Saturday, July 24, 2010

Marshall on Scheeben on the kenosis of Phil 2

"Scheeben is surely right to point out that the Son's existence in our flesh, let alone the decision to accept this temporal mission, cannot itself be regarded as kenotic.  The Son still, and forever, has our flesh, but Philippians 2 clearly insists that he does not now exist in a state of kenosis, but of exaltation.  It must, therefore, be the acceptance of liability to suffering and death, of flesh in its fallen state and not of flesh as such, in which the kenosis of Philippians 2 properly consists.  'One cannot apply the saying of the Apostle, "he emptied himself," to the incarnation as such.  Otherwise the Son of God would have to exist in a state of self-renunciation and self-emptying even now, in heaven.  This it has never occurred to anyone to think'. . . .

Bruce Marshall, "The unity of the triune God," The Thomist 75, no. 1 (January 2010):  26n32 (1-32), quoting Matthias Joseph Scheeben, Die Mysterien des Christentums, §64 (=The mysteries of Christianity, trans. Cyril Vollert, S.J. (St. Louis, MO:  B. Herder, 1946), 423-424).

I haven't read Scheeben, and am more than a little ignorant of the ins and outs of the patristic (and later) discussion, but couldn't one refer the exaltation to the human nature of him who is nonetheless (of course!) "one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ" ("one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten")?
I mean, according to the (merely) narrative logic of Phil 2, it was only "after" the self-emptying (ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν) that, "being found in human form", there came the further self-humbling (ἐταπείνωσεν ἑαυτὸν) that amounted to obedience "unto death, even death on a cross."

The position I like.  But is Scheeben really so devastating here?

(And we haven't even factored in the extra Patristicum (extra Calvinisticum).)

A day in thy courts is better than a thousand elsewhere

"however little an intellect can grasp of divine knowledge, that little will be its ultimate end, rather than perfect knowledge of less intelligible things.
". . . to understand God in some way [(quoquo modo)] is man's ultimate end."

Intellectus . . . quantumcumque modicum possit de divina cognitione percipere, illud erit sibi pro ultimo fine, magis quam perfecta cognitio inferiorum intelligibilium.
. . . Est igitur ultimus finis hominis intelligere quoquo modo Deum.

St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra Gentiles, lib. 3 cap. 25 n. 6-7, trans. Ralph McInerny (Thomas Aquinas: selected writings, ed. & trans. Ralph McInerny (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1998), 265).
"clearly the end of any intellectual creature, even the least, is to understand God" (n. 5).
ST I.1.5.ad 1:  "'The least knowledge we can have of the highest things is more desirable than the most certain knowledge of lesser things,' applying a dictum of Aristotle in a way in which, on Aquinas' account, Aristotle himself never could" (Bruce Marshall, "Quod scit una uetula:  Aquinas on the nature of theology," chap. 1 of The theology of Thomas Aquinas, ed. Van Nieuwenhove & Wawrykow (Notre Dame, IN:  University of Notre Dame Press, 2005), 28n32 (1-35)).

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Roeber on Barnes' "devastating critique" of the Neo-Palamites

"Ironically, . . . the characterizations and misrepresentations of Augustine that have been inherited by some of the most influential Orthodox writers in the English language of the past century were, from the outset, dependent upon Roman Catholic theologians."

A. G. Roeber, "Western, Eastern, or global orthodoxy?  Some reflections on St. Augustine of Hippo in recent literature," Pro ecclesia 17, no. 2 (Spring 2008):  222-223 (210-223).  Cf. pp. 217-219, and especially this, on the Jesuit de Regnon, who, according to Michel Barnes, was in any case hugely misleading:  "in the French original of Lossky's work,"
out of the 43 footnotes in [chapter 3], 12 refer to de Regnon. Yet in the 1957 English translation of the original French work, all the citations to de Regnon are missing. . . . [W]hat, in the original, were Lossky's footnote references to passages in de Regnon's Études, become, in the English translation, footnote references to the Cappadocian texts originally discussed by de Regnon. There is more at work here than a slip of the translator's pen: there is in fact the appropriation of de Regnon's paradigm by modern Neo-Palamite theology, coupled with a hesitation, if not embarrassment, at acknowledging its Roman Catholic (indeed, Jesuit) origins.
That from Barnes' "devastating" "De Regnon reconsidered," Augustinian studies 25 (1995):  54 (51-79).  Cf., according to Roeber, Barnes' The power of God: Dunamis in Gregory of Nyssa's trinitarian theology (Washington, DC:  Catholic University of America Press, 2001), 220-222, 303-307.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"A world of purposes only is a world of cross-purposes"

"What happens when end is reduced to purpose and consequence becomes visible in the films of Quentin Tarentino, which picture a 'world' in which there are only the purposes of human beings, a 'world without ends.'  In such a world there cannot be any congruity or incongruity of purposes with ends.  There being no ends by which purposes can be measured, all purposes are in themselves incommensurate and incongruous with one another.  This is a world in which everything is violent, because there is no natural way for anything to move. . . ."
"A world of purposes only is a world of cross-purposes, the definition of fiasco."

Francis Slade, "On the ontological priority of ends and its relevance to the narrative arts," in Beauty, art, and the polis, ed. Alice Ramos (Washington, DC: American Maritain Association, 2000), 67-68 (58-69).

"Ends . . . are real whether whether they are our purposes or not, whether they are favored or wanted things or not"

"Prudence as the techne, or skill, of producing consequences is the prudence of an economic, not a moral, agent.  In the perspective of such an agent end means a desirable consequence, a 'favored or wanted thing.'  Having been effected, a consequence which it was my purpose to effect is no longer an end, since it is no longer a 'favored or wanted thing.'  Again, this does no more than paraphrase Hobbes, Leviathan, chapter 11:  'Felicity is a continual progress of the desire from one object to another; the attaining of the former, being still but the way to the latter.'  Ends, however, are real whether they are our purposes or not, whether they are favored or wanted things or not, and prudence, the knowledge of ends, is not the calculation of consequences in terms of costs and benefits.  Acts may have consequences which are high benefit plus low cost, but the act itself is destructive of the actuality of the actor as a fulfilled and completed human being.  Life is action (πρᾶξις), not production (ποίησις).  What profit does it profit a man to gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?"

Francis Slade, "On the ontological priority of ends and its relevance to the narrative arts," in Beauty, art, and the polis, ed. Alice Ramos (Washington, DC: American Maritain Association, 2000), 63-64 (58-69).

"the construal of teleology as anthropomorphic depends upon the reduction of end to purpose."

Francis Slade, "On the ontological priority of ends and its relevance to the narrative arts," in Beauty, art, and the polis, ed. Alice Ramos (Washington, DC: American Maritain Association, 2000), 62 (58-69).

telos does not mean purpose

"It is absurd to suppose that nothing comes into being for an end if we do not see the moving cause deliberating."

Aristotle, Physics II.8.199b26-28, as translated by Francis Slade, in his "On the ontological priority of ends and its relevance to the narrative arts," in Beauty, art, and the polis, ed. Alice Ramos (Washington, DC: American Maritain Association, 2000), 59 (58-69).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Horace on the ontological priority of ends over purposes

You can throw nature out with a pitchfork, but it always comes back,
and breaking in unexpectedly is victorious over your perverse contempt.

natura expellas furca, tamen usque recurret
et mala perrumpet furtim fastidia uictrix.

Horace, Epistles I.x.24-25, as translated by Francis Slade, in his "On the ontological priority of ends and its relevance to the narrative arts," in Beauty, art, and the polis, ed. Alice Ramos (Washington, DC:  American Maritain Association, 2000), 61 (58-69).  Latin from here.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Möhler on the de-mundanization of the Church

"the confidence of the Church may not be built on earthly wealth and earthly power; so that I doubt not for a moment that wealth in inward goods would increase with a decrease in outward, and [that] the Church would be de-mundanized [(entweltlicht)] to the extent that many of its worldly goods were to fall away."

Johann Adam Möhler, letter to Countess Sophie von Stolberg, Tübingen, 24 June 1834, as reproduced at Der Katholik:  Zeitschrift für katholische Wissenschaft und kirchliches Leben, 3rd ser., 33 (1906):  380, and quoted at the head of Ignaz Zangerle, "Zur Situation der Kirche [in Österreich]," Der Brenner 14 (1933/1934):  42 (42-81) (but without the subjunctives present in Der Katholik).