by itself, for it is being caused by another
So it is being caused by another not composed.
The other causing is either potency alone, or act alone.
But it is not potency alone, for potency as such is being caused by another.
So it must be act alone.
It is therefore infinitely perfect.
And it is therefore God.
Meditations on Being
-Being cannot be described. Description is impossible where the thing described is known better than the description given. But being is known before anything else is known, for who doesn't know being knows nothing. Said another way, description of being is impossible, because description is unnecessary. A fortiori (and for other reasons) a definition of being is impossible.
-Because the mind knows being, it knows all things, absolutely and without qualification. It is absolutely impossible to be a mind (i.e. to know being) and not to know all things.
-In the human mind, non-being is present whenever being is known. This happens because the human mind contains its object in a human way, and human mind exists in this way: it is a total void without an object. The human mind, considered in itself, is a nothing in the sense of being formless. And so non-being is present in every human mind knowing being. This non-being, like any negation, is posterior to the thing that is negated.
-Because being is the frist object of mind, but the human mind from its way of existing necessarily brings to any act of knowing its own non-being, the first principle of human knowledge is an absolute division between being and non-being. This principle admits of many different formulations: nothing can both be and not be at the same time and in the same respect; it is impossible to be and not be in the same way; being is, and cannot not be; a thing and its opposite can never be the same, etc... what is common to all of these is the a the opposition not only between being and non-being, but being and the impossible. what is is not only opposed to what is not, but to what cannot be: it is impossible
to be and not be at the same time and in the same respect.
-Since being is opposed to the impossible, then the possible is in some way being. This is why being divides into what actually is, and what can be.
-Because the human mind exists in relation to a body, in such a way that the body can be called a sort of visibilty of mind, or a manifestation of the power of mind, then all the activities of the human mind have a bodily manifestation, so much so that so long as mind is giving being to the body, the operation of mind can be impeded, corrupted, enhanced, assuaged, etc. through the manipulation of the body.
(understood in connection with the unity of the substantial form of man, this teaching of "the manifestation of mind" provides the basis for the dignity of the human person as a living body
-The bodily thing that always corresponds to the act of the mind, i.e. the bodily manifestation of mind is the word. As any man stands to his words, so also will he stand to being.
-Words become corrupted when they loose their moorings to more fundamental and well known meanings. This happens necessarily with jargon
, and it happens oftentimes with symbolic thinking. The great trick of both of these things is their pretense of rigor, which in fact is worthless unless one has a firm mooring in the orientation to what is, which is, for man, found in words, and in words alone.
-All who replace words with jargon and symbols are not doing metaphysics, and so long as they stick to the jargon and symbols, they can't do it. They will tend to see first principles as laws alone or rules alone or acts of faith or something imposed, as opposed to seeing the first principle as true. As soon as this happens, all science and all knowing becomes infinite and sophistical. In fact, the best working definition of a sophist is one who does not begin with what is already known.
Meditations on Utopian Visions
1.) All utopian visions turn on the idea that man can be like
God, without having to love
him. We will have all the blessings of prosperity, and even eternal life- the only cost is the total banishment of any devotion to the divinity. The question is never whether man must seek happiness- everyone agrees on that- everyone even agrees that it is necessary
to seek happiness. The utopians only demand that we banish divinity (cf. Merton's account of the fall).
2.) All utopian visions have an unshakeable confidence that they "will get it right this time". This confidence is based on some new being: a scientific theory, an extrapolation of a past success, an attempt to imitate the results of another without making their sacrifices...etc. This new being, it must be stressed, is truly a new power, most likely even a power which is intrisically able to achieve the utopian result. But nothing is more surely predictable than power, when separated from the moral law, becomes nothing but the power of death.
3.) It is true that experimental science brings home to the common man the ingeniousness of man. But one would have to be quite naive to believe that the veneration of the masses for modern science differs from the veneration of savage people for magic art.
Charles De Koninck.
4.) In the spirit of "treason doth never prosper"; "utopian visions never harm human beings".
5.) Utopian movements are famous for both believing that their results are inevitable, and that they must be worked for. Many have remarked on the oddity of these contradictory claims- most clearly seen in Marxist utopianism, but also in modern scientism "it is inevitable that scientists will start doing _______, so please donate money so we can pay lawers to make it legal". This odd contradiction is caused by the utopian destruction of the moral law. When the moral law is denied, all human actions begin to seem "inevitable", for it is only by living a moral life that man can be in control of his own life. At the same time, the moral law will always speak inside man's heart, and so the Utopian visionaries will constantly be working to snuff out the last flicker of the moral light within the minds of others, and in themselves.
6.) Here is a more ancient commentary
on what happens to someone when he tries to attain some prosperity by the denial of the moral law:17:1
. For thy judgments, O Lord, are great, and thy words cannot be expressed: therefore undisciplined souls have erred.17:2
. For while the wicked thought to be able to have dominion over the holy nation, they themselves being fettered with the bonds of darkness, and a long night, shut up in their houses, lay there exiled from the eternal providence.17:3
. And while they thought to lie hid in their obscure sins, they were scattered under a dark veil of forgetfullness, being horribly afraid, and troubled with exceeding great astonishment.17:4
. For neither did the den that held them, keep them from fear: for noises coming down troubled them, and sad visions appearing to them, affrighted them.17:5
. And no power of fire could give them light, neither could the bright flames of the stars enlighten that horrible night.17:6
. But there appeared to them a sudden fire, very dreadful: and being struck with the fear of that face, which was not seen, they thought the things which they saw to be worse:17:7
. And the delusions of their magic art were put down, and their boasting of wisdom was reproachfully rebuked.17:8
. For they who promised to drive away fears and troubles from a sick soul, were sick themselves of a fear worthy to be laughed at.17:9
. For though no terrible thing disturbed them: yet being scared with the passing by of beasts, and hissing of serpents, they died for fear and denying that they saw the air, which could by no means be avoided.17:10
. For whereas wickedness is fearful, it beareth witness of its condemnation: for a troubled conscience always forecasteth grievous things.17:11
. For fear is nothing else but a yielding up of the succours from thought.17:12
. And while there is less expectation from within, the greater doth it count the ignorance of that cause which bringeth the torment.17:13
. But they that during that night, in which nothing could be done, and which came upon them from the lowest and deepest hell, slept the same sleep,17:14
. Were sometimes molested with the fear of monsters, sometimes fainted away, their soul failing them: for a sudden and unlooked for fear was come upon them.17:15
. Moreover, if any of them had fallen down, he was kept shut up in prison without irons.17:16
. For if any one were a husbandman, or a shepherd, or a labourer in the field, and was suddenly overtaken, he endured a necessity from which he could not fly.17:17
. For they were all bound together with one chain of darkness. Whether it were a whistling wind, or the melodious voice of birds, among the spreading branches of trees, or a fall of water running down with violence,17:18
. Or the mighty noise of stones tumbling down, or the running that could not be seen of beasts playing together, or the roaring voice of wild beasts, or a rebounding echo from the highest mountains: these things made them to swoon for fear.17:19
. For the whole world was enlightened, with a clear light, and none were hindered in their labours.17:20
. But over them only was spread a heavy night, an image of that darkness which was to come upon them. But they were to themselves more grievous than the darkness.
COMMUNICATIONES MYSTICAEPart Three
THESIS: That every desire of mind is desiring union with the absolute perfection.Given
: this might be taken either on the part of absolute perfection, or on the part of some manifestation of the absolute with mind: as man.
On the part of man:ARG. I
M: The perfection of any manifestation is in manifesting more perfectly
m: man is a manifestation of the absolutely perfect person.
(conclusion becomes minor) So man is made more perfect by more perfectly manifesting the absolutely perfect person
M: Every desire, as such is a desiring for one's own perfection (even when- and this cannot be stressed enough
, one's own perfection is communicable to many).
(Conclusion becomes minor) So man's every desire is to more perfectly manifest the absolutely perfect person.
M: But more perfect manifestation is only made possible by greater union.
So man's every desire is to be more unified to the absolutely perfect person.ARG II
. M: To exist as a manifestation is to find one's whole perfection in union with another ( fuzzy picture is only a fuzzy picture, but a clear picture is a man).
m: But man exists as a manifestation of the absolutely perfect person.ARG III
: M: What is within us most intimately, is loved most dearly
m: but the absolute perfection is within us most intimitely, even more intimitely thanwe are present to ourselves.
M-a: The things within our hearts are loved most dearly.
m-a: Those things most intimite to us are in our hearts.
M-b: What exists only as a composition of parts, exists less within its parts than that which is totally within every part and the whole.
m-b: But man exists only as a composition of parts, and the absolutely perfect person exists within every part and the whole man.
m-b is given from the nature of man as a manifestation of the absolutely perfect person.
COMMUNICATIONES MYSTICAEPart TwoGiven
: Some perfections consist in being limited.
M: The perfection of being in a determinite species consists in the limitation of the species (this is in fact tautological, for "determination" and "limit" mean the same thing)
m: the absolute perfection is perfection without limit
So the absolute perfection has absolutely no species, nor can it have one (by the same, no genus).
M: Every bodily thing is limited (an unlimited body, even if it could exist, would be disproportionate and grotesque- shapeless)
m: the absolute perfection is perfection without limit.
(conclusion becomes M): So the absolute perfection has absolutely no body.
m: We are incapable of imagining anything that is not bodily
We are incapable of imagining the absolute perfection.
M: To speak truly of the unlimited perfection, we cannot use names that refer to perfections that are strictly limited to a genus, but only names not so limited.
m: the words "being" "goodness" "truth" "desireable" are not limited to a genus.
So these names can be used to speak truly of the absolute perfection.
m: Existence is one good that can be said of the absolute perfection
M: In our understanding, for "goodness" to exist means for a thing to be good
So, in our understanding, we can call the absolute perfection "good" to indicate that goodness is subsistent in him.
M: Whatever is not limited to a genus can be said of the absolute perfection
m: Mind is not limited to a genus.
M: Whatever knows that which is outside of, and beyond genus is not limited to one genus
m: Being-which is not a genus- is known by the mind, immo
, it is known before anything else is known (who does not know being, knows nothing- is not even a knower.)
(side note: it is entirely meaningless to speak of a knower who does not know being as such. To deny any division of being to a knower whatsoever is a completely meaningless denial.)
(conclusion becomes M) And so we may, therefore, speak truly of the absolute perfection as a knower.
m: but every knower is said to have personhood.
So we may speak of absolute perfection as having personhood.
THE COMMUNICATIONES MYSTICAEPart OneM= major premisem= minor premise
Thesis: All is either absolute perfection; or a manifestation of absolute perfection.
Said another way: Being is divided into absolutely perfect being, and the manifestation of absolutely perfect being.
M: (part 1.) Every absolutely perfect being is infinite being, (part 2.) and every finite being is a manifestation of the absolutely perfect
m: infinite and finite being entirely divide all being, for they are contradictories.
Proof M (part 1.)given.
That which is perfect either lacks nothing due to it, or is given as the term of some action.
M-a: to lack nothing in any way means to be infinitely perfect, and to be given as the term of all action shows also thet the absolutely perfect lacks nothing.
m-a: to be absolutely perfect is to lack absolutely nothing in any way, and to be given as the term of action for all things.
M-b: Whatever has no limit to its perfection is infinitely perfect,
m-b: and to lack nothing in any way means to have no limit to perfection in anyway.
Proof Part 2.
M: Every limited being is a manifestation of the absolutely perfect,
m: every finite being is a limited being
Proof of M:
M-a: Every action of the absolutely perfect is a manifestation of the absolutely perfect
m-a: every limited being is made by the action of the absolutely perfect
Proof of M-a
M-b: Every act that presupposes nothing for its operation is a manifestation of the absolutely perfect
m-b: The action of the absolutely perfect is the only thing capable of presupposing nothing for its operation.
M-c Whatever is limited in absolutely no way can only be a manifestation of the absolutely perfect.
m-c What presuposses absolutely nothing for its operation must be limited in absolutely no way
M-d: Whatever derives its existence from another is a manifestation of the absolutely perfect
m-d: The limited derives its existence from another.
M-e Whatever existence the absolutely perfect is responsible for is a manifestation of the absolutely perfect.
m-e whatever derives its existence from another is an existence the absolutely perfect is responsible for.
M-f: If the absolutely perfect is not responsible for its existence, then from some limited perfection is responsible for it.given
: limited perfection, as such, is either responsible for its own existence, or not
m-f: but if it is so responsible, then it presupposes nothing for its existence (and wholly so, for something other than itself were necessary, then this other would be other than itself.)given from proof part 1:
but if it presupposes nothing for its existence, it is the absolutely perfect.
Concl: therefore the limited as such can only receive from another non-limited, and all non limited being is absolute perfection.
M-g Whatever has no existence from itself, can be nothing other than a manifestion of the absolute perfection (it could not be anything else or be made of anything else)
m-g Whatever being that absolute perfection is responsible for has no existence from itself (for nothing but absolute perfection has existence from itself.)
And so all being is divided into absolute perfection, and the manifestation of absolute perfection. and since manifestation consits in nothing other than being manifested, the whole universe is nothing but a manifestation being manifested of the absolute perfection.
Our first act after proving the existence of an unmoved mover, or the summum bonum, or Pure act should be to pray to him, to love him, and to worship him. Revelation may add to, and fulfill this necessary act of total adoration, but it will not, and cannot ever negate the total adoration that is deserved to the prime mover, first cause, necessary being, perfect being, ipsum esse subsistens, and intelligent artisan of the universe. A philosopher who thinks he can prove any of these Nomina Dei
without worshiping them does not understand sufficiently either what he has proven, or himself.
This act of total adoration and worship is necessary not only because to fail to do so is utterly irrational (how could we have anything but the greatest love for the Highest Good?) and not only because it is our duty to do so, but also because it is in the natural knowledge of God that we find our most sublime natural happiness. God is an infinite torrent of pleasures- an absolute fulfillment fulfilling us- of which all other loves and all other things loved are emanations, participations, communions, or shadows of the one who is all being absolutely, supereminently, unchangeably, and eternally.
Theology and Prayer
Theology is the knowledge of God, just as chemistry- for example- is the study of matter. The difference is that matter is not a society of persons, but God is. The subject matter of theology knows us before we come to know him. Geometry could never be a personal encounter with triangles- but theology is able to be a personal and mystical encounter with the very object the theologian orders his mind to.
This special status of theology, both natural and revealed, causes a certain tension in those who desire to know God. Some theological work emphasizes the more recognizeably scientific approach- in outward appearace and procedure this kind of theological work will appear no different from a work concerning ethics, textual criticism, natural philosophy, history, etc, but its theme will necessarily relate to understanding God. Another kind of theological work will be more recognizeable as an encounter with God- even if it is treating of a scientific question- as famously happens in St. Anselm's Proslogion
, or Augustine's Confessions
. or the Autobiography
of the Little Flower.
While there is certainly no shortage of work that is written as a personal encounter- that is, as a prayer- the majority of theological work is of the sort that does not differ in form from other scientific work. A good amount of theological work is done even by people who probably haven't prayed in a while. The great danger in all this is that we can begin to ignore the inseperable connection that theology has to prayer. Theology, in fact- and this is true of even the most seemingly dry and impersonal theological distinction in the Summa- simply is within an inch of being a prayer
. As soon as one lifts up their heart to where theology takes their mind, they begin to pray. It makes no difference if one is thinking over The Interior Castle
or the end of the Symposium
, or whether they are chanting Adoro Te Devote
or parsing a Greek verb in Book Twelve of the Metaphysics. The unity of heart and mind with God is prayer.
In a certain sense, theology is no different from anything else which can become a prayer by being united to God. One can pray by doing anything
in the presence of God. But I mention theology here because theology has an essential connection with prayer, whereas other endevors do not- at least not in the same way. Theology separated from prayer cannot be done well, for sciences are only done well by those who like the sort of thing the science deals with. Theologians separated from prayer will inevitably degrade into triviality and hollow chatter- and eventually such a theologian will practice a theology that doesn't mention God at all.
"To you, it is given to know the mysteries of God, but to them it is not given."
What then, are the mysteries
One mystery is that God intended to save the Gentiles
Another mystery is Christ himself, and the written record of him (gospel).
What do we do, however, with Ephesians 5:32?
"this is a great mystery, I speak of Christ and his church"
What does the "this" refer to?
the act of "a man leaving his mother and father, and joining to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh". As we moderns would say (since we're tone deaf to subtlety) it refers to married people- you know- having sex (a pretty crude, but revealing idiom).
but this verse begins "because of this, a man shall leave his..." So the more an effect, or a sign of the mystery. So what is the mystery?
Apparently, sex is only a sign. Why? Because a man loves his wife as though she were
as precious as his own skin. And the two become one flesh.
Enough of this though. A few random thoughts:
-wouldn't it be cool if sex were treated as a mystery? As opposed to a packaged, documented, recorded, mass produced act used to sell shampoo, CD's, razors, Movies, magazines...
-One of the Latin terms for "mystery" is "sacrament-um".
-If the Church has a mystery, the church has something that can't be seen by "just anyone". How many churches have something that can't be seen by just anyone? For that matter, how many churches claim to have mysteries at all?
The Pagan, the Elite Class, and The Sacraments
All people tend to view those who live in the country as simple people. This simplicity is alternately romanicized, and ridiculed. The words of ridicule, however, are never the words we use when we romanticize country living, as happens with our English terms of country-dweller ridicule: "hick", "redneck", "rube", "country bumpkin", "simpleton", "jethro", etc. The Latin term of country-dweller ridicule is "pagan-us" (the ending "us" can change).
To join the Roman army, one was required to take an oath of allegiance to the army, and think only of the things of the army. From that moment forward, the soldier would refer to everyone not in the army as "paganus". Regardless of whether the soldier himself came from the most backwater town in the empire, he was no longer one of the "pagani". The name for the oath one took was "sacrament-um".
Christians chose these terms to explain what it was to be Christian, as is clear from the use of the word "pagan" today.