03/13/10 – Joanne Tetlow – Voegelin – Order and History, Volume One: Israel and Revelation – Part II – chaps. 4-6 – The Historical Order of Israel Summary The emergence of Israel as a historical form occurs when God chooses a people under the Mosaic covenant. Exodus from Egypt and its cosmological society to Canaan, the promised land is a differentiating event. The experience of the Israelites in Canaan ending in destruction and not permanence reveals that the symbol of Canaan is not the kingdom of God. As a result of the ambiguity of Canaan, which represents the historical form of Israel and the end of Israelite history because of conquest, there is no Israelite civilization residing in a permanent territory, but a people constituted in covenant. Voegelin distinguishes between pragmatic and paradigmatic events, or sacred and profane history. The Old Testament is about the Jews relationship with God; they are the carrier of truth. Cosmological societies did not produce an Old Testament, because their experience of order was undifferentiated. With Israel, “history as an inner form of existence” emerges in contrast to the cosmological myth. What Spengler and Toynbee miss is the understanding that the experience of order and symbols is not a product of a civilization, but its constitutive forms. This eclipse of God is blind to understanding Israel as “a form of existence of a society under God.” Pragmatically, Israel exists in time; paradigmatically it is the inner form which constitutes a society. Israel as an historical form expands its meaning beyond the present into the past with the following problems: (1) ontological reality of mankind: the process of human history is ontologically real, because the historical truth contained in compact symbolism becomes articulate, and the past inarticulate form can be seen; (2) origin of history is a historically moving present: Israel is the first, but not the last history. Because faith is not subjective, but a leap in being, the historical form is an ontologically real event in history represented by symbols, which can be generalized as “Either-Or” or “Before-After.” Gentiles, Jews, and Christians experience this in different degrees of clarity, i.e., the Gentiles in the law of divine creation; Jews in the covenant and divine command; and Christians in Christ and the law of the heart; and (3) loss of historical substance: historical form can be lost when men and society reverse the leap and reject God. Both “emergence” and “recession” occur in Israelite history. By wanting a king and establishing a kingdom, the Exodus is reversed and the Sheol of civilization revisited. The kingdom “recession” evokes the Yahwism of the Prophets. Israel’s historical form is not regained by the kingdom, but by the Prophets retaining a community under God who does not reside in Canaan. Ironically, the kingdom and covenant are pairs in and out of sequence. Chronologically, the kingdom is second; motivationally in pragmatic history, the kingdom precedes the covenant; but in content, the covenant dominates the kingdom. It is this break of the initial compact order that creates the reversals in hierarchy. Monarchy was necessary to preserve Israel, but the Mosaic instructions were violated. The principle is that political success was no substitute for life in obedience to the divine law. Relation between the life of the spirit and life of the world remains unresolved, but the emergence from the compactness of the Mosaic period to the Prophetic differentiation actualized the life of the spirit and substantive order under the covenant. The nature of Israelite compactness was the “perpetual mortgage of the world-immanent, concrete event on the transcendent truth that on its occasion was revealed.” This new community was to integrate into mankind pursuant to the Abrahamic promise, and though the Talmudic Jews separated from mankind, Christianity became “one mankind under God.” The idea of history has its origin in covenant, and we are currently living in the present of that covenant. Israel has become mankind, and thus, Israelite history is world-history. The Old Testament is paradigmatic world-history—the compactness of cosmological symbolism broken by the Prophets and universalistic understanding of divine transcendence, albeit burdened by Israelite pragmatic existence; nevertheless, provided paradigmatic symbols of relation of order to covenant. As such, Israel is a symbol of revelation.
02/27/10 – Joanne Tetlow Voegelin – Order and History, Volume One: Israel and Revelation Part I – chaps. 1-3 – Mesopotamia, Achaemenian Empire, and Egypt Summary Voegelin begins his study of Israel and Revelation with an introductory chapter about his philosophy of symbolization of order. There is a dialectical interplay between “order” and “history” in that, according to Voegelin, “the order of history emerges from the history of order.” Circular reasoning is not an issue in this apparently tautological statement, because the “order” in history emerges from man’s participation in the divine transcendent being. Knowledge of God, man, world, and society is only available through the perspective of participation, because “participation is existence itself.” Man cannot attain knowledge of the “whole,” but only partial understanding of the mystery of being; thus, it is impossible to stand objectively outside of our own experience of existence and look at history or philosophy as objects for examination. From this “participatory” understanding, Voegelin elaborates the process of symbolization man uses to express experiences of the unknown. Before Israel came into existence, the cosmological societies of the Ancient Near East, i.e., Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Persia, or “microcosmos,” were predominated by “myth.” Importantly, these cosmological societies of the Ancient Near East were representative of mankind. In cosmological symbolization, the experience of participation in order is mythical. As pre-philosophical—before the Greek discovery of reason—Mesopotamia, Persia, and Egypt existed under a cosmic-divine order symbolized politically as “empire.” Empire and cosmos were interchangeable; theology and politics were fused, because the gods were the world itself. The many Mesopotamian city-states symbolized political polytheism. Various symbols were rationalized into “political summodeism,” where local gods subordinated themselves to the one highest empire god. Other symbols of the analogical relation between the divine and man were the zodiac, the number twelve, the sun, and the New Year’s Festival. A pluralism of symbols appeared as society resembled the celestial, cosmic sphere. Each symbol was a partial representation of the same truth of the divine being. Persia’s Zoroastrianism modified the strict correlation between cosmological and societal experience by introducing a dualism that operated at the immanent level of a divine king eradicating evil. The later experience of Egypt in its Pharaonic symbolism of “one- God, one-King” moved from compactness toward differentiation in preparation for the existence of Israel. Egypt achieved “consubstantiality,” or the experience of a community of being with its origin in “divine” substance. Still hierarchical, the divine flowed into the mundane, human existence. While polytheism is not broken within the mythical existence of Egypt, Voegelin observes a movement toward differentiation, because there is one divine substance that co-exists within the community of being. God is seen as “one” and “spiritual.” Divine kingship, a rarity, did not result in a leap of being, but did allow a manifestation of god in human form, rather than god being in human form. Memphite theology of the Pharaonic order—One God, One World, One Egypt—leans toward monotheism in the theogonic speculation that other gods originate through creation by the one truly highest god, and that Egyptian society is attuned to being by ordering itself under the king as the emanation of the god. Consubstantiality meant that the creation of world as a divine idea was of the same substance as the creation of Egypt as the royal idea. Nevertheless, man does not break out of the compact world, because there is no experience of transcendence. The subject can participate in the divine substance only by obedience to Pharaoh. The stage is set for the breakdown of cosmological order and the understanding that the mythical symbols are inadequate representations of the divine being.
Summary by Joanne Tetlow
Ambiguity exists in the symbols of Israelite history. According to Voegelin, the compactness of the cosmological myth holding together
The trail of symbols begins with Yahweh’s covenant with Abram in Genesis 15 preceded by the battle between Mesopotamian and Canaanite kings in which Abram rescues his nephew
In further tracing
After the conquests of Joshua, pockets of the promised land remained unconquered. This fact and the constant threat of foreign enemies put the Israelite confederacy under serious pressure. Since the Israelite Confederacy was not a political organization with a military, Yahweh did not have the resources to fight holy wars. Deborah’s Song in Judges is a symbol of Yahweh’s power to deliver the Jews from Canaanite attack, and shows a break with the cosmological myth. Yahweh revealed himself as the source of true order, since there was no human mediator to “transform the cosmic into social order.” Yahweh fought holy wars in defense of his people against aggressors, not against other gods. Voegelin notes that
Following Deborah, Gideon served as a bridge figure who acted as the political form of a king setting the stage for national monarchy under Saul. The clan society was moving towards kingship. Voegelin notes especially Gideon’s institution of a “temple” as a new symbol of political order. It served as a cult center for the kingdom and the people. The problem, though, was that God became politicized. But, Yahweh was no Baal. According to Voegelin, “it was the Yahweh of Israel who, as a political god, put the first imperial stamp on Syriac civilization.” Yet, the theopolity created during the Israeli kings to keep the nation alive changed under the prophets, who became the representatives of true spiritual order. Under the Prophets, Yahweh was represented as the universal, nonpolitical, god who could create order in the soul moving the focus away from monarchy back to covenant.
Voegelin outlines two views of the rise of
Thus, the state of the soul and salvation remained ambiguous for
Under the royalist version of Saul’s monarchy, theopolity is supported despite all of
The second antiroyalist view of Saul’s monarchy is interpreted as the people’s rejection of Yahweh and his rule over them as a king in a theopolity. It was the people, not Yahweh, who instituted kingship. Voegelin notes the paradigmatic symbol of Samuel and Saul, or the spiritual and temporal control over politics. Samuel warns the people of changing from judges to a king, one that replaces the divine King. Obedient to God’s command, Samuel as priest anoints Saul as king. Now that
In the De Trinitate, 10, 3, 12, St. Augustine distinguishes between two kinds of presence (which have been interpreted as two kinds of object). A first kind refers to something which exists as the terminus or term of a cognitional act (whether one speaks about an act of sense or an act of reason). As Augustine notes, this is the kind of presence which exists if one sees one's face in a mirror. One's face, as seen in a mirror, is experienced as an object, an external object. It exists cognitionally as an other. It is other than one's act of cognition although it also exists as the term of one's cognitive act. A second kind of presence or object, however, refers to an experience of self-presence. As Lonergan translates the wording of Augustine’s discussion as he cites Augustine's text in The Incarnate Word, p. 182: “But when it is said to the mind: ‘Know yourself,’ then it knows itself in the very act in which it understands the word ‘yourself’; and it knows itself for no other reason than that it is present to itself.” In his Summa Contra Gentiles 3, 46, 8, Aquinas refers to this insight of St. Augustine: “And so, according to Augustine’s meaning, our mind knows itself through itself, in so far as it knows concerning itself, that it is. Indeed, from the fact that it perceives that it acts it perceives that it is. Of course, it acts through itself, and so, through itself, it knows concerning itself that it is.” On the basis of the kind of wording used, Augustine and Aquinas do not speak directly about consciousness although, if one refers to how Lonergan talks about these two kinds of presence as they were known by Augustine and Aquinas, he refers to presence by way of a transposition which speaks about consciousness and the existence of different theories about consciousness. Presence, the presence of something suggests a metaphysics; consciousness, an understanding of cognition.
Before venturing into a more specific explanation that one might allude to in the context of Lonergan's work and interests, an historical note helps us understand why, for instance, Augustine and Aquinas did not explicitly speak about consciousness and self-consciousness (as we directly speak of these things and as Lonergan also speaks of them). Owen Barfield’s History in English Words (Inner Traditions International, April 1986), pp. 169-171, looks at the vocabulary of the “self” and notes how developments in our concept of the human self (especially since the 16th Century) have had fructifying consequences for developments in language so that we can now speak more precisely about the interior life of the human self in a manner which can distinguish between different parts and elements and which can also speak about the relations which also exist between different parts and elements. Citing one summary that speaks about this development (Fr. John Eudes Bamburger, “Retreat conference given at St. Anselm’s Abbey, Washington, DC,” August 22, 2009, unpublished):
Plato and other Greek philosophers had but a partial grasp of the concept of the self as we know it. Although the first glimmerings of the modern self appear in the High Middle Ages under the form of such words as the individual and the person yet it functions under many occult influences. It is only after the Reformation and especially at the end of the 16th Century that such a series of words as self-consciousness, self-conceit, self-love, self-liking, self-command, self-esteem, self-knowledge, and other hyphenated forms of self appear. Descartes, in 1664, made the thinking self the source of knowledge and most philosophers since his time have assumed the same stance. It was shortly before this date that Locke…adopted the new word “consciousness” and defined it as “perception of what passes in a man’s own mind.” Coleridge was the first to use the term “self-conscious.”
In turning then to proximate reasons which can be identified in Lonergan's thought, because consciousness exists as a human experience which all persons can relate to and identify, it can be regarded as a fundamental point of departure for discussions which would want to move through consciousness to whatever can be known about a human subject. But, if Augustine and Aquinas speak about two kinds of presence or two kinds of object, they are referring to a metaphysical difference which translates into a cognitional difference that distinguishes between two notions of consciousness. The experience of one kind of object suggests a particular species of consciousness and the experience of another kind of object, another species of consciousness. But, without a clear understanding of differences, one will not understand how these two notions or two kinds of consciousness are ordered to each other and how one species of consciousness conditions another. One will not understand why one cannot have one species of consciousness without also having the other. Difficulties in this area create problems for theology if an inappropriate notion of consciousness is employed as an analogy to find deeper meanings than that what is initially given through the proclamation of a revealed truth. The unity of God's being is not well understood if the unity of God's consciousness is not adequately fathomed, if its unity finds no echo in how we, as human beings, experience and find unity within the orientations that we find in our own consciousness. In Christology, Christ's incarnation and suffering death cannot be too well understood if it is not possible to argue that Christ's consciousness of self should be regarded as a precondition for a consciousness which refers to a consciousness of objects that is other than a consciousness of self as this is given in Christ's acts. Without this prior consciousness of self as this occurs through specific acts or by reason of specific, no consciousness of objects can be properly attributed to Christ's consciousness. On the cross, it cannot be said that Christ truly knew pain, that he truly suffered from any pains that were inflicted on him by the kind of death he suffered. Without a good understanding of consciousness that we each have as human beings, we cannot so easily join ourselves to Christ's consciousness in a manner which more fully joins us to the life of a divine being. The availability of our consciousness coupled with its malleability or changeability reveals a point of access which encourages forms of self-examination. We ask about the kind of person which we have become through our acts and we also ask about the kind of person which we can become through our acts. Through changes of consciousness, we can draw closer to God. We become more conscious about the depths of our interiority.
by Br. Dunstan Robidoux OSB
In Aristotle, De Anima, 3, 4, 430a 3-4, one finds a discussion which argues that in human cognition, if material coordinates or material properties are somehow omitted or abstracted out (perhaps one can say “bracketed”), an identity exists between an act of understanding and what is understood. The act of understanding possesses a spiritual or immaterial nature as does also what is understood as this refers to a spiritual or immaterial intellectual nature. According to an editorial translation of Aristotle’s text (as this is given in Lonergan’s Verbum, p. 84, n. 118), it is said that “in the immaterial order, the understander and the understood are identical.” Another translation reads: “…in things separated from the material, intellect and what is understood by it are identical.” Cf. Aquinas, Commentary on Aristotle’s De Anima, trans. Kenelm Foster and Silvester Humphries, p. 216. In the Latin of a translation which Lonergan gives both in “Christ as Subject: A Reply,” Collection, p. 179, n. 50 and in Verbum, p. 84: in his quae sunt sine materia idem est intelligens et intellectum. Turning to Aquinas’s commentary, however, one finds an elaboration and specification of meaning which goes beyond what Aristotle had said when, in a more simple way, he had spoken about the presence of an identification. Citing Aquinas’s Latin: species igitur rei intellectae in actu, est species ipsius intellectus; et sic per eam seipsum intelligere potest. Cf. Sentencia Libri De anima, 3, 9, 724. In a more accurate English translation than would otherwise the case if species were to be translated as “concept,” because of a real distinction which exists between an intellectual form or nature and a concept as an inner word (species and concept do not refer to the same reality), one best avers that, according to Aquinas: “the species or form of something which has been understood [referring to the intelligible nature of a given thing] is also a species or form [an intelligible nature] which exists within one’s understanding.” An identity exists between what is being understood and one’s act of understanding (provided, as Aquinas notes, that what is being understood through one’s act of understanding is what is being truly or actually understood in one’s act of understanding). One’s act of understanding should not be understanding something else (something which is other than what one’s act of understanding should be understanding). The introduction of a qualification in Aquinas points to a difference which opens up a discussion on what distinguishes Aristotle’s understanding of cognition from that which one finds in Aquinas and Lonergan.
In terms of the difference between Aristotle’s understanding of human cognition and what Aquinas and Lonergan understood about understanding, it is to be noted as a point of departure that, in Aristotle, a human knowledge of reality occurs through a kind of participation which gradually reaches down into the depths of a person’s soul. If, on the other hand, knowing were to be understood as something that is akin to some kind of confrontation which occurs between an act of sense and what sense experiences in terms of some kind of datum (a datum of sense), in this kind of knowing, all knowing would occur through an externalized sensible form of extroversion. Reality would exist as some kind of external world which one sees or contemplates. Now, if one shifts into an Aristotelian interpretation about what happens when acts of sense are operative in a human person as a subject, one begins to get into an understanding of human cognition which begins to think in terms of identity. On the level of sense, knowing occurs through an interchange which occurs between acts of sense and the various possible data of sense. Aristotle would more familiarly speak about agent objects who act from without to move or elicit an act of sense in a human subject. In any given act of sense, what is sensed exists as the term or the content of an act of sense. In the familiar Latin phrasing which summarizes this position: sensible in actu est sensus in actu (“the sensible in act is the sense in act”). Cf. Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, 1a, q. 14, a. 2, cited by Lonergan, Verbum, p. 84, n. 115. By identity at a sensible external level, a human subject begins to participate in something which is other than himself. To a sensible degree, this other becomes part of a person’s subjective being, part of a person’s subjective life (through a form of consciousness which is characterized by acts of sense).
However, later, through an act of abstractive understanding (or “simple apprehension” as many Thomists would say), in abstracting a form from matter, at an intellectual level, a second kind of identity is experienced and known. The inner sense or meaning which belongs to something that is other than a knower begins to live within the inner life or the inner consciousness of a knower. The intelligible in act is the intellect in act. Intelligibile in actu est intellectus in actu. Cf. Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, 1a, q. 14, a. 2, cited by Lonergan, Verbum, pp. 83-84, n. 114. At a deeper level within the human soul, at an intellectual level, a person is joined with something that is other than himself. A sensible material identity is succeeded by an intellectual immaterial identity.
However, as questions arise which now ask if a knower knows that he or she is cognitionally joined to something which is other than him or herself and which is truly known (something which exists independently of whether or not it is being known by him or her as a knower), a species of reflection is initiated which begins to reveal that the principle of identity cannot be employed as a sufficiently satisfactory explanation for the kind of knowing which occurs in human cognition. By itself, the principle of identity cannot explain why, in human knowing, a form of self-transcendence exists (a form of self-transcendence which unites human knowers as subjects to objects which are other than subjects but which, through knowing, are participated in by human subjects). Admittedly, as questions arise about truth and as individuals engage in acts of inquiry which can lead to acts of judgment about the truth of a given idea or theory, through a truth that is rationally affirmed, a person is joined to a world of real things which is ontologically other than one’s being (either as simply a being or as a being who also exists as a subject). In the reflective understanding of judgment, a second form of immaterial identity makes its presence felt. Through the mediation of a truth, something of reality enters into a person’s soul. In a judgment, a person knows that he or she is joined to something which exists in its own right (it is real) and that such a thing does not exist as a function of its being known by one’s activity as a knower. The reality of something, however, which exists independently of whether or not it is being known by a knower is not to be exactly equated with the reality which comes to exist within the knowledge of a given knower. A cognitive identity exists between a knower and what is known but this cognitive identity is not to be equated with a perfect form of identity which would exist if adverts to the meaning of an ontological or metaphysical identity.
The distinction which exists here is a real distinction that Aquinas adverts to when, in the Summa Theologiae, 1a, q. 56, a. 2, ad 3, he distinguishes between the natural being of a thing and the intended being of a thing as this exists within the cognition of a knower: esse naturale versus esse intentionale. The intended being of any given thing, by its being intended, points to the intentionality or the spirit of inquiry which exists within human cognition. A cognitive desire works through an ordered set of different cognitional acts to move a potential human knowers toward a knowledge of real objects (or real things) which are other than a given knower. Knowing occurs through an immaterial form of appropriation which creates an identity between a knower and what is known. However, at a more fundamental level, one cannot provide an adequate account of human knowing if one cannot speak about the role of intentionality within the performance of human cognition. Through various forms of reflection that are intended by the questions that one asks, certain distinctions can be made which, otherwise, would not be made. Cf. Verbum, p. 84, n. 116. In the distinction which Aquinas draws, one finds a point of departure for the intentionality analysis which Lonergan undertakes in his Verbum: Word and Idea in Aquinas although this analysis is most fully done in his Insight: A Study of Human Understanding where one finds that a clear distinction is drawn between a notion of being and a concept of being. Lonergan’s notion of being, as a cognitive intention, is directed toward knowledge of reality and this notion is to be identified with Aquinas’s esse intentionale.
by Br. Dunstan Robidoux OSB
In conformity with Aristotle’s understanding of human cognition, Aquinas argues, with respect to human cognition, that “it is as ridiculous to say, the soul alone understands, as to say, alone it builds or weaves.” Cf. Aquinas, De Veritate, q. 19, a. 1. Knowing exists as a co-operative effort which involves both a formal principle and a material principle since human knowing occurs in a being that is formed by two principles. Soul (anima) is united to body in a way which takes a body and then converts it into a certain kind of body which lives as a result of the soul’s causality. Cf. Summa Theologiae, 1a, q. 75, a. 1. The body is needed by the soul if the soul’s intellectual operations are to occur (if they are to be in act). Cf. Summa Contra Gentiles, 3, 129, 7; Summa Theologiae, 1a, q. 84, a. 4. In other words, through acts of sense, human beings have something to begin to think about, ponder, and understand; and also, through sense, human beings have something to go back to when they need to ask about the validity or the probable truth of an idea that has been grasped and understood in an initial act of understanding. Cf. De Veritate, q. 12, a. 12, ad 6; q. 12, a. 3; q. 10, a. 9; Quaestio disputa De anima, a. 13, para. 7. All human understanding and knowing begins with sensing and with what is known through acts of sense. Cf. De Potentia, q. 3, a. 5, ad 1; Sententia super Physicam, 1, 1, 8; Summa Theologiae, 1a, q. 12, a. 12. In the kind of language which Aquinas uses: sense knowledge functions as the matter of the cause. Cf. Summa Theologiae, 1a, q. 84, a. 6, as cited roughly by Bernard Lonergan, Triune God: Systematics, pp. 577-579. For these reasons then, it can be argued that what is known initially as matter through acts of sense functions serves as a first or initial cause of knowing. As a point of departure, it can be viewed as both a remote cause and an extrinsic cause of human cognition (among other remote and extrinsic causes which can also be identified if one engages in cognitive self-reflection)
However, as one turns to thinking about material causality as one moves more closely to experiences of acts of understanding, one encounters an analysis in Aquinas which Lonergan takes up and formulates in his own way. See, for instance, Lonergan, Caring About Meaning, pp. 1-2. As Aquinas had argued: when a sense is acted upon by an external object, a phantasm or sense image is produced and this phantasm or immaterial sensible image exists in a bodily organ as an immaterial sensible trace, impression, or likeness that cannot exist without the receptivity of an incarnate, embodied sensing organ. Cf. Quaestio disputata De anima, a. 1, para. 11; Sentencia Libri De anima, 2, 24, 551. About phantasms, when Aristotle talks about the meaning of phantasia [N"<J"FÆ"], fantasy, or imagination in the De Anima, 3, 3, he notes that it is a word which derives from phaos, the Greek word for light since, of our five senses, sight is the “most highly developed.” Hence, when we think about our five external senses (our seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, and smelling) we tend to think that seeing is paradigmatic and, so, we tend to take the words which aptly refer to seeing and apply them to our other senses. In this context, “phantasm” immediately suggests an image that is derived from something that is seen although, subsequently, this term has been used to refer to any impression that has been created by the receptive activity of all our other senses. However, as Aquinas argues in the Summa Contra Gentiles, 4, 11, 4 and in the Summa Theologiae, 1a, q. 78, a. 4, this sensible impression does not remain in the senses (the organs of sense). Through the impact that it makes, it touches the human imagination and, as a consequence, it passes from the imagination into the recollection of things past which is human memory.
In his analysis, Aquinas distinguishes between phantasms which are produced by sense as a receptor and phantasms which are not produced by sense but by activities which transcend sense and which are not essentially passive but active. Cf. Summa Theologiae, 1a, q. 84, a. 6, ad 2. In a context that is formed by acts of inquiry and reasoning, the received matter of sense is taken and played with; its is reshaped and reconfigured in a manner which tries to encourage the reception of a possible act of understanding. In his literal expression, in the Sententia super Metaphysicam, 7, 17, 1668, Aquinas speaks about “cause of the matter” which, in Lonergan’s interpretation, can be interpreted as a cause which disposes a phantasm or image to be ordered or to have a form or structure which than acts, as a material cause, to help trigger an act of understanding within the human intellect. Cf. Lonergan, Triune God: Systematics, pp. 593-595. See also Lonergan, Topics in Education, p. 171. In other words, within a given thing which exists as a composite of matter and form, the intelligible ordering of things which exists within a given thing in terms of its form accounts for how conjoined matter is itself ordered or configured. By imaginatively attending to possible configurations of matter in a manner which works initially from one’s acts of sense, conditions are created whereby possibly apt images can be discovered.
As Aquinas and Lonergan speak about what is happening, images function as necessary points of departure. An object is imagined before it is understood. Images are sought: apt images since apt images (as constructed by our acts of imagining) readily suggest a relation of parts or elements which cannot be sensed but which can be apprehended by an act of understanding. An act of understanding emerges once one has constructed an image which moves one’s understanding to apprehend a meaning which goes beyond a particular image but which is somehow reflected by an image. Images function here as representative carriers of meaning. Cf. De Veritate, q. 2, a. 5, ad 5, ad 7. Cognitionally speaking, they differ from any datum of sense (as matter) and, as a rarefied abstracted form of matter, they also differ from any form or nature that is understood through an image. Within cognition, images communicate more than what is simply given in the likeness of an image. Cf. Summa Theologiae, 2a2ae, q. 180, a. 5, ad 2.
For a bit of corroboration and by way of examples, this symbolism of images which exists as a datum of human consciousness can be verified in aesthetic experience and in common religious practice where believers are encouraged to venerate images which function as icons to reveal an unseen, higher world of meaning. In Aquinas’s words: motus autem qui est in imaginem, prout est imago, non consisti in ipsa, sed tendit in id cujus est imago (“movement to an image does not stop at the image, but goes on to the thing it represents”). Cf. Summa Theologiae, 2a2ae, q. 81, a. 3, ad 3. In other words, an imagined object reveals an object which cannot be entirely imagined but which is grasped because it is understood as imagination works to present an object that is understood within a proffered image or phantasm. Cf. Aquinas, Quaestio disputata De anima, a. 15; Lonergan, Understanding and Being, p. 165. An act of understanding grasps a meaning or an intelligibility that exists immanently within an image. As through the medium of light, the sense of seeing beholds objects that are now seen, in the same way, through a form of intellectual light manifest in an act of understanding, a phantasm is informed by a meaning as, at the same time, this same phantasm triggers an intellectual act which grasps a meaning in the phantasm which has been imaginatively presented to it. Cf. Summa Theologiae, 1a, q. 15, a. 2; Lonergan, Verbum, p. 91; Triune God: Systematics, p. 579; Incarnate Word, p. 171. The phantasm, as an agent object, moves the human intellect. Cf. Lonergan, Verbum, p. 150.
However, about speaking about the role of material causality in human cognition, Aquinas and Lonergan both argue that acts of understanding cannot be adequately explained if one only attends to experiences of matter as these can be given through the action of material causes. As Aquinas notes in the Summa Theologiae, 1a2ae, q. 26, a. 2, every act of understanding is an operation, and because it is an operation, it cannot be caused by something which is not itself an operation. What a given thing is in terms of its nature conditions its operations since the reception of a form within a given thing specifies what kind of operation can properly occur in a given subject. Cf. In 4 Scriptum super libros Sententiarum, d. 49, q. 3, a. 2 sol, cited by Lonergan, Triune God: Systematics, p. 551. However, if one wants to identify all the different causes that account for acts of understanding as they occur in human subjects, beyond noting how the inquiries and questions of agent intellect play a positive role in leading a person to acts of understanding and how apt images help to trigger acts of understanding by working through one’s imagination, one must also look for operations which are correlative for the occurrence of acts of understanding in contingent human beings. Like explains like. Like causes like since what is less in being or reality cannot explain what possesses more being or reality. What exists cannot be explained by what does not exist and so, for this reason, for a complete understanding of what happens in human cognition, other acts of understanding must be postulated and identified if human acts of understanding are to be fully accounted for: acts of understanding as these occur in teachers and instructors and the kind of understanding which already always exists in God’s understanding. As Aquinas briefly states his position (in metaphysical terms): “potency is actualized by something already in act.” Cf. Sentencia Libri De anima, 2, 11, 372. Nothing in a state of potency is able to transcend its potency through its potency. Hence, in the final analysis, since contingent acts of understanding are not able to account for themselves, a full explanation demands the postulation of an ever present non-contingent form of understanding within which all human acts of understanding participate. Human understanding always exists as a participation in divine understanding (cited by Aquinas as a “remote cause” in the Summa Theologiae, 1a, q. 84, a. 4, ad 3).
by Br. Dunstan Robidoux OSB
When commenting on Aristotle’s Metaphysics, Aquinas repeats what Aristotle says that form (forma) is ratio. Cf. Sententia super Metaphysicam, 8, 1, 1687. Form is an “intelligible structure.” In Aquinas, species as “intelligible species” (species intelligibilis) commonly refers to form. Form as species, as Lonergan speaks about it, refers to the “intelligibility of data.” Cf. Lonergan, Collection, p. 284. Or, to use a term that originally derives from Aristotle, form is eidos or morphê. Cf. Lonergan, Caring About Meaning, p. 45; Topics in Education, p. 171. For both Aristotle and Aquinas, eidos as form refers to what is known not through sense perception but through an act of the mind, through nous. Cf. Patrick H. Byrne, Analysis and Science in Aristotle (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1997), p. 198, p. 200. Even if some intellects can engage in acts of understanding without using any images or phantasms, no intellect is able to understand anything apart from an intellectual species or form. Cf. Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, 3a, q. 11, a. 2, ad 1. Form, like essence, refers to a principle of explanation but in a manner which says that by first understanding a form or intelligible species, one then understands what something is in terms of its essence. Form is the quo est; it is that “by which something is” (quo aliquid est). Cf. Sententia super Metaphysicam, 5, 10, 904. As the cause or mover (movens) of understanding, it is that “by which the understanding understands” (quo intelligit intellectus). Cf. Summa Theologiae, 1a, q. 85, a. 2. It exists as a principle or cause of understanding (it is a causa cognoscendi) whereby one moves from the order of knowing toward the order of being, reality. Cf. Summa Contra Gentiles, 1, 53, 2 & 4.
As a cognitive tool or, more precisely, as a reason or explanation, form is not to be identified with what is understood or known, signified as the id quod intelligitur, which is the proper object of the human inquiry and the primary object of human understanding, and which also exists outside the mind as that about which questions are being asked. In the Summa Theologiae, 1a, q. 56, a. 2, ad 3, Aquinas distinguishes between the form or species of a thing that exists within somebody’s mind and the natural or real existence of a thing which exists apart from whether or not it is understood and known by anybody’s understanding (i.e., an intelligent being). The form or species of a thing, as it exists in the mind of a knower, is referred to as an “intelligible existence” which is cognitively intended. Hence, “intelligible existence” is to be associated with “intentional existence.” See also Summa Theologiae, 1a, q. 85, a. 2. In discussing the difference between form as a reason or intellectual principle and what is being understood through form as a reason or intellectual principle, in “Intellectual Honesty in Aquinas and Lonergan,” (a paper presented at the Third International Lonergan Workshop, Erbacher Hof, Mainz, Germany, January 2-7, 2007), p. 11, William Murnion elaborates on Aquinas’s meaning by distinguishing between what is secondarily understood and what is primarily understood. A species or intentional likeness is what is secondarily understood while a thing to which an intentional likeness or species refers is what is primarily understood. By means of form, an embodied form is understood and this embodied form refers to a world that exists beyond the reasoning of a human intellect although this same world is encountered in a self-transcendent way through a self-transcending acts of understanding. Cf. James B. Reichmann S. J., Philosophy of the Human Person (Chicago: Loyola Press, 1985), p. 106. In attending then to what Aquinas says in the Summa Theologiae, 1a, q. 85, a. 2, Aquinas draws a critical distinction which allows him to escape from a form of subjectivism that would regard the human knower as a self-enclosed subject whose understanding and knowing is a purely private affair that is disconnected from possibly understanding and knowing anything which exists outside the human mind. Form as “that by which something is understood” must be clearly distinguished from “that which is understood” since their identification would imply that what is understood exists only within the operations of the human mind and not also outside of it. Cf. Giorgio Pini, “Scotus on the object of understanding,” pp. 6-10; “Scotus on concepts,” pp. 5-6 (two unpublished papers).
To understand a bit more clearly how form functions as a principle of mediation in human knowing, in his The Divine Initiative: Grace, World-Order, and Human Freedom in the Early Writings of Bernard Lonergan (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1995), pp. 100-102, J. Michael Stebbins discusses how Lonergan explains how quod and quo are to be clearly distinguished from each other. Quod refers to the object of a rational operation. It is, for instance, something which is grasped in terms of its meaning or intelligibility. However, quo refers to a reason which explains why something has been grasped as the term of an act of understanding or willing. For one’s initial acts of understanding, for one’s judgments, for one’s acts of faith, hope, and charity, one has reasons of some kind. Rational acts are distinguished from all other kinds of acts because of this difference in consciousness. In every rational act, there exists an awareness or an experience of reasons and an awareness or an experience of the sufficiency of one’s reasons. With respect, for instance, to ethical decision making, reasons specify a motive or purpose which explains why it is right and good that a given object should be desired and sought for in the willing which one does because of the understanding that one come to enjoy. In Phenomenology and Logic: The Boston College Lectures on Mathematical Logic and Existentialism, ed. Philip J. McShane (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003), p. 105, Lonergan argues that, in both Aristotle and Aquinas, in explanatory syllogisms, one finds a middle term which refers to an act of understanding that apprehends a form or meaning and that through the mediation of an act of understanding (cognitively speaking) or through the mediation of a form (metaphysically speaking), persons move from sensible experiences of data to meanings as these are experienced in acts of conceptualization (which spring from prior acts of understanding). Form, as a metaphysical principle, is to be correlated with a species of intellectual act which refers to acts of direct understanding that detach a form as an intellectual or spiritual component from matter which exists as a material principle or material component.
In contrast thus with form, the id quod intelligitur (the “that which is understood”) is an essence. It is the quiddity of a material thing (quidditas rei materialis) which is constituted by a form joined to matter (i.e., matter as common matter). While the form of a thing can exist both within a mind and within data of sense, its embodiment as essence precludes the proper functioning of any form of human understanding which ceases to be joined to a world that exists extramentally (outside the mind).
by Br. Dunstan Robidoux OSB
by Br. Dunstan Robidoux OSB
by Br. Dunstan Robidoux OSB