Saturday, August 30, 2014

Pieper: "The truth of all things"

33) The “Truth of All Things”

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."

Friday, August 29, 2014

The baptism of John the Baptist

"IT was fitting for John to baptize, for four reasons: first, it was necessary for Christ to be baptized by John, in order that He might sanctify baptism; as Augustine observes, super Joan. (Tract. xiii in Joan.).

"Secondly, that Christ might be manifested. Whence John himself says (Jn 1:31): "That He," i.e. Christ, "may be made manifest in Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water." For he announced Christ to the crowds that gathered around him; which was thus done much more easily than if he had gone in search of each individual, as Chrysostom observes, commenting on St. John (Hom. x in Mt.).

"Thirdly, that by his baptism he might accustom men to the baptism of Christ; wherefore Gregory says in a homily (Hom. vii in Evang.) that therefore did John baptize, "that, being consistent with his office of precursor, as he had preceded our Lord in birth, so he might also by baptizing precede Him who was about to baptize."

"Fourthly, that by persuading men to do penance, he might prepare men to receive worthily the baptism of Christ. Wherefore Bede [Cf. Scot. Erig. in Joan. iii, 24] says that "the baptism of John was as profitable before the baptism of Christ, as instruction in the faith profits the catechumens not yet baptized. For just as he preached penance, and foretold the baptism of Christ, and drew men to the knowledge of the Truth that hath appeared to the world, so do the ministers of the Church, after instructing men, chide them for their sins, and lastly promise them forgiveness in the baptism of Christ." "

~St. Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologica, III, q. 38, a. 1.

The Preaching of Saint John the Baptist, by Bacchiacca.
Oil on wood, c. 1520; Szépmûvészeti Múzeum, Budapest.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

"Pray for them that persecute and calumniate you"

"It is written (Mt 5:44): "Pray for them that persecute and calumniate you."

"...To pray for another is an act of charity, as stated above (A. 7). Wherefore we are bound to pray for our enemies in the same manner as we are bound to love them. Now it was explained above in the treatise on charity (25, 8,9), how we are bound to love our enemies, namely, that we must love in them their nature, not their sin. and that to love our enemies in general is a matter of precept, while to love them in the individual is not a matter of precept, except in the preparedness of the mind, so that a man must be prepared to love his enemy even in the individual and to help him in a case of necessity, or if his enemy should beg his forgiveness. But to love one's enemies absolutely in the individual, and to assist them, is an act of perfection.

"In like manner it is a matter of obligation that we should not exclude our enemies from the general prayers which we offer up for others: but it is a matter of perfection, and not of obligation, to pray for them individually, except in certain special cases."

~St. Thomas Aquinas: S.T. II-II, q. 83, a. 8.
•  Read Question 83, On Prayer

Crucifixion with Mourners and Sts Dominic and Thomas Aquinas (Cell 37),
by Fra Angelico. Fresco, 1441-42; Convento di San Marco, Florence.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Willman: The Seven Liberal Arts

by Otto Willmann

THE expression artes liberales, chiefly used during the Middle Ages, does not mean arts as we understand the word at this present day, but those branches of knowledge which were taught in the schools of that time. They are called liberal (Latin liber, free), because they serve the purpose of training the free man, in contrast with the artes illiberales, which are pursued for economic purposes; their aim is to prepare the student not for gaining a livelihood, but for the pursuit of science in the strict sense of the term, i.e. the combination of philosophy and theology known as scholasticism. They are seven in number and may be arranged in two groups, the first embracing grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic, in other words, the sciences of language, of oratory, and of logic, better known as the artes sermocinales, or language studies; the second group comprises arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music, i.e. the mathematico-physical disciplines, known as the artes reales, or physicae. The first group is considered to be the elementary group, whence these branches are also called artes triviales, or trivium, i.e. a well-beaten ground like the junction of three roads, or a cross-roads open to all. Contrasted with them we find the mathematical disciplines as artes quadriviales, or quadrivium, or a road with four branches. The seven liberal arts are thus the members of a system of studies which embraces language branches as the lower, the mathematical branches as the intermediate, and science properly so called as the uppermost and terminal grade. Though this system did not receive the distinct development connoted by its name until the Middle Ages, still it extends in the history of pedagogy both backwards and forwards; for while, on the one hand, we meet with it among the classical nations, the Greeks and Romans, and even discover analogous forms as forerunners in the educational system of the ancient Orientals, its influence, on the other hand, has lasted far beyond the Middle Ages, up to the present time.


It is desirable, for several reasons, to treat the system of the seven liberal arts from this point of view, and this we propose to do in the present article. The subject possesses a special interest for the historian, because an evolution, extending through more than two thousand years and still in active operation, here challenges our attention as surpassing both in its duration and its local ramifications all other phases of pedagogy. But it is equally instructive for the philosopher because thinkers like Pythagoras, Plato, and St. Augustine collaborated in the framing of the system, and because in general much thought and, we may say, much pedagogical wisdom have been embodied in it. Hence, also, it is of importance to the practical teacher, because among the comments of so many schoolmen on this subject may be found many suggestions which are of the greatest utility.  


The Oriental system of study, which exhibits an instructive analogy with the one here treated, is that of the ancient Hindus still in vogue among the Brahmins. In this, the highest object is the study of the Veda, i.e. the science or doctrine of divine things, the summary of their speculative and religious writings for the understanding of which ten auxiliary sciences were pressed into service, four of which, viz. phonology, grammar, exegesis, and logic, are of a linguistico-logical nature, and can thus be compared with the Trivium; while two, viz. astronomy and metrics, belong to the domain of mathematics, and therefore to the Quadrivium. The remainder, viz. law, ceremonial lore, legendary lore, and dogma, belong to theology. Among the Greeks the place of the Veda is taken by philosophy, i.e. the study of wisdom, the science of ultimate causes which in one point of view is identical with theology. "Natural Theology", i.e. the doctrine of the nature of the Godhead and of Divine things, was considered as the domain of the philosopher, just as "political theology" was that of the priest, and "mystical theology" of the poet. [See O. Willmann, Geschichte des Idealismus (Brunswick, 1894), I, sect. 10.] Pythagoras (who flourished between 540 B.C. and 510 B.C.) first called himself a philosopher, but was also esteemed as the greatest Greek theologian. The curriculum which he arranged for his pupils led up to the hieros logos, i.e. the sacred teaching, the preparation for which the students received as mathematikoi, i.e. learners, or persons occupied with the mathemata, the "science of learning" — that, in fact, now known as mathematics. The preparation for this was that which the disciples underwent as akousmatikoi, "hearers", after which preparation they were introduced to what was then current among the Greeks as mousike paideia, "musical education", consisting of reading, writing, lessons from the poets, exercises in memorizing, and the technique of music. The intermediate position of mathematics is attested by the ancient expression of the Pythagoreans metaichmon, i.e. "spear-distance"; properly, the space between the combatants; in this case, between the elementary and the strictly scientific education. Pythagoras is moreover renowned for having converted geometrical, i.e. mathematical, investigation into a form of education for freemen. (Proclus, Commentary on Euclid, I, p. 19, ten peri ten geometrian philosophian eis schema paideias eleutherou metestesen.) "He discovered a mean or intermediate stage between the mathematics of the temple and the mathematics of practical life, such as that used by surveyors and business people; he preserves the high aims of the former, at the same time making it the palaestra of intellect; he presses a religious discipline into the service of secular life without, however, robbing it of its sacred character, just as he previously transformed physical theology into natural philosophy without alienating it from its hallowed origin" (Geschichte des Idealismus, I, 19 at the end). An extension of the elementary studies was brought about by the active, though somewhat unsettled, mental life which developed after the Persian wars in the fifth century B.C. From the plain study of reading and writing they advanced to the art of speaking and its theory (rhetoric), with which was combined dialectic, properly the art of alternate discourse, or the discussion of the pro and con. This change was brought about by the sophists, particularly by Gorgias of Leontium. They also attached much importance to many sidedness in their theoretical and practical knowledge. Of Hippias of Elis it is related that he boasted of having made his mantle, his tunic, and his foot-gear (Cicero, De Oratore, iii, 32, 127). In this way, current language gradually began to designate the whole body of educational knowledge as encyclical, i.e. as universal, or all-embracing (egkyklia paideumata, or methemata; egkyklios paideia). The expression indicated originally the current knowledge common to all, but later assumed the above-mentioned meaning, which has also passed into our word encyclopedia


Socrates having already strongly emphasized the moral aims of education, Plato (429-347 B.C.) protested against its degeneration from an effort to acquire culture into a heaping-up of multifarious information (polypragmosyne). In the "Republic" he proposes a course of education which appears to be the Pythagorean course perfected. It begins with musico-gymnastic culture, by means of which he aims to impress upon the senses the fundamental forms of the beautiful and the good, i.e. rhythm and form (aisthesis). The intermediate course embraces the mathematical branches, viz. arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music, which are calculated to put into action the powers of reflection (dianoia), and to enable the student to progress by degrees from sensuous to intellectual perception, as he successively masters the theory of numbers, of forms, of the kinetic laws of bodies, and of the laws of (musical) sounds. This leads to the highest grade of the educational system, its pinnacle (thrigkos) so to speak, i.e. philosophy, which Plato calls dialectic, thereby elevating the word from its current meaning to signify the science of the Eternal as ground and prototype of the world of sense. This progress to dialectic (dialektike poreia) is the work of our highest cognitive faculty, the intuitive intellect (nous). In this manner Plato secures a psychological, or noetic, basis for the sequence of his studies, namely: sense-perception, reflection, and intellectual insight. During the Alexandrine period, which begins with the closing years of the fourth century before Christ, the encyclical studies assume scholastic forms. Grammar, as the science of language (technical grammar) and explanation of the classics (exegetical grammar), takes the lead; rhetoric becomes an elementary course in speaking and writing. By dialectic they understood, in accordance with the teaching of Aristotle, directions enabling the student to present acceptable and valid views on a given subject; thus dialectic became elementary practical logic. The mathematical studies retained their Platonic order; by means of astronomical poems, the science of the stars, and by means of works on geography, the science of the globe became parts of popular education (Strabo, Geographica, I, 1, 21-23). Philosophy remained the culmination of the encyclical studies, which bore to it the relation of maids to a mistress, or of a temporary shelter to the fixed home (Diog. Laert., II, 79; cf. the author's Didaktik als Bildungslehre, I, 9). 


Among the Romans grammar and rhetoric were the first to obtain a firm foothold; culture was by them identified with eloquence, as the art of speaking and the mastery of the spoken word based upon a manifold knowledge of things. In his "Institutiones Oratoriae" Quintilian, the first professor eloquentiae at Rome in Vespasian's time, begins his instruction with grammar, or, to speak precisely, with Latin and Greek Grammar, proceeds to mathematics and music, and concludes with rhetoric, which comprises not only elocution and a knowledge of literature, but also logical — in other words dialectical — instruction. However, the encyclical system as the system of the liberal arts, or Artes Bonae, i.e. the learning of the vir bonus, or patriot, was also represented in special handbooks. The "Libri IX Disciplinarum" of the learned M. Terentius Varro of Reate, an earlier contemporary of Cicero, treats of the seven liberal arts adding to them medicine and architectonics. How the latter science came to be connected with the general studies is shown in the book "De Architecturâ", by M. Vitruvius Pollio, a writer of the time of Augustus, in which excellent remarks are made on the organic connection existing between all studies. "The inexperienced", he says, "may wonder at the fact that so many various things can be retained in the memory; but as soon as they observe that all branches of learning have a real connection with, and a reciprocal action upon, each other, the matter will seem very simple; for universal science (egkyklios, disciplina) is composed of the special sciences as a body is composed of members, and those who from their earliest youth have been instructed in the different branches of knowledge (variis eruditionibus) recognize in all the same fundamental features (notas) and the mutual relations of all branches, and therefore grasp everything more easily" (Vitr., De Architecturâ, I, 1, 12). In these views the Platonic conception is still operative, and the Romans always retained the conviction that in philosophy alone was to be found the perfection of education. Cicero enumerates the following as the elements of a liberal education: geometry, literature, poetry, natural science, ethics, and politics. (Artes quibus liberales doctrinae atque ingenuae continentur; geometria, litterarum cognito et poetarum, atque illa quae de naturis rerum, quae de hominum moribus, quae de rebus publicis dicuntur.) 


Christianity taught men to regard education and culture as a work for eternity, to which all temporary objects are secondary. It softened, therefore, the antithesis between the liberal and illiberal arts; the education of youth attains its purpose when it acts so "that the man of God may be perfect, furnished to every good work" (2 Tim 3:17). In consequence, labour, which among the classic nations had been regarded as unworthy of the freeman, who should live only for leisure, was now ennobled; but learning, the offspring of leisure, lost nothing of its dignity. The Christians retained the expression, mathemata eleuthera, studia liberalia, as well as the gradation of these studies, but now Christian truth was the crown of the system in the form of religious instruction for the people, and of theology for the learned. The appreciation of the several branches of knowledge was largely influenced by the view expressed by St. Augustine in his little book, "De Doctrinâ Christianâ". As a former teacher of rhetoric and as master of eloquence he was thoroughly familiar with the Artes and had written upon some of them. Grammar retains the first place in the order of studies, but the study of words should not interfere with the search for the truth which they contain. The choicest gift of bright minds is the love of truth, not of the words expressing it. "For what avails a golden key if it cannot give access to the object which we wish to reach, and why find fault with a wooden key if it serves our purpose?" (De Doctr. Christ., IV, 11, 26). In estimating the importance of linguistic studies as a means of interpreting Scripture, stress should be laid upon exegetical, rather than technical grammar. Dialectic must also prove its worth in the interpretation of Scripture; "it traverses the entire text like a tissue of nerves" (Per totum textum scripturarum colligata est nervorum vice, ibid., II, 40, 56). Rhetoric contains the rules of fuller discussion (praecepta uberioris disputationis); it is to be used rather to set forth what we have understood than to aid us in understanding (ibid., II, 18). St. Augustine compared a masterpiece of rhetoric with the wisdom and beauty of the cosmos, and of history — "Ita quâdam non verborum, sed rerum, eloquentiâ contrariorum oppositione seculi pulchritudo componitur" (City of God XI.18). Mathematics was not invented by man, but its truths were discovered; they make known to us the mysteries concealed in the numbers found in Scripture, and lead the mind upwards from the mutable to the immutable; and interpreted in the spirit of Divine Love, they become for the mind a source of that wisdom which has ordered all things by measure, weight, and number (De Doctr. Christ., II, 39, also Wisdom, xi, 21). The truths elaborated by the philosophers of old, like precious ore drawn from the depths of an all-ruling Providence, should be applied by the Christian in the spirit of the Gospel, just as the Israelites used the sacred vessels of the Egyptians for the service of the true God (De Doctr. Christ., II, 41). 


The series of text-books on this subject in vogue during the Middle Ages begins with the work of an African, Marcianus Capella, written at Carthage about A.D. 420. It bears the title "Satyricon Libri IX" from satura, sc. lanx, "a full dish". In the first two books, "Nuptiae Philologiae et Mercurii", carrying out the allegory that Phoebus presents the Seven Liberal Arts as maids to the bride Philology, mythological and other topics are treated. In the seven books that follow, each of the Liberal Arts presents the sum of her teaching. A simpler presentation of the same subject is found in the little book, intended for clerics, entitled, "De artibus ac disciplinis liberalium artium", which was written by Magnus Aurelius Cassiodrus in the reign of Theodoric. Here it may be noted that Ars means "text-book", as does the Greek word techen; disciplina is the translation of the Greek mathesis or mathemata, and stood in a narrower sense for the mathematical sciences. Cassiodorus derives the word liberalis not from liber, "free", but from liber, "book", thus indicating the change of these studies to book learning, as well as the disappearance of the view that other occupations are servile and unbecoming a free man. Again we meet with the Artes at the beginning of an encyclopedic work entitled "Origines, sive Etymologiae", in twenty books, compiled by St. Isidore, Bishop of Seville, about 600. The first book of this work treats of grammar; the second, of rhetoric and dialectic, both comprised under the name of logic; the third, of the four mathematical branches. In books IV-VIII follow medicine, jurisprudence, theology; but books IX and X give us linguistic material, etymologies, etc., and the remaining books present a miscellany of useful information. Albinus (or Alcuin), the well-known statesman and counsellor of Charles the Great, dealt with the Artes in separate treatises, of which only the treatises intended as guides to the Trivium have come down to us. In the introduction, he finds in Prov. ix, 1 (Wisdom hath built herself a house, she hath hewn her out seven pillars) an allusion to the seven liberal arts which he thinks are meant by the seven pillars. The book is written in dialogue form, the scholar asking questions, and the master answering them. One of Alcuin's pupils, Rabanus Maurus, who died in 850 as the Archbishop of Mainz, in his book entitled "De institutione clericorum", gave short instructions concerning the Artes, and published under the title, "De Universo", what might be called an encyclopedia. The extraordinary activity displayed by the Irish monks as teachers in Germany led to the designation of the Artes as Methodus Hybernica. To impress the sequence of the arts on the memory of the student, mnemonic verses were employed such as the hexameter; 

Lingua, tropus, ratio, numerus, tonus, angulus, astra.
Gram loquiter, Dia vera docet, Rhe verba colorat
Mu canit, Ar numerat, Geo ponderat, Ast colit astra. 

By the number seven the system was made popular; the Seven Arts recalled the Seven Petitions of the Lord's Prayer, the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost, the Seven Sacraments, the Seven Virtues, etc. The Seven Words on the Cross, the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, the Seven Heavens might also suggest particular branches of learning. The seven liberal arts found counterparts in the seven mechanical arts; the latter included weaving, blacksmithing, war, navigation, agriculture, hunting, medicine, and the ars theatrica. To these were added dancing, wrestling, and driving. Even the accomplishments to be mastered by candidates for knighthood were fixed at seven: riding, tilting, fencing, wrestling, running, leaping, and spear-throwing. Pictorial illustrations of the Artes are often found, usually female figures with suitable attributes; thus Grammar appears with book and rod, Rhetoric with tablet and stilus, Dialectic with a dog's head in her hand, probably in contrast to the wolf of heresy — cf. the play on words Domini canes, Dominicani — Arithmetic with a knotted rope, Geometry with a pair of compasses and a rule, Astronomy with bushel and stars, and Music with cithern and organistrum. Portraits of the chief representatives of the different sciences were added. Thus in the large group by Taddeo Gaddi in the Dominican convent of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, painted in 1322, the central figure of which is St. Thomas Aquinas, Grammar appears with either Donatus (who lived about A.D. 250) or Priscian (about A.D. 530), the two most prominent teachers of grammar, in the act of instructing a boy; Rhetoric accompanied by Cicero; Dialectic by Zeno of Elea, whom the ancients considered as founder of the art; Arithmetic by Abraham, as the representative of the philosophy of numbers, and versed in the knowledge of the stars; Geometry by Euclid (about 300 B.C.), whose "Elements" was the text-book par excellence; Astronomy by Ptolemy, whose "Almagest" was considered to be the canon of star-lore; Music by Tubal Cain using the hammer, probably in allusion to the harmoniously tuned hammers which are said to have suggested to Pythagoras his theory of intervals. As counterparts of the liberal arts are found seven higher sciences: civil law, canon law, and the five branches of theology entitled speculative, scriptural, scholastic, contemplative, and apologetic. (Cf. Geschichte des Idealismus, II, Par. 74, where the position of St. Thomas Aquinas towards the sciences is discussed.)


An instructive picture of the seven liberal arts in the twelfth century may be found in the work entitled "Didascalicum", or "Eruditio Didascalici", written by the Augustinian canon, Hugo of St. Victor, who died at Paris, in 1141. He was descended from the family of the Counts Blankenburg in the Harz Mountains and received his education at the Augustinian convent of Hammersleben in the Diocese of Halberstadt, where he devoted himself to the liberal arts from 1109 to 1114. In his "Didascalicum", VI, 3, he writes "I make bold to say that I never have despised anything belonging to erudition, but have learned much which to others seemed to be trifling and foolish. I remember how, as a schoolboy, I endeavoured to ascertain the names of all objects which I saw, or which came under my hands, and how I formulated my own thoughts concerning them [perpendens libere], namely: that one cannot know the nature of things before having learned their names. How often have I set myself as a voluntary daily task the study of problems [sophismata] which I had jotted down for the sake of brevity, by means of a catchword or two [dictionibus] on the page, in order to commit to memory the solution and the number of nearly all the opinions, questions, and objections which I had learned. I invented legal cases and analyses with pertinent objections [dispositiones ad invicem controversiis], and in doing so carefully distinguished between the methods of the rhetorician, the orator, and the sophist. I represented numbers by pebbles, and covered the floor with black lines, and proved clearly by the diagram before me the differences between acute-angled, right-angled, and obtuse-angled triangles; in like manner I ascertained whether a square has the same area as a rectangle two of whose sides are multiplied, by stepping off the length in both cases [utrobique procurrente podismo]. I have often watched through the winter night, gazing at the stars [horoscopus — not astrological forecasting, which was forbidden, but pure star-study]. Often have I strung the magada [Gr. magadis, an instrument of 20 strings, giving ten tones] measuring the strings according to numerical values, and stretching them over the wood in order to catch with my ear the difference between the tones, and at the same time to gladden my heart with the sweet melody. This was all done in a boyish way, but it was far from useless, for this knowledge was not burdensome to me. I do not recall these things in order to boast of my attainments, which are of little or no value, but to show you that the most orderly worker is the most skillful one [illum incedere aptissime qui incedit ordinate], unlike many who, wishing to take a great jump, fall into an abyss; for as with the virtues, so in the sciences there are fixed steps. But, you will say, I find in histories much useless and forbidden matter; why should I busy myself therewith? Very true, there are in the Scriptures many things which, considered in themselves, are apparently not worth acquiring, but which, if you compare them with others connected with them, and if you weigh them, bearing in mind this connection [in toto suo trutinare caeperis], will prove to be necessary and useful. Some things are worth knowing on their own account; but others, although apparently offering no return for our trouble, should not be neglected, because without them the former cannot be thoroughly mastered [enucleate sciri non possunt]. Learn everything; you will afterwards discover that nothing is superfluous; limited knowledge affords no enjoyment [coarctata scientia jucunda non est]." 


The connection of the Artes with philosophy and wisdom was faithfully kept in mind during the Middle Ages. Hugo says of it: "Among all the departments of knowledge the ancients assigned seven to be studied by beginners, because they found in them a higher value than in the others, so that whoever has thoroughly mastered them can afterwards master the rest rather by research and practice than by the teacher's oral instruction. They are, as it were, the best tools, the fittest entrance through which the way to philosophic truth is opened to our intellect. Hence the names trivium and quadrivium, because here the robust mind progresses as if upon roads or paths to the secrets of wisdom. It is for this reason that there were among the ancients, who followed this path, so many wise men. Our schoolmen [scholastici] are disinclined, or do not know while studying, how to adhere to the appropriate method, whence it is that there are many who labour earnestly [studentes], but few wise men" (Didascalicum, III, 3).


St. Bonaventure (1221-74) in his treatise "De Reductione artium ad theologiam" proposes a profound explanation of the origin of the Artes, including philosophy; basing it upon the method of Holy Writ as the method of all teaching. Holy Scripture speaks to us in three ways: by speech (sermo), by instruction (doctrina), and by directions for living (vita). It is the source of truth in speech, of truth in things, and of truth in morals, and therefore equally of rational, natural, and moral philosophy. Rational philosophy, having for object the spoken truth, treats it from the triple point of view of expression, of communication, and of impulsion to action; in other words it aims to express, to teach, to persuade (exprimere, docere, movere). These activities are represented by sermo congruus, versus, ornatus, and the arts of grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. Natural philosophy seeks the truth in things themselves as rationes ideales, and accordingly it is divided into physics, mathematics, and metaphysics. Moral philosophy determines the veritas vitæ for the life of the individual as monastica (monos alone), for the domestic life as oeconomica, and for society as politica.


To general erudition and encyclopedic learning medieval education has less close relations than that of Alexandria, principally because the Trivium had a formal character, i.e. it aimed at training the mind rather than imparting knowledge. The reading of classic authors was considered as an appendix to the Trivium. Hugo, who, as we have seen, does not undervalue it, includes in his reading poems, fables, histories, and certain other elements of instruction (poemata, fabulae, historiae, didascaliae quaedam). The science of language, to use the expression of Augustine, is still designated as the key to all positive knowledge; for this reason its position at the head of the Arts (Artes) is maintained. So John of Salisbury (b. between 1110 and 1120; d. 1180, Bishop of Chartres) says: "If grammar is the key of all literature, and the mother and mistress of language, who will be bold enough to turn her away from the threshold of philosophy? Only he who thinks that what is written and spoken is unnecessary for the student of philosophy" (Metalogicus, I, 21). Richard of St. Victor (d. 1173) makes grammar the servant of history, for he writes, "All arts serve the Divine Wisdom, and each lower art, if rightly ordered, leads to a higher one. Thus the relation existing between the word and the thing required that grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric should minister to history" (Rich., ap. Vincentium Bell., Spec. Doctrinale, XVII, 31). The Quadrivium had, naturally, certain relations to to the sciences and to life; this was recognized by treating geography as a part of geometry, and the study of the calendar as part of astronomy. We meet with the development of the Artes into encyclopedic knowledge as early as Isadore of Seville and Rabanus Maurus, especially in the latter's work, "De Universo". It was completed in the thirteenth century, to which belong the works of Vincent of Beauvais (d. 1264), instructor of the children of St. Louis (IX). In his "Speculum Naturale" he treats of God and nature; in the "Speculum Doctrinale", starting from the Trivium, he deals with the sciences; in the "Speculum Morale" he discusses the moral world. To these a continuator added a "Speculum Historiale" which was simply a universal history. 


For the academic development of the Artes it was of importance that the universities accepted them as a part of their curricula. Among their ordines, or faculties, the ordo artistarum, afterwards called the faculty of philosophy, was fundamental: Universitas fundatur in artibus. It furnished the preparation not only for the Ordo Theologorum, but also for the Ordo Legistarum, or law faculty, and the Ordo Physicorum, or medical faculty. Of the methods of teaching and the continued study of the arts at the universities in the fifteenth century, the text-book of the contemporary Carthusian, Gregory Reisch, Confessor of the Emperor Maximilian I, gives us a clear picture. He treats in twelve books: (I) of the Rudiments of Grammar; (II) of the Principles of Logic; (III) of the Parts of an Oration; (IV) of Memory, of Letter-writing, and of Arithmetic; (V) of the Principles of Music; (VI) of the Elements of Geometry; (VII) of the Principles of Astronomy; (VIII) of the Principles of Natural Things; (IX) of the Origin of Natural Things; (X) of the Soul; (XI) of the Powers; (XII) of the Principles of Moral Philosophy.-- The illustrated edition printed in 1512 at Strasburg has for appendix: the elements of Greek literature, Hebrew, figured music and architecture, and some technical instruction (Graecarum Litterarum Institutiones, Hebraicarum Litterarum Rudimenta, Musicae Figuratae Institutiones, Architecturae Rudimenta). 


At the universities the Artes, at least in a formal way, held their place up to modern times. At Oxford, Queen Mary (1553-58) erected for them colleges whose inscriptions are significant, thus: "Grammatica, Litteras disce"; "Rhetorica persuadet mores"; "Dialectica, Imposturas fuge"; "Arithmetica, Omnia numeris constant"; "Musica, Ne tibi dissideas"; "Geometria, Cura, quae domi sunt"; "Astronomia, Altiora ne quaesieris". The title "Master of the Liberal Arts" is still granted at some of the universities in connection with the Doctorate of Philosophy; in England that of "Doctor of Music" is still in regular use. In practical teaching, however, the system of the Artes has declined since the sixteenth century. The Renaissance saw in the technique of style (eloquentia) and in its mainstay, erudition, the ultimate object of collegiate education, thus following the Roman rather than the Greek system. Grammar and rhetoric came to be the chief elements of the preparatory studies, while the sciences of the Quadrivium were embodied in the miscellaneous learning (eruditio) associated with rhetoric. In Catholic higher schools philosophy remained as the intermediate stage between philological studies and professional studies; while according to the Protestant scheme philosophy was taken over (to the university) as a Faculty subject. The Jesuit schools present the following gradation of studies: grammar, rhetoric, philosophy, and, since philosophy begins with logic, this system retains also the ancient dialectic.


In the erudite studies spoken of above, must be sought the germ of the encyclopedic learning which grew unceasingly during the seventeenth century. Amos Comenius (d. 1671), the best known representative of this tendency, who sought in his "Orbis Pictus" to make this diminutive encyclopedia (encyclopædiola) the basis of the earliest grammatical instruction, speaks contemptuously of "those liberal arts so much talked of, the knowledge of which the common people believe a master of philosophy to acquire thoroughly", and proudly declares, "Our men rise to greater height". (Magna Didactica, xxx, 2.) His school classes are the following: grammar, physics, mathematics, ethics, dialectic, and rhetoric. In the eighteenth century undergraduate studies take on more and more the encyclopedic character, and in the nineteenth century the class system is replaced by the department system, in which the various subjects are treated simultaneously with little or no reference to their gradation; in this way the principle of the Artes is finally surrendered. Where, moreover, as in the Gymnasia of Germany, philosophy has been dropped from the course of studies, miscellaneous erudition becomes in principle an end unto itself. Nevertheless, present educational systems preserve traces of the older systematic arrangement (language, mathematics, philosophy). In the early years of his Gymnasium course the youth must devoted his time and energy to the study of languages, in the middle years, principally to mathematics, and in his last years, when he is called upon to express his own thoughts, he begins to deal with logic and dialectic, even if it be only in the form of composition. He is therefore touching upon philosophy. This gradation which works its own way, so to speak, out of the present chaotic condition of learned studies, should be made systematic; the fundamental idea of the Artes Liberales would thus be revived.


The Platonic idea, therefore, that we should advance gradually from sense-perception by way of intellectual argumentation to intellectual intuition, is by no means antiquated. Mathematical instruction, admittedly a preparation for the study of logic, could only gain if it were conducted in this spirit, if it were made logically clearer, if its technical content were reduced, and if it were followed by logic. The express correlation of mathematics to astronomy, and to musical theory, would bring about a wholesome concentration of the mathematico-physical sciences, now threatened with a plethora of erudition. The insistence of older writers upon the organic character of the content of instruction deserves earnest consideration. For the purpose of concentration a mere packing together of uncorrelated subjects will not suffice; their original connection and dependence must be brought into clear consciousness. Hugo's admonition also, to distinguish between hearing (or learning, properly so called) on the one hand, and practice and invention on the other, for which there is good opportunity in grammar and mathematics, deserves attention. Equally important is his demand that the details of the subject taught be weighed — trutinare, from trutina, the goldsmith's balance. This gold balance has been used far too sparingly, and, in consequence, education has suffered. A short-sighted realism threatens even the various branches of language instruction. Efforts are made to restrict grammar to the vernacular, and to banish rhetoric and logic except so far as they are applied in composition. It is, therefore, not useless to remember the "keys". In every department of instruction method must have in view the series: induction, based on sensuous perception; deduction, guided also by perception, and abstract deduction — a series which is identical with that of Plato. All understanding implies these three grades; we first understand the meaning of what is said, we next understand inferences drawn from sense perception, and lastly we understand dialectic conclusions. Invention has also three grades: we find words, we find the solution of problems, we find thoughts. Grammar, mathematics, and logic likewise form a systematic series. The grammatical system is empirical, the mathematical rational and constructive, and the logical rational and speculative (cf. O. Willmann, Didaktik, II, 67). Humanists, over-fond of change, unjustly condemned the system of the seven liberal arts as barbarous. It is no more barbarous than the Gothic style, a name intended to be a reproach. The Gothic, built up on the conception of the old basilica, ancient in origin, yet Christian in character, was misjudged by the Renaissance on account of some excrescences, and obscured by the additions engrafted upon it by modern lack of taste (op. cit., p. 230). That the achievements of our forefathers should be understood, recognized, and adapted to our own needs, is surely to be desired. 

Source:  Willmann, Otto. (1907). The Seven Liberal Arts. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. (paragraph numbering added)

A Young Man Being Introduced to the Seven Liberal Arts, by Sandro Botticelli.
Fresco transferred to canvas, c. 1484; Musée du Louvre, Paris.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Adler: Labor, Leisure, and Liberal Education

by Mortimer J. Adler

LET ME BEGIN where anyone has to begin ─ with a tentative definition of education. Education is a practical activity. It is concerned with means to be employed or devised for the achievement of an end. The broadest definition with which no one, I think, can disagree is that education is a process which aims at the improvement or betterment of men, in themselves and in relation to society. Few will quarrel with this definition because most people are willing to say that education is good; and its being good requires it to do something that is good for men. The definition says precisely this: that education improves men or makes them better.

All the quarrels that exist in educational philosophy exist because men have different conceptions of what the good life is, of what is good for man, of the conditions under which man is improved or bettered. Within that large area of controversy about education, there is one fundamental distinction that I should like to call to your attention.

The Two Kinds of Education

There seems to be two ways in which men can be bettered or improved: first, with respect to special functions or talents and, second, with respect to the capacities and functions which are common to all men. Let me explain. In civilized societies, and even in primitive societies, there is always a rudimentary, and often a very complex, division of labor. Society exists through a diversity of occupations, through different groups of men performing different functions. In addition to the division of labor and the consequent diversity of functions, there is a simple natural fact of individual differences. So one view of education is that which takes these individual and functional differences into consideration and says that men are made better by adjusting them to their occupations, by making them better carpenters or better dentists or better bricklayers, by improving them, in other words, in the direction of their own special talents.

The other view differs from this in that it makes the primary aim of education the betterment of men not with respect to their differences but with respect to the similarities which all men have. According to this theory, if there are certain things that all men can do, or certain things that all men must do, it is with these that education is chiefly concerned.

This simple distinction leads us to differentiate between specialized education and general education. There is some ground for identifying specialized education with vocational education, largely because specialized education has some reference to the division of labor and the diversity of occupations, and for identifying general education with liberal education because the efforts of general education are directed toward the liberal training of man as man.

Intrinsic Ends and Extrinsic Ends

There is still another way of differentiating education in terms of its ends.... An educational process has an intrinsic end if its result lies entirely within the person being educated, an excellence or perfection of his person, an improvement built right into his nature as a good habit is part of the nature of the person in whom a power is habituated. An extrinsic end of education, on the other hand, lies in the goodness of an operation, not as reflecting the goodness of the operator but rather the perfection of something else as a result of the operation being performed well.

Thus, for example there can be two reasons for learning carpentry. One might wish to learn carpentry simply to acquire the skill or art of using tools to fabricate things out of wood, an art or skill that anyone is better for having. Or one might wish to learn carpentry in order to make good tables or chairs, not as works of art which reflect the excellence of the artist, but as commodities to sell. This distinction between the two reasons for learning carpentry is connected in my mind with the difference or distinction between liberal and vocational education. Thus carpentry is the same in both cases, but the first reason for learning carpentry is liberal, the second vocational.

The Heart of the Matter

All of this, I think, leads directly to the heart of the matter: that vocational training is training for work or labor; it is specialized rather than general; it is for an extrinsic end; and ultimately it is the education of slaves or workers. And from my point of view it makes no difference whether you say slaves or workers, for you mean that the worker is a man who does nothing but work─a state of affairs which has obtained, by the way, during the whole industrial period, from its beginning almost to our day.

Liberal education is education for leisure; it is general in character; it is for an intrinsic and not an extrinsic end; and, as compared with vocational training, which is the education of slaves and workers, liberal education is the education of free men.

I would like, however, to add one basic qualification at this point. According to this definition or conception of liberal education, it is not restricted in any way to training in the liberal arts. We often too narrowly identify liberal education with those arts which are genuinely the liberal arts─grammar, rhetoric, and logic and the mathematical disciplines─because that is one of the traditional meanings of liberal education. But, as I am using the term "liberal" here, in contradistinction to "vocational," I am not confining liberal education to intellectual education or to the cultivation of the mind. On the contrary, as I am using the phrase, liberal education has three large departments, according to the division of human excellences or modes of perfection. Physical training or gymnastics in the Platonic sense, if its aim is the to produce a good coordination of the body, is liberal education. So also is moral training, if its aim is to produce moral perfections, good moral habits or virtues; and so also is intellectual training, if its aim is the production of good intellectual habits or virtues. All three are liberal as distinguished from vocational. This is not, in a sense, a deviation from the conception of liberal education as being concerned only with the mind, for in all three of these the mind plays a role. All bodily skills are arts; all moral habits involve prudence; so the mind is not left out of the picture even when one is talking about moral and physical training.

Adler: What is Liberal Education?

By Mortimer J. Adler

LET US first be clear about the meaning of the liberal arts and liberal educations. The liberal arts are traditionally intended to develop the faculties of the human mind, those powers of intelligence and imagination without which no intellectual work can be accomplished. Liberal education is not tied to certain academic subjects, such as philosophy, history, literature, music, art, and other so-called "humanities." In the liberal-arts tradition, scientific disciplines, such as mathematics and physics, are considered equally liberal, that is, equally able to develop the powers of the mind.

The liberal-arts tradition goes back to the medieval curriculum. It consisted to two parts. The first part, trivium, comprised grammar, rhetoric, and logic. It taught the arts of reading and writing, of listening and speaking, and of sound thinking. The other part, the quadrivium, consisted of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music (not audible music, but music conceived as a mathematical science). It taught the arts of observation, calculation, and measurement, how to apprehend the quantitative aspect of things. Nowadays, of course, we would add many more sciences, natural and social. This is just what has been done in the various modern attempts to renew liberal education.

Liberal education, including all the traditional arts as well as the newer sciences, is essential for the development of top-flight scientists. Without it, we can train only technicians, who cannot understand the basic principles behind the motions they perform. We can hardly expect such skilled automatons to make new discoveries of any importance. A crash program of merely technical training would probably end in a crash-up for basic science.

The connection of liberal education with scientific creativity is not mere speculation. It is a matter of historical fact that the great German scientists of the nineteenth century had a solid background in the liberal arts. They all went through, a liberal education which embraced Greek, Latin, logic, philosophy, and history, in addition to mathematics, physics, and other sciences. Actually, this has been the educational preparation of European scientists down to the present time. Einstein, Bohr, Fermi, and other great modern scientists were developed not by technical schooling, but by liberal education.

Despite all of the ranting and hullabaloo since Sputnik I was propelled into the skies, this has been broadly true of Russian scientists, too. If you will just note the birth dates of the men who have done the basic work in Soviet science, it will be apparent to you that they could not have received their training under any new system of education. As for the present educational setup in the Soviet Union, which many alarmists are demanding that we emulate, it seems to contain something besides technical training and concentration on the natural sciences and mathematics.

 The aim of liberal education, however, is not to produce scientists. It seeks to develop free human beings who know how to use their minds and are able to think for themselves. Its primary aim is not the development of professional competence, although a liberal education is indispensable for any intellectual profession. It produces citizens who can exercise their political liberty responsibly. It develops cultivated persons who can use their leisure fruitfully. It is an education for all free men, whether they intend to be scientists or not.

Our educational problem is how to produce free men, not hordes of uncultivated, trained technicians. Only the best liberal schooling can accomplish this. It must include all the humanities as well as mathematics and the sciences. It must exclude all merely vocational and technical training.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Cantena Aurea: Matthew 16:13-19

13. When Jesus came into the coasts of Cesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

14. And they said, Some say that you are John the Baptist, some, Elias; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.

15. He said to them, But whom say you that I am?

16. And Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17. And Jesus answered and said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father which is in heaven.

18. And I say also to you, That you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church: and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19. And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

GLOSS; As soon as the Lord had taken His disciples out of the teaching of the Pharisees, He then suitably proceeds to lay deep the foundations of the Gospel doctrine; and to give this the greater solemnity, it is introduced by the name of the place, When Jesus came into the coasts of Cesarea Philippi. 

CHRYS; He adds 'of Philip,' to distinguish it from the other Cesarea, of Strato. And He asks this question in the former place, leading His disciples far out of the way of the Jews, that being set free from all fear, they might say freely what was in their mind. 

JEROME; This Philip was the brother of Herod, the tetrarch of Ituraea, and the region of Trachonitis, who gave to the city, which is now called Paneas the name of Cesarea in honor of Tiberius Cesar. 

GLOSS; When about to confirm the disciples in the faith, He would first take away from their minds the errors and opinions of others, whence it follows, And he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that the Son of Man is? 

ORIGEN; Christ puts this question to His disciples, that from their answer we may learn that there were at that time among the Jews various opinions concerning Christ; and to the end that we should always investigate what opinion men may form of us; that if any ill be said of us, we may cut off the occasions of it; or if any good, we may multiply the occasions of it. 

GLOSS; So by this instance of the Apostles, the followers of the Bishops are instructed, that whatever opinions they may hear out of doors concerning their Bishops, they should tell them to them. 

JEROME; Beautifully is the question put, Whom do men say that the Son of Man is? For they who speak of the Son of Man, are men: but they who understood His divine nature are called not men but Gods. 

CHRYS; He says not, Whom do the Scribes and Pharisees say that I am? but, Whom do men say that I am? searching into the minds of the common people, which were not perverted to evil. For though their opinion concerning Christ was much below what it ought to have been, yet it was free from willful wickedness; but the opinion of the Pharisees concerning Christ was as full of much malice. 

HILARY; By asking, Whom do men say that the Son of Man is? He implied that something ought to be thought respecting Him beyond what appeared, for He was the Son of Man. And in thus inquiring after men's opinion respecting Himself, we e are not to think that He made confession of Himself; for that which He asked for was something concealed, to which the faith of believers ought to extend itself. We must hold that form of confession, that we so mention the Son of God as not to forget the Son of Man, for the one without the other offers us no hope of salvation; and therefore He said emphatically, Whom do men say that the Son of Man is? 

JEROME; He says not, Whom do men say that I am? but, Whom do men say that the Son of Man is? that He should not seem to ask ostentatiously concerning Himself. Observe, that wherever the Old Testament has 'Son of Man,' the phrase in the Hebrew is 'Son of Adam.' 

ORIGEN; Then the disciples recount the divers opinions of the Jews relating to Christ; And they said, Some say John the Baptist, following Herod's opinion; others Elias, supposing either that Elias had gone through a second birth, or that having continued alive in the body, He had at this time appeared; others Jeremiah, whom the Lord had ordained to be Prophet among the Gentiles, not understanding that Jeremiah was a type of Christ; or one of the Prophets, in a like way, because of those things which God spoke to them through the Prophets, yet they were not fulfilled in them, but in Christ. 

JEROME; It was as easy for the multitudes to be wrong in supposing Him to be Elias and Jeremiah, as Herod in supposing Him to be John the Baptist; whence I wonder that some interpreters should have sought for the causes of these several errors. 

CHRYS; The disciples having recounted the opinion of the common people, He then by a second question invites them to higher thoughts concerning Him; and therefore it follows, Jesus said to them, Whom say you that I am? You who are with Me always, and have seen greater miracles than the multitudes, ought not to agree in the opinion of the multitudes. For this reason He did not put this question to them at the commencement of His preaching, but after He had done many signs; then also He spoke many things to them concerning His Deity. 

JEROME; Observe how by this connection of the discourse the Apostles are not styled men but God's. For when He had said, Whom say you that the Son of Man is? He adds, Whom say you that I am, as much as to say, They being men think of Me as man, you who are God's, whom do you think Me? 

RABAN; He inquires the opinions of His disciples and of those without, not because He was ignorant of them; His disciples He asks, that He may reward with due reward their confession of a right faith; and the opinions of those without He inquires, that having the wrong opinions first set forth, it might be proved that the disciples had received the truth of their confession not from common opinion, but out of the hidden treasure of the Lord's revelation. 

CHRYS; When the Lord inquires concerning the opinion of the multitudes, all the disciples answer; but when all the disciples are asked, Peter as the mouth and head of the Apostles answers for all, as it follows, Simon Peter answered and said, you are Christ, the Son of the living God. 

ORIGEN; Peter denied that Jesus was any of those things which the Jews supposed, by his confession, You are the Christ, which the Jews were ignorant of; but he added what was more, the Son of the living God, who had said by his Prophets, I live, said the Lord. And therefore was He called the living Lord, but in a more especial manner as being eminent above all that had life; for He alone has immortality, and is the fount of life, wherefore He is rightly called God the Father; for He is life as it were flowing out of a fountain, who said, I am the life. 

JEROME; He calls Him the living God, in comparison of those gods who are esteemed gods, but are dead; such, I mean, as Saturn, Jupiter, Venus, Hercules, and the other monsters of idols. 

HILARY; This is the true and unalterable faith, that from God came forth God the Son, who has eternity out of the eternity of the Father. That this God took to Him a body and was made man is a perfect confession. Thus He embraced all in that He here expresses both His nature and His name, in which is the sum of virtues. 

RABAN; And by a remarkable distinction it was that the Lord Himself puts forward the lowliness of the humanity which He had taken upon Him, while His disciple shows us the excellence of His divine eternity. 

HILARY; This confession of Peter met a worthy reward, for that he had seen the Son of God in the man. Whence it follows, Jesus answered and said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Bar-jonas, and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 

JEROME; This return Christ makes to the Apostle for the testimony which Peter had spoken concerning Him, You are Christ, the Son of the living God. The Lord said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Bar-jonas. Why? Because flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father. That which flesh and blood could not reveal, was revealed by the grace of the Holy Spirit. By his confession then he obtains a title, which should signify that he had received a revelation from the Holy Spirit, whose son he shall also be called; for Bar-Jonas in our tongue signifies the son of a dove. Others take it in the simple sense, that Peter is the son of John, according to that question in another place, Simon, son of John, do you love me? affirming that it is an error of the copyists in writing here Bar-Jonas for Bar-joannas, dropping one syllable. Now Joanna is interpreted 'The grace of God.' But either name has its mystical interpretation; the dove signifies the Holy Spirit; and the grace of God signifies the spiritual gift. 

CHRYS; It would be without meaning to say, you are the son of Jonas, unless he intended to show that Christ is as naturally the Son of God, as Peter is the son of Jonas, that is, of the same substance as him that begot him. 

JEROME; Compare what is here said, flesh and blood 'has not revealed' it to you, with the Apostolic declaration, Immediately I was not content with flesh and blood, meaning there by this expression the Jews; so that here also the same thing is shown in different words, that not by the teaching of the Pharisees, but by the grace of God, Christ was revealed to him the Son of God. 

HILARY; Otherwise; He is blessed, because to have looked and to have seen beyond human sight is matter of praise, not beholding that which is of flesh and blood, but seeing the Son of God by the revelation of the heavenly Father; and he was held worthy to be the first to acknowledge the divinity which was in Christ. 

ORIGEN; It must be inquired in this place whether, when they were first sent out, the disciples knew that He was the Christ. For this speech shows that Peter then first confessed Him to be the Son of the living God. And look whether you can solve a question of this sort, by saying that to believe Jesus to be the Christ is less than to know Him; and so suppose that when they were sent to preach they believed that Jesus was the Christ and afterwards as they made progress they knew Him to be so. Or must we answer thus; That then the Apostles had the beginnings of a knowledge of Christ, and knew some little concerning Him; and that they made progress afterwards in the knowledge of Him, so that they were able to receive the knowledge of Christ revealed by the Father, as Peter, who is here blessed, not only for that he says, You are the Christ, but much more for that he adds, the Son of the living God. 

CHRYS; And truly if Peter had not confessed that Christ was in a peculiar sense born of the Father, there had been no need of revelation; nor would he have been worthy of this blessing for confessing Christ to be one of many adopted sons; for before this they who were with Him in the ship had said, Truly you are the Son of God. Nathanael also said, Rabbi, you are the Son of God. Yet were not these blessed because they did not confess such sonship as does Peter here, but thought Him one among many, not in the true sense a son; or, if chief above all, yet not the substance of the Father. But see how the Father reveals the Son, and the Son the Father; from none other comes it to confess the Son than of the Father, and from none other to confess the Father than of the Son; so that from this place even it is manifest that the Son is of the same substance, and to be worshipped together with the Father. Christ then proceeds to show that many would hereafter believe what Peter had now confessed, whence He adds, And I say to you, that you are Peter. 

JEROME; As much as to say, You have said to me, You are Christ the Son of the living God, therefore I say to you, not in a mere speech, and that goes not on into operation; but I say to you, and for Me to speak is to make it so, that you are Peter. For as from Christ proceeded that light to the Apostles, whereby they were called the light of the world, and those other names which were imposed upon them by the Lord, so upon Simon who believed in Christ the Rock, He bestowed the name of Peter (Rock.) 

AUG; But let none suppose that Peter received that name here; he received it at no other time than where John relates that it was said to him, you shall be called Cephas, which is interpreted, Peter. 

JEROME; And pursuing the metaphor of the rock, it is rightly said to him as follows: And upon this rock I will build my Church. 

CHRYS; That is, On this faith and confession I will build my Church. Herein showing that many should believe what Peter had confessed, and raising his understanding, and making him His shepherd. 

AUG; I have said in a certain place of the Apostle Peter, that it was on him, as on a rock, that the Church was built. But I know that since that I have often explained these words of the Lord, you are Peter, and on this rock will I build my Church, as meaning upon Him whom Peter had confessed in the words, You are Christ, the Son of the living God; and so that Peter, taking his name from this rock, would represent the Church, which is built upon this rock. For it is not said to him, you art the rock, but, you are Peter. But the rock was Christ, whom because Simon thus confessed, as the whole Church confesses Him, he was named Peter. Let the reader choose whether of these two opinions seems to him the more probable. 

HILARY; But in this bestowing of a new name is a happy foundation of the Church, and a rock worthy of that building, which should break up the laws of hell, burst the gates of Tartarus, and all the shackles of death. And to show the firmness of this Church thus built upon a rock, He adds, And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 

GLOSS; That is, shall not separate it from the love and faith of Me. 

JEROME; I suppose the gates of hell to mean vice and sin, or at least the doctrines of heretics by which men are ensnared and drawn into hell. 

ORIGEN; But in heavenly things every spiritual sin is a gate of hell, to which are opposed the gates of righteousness. 

RABAN; The gates of hell are the torments and promises of the persecutors. Also, the evil works of the unbelievers, and vain conversation, are gates of hell, because they show the path of destruction. 

ORIGEN; He does not express what it is which they shall not prevail against, whether the rock on which He builds the Church, or the Church which He builds on the rock; but it is clear that neither against the rock nor against the Church will the gates of hell prevail. 

CYRIL; According to this promise of the Lord, the Apostolic Church of Peter remains pure and spotless from all leading into error, or heretical fraud, above all Heads and Bishops, and Primates of Churches and people, with its own Pontiffs, with most abundant faith, and the authority of Peter. And while other Churches have to blush for the error of some of their members, this reigns alone immovably established, enforcing silence, and stopping the mouths of all heretics; and we, not drunken with the wine of pride, confess together with it the type of truth, and of the holy apostolic tradition. 

JEROME; Let none think that this is said of death, implying that the Apostles should not be subject to the condition of death, when we see their martyrdoms so illustrious. 

ORIGEN; Wherefore if we, by the revelation of our Father who is in heaven, shall confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, having also our conversation in heaven, to us also shall be said, you are Peter; for every one is a Rock who is an imitator of Christ. But against whomsoever the gates of hell prevail, he is neither to be called a rock upon which Christ builds His Church; neither a Church, or part of the Church, which Christ builds upon a rock. 

CHRYS; Then He speaks of another honor of Peter, when He adds, And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; as much as to say, As the Father has given you to know Me, I also will give something to you, namely, the keys of the kingdom of heaven. 

RABAN; For as with a zeal beyond the others he had confessed the King of heaven, he is deservedly entrusted more than the others with the keys of the heavenly kingdom, that it might be clear to all, that without that confession and faith none ought to enter the kingdom of heaven. By the keys of the kingdom He means discernment and power; power, by which he binds and looses; discernment, by which he separates the worthy from the unworthy. 

GLOSS; It follows, And whatsoever you shall bind; that is, whomsoever you shall judge unworthy of forgiveness while he lives, shall be judged unworthy with God; and whatsoever you shall loose, that is, whomsoever you shall judge worthy to be forgiven while he lives, shall obtain forgiveness of his sins from God. 

ORIGEN; See how great power has that rock upon which the Church is built, that its sentences are to continue film as though God gave sentence by it. 

CHRYS; See how Christ leads Peter to a high understanding concerning himself. These things that He here promises to give him, belong to God alone, namely to forgive sins, and to make the Church immovable amidst the storms of so many persecutions and trials. 

RABAN; But this power of binding and loosing, though it seems given by the Lord to Peter alone, is indeed given also to the other Apostles, and is even now in the Bishops and Presbyters in every Church. But Peter received in a special manner the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and a supremacy of judicial power, that all the faithful throughout the world might understand that all who in any manner separate themselves from the unity of the faith, or from communion with him, such should neither be able to be loosed from the bonds of sin, nor to enter the gate of the heavenly kingdom. 

GLOSS; This power was committed specially to Peter, that we might thereby be invited to unity. For He therefore appointed him the head of the Apostles, that the Church might have one principal Vicar of Christ, to whom the different members of the Church should have recourse, if ever they should have dissensions among them. But if there were many heads in the Church, the bond of unity would be broken. Some say that the words upon earth denote that power was not given to men to bind and loose the dead, but the living; for he who should loose the dead would do this not upon earth, but after the earth. 

SECOND COUNCIL OF CONSTANTINOPLE; How is it that some do presume to say that these things are said only of the living? Know they not that the sentence of anathema is nothing else but separation? They are to be avoided who are held of grievous faults, whether they are among the living, or not. For it is always necessary to fly from the wicked. Moreover there are diverse letters read of Augustine of religious memory, who was of great renown among the African bishops, which affirmed that heretics ought to be anathematized even after death. Such an ecclesiastical tradition other African Bishops also have preserved. And the Holy Roman Church also has anathematized some Bishops after death, although no accusation had been brought against their faith in their lifetimes. 

JEROME; Bishops and Presbyters, not understanding this passage, assume to themselves something of the lofty pretensions of the Pharisees, and suppose that they may either condemn the innocent, or absolve the guilty; whereas what will be inquired into before the Lord will be not the sentence of the Priests, but the life of him that is being judged. We read in Leviticus of the lepers, how they are commanded to show themselves to the Priests; and if they have the leprosy, then they are made unclean by the Priest; not that the Priest makes them leprous and unclean, but that the Priest has knowledge of what is leprosy and what is not leprosy, and can discern who is clean, and who is unclean. In the same way then as there the Priest makes the leper unclean, here the Bishop or Presbyter binds or looses not those who are without sin, or guilt, but in discharge of his function when he has heard the varieties of their sins, he knows who is to be bound, and who loosed. 

ORIGEN; Let him then be without blame who binds or looses another, that he may be found worthy to bind or loose in heaven. Moreover, to him who shall be able by his virtues to shut the gates of hell, are given in reward the keys of the kingdom of heaven. For every kind of virtue when any has begun to practice it; as it were opens itself before Him, the Lord, namely, opening it through His grace, so that the same virtue is found to be both the gate, and the key of the gate. But it may be that each virtue is itself the kingdom of heaven.

Cantena Aurea links:
Catechetics Online

Christ Giving the Keys to St. Peter, Giovanni Battista. 
Illumination on vellum, 1598; Musée du Louvre, Paris.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Klubertanz: Why should I study philosophy?

THERE are persons who admit that there is a kind of knowledge called philosophy of being, but think it an unnecessary luxury, like the pastoral poetry of the eighteenth century or elaborate lacework. We may put this position in the form of a concrete question: What does the philosophy of being mean to me? What difference does it make to me whether I bother answering these [philosophical] questions at all or answer them wrongly? Here a distinction must be made. Some kind of knowledge of the real, at the lowest level of our everyday knowledge and as implicit background of all other knowledge, is the absolutely indispensable background of all our other knowledge in any mode…. But even now we can see that in a sense every man is implicitly a philosopher. For everyone distinguishes between fact and fiction, between dream and reality; everyone deals with reality, takes it quietly or rebels against it.

These distinctions and modes of action include and involve philosophical knowledge in the everyday mode. For example, the distinction between fact and fiction is actually made even by uneducated persons, though not very clearly and accurately; and these same persons implicitly accept the principle of contradiction in all their thinking and doing. Furthermore, we see that many persons know, with everyday or even refined knowledge, that there is a God, but they are unable to prove it in any organized way. Is it not enough to know that there is a God without being able to prove it? Can we not rest satisfied with our everyday and our refined knowledge of the real (supported and enlarged by faith) and let it go at that? It is true that not everybody needs to have philosophical knowledge in an organized way, just as not everybody needs to know higher mathematics. But suppose no one explicitly knew the philosophy of being. The probable result would be the acceptance of a large amount of error and superstition by many people. For everyday and refined knowledges contain a greater or smaller percentage of error, and they are incomplete. They contain no safeguards against error; they do not enable a person to meet difficulties and objections. Thus, the common good requires that some of those who can learn philosophy do so. Hence, a person who is trying to become an educated man or woman and who consequently will meet with erroneous philosophical positions both in his reading and in his contacts with other people needs for his own sake as well as that of society to know at least the essentials of philosophy. Intellectual ability is a responsibility as well as a gift.

There is a personal advantage in the study of philosophy. A person cannot be mature and confident without an organized and unified outlook on life. A person who is highly educated only in certain specialized areas finds that the world for him is broken up piecemeal. How is he to organize and master this multiplicity? If he attempts an organization by means of limited principles—limited principles are all that can be found from a specialized (that is, partial) point of view—something will have to be left out. He can organize and order all his knowledge and all the aspects and parts of the world that confront him only from the point of view of, and by means of the principles discovered in, his study of philosophy.

But why must I in particular organize my outlook on life? Why must I engage in these very subtle investigations about things apparently remote from everyday life?  Because, ultimately, I am a man and I want to be fully a man. A man is an animal, and so he does have needs and interests directed to the sustenance and enhancement of his bodily life. This is his biological sphere of activities, and it is to some extent the basic condition of all other activities. Man is also a gregarious animal, and enjoys activities with others—the social sphere. But he is a special kind of animal, and not merely because of the moral and religious dimensions of his activities. (This dimension not only extends beyond all the others but also permeates them all, and so is more than a part of his activities alongside other parts.) Man is also an intellectual animal. Almost as soon as he can talk, he is asking “What?” and “Why?” All his life, he wants to know what is going on and why. True enough, most people let the preoccupations of biological life limit their questions to what is immediately practical, in the narrow sense of what is “useful.” But man remains a questioning animal; and in itself this tendency to question is not limited to a particular set of questions, to a particular class of things. It is open to literally everything and in its deepest reality. It has been well said that “man is a being who questions being”—and primarily perhaps his own being.

Our contemporary culture both reinforces this tendency and turns aside from it. On the other hand, we are constantly questioning ourselves and our world. Our art and our literature are the most introspective; even common conversation turns on the hidden feelings and motives of ourselves and others; world problems make us question our common values, and our ways of attempting to realize them. On the other hand, this very questioning is sophisticated and fearful—it questions with more than half a mind that our analysis is not a revelation of the truth and with somewhat of a fear of the answers we might find if we push the question far enough. At the same time, we are surrounded with more opportunities for distraction than any other civilization has offered, and so it requires a great effort to continue serious questioning in an organized way.

But to satisfy the profound needs which man has, the intellectual sphere of his activities must be enlarged. What he is, what the world is which not only surrounds him and supports him, but also influences him—these are questions which sooner or later come to a reflective person. Consequently, to reach the perfection of his rationality, a person must come to grips with the ultimate questions which are asked in philosophy.

~George P. Klubertanz, S.J., Introduction to the Philosophy of Being (Second Edition, 1963)


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