There is an Aristotelian-Thomistic Principle that is so absolute, it has no exceptions, but applies to every corporeal creature. It is the Principle of Hylemorphism that signifies the composite nature of every corporeal being composed of matter and form. The union of matter and form is so complete, that even when a human being dies, the separation of body and soul is so unnatural that the immortal human soul is never completely happy until the General Resurrection when we get our bodies back! We know from Theology that God never intended death for us. Death is solely a punishment for the Original Sin of Adam.
This principle of Hylemorphism extends even to the inanimate kingdom of the Elements. St.Thomas has a very emphatic statement of this Principle in the First Part of the Summa in an article “Whether There Are Ideas of All Things That God Knows?” In the Reply to Objection 3, St. Thomas says: “Plato is said by some to have considered matter as not created; and therefore he postulated not an idea of matter, but a concause with matter. Since, however, we hold matter to be created by God, though not apart from form, matter has its idea in God – but not apart from the idea of the composite: for matter in itself can neither exist, nor be known.”
And yet, books and articles by the millions are written and presumably read whose main message is that matter is all that exists! That only matter exists is the main doctrine of materialism, which is the philosophy of atheism and of most evolutionists. St. Thomas says that not only can matter not exist of itself, that is, without form, but it cannot even be known! What actually happens, then, is that all their myriads of books and articles are written as if form existed with the matter – because it is the form that is the actuality of the matter, which is only the principle of potency. It is form that causes the matter to exist in the actuality of the form. This is clearly demonstrated by a current article in Scientific American for February, 2013. “Brain cells for Grandmother” by Rodrigo Quian Quiroga et alia, is a current update in the science of memory, in the larger field of neuroscience.
The subtitle of the article reads: Each concept – each person or thing in our everyday experience – may have a set of corresponding neurons assigned to it.
The term “concept”- traditionally referred to the spiritual idea abstracted by the intellect from the data of sense, specifically from the phantasm, or image, formed by the sensus communis or synthesizing power of an internal sense. And so we see here a transformation of the word concept from a purely spiritual meaning to something entirely physical or material. The synthesizing power of the internal sensus communis is commonly referred to as an encoding process of the neurons. The neurons, of course, are the completely material nerve cells. Describing the dominant view of neuroscientists today: “…the collaboration of very large populations of neurons creates meaning.” Today’s neuroscientists would have us believe that a sufficient number of physical nerve cells by themselves “create meaning”. Meaning, of course, is something quite spiritual. It consists of ideas. But today’s neuroscientists want us to believe that matter cannot only exist and be known, but can even “create meaning” – all by itself!
And yet, they get away with it because they write and work as if the soul-form were present. The atheists do the very same thing. They live and work and spew forth their venomous theories just as if the First Principles of all existence really did operate – which they do! And yet, people continue to believe their lies! Allow me to refer the reader to the landmark work of the late Dr. Erich Christian. Dr. Christian was a professional communications engineer and he proved, by many experiments, the absolute necessity for a spiritual form we know as the human soul, in order for memories to be stored and recalled. His work is entitled “Quo Nadis Scientia and was published by the Remnant Press some years ago. It is true that this present article in Scientific American - documents a case wherein the removal of the hippocampus resulted in the consignment of short-term memories to oblivion. Which only proves what we already know – that the intellect of man does rely upon sense data, which is physical, for the physical forms act in order to abstract from them the universal idea or concept, which is the sine qua non of all knowledge, and is a product of the spiritual power of the human spiritual soul, the intellect.
That Catholic philosophers and scientists have allowed such treasures of our intellectual tradition as the entire science of Epistemology to fall into oblivion, to the great glee of Modernists – is surely something they will be called upon to answer for. The Dominican theologian Guerard Des Lauriers. O.P., now deceased, is a particularly surprising example of the misuse of the hylemorphic distinction and composite. Some years ago, he proposed that the Pope could be materially but not formally, the Pope. How could this be? St. Thomas says, in the same Article (q.16 I, Reply to Objection 4) – that an accident of a subject, added after the completion of the subject, such as the painting on a house, which was not necessarily in the architect’s original idea of the form, could have its own form. Such would be the case in all human works of art. And it is true that the Grace of any Sacrament is an accidental form of the subject which is the human soul. Perhaps this is the way, after all, to envision the charism of the Papal Office: as a super added Grace of the Episcopacy! Where are the Thomistic theologians willing and/or able to solve such problems?
History certainly proves that whatever degree of sanctity a man has attained when he receives the grace of the Papacy, that is the degree in which he will grow as he exercises his office. In other words, barring a very special, super-added, efficacious, even miraculous Grace, the man elected to the papacy will continue to exercise his degree of virtue and especially will he continue in those intellectual virtues and doctrines he has cultivated all during his life. The Papacy only gives him the unusual opportunity of putting his virtues and ideas into practice in the most influential public way possible, as Head of the entire Church and Vicar of Christ on Earth. This is what we see most strikingly in Pope Benedict XVI. All of his theological works written prior to his election as Pope, give clear evidence of a philosophy of Becoming – in contrast to the Traditional, Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy of Being. Pope Benedict has set the Church in the evolutionary way of constant becoming – with as much care as possible to maintain at least the appearances of continuity with the past.