Thursday, October 21, 2010

Infused and Acquired Knowledge in Christ

It seems that last week's marathon was bit of a fluke. I'm still sticking with an abbreviated summary of the questions.

A1. St. Thomas distinguishes between two passive powers in the soul: the active intellect, which operates by natural reason, and the obediential potency [Hardon] which is reduced to act through Divine revelation. Through the first, we can know through empirical knowledge and reason. Through the latter, we know by way of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In Christ, both these powers were reduced to act by Divinely infused knowledge. However, both of these are proper to the human soul and limited. Thus, the Essence of God was not known by this knowledge by the beatific vision.

A2. Christ was both wayfarer and comprehensor. While we as wayfarers can only know via mental images and sense data, the blessed are able to understand without resorting to mental images. As wayfarer, He could also make use of sense data and mental images.

A3. Knowledge can be collative or discursive in two distinct ways. First, we can process from a known to an unknown or from cause to effects. In this way, Christ’s knowledge was not discursive. However, it can also be discursive in how it is used—that is, by using reason not in order to learn but to demonstrate movement from cause to effect for whatever reason. In this sense, Christ’s knowledge could be collative or discursive.

A4. The knowledge imprinted on Christ’s soul, which flowed directly from Divine essence, exceeds that of the angels in both quantity and in certitude because of its source. The knowledge in the soul of Christ pertaining to its natural operation by way of mental images, sense data, comparison, and discursion was less than the knowledge of the angels.

A5. Human knowledge is naturally both actual and habitual. Habit is the means by which potential becomes actual and can be employed at will. So Christ’s imprinted knowledge was habitual, and He chose to make it actual as He willed.

A6. The knowledge imprinted in Christ’s soul was befitting to human nature. Human souls receive knowledge naturally by lesser abstraction than do angels, so it knows different natures by relating to different classes of species. Because there are different classes of things to know, human natures have different habits of knowledge. So know things in a fully human way, Christ must have had diverse habits of knowledge.

A1. Christ’s soul possesses acquired knowledge by the action of the active intellect, which works to make things intelligible. In His infused knowledge, Christ’s soul knows all that is in potential for perfection of His passive intellect. Thus, He must be able to reduce that knowledge and everything that could be known to act in His active intellect.

A2. One can grow in knowledge in essence (as if one increases their own habit of knowledge) or in effect (as if one used a habit of knowledge in increasingly greater ways in the act of proof). In the second way, Christ clearly advanced in knowledge, age, and grace because He continually performed greater acts and demonstrated greater knowledge. His habit of infused knowledge could not increase since He possessed it from the beginning. The only knowledge that could be increased was that habit that grows by abstraction from experience of intelligible things, for example, the way by which one abstracts from mental images.

A3. We know from III, Q8 that Christ is both Head of the Church and Head of all men. Through Him comes grace but also the fullness of the Truth which is in the Church. He questioned as a mode of instruction, but His role was as our master and teacher, not as one to be taught.

A4. Human souls, being between both spiritual and physical things, are perfected from both sensible things and by that knowledge imprinted on their souls through Divine revelation. Christ’s human soul, likewise, was perfected in this way. Thus there was no need for Him to receive knowledge of the angels having received infused knowledge from the highest source. In addition, these angels received their knowledge from Christ in the beginning, so it would be unfitting for them to be the source of his knowledge.
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