2.13.2011

Intellect II

There used to be a saying of philosophers: "Anima est quodammodo omnia."

We can see the truth of this by considering what St. Thomas calls the two types of perfection. In things, perfection may be had according to the act of existence. Inasmuch as a thing is what it is in virtue of its species, it possess a sort of existential perfection. This type of perfection, though, is not absolute since it may be found in many things. The perfection that follows from the act of existence in a created thing is always distinct from the perfection in another. In this way, even the perfection of individual things is imperfect since individual things, through their perfection, are only parts of the perfection of the universe. We can see, then, that creation is both perfected by being what it is and imperfect by being limited to itself and not found in another.

This is overcome by the second type of perfection. This perfection is not found within the act of existence but is somehow found in another. Just as something has perfection by having the act of existence, this perfection is achieved through the possession of some act, albeit not the act of existence. Through this type of perfection, then, there is a way in which the perfection of the entire universe can be found within an individual thing.

The thing's name? Man.

That by which he possesses all perfections? Knowledge.

"The soul is, in a way, all things."

7 comments:

  1. Read your comment over at What's Wrong with the World -- I wish I had much insight when I was doing my undergrad!

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  2. Thank you very much for your compliment. If you are T. Chan, and I think you are, I must tell you that I have been reading your comments at Chronicles and Just Thomism for years now. We apparently have very similar taste in things. I am happy to have some contact with someone whose writing I have read for so long.

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  3. Thank you for your kind words! It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, even if it's through the Internet. How far along are you in your studies?

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  4. I have finished the philosophy major and now I am finishing some other classes needed in order to graduate. Truth be told, the major consisted in very little ancient philosophy and absolutely no medieval philosophy. I did get a chance to study Plato and Aristotle, each for an entire semester, but other than that my classes consisted of symbolic logic, early and late modern philosophy, and some contemporary subjects. Most of what I write on this blog and on other websites was learned outside of school.

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  5. It is a sad testament to the current state of affairs that undergraduate education is like grad school in that way, much of one's learning has to be done on one's own. Do you follow any of the 20th century Thomists? What do you plan to do after you finish?

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  6. Well, I have read Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange and own one or two of his works. I also enjoy Joseph Pieper immensely, the quote under the right-hand picture of St. Thomas was inspiration for his Leisure, the Basis of Culture. I do read some contemporary writers, but mostly its just Aristotle and St. Thomas in their own words.

    I suppose I would like to teach, but I admire neither the academic life of college professors nor the college life in general. It seems like you need to go into much debt and produce vast quantities of uninspired writing in order to teach, so I am not sure if that is a desirable occupation. Ideally, I would like to simply speak about these things to people who are ignorant of them so that they might learn a few things.

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  7. PhD programs usually provide at least some stipends/support; the big trade-off is the opportunity costs of a graduate education.

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