Wednesday, October 27, 2010


My regular weekly installment of summaries for Christology. I plan to post something on the "AI Wars," an episode aired on National Geographics' channel tonight. I'm hoping I can lure Jimmy Akin to responding on that post since he seems to speculate quite a bit on such things.

But for now, it's all Aquinas... all the time.

A1. The Divine nature is unbounded and from it flows active power to all things that have the nature being. Clearly, since the principle of human nature is the Divine power, human nature (in Christ’s soul) cannot itself be omnipresent. However, as ad 1 notes, by the communication of idioms (also called the communication of properties by Ocaríz et al), the man Christ can be said to be omnipotent since His human nature is in union with His Divine nature in the Person of the Word.

A2. St. Thomas identifies three ways in which transmutation of creatures occurs. Transmutation can be brought about by an agent naturally or by means of the miraculous. For example, naturally we can bring about changes in other creatures through the use of practical knowledge. Supernaturally, we can be an instrument of God in bringing about some transmutation (such as miraculous healings attributed to saints, conversions brought about by witness, and so on). Finally, something’s existence can be brought to nothing. The power of Christ’s soul can be viewed in respect to proper nature and its power of grace or as the instrument of the Word. In the former case, Christ’s soul had the power proper to its nature, including its ability to enlighten other rational creatures in a way appropriate to another rational creature. As an instrument of the Word, it could be used in a way to effect miraculous transmutations. In both these senses, His soul had the same capacity as other human souls but He had them in perfection while we do not. Of the final mode of transmutation—of bringing something’s existence to nothing—only God has this capacity. The final mode, then, cannot be seen as simply the ability to destroy another creation but to actually make an existent cease to exist.

A3. While Adam in his prelapsarian state may have had the ability to keep himself from harm, Christ took on the penalties mankind’s separation. Christ’s soul, in its natural power, was incapable of preventing the natural workings of natural bodies, including His own. As an instrument of the Word, He was able to do so, but it would be attributable not to His soul but to the Word of God. Thus, Christ’s soul was not omnipotent in regard to His body.

A4. Christ, having two wills, willed in two ways. First, He willed those things which were in the power of His human nature to do. Second, He willed those things that could be brought about by Divine power. The first could only extend as far as His own capabilities and influence. Compelling other human wills was not within His natural power as a man. The second extends to His use as an instrument of the Word: miracles deeds and His own bodily resurrection.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

That's my girl

Last week, I was fortunate to attend my daughter's first orchestral concert of the year. This week (tonight, in fact), I was able to attend her first choral concert. I'm pleased on both accounts. In last week's concert, she conducted one of the pieces. This week, she sang in the a Capella and treble choirs. She will be playing with the chamber orchestra in November, and I'm hoping my travel schedule doesn't conflict. I could brag more about her cello playing, but that wasn't the intent of this post. I'll save it for later.

Tonight's concert, though, I was particularly pleased. This was the first time I had seen her sing since she was in the All City choir in fourth grade. I saw back when she was six and singing along with pop tunes (matching their technique) that she could not only carry a tune but do it artfully. Somewhere along the line, something happened: one or more of her peers made cutting remarks, maybe I said something that she took the wrong way, whatever. She lost confidence, and she lost interest.

So this year, when she threw caution and a clear-cut path to graduation to the wind and took four music classes, I was a little concerned. Yet, she auditioned for three ensembles and made all three. I took too few risks. She took a small one this year, and I'm proud of her for doing it.

There was also another very nice surprise. The director put together a 100-minute program including nine religious pieces, most of which came from the Catholic tradition. I was pleased enough to hear religious music being performed so beautifully by a high-school choir. The director explained that this was all in preparation for a section they're doing on Renaissance music. She then added that most of these pieces came from the Catholic Church.

Now, from junior high on, my daughter's teachers have included both religious and secular pieces in their programs, which is to their credit. The bulk of our musical heritage comes from religious works or popular devotional works. However, I was quite frankly stunned that she would even bring this fact to the audience's attention. And I'm gratified that she did. Music seems to be, in a sense, a last bastion of Catholic tradition in our schools. If it disappears from there, what will we have left?

So I was gratified by the program. As a side, I would mention that only one or two of the pieces I recognized to be from the Renaissance. Most seemed to be Baroque or early classical. Perhaps the director was being a bit subversive. If so, I'm in cahoots with her completely.

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.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Questions about God's and Christ's Knowledge

For all my non-Catholic friends, the title should not suggest that we Catholics don't believe that Christ was God. We absolutely believe in His divinity. However, these questions treat God's knowledge in the Divine nature, and Christ's knowledge in human nature. It's a rather interesting exercise that St. Thomas puts us through.

A1. Possessing a human soul (a rational soul), Christ possessed created knowledge. A perfect human soul has potential to know intelligible things. To be perfect it must know what is intelligible. If Christ had had an intellect, it would have been to no purpose if He had not used it to know that which was intelligible. Created knowledge belongs to the human soul by nature. Since nothing was wanting in Christ, He did not want created knowledge.

A2. Man has the knowledge of the blessed in potentiality. Men are brought to this beatitude through Christ’s humanity. So this knowledge had to belong to Christ pre-eminently since cause must be more efficacious than the effect. Christ must have what He gives to others.

A3. Everything potentially is imperfect unless it is reduced to act. The passive intellect of man is potential until it is reduced to act in intelligible species, which are its completed form. The Word imprinted upon the soul of Christ all things that are potential in the human intellect. Christ knows the Word, and all things in the Word, and all things in their proper nature as they make sense to the human mind.

A4. Christ’s human nature lacked nothing that our nature has, so Christ had both a passive and an active intellect as we do, and it functioned in the same fashion in relation to objective experience and “intelligible species.” Thus, Christ acquired knowledge by the action of His active intellect.

A1. In the Incarnation, the Divine and human natures remain unconfused or intermingled. So the uncreated remained as it was, and the created was still limited by its nature. It’s impossible for a finite creature to comprehend the Divine Essence, which is infinite (that is, finite cannot comprehend the simply infinite).

A2. All things (to an extent) belong to Christ as the creator and judge, and any created intellect knows more perfectly in the Word what they knew before being beatified. All beatified intellects know whatever pertains to themselves. So the soul of Christ, being both beatified and being Christ, would know everything existing in time that the Word knows. Some things are in Divine power alone and cannot be known by the soul of Christ (for example, potentialities in God that are never actualized). However, anything potential in created being would have been known by the soul of Christ.

A3. Knowledge regards being, which is said either to be in act or in potential. Things are known primarily as they are in act rather than in potential, which is known secondarily by way of the one in whose power it could exist. In regard to the first, Christ cannot know the infinite because there are not an infinite number in act regardless of how many acts may take place since they are all temporally bound. In the second sense, Christ does know the infinite because He knows the power in the creature, which is infinite even though its acts are not.

A4. While the blessed see the Divine Essence, the soul of Christ is more closely joined to the Word than any other creature, so it receives the full illumination in which God is seen by the Word Himself, more so than any other creature. So more perfectly than all other creatures does the soul of Christ see the First Truth, which is the Essence of God.

I Q14
A1. Intelligent beings have their own form but also the forms other things as ideas, a thing known in one who knows. Forms approach, in their immateriality, a kind of infinity. God possesses the highest degree of immateriality (I,7,1), so He occupies also the highest place of knowledge.

A2. God understands Himself through Himself. Some operations are internal in the operator, having the object of term within. When we know of an object within, we know that which is intelligible through our intellect in act. Each can be in potential, but the object is known by the intellect in operation or act. In God, there is no potential of intellect or object, and intellect and object are the same. The intelligible species in God is the Divine intellect. God does not have knowledge, but is knowledge.

A3. A thing is comprehended when the end of knowledge about it has been attained, that is, when it is known as perfectly as it can be known. God knows Himself perfectly, and He is knowable according to His own mode of actuality. The power of God in knowledge is as great as His actuality in existence, which is pure act and free from any potentiality. So He is supremely knowable and knows Himself supremely. Hence, He comprehends Himself.

A4. If God’s act of understanding were something different than His substance, then something other than His substance would be the act and perfection of His substance, which would mean that His substance was related as potentiality to the act of understanding, and this we know is not possible since He is pure act, and the act of understanding is the perfection of the one who understands. In addition, to understand is not something extrinsic to the one understanding but remains in the one understanding and is the perfection of the one understanding, just as existence is the perfection of the one who exists. Since God’s existence is His essence, His essence is also His intelligible species, so His act of understanding, His intellect, is the same as His essence and existence.

A5. God necessarily knows things other than Himself. He perfectly understands Himself. If He knows Himself perfectly, He knows His power perfectly. Since His power extends to other things as He is their First Cause, He necessarily knows things other than Himself. Otherwise He would not know the extent of His own power. So all things that pre-exist in God must be within His act of understanding. Yet as He sees Himself through Himself, He also sees other things not in themselves but in Himself.

A6. To know a thing in general and not in particular is to know it imperfectly. If God knows things only in general, His understanding would not be perfect. So God must have proper knowledge of this, both that which is general and common to all and that which distinguishes one from another. Any perfection that exists in any creature, pre-exists in God, hence, must be known in proper ratio.

A7. We know things discursively in two ways: successively and by causality. However, many things that we could understand in succession we can also understand simultaneously, as parts of a composite. God, however, sees all things in Himself, which is one thing, so He sees them immediately rather than sequentially. In the second case, one who proceeds from cause to effect moves from principles to conclusions rather than both at once, or from what is known to what is unknown. But God sees effects in Himself as the cause, so He does not see discursively.

A8. The knowledge of God to all things is likened to the knowledge of a craftsman to the things he makes. The knowledge of the latter is the cause of the things he makes since he works by his own intellect, so the form of intellect must be the principle of action (the cause). To an intelligible form in an intellect, though, must also be added the will of the craftsman. So likewise is God’s knowledge, when joined to His will, the cause of things.

A9. God knows all things in whatever way they exist. Some things that do not have actual existence can be in terms of being possible in God’s power. They can exist in thought or imagination. Anything that can be made, thought, or said by a creature are known by God, even though they have no other material existence. However, such things are known not by vision but by simple intelligence.

A10. To know a thing perfectly, one must know everything accidental to it. Some good things can be corrupted by evil accidentally. Thus God could not know good things perfectly unless He also knew evil things. A thing is knowable to the degree in which it exists. Since evil is a privation of good, God knows evil in that He knows what is good and what can be lacking in it.

A11. All perfections found in creatures pre-exist in God in a higher way. To know singular things is part of our perfection, so God must likewise know singular things since what is known to us must also be known to God. Although we might know abstractions and singular things separately, God knows them both by His simple intellect. As mentioned in Q14 A4, since God is the cause of all this by His knowledge and His knowledge extends as far as His causality extends, He extends not only to forms but to the matter in which they inhere and are individualized. Thus He knows singular things.

A12. God knows all that is actual but also all that is possible to Himself or created things. Thus He must also know infinite things. The knowledge of a knower is measured by the mode of the form, which is the principle of knowledge. Now when we know something by sense, we know only of the immediate individual. However, when we know its nature, we can know infinite individuals that participate in that nature. So in some ways, we know the infinite, not as distinct individuals but in the principles of that species. However, the Divine essence is a likeness of all things that are or can be, not merely in universals but also in proper ratio top each individual. Thus His knowledge extends to infinite things.

A13. God knows all things, not only actual things but also things possible to Him and creatures. Since some of these are future contingent to us, it follows that God knows future contingent things. A contingent thing can be considered in itself, in which case it is not future but exists now in act (that is, an image of what will be). It can also be considered contingent in its cause, and in this way it is a future thing. Since God knows causes and effects simultaneously, He knows the contingent cause of a contingent effect together. So He knows the contingent future thing, which is future in relation to its cause.

A14. It is in our power to form enunciations, and God knows of all things in His power or those of His creatures. It follows that He knows enunciable things. He knows them not in the same manner as human intellects do, as if division or composition existed in His intellect, but by understanding the essentials of each thing, as well as all that is accidental to them.

A15. God’s knowledge is His substance, which is immutable. Thus, His knowledge is immutable

A16. Knowledge can be called speculative in three ways: first, on the part of things that are known but are not operable by the knower (for example, man’s knowledge of natural or divine things); second, in the manner of knowing (for example, as one considers what is necessary for a composition in general); and thirdly, as one considers different ways that a thing could be made without actually making it. Of Himself, God has only speculative knowledge since He in Himself is not operable. Otherwise, He has both speculative and practical knowledge because He can consider both what He can make and does not, as well as those things which He can make and does. So if He knows something in itself, it is speculative knowledge. If He knows something that is directed toward an end, it is practical.

Friday, October 01, 2010

In case you weren't sure what the sponsors of 10:10 think of dissenting views...

They make it plain and simple. Don't watch if you're squeamish.

When I first saw this, I thought it was a satire of how some climate-change advocates view the opposition.