Thursday, May 2, 2013

"Spirituality" is not very often "life according to the Spirit" for St. Thomas

"one can consider as assured the following conclusions:
     "1. One meets again quite unmistakably in Thomas two of the three senses [of spiritualitas] isolated by the earlier investigations [mentioned in footnotes 1 ff.]:  the philosophical sense, frequently attested, according to which spiritualitas is opposed to corporeitas or to materialitas; [and] the juridical sense, comparatively rare, according to which the term is found employed in [the] context of simony or of spiritual kinship.
     "2. The properly religious sense of «life according to the Spirit» is present in him, but in no way dominant [(mais de façon non majoritaire)].  Most often it retains its tie to the first philosophical sense and only an attentive reading permits [one] to determine whether it is a question of a spiritualitas gratiae or [only] a spiritualitas by [virtue of a] simple separation from materialitas.
     "3. This ambivalent use [of the term] is especially evident in the domain of continence (virginity and marriage), and it is [in that domain] that one finds it used the most.  [Yet] even there it stands most often not for the state of «spirituality» made possible by the terrestrial practice of continence, but rather for the spirituality in glory that is the recompense for it."

     Jean-Pierre Torrell, O.P., "«spiritualitas» chez Saint Thomas d'Aquin:  contribution à l'histoire d'un mot," in Recherches thomasiennes:  études revues et augmentées, Bibliothèque thomiste 52, ed. L.-J. Bataillon, O.P. (Paris:  Libraire Philosophique J. Vrin, 2000), 323-324 (315-234) =Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques 73 (1989):  583 (575-584).  Conclusions 4 and 5 have to do with 4) the extent to which spiritualitas is in the early Thomas a loan word merely, and 5) the decline in his usage of it after 1260.  An Addendum to the article as published in the Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques considers his use of the adjective spiritualis, which is much less ambiguously indicative of "the life in charity and the exercise of the virtues" (524).

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Marx on communism

"The Rheinische Zeitung, which cannot concede the theoretical reality of communist ideas even in their present form, and can even less wish or consider possible their practical realization, will submit these ideas to a thorough criticism. If the Augsburg paper demanded and wanted more than slick phrases, it would see that writings such as those of Leroux, Considerant, and above all Proudhon's penetrating work, can be criticized, not through superficial notions of the moment, but only after long and deep study. We consider such 'theoretical' works the more seriously as we do not agree with the Augsburg paper, which finds the 'reality' of communist ideas not in Plato but in some obscure acquaintance who, not without some merit in some branches of scientific research, gave up the entire fortune that was at his disposal at the time and polished his confederates' dishes and boots, according to the will of Father Enfantin. We are firmly convinced that it is not the practical Attempt, but rather the theoretical application of communist ideas, that constitutes the real danger; for practical attempts, even those on a large scale, can be answered with cannon as soon as they become dangerous, but ideas, which conquer our intelligence, which overcome the outlook that reason has riveted to our conscience, are chains from which we cannot tear ourselves away without tearing our hearts; they are demons that man can overcome only by submitting to them."

     Karl Marx, "[Communism and the Augsburg Allgemeine Zeitung]," Rheinische Zeitung, 16 October 1842, just five years before the composition of the Communist manifesto.  Trans.  Original here.  "The Rhineland News, Marx argued, would not concede communism any 'theoretical reality,' much less any effort at 'practical realization.'  He found the theory much more ominous than the practice.  The 'intellectual implementation' of communist ideas would be the 'genuine danger,' for such ideas could 'defeat our intelligence, conquer our sentiments. . . ."  To meet that danger, he proposed a careful study of the works of prominent communists, for the purpose of engaging in a 'fundamental criticism of their ideas.'  By contrast, 'practical attempts [to introduce communism], even attempts en masse, can be answered with cannons'" (Jonathan Sperber, Karl Marx:  a nineteenth-century life (New York:  Liveright Publishing Company, 2013 ), 99, on a tip from John Gray, "The real Karl Marx," The New York review of books 60, no. 8 (May 9, 2013):  38 (38-40)).
     What is more, "In a speech to the Cologne Democratic Society in August 1848, Marx rejected revolutionary dictatorship by a single class as 'nonsense'an opinion so strikingly at odds with the views Marx had expressed only six months earlier in the Communist Manifesto that later Marxist-Leninist editors of his speeches mistakenly refused to accept its authenticityand over twenty years later, at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, Marx also dismissed any notion of a Paris Commune as 'nonsense'" (Gray, 38).