Monday, December 2, 2013

Cognition - And Other Issues - Part 2

Based on the authority of St. Thomas and the First Principles incorporated in his 5 ways of demonstrating God’s Existence, and on the experiential fact that the human mind in its very First acts of Cognition, which are non-conceptual and judgmental, that is, affirming BEING as such….maintain that the human intellect and will, is conformed by its very nature to the Reality of the extra-mental world and its existence. Then comes the affirmation of the fact that things not only exist – but exist as certain identifiable things, not only identifiable but reasonable. These First Principles have been labeled and analyzed as: 
The Principle of non-contradiction, or the Principle of Being as being and not non-being, which are contradictory, so that it is absolutely certain that a thing cannot be and not-be at the same time. And given all circumstances, there cannot be a horse here and now and this same animal, we are told, some millions of years ago, was a different kind of animal – that changed into its present form and is still in the process of changing into some other kind of animal in the future. In other words, all things are becoming and there is no permanent or stable form of physical being anywhere in the history of the physical world. This philosophy of becoming violates the First Principle of non-contradiction, or, to state it in more experiential terms, the evolutionary philosophy of becoming – violates the First Principle, which apprehends and affirms by an affirmative judgment of the mind, vis a vis the Real world, that some things, based on the Second First Principle of
Identity….that some things that are identifiable by their nature or essence – are fixed in that essence or nature and will not change over time.

This, in turn, is based on a third First Principle, called the Principle of Sufficient Reason or Intelligibility. It should be evident by now that the First Principles are so related, as almost to be one instead of several.

The Principle of Sufficient Reason or Intelligibility, immediately gives rise to the Principle of Causality, and this is where the most popular principle emerges, for example, in the famous Argument from Design, made popular by Anglican minister William Paley and his book, NATURAL THEOLOGY, (ca 1830.) Paley actually represents a kind of ragged remnant of the great medieval synthesis, and specifically the 5th way of proving God’s existence in the Second question of the Summa of St. Thomas. But what is most enduring throughout this history of the de-constructioning of the great Medieval synthesis, is the fact that the human mind has not changed in its innate and created ability to affirm and to analyze the structures of the real world, in which we live and move and have our being – our very existence from God the Creator. I have just been reminded that action or the practical side of life, flows directly from our intellectual “vision” of what life is all about. In other words, this is why Our Divine Lord told us that we must seek First the Kingdom of God, and then, all other things will be added. (Matt 19: 16-22)

Yes, because our nature is wounded by the consequences of Adam’s Original Sin, we suffer from a darkening of the intellect, a weakening of the will, and a strong inclination to evil on the part of our passions or emotions. This is the life-long struggle of spiritual “warfare” – to acquire dominion over our senses and the necessary discipline of our passions. As discussed previously, the whole emphasis of Eastern Catholic spirituality is to regain the state of innocence enjoyed by Adam and Eve before the Fall. But an important point to be emphasized is that spirituality must flow from, and/or be based upon, the truths of dogmatic theology. How can there be a true spirituality based on a “synthesis” of heresies that is evolutionary modernism? One sees the disastrous results of such attempts in the degrading examples of those who emphasize human behavior patterns similar to those of animals.

Let me get back to my analogy of the Body of the Universe with the human body.

The human body is ruled by the one – substantial form of the rational-spiritual form that permeates every particle of the human body, until the separation of soul and body at death. St. Thomas says that the soul contains the body, not the body the soul, as the Platonists hold. The soul is in the body as containing it, not as contained by it. (ST,I,q52, a.1) I suggest that what takes the place of the soul in the Body of the Universe is electricity in its most refined and invisible forms. For example, the very recent observations of what is called entanglement, involves electrons “communicating” over long distances (by telephone ?!?)! -- What is between them is assumed to be a vacuum, and so, the modern scientist holds this up as an example of action at a distance. But this is a premature conclusion. Aristotle held, and it is absolutely true – that nature abhors a vacuum. There is no such thing in nature as a vacuum. What is between the electrons in “entanglement” is the potency in the Prime Matter of the Body of the Universe, because the electrons are always in motion and motion is defined by Aristotle and St. Thomas as the passage from potency to act wrought by an agent-electron in a “patient-electron” so disposed to receive such action. There is no vacuum. There is only the passage of the process involving the change from potency to act – wrought by some agent. There must always be the agent in any motion – an agent with an end or goal in view.

The “memory” that the moderns are attributing to the electrons is simply the manifestation of a seeming intelligence in the inanimate elements, but is the set of physical laws created for the elements, as of physics and chemistry – the laws that the empiricists discover over the years, as Boyle’s Law about gases (Boyle died in 1691) and the many laws about the elements and how they can bond, that is their valency. This is obviously what is involved in entanglement. So much for the Soul of the Body of the Universe. It has no soul, but like the plants and animals, although on a much lower, because totally inanimate level in the Hierarchy of Being, it has a material-formal principle – which I suggest is some form of electricity, permeating the Universe, as its Prime Matter and that of all Substantial and accidental forms in the processes of change that govern all things. St. Thomas’ 5th Way explains how beings with no intellectual soul perform actions that seem to be intelligent. This applies a fortiori to the elements, particles and photons of the inanimate realm of action. Now for those parts of the Body of the Universe that most seem to be substances existing in themselves and not inhering in a larger substance: There are the Earth, Water, certain elements such as gold, and the celestial bodies of the sun, moon and stars. It seems there may be an analogy with the brain, the heart and the other “vital organs”. But though the analogy is crude, at best, there does not seem to be one.

Human Body ------Body of the Universe

Brain/Intellect – gives light ------- Sun, Moon and Stars

Heart – Will – circulation of blood --------- Earth and Waters

In both cases, the parts shown are certainly essential for the proper functioning of the Body as One system informed by one Substantial Form in the case of the human body. But is it also the case in the Body of the Universe? Is there but ONE Substantial Form – or are there several?

I maintain that the Earth, for example, first of all, is NOT a planet orbiting the sun, but rather, is the center of the Universe, and therefore analogous in some ways ,to the heart in the human body. But while the Earth does not move, as the human heart pumps the blood throughout the human body, the Earth is the place where all the rivers and oceans distribute the vital-for-life waters. And all the rivers flow down to some larger sea and eventually, all the rivers of a continent flow into one of the great oceans or gulfs. The analogy is even cruder with the Brain and the Sun, Moon and Stars. In fact, the analogy ends with that of light. I submit that the tendency to see gold and other elements as substances is due to the fact that objects of great beauty, or value, or use are made with them. But St. Thomas teaches quite emphatically, that all art forms are accidental forms. No matter how beautiful the cathedral’s architecture, or the sculptor’s statue, or the painter’s canvas, or the composer’s symphony – all objects and forms of artistic work are man-made. As such, the efficient cause is a man or woman – a human being acting as a secondary cause.  The first efficient cause is always God the Creator – Who created the materials used by the artist on one of the Days of Creation Week. (See this writer’s Study of Beauty.) All of technology, of which men are so proud today, is but a useful exploitation of the materials and elements God created in the beginning of time. Every so-called “substance” of human invention and artistry can be traced to something that God created on one of the First Six Days of the World.

But what of the Earth itself? Does it fulfill the four criteria of a Substantial Form?

It could be said to be complete in itself - containing all that is necessary for its earthly perfection. But does it really? Is it really complete and perfect without the Heavens that surround it, especially the Sun and Moon?

Is the Earth autonomous as to its existence? Again, it needs the Sun and Moon and Waters to be complete and perfect.

But all living things and the Earth also, do possess this requirement: the Earth cannot be subsumed by another being. We must go to the atomic elements, to the sub-atomic particles like the electrons, and to the photons of light to find created beings that can be subsumed by another being.

This category rightly belongs to logic and linguistic analysis – (Not necessary here. The 4th category is that of the grammatical subject.)

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