Thursday, June 24, 2010

Blinded by the light

"with respect to things that are most knowable, our mind is as the eye of a nightbird towards the light of the sun [(ut oculus noctuae ad solem)]. . . ."

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra Gentiles, lib. 1 cap. 11 n. 1 (Thomas Aquinas: selected writings, ed. & trans. Ralph McInerny (New York, NY:  Penguin Books, 1998), 246).  A noctua is a night-owl, but Thomas cites here Metaphysics 2.1 (993b, ll. 8-11):  "Perhaps, too, as difficulties are of two kinds, the cause of the present difficulty is not in the facts but in us.  For as the eyes of bats are to the blaze of day, so is the reason in our soul to the things which are by nature most evident of all" (trans. W. D. Ross).

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