Over at Church Life Journal I have an article up responding to a critique of integralism by Timothy Troutner. I give an exposition of the goods of hierarchy and obedience, and how true freedom and equality depend on them. I argue that the exercise of temporal power for spiritual ends can be a good, albeit secondary, instrument in aiding persons toward their final end. The article was rather long as it was, so I didn’t have time to go into the specific instances of the use of such power that Troutner mentions, and distinguish the good ones from the bad ones. So, as a sort of addendum to my article, I will briefly consider four of them here: 1) the possession of slaves, 2) the burning of heretics, 3) the persecution of Jews, and 4) the “Mortara Case.”Continue reading
St. Thomas distinguishes between two senses of the end: finis cuius (the end of which or for which), and finis quo (the end by which). The finis quo is the activity by which I attain to an end. For example, eating by which I attain to the end of ice-cream, or knowing by which I attain to the end of knowledge. The finis cuius usually means the end itself that I attain by my activity, for example ice cream, or knowledge. Thus St. Thomas writes:
As the Philosopher says (Phys. ii, 2), the end is twofold—the end for which (cuius) and the end by which (quo); viz., the thing itself in which is found the aspect (ratio) of good, and the use or acquisition of that thing. Thus we say that the end of the movement of a weighty body is either a lower place as thing, or to be in a lower place, as use; and the end of the miser is money as thing, or possession of money as use.
The grammar here might seem a little puzzling. Why is ‘the thing itself’ in which the ratio of good is found indicated by the genitive pronoun, cuius? Why is it not indicated by the accusative, as being the direct object of the activity that attains to it? Why do we not say finis quem, the end which, rather than the end of which? Wouldn’t the finis cuius be more appropriately applied to the one for whom the end is a good? Say I have a person who wants ice-cream. Wouldn’t the most logical way of dividing the end be to say that we have an end by which (eating), an end which (ice-cream), and an end for which (the person)?
In fact, if we look at St. Thomas’s commentary on the passage of Aristotle’s Physics referred to in the quote above we see that there he does use finis cuius to mean the beneficiary of the good:
It must further be noted that we use all things which are made by art as though they exist for us. For we are in a sense the end of all artificial things. And he says ‘in a sense’ because, as is said in first philosophy [Metaph. XII:7], that for the sake of which something comes to be is used in two ways, i.e., ‘of which’ (cuius) and ‘by which’ (quo). Thus the end of a house as ‘of which’ (cuius) is the dweller, as ‘by which’ (quo) it is a dwelling.
What is going on here? I think the key is the remark that he makes at the beginning about art. ‘For we are in a sense the end of all artificial things.’ Here he is considering the products of art as useful or pleasant goods. And useful and pleasant goods are ordered to those who use or enjoy them. That is, the one using or enjoying such a good is really better than the good attained. But when we are talking about the primary case of the good: the honorable good (bonum honestum) we are talking about something that is really loved for its own sake. In loving an honorable good we are not directing it to ourselves—even though we are certainly the beneficiary of it, and we delight in it—but rather we are directing ourselves to it. Thus, a person loves the honorable good of truth not only more than his own knowledge of the truth, but in a sense, more than his very self. He is willing to give his life for the truth. Hence it is fitting to use the genitive finis cuius primarily to refer to the the thing pursued as an end itself. Because it is that which is primarily for the sake of which (cuius causa, or cuius gratia) an action is done. In the case of useful or pleasant goods, the person is himself the primary end, and can be called finis cuius, but in the primary instance of good, it is the good thing pursued that is the true finis cuius for the sake of which all is done.
Q: The Lord said, But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that your fasting does not appear to men (Matt. 6: 17). Now what shall one do who wishes to fast for some cause pleasing to God, as the saints are often found to have done, when, against his will, it is apparent that he is doing so?
R: This precept refers to those who are engaged in performing the commandment of God in order to be seen by human beings, that they may cure this passion of courting human favour. But when the commandment of the Lord is done for God’s glory, it is naturally unfitting that it be hidden from the lovers of God. The Lord showed this when he said: A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Neither do they light a lamp and set it under a bushel and so on (Matt. 5: 14-15).From the Asketikon of St. Basil the Great
I will be traveling to the U.S. soon to give three lectures. I cordially invite any American Sancrucensis readers to attend.
- March 27th, 5:30 PM, University of Dallas: An Integralist Reading of the City of God.
- March 29th, 7:00 PM, Thomas Aquinas College: Whether it is Sinful to Desire Happiness: Martin Luther’s Critique of Aristotelianism
- April 2nd, 6:15 PM, The Thomistic Institure and the Harvard Catholic Center at Harvard University: The City of God.
Red is the rose, green is the tree.
The married state of goods has three.
Roses are red, violets are blue.
Of goods the first is to be true.
The man who dares betray his wife,
Will have no share of Heaven’s life.
Roses are good, so are children,
Twelve, fourteen, or: a million.
Contraceptors this good deny,
In hellish flame those sinners fry.
Roses are red (it’s by design),
Of goods the third: a sacred sign.
A sacrament of Christ’s good love
Like the dewfall from … above.
Roses are red, I won’t conceal
The religious life is more real.
But better now (that’s the concern)
To get married than hot to burn.
Over at popula.com I’ve written something about a confrère of mine, who was imprisoned on suspicion of high-treason in the Third Reich. He was still alive when I entered the monastery, and I knew him as a very gentle and polite old man.
I’ve been reading Nation und Staat by Msgr. Ignaz Seipel, chancellor of Austria in the 1920s. He makes the following interesting point about persons whose parents are from different nations or different states:
Even when one’s father and mother come from different nations, he is generally led by education and external circumstances to feel himself a member of one nation, while his feelings for the other, whose language he speaks perhaps just as well and whose way of life is familiar to him, are merely friendly and not national. But should in an exceptional case someone really not feel more a part of one nation than the other, then he is certainly not a double-nationalist, but not nationalist at all. In this case, the cosmopolitan feeling has displaced the national feeling. Similarly, no one is a patriot in two states. Although the laws do not always exclude the citizen of a state acquiring or keeping citizenship in an other state, nevertheless, the devotion and enthusiasm that are essential to patriotism are not capable of being divided between two states.
Wenn auch jemandes Vater und Mutter verschiedener Nation waren, so führen ihn doch in der Regel die Erziehung, die äußeren Lebensumstände oder auch eigene Neigung dazu, daß er sich dennoch als Angehöriger e i n e r Nation fühlt, während seine Empfindungen für die andere, deren Sprache er vielleicht gleich gut beherrscht und mit deren Lebensart er völlig vertraut ist, nur freundschaftliche, nicht aber eigentlich nationale sind. Sollte sich aber ausnahmsweise jemand tatsächlich nicht der einen Nation mehr zugehörig fühlen als der anderen, dann ist er keinesfalls doppelt national, sondern gar nicht. Das weltbürgerliche Empfinden ersetzt und verdrängt in diesem Fall das nationale. Und ähnlich ist niemand Patriot in zwei Staaten. Die Gesetze schließen es zwar nicht immer aus, daß der Bürger eines Staates neben der eigenen Staatsangehörigkeit eine fremde erwerbe oder beibehalte. Aber jene Hinneigung, jene Begeisterung, die dem Patriotismus wesentlich ist, läßt sich ihrer Natur nach nicht auf zwei Vaterländer verteilen. (Nation und Staat, p. 3).
His observation fits with my own experience, of growing up with an Austrian father and an American mother. My approach to the question of immigration, which some of my friends find it so difficult to understand, is, I suppose, partly an effect of ‘the cosmopolitan feeling [displacing] the national feeling.’
In my post “Use Values and Corn Laws, Aristotelian Marxists and High Tories” I argued that Marx’s analysis of capitalism contains some insights that can be useful to those who, like me, reject his egalitarianism and atheism. The post was mainly taken from a longer writing project, which has since been completed, but won’t be coming out for some time. In the same project I also argue that Marx’s analysis is missing some key insights that a necessary to understand capitalism. Particularly, I argue that Max Weber was right to criticize the excessive materialist determinism in Marx’s economic thought. Marx is surely right that the conditions of production influence human social life, but man is a rational animal, and his reasoning can never be entirely reduced to the “superstructure” concealing a material “infrastructure.” As Weber put it:Continue reading
The whole race of God’s enemies was destroyed in the manner indicated, and was thus suddenly swept from the sight of men. So that again a divine utterance had its fulfillment: I have seen the impious highly exalted and raising himself like the cedars of Lebanon and I have passed by, and behold, he was not and I have sought his place, and it could not be found.
And finally a bright and splendid day, overshadowed by no cloud, illuminated with beams of heavenly light the churches of Christ throughout the entire world. And not even those without our communion were prevented from sharing in the same blessings, or at least from coming under their influence and enjoying a part of the benefits bestowed upon us by God. All men, then, were freed from the oppression of the tyrants, and being released from the former ills, one in one way and another in another acknowledged the defender of the pious to be the only true God. And we especially who placed our hopes in the Christ of God had unspeakable gladness, and a certain inspired joy bloomed for all of us, when we saw every place which shortly before had been desolated by the impieties of the tyrants reviving as if from a long and death-fraught pestilence, and temples again rising from their foundations to an immense height, and receiving a splendor far greater than that of the old ones which had been destroyed. […]
After this was seen the sight which had been desired and prayed for by us all; feasts of dedication in the cities and consecrations of the newly built houses of prayer took place, bishops assembled, foreigners came together from abroad, mutual love was exhibited between people and people, the members of Christ’s body were united in complete harmony. […]
And there was one energy of the Divine Spirit pervading all the members, and one soul in all, and the same eagerness of faith, and one hymn from all in praise of the Deity. Yea, and perfect services were conducted by the prelates, the sacred rites being solemnized, and the majestic institutions of the Church observed, here with the singing of psalms and with the reading of the words committed to us by God, and there with the performance of divine and mystic services; and the mysterious symbols of the Saviour’s passion were dispensed.
At the same time people of every age, both male and female, with all the power of the mind gave honor unto God, the author of their benefits, in prayers and thanksgiving, with a joyful mind and soul. And every one of the bishops present, each to the best of his ability, delivered panegyric orations, adding luster to the assembly.Eusebius, Church History, X.