IF you study any philosophical treatise of our present era you will with almost absolute certainty not encounter the concept, and much less the expression, “the truth of all things”. This no mere accident. The generally prevailing philosophical thinking of our own time has no room at all for this concept; it is, as it were, “not provided for”. It makes sense to speak of truth with regard to thoughts, ideas, statements, opinions—but not with regard to things. Our judgments regarding reality may be true (or false); but to label as “true” reality itself, the “things”, appears to be rather meaningless, mere nonsense. Things are real, not “true”!
Looking at the historical development of this situation, we find that there is much more to it than the simple fact of a certain concept or expression not being used; we find not merely the “neutral” absence, as it were, of a certain way of thinking. No, the nonuse and absence of the concept, “the truth of all things”, is rather the result of a long process of biased discrimination and suppression or, to use a less aggressive term: of elimination.
34) Things Can Be Known Because They Are Created
The fundamental statement about the “truth of all things” is found in St. Thomas’ Questiones disputatae de veritate; it reads: res naturalis inter intellectus constituta (est); whatever is is real in nature is placed between two knowing agents, namely— so the text continues—between the intellectus divines [God’s mind] and the intellectus humanus [human mind].
These “coordinates” places all reality between the absolutely creative, inventive knowledge of God and the imitating, “informed” knowledge of us humans and thus present the total realm of reality as a structure of interwoven original and reproduced conceptions.
Based on this twofold orientation of all things—so Thomas continues his reasoning—the concept of the “truth of all things” is also twofold: first, it means “thought by God”; second, it means “knowable to the human mind”. The statement, “All things are true”, would therefore mean, on one hand, that all things are known by God in the act of creation and, on the other hand, that all things are by their nature accessible and comprehensible to the human mind.
All things can be known by us because they spring from God’s thought. Because they originated in God’s mind, things have not only their specific essence in themselves and for themselves, but precisely because they originated in God’s mind, things have as well an essence “for us”. All things are intelligible, translucent, clear and open because they are created by God’s thought, and for this reason they are essentially spirit related. The clarity and lucidity that flows from God’s knowledge into things, together with their very being (more correctly: as their very being)—this lucidity alone makes all things knowable for the human mind. St. Thomas, in a commentary on the Liber de causis, we find a profound statement that expresses the same thought in almost mystical terms: ipsa actualitas rei est quoddam lumen ipsius; “the reality of a thing is itself its light”—and “reality” is understood here as “being created”! It is precisely this “light” that makes a thing visible to our eyes. In short: things can be known because they are created.
~from Josef Pieper: An Anthology
Description: "Near the end of a long career as one of the most widely read popular Thomistic philosophers of the twentieth century, Josef Pieper has himself compiled an anthology from all his works. He has selected the best and most representative passages and arranged them in an order that gives sense to the whole and aids in the understanding of each excerpt."