James F. Ross

"Faciamus Hominem ad Imaginem et Similitudinem Nostram" Gen.1-32


Some notions of freedom are philosophical and theological deadends: Some make an antagonistic trade-off between human choice and the range of divine causation.[51] Others make the world necessitated [emanation] and fated, as in Islam. But some make creation an inexplicable preference for the cosmos over "more perfect" worlds lacking moral evil or physical pain.

To avoid the deadends, I redeploy[52] the idea that integral human freedom (and understanding) has two modes. One is "natural" and the other "supernatural," though dividing the matter that way supposes the "natural" is the residue after the integrated whole is lost, because the supernatural[53] contains the natural "eminently" the way olympic winning routines envelop the qualifying skills.[54] In my account, humans were never "merely" objects in nature at all-- that is, objects, alongside stones and tigers and dinosaurs, that are entirely consequences of matter and biotic life, or explicable the way trees and volcanos are. Humans never had a "completion"-- a fulfilment-- that can be defined by conditions of earthly life or attained by "flourishing," as other living things do.[55]

Rather, humans have abilities that are positive natural mysteries[56] because (a) they lack a causal account expressible in terms of the principles of nature (even in an ideal universal science of nature), and (b) humans have a fulfilment positively beyond the active abilities of any material being.[57]

Among "positive natural" mysteries I include: (1) such natural phenomena as our intellectual powers and rational responsibility;[58] (2) psychic energy and positive emergence,[59] as well as the being of the cosmos as a whole, which cannot be the consequence of the laws or necessities of nature because it contains them, and the being of anything at all, which cannot be accounted for by causation because causation presupposes being, as well as (3) the outright supernatural, which is defined strictly as phenomena accounted for by God in the distinction of divine persons, not merely by ascription but by the opposition of relations which constitutes the Trinity of Persons[60].

Human nature, aimed at life with God, is supernature right from the beginning; from creation and always thereafter. Human freedom is like divine freedom.[61] Human freedom, integral freedom (the ability to attain life with God), is restored by redemption and individual faith. Those are my themes, themes which are central to St. Paul, St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, but have not recently been exploited to resolve philosophical problems. Yet even Zeno the Stoic (c. 300 B.C.) said, "all bad men are slaves and only the good are free," as did Diogenes Leander and Plato as well. How right they were, although under conditions they could not know.

I mark the ceremonial[62] and theological character of this discussion with a literary form much like the Tenebrae Service for Good Friday: It has repeated antiphons, some lines from The Psalms, seven Lessons, and many Lamentations marked with Hebrew letters (on which there are medieval chants with Spanish, even Moorish, variations); the point of the form being part of the argument.

Paradise Lost: Lost Integrity.

The aim of my reasoning is as follows: We can understand the freedom of God only through its effects, most particularly, our own freedom. But integral human freedom, the freedom that is the effect of God, is the freedom which Adam lost and which the redeemer exercises. So we can understand ourselves, and therefore God, only though the redemption.

We lost our integral freedom and our understanding of it with the Fall, keeping only remnants of it: responsibility and a certain spontaneity.[63] We lost the active ability to live with God but retained responsibility, which is enough to earn damnation (separation from God). We also lost the knowledge that life with God is our fulfilment.

We can find our full freedom only in response to "an inner divine invitation" as Aquinas put it. In finding the redeemer, we can begin to understand the freedom of the Creator that is not a response to the merits of things (See Aquinas, S.T. 23, a. 2.c ), but a freedom that makes the good of things by the activity of the divine will, which is love. Thus, God does not love things because they are good things; they receive their good, as well as their being, from God's love, the way a painting receives its beauty from the talent of the painter and a song, being and beauty from the breath of a singer. Thus, our only cognitive access to the freedom of the Creating God is by appreciating the freedom exercised by the New Adam; and that appreciation came only by Mimesis, by doing as he did.

Imagine the music and liturgy for this commemoration. Seven candles are extinguished one by one, with antiphons, psalms, lessons and lamentations, like the passing ages of human wisdom after the Fall, until the last light is extinguished, to leave total darkness and total silence, "the silent infinity of empty space" (cf. Pascal), that can be broken only by a new light, a resurrection.

Part I: Antiphon: Ps.8 "What is man, Lord, That Thou art Mindful of Him, and the son of man that You visit him? You made him a little less than the angels and You crowned him with glory."

First Lesson, Further Introduction:

Of the two modes of freedom, one closely approximates Aristotle's notion of the voluntary. It is the notion of responsible action, that is, action of a rational animal aimed and activated by its bias[64] toward its own understood good. Genuine volition (of which animals have a counterpart) makes the human a moral agent, subject to moral praise and blame.[65]

That is one focal notion of freedom --the voluntariety that is the basis of moral agency--, which has triggered many competing analyses,[66] mostly concerned with what we have to be able to do, or to avoid, in order to be responsible for our acts, and with the degree and kind of causal determinism that can co-exist with moral responsibility (i) physically, (e.g., by micro-matter, by chemical and electrical forces), (ii) psychologically (e.g. by animal feeling and by unconscious and social causes), and (iii) ontologically (e.g. by divine causation of being).[67] Such analyses focus on the notion of freedom to ground the appropriateness of praise and blame, just as Aquinas argued that without freedom there would be no basis for moral praise or blame. We praise and blame domestic animals, "Good dog!" "Bad!" to mould their activities from their desires, their imperfect volition, but of course, do not genuinely attribute merit or unworthiness to animals, except in the peculiar feeling toward a dog that pulls its master/mistress from a fire or saves her from drowning.

In contrast to this focus on responsibility, where actions originate in desire aimed at self-flourishing, there is another focal notion of freedom: spontaneity. We act spontaneously when we act (a) as if for the action itself,[68] (b) as if without cause or motive, except for the self-expression or the enjoyment of what we do, (c) effortlessly, even gaining energy from the activity, and (d) can explain our so acting from our ability to succeed, i.e., explain our playing Chopin "because we can play Chopin and like to," explain our walking from our ability to walk, explain our mode of living from our ability to attain human fulfilment.[69] Spontaneous action is explained by its own success, either instrumentally or by the enjoyment in the activity itself.

Spontaneity, "to act for the action itself, out of one's ability to succeed at it," is an excellence. It can be learned in particulars for which we have a real talent, as in talking, thinking, walking, loving, or helping, or in more complex activities like playing Chopin, ballet, rock climbing, psychology, philosophy, moral discernment, political judgment, law and even baseball pitching. The reason we see, hear, feel, smell, and taste actively, is that doing so is an excellence satisfying in itself.[70] The very exercise of these faculties/capabilities is a mode of satisfaction. This is negatively illustrated by the cancellation of modes of apprehension when something has to be ignored or avoided at all costs, for example, the swelling of anger by the unconscious. So every area of human survival, ornament, expression or relaxation is an appropriate range of spontaneity. But full-scale freedom, spontaneous energizing habitual action out of the ability to succeed at action aimed at life with God: that is a divine gift that completes human design with the elements foregone, or lost, by Adam's sin. It is restoration by God.

This second focus of concepts is theologically central: we are designed for life with God, in the Trinity of persons, and are designed to attain that life by our own doing. To have freedom restored is to be able to do something now that amounts to living with God without cognitio visionis Dei, so that on death, the change is not in what we do, but in what we see.

On this view, humans are, by design, aimed at The Trinity, so that loving God, like seeing or hearing, is a joy to do, and so much part of our being, that the exercise of loving explains our continuing the activity. This is distinct from the power which has a purpose, (a function); we continue loving not for some purpose, but for the activity itself. Spontaneous loving or understanding or right acting is like our spontaneous seeing. Although there are some things we need to see and would seek to see; the fact is that, under normal conditions, we want to see because we see, and not vice versa. The negative side of spontaneity, as Augustine indicates in his Confessions, is that humans are eventually disillusioned with all creatures, and with everything which is not enjoyed as something that cannot be taken away against our will (and is a means to life with God). "All is vanity," as the Scripture says; everything turns to dust, even us.

The telos for humans lies beyond nature (the cosmos) and beyond any power in nature to attain it. This is because it requires energy from our envisioning the object, an envisioning that requires a divine disclosure, (revelation), and an enablement that, Aquinas says, (I, 12, 5 ), is a "supernatural dispositon" by grace. See his reply to Objection 1, a "created light." [This is analogous to the potential intelligibility of matter, whose actualization lies beyond the matter, and requires intelligence, an immaterial power to actuate it, as with Aristotle's Theory of intellectus agens.]

Furthermore, reason discloses against the conclusions of the ancients,[71] that humans, while having many forms of natural flourishing, to which rational action is ordered (such as, art, philosophy, economy, agriculture, statesmanship, family love, service to humanity, etc.), have no natural fulfilment, no completion in nature, as do the plants and animals. Philosophy, as understanding, is not, as ancients thought, human completion. That is, for a plant or animal to flourish for its time is to be fulfilled.[72] Not so, with a human: just to flourish is to be incomplete. In fact, it is to fail.

Now, the ancient philosophers had no inkling that human fulfilment requires an encounter (life) with God, The Persons [the sort of thing you miss when you want to "be with a certain one"], and, thus, requires more even than the acquaintance with The GOOD, itself, that was Plato's inspired guess. Therefore, they would and did reasonably think fulfilment lies in some specially effective flourishing, peculiar to humans and peculiar to which human it is.

In this way, careful reasoning produced one of the lasting confusions of western thought: (i) flourishing, however fitting otherwise to a rational animal, that did not promise complete fulfilment was thought secondary, inferior; (ii) it was thought that with luck, endowment, and goodness, one can attain human fulfilment by the highest human activity, that of the understanding (philosophy). Fulfilment was to be lived out in a life of virtue. And so the wisest of the ancients concluded that "responsible activity in accord with excellence" (virtue) applied to the highest power, i.e., understanding (philosophy), is the actual ability to attain human fulfilment.[73] Thus "responsibility" and "fulfilment" were moulded together as parts of one notion. This was a mistake, for it is by freedom alone that we attain life with God, and by responsibility alone that we attain separation from God and from ourselves.[74]

Aristotle, in particular among the ancient greats, thought that philosophical contemplation in a life of moral virtue was a genuine natural fulfilment for a human, without the mystical elements we find in Plato, but blinked away the paradoxical outcome: that is, by far most people fail, not just accidentally, or even by their own fault, but as the natural condition of their birth. It is as if, when not born blind, they are born in the dark and die there. For most people, just to be born where they are is to guarantee unhappiness, the experienced failure of flourishing.[75]

As Aristotle himself remarks in the Rhetoric: "Life is a bad business....most things turn out badly or worse than we expected." So the story sags, making fulfilment a matter of good fortune rather than good conduct: a lottery for the aristocracy. For one needs to be healthy, wealthy and wise and morally lucky, besides, to be happy, As Greek drama makes clear. But it is still not guaranteed.[76]

So, either humans cannot be happy (fulfilled) at all, or it consists of something else and is to be attained in another way.

What looks to reason like one ability, responsible action, and its natural (but unusual) success, happiness, are actually distinct. They are unified only in integral human nature, with happiness (either impossible or) requiring a transcendent object and a matching ability surpassing the forces of nature to attain it.[77]

Human fulfilment is not only beyond nature to attain, it is unintelligible and unimaginable (for lack of content) without a revelation. Without revelation, the human condition after the Fall is a "broken symmetry," a fragmentation from which the "whole" prior state cannot even be conjectured without "enlightenment."[78] So, although reason discloses the brokenness of the human condition, it cannot reconstruct integral human nature.

Genesis does not only reveal something we could have demonstrated, (the being of God), but also presents the Creator, and begins the salvation history in which integral human nature is divinely revealed and restored.

First Lamentations

[Aleph] The philosophers' disabling notions of freedom, causation and being, come from (i) neuroses of the understanding[79] and (ii) an underappreciation of revelation.

[Beth] A neurosis of the understanding is an [enduring] obsessive-compulsive retracing of non-dispositive considerations[80]. It is a disorder, typically epidemic, like the compulsion to seem "scientific," or to "seem logically disciplined and skilled" that shaped the collective consciousness of "analytic philosophy" for five decades.[81] Sometimes the disorder is individual, like Chisholm's resolving problems by drawing consequences from made-up definitions, or Quine's reiterated behaviorism, or Goodman's nominalism, a form of compulsive check-kiting. More commonly it is collective, with conviction usurping the place of reasoning: e.g., that nothing is really necessary; that all science is underdetermined; that sentences are truth-bearers; that animal intentionality is computationality or connectivist, etc.

Intellectual neuroticism took over the "mind-body" problem after 1640 and reached ludicrous extremes, in which physicalist philosophers promised a "naturalized" account of thinking now, when in actuality scientists cannot even explain the appetites of a worm. Where did philosophers expect to get the scientific cash for their intellectual junk bonds?[82] Only a "scientific" narcissism could promise "epistemology naturalised" while ignoring for a whole century the demand to explain animal awareness and animal cognition.

In fact, one of the disorders of understanding is the misconstrual of the import of the underdetermination of hypotheses by data, and the "indeterminacy of reference." The justified consequences are not irrealism and hermeneutical impasses, scepticism about "facts of the matter," or scepticism as to what we mean. Rather, they are signs that we do distinguish forms from matter, just as Aristotle said, and that there are dynamic propensities everywhere.[83] Each generation of philosophers traumatized and terrorized the next into the same routines, like circus bears, thus spreading the neuroses.[84]

[Caph] Disorders of thought stain the recent literature on free will[85] with ritual arguments about alternatives, preferences, foreknowledge, determinism, compatibilism, and second/order preferences. Contortions, practised to no outcome, blot out the ideas from Scripture,[86] leaving theology homeless, an intellectual bag lady outside the Arts and Sciences, while the fastidious scientists look the other way passing by.

[Jod] Energizing the neurotic, repetitive, dead-ended thought routines are worn-out images of how things have to be, (say, that choice is motivated or reasoned preference or, that the ability exercised in wrong-doing is the same as that by which we act rightly), eluding conscious examination[87] but still transferring energy (by displacement of feeling) for the contorted thinking.

The result? "Et factus sum sicut homo non audiens" Ps.37. The philosophers are like persons gone deaf from the violence of sound: in bondage to their metaphors.

So consider the next lesson.

Part 2 Antiphon: What is man, Lord, that thou art mindful of him?"

Lesson 2: The Imagination is the Master of Falsity[88]

The imagination is the master of falsity. First, without imagination, there is no falsity because for us there is no understanding without animal cognition, which requires imagination, as Aristotle and Aquinas both testify.[89] Understanding begins with a dematerialization of animal awareness which requires imagination. As Aristotle said, "where there is appetite, there is imagination."

Secondly, nothing we imagine is ever true, in the strict sense that any thing or situation we imagine ever becomes (or could be) real.[90] There could never be anything as indefinite as any object or situation we imagine. And we can never imagine anything as definite as a real thing has to be.[91] So what the imagination makes is what is not real.

Thirdly, and right to my point here, the imagination is the master of falsity as coach for the understanding. Imagination prompts and urges pictures for things, intellectually erotic sketches, by which we are "captured" (as Wittgenstein was himself captured by the "picture" theory of truth). Imagination typically makes the local appearance into the model for general belief,[92] and thus limits the thinkable. For instance, that the "fixed stars" do not move was believed even by great scientists for centuries (because such distances, as would be required for lack of movement to be merely apparent, were unimaginable (and inexpressible in available notation)]. The imagination makes "the dreams and terrors of the night," prayed against in the Compline Hymn: "Procul recedant somnia et noctium phantasmata."

Infatuation with imagination is a near fatal disease for philosophy.[93] One is "captured by the pictures" as Wittgenstein called it; one is "thinking according to appearances only" as Aquinas calls it (Ia, 67, 68 and 70, see below), or reasoning from "false imagination" as Aquinas calls it elsewhere (Ia, 45, 2, ad 4), or, as Hume calls it, making "fictions" "by the mind's propensity to spread itself on things," (Treatise 000).

Even the Psalmist got carried away. In Psalm 21 he says "salva me ex ore leonis, et a cornibus unicorum humilitatem meam".[94] "From the horns of unicorns, save my humility" indeed! There is nothing, beyond the phantasmata, for the word "unicorn" to name. The Psalmist's words, for a philosopher, are a bottomless pit. To imagine that there can be empty names, names for sorts of things that have no cases, chimeras, manticores, martians and antilichts, is to fall forever.[95]

"Wanting to be scientific" invites imagination to satisfy the demands of logical notation[96] by saying that there are divine ideas "for" what never is to exist,[97]2

so, we get conundrums about how God is to choose among worlds, considered as possible objects or their ideal surrogates (e.g. divine ideas).[98]

Lesson 3: There are no divine ideas for things never to be.[99]

Let it suffice that God no more has to contain by itemized representation what he knows and contains eminently by perfection, than the Mona Lisa has to have sections, slices, skimmings, or reflections, corresponding to "every possible adequate copy of it". The one self-knowing is an adequate "intention" for knowing all things, as Aquinas said.[100]

Furthermore, 'being' (that is, "to be"), cannot be exhausted logically by "division" into possible things and kinds, for there is no "least [smallest] difference that makes a difference of thing".[101] Moreover, there is no "what" [e.g., "human"] that even an infinity of cases would logically exhaust.

Being is like a continuum: any division leaves just as much as there was to begin with. Therefore, to use a "line" model, no domain of differentiated possibilities (of kinds, species, or individuals) diminishes the domain of undifferentiated possibility.[102] Therefore, there cannot be a domain, a differentiated realm, of "everything that is possible", or of "every possible kind", to be the range of reference for (Q.M.L.) logic, or for a theology of creation or of human freedom.

There is no point, then, in imagining that God picks among worlds and individuals, or among icons for them, like a child picking among pictures for toys to make. Possibility is consequent upon being not prior to it or explanatory of it.

Pictures of divine ideas, as divine reflections in distorting mirrors (limited participation), are just metaphysical nightmares. The creator makes the entire being of the thing without an intermediate template, blueprint, or reflection. God does not model icons into matter. There are no such icons in the first place. The whole ontology is false.[103]

Certain Second Lamentations are in order, from the lesson that there are no empty names, and no divine images for what is never to be.

[Aleph] The contrary to fact is mostly empty. So it is not by preference "over" what is never to be, that God has chosen what to make.

Consider a VARIATION (like an ornamented Spanish Chant on the Hebrew letter, Aleph) that explains this. What-might-have-been has content only so far as it is referentially rooted in the actual, and in so far as the "causal connections" (whatever they really are) in the actual "extend" to "what did not happen." Causality is really a problem because "if I had eaten powdered lead, a tablespoon per day for a month, I would have lead poisoning" seems quite determinate, whereas "if arsenic were not a poison, then giving a person arsenic would not be murder (unless it was like ground glass instead)," seems quite different, a truth by semantic inheritance alone.

"I might have been sick today" seems fully rooted in the actual. "I might have been President of Uganda" seems rooted, but only by discourse: for while "I" and "Uganda" and "being president of" are referentially anchored, the whole is loose, from reality and from real causation, as the laws of nature and history now stand. "I might have been President of Uganda" might be (a) a mere truth by inheritance, which is a verbal consequence of other truths, or (b) a legal consequence of Ugandan constitutional privilege that states "anyone whom the people choose may be president;" but that is not like "Mondale might have been president," when Mondale was the runner-up. Some counterfactuals are true only because being semantically well-formed, nothing known, makes the condition (e.g. I might have been President of Uganda) false, in the way, say, that "I might have been Emperor of Rome" is.

Counterfactuals typically have truth-values, if at all--and most do not at all[104]--, only by inheritance. They do not have earned truth-values from compliant realities (e.g., my having been or being sometime President of Uganda, or your having been an astronaut). Besides, truth about formal objects (like numbers) is a special case: truth by inflation, [as I explain elsewhere, and do not attempt to explain or illustrate here].[105]

[Beth] There are no truths about empty kinds. There are no "ways things might have been" for things of sorts that never are. So, there are no "alternatives" for God to know, or make, or choose among.[106] Thus, salient problems about our and God's freedom dissolve.

[Caph] There are no empty kinds. So, there are no merely possible individuals. That follows from things said already.

[Daleth] There is no divine knowledge of what might have been instead of anything that is. That follows from the absence of any such objects. How what is might have been rearranged is another matter. But what there might have been instead is entirely empty even, though God is exemplar of whatever might have been.

[Gimel] God could not have chosen this world, instead of some other definite world because God's knowing extends as far as his causation (e.g., says St. Thomas, Ia, 14); God does not make what will never be, so there is nothing to know beyond what is. God knows his ability to do otherwise by knowing his actual doing, rather than by speculation on what he might have done, just as a dancer knows what she might have done in the ease and excellence of her doing.

[Heth] There is no middle knowledge in God[107]. That is because, for the most part, what even an actual thing MIGHT have done is too indeterminate to constitute a real alternative.[108] Alternatives are schematic, skeletal shadows of what is. And, what-might-have-been, involving empty individuals and kinds that have no cases, is simply without content, unknowable (and, so, impossible, of course).

[Vau] The actual--and the potential in it--exhausts the possible with content ad extra for God.

[Zain] Thus, whatever God does, as creator, is antecedently impossible--not impossible for inconsistency (which is only a consequence of thought and language)--but impossible for lack of content, and, of course, cannot be referred to (or called impossible) except from the vantage [and supposition] of what is made.[109]

VARIATION ON ZAIN. What God might have done is entirely without content because of untaken divine elections required for it to have content. Scotus says, as does Aquinas, that it is God's own being that is the source of all divine knowledge:[110]

Many things are said about the ideas, but even if they were never said, nay,

even if the ideas were not mentioned, no less will be known about Thy perfection.

This is established, that Thy essence is the perfect reason of knowing (ratio cognoscendi)

every knowable whatsoever under every reason [aspect] of the knowable. Let

him who wishes call it an idea. I do not intend to delay here over that Greek and Platonic word.

Neither Scotus nor Aquinas thought there was any range of divine ideas that was the expatriated domain of Plato's ideas and the icons that determine the possibility of what might have been. All the knowable ad extra depends upon divine creation. All that is knowable is the work of love (See Aquinas, Ia, 23). Thus, individuals, kinds, natural laws, and the arrangements of things to make the cosmos are from the divine wisdom. In fact, they are from the divine wisdom alone: See Aquinas in De Potentia 3, 16c:

Given that he wished to make the universe such as it is, it was necessary that

he should produce such and such creatures whence such a universe would arise...Accordingly,

we must conclude that the multitude and diversity of creatures proceeded from one

principle...from the order of Wisdom. (Also see: Ia,47,1;C.G.II,35,-39)

Aquinas also says, along with Rabbi Moses, whom he cites, "that there is no other reason for the distance among the stars than the divine will". [Today, the values of the independent universal constants would be an apt example.]

"In fact, for the whole disposition of the universe, the only reason that can be assigned must be found in the mere will of the creator." See De.Pot. 3, 17.c:

[So, too,] the appointment of a fixed quantity of duration for the universe

depends on the mere will of God, even as does the appointment of a fixed quantity

of dimension.

And Aquinas repeats at the end of his answer:

The fixing of the measure to time depends on the mere will of God, who

willed the world should not always have been, but should have a beginning, even as he willed

the heavens to be neither greater nor smaller than they are.

Then Aquinas, in a flourish of his own imaginative fertility, goes on to say:

The last instant of all time will indeed be the end of the past but not the

beginning of the future (D.P. 3, 5, ad 11), as the celestial movement will cease, [and] the

subsequent rest will not be in time (D.P. 3, 5, ad 10), [and yet, he says,] the

universe will remain forever. (D.P. 5, 7.2c)

When however, the heavens cease to be in motion, there will be another cause of their

incorruptibility, namely that they cannot be destroyed except by an extrinsic cause, but when

the heavenly movement ceases, that extrinsic cause will cease also. (D.P. 5, 7c)

Thus I conclude these Second Lamentations [that whatever God does is antecedently impossible] with Thomas' wild variation on [Zain], the end of things, to illustrate how constructive imagination, not trapped in old pictures and debilitated, opens new options in philosophy and theology. And here, next, is one constructive imagining that may help with the issues of freedom.

Part 3. Antiphon: "What is man that Thou art Mindful of Him?"

Lesson 4: Double Truth and the Adornment of Things.

Many of the problems about freedom are caused by our not acknowledging that there are vantaged truths with conflicting standpoints, and that there are incommensurable truths that cannot be intermingled. Let me show you.

Aquinas is surprising. He is known as a firm opponent of the "double truth" doctrine attributed to Siger of Brabant.[111] Yet he has a double truth doctrine of his own! Furthermore, it is not as unlike the doctrines to be found in Maimonides, Avicenna and Averroes, as his clucking advocates have said, though he does not advocate teaching one thing about Scripture to the unlettered and another to the learned, except insofar as further lessons are to be left out. Rather, his distinction serves to do what we now call "distinguishing conceptual schemes." I will explain what he says briefly and then broaden its scope.

In Ia, 68, a.3, Aquinas, answering a question about the interpretation of Genesis over "whether the

firmament divides waters from waters,"[112] points out that a "superficial" reading might lead to a view like

that held by certain philosophers from antiquity, that the firmament of heaven might be said to divide the waters without from the waters within--that is to say, from all bodies under the heaven, since they took water to be the principle of them all".

But, he says,

this theory can be shown to be false on solid reasons and, thus cannot be

held to be the sense of Holy Scripture. It should rather be considered that Moses was speaking

to ignorant people, and that out of condescension to their weakness he put before them only

such things as are apparent to sense and avoids setting before ignorant persons something

beyond their knowledge [that the air is corporeal]. In order, however, to express the truth

to those capable of understanding it, he [Moses] implies in the words `Darkness was upon the

face of the deep,' the existence of air as attendant, so to say, upon the water.

Clearly, Aquinas acknowledges two messages, (i) one based on what the people at large can understand from the appearances of things, and (ii) the other, the whole or further truth for those who are "capable of understanding it." Furthermore, he explicitly uses the principle that what is "shown to be fake on solid reasons...cannot be held to be the sense of scripture."

No, this is not a passing lapse of his, but his worked-out position. In Question 70, "On the Work of Adornment" in Article 1, ad 3, Aquinas describes the view of Ptolemy that the "heavenly luminaries have their own movement," and Aristotle's opposed view "that the stars are fixed in their orbits and in reality have no other movement but that of the spheres," and goes on to say:

and yet our senses perceive the movement of the luminaries and not that of

the spheres" (De Caelo, ii text 42). But Moses describes what is obvious to sense, out of

condescension to popular ignorance, as we have already said, (QQ 67, 4; 68, 3)....even though

the distinction is not apparent to the senses whose testimony Moses follows; for although to

the senses there appears but one firmament, if we admit a higher and lower firmament, the

lower will be that which was made on the second day, and on the fourth, the stars were fixed

in the higher firmament.

This remarkable passage has parallels in De Potentia, e.g., Q.4, 2, ad 30: "Moses coming down to the level of an unlettered people, described things as they appear...," and has parallels elsewhere when Aquinas says Moses describes the stars as "the adornment" of the heavens, when they are in fact "its substance," "out of condescension to the way things appear to ignorant and unlettered people," and when Aquinas says, D.P. 4, 2, ad 34: "As to fire and air, seeing that the common people do not regard them as parts of the world, Moses does not mention them expressly..."

In all of those contexts, Aquinas distinguished truth according to appearances to the senses from the "whole" or scientific truth, although he does not give a name, like "scientific" or "whole" for the things known to the learned.

In each of these cases, except the last, the corporeality of air, what Aquinas took to be the "scientific," or "whole" truth, has turned out not to be true at all. This is instructive, for the "other truth," supposedly available to the learned, may not be as close to the way things really are as the vantaged truth, based in how things look, which is available to the unlettered.

That is a lesson. The "scientific" descriptions of things, designed to provide inner-mechanism explanations (e.g., Aristotle's theory that the stars are like jewels in spheres that move, like plates, the stars being unmoving in themselves), turn out, disconcertingly often, to have so many made-up elements that it is better to say that they are just false, and that their explanatory force is not the same as, and is independent of, their truth.[113]

Now why is this so important? Because there is a whole class of things that have to be said about God to explain the Scriptures, especially to relate God's acts in history and in the liturgy, and to express the story of salvation, that can be counted truths only according to "unadjusted common sense," that is, only according to the "prescientific appearance" of things, by which persons of right faith and practical wisdom have to live out their salvation.

Some of the "truths according to appearance" have false assumptions, and yet cannot be replaced because of their special positions in the proclamation of the faith (e.g., "God knows beforehand whatever will happen," with the false assumptions that God has temporally ordered knowledge and pre-plans the world). Other truths of appearance are simply not the whole truth, but are objective and without error as far as they go (e.g., "God endures forever," understood as "does not stop").

Consider all the accepted discourse--even de fide formulations--about foreknowledge and predestination, praying and the answering of prayers, the kingdom to come, the final judgment, divine action in the course of history, the role of Mary and the Saints with God, the bodily location of Jesus in "heaven," that is part of a correct understanding of the faith and yet (i) is as if God held a temporal vantage on nature, and thus (ii) does not comport with the "scientifically" described actus purus, the reality of God's eternity and immutability.[114] Undeniably, there are complementary but disparate, even imparate, discourses (having distinct authorizations and distinct authentications) with which we have to describe divine realities: Poetry, history, myth, law, synoptic gospels, prophesies, letters, creeds and hymns, prayer, liturgy, and counciliar proclamations. Moreover, "scientific" formulations have no credentials to replace the Scripturally originated wording of the proclaimed faith, nor any ability to take over the pragmatic role of temporally and spatially vantaged truths about God; for example, about the effectiveness of prayer or the certainty of forgiveness to those who are moved by grace to seek it. "Scientific" truths have no superiority in practical realization over truths vantaged, both semantically and referentially, in the ways things objectively appear. [Sometimes even subjective appearance is foundation for truths that cannot be scientifically replaced: thus Francis Thompson's sense of divine pursuit [Hound of Heaven] may have been at truth about him for which we have no "scientific" replacement. The same holds for mystic raptures and encounters.]

Not only is there no licence to conjoin one sort of truth with another (just because they are true, and without regard for the different vantages assumed); reason prohibits the incautious and artless conjunction of the proclaimed faith with "scientific" abstractions.[115] There is no analogy of "conjunction." Not just any pair of truths can be conjoined, and preserve truth. [So a simple principle of propositional calculus (P or not-P) has no general application because of the "belief-elements of meaning" that form semantic neighborhoods.[116]]

Denial of religiously sanctioned commonsense, temporally and personally vantaged affirmations about God is to be avoided, no matter how well justified on "scientific" grounds. This is because it may invite the faithful to affirm a contrary commonsense claim that entails both a commonsense falsity and a scientific falsity about God. Thus we don't say, "No, you are wrong; God does not know what is going to happen," "because nothing is going to happen for God," because the believer is implicitly invited to say, "Well, then, there is something that God does not know, namely, what is going to happen, because, surely, something is going to happen." Discourse with diverse suppositions is a vivid enticement to error and equivocation.[117]

I think Aquinas adopted the principles that (i) you have to explain things within a framework that the hearer can understand [quidquid recipitiur, reciptur modo recipientis], (ii) that not all of the relevant truth can be communicated to everyone, and (iii) that not even enough can be communicated to correct all false suppositions in their faith, even perhaps when they are learned. His view is pretty much what Maimonides and the Moslem theologians thought, too. Commentators on Aquinas say that Rabbi Moses and the Arabs were willing to let secular science (Aristotle's metaphysics) dictate that portions of Scripture are not literally true, whereas Aquinas stood for the position that the believing community, guided by the Spirit, is the authority on the meaning of Scripture,3[118] except that he also says, what is "shown on solid reasons to be false, cannot be the sense of Scripture," just as Rabbi Males and the Islamic Philosophers did.

Lesson 4: Double Truth and More: about nearly everything.

1. The prescientific appearance of things does not usually change when you find out the scientific truth; (sometimes it does). The pillars of the Parthenon do not look slanted when we find out that they are.[119] This is for a very good reason: our experience is vantaged in the appearances; that is the standpoint, the perspective, from which we explain things.[120] Moreover, in religious matters, that is where many of the things appear that need to be explained: sin, grace, repentance, salvation, the course of history, life, man, and the kingdom of God.

2. The scientific truth often has different assumptions and entailments which are not even suitable to replace the commonsense appearance of things. Despite some scientific realists who say that mid-level objects are "just" illusions (e.g., W. Sellars, A. Eddington, P. Churchland), no one believes that you can see clouds of molecules instead of tables, or hear atmospheric compressions or frequencies instead of sounds (except P. Churchland) or perceive light frequencies instead of colours.[121]

3. Temporally vantaged beliefs about God are religiously necessary, just as sailing by the constellations was necessary for millennia of deep sea navigation. There is a rightful, irreplaceable place for truths vantaged in appearances.

4. Cautious mixtures, with full knowledge, are characteristic of Christian theology (especially that of Aquinas). For example, it might be all right to say that the galaxy Andromeda is the last star in the handle of the Little Dipper (if it is), but it is not all right also to say that galaxies are stars, without qualifying the contexts. The same goes for God.

When you frame discussions of omniscience (God's knowing everything), first, by calling contents of knowing "propositions", second, by postulating that for every reality there is a content (proposition) to be known, and, third, by, postulating that some things to be known are inherently temporal (e.g., "what time it is now," "what John will do tomorrow"), you create a conflict between the unchangeability of God (immutability) and the requirements for knowing everything. The contrived nature of those problems can be "read off" the very of the statement of the problem. Yet, such conundrums have been taken seriously for years: by A. Kenny, N. Kretzmann, E. Wierenga, R. Swinburne, and many others.[122] The artificiality of the problem, particularly its trading on the made-up features of obtuse abstractions like "propositions," strains one's patience. (Can these philosophers be serious?)

Without the needed qualifications, most discussions of divine freedom are surreal. For instance, the belief that God causes everything, without preempting nature or disabling the will (cf. De Pot. 3,7) is not supposed to be scrambled with the prescientific truth that free actions have no cause but the will. See the next lesson.

For now, note that there really is a Vantaged Truth: Double truth, and more, not only about God, but about everything:[123] many truths, ranged on different bases that cannot simply displace one another, that fit different purposes, social functions and assumptions, but are not to be commingled arbitrarily or artlessly into intellectual goulash, or picked over like a teenager looking for the least fattening spaghetti strands.

Besides, as Aquinas' own scientific mistakes[124] make clear, we need faith-assertions, founded in the authority of Scripture and tradition, that do not depend on fashions in science. The referential and conceptual bases of such assertions, e.g., "Jesus is bodily in heaven," will not coincide or readily translate into 19th or 20th century cosmology, and, of course, need not. The same holds for "The Eucharist is really the body and blood of Christ." What has that to do with the molecular composition of bread and blood? The statements "This is my body" and "This is my blood" do not belong to a semantic network that immediately licenses any statement, one way or the other, about molecular composition. To take one's standard for "is the same stuff as" from molecular science, and thus challenge the real Eucharistic presence, is simply to conjoin what is disparate in vantage, to make theology into an Escher painting.

Aquinas went far enough in the direction of Rabbi Moses and Averroes, saying, with them, that what science rejects "on solid reasons" cannot be the sense of Scripture. That is much further than we can go today with our diminished belief in the certainty of science. Aquinas' attitude is excusable because he, like the others, expected science to be demonstrative, and thus, fit to be a negative theological authority. But his expectations of science were unfounded, as his own false beliefs make clear.

Nevertheless, exaggerated claims that science is a negative authority for theology, indeed for understanding the Scripture, have been reiterated and renewed every century since the middle ages. Recently those exaggerations have been counterbalanced by philosophers of science, who go too far in the other direction, claiming that science is not an authority on an independent reality at all. We can see this in anti-realism and irrealism, not to mention odoriferous views about deconstructing the polarity of "true" and "false", drifting over from the Continent.[125] The extremes are both wrong: sciences, say, geology, can, if approved by the community of the faithful, negate a too literal earth-dating from Scripture; but science cannot show that the Eucharist is not the body and blood of Jesus by showing that it is made entirely of wheat, yeast, etc. molecules, whereas real bodies are made of meat molecules. The frameworks of discourse are incommensurable.

We should not, then, be contemptuous of biblical fundamentalists who insist upon the true principle that the community of the faithful [or the Spirit enlightening believers], not its scientists, determine the content of Scripture. Rather, we should encourage a wider, more alert community of the faithful to exercise an understanding of Scripture. A basic fundamentalist principle is right, that supposed science that conflicts with Scriptural Truth is wrong, just as Aquinas, Maimonides and the Moslems were right that what is demonstrably false cannot be the sense of Scripture. Still, the logical space between the two principles, and a limited respect for science, along with a moderate literalism about Scripture, requires us to acknowledge a multiplicity of descriptive vantages, some with conflicting, and others with disparate, assumptions and "belief-elements of meaning." With all due care not to get mixed up between truths of appearance and made-up science, [or between truths belonging to incommensurable referential and conceptual bases], we still want to know: Is creation God's activity in space-time?

In one sense, yes. In another, no, because the creature has being of its own. Aquinas says in Ia. 20, a1 and a2, God's love is the cause and measure of being; God's will is the cause of the goodness of things and God loves things by causing their being (goodness), and not on account of their being and goodness as we do. In De Pot: 3, 1, ad 12 he says: "that which is made is a thing that subsists." But, like Michelangelo's legendary freehand drawing of a "perfect" circle, the being of the thing and its perfection is all from his hand, every feature of the thing (ignoring the material, the paint and surface for now). If the work is subsistent, as creatures are, in a material medium, (the way a musical composition, even written out, subsists in the medium of sound), even though it has all its features from the creator (who makes the medium as well), it is still its own being and not the being of the composer. However, all its being depends on the composer throughout its whole time of being. So the problem here is to make it clear that divine creative causation is of being. Then, it is all right to say that the being of creatures is the creative activity of God, if only in the sense of something God does, the way a painting is what its painter does, or a playing of an Etude is what a pianist does, or a song is the singer's modulated breathing [considered from the vantage of the form, the "what," inherent in the modulated breathing].

We have to jump from limited simile to limited simile, like crossing a stream on broken ice. Created being is like electro-magnetic induction: it is the product of the charged source, continuously dependent on the source, has all its features from the source (or modified by other things from the one source supposed here), and ceases to be "instantaneously," "with the cessation of the source," [instantaneous cessation being a truth of appearance or imagination that Aquinas relies on in his account of Annihilation, De Pot. 5, 3].[126] Created being is like a hologram: wholly from the light, yet not the same as the light, (see Ross, `Creation II,` in The Existence and Nature of God, edited by A. J. Freddoso, Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983).

The movement of the stars can illustrate. "God operates in the operations of nature and the will" says Aquinas, De Pot. 3, 7, "but not so as to defeat causation by created things" (as he says Rabbi Moses reports that the Moorish sages thought). Rather, says Aquinas: God "acts in every agent immediately and without prejudice to the action of the will and of nature." Yet, "creation is not mingled with the work of nature" (De Pot. 33, 8, ad 20). How is that to be understood?

God does not, then, strictly, make the stars move; that is an unrefined common sense belief. The reality that explains how things look that way, is that God makes the thus-moving stars to be. And that is the story for all of nature and for all free action. For, as Aquinas says, the proper effect of God, as cause, is being.

The edge of the distinction between cause of being and cause of change was blunted when Seventeenth Century (e.g. Descartes) theory required God to explain the universal deterministic locomotion of matter. So God was seen as "giving" an initial motion that is deterministically transformed and conserved in mathematizable laws. That was a deep reformulation of the "Unmoved Mover" notion from Aristotle, and placed God in an imaginary relation to the world that is opposed to a good "scientific" one.

God is not to be said to "preprogram, prevision or provide," in the same framework of assumption in which we say "God is the entire cause, without succession, of the whole spatio-temporal cosmos, the cause of the thus-acting-beings that are, the cause of the causing of things and of time." For one thing, the conserving cause of the cosmos must act without regard to limitations (light velocity) on physical causation, and without limitation to the relativity of time. Otherwise, it cannot conserve the being of a spatio-temporally extended cosmos. Besides, as Augustine said, God is the cause of Time, as well as Space and everything changing.

The vantages are divergent and even opposed, like for example, Newtonian theory with inertial mass versus Einsteinian General Relativity, with relativistic mass, or like the discourse in which we mean by "divine will" the effective causing will, versus other discourses in which we mean the legislative prescriptive will. To this you may say, like a learned objector, "well, which one is true? Because, of opposed assertions, not all are true." I reply, "that parade already passed." Getting it right is not just affirming some proposals and rejecting the rest; it is far more a matter of putting the items that belong together on the right shelves in the right order.

There are objective appearances, like the relativity of motion (under special relativity theory). That is, there are appearances containing no elements of illusion or error, but like the "being smaller" of objects at a distance, which is a direct effect of true optics, are the natural consequences of the micro-mechanisms of things. So it is also with large parts of the faith, stated from the viewpoint in time and history of those who are redeemed and who confidently expect the completions of the divine kingdom in the future.

It is true that God watches over his creatures instant by instant, preserving them in being, caring for his creation as a gardener, a lover, a parent and a friend, answering appeals, helping from moment to moment, and inviting us to him with fervent personal enticements, like presents for a lover. Those are all truths, but truths vantaged in the appearance of things to a human situated temporally and locally on the earth. They are vantaged in the being that is the effect, rather than in the eternal cause. Nevertheless, those are objective appearances, the way things ought to appear, just as "the crab nebula is blue." The objective appearances of things are just as much part of the real being of things as are the undisclosed real natures that explain the appearances and are sought by the sciences.

So do not get the idea that "truth according to appearances" is always "inferior truth," necessitating a false assumption. Sometimes it is exactly how things should appear, yet still not to be mixed up with accounts that distinguish appearance from the ontology, or the micro-matter that causes them. Metaphysical accounts are at a different degree of abstraction from reports of religious events we experience. That is one reason why, as Aquinas says, "creation is not interference with or prejudicial to nature or will." (De Pot., cit. supra.)

So this lesson is: Double truth is many truths, aspectual truths, some needing correction, some not; and some, with limited and even false assumptions, not suitably to be replaced because of their privileged position in the account of salvation history, on pain of incoherence, contradiction and offense to the faith.

A Third Lamentation reminds us of the "hard facts" delimiting an account of creation:

[Aleph] God is unknowable in "whatness."

[Beth] God is incomprehensible.

[Caph] There is no content ad extra GIVEN to God by self-understanding (as the Platonists thought), and so no domain of "the possible" determined by God's being.

[Gimel] Thus, God's power is completely unlimited, encompassing whatever he chooses, since to make "ens et non-ens simul" is not, as Aquinas says, within any power whatever.

[Daleth] Creating is the act of God's full causal power, (which is the same reality as his being), even though God is able to have made any number of other things whose natures would be determinate only by creation.

[Jod] There is no unexercised ability or unfulfilled capacity in God (actus purus).

[Heth] Strictly, whatever God makes is antecedently "impossible" in the sense of "non-possible," for lack of content.

[Teth] There are no divine ideas, except one, The Verbum.

[Vau] There are no eternal truths, except one.

[Zain] There is nothing necessary in creatures and therefore, "necessities of nature," the very natures of things, are merely suppositional, from God's will (from Practical Wisdom), as are all their actions, and (De Pot. 3, 5 ad 2): "from the very fact that being is ascribed to a quiddity, not only is the quiddity said to be, but to be created."

That seems to leave the problems harder than ever. If God causes the thus-acting-creature to be, how can the creature be free?

Part 4: Antiphon: "What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?"

Lesson 5: Futile Fatalism: The learned objectors say: "God causes me to do what I do, if God is the complete cause of the being of his creatures." But that cannot be right. For if God is the agent, and I only the instrument, then I do nothing. God can only be the complete cause of the being of a free agent if the agent is free. "If God makes me do it, I do not really do it," as every whining child who blames a sibling knows.

But could it really be that nothing that has a cause of all its being other than itself is ever genuinely free or ever genuinely a cause, as the Islamic occasionalists think? That is an outcome even the objector does not want. So what is wrong?

First, it cannot be true that both (1) I-the-thus-freely acting-creature am entirely caused to be by God, and (2) that God causes me to do what I do. The two are inconsistent, and it is the second that is false. Secondly, it cannot be true that God causes the sun to move as it does and that gravity (etc.) causes the sun to move as it does, because, as the Moslems reasoned, if God's causation is really the cause, then gravity causes nothing at all. Again, right.

The supposition that God causes the events in nature is incompatible with the scheme of natural causes. So we have to conclude that God's making the thus-causing natural events to be and the thus-freely-acting-humans to be, cancels neither natural causation nor free will, but rather is sufficient and necessary to enable each. That is exactly what Aquinas argued. It is like jazz improvisation with an active composing cause but internal explanatory structures for what follows what.

Now I know the usual rejoinder is that my original supposition is inconsistent: that God can cause a thus-acting-creature to be, a thus-freely-acting creature to be. Yet all Christians accept that God does, throughout nature, cause thus-causing beings to be. Even I can do that: in a musical composition; in a magic drama; in a play; by a song, etc., whose effect on you is its effect (e.g., to make you sad), but requires the being that is caused by me. I don't make you sad with my sad song in the same way the sad song makes you sad. Learner and Lowe may delight you, but it is by the causation of "On the Street Where You Live."

Now, if the creator must make the thus-causing beings to be, then evidently, the creator must make the thus-freely-acting beings to be, without causing them to so act (by any natural causation), because that defeats freedom. Thus, the only way God can make and conserve free creatures is by making the thus-freely-acting beings to be. And thus, while God could defeat any free action by withdrawing being from the agent before or during the action, God makes the creature free, by both nature and grace as herein described, and makes the free creature to be by constant (from the temporal creature's vantage) causation of being throughout its actions, "making the thus-acting creature to be." See Aquinas, S.T. I, 105, a.5.

It is a matter of revelation, as well as reason, that God makes the thus-acting elements of the cosmos to be, making the temporal being of all free creatures within it, throughout the whole of their being. [It is like making a quarter-note; there is no specified length, only a relative length; but to make one, you have to make the whole of it. So, to make humans and birds and protons, relative durations and causations are required by what is made.] That is just what the creator does. The temporality of what is done is a feature of what is made, not of the making.

Part 5. Antiphon: "What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?

Lesson 6: True Freedom is not of this world. There is a mystery about man. The mystery is abetted by misunderstandings. By misunderstanding our freedom, we misunderstand God's, in whose image we are made, and so further misunderstand our own. Creation is the paradigm of freedom, but is so far from what we expect that we have to understand other elements of the revelation, and salvation, to grasp what kind of human acting could achieve fulfilment, and thereby, understand creation, from which we finally understand ourselves.

I repeat in this Fourth Lamentation to what freedom is not.

The Fourth lamentation:

[Aleph] Freedom is not the ability to act from preponderant desire in the absence of external causes. Even animals have that.

[Beth] Freedom is not the ability to act from a rational principle in the absence of defeating conditions (ignorance, fear, violence and passion). That is just responsibility.

[Daleth] Freedom is not just the ability to act from rational appetite, even on the rational preponderance of desire, as Aristotle thought, and Aquinas said (S.T. I-IIqe, q.6, a.1), because (a) that will not achieve human fulfilment and (b) there may be other rational animals, such as higher apes, or whales, that have weaker reason, yet still have limited responsibility.

[Gimel] Freedom in a particular act is not "being able to have done otherwise than as I do under the very same conditions as I act willingly," because the better my reasons and habits are, the less free I would be. For a holy will, wrong action is not a live option. Further, I can act willingly, not knowing that I have no other choice (e.g. being locked in), and still act freely. Again, I can seek happiness (or God) freely (willingly), even though I would do it anyway by nature (willingly). I will have no choice in the presence of God, but all enjoy God freely (willingly). Besides, there is no active ability that consists in its counter-factual states. Freedom cannot consist in my being able to have done something I did not do. The form of analysis is defective.

[Heth] Freedom is not the ability to do otherwise, more broadly conceived, for example, as "a second order ability "[127]: "had I chosen otherwise, I would have done otherwise," because that condition might be satisfied when I was not free in my actions at all, e.g., drugged, unwittingly locked up, or too sick to comprehend. Moreover, that condition can be satisfied when there is no other live option. Further, the supposed analysis uses the very notion of free choosing to be explained. Again, the form of analysis is defective, as well as the content.

[Teth] Besides, freedom and liberty can be necessitated: as God's doing the right; and the blessed loving God. Even the saintly can each reach such a holy will that wrong actions are "dead options," just as murder would be to you; yet you are free in your conformity to the Fifth Commandment.

[Vau] Freedom is not just voluntariety, not just responsibility, though that is enough, wrongly exercised, for damnation. I understand Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Luther, and all the great Christian traditions, including the Holy Orthodox Church, to affirm that.

[Zain] Creation determines the content of real possibility, and so, of all necessity ad extra with content.

Lesson 7: St. Augustine, in De Utilitate credendi tells his Manichean friend (who wants the whole structure of his life to be founded on rational principles for which there are convincing arguments, and so wants to be argued into the faith), "you are suffering from an illness that only God can cure..." He is urging that you have to believe in order to understand. So look at what there is to believe:

As St. Paul says, freedom comes only by faith, freedom from sin, and "adoption as sons of God." St. John, also, says, "dedit eis potestatem filios Dei fieri" (John, I, 1-14). St. Paul is clear that without faith there is no freedom, though there is damnation. Some ability is lacking. No one is clearer that freedom comes by faith alone, that faith gives an ability to act, and that caritas is an activity possible to a person who has freedom, not to one "enslaved to sin". Aquinas says (S.T. I, 12, 5-6), a supernatural dispositon, deiformity, is given to the understanding; the more perfectly, the more one has charity.

Is it possible then that "freedom," the gift of grace, is just a condition, a particularly favorable condition of responsibility-voluntariety? No, because the object aimed at in particular, life with God, is beyond the capacity of unilluminated reason to conceive that of or the will to want. In fact, the essence of God cannot be presented to our understanding by abstraction from sensible appearance, and so requires a "created light." See Aquinas, 12, a 4-5.

Saint Augustine says (De Lib. Arb.), (liberum arbitrium) freedom is the ability to act rightly. He makes it evident, I would have thought for all time, that freedom does NOT consist in, or have any real expression in our acting wrongly. In Confessions Augustine says that before he had faith, "being a prisoner, I might mimic a maimed liberty by doing with impunity things unpermitted me, a darkened likeness of your omnipotence."

So I respectfully disagree with those who say, "We are free to reject God's invitation." You have to be responsible to reject God. Nor is our basic choice to accept or reject God. Rejecting God is a condition that requires freedom-on-offer, but it is the abandonment of it, not the exercise of it.

Free choice, is like running and winning, as opposed to falling down, or not starting. It is like driving well, not an ability to have accidents.

St. Anselm, (Diag. De. Lib. Arbitrio) is clear that "free will is the ability to keep uprightness of will for its own sake". For Satan (see De Casu Diaboli) damnation comes by fallout, by the failure to exercise freedom that acknowledges God's moral sovereignty, when the opportunity is at hand. The story Anselm tells is somewhat different from mine: Anselm tells that Satan, noticing that the difference that really counts is that God is sovereign (acknowledging no superior, and is, thus, a moral lawmaker without a lawmaker) chooses (wills by voluntariety) to be the lawmaker to himself, deposing God and claiming to be sovereign for himself. In a perverse way he achieves his objective, becoming sovereign over chaos, but losing all ability for rightness of will (freedom). I think the same effect is attained by positive responsibility to acknowledge God's sovereignty as lawmaker and the failure to do so.

In a word, the "choice" to accept God or reject God is a conflict of two abandonments: either we abandon ourselves to love, a kind of self-giving-over, an absorption in God, thereby acting freely and being habitually free, or we abandon right-living, thereby not acting freely, though acting responsibly (in the sense that deserves blame), like wrong-way Brown, and abandon our freedom along with ordered love.

We have to stand on revelation and against the philosophers here. I propose to stand with Augustine and Aquinas, who do not think, regardless of the role of evolution (whether as forms potential in nature (rationes seminales) or even as many conceive it now, as a succession of design changes worked out by natural selection), that humans EVER had a natural end, a fulfilment in nature.

Reason supports this view part of the way. It supports the conclusion that human fulfilment is individual, by some kind of excellence of activity. The pagan philosophers largely agreed that humans are for something, though they did not agree about what, or about how to attain it, though, in very broad terms, they did agree that it had something to do with wisdom and action in accord with reason.

Moreover, reason supports revelation negatively by the failure of any philosopher to put forward an end achievable by excellence that would fulfil the deepest human longings and not be terminated by death. Valiant tries have simply disclosed that there is no target fit for humans entirely contained in earthly life. Human capacity and nobility clearly surpass the cosmic power to satisfy.

So the fundamental question about whether we are genuinely free is this: is there a condition of fulfilment fitting to humans, and one that we have the means to achieve, one that is not a lottery, but actually offered to us all?

Ancient pessimism and paradoxes show up in Christian thinkers, too, for instance, Peter Geach's notion from The Virtues, that people are like acorns, most of which fall to the ground and rot, never making a tree, a full life, because, in effect, they have not "been chosen." Such views are often attributed,erroneously I think, to Aquinas. Nevertheless, giggly "universalism," in which God gives His countenance to everyone, seems equally implausible. There just does not seem to be a rationally formulable principle for the distribution of efficacious grace. Perhaps that should be no surprise.]

Part 6: Antiphon: What is man? True Freedom. True freedom is the spontaneous choice of the good from love of the good, from abandonment to love.

For us, that choice has to be of God over self. The answer is given by Augustine: "Thou has made us for Thyself alone, O God, and our hearts are restless till they rest in Thee." But, as Augustine said about wisdom, we have to find a manner of life fitting to our end, a mode of suitable action. We find that only by being shown the new creation, the redemption.

For given that the objective is supernatural, that the enablement is supernatural, and that the essential mode of action is not what reason commands (though it is not against reason illuminated by faith), we have to be shown by revelation what these elements of our nature consist in. Once we believe, we can understand, harnessing the energy of understanding to the objective of eternal life. Yet it will still be a mystery whether our ability to survive death is some form generated in the natural world, or whether it is part of our design for our supernatural end.

We know also that mastery in any area, once attained, makes what seems impossible feel easy. "My yoke is sweet and my burden light." But it takes revelation to show us what being absorbed in love, as a form of right action, rather than of pleasure, consists in. Mastery of right love, once learned, is its own satisfaction. That is why it can withstand suffering and misunderstanding, even death. It has inextinguishable hope.[128]

So the sort of activity that achieves eternal life, absorption in God, becomes easy with practice, and exhibits itself as the compassionate cherishing and nourishing of those we find to care for (with a breadth delineated by our individual characters and cultures) because we see the divine love by which we exist. But the underlying energy of all such action has to be abandonment of self, absorption (virtually bemusement, entrancement), in the love for God and the desire to be with God ("Where there is greater charity, there is greater desire," Aquinas, S.T. I, 12, 6). We know about it rationally, but need to know it by faith.

We could never have known about absorption in God as our fulfilment without revelation. We could never have known that our loving God parallels God's making us because he loves us, an activity God displays again, but in human form, by making us over in a new creation, an activity that had to be done to bring us back to God. It is an act by which we fill the ambit of our designed desire, just as creation fills God's capacity to love.

So what is this spontaneity that is naturally mysterious? What is human freedom? We can only find out by looking to the God revealed and the God understood, as revealed, by human actions in Scripture, especially in the redemption.

True freedom is the spontaneous choice of the right from abandonment to love. For a human, that is the choice of God, complete commitment. God's creative freedom is the abandonment to love for what is made by which God invents all the natures of things, all the mysteries of things, all the good and allows all the limitations, and is absorbed in love of what he makes, with no activity left over. None at all. The model of human freedom is demonstrated in revelation.

The rationality of true freedom is upside-down from the rationality of what appears to be genuine freedom ["And all you asked from me was to change my own will and accept yours," says Augustine, Confessions, IV,1.], but is mere voluntariness. The rationality of the voluntary is action based on reason, [but in accord with trained feeling], apparently directed to fulfilment, but at best able to attain flourishing.

Whereas, the rationality of the truly free is directed at fulfilment beyond this life, and seeks flourishing only incidentally and not as the means to fulfilment. Just as the meaning of life is the loving of God expressed in the fulfilment of the Law for the Jew; so, the meaning of life is to love God as Jesus did. That is why suffering and death and deprivation and ignominy,--all deathly threats to the rationality of the voluntary directed to flourishing--, are no threat to those who love God above all else. The fulfilment of the human is to be united in life with God, a condition that only love can attain.

It should be no surprise that the apparently rational is not the really reasonable in the most important matters. That is generally the way where taste, feeling and understanding have to be sensitized. Even virtue seems silly to the piggish. It is no surprise then that caritas, or the love of God above all else, expressed as unlimited concern for others, seems meaningless and irrational to those who expect it all ends here in a passing flourishing, like a flowering, that ends forever in death. Creative love gives up life to God, who made it, and is victorious over death.

But once the light dawns, once grace transforms, once we believe, we can come to understand: freedom is spontaneous right action from abandonment to love.

Yet fully to understand we need a paradigm. And that comes mediated through this liturgy I traced, for as the last candle is extinguished when all the Psalms are sung, just before total darkness falls, we are told of the last and transforming effort of human freedom made in our behalf that set us free.

The story says, " and at the third hour, darkness fell."

ET In magna voce ait Jesus:

Pater, in manus tuas, commendo spiritum meum.

The End


[51]That D. Burrell calls a zero-sum ego contest. See A. Plantinga, God Freedom and Evil, and the extensive discussion of the "Free Will Defense."

[52]"Redeploy" because these ideas are basic and explicit in both Augustine and Aquinas, e.g. S.T. I, 12, 5.c and 6.c.

Humans are "by essence" rational animals as a condition of their being at all; so humans are only relatively able to live with God. "Relatively" here means "the sort of thing that is able to live with God," although individually not being able to do so without divine intervention, for individuals lose that ability with sin, remaining responsible for what they do.

You can see why there would be such a debate, as there was, over the "corruption of human nature" by the Fall. Humans are unable to attain life with God by themselves in the way that Thalidomide babies are unable to grasp things, although they are the sorts of things that grasp things, in their full integrity. Nevertheless, Aquinas is explicit that even before sin, the intellect must be empowered by grace to see God.

[53]Augustine and Aquinas held that (i) man is created in a supernatural condition aimed at life with God; (ii) there is a "corruption" that follows from the Fall, but not a change of nature; (iii) the Fall leaves humans responsible for what they do afterwards, exactly the same as before; and furthermore, humans remain the sorts of things suitable for life with God; (iv) humans have no other final end ever. [53]12

[54] The Medieval analogue is eminent containment, the way God's powers "contain" ours; a modern analogue is the way Dos 4.01 "contains" Dos 3.0.

[55] For material life, flourishing is fulfilment. For rational beings, fulfilment specifically fits understanding and love. Biologically, flourishing that includes successful reproduction is fulfilment for animals. Some evolutionary biologists think that biological flourishing is "success" at adaptation, which simply is reproductive success. This is even narrower than they say Aristotle was, whom they criticized for saying that the function of birds was to make more birds.

Some scientists may deny that other living things have a fulfilment in nature. But "living well" and fortunately, in a hospitable environment with successful reproduction, and thus adequate animal functioning , is normally the foundation of human flourishing, but not fulfilment. Moreover, fulfilment can be attained without flourishing, e.g., by the victimized, the defective or infants. No pagan philosophy has ever been able to make a case in which fulfilment is available to all humans, regardless of whether the flourishing is.

[56]Only remnants of true freedom remain, absent faith now, tattered remnants of spontaneity that looked to Andre Gide and Albert Camus like motiveless, reasonless spontaneity aimed as often at [what we regard as] evil as at the good. The Existentialists discerned the burned-out hulk of the ark fulfilment in man that other philosophers couldn't account for at all. It is as if they found the burned, cold, empty hearth where the last fire of love ignited by the presence of God had been, but could discern only the emptiness, and the bitter taste of ashes in human brokenness.

[57]No material thing is capable of seeing God; some additional mode of being is required.

[58]Which raises the question of whether God might have evolved rational animals without our supernatural powers, rational animals that are not humans but pre-humans, which have no fulfilment; only elusive flourishing that flickers out, even if attained.

[59]See Ross, "Christians Get the Best of Evolution," pp. 223-251, Evolution and Creation, Ernan McMullen, editor. University of Notre Dame Press: Notre Dame, In. 1985. See also Michael Liccione, Ph.D. Thesis, University of Pennsylvania, for another notion of "mystery" and related ideas.

[60] See Aquinas, Summa Theologica, q.27-43, for example: the First Covenant, by The Father: the Redemption by the Son (Logos); and Sanctification by the Spirit; also, Compendium of Theology, Part I, Chapter 37 to 66.

[61] Which because of the Fall can only be understood through a redemption, so there is no adequate natural knowledge of God's freedom.

Apart from divine restoration of human freedom (in active redemption), by which we can act the way the redeemer acts, there is no way to understand what true freedom is. This is because we primarily understand God through God's effects (see Aquinas), and where the effect that is most appropriate, namely human freedom, has been impaired by sin, we have to look at its pure, proper exercise by a divine person who is human.

[62] A symposium to mark the inaugural for David Burrell C.S.C. as Theodore Hesburgh Professor of Humanities , University of Notre Dame, September 1989.

[63] The spontaneity is emphasized by Duns Scotus from the perspective of man restored by Christ [See Wolter, A. B. (trans.), Duns Scotus on the Will and Morality, Washington, D.C.: Catholic University Press, 1986] but is found in secular tatters among Existentialist writers, e.g., Sartre's self-making, and Gide's and Albert Camus's notions of "free action" as unreasoned and unmotivated, entirely mysterious.

[64]All living things have a bias, like a tilt in a spinning top, that delineates (but does not determine) the paths of their actions. Sometimes the bias is called "appetite;" it is regarded as a representation or a blueprint for future states. How the completion of a thing is present in it, so as to modulate its actions, varies with the kind of thing. "Tendency," "bias," "appetite," "disposition" are all protean notions, with different analyses in different contexts. In a human, the longing for "happiness" presents itself both as drive and as need (as missing). But hunger or sex present themselves in other ways.

[65]There is animal voluntarism where there is animal cognition of its own good and animal desire biased toward that good, but there is no understanding of what the good is. See Aq. S.T., I-II, q.6, a.2 on Animal Voluntarism, `It is essential to the voluntary act that its principle be within the agent together with some knowledge of the end...Imperfect knowledge of the end consists in mere apprehension of the end, without knowing it under the aspect of `end,` or the relationship of an act to the end. Such knowledge of the end is exercised by rational animals through their senses and their natural estimative power...whereas the imperfect voluntary is within the competency of even irrational animals.`

So animals are not moral agents even though they are capable of a kind of obedience/ disobedience, wildness/ compliance, and of being well-behaved/ stubborn/ docile and a whole range of other character traits that not only distinguish wild animals from domestic animals but distinguish one kind of domestic animal from another; trained lions are "willingly" compliant when they are, and "willy-nilly" indifferent or defiant when they are. Wildness in animals is like certain forms of insanity in humans.

[66] See Ross, Truth and Impossibility. Contemporary philosophy is twisted because of mistakes about truth, necessity, understanding and, therefore science, which were begun by Descartes and exacerbated with passing centuries. See "The Fate of the Analysts: Aristotle's Revenge," Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association, Toronto, 1990. Only a major reevaluation will put us back in touch with lost lines of inquiry and away from entrenched mistakes. See "First Lamentations," below, on disorders of the understanding.

[67]Even for the philosophers who are Christians or were educated as Christians, these issues have become dominant, when they should be peripheral and inconsequential.

[68]We think of such acts as "creative:" composition (music or writing), design (painting, architecture), invention (Mathematics or Geometry, etc.), and "free expression" (dance, gesture, walk, talk).

[69] Many philosophers deny there is any such ability as freedom and say there is only a shadow of it, "wilful action," as described by materialists like Gide, Camus, and others. At the other extreme, there are idealist notions of "transcendental will," a response to Scotus' "spontaneity," e.g., Kant, associated with the notion of a transcendental self (see Wittgenstein), where freedom has nothing to do with psychological or physical causation. Most philosophers deny that there is an active ability to attain human fulfilment, and even deny that there is such a reachable condition as genuine fulfilment, as opposed to temporary flourishing, [which is denied circumstantially to most people and which ends for each of us at death].

[70]It is a mode of love. And thus, each bodily sense is a mode of love, as Augustine observed.

[71]Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics and the Epicureans; particularly as understood by Augustine.

[72]It is a modern canard to tell that story about humans; it makes human fulfilment attainable by genetic accident or human cruelty or injustice. That is not so, no matter how much it appears to be so, from Scriptural times ("the wicked prosper") to our own. Such "Wall Street people" are just achievers, not fulfilled.

[73]In action habitually proceeding from the rational appetite in the absence of ignorance, fear, violence, or passion, in accord with the person's desire for the highest excellence of the understanding.

[74]Remember that Augustine defined freedom as "the ability to act rightly" and Anselm defined it as "the ability to keep uprightness of will for its own sake." Only recent confusion thinks of wrongdoing as an exercise of the same ability by which we act rightly; it is as if overlooking something were an exercise of the power to notice, even though having the power to notice is sine qua non for overlooking.

[75]So much is necessary for happiness, and so little is sufficient for unhappiness. These are paradoxes, of course, for Christians as well; notably, with the gratuitousness of divine gifts of faith and freedom.

[76]One has to be lucky enough to come from a good family, and have good health, practical wisdom and a character that fits one condition of life. One has to be additionally lucky not to be tried beyond one's character or be forced by one's outrage out of the human community (to be a dog): see Martel Nussbaum on Greek tragedy, The Fragility of Goodness: Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy, Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 1986.

[77]After the Fall, that ability has to come by restoration for people in general [the redemption], and by gift to each in particular [salvation], as was the gift to Mary ("Immaculate") from the foreseen merits of her son.

You may ask why, to understand human freedom do we have to understand divine freedom? Why don't we just study ourselves? The answer is that humans are not, even when restored in grace, able to understand the full human design in God's image because that condition was lost with the Fall and the condition of life with God (without cognitio visionis) has to be regained with practice; restoration presupposes nature, but nature has to be perfected by life with God.

[78]An enlightenment about the original design of humans in the image of the creator. That original design is given to us by a story in Genesis and illuminated right through the Gospels. It seems that we can know by "figuring it out" that our fulfilment is in encounter with the divine essence, and also know that we lack the ability on our own, to encounter God, and so, can figure out that a divine enablement is possible. However, we cannot figure out its content or its manner, or that it is in fact available.

[79]I read the later Wittgenstein to be convinced that there are disorders of the understanding, serious thought-disorders [analogous to neuroses and even sometimes psychoses] that can only be relieved by a distinctly philosophical therapy [or a metaphysical euthanasia]; otherwise, the sufferers have to be abandoned to be intellectual "street people."

Typically, in philosophy, a fair start brings a bad end.

[80]See Ross, Truth and Impossibility, and "Aristotle's Revenge," cited above.

[81]And particularly virulently affects religious thinkers. See Ross, "The Fate of the Analysts: Aristotle's Revenge," in Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association, 1990.

[82]Philosophers, for a long time, do not even attempt to explain animal consciousness, feeling and cognition. Of course, Descartes denied that animals are anything but robots. But animals are not machines; they are genuinely cognitive, and many actually see, hear, fear, rage, and desire. Everyone will cheer when we find out how matter can do that. Rather than do the work, philosophers promise to explain "intentionality" but in fact leave the entire task up to the scientists. Philosophers made names, "behaviorism," "functionalism," and now, "connectivism," (like the names of fictitious gold mines in the last century), for more promises that explain nothing.

[83]See my "The Fate of the Analysts: Aristotle's Revenge," particularly the ideas that (a) there is "software everywhere;" (b) we have an ability to dematerialize things, to fluoresce the forms of things; and (c) the object of science is comprehension, to be "streetwise in the universe."

[84]The fact is that for humans, intelligence is a constant transformation of animal consciousness, and that without sensation there is no human understanding at all. Cf. Aquinas Q.D. De Anima; Q.D. De Veritate; S.T. q. 75-90.

[85]See Gary Watson (ed.), Free Will, New York: Oxford University Press, 1982, also. `Free Action and Free Will,` Mind, 1987: 145-172; in particular see `Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person,` Journal of Philosophy, 1971: 5-20, and `Necessity and Desire,` Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 1984: 1-13. See the criticism by Eleonore Stump, `Sanctification, Hardening of the Heart, and Frankfurt`s Concept of Free Will,` Journal of Philosophy, 1988, 395-420, with copious references. See also A. Kenny, Aristotle`s Theory of the Will, 1979.

[86]Even for philosophers who are Christians or were educated as Christians.

[87]Like nasty childhood desires in the Freudian unconscious (--not that I think there is one--) or repressed adolescent fantasies that, to the conscious, seem "worn out," without erotic power, but which unconsciously pattern conscious arousal (--in a more Jungian way; that I do think likely).

[88]That is the English for what Aquinas had in Latin from the Arabic for Aristotle's Met. IV, 5, 1010b, that says now, in English, "not everything that is imagined is true." I find the ex-Latin version more colourful and still true.

[89]See Aquinas's Commentary on De Anima of Aristotle; his Disputed Questions De Veritate and his "Treatise on the Soul" in Summa Theologica. For example, the whole of a physical thing is not presented in a visual glimpse but has to be "filled out" from memory, instinct and imagination, in order for there to be a suitable "phantasm" (sensory appearance) for us to dematerialize. Yet this is not a representationalism, a cognition by "Holographic Heads Up Display" theory. See my Truth and Impossibility.

[90]Reality falls short because the imaginary is idealized and without the defects and detail of the real. On the other hand, reality goes too far because it overflows the conditions of an image in all directions: it has hidden features and hidden properties, even dangerous ones, and properties that are unimaginable, like diameters of 10-19 cm.

[91]Further, no imaginary objects can be a real individual because it can never be so particular as to be induplicable (as far as it goes).

[92]Unfounded generalities, based on local instances, invite general belief: "Southern fundamentalists are hypocrites," "Tinkers are cheaters;" even becoming so certain it becomes analytic: "A tinker is a cheat," with such falsities even occasionally "legitimized" by a dictionary entry.

[93]A sure cause of neuroses, like exposing children to pornography.

[94]In prison poetry, the verse could have a stark reality: "humitatem meam" is "my poor ass," and the lion and the unicorns rule the cell block.

[95]See the entertaining and also deeply informative discussion of the history of empty names in D.P Henry's That Most Subtle Question, University of Manchester Press, 1984.

[96]Intentional logic is formulated as extensional, as over a range of individuals some of which are not actual or are "reached" by abstract surrogates. See Ross, "Crash", Rev. Met., Dec., 1989.

[97]How this was done and exactly why it was needed are explained in "The Crash" and "God Creator of Kinds and Possibilities," cited above:

The canny David Hume attributed what he diagnosed as philosophical fictions, like the independent existence of physical things and the subsistent self, to runaway imagination, to "the mind's propensity to spread itself on things." And then, he fell for its trickery himself: saying that whatever we can consistently imagine is really possible. See my other papers mentioned, and my forthcoming, Truth and Impossibility; see also my "Aquinas's Exemplarism, Aquinas's Voluntarism" on empty names, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, Spring 1990, pp.1-28.

[98] See my treatment of this in the Crash cited above, note.

[99]Now I cannot give the arguments in detail here; they are spelled out in three other papers cited.

[100]Everything is in input-alignment with God's self-knowing the way every distinguishable thing-to-be-seen is within the one unified seeing I do at any given moment of looking.

[101]David Lewis treats "to be" as a logical product of being, just as traffic is the logical product of things moving on a path.

[102]This of course is talk in the fashion of one's opponents. There is no domain of possibility at all.

[103]Still, that Neoplatonic "false imagining" of abstract objects that exist forever and explain the truth` of things and are the patterns of things became part of "the collective intellectual unconscious" for two millennia and generated viral off-strains of iconic Neoplatonism as diverse as Augustine's ("divine ideas which are the forms of things"), Descartes's ("eternal truths" by divine decree), and Spinoza's (parallel infinite modes of extension and modes of thought), and spawned the even more outre recent atheist "idealist-materialism" (cf. Passmore, J., Recent Philosophy, La Salle, Indiana: Open Court Publishing Company, 1985, pp. 66-68, 100-101 and elsewhere), in which causally inert abstract numbers "make" arithmetic true (Quine) and abstract sets and objects make logic true (D. Lewis and many others); and some, furthermore, like D.Lewis (On the Plurality of Worlds, Oxford: Blackwell, 1986), who, skipping divine ideas and God altogether, think there is an eternal unmade array of everything that is possible, in parallel but physically inaccessible possible worlds: science fiction doing duty for theology.

[104]"Most" here means "the ones one could easily semantically formulate; for example, "If the shot had been any closer, I would have been killed," and, "If I had been oriental, I would have been female." Furthermore, I note from observation that the ones normally used by ordinary people involve suspension of causal or factual elements about real possibilities of which we have no knowledge at all; for example, someone says, " if I had not gone to that dance, I would never had met you," which is a probability estimate, or a person says, "if I had not grabbed your arm, you would have been killed," or "if I had not spoken-up, he would have gotten away with it." Such probability estimates are made with only loose concern for the actual historical and physical causation involved.

[105]Disorders of the understanding (e.g., that there is no relevant difference between human and animal intentionality [seeing] and that intentionality and consciousness are the same) become part of the intellectual unconscious of a culture (e.g., western industrialized scientific culture), escaping the notice of those not taught to reflect beyond it. See Ross, "Eschatological Pragmatism," and Truth and Impossibility.

[106]Though there might have been races of humans different from any that will ever be, and though "they" might have been black or white, "they" could not have been transparent. Yet, there is no line of humans, like pickets on a fence, who could have been the members of such races.

[107]"Middle Knowledge," knowledge "supposing-that," "contrary to fact knowledge that," purportedly covers every consistent description. One reason that there is no such thing is that consistency of description cannot assure real possibility, not even logical or metaphysical possibility. See Ross, Truth and Impossibility.

[108]For instance, I might have been a doctor, but it is entirely indeterminate where the office would have been, what speciality I might have practised, and how long I would live doing it.

[109] Of course, "antecedently impossible" is merely denominative: a predicate referentially vantaged in what IS made, and, nevertheless, only an imaginary feature of actual things because it imagines (supposes) reference before being, like the imaginary "time before time" Aquinas criticizes.

Thus to say "what is made is antecedently impossible (because contentless)," may be informative; but it is not as if, antecedently, there is something contentless that comes to be made.

[110]De Primo Principio, c.4, concl. 10, trans. E.Roche (St. Bonaventure, N.Y. 1949), p.147. I thank Fr. A. Maurer for pointing this out to me.

[111]See F. Van Steenberghen, Introduction a l`etude de la philosophie medievale (Philosoophes medievaux, vol. 18), Publications Universitaires and Beatrice-Nauwelaerts, 1974, pp.555-570, and ` `Averroisme` et `double verite` au siecle de saint Louis` in Septieme centenaire de la mort de saint Louis` Actes des colloques de Royaumont it de la mort de Paris (21-27 mai 1970) Societe d`Edition `Les Belles Lettres,` 1976, pp.351-360; Maitre Siger de Brabant (Philosophes medievaux, No. 21), Publications Universitaires, 1977, and Thomas Aquinas and Radical Aristotelianism, Catholic University of America Press, 1980, on Aquinas's opposition to double-truth; and Martin Pine, `Double Truth,` in Dictionary of the History of Ideas, vol. 2, New York: Scribner`s, 1973. See also Stuart MacClintock, `Averroism,` The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, vol. 1, edited by Paul Edwards, New York: Macmillan, 1967, pp. 223-226; and Etienne Gilson, History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages, New York: 000, 1955, and Reason and Revelation in the Middle Ages, New York: Scribner`s Sons, 1938, pp. 61-66, particularly on John of Jaudun.

[112]According to the text. Gen. 1, 6 "Let there be a firmament made amidst the waters; and let it divide the waters from the waters."

[113]See the separation of explanatory roles from truth in Nancy Cartwright, How the Laws of Physics Lie, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983, reviewed by Geoffrey Joseph in Philosophical Review, 1985: 580-583; and the similar work of Geoffrey Joseph, "The Many Sciences and the One World," Journal of Philosophy, 000; and also Ian Hacking, Representing and Intervening, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983.

[114]D. Burrells` paper refers to Vatican II`s acknowledgment of the lack of adequate models to make a scientific correlate for parts of the proclaimed faith in Constitution on the Faith--at least that is how I read that notion. There has always been a problem about the acts of Jesus, the divine person in history. However, because they are by way of his human nature, they present less problem than at first appears, except that incarnation cannot be eternal.

[115]Besides, what counts as "science," occasionally, is just a tissue of obtuse abstractions,

(1) made up to fit the observations (themselves made partially dependent on the artifacts that classify them), like Quantified Modal Logic; that is, really about nothing at all.

(2) "Science" may turn out, as in the case of some recent highly mathematized physics, to be about the logical shadows of things and not about physical reality directly, however informative it may be.

(3) Artless, incautious conjunction of imparately vantaged truths causes equivocal suppositions, and even outright contradictions and hostility to the religion it serves. As I said, this is recently the case with modal metaphysics [See "Crash"], where suddenly "logic" unrestrained makes possibility prior to actual being, the very antithesis of the Creator of Judeo-Christian religion.

[116]See Ross, "Semantic Contagion," for theory, in The Organization of the Lexicon, A. Leterand and Eva Kittay, editors, 1991.

[117]See A. Kenny's The God of the Philosophers, and Richard Swinburne's books (cited in note 73), for many examples.

[118]The same sort of dispute is in the open again: see M. Dummot's criticism of modern biblical science, in which he exaggerates the effect scholars have on believers. Of course, many believers do not keep their own place of authority, yielding too much to "advice" by the scholars. Further, scholars do often argue by a non-sequitur from the absence of data to the "later" composition of the Gospels.

[119]But some people learn to see a wave passing through the water while others, like me, are usually confused, especially by waves crashing on the shore; the stopped train in the station seems to move when another passes on the other side of the platform.

[120] These two notions, "standpoint" and "perspective," pick out the referential and the semantic dimensions [the two kinds of content and potential opposition] among observations.

[121]However, see Paul Churchland, Scientific Realism and the Plasticity of Mind, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981.

[122]A. Kenny, The God of the Philosophers, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979; N. Kretzmann, `Omniscience and Immutability,` Journal of Philosophy, 1966: 63; Kretzmann & Stump, "Eternity," Journal of Philosophy, 1981: 453f; E. R. Wierenga, The Nature of God: An Inquiry Into Divine Attributes, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989; R. Swinburne [The Coherence of Theism, Oxford: Clarendon, 1977; Faith and Reason, Oxford: Clarendon, 1983; The Evolution of the Soul, Oxford: Clarendon, 1986; The Evidence for God, Oxford: Published by Mowbray for the Christian Evidence Society, 1986]; see relevant articles from Faith and Philosophy.

[123] Everyone knows that when they say, "I was talking about his character, not his actions," when I said, "He's honest".

It is only the philosophers who have failed to work out neat accounts of "conceptual systems" as systems of truth-dependence and evidence relative to a base of references and assumptions, and to distinguish that from "conceptual systems" as meaning-systems based on different referential and conceptual bases (the Quine-Davidson-Kuhn aforementioned debate).

[124] Preferring Aristotle over Aristarchus, for instance, on the motion of the stars.

[125] Nowadays, theologians, unaware of the attacks on the pretensions of science (and of the even more pretentious "deconstruction" of all objective attitudes), are tempted to even greater fancies on the analogue of the arctic navigation system, in which to fly from Australia to Antarctica, an artificial chart is used that has the pilot steering "due north" on his instruments at crucial times when he is flying directly toward the South Pole. [Those charts are made-up devices to create a course that corrects for the South Pole magnetic field disturbances.] Theology imbibes those impulses too: to supply a made-up world-chart (usually borrowed from some secular discipline, say, psychology) on which to plot the Scriptural realities of sin, redemption and salvation, to guide our thinking. That is dangerous business, whether we use historical, psychological, hermeneutical, political, or even philosophical artifacts. We may get more falsity imported from the "secular discipline," than we preserve and expand religious truth, as I say happened to theology based on recent modal metaphysics, and to Modernism of the Twenties, and to the neoorthodoxy of the Fifties (Tillich), that combined psychological, existential and religious notions into a freehand meaningless account of sin. Nevertheless, that, in crucial part, is what theology is, as Tillich said: the exfoliation and explanation of the faith in secular categories imposed by secular questions (from secular science and arts). So my criticism is not against the activity in principle, but against exaggerations that make secular-natural pictures the world-chart on which religious realities are supposed to be fitted and found. That is not at all how the interaction must happen.

[126]See Ross, "Aquinas on Annihilation" Essays in Honor of Alan Wolter, Franciscan Institute Press, 1986.

[127]See Watson (ed.), Free Will, cited above.

[128]We tend to think another adult does not truly love us because we do not merit such devotion and interest, not noticing that we love without regard to prior merit, at least sometimes, and without realizing that God loves us more than we love anything, even ourselves, because it is by God's love that we exist and do all our loving.