THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN THOUGHT
25: Thirteenth Century: Joachim di Fiore, Franciscan theology, Dominic.
The last lecture dealt with Hugh of St. Victor and the sacramental interpretation of reality which we have found in him. I want to give you now a sacramental interpretation of history which has become extremely influential upon the Middle Ages and on modern thinking, namely the theology of Joachim di Fiore (a monastery in Calabria, southern Italy, where Joachim was the abbe. )
He wrote a group of books in which he developed a philosophy of history which has become the alternative to the Augustinian interpretation of history and was the background for most revolutionary movements in the Middle Ages and in modern times, while Augustine's interpretation of history was the basis for most conservative movements during the same time. So what I want to do is to confront the Joachimistic interpretation of history with the Augustinian.
About the Augustinian I told you already that it puts the reign of Christ, the so-called thousand-years, in the present time and identifies the reign of Christ with the control of this period by the hierarchy and its Divine graces. The sacramental power of the hierarchy makes it the immediate medium of Christ, so that the thousand years, the monarchy of Christ, is the monarchy of the Church. Since this, according to Daniel, is the last period, there is no future any more, the thousand years are present, we live in them, and everything critical can be critical only about the mixed body of the Church, but not about the foundation of the Church, which is final. You can imagine that in this way Augustine removed the threat of millenariansm the doctrine of-the thousand years which still lay ahead, and which then was used to criticize the Church and the hierarchy.
Joachim renewed the idea of the thousand years of Christ laying still ahead. He speaks in a good philosophy-of-history-way about the three dispensations which go on in history and are characterized by historical figures. The first period goes from Adam to John the Baptist, or the Christ it is the age of the Father. But this age is overcome by the very fact of the Christ. Then there is the 2nd period which goes from King Uzziah (Isaiah 6) to the year 1260. These years are produced by the fact that according to the genealogies of the Old Testament, this age embraces 42 generations. Then the 3rd dispensation is that of Benedict in the 5th century after Christ, where Western monasticism starts, and is called the age of the Holy Spirit. It has 21 generations after Christ, which leads to the year 2360.leads: to the year 1260.
This seems to be very artificial. The ages overlap, The 2nd age is identical with the first, in the years from King Uzziah to the birth of Christ, or to John the Baptist. And the 2nd is overlapped by the third in the birth from St. Benedict to 1260. Now what is this overlapping about? It is a very profound insight into historical developments. History, historical periods, never start sharply but always develop in terms of overlapping. There is no "the end of the Gothic period and the beginning of the Renaissance." There is no "end of the Renaissance" and "the beginning of the Baroque." There is no "end of the baroque" and "beginning of the Rococo," etc. etc. Every new period is conceived and born in the womb of the former one. This is an insight of which no one was more aware than Karl Marx when he made his interpretation of history and described how every new period was prepared in the womb of the preceding period for instance, the socialist period in the womb of the bourgeois period, and that in the womb of the late feudal period. It is like birth: there is a certain period in which mother and child are in one and the same body, and here in one and the same period. This insight is expressed in the idea of overlapping. The germs of the new period are earlier than what he called fructificatio (fructification), mature realization. A period is not mature when its first beginnings are visible. So we have this trinitarian scheme applied to history, but in such a way that the following period always is present for a certain time in the former period. Christ in this way is one moment in the three periods of history, and history goes beyond Him. It is the same problem which we have in the Fourth Gospel, which is discussed there, whether the Spirit goes beyond the Christ or not. The Fourth Gospel decides in a double way: it decides partly for going beyond the Christ many things cannot be said now, but the Spirit will come and help you; and on the other hand: the spirit does not take it from its own; it says what is already present in the 2nd period, in the period of the Son, in Jesus, according to the Fourth Gospel.
These ideas about the meaning of historical development must be taken very seriously. Don't reject the whole thing because of these Old Testament names, which are certainly arbitrary. The arbitrariness of every historical periodization is known to every historian.
Every historian will tell you that the period which you call "Renaissance" was ."Renaissance" only for a few people for some artists, scholars, and politicians, and, following, some other people in England, Holland, Germany, etc. But the masses of the people lived still in a period which was of hundreds of years ago. And so it is always. You never can say about a historical period that it is one hundred per cent that of which you say it is.
What are the characteristics of these stages? The first stage is, as Joachim knew being a profound observer, as (were) all the others also sociologically to be determined. It is a state in which marriage is the decisive sociological form where, with respect to economy, the need to work and servitude (slavery, feudalism, etc.) are decisive, and which therefore can be also identified religiously with .the period of the law. You see it is a very rich assembly of categories which he uses in order to describe these periods.
In the second period it is the clergy and the organized Church which is decisive. Here we have the graces, I. e., the sacramental reality which makes the law unnecessary, and in accepting the graces demands faith instead of good works. It is not an age of autonomy, but the age in which the clergy represent for everybody the presence of the Divine.
The third period is monasticism, where the monastic ideal will grasp mankind, and the production of new generations will cease. Therefore this is by necessity the last period. It has higher graces given by the Holy Spirit than the sacramental graces of the end period, and higher, of course, than the law of the first period.
While the 2nd period is prepared already in Judaismwhere there are some sacramental there are some sacramental graces the 3rd period is prepared in Church history, with the foundation in monasticism. The inner part of this period is freedom, I. e., autonomy, not subjected any more to state or Church authorities. The attitude is contemplation instead of work, and love instead of law.
If we look at this we can observe that it is sociological, but if sociology is not the "cause" of : every thing, as it is in Marxism, but it is a necessary condition. It is connected with the other attitudes. So we have here an early sociological understanding of the different periods of history. At the same time we have the religious understanding, which shows the difference of work, of grace accepted by faith -- and of autonomous freedom, in contemplation and love. The scheme is trinitarian, I. e., the dynamic element, which is always implied in trinitarian thinking. has become horizontal. It has been transferred to the historical movement. It is the historizaton of the trinitarian idea: Father, Son and Spirit have different functions in history. Of course, all three are always present God cannot be divided but they are present with a different emphasis.
This means that something is still ahead. The perfect society. the monastic society , still will come, and, measured by it, not only the Old Testament society but also the New Testament society, the Church, has to be criticized.
Another element is in it, namely that truth is not absolute. but is valid for its time bonum et necessarium in suo tempore- the good and necessary according to its time.
This is dynamic truth. It is the idea of a truth which changes in history, according to the general situation.
The early Church had to apply this principle always toward the Old Testament. The truth of the Old Testament is different from that of the New, nevertheless the Old Testament is also the Divinely inspired Word of God. What to do about it? So one spoke about dispensations, or covenants, or different periods. In any case, one used the idea of the kairos, of the educational time, of the time which is different, and. accordingly the truth is different. This is now put against the absolutism of the Catholic Church which had developed, and which identifies its own being with the last period of history, I. e., with the ultimate trutJ1. There is a higher truth than that of the Church, namely the truth of the Spirit.
>From this follows that the Church is relative. It is inter utrumque, between both the period of the Father and the period of the Spirit. It's shortcomings are not only shortcomings by distortion, but also by its relative validity. The Church is relativized in this scheme. Only the 3rd period is absolute, and this 3rd period is not authoritarian any more: it is autonomous. Every individual has he Divine Spirit by himself. This means that the ideal for Christianity lies in the future and not in the past. He calls it intellectus spiritualis and not literalis, i.e., a spiritually formed intellect and not an intellect dependent on laws of literalism.
From this follows that in the future the hierarchy will come to an end and the sacraments will come to an end. They are not needed any more because everything is spiritually directly related to God, and the authoritarian intervention is not needed.
Joachim speaks of a papa angelico, an angelic pope which is more a principle than a man. It is a pope who is not pope any more but only represents the presence of the Spirit without authority. The hierarchy will be transformed into monasticism and the lay world will be transformed into monasticism, and then the last period will have been reached. In this third stage there will be perfection (perfectio), contemplation, liberty, Spirit. They will be in history. For Augustine the final end is only transcended; nothing new will happen in history any more. For Joachim the new is in history. He also calls it the "eternal Gospel," and the eternal Gospel is not a book the Gospel is the presence of the Divine Spirit in every individual, according to the prophecy of Joel which is often used in this context. It is a simply intuitis veritatis, a simple intuition of truth which all can have without intermediate authority.
Freedom means the authority of the Divine Spirit in the individual. It is not rationalizing autonomy, but it is theonomy, theonomy which is filled with the presence of the Divine Spirit.
History produces freedom in the course of its progress. So it is also a progressivistic idea: the goal is ahead.
Now this of course was extremely revolutionary, and we understand that Thomas Aquinas fought against it in the name of the Church. The Church has no classical period ahead but has it in the past. The classical period of the Church is the Apostolic period. The Church is based on history, history has brought the Church about, but the Church is itself/ not in history. The Church is beyond history because it is at the end of history.
All these ideas are, as you can see, extremely important, and they are important because in them something is present which was the dynamic, revolutionary, explosive power in the medieval as well as in the modern world. The extreme Franciscans used his prophecies and applied it to their own order, and from there they revolted against the Church. Many sectarian movements, the sects of the Reformation on which much American life is dependent, were indirectly and directly dependent on Joachim di Fiore. The Enlightened philosophers who spoke about a third period in history in which everybody will be taught directly by the inner light the light of reason are dependent on Joachim. The socialist movement is dependent on the same idea when in the classless society everybody will be directly responsible to the ultimate principles. Now I don't mean that all these peoples knew exactly the name and the ideas of Joachim, but there is a tradition of revolution in Western Europe which goes on and on and in which fundamental ideas, first appearing in Joachim, are present and are changing reality. And much of American utopianism must be understood in the light of the same movement in the West. We have, as far as I know, nothing equal except in Christianity and perhaps Judaism in the Eastern religions, because by definition they are non-historical religions. And here in this man a new insight into the dialectics of history appeared.
His influence was mediated by the radical Franciscan monks. I now come to the Franciscan theology, and this means, to the thirteenth century. Everything I said up to now belongs to the early Middle Ages. All these men Abelard, Hugh of St. Victor, Anselm, Joachim, et al-, are of the 11th and 12th centuries. The 13th is the highest point of the Middle Ages, in which the whole destiny of the Western world was decided in a very definite way. I have not used one name, a man who also belongs to the 12th century, and on whom all Scholastics are partly dependent: Peter the Lombard (Petrus Lombardus.) He is not as original as the others, but he represents the systematic didactic type of the Middle Ages. He wrote four books of "sentences," the sayings of the Fathers about theological problems cf. in connection with Abelard. He organized the sayings of the Fathers into four books which became the textbook of the whole Middle Ages, if there ever was a textbook! Every great Scholastic started by writing a commentary on Lombard's four books of sentences. In this sense it has become the classical schoolbook of Scholasticism.
The 13th century can be described theologically in three steps, represented by three names: Bonaventura, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus. But there are others between them and I will mention them occasionally.
Duns Scotus was, as scholar, the greatest of all, but he was also the point in which new developments started on which all of us are dependent in our modern world.
Thomas is called the classical theologian of the Roman church and certainly he is, and has been reestablished as such again a few years ago by the Pope
Bonaventura represents the spirit of Augustine and St. Francis, in his being, in his mysticism, and in his theology.
So these three names must be known by all of you.
Now what are the presuppositions of the 13th century which made it the central and high point of the Middle Ages? First I want to mention the Crusades, not because of their political and military importance but because they produced the encounter of two highly developed cultures besides Christianity namely, the original Jewish and the Islamic cultures. Perhaps one could say a third culture was encountered at that time, namely the old Greek, the classical culture, which through the mediation of the Arabian theologians, brought streams of ancient traditions into the medieval world.
The fact of an encounter with somebody else, if it is serious enough, always includes a kind of self-reflection. Only if you encounter somebody else are you able to reflect about yourselves. As long as you go ahead without a resistance, you are never forced to look back at yourselves. But if you encounter resistance, you reflect. And that is what Christianity had to do. In a much more radical way, it reflected about itself. This was the first part.
The second was the appearance of the complete Aristotle, his genuine writings, and with him the appearance of a scientific philosophical system which was methodologically superior to the Augustinian tradition.
Thirdly, there was the rise of a new type of monastic orders: preaching and mendicant orders, with their intensification and popularization of the religious substance. They produced a world-wide organization through all countries, and combated with each other theologically, and since they were not nationally provincial, they could compete on a world-wide scale and produce theological systems of the highest significance, in difference and in conflict with each other. Since the 13th century these two orders became the bearers of the theological process. They used Aristotle, but they used him differently. They used the new knowledge of Judaism and Islam, but they used it differently.
This leads me to a description of the two types which were developed by these orders: The Franciscan and the Dominican types. They were dependent on two personalities: St. Francis of Assisi and Dominicus. Francis continues the monasticism of Augustine and, Bernard of Clairvaux. Like them he emphasizes personal experience, but he brings some very modern elements into the Franciscan tradition. He brings in the idea of the active in contrast to the contemplative life. This was always nearer to the Western mind which from the very beginning was more half-historical than the East. But he enlarged this idea by applying it to all beings. Not only human hierarchical orders, but also sun and stars and animals and plants belong to the power of the Divine life; and he tries to produce on this basis a new relationship to nature. In order to understand him the best thing would be that you look at the pictures of Giotto. Giotto painted almost nothing else except the story of St. Francis, the new Holy Legend. So he became the father of the Renaissance. By his feeling of fraternity with all beings, he opened up nature for religion. He opened up nature with respect to its ground of being which is the same as it is in man.
At the same time he introduced another important idea, namely the idea that the lay people must be brought into the circle of the holy. In the sacramental system the clergy and the monks were the real representatives, while the laymen were only passive. Now he wanted to bring them into the circle and he did this by creating the so-called "third order" of St. Francis, the tertiarii. The first is the male order, the monks; the second is the corresponding female order, the nuns; the third is the laymen who remain laymen and remain married, but subject themselves to some of the principles of the monastic orders, and are directed by members of these orders.
But all this, St. Francis subjected to the authority of the Pope. The famous Giotto picture in which the greatest pope, Innocent III, and the greatest saint of the Roman church met in 1250, depicts a classical moment in world history. Nevertheless all this was dangerous for the hierarchical system. And the danger became actual first in the revolution of the Franciscan radicals who tried to unite St. Francis and Joachim di Fiore, and who became the prototypes of many later anti-ecclesiastical and anti- religious revolutions. It was also dangerous because of the emphasis on the lay principle, because this lay principle could mean the end of the absolute authority of the hierarchy. And it was dangerous because/the new relationship to nature and the vision of the Divine ground in it, which in the long run was able to undermine the Catholic supernaturalism.
Now all this was Francis. Generally speaking, he belongs to the Augustinian-Anselmian-Bernardian tradition of the mystical union of Christianity with the elements of culture and nature.
In contrast to Francis, we have no such original personality in St. Dominic. Instead we have a special task, which was the task of a special person; namely the task of preaching to the people - -in this they did the same thing as the Franciscans and of defending the faith. This was something new defending either by mediation or by conversion or by persecution, I. e., either in terms of apologetic or in terms of missions or in terms of Church power. In all three ways they became the order of the Inquisition and of the Counter-Reformation later on, until the Jesuits took over. Therefore they produced the classical system of mediation, of apologetic theology namely, Thomas Aquinas and they produced the greatest preachers, among them Meister Eckhardt. More than any other school, they brought Aristotle to the West. Their instrument was the intellect, even in their mysticism, while the Franciscan-Augustinian tradition emphasized more the will. Finally, the will of the Franciscans broke down the intellect of the Dominicans and opened the way for Duns Scotus, Occam, and the nominalists.
Now this was the spiritual background for the tremendous development of the 13th century. Without permanent reference to these movements, the theology of this period cannot be understood. And if we think especially of Thomas Aquinas, then we must understand him as a mediator. He has understood, as nobody else, the mediating function of theology. In Germany we had the term Vermittlungstheologen this was a term despisingly applied to many of the 19th century. I tried to defend them by saying that all theology is a mediation, namely the mediation of the message, which is given in the Gospel, with the categories of the understanding as we have them in every period of history and of Church history. In this sense theology is and always will remain mediation.
The dynamics of the high Middle Ages are determined by the conflict between Augustine and Aristotle, or between the Franciscans who were Augustinians and the Dominicans who were Aristotelian. But don't take this too exclusively. Very often I warn you about making too sharp divisions. And here again all medieval theologians were Augustinian in substance. And all of them since the 13th century were Aristotelians with respect. to the use of their philosophical categories. In this sense the duality is limited. But in another sense, in the sense of an emphasis, it is a very important division, a division which is effective in all our philosophy of religion today, even in the most modern ones, who would not even know they do things which these old "primitives" of the 13th century have done and I don't believe they are as primitive as most philosophers of today are, but they are considered to be such.
We must now go into the main problems of the medieval development. I just finished yesterday by saying that the conflict between Aristotle and Augustine characterizes the medieval situation. Let me first make clear what Aristotle means for the Middle Ages in the moment in which he was discovered in the beginning of the 13th century, with the help of the Arabic philosophers.
1) Aristotle's logic was always known, but this was used as a tool and didn't influence the content of theology directly. When the whole work of Aristotle was rediscovered, it was a complete system in which all realms of life were discussed observations about nature, about politics, about ethics, an independent secular world-view, including a system of values and meanings. The question was: How could a world which was educated in the Augustinian ecclesiastical tradition deal with this secular system of ideas and meanings? This was the first thing Aristotle meant. It is a little as though theology for centuries asked the question: How can the scientific revolution which has been going on since the 17th century be mediated with the Christian tradition? It was a similar problem for the Middle Ages.
2) Aristotle gave basic metaphysical categories, such as form and matter, actuality and potentiality. He gave a new doctrine of matter, of the relationship of God and the world, and all this on a basis of an ontological analysis of reality.
3) This was perhaps the most important point: He gave a new approach to knowledge. The soul has to receive impressions from the external world. Experience is always the beginning, while in the Augustinian tradition immediate intuition was the beginning. The Augustinians were, so to speak, in the Divine center and judged the world from there. The Aristotelians looked at the world and concluded to the Divine center.
The conclusion, therefore, with which I want to deal first is the question of knowledge. The whole movement of Augustinianism and Aristotelianism must be understood from here. The question was: Is our knowledge a participation in the Divine knowledge of the world and of Himself, or must we, in the opposite way, recognize God by approaching the world from outside? Is God the last or the first in our knowledge? The Augustinians answered: the knowledge of God precedes any other knowledge, it is the first one, we must start with it. In ourselves we have the principles of truth. God is the presupposition even of the question of God, as He is the presupposition of every question for truth. He is, says Bonaventura, the Franciscan Augustinian leader of that time, in the 13th century, "most truly present to the soul and immediately knowable." The principles of truth are the Divine or the eternal light within us. We start with them. We start with our knowledge of God and we go from there to the world, using the principles of the Divine light which are in us. This Divine light or these principles are the universal categories, especially the so-called "transcendentalia" those things which transcend everything special and given: being, the true, the good, the one: these are ultimate concepts; we have immediate knowledge of them, and this knowledge is the Divine light in our soul. Only on the basis of this immediate knowledge about the ultimate principles of reality can we find truth in the empirical world. In every act of knowledge these principles are present. Whenever we say "something is so," whenever we make a logical judgment about something, the ideas of the true, of the good, of being itself, are present; or, as Bonaventura says, "being itself is what first appears in the intellect," and being itself is the basic statement about God. This means: every act of cognition, every cognitive act, is made in the power of the Divine light, Of this Divine light, of these principles in us, the Franciscans said that it is uncreated; we participate in it. This makes that somehow no secular knowledge exists. All knowledge is in some way rooted in the knowledge of the Divine in us. There is a point of identity in our soul, and this point precedes every special act of knowledge. Or I could describe it in the following way: Every act of knowledge about animals, plants, bodies, astronomy, mathematics is implicitly religious. A mathematical proposition as well as a medical discovery is implicitly religious because it is possible only. in the power of these ultimate principles which are the uncreated Divine light in the human soul. This is the famous doctrine of the inner light, which was also used by the sectarian movements and by all mystics during the Middle Ages and the Reformation period, and which finally underlies even the rationalism of the period of the Enlightenment. They all are philosophers of the inner light, even if this Divine light later on became cut off from its Divine ground.
We can also call this attitude. That is what the Franciscans tried to maintain in spite of the fact that they also had to use Aristotelian concepts such as form and matter, and potentiality and actuality. So we have here in the Augustinian-Franciscan development, from Augustine to Bonaventura, a philosophy which is implicitly religionist or theonomous, in which the Divine is not a matter of conclusions but is a matter of preceding every conclusion, making conclusions possible. It is the philosophy of religion perhaps some of you have seen in the Union Review a few years ago, when I wrote an article about "The Two Types of Philosophy of Religion" this is the one type I called it at that time the ontological type; I can also call it the mystical type, or the type of immediacy. I would also like to call it the theonomous type, in which the Divine precedes the secular.
The opposite type is the Thomistic. Thomas Aquinas cuts the immediate presence of God in the act of knowing. He denies it. He also says of course, that God is the first in Himself, but he says God is not the first for us. Our knowledge cannot start with God although everything starts with Him but our knowledge must reach Him by starting with His effects: the finite world. So we must start with the Divine effects and conclude from there to the cause. In other words, man is separated from being itse1f, from truth itse1f, and from the good itse1f. Of course Thomas could not deny that these principles are in the structure of man's intellect, but he calls them created light and not uncreated light. They are not the Divine presence in us, so to speak, but they are works of God in us; they are finite. In other words, in having an act of knowledge, we do not have God, but with these principles we can find God. It is not that we start with the Divine principles in us and then discover the finite world, as in the Franciscans; but it is that we start with the finite world and then perhaps are able to find God, in acts of cognition, of knowledge.
Now against this Thomistic theory the Franciscans said that this method, which of course must start in a good Aristotelian way with sense experience is good for scientia (for "science" in the largest sense of the word) but that this method destroys sapientia, wisdom. Sapientia means the knowledge of the ultimate principles; this means the knowledge of God. One of Bonaventura's followers made this prophetic statement, that in the moment in which you follow the Aristotelian-Thomistic method and start with the external world, then you will lose the principles. You will win the external world he agreed with that; he knew
empirical know ledge can be won only in this way but something is lost: sapientia , the wisdom which is able to grasp intuitively, within oneself, the ultimate principles. Thomas answered that the knowledge of God, as every knowledge, must start with sense experience and must reach God on this basis in terms of rational conclusions, which are derived from the sense experience.
This is the fundamental discussion. Here the two types diverge, and they have been divergent ever since, in the Western world. This divergency is the great problem of all philosophy of religion, and, as I will show now, is the ultimate cause for the secularization of the Western world "cause," of course, in the cognitive realm; there are other causes, too. In the cognitive realm this is the cause, that here the Aristotelian method is put against the Augustinian, and slowly from Thomas Aquinas the method of starting with the external world prevailed.
Thomas knew that these conclusions, although they are logically correct, do not produce a real conviction. Therefore they must be completed by authority. In other words, the Church guarantees the truth which never can be fully reached in terms of an empirical. approach to God. So we now have the situation clear: In Bonaventura we have theonomous knowledge in all realms of life; we have no knowledge whatsoever without beginning with God. In Thomas we have autonomous knowledge, scientific method, as far as it goes; but Thomas himse1f knew that it doesn't go very far and therefore it must be completed by authority. Now this is the meaning of the heated struggle between the Augustinians and the Franciscans in the 13th century. It was a gap, but at that time the gap was not yet visible. Thomas' genius, his power to take in almost everything, his power of 'mediating of which I have spoken his personal and even mystical piety, was able to cover the gap, and is able to cover the gap even in present-day Catholicism, but the gap was there and had consequences reaching far beyond everything Thomas himself realized.
This came out in the 3rd man of the 13th century, Duns Scotus. He was not a mediating but a radical thinker. He was one of those who tear up what seems to be united. He fought against the mediations of Thomas Aquinas. On the other hand, he did not follow his own Franciscan predecessors. He followed Thomas in a complete acceptance of Aristotle, but he realized the consequences which Thomas Aquinas still was able to cover.
For Duns Scotus there is an infinite gap between the finite and the infinite. Therefore the finite cannot reach cognitively at all, neither in terms of immediacy as the older Franciscan wanted nor in terms of demonstrations, as the Dominicans, with Thomas Aquinas, wanted.. He criticizes and insofar as you are nominalists, you will like this criticism even the transcendentalia, the ultimate principles. He says: Being itself (esse ipsum) is only a word; it points to an analogy between the infinite and the finite, but only an analogy. The word "being" does not cover God as well as the world. The gap is such that you cannot cover them in terms of one word, not even in terms of the verum, bonum, unum, the true, the good, and the one, and that means, being itself. Therefore :Only one way is open to receive God, namely the way of authority, the way of revelation received by the authority of the Church.
In this way we have two positivisms. The religious or ecclesiastical positivism: since we cannot reach God cognitively, we must accept what is given to us by the Church. On the other hand, we have the positivism of the empirical method: what is positively given in nature, we must discover by the methods of induction and abstraction -- now the gap of which I spoke has become visible. In Thomas it was closed; in Duns Scotus it is opened up, and never has been closed again. And it is still our problem, as it was the problem of the people of the 13th century. While in Bonaventura God is known immediately, He is present before anything else is present in us while in Thomas He can be proved by demonstrations, but authority must help, because it is not completely certain in this way; in Duns Scotus neither immediacy nor demonstrations is left, so only revelation and authority accepted in faith can help. Now if you have understood this, then you are really in the center of any important philosophy of religion. This is the real problem.
Now the gap opened up by Duns Scotus becomes a very large gap a century later in Occam, the real father of nominalism. God cannot be approached at all in terms of atonomous knowledge. He is out of reach. Everything could be the opposite of what is. Therefore He can only be reached by our subjection to the Biblical and ecclesiastical authorities. And we can subject ourselves to them only if we have the habit of grace, only if grace is working in us and makes It possible for us to receive the authority of the Church. Cultural knowledge the knowledge of science, is completely free and autonomous, and religious knowledge is completely heteronomous. So when I come back now to the characterization of the early Franciscan-Augustinian situation, I can say: the original theonomy God always the prius of every knowing has been disrupted into complete scientific autonomy on the one side, and complete ecclesiastical heteronomy on the other side. That is the situation at the end of the Middle Ages. And since the Middle Ages are based on a system of mediation, the Middle Ages came practically to an end in the moment in which these mediations broke down.
When I bring this down to the traditional question of reason and revelation, I can express it thus: In Bonaventura reason is in itself revelatory, insofar as in its own depths the principles of truth are given. This of course doesn't refer to the historical revelation in Christ, but refers to our knowledge of God. In Thomas reason is able to express revelation. In Duns Scotus reason is unable to express revelation. In Occam revelation stands beside and in opposition to reason. At the end of the Middle Ages the religious and the secular realm are separated, but they are not separated in the way in which they are today as a consequence of this separation in the Middle Ages but the Middle Ages still wanted for centuries its traditional unity. Therefore the Church now developed its radical heteronomous claim to rule all realms and to control them, but now from outside. And now the desperate fight between autonomous secularism and heteronomous religious developed. Don't confuse the late Middle Ages with the earlier Middle Ages. As long as the tradition was in power, the Middle Ages were not heteronomous; they were theonomous, which is something quite different. But at the end an independent secular realm was established, and the question was: Is the Church able to control this independent realm? And the ways in which the Church was deprived of this power are the ways of Renaissance and Reformation.
One of the ways I wanted to mention, and which appears already at that time, was the way of the double truth, which is very illuminating for the situation. Some people seriously not only diplomatically, in order to hide themselves believed, in reality, that a statement about the same matter can be contradictory and nevertheless true theologically though wrong philosophically, and vice versa, so that people asserted the whole heteronomous system which the Church as long as it was in power still could maintain, and on the other hand, they developed autonomous thought. And if the proposition came into conflict, then they took refuge in the so-called double truth. Of course for many this was a way of hiding, but it was more than this: it was the belief that these realms are so separated that you can say in one realm the opposite of what you say in the other.
This is the epistemological problem, and it was a very fundamental one, but of course as behind all problems in philosophy and theology it is always the problem of God which is decisive, and so I now go to the doctrine of God in medieval thinking, and I come again partly to these three men of the 13th century.
The medieval idea of God has three levels:
1) The first and fundamental level is the idea of God as primum esse, the first being, or prima causa, the first cause. By "cause" here is meant not as "cause and effect," as we have it in the realm of finitude the word "prima," "first," means not the first according to time, but the ground of all causes, so that the term "cause" is here used more symbolically than literally. It is the creative ground in everything, creatrix universa1ium substantia, the creative substance of everything that is. This is the first statement about God. He is the Ground of Being, as I like to express it, or being itself, or the first cause all these terms point to the same meaning.
2) This substance cannot be understood
in terms of the inorganic realm for instance, as an inorganic
substance like fire or water, as the old physicists did nor in the
biological situation, as a life process, but it must be understood as
intellect. The first quality of the Ground of Being is intellect.
Intellect doesn't mean intelligence, but it means the point in which God
is for Himself subject and object at the same time; or, as it was
carried through, God knowing Himself and knowing the world as that which
He is not. The Ground of Being, in other words the "creative
substance" is a bearer of meaning. The world this is the consequence
is meaningful, can be understood in words which have meaning. The
logos, the word, can grasp it. In order to understand reality, we must
presuppose that reality is understandable; and reality is understandable
because the Divine ground has the character of intellect. Only because
the Divine intellect ~ the ground of everything, is knowledge possible.
3) The third characteristic, which comes from the Christian Augustinian tradition while the intellect comes from the Greek Aristotelian tradition: God is will. Will, of course, if applied to God and the world, is not the psychological function which we know in ourselves, but it is the dynamic ground of everything. It is the productive power of the Ground of Being. This will has the nature of love in good Augustinian tradition. The creative substance of the world has meaning and has love is intellect and will, symbolically speaking. And as with respect to knowing we said that God knows Himself, so we must now say that God wills or loves Himself as the absolute good, indeed as the ultimate aim of everything. And He loves the creatures in giving them, in a graded way. the good of which He is the ultimate Ground. Therefore they all are longing for Him, and He is for them the object of that love which everything has and every being has, the love toward that in which it sees its ultimate good. Now this is the medieval idea of God. This God is not called a person. The word "person" is never applied to it in the Middle Ages. for two reasons:
1) because the Trinitarian "faces" or "countenances" are called personae: the Father is persona, the Son is persona. and the Spirit is persona. But persona here means more a special characteristic of the Divine ground, expressing itself in an independent hypostasis. Therefore we can say the term persona has been applied to God only in the 19th century, when God was made into a person, and the greatness of the classical idea of God was destroyed by this kind of speaking. Of course this structure. including being, intellect and will. is analogous to our experience of our own being, and if we call ourselves "person" we must call God also "Person." But this is something quite different from calling God "a Person" First of all. He is being itself. He is the Ground of Being in everything. The personal side is expressed in intellect and will. and their unity. But to speak about a person would have been absolutely heretical for the Middle Ages; it would have been Unitarian heresy for them. because this would exclude that God has three personae. namely. expressions of His being.
Now about the relationship of intellect and will in God. there the same fight was going on as about the epistemological problem. For the Thomistic tradition, intellect is characteristic of God and man. Thomas argues that only because man is intellect is he able to be distinguished from an animal. An animal would be a man in the moment in which it was able to put purposes intellectually before the will. But the animal only wills. without purpose in the sense in which we ascribe it to man. Therefore for Thomas the intellect is that which makes man man and therefore is the primary characteristic of God.
Intellect is the insight into the universally true and good. But Duns Scotus opposed this doctrine. In him God and man are will. Will is universally creative. There is no reason for the Divine will other than the Divine will itself. There is nothing which determines the will. The good is good because God wills that it is. There is no intellectual necessity that the world is as it is, that salvation is as it is. Everything is possible for God except not to be God that's impossible for Him. This is what Duns Scotus called His potentia absoluta . the absolute power of God. But God uses His absolute power only in order to create a given world in which there are definite orders. Therefore he called this potestas ordinatus. the ordered power of God. Here he distinguishes these two: the world as we know it. and the purpose of salvation as we know it by revelation. is not necessarily so as it is. but now. after it has been given. it is so as it is; it is by Divine ordered power. But behind this stands something as a threat. The world is not as it is from eternity. There is no real necessity that it is as it is. The threatening absolute power of God behind the ordered power may change everything. Duns Scotus didn't believe that this would happen. but it can happen.
Now what does such an idea mean? It means that we have to accept the given, that we cannot deduce it. that we have to be humble toward reality. We cannot deduce the world or the process of salvation in terms of, for instance. with Anselm's doctrine of atonement. where he tried to deduce in terms of necessity the way of salvation between God and Christ. and man. Duns Scotus would say there is no such necessity; this is a positive order of God. Now here in this idea of the absolute power of God. we have the root of all positivism. in science as well as in politics. in religion as well as in psychology. In the moment in which God became "will". who is only determined by Himself and His own will, and not by the intellect in this moment the world became incalculable, uncertain, unsafe, and we are demanded to subject ourselves to what is given. All the dangers of positivism are rooted in this concept of Duns Scotus. And so I consider him, more than anybody else, the turning point in the history of Western thought.
I don't know whether I really spoke in a very negative way about Pelagius. I said that he was in the Greek tradition, the ordinary Greek tradition, that he emphasized freedom in the sense in which Greek philosophy always had done it. I said he believes that every man is in every moment able in principle to decide for God although the historical heritage is (such) that this is extremely improbable. But there are people who always were able to do it, and there always will be people who are able to do it. We must decide: do we believe this is an adequate doctrine of the human situation or do we believe that the description expressed in the term of the tragic character of the human situation is equally necessary? And I must say that Augustine was right in emphasizing the tragic side of the human situation, the participation of everything in man's estrangement from God, and in the impossibility of man in his own power to return to God. Now this is the question. If somebody in a Manichaean way emphasized this tragic element, then I would take the side of Pelagius, of course, because the both sides the responsible side and the tragic side belong to each other. And if you have the one without the other, then you are wrong. Let me give two examples: The one is a special kind of Neo Orthodox theology which has already appeared in the Reformation period under the heading of a movement called gnesio-Lutherans (genuine Lutherans). The man who was especially representative for this was Matthias Flaccius. He said that original sin is the substance of man. In saying this he made a statement which made the sinful state a matter of creation, because substance is a category which belongs to the realm of creation. And therefore he was rejected, with this statement. But the tendency which he represents is always very strong.
Now I had a discussion with one of my German friends amongst the student body here who ,told me that he believes that God cannot maintain His first creation, that He cannot maintain the creation as we see it in time and space, but that this creation, so to speak, was a failure. And this German student said: since the creation of God was a failure, through the guilt of man, God must cancel the creation, so to speak, and must posit the new creation. The new creation is something absolutely different from the old creation. Then I asked him about the structures which make that a tree always becomes a tree, and that the human being is always dependent on special functions of the blood stream, on the breath, on the lung, etc. Then he said: all this has to be cancelled, so to speak, by God in the new creation. The new creation is the new heaven and the new earth, the Kingdom of God however it is symbolically called and the natural structures which have proved to be a failure since man for whom they\were created is a failure, have to be removed by God and replaced by other ones.
Now this is an attitude in which the tragic element has completely overwhelmed the original goodness of man to which his essential freedom belongs. And insofar as Pelagianism if you want to use that word for it emphasizes human freedom in this sense, insofar as this is the case Pelagianism is a necessary corrective against the danger of Augustinianism to fall back into Manichaean dualistic tendencies and to emphasize the disruptedness of reality in such a way that even the natural structures of reality have to be removed.
My second answer is: When we speak about our relationship to God and the possibility of man, under the conditions of estrangement, to reunite with God, then I would say: this is impossible, because the ethical act which comes out of the situation of estrangement is colored, formed, shaped, by this situation of estrangement, even if it. is a so-called good act. And this means that only if there is a new reality is it possible to reunite with God, in the power of this new being, or new reality. And in this, Augustine and the classical theology, the Reformers, etc., are right. And I think modern philosophy and psychology, existentialism and depth psychology in their alliance, have confirmed what I have said. Perhaps our grandfathers could believe that there are people who have a good will and other people who have a bad will, and they are always on the side of those who have a good will, while it is the others who have a bad will. Now in every special situation you can decide this was a good deed and that was a bad deed. This is unambiguously so, so that if you do a good deed, everything is all right. Those of you who have heard or read some of my things will remember that I believe that life is defined by the concept of ambiguity, and that ambiguity means that in a tragic way the great is always at the same time the tragic, Greatness and tragedy belong together. The great produces great guilt, produces tragic guilt, And this is always ambiguously intermixed. Now if we ask ourselves about the best deed we have done perhaps some of you remember their best deed, of I don't know how many years ago, probably many, because from the last year we hardly will discover one--in any case, if we imagine our best deed, we must ask ourselves how many motives might have been co-operative in our good deeds, which in themselves are not good but are either ambiguous or bad. . . Now if we ask this every time, then we will not simply say: this was good, this was had, etc., but we will say our best deed was still a deed in which many elements which we probably would call ambiguous or bad, are present.
But the opposite is also true, namely, the people who are not people of good will that is, the others if we judge their acts, (and they are certainly very negative acts: they acted toward us very negatively, or they committed crimes, or all kinds of things), then we know that in their acts are elements of goodness, and they can be living acts only because of the elements of goodness within them. Otherwise, they could not have being, because being or the power of being - -has in itself the nature of the good, according to the Christian idea that esse qua esse bonum est, being as being is good. Now if this is the case, then it is much easier not to condemn the others; then it is possible to judge ourselves more adequately. And "we" don't even need to condemn ourselves, perhaps, in such a way as when we distinguish between black and white unambiguously. Our worst deed perhaps was not as bad as we think, when we compare it with other deeds which we count our best deeds. Perhaps the difference is not so terribly great.
But I wanted only to express the Augustinian point of view in terms of modern psychology. If we accept this, then the necessary consequence is that if we believe that God wants the unambiguously good because He is unambiguously good our free decisions are not able to reach Him. This then produces the Augustinian idea of grace, which I translate for us into the concept of a New Being, which has as its central element the character of in spite of. And here seems to me to be the profoundest criticism of Pelagianism, that it doesn't know the nature of the "in spite of." The nature of the "in spite of" is the "in spite of our ambiguity." Now let us for a moment imagine consistent Pelagianism: what would we experience in ourselves? We would experience that all these ambiguities are always present when we make a decision for reunion towards God or towards the ultimate good, however you want to define it, and we never would be able to accept ourselves. You know that most of the neurotic states of man are rooted in the fact that he is not able to accept himself. Now nobody who is serious or profound is able to accept himself on the basis of what he does. If he tries to do this, then he either becomes superficially self-complacent a way out which many people are able to muddle through from day to day but there is a hidden knowledge that this is not the reality. If we face the reality of our being unable to act completely good, to act towards God so that we bring God down to us by our actions, then we cannot accept ourselves: the self-acceptance is possible only on the basis of being accepted. Now this being accepted is again a translation of the Augustinian concept of grace, and therefore I am an Augustinian because I know myself. And I think that's what Augustine also did. Pelagius was also, as a monk, able to know himself. But in comparison to the distorted world, he rightly pointed to the fact that in the monastic community much more good is actualized than in the completely disrupted pagan world of the decaying ancient culture But this is a criterion which is always relatively acceptable and necessary, but which does not fit the absolute categories, the relationship to God. And there Pelagius did not realize what many monks and saints after them have realized, namely that the saints are, at the same time, the greatest sinners, that they are open to the greatest temptations, and that they have to fight, perhaps more than the average man, within themselves to overcome. That is what Augustine knew, from his experience, and what the Reformers knew who took the Divine demand absolutely seriously.
Now that is my judgment about Augustinianism and Pelagianism. I repeat: if we have a kind of Manichaean distortion of Augustinianism as we have it in some Neo-Orthodox theologians, or in Flaccius and many others in the Reformation period, then we have to maintain the Pelagian point of view. If, however, the human situation is described, then we do better with all that we know about man today to become Augustinians.
Now the main points about the epistemology of the medieval philosophers and theologians were discussed yesterday. I gave you the great conflict between the Augustinians and the Aristotelian, or the Franciscan and the Dominican, point of view and the consequences for our own situation today. Then I went into the doctrine of God in all medieval philosophers and theologians, the doctrine of God which always starts with the statement that God is being itself, and then that He is intelligence, and then that He is will, but that the term "personality" or "person" is not used for Him, and that persona, if used at all, is used for the three hypostases Father, Son, and Spirit God, a trinitarian concept, but not a concept describing God. Then I came to the difference between the Thomistic and the Scotistic concepts of God, and the great consequences of this God is primarily intellect in Aquinas and primarily will in Scotus and, with will, the threat against everything which can be deduced, the impossibility of deducing anything because God's will is nothing other than what He wills, but you cannot make Him dependent on anything else, even on principles described that as the "threat" against the safety of rationalism, and described it also as one of the roots of the good sides in positivism, namely the humble acceptance of reality as it is given, given by the irrational ground of being, given by the irrational will of God.
Now I go back to Thomas Aquinas and discuss a few of his doctrines which are so important that we all must know them. The first is his doctrine of nature and grace. His famous statement reads: "Grace does not remove nature but fulfills it."
Now this is a very important principle grace is not the negation but the fulfillment of nature. I can now use my long excursus about Pelagianism in saying that the radical Augustinians or more exactly the Manichaean distortions of Augustine would not follow Thomas in this sentence. They would say that grace removes nature, just as I said that that the New Being is a negation of the old creation, and not only of the distortion of the old creation. For Thomas Aquinas, with whom I feel very much in unity in this point, nature and grace are not two contradictory concepts only distorted or estranged nature and grace are contradictory concepts, but not nature as such. But now he says that nature is fulfilled in supra-nature; and supra-nature is grace. This is a structure of reality which was always, even by creation. God gave to Adam in Paradise not only his natural abilities but, beyond this, a donum superadditum, a gift which he added to his natural gifts, namely the gift of grace which made it possible for Adam to consist in his state of union with God.
Now this is a very interesting doctrine and one which we must discuss because it was a point in which Protestantism deviated completely from Thomas Aquinas. Protestantism said that the perfect nature doesn't need any grace any more, but that if we are perfect in our created status, then the grace which comes from above is not necessary; and therefore Protestantism removed the idea of the donum superadditum. Now this is a mythological story; whether Adam got that or didn't get it, that is not what is- interesting but in these mythological stories a very profound vision of the structure of reality is expressed. In Thomism the structure of reality has two degrees. For Protestantism ,the situation is the following: creation is complete in itself, and therefore the created forms of reality are forms which are sufficient: God didn't need to add something to it. This is the same basic feeling towards life which we find in the Renaissance, where we also have creation which in itself is good, where man is in the center, in his created potentialities, without a supernatural gift which is added to him.
Thomas Aquinas has the two degrees: nature and supra-natureo Protestantism says: only if nature is distorted by man's fall, by man's estrangement from God, is another power necessary: the power of grace, whose center is forgiveness. But what forgiveness does is the restitutio integrum, the restitution of nature to its full potentialities. This idea is ultimately monistic. The created world is perfect in itself: God doesn't need to give additional graces to His fulfilled creation. But He must come down into existence in order to overcome the conflicts of existence and that's what grace is. So in Protestantism, grace is acceptance of that which is unacceptable. In Catholicism grace is a substance, which is in analogy to the non-grace, to the natural substances.
So I have now given you a positive and then a negative valuation of Thomas' doctrine. The positive valuation is that nature and grace are not contradictions, but that grace fulfills what in nature is disrupted, fulfills the possibilities of the natural, and in this I agree with the Thomistic tendency to bring creation and salvation together, to bring nature and grace into the one Divine act of creativity.
Secondly, I deviate from Thomas or Protestantism does in that we do not consider a supra-nature as a substance which is "added to" nature in order to fulfill it, but it is the Divine act in which He reunites us with Himself.
This of course is also valid for the relationship of revelation and reason. Revelation does not destroy reason but fulfills reason. And here again I agree with Thomas Aquinas. I believe that revelation is reason in ecstasy, that in revelation the depth of reason breaks into the form of reason, driving it beyond itself without destroying it. But I would not accept the Thomistic form in which reason is one realm, and revelation is another realm in which reason is completed. So we have two forms here, and I think this is so central that it is an inroad also to the understanding of Protestantism namely, the central fact that the Catholic world view is essentially dualistic, between nature and supra-nature. Catholicism defends supernaturalism with all its power. Protestantism is united with the Renaissance in the monistic tendency monistic in the sense of having one Divine world and having salvation and regeneration (which are one and the same thing) as the answer of God to the disruption of this world. But this answer is not the negation of the created structure of this world.
So in some way the Protestant dualism is deeper, but it is not the dualism of substances, it is dualism of the Kingdom of God and the demonic powers which stand against it. It is not an identification of the created with the fallen world. The fallen world is the distortion of the created world, and therefore the New Being is not another creation but is the re-establishment of the original unity.
Now one of the consequences of this is that in Protestantism the secular world is immediate to God. In Catholicism the secular world needs the mediation through the supernatural substance, which is present in the hierarchy and their sacramental activities. Here again you have a fundamental difference. Therefore Protestantism is emphatic for secularity. And Luther's words about the value of the work of a housemaid in contrast to the value of the work of a monk, are very clear speaking about namely, that the value of the housemaid's work, if it is done in the fear of God or however you express it is more valuable than the asceticism of the monks, even if is done in the fear of God. Now here is the emphasis on the secular act as such, which if done in the right way is the revelation of God. And you don't need to become a monk. On the contrary, if you try it, then you claim to be in a supernatural realm and to make this. claim is to contradict the paradox of justification, namely, that as a sinner you are justified.
Now I come to a few other doctrines connected with the name of Thomas Aquinas, and which we must know. You all have heard about his (so-called) "arguments" for the so-:-called "existence" of God. Now the first thing which follows out of my epistemological description yesterday is that Thomas rejects the ontological argument. This was implicit in everything I said yesterday, but I will repeat it in connection with the ontological argument, namely that in the center of the human mind there is an immediate awareness of something unconditional. That is what the whole ontological argument is about. There is an a priori presence of the Divine in the human mind expressed in the immediate awareness of the unconditional character of the true and the good and of being itself. This precedes every other knowledge, so that the knowledge of God is the first knowledge and is the only absolute, sure and certain knowledge, namely the knowledge not of a being, somewhere, but the knowledge of the unconditional element in the depths of the soul. Now this is the nerve of the ontological argument. But as I said in connection with Anselm, the ontological argument was also elaborated in terms of a reasoning argument, of an argument which concluded from this basis to the existence of a highest being. And insofar as this was done, the argument is not valid, and all the critics of this argument Thomas, Scotus, Kant have shown very clearly that as an argument it is not valid. As an analysis of man in his tension between the finite and the infinite, it is valid; it is a matter of immediate certainty.
Thomas Aquinas belongs to those who reject the ontological argument because he saw the argumentative side in it, which indeed must be rejected and is not valid. The same of course is true of Duns Scotus. I don't need to go into him at all. He emphasizes this even more.
But now in order to fill the empty space which was produced by the falling down of the ontological argument, and also. in Thomas, by the principle of the immediate awareness of the Divine in man, he had to do something else I spoke about this point yesterday namely, to find a way from the world to God. The world in itself is not the first, but it is the first which is given to us, he says. This is just the opposite of what the Augustinian and the Franciscans said: the first which is given to us is the principles of truth in us, and only with their help can we exercise the function of doubt, etc. Even the skeptical function is based on the spirit of truth in the depths of the mind. Thomas denied this. So he had to show another way: the cosmological way, which says that God must be found from outside. We must look at our world, and we find that our world is such that by logical necessity it leads us to the estrangement of a highest being. He has five arguments for it, which one should know because they appear again and again in the history of philosophy:
1) The argument from motion: Motion demands a cause. This cause itself is moved. So we have to go back to an unmoved Mover which we call "God." It is an argument from movement in terms of causality. To find a cause for the movement in the world, we must find something which itself is not moved.
2) There is always a cause for every effect, but this cause is itself an effect of a prior cause. So we go back from cause to cause, which would bring us into an infinite regression, and in order to avoid this we must speak of a First Cause. Now the "first cause" is not the first cause temporally, according to Thomas, but it is first in dignity; it is the cause of all causes.
3) Everything in the world is contingent. It is not necessary that it is as it is. It might have been otherwise. But if everything is contingent, if we can make disappear into the abyss of nothing everything that is, because it has no necessity to be, then this leads us back to something which has ultimate necessity, and from which we can derive all the contingent elements.
4) There are purposes in nature and man, but if we act in terms of purpose, we ask: for what? And if we have reached that, then we again ask: for what is that? We need a final purpose, an ultimate end behind all the means. The preliminary purposes become means when they are fulfilled, and this leads to the idea of a final purpose, of an ultimate meaning, as we would perhaps call it today.
5) This is very much dependent on Plato. It says: there are degrees of perfection in everything that is. Some things are better or more beautiful or truer than others. But if there is a more-or-less of perfection, there must be something absolutely perfect by which we measure this more-or-less. So whenever we value, we presuppose an ultimate value. Whenever we have degrees, we presuppose something which is beyond degree.
Now in all these arguments there is always the category of causality it is always a conclusion from characteristics of this world to something which makes this world possible. Now I would believe that this is true, as analysis. Each of these arguments is true as long as it is not an argument but an analysis. It is one of those ways in which existentialist philosophy appeared in the whole history of Western thinking. In the doctrine of the arguments for the existence of God, we have probably the most adequate analysis of the finitude of reality in the whole literature of the past. This is the value of these arguments, and this is the reason why they have reappeared exactly as often as they have been refuted which is a funny thing; I spoke about this already and by the greatest men in the history of thought: some refuted them, some re-established them. The reason is that they included the existential analysis of man's finitude, and as such they have truth. Insofar as they go beyond this and establish a highest being which as a being is infinite, they make conclusions which are not justified. And this seems to me our attitude towards these doctrines.
I must give you another concept which we find in Thomas Aquinas, namely the concept of predestination. Here we have a cross-working of motives. Predestination is an Augustinian idea taken over by the Dominican Thomas Aquinas, on the basis of his principle of intellect, which understands the necessities, and can by necessity derive consequences from what has preceded. On the other hand the Augustinians, the Franciscans, especially under Duns Scotus' influence, emphasized the will so much that Divine as well as human will became ultimate realities, became, so to speak, ontological ultimates, not determined by anything other than by themselves. So they introduced the element of freedom the Pelagian element. The Augustinians introduced a crypto- Pelagianism into medieval theology, I. e., a Pelagianism which is not an open but a hidden Pelagianism, while Thomas Aquinas on the basis of his intellectualism thought in deterministic terms. This is important because it shows that Thomas Aquinas was religiously much more powerful than the Protestant criticism of the Scholastic theology admits. It seems that Luther didn't know Thomas Aquinas at all. He knew the late nominalistic theologians, of whom one can rightly say that they were distortions of Scholasticism, and he fought against them. But he could have found in Thomas Aquinas his own and Calvin's predestinarian thinking.
We must stop now, unfortunately. I must say something next time about Thomistic ethics because they are so much in the foreground of present-day discussions that we cannot leave them out completely.
The problem we left unfinished in the week before last was the ethical teachings of Thomas Aquinas. His ethical teaching corresponds to his system of grades, as do all the other realms of his system. There is an ethics, a rational sub-structure, and a theological super-structure. Exactly as nature and grace are related to each other, so the sub-structure and super-structure are related to each other. The sub-structure contains the four main pagan virtues, taken from Plato: courage, temperance, wisdom, and the all-embracing justice. They produce natural happiness. Happiness does not mean having a good time or having fun, but it means the fulfillment of one's own essential nature, which of course produces an awareness of fulfillment - -which means happiness. In Greek the word for happiness is eudaemonia , and you know that there is a philosophical school called eudaemonism. It is often attacked by Christianity that happiness is not the purpose of human existence but, let us say, the glory of God. I think this is a completely mistaken interpretation of eudaemonia. It is exactly what in Christian theology is called blessedness, but blessedness on the basis of the natural virtues, and Thomas knew this. Therefore he was not , but he accepted this concept. It is derived from the two Greek words eu and daemon a "demon," a Divine power, which guides us "well" (cf. Socrates' daemon.) The result of the guiding produces eudaemonia : being guided in the right way toward self-fulfillment. In this way eudaemonia has received the connotation of happiness or blessedness.
According to Thomas Aquinas, the four virtues of philosophy, the natural virtues, can give natural blessedness eudaemonia, in the Greek sense. Virtue does not have the bad connotations it has today such as abstinence from sexual relations, etc. But it means what the Latin term indicates: vir, :man," manliness, power of being. In all these different virtues, power of being expresses itself the right power of being, the power of being which is united with justice. This is what these terms mean. So don't presuppose that if you find the same words in the 13th century that they mean exactly the same as they mean today, especially after at least one century has passed since that time, namely the 18th century, which has changed everything! So be aware of this fact, for all your historical studies, and don't use these terms in the wrong way. What Thomas does here is to combine ancient ethics self-fulfillment on the basis of what is given to man by nature: the courage to be, the temperance which expresses the limits of finitude, the wisdom which expressed the knowledge of these limits, and then the all-embracing justice which gives to each of them the right balance in relationship to the others.
And now on this basis the Christian virtues are seen: faith, love and hope. They are supernatural, they are not what nature gives but what grace gives. So you have the two stories, so to speak: the normal ethics and the transcending, spiritual ethics. This of course was not simply a theoretical speculation, but it was something more: it was at the same time an expression of the sociological situation. The acceptance of the Platonic-Aristotelian virtues meant that a city-culture developed. And on the other hand the combination of these with the Christian virtues, faith, love, and hope, means that it is the period in which the orders of the knights developed, which had such a tremendous historical influence on the high Middle Ages. They united pagan courage with Christian love, pagan wisdom with Christian hope, pagan moderation with Christian faith. So it was at the same time a combination between humanistic and classical ideals on the basis of the developing of independent humanistic elements.!!!. the universally Christian culture.
The ethical purpose of man is the fulfillment of what is essential for man. And as you know, in Thomas Aquinas what is essential for man is his intellect, which doesn't mean his shrewdness, but his ability of living in meanings and in structures of reason. This makes him man, not the will. Man has the will in common with the animal. Intellect, the rational structure which forms his mind, is peculiar to man.
Thomas combines ethics with esthetics, He is the first in the Middle Ages to develop a theological esthetics. The beautiful is that kind of the good in which the soul rests without possession." You don't need to possess a picture, you can enjoy it. You don't need to possess the woods or ocean or houses or men depicted in the picture. But you enjoy them by their mere form. It is, according to him, disinterested enjoyment of the soul which is in every art also in music. Beautiful is that which is pleasant in itself. Here again we have something which leads in the direction of humanism. But it is not humanism in autonomy, in independence; it is humanism which is always the first step to something which transcends the human possibilities.
Similarly, he deals with the problems of states. We have two degrees: the values represented by the state, and the higher, supernatural values embodied in the Church. The Church therefore is higher in what it represents. Therefore the Church has authority over the states, over the different national governments. The Church can, if necessary, ask the people to be disobedient.
Now with these remarks, which are given by Thomas Aquinas in what is usually quoted as the "secunda secunde," the second part of the second section of his Summa, where he develops his ethics and whenever you hear this quotation, remember that this means the Thomistic ethics. These Thomistic ethics are at least as influential in the history of the Western world as his dogmatic statements, and they all have the same character which we discovered in him everywhere, namely the character of grades and mediations; the secular realm and the religious realm are related to each other in a different way than in Augustine. In Augustine the secular realm was completely. swallowed by the religious realm. In Thomas they were put into a system of grades, in the secular realm the sub-structure, and in the religious realm the super-structure. The next step was that they were put beside each other; and in our period of secularism, finally the secular realm swallowed the religious realm.
In these four steps you have the whole history of the Western world.
Now the man who is mostly responsible for the putting beside it, is Duns Scotus. But I discussed him already in connection with the doctrine of the will and the arguments for the existence of God. But I want to go now directly to the man of whom I spoke very often and whose philosophy I often mentioned, who is in some way the spiritual father of all of you: William Ockham (or Occam), the father of nominalism.
Let me say a little more about what nominalism means. We discussed it in the big survey of the Middle Ages, but we did not discuss it in a detailed way. This fight between nominalism and realism is the destiny of the Middle Ages and largely the destiny of our own time. In our own time it is repeated, partly at least, as a discussion or a fight between idealism and realism, whereby "realism" today is what "nominalism" is in the Middle Ages, and "idealism" today is what "realism" was in the Middle Ages. So here again you must be very cautious about the words. When I speak of medieval realism, I usually add the adjective "mystical" realism. Now if you hear this word, you are immediately terrified, of course, and don't think of the modern, sound realism of empiricists and other good people! they all are based on nominalism in the Middle Ages. What is this nominalism? Ockham criticized the mystical realism of the Middle Ages which thinks the universals are real, in saying that the universals, if existing independently, are special things. If they exist otherwise, they simply reduplicate the things. If they exist in the mind only, they are not real things. Therefore realism is nonsense. Realism which thinks that the universals are real, has no meaning because realism cannot say what kind of reality the universals have. What kin d of reality has "treehood"? Ockham says it is only in the mind, therefore it has no reality at all, it is something which is meant, but it is not a reality. The realists of that time said: No, the universal, "treehood", which directs every tree in a special direction, is a power of being in itself. It is not a thing no realist ever said that but it is a power of being. The nominalists said there are only individual things and nothing else. It is against the principle of economy in thinking, not to augment the principles. If you can explain something like the universals in the simplest term, that they are meant by the mind, then you should not establish a heaven of ideas as Plato did.
Now this criticism was rooted in the development towards individuals. This development became more and more the real power in the late medieval life. It was a change from the Greek mood and the medieval mood the Greek feeling towards the world which starts with the negation of all individual things; the medieval which subordinated the individual to the collective. So it was not simply a logical play in which the nominalists won for the time being, but it was a change of the attitude towards reality in the whole society. You will find that nominalism and realism are discussed in books on the history of logic, and rightly so, but that does not give you the impression of what that means. This discussion was a discussion between two attitudes towards life. Today we discuss it in terms of collectivism and individualism. Of course the collectivism of the Middle Ages was only partly totalitarian; it was basically mystical. But this mystical collectivism which is the Church as the body of Christ and as the mystical body, generally speaking is something else from our present-day collectivism. But it is collectivism. And for this collectivism the realists fought; the nominalists dissolved it. And in the moment in which the success was on the side of the nominalists, the Middle Ages actually dissolved.
Then if this is the case if there are only individual things, what are the universals, according to Ockham? The universals are identical with the act of knowing, and as far as they are this they are natural, they rise in our minds, they must be used, otherwise we could not speak. He called them the universalia naturalia.
Beyond them are the words which are the symbols for these natural universals which we have in our mind. They are the conventional universals. Words can be changed; they are by convention. The word is universal because it can be said of different things. Therefore these people also were called "terminists" because they said the universals are merely "terms." They were also called "conceptualists" because they said the universals are mere "concepts" but have no real power of being in themselves. The significance of a universal concept is that it indicates the similarity of different things that's all it can do,
Now all this comes down to the point that only individual things have reality. Not man as man, but Paul and Peter and John have reality. Not treehood, but this tree here, on the corner of 116th and Riverside Drive, has reality, and the others on the other corners, too. We discover some similarity between them. Therefore we call them trees. But there is no such thing as treehood. -- Now that is nominalistic thinking.
Now this was also applied to God. God is called by Ockham ens singularissimum, the most single being, i.e., God has become an individual Himself. As such, He is separated from the other individuals, He looks at them and they look at Him. God is not in the center of everything any more, as He was in the Augustinian kind of thought, but He has been removed from this center into a special place distant from the things, just as man. I. e. , God Himself has become an individual. The individual things have become independent. The substantial presence of God in all of them doesn't mean anything any more, because that presupposes some kind of mystical realism. Therefore God has to know the things, so to speak, empirically, from outside. He is in our situation. As man approaches the world empirically, because he is not the center any more, he doesn't know anything immediately, he can only know empirically so God knows everything empirically, but empirically not as before, by being in the center. God Himself has ceased to be the center in which all reality is united. He is no more center. The whole thing is a pluralistic philosophy in which there are many individual beings, of which God is one, although the most important one. In this way the unity of the things in God has come to an end. Their individual separation has the consequence that they cannot participate in each other immediately because each of them participates in a universal. The one tree does not participate in the other as it did before, when mystical realism gave them the universal treehood as the space in which they participated in each other. Community, as we had it in the Augustinian: type of thinking, is replaced by social relations, by society. We live today in the consequence of this nominalistic thinking, in a society in which we are related to each other in terms of cooperation and competition, but neither the one nor the other word means something of the type of participation. Community is a matter of participation. Society is a matter of common interests, of being separated from each other and working together with each other or against each other.
We don't know .each other except by the signs, the words, which enable us to communicate and to have a common activity. Now this, of course, was another anticipation of the life of the technical society in which we are existing, which developed first of all in those countries in which nominalism was predominant, as in England and in this country The attitude of the relationship between man and man, between man and things, is nominalistic, in this country in the traditions of American philosophy, as it is largely in England and in some Western European countries. The substantial unity which was preserved by realistic thinking has disappeared.
Now this means that we have knowledge of the others not by participation but only by sense perception seeing, hearing, testing: it's always a form of sense relationship. This refers to all our reality, but it doesn't mean that there is a world of essences, in which our mind a priori participates. We deal with our sensual intuitions and the reflections of it in our mind. This of course produces positivism: we have to look at what is positively given to us. From this many things follow: Irrational metaphysics is impossible. For example, it is impossible to establish a rational psychology which proves the immortality of the soul, its pre- or post-existence, its omnipresence in the whole body. All this is, if it is affirmed, a matter of faith but not a matter of philosophical analysis. In the same way, all sides of rational theology are impossible. God does not appear to our sense apperception. Therefore since we have no direct immediate relationship to it as we have in Augustinian thinking, He remains unapproachable. We cannot have direct knowledge of God. We can have only indirect reflection, but reflections, discourse, never leads to certainty but only probability, of a lower or higher degree. And this probability never can be elevated to certainty, and even its probability is doubtful. It is quite possible that there is not one cause of the world, but different causes. The most perfect being - -which is the definition of God is not necessarily an infinite being. A doctrine like the Trinity which is based on mystical realism --the three personae participate in the one Divinity is obviously improbable. They all, therefore, are matters of irrational belief. Science must go its way and faith must guarantee all that is scientifically irrational and absurd.
Now if this is the case, then you see immediately that authority is now the most important thing. Faith is the subjection to authority, and this authority is even more an authority of the Bible, in Ockham, than it is an authority of the Church. Ockham not only dissolved the realistic unity in thought, but also in practice. He fought with the German king, who was not emperor any more at that time, against the Pope. He fought for one Pope against the other. He produced autonomous economics as well as autonomous national politics. He was doubtful in all realms of life for the establishment of independent realms.
Now all this means that he was a most radical dissolver of the medieval unity. What we call "nominalism" and "realism" is a most realistic problem in our sense of the word "realistic" namely, a problem of the end of the Middle Ages, because of the loss of its unity; and nominalism has produced this unity. Our present ordinary attitude towards reality is thoroughly nominalistic, and especially in those countries where in the Middle Ages nominalism already was decisive.
Now I come to another movement which also was an end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of many new things, namely the movement which is called German Mysticism.
Its most important representative, Meister Eckhardt, also belongs to the 13th century. What did these mystics do? They tried to interpret the Thomistic system for practical purposes. It is not so that they were speculative monks, sitting beside the world, but they wanted to give the people, and themselves, the possibility of experiencing what was expressed in the Scholastic systems. This refers to all fundamental problems. And so it happened that this mysticism of Meister Eckhardt unites the most abstract Scholastic concepts especially that of being with a burning soul, with the warmth of religious feeling and the love-power of religious acting. He says: "Nothing is so near to the beings, so intimate to them, than being-itself. But God is being-itself." And from this the identity of God and being is stated. "Esse est deus" -- being-itself is God. But it is not a static being. I often have been attacked ,when I use the word "being," of making God static. Not even of the medieval mysticism of that of Meister Eckhardt is this true. Being is a continuous flux and return, as he calls it Fluss und Wiederfluss a stream and a counterstream. It always moves away from and back to itself. Being is life. It has dynamic character.
In order to make this clearer, he distinguishes between the Divinity and God. The Divinity is the Ground of Being, in which everything moves and counter-moves. God is essentia, is the principle of the good and the true. From this he can even develop the Trinitarian thought. The first is the being which is neither born nor giving birth; the second is the process of self-objectivation the Logos, the Son; the third is the self-generation, the Spirit, which creates all individual things. For the Divinity he uses the terms of negative theology. He calls it the simple ground, the quiet desert. It is the nature of the Divinity not to have any nature. It is beyond every special nature. The Trinity is based on God's going out and returning back to himself, He recognizes Himself, He re-sees Himself, and this makes the Logos. The world is in God in an archetypical sense "archetype" is a word which is renewed today by Jung; it is the Latin translation of the Platonic "idea." The essences, the archetypes of everything, are in the depths of the Divine. They are the Divine verbum, the Divine Word. Therefore the generation of the Son and the eternal creation of the world in God Himself. are one and the same thing. Creaturely being is receiving being. The creature doesn't give being to itself God does. But the creature receives being from God. But it is a Divine form of being. The creature, including man, has reality only in union with the eternal reality. The creature has nothing in separation from God. And the point in which the creature returns to God is the soul. Through the soul, what is separated from God returns to Him. The depths of the soul in which this happens, is called by Meister Eckhardt the "spark," or also the innermost center of the soul, the heart of the soul, or the castle of the soul. It is the point which transcends the difference of the function of the soul; it is the uncreated light in man. Therefore the Son is born in every soul. This general event is more important than the special birth of Jesus,
But all this is in the realm of possibility. Now it must come into the realm of actuality. God must be born in the soul. Therefore the soul must separate itself from its finitude. Something must happen which he calls entwerden -- the opposite of becoming, going away from oneself. losing oneself; that man gets rid of himself and of all things, is the process of salvation. as he says.
Sin and evil show the presence of God, as everything does. They push us into a situation of awareness of what we really are. (That is an idea which Luther took over from Mister Eckhard.) God is the Nunc sternum, the Eternal Now, which takes us in this moment, as we are now, into repentance not as we were in the last moment, namely sinful. God comes to the individual in his concrete situation. He doesn't ask that the individual first develop some goodness and then he will come to him. But God comes to the individual in his estrangement.
In order to receive the Divine substance, serenity, patience, not moving, is needed. Work is not the way in which we can come to God, but it is the result of our having come to God. He fights against purposes, in the religious relationship. All this is a strange mixture between quietism being quiet in one's soul - -and a tremendous activism. The inner feeling must become work and vice versa. This removes also the difference of the secular and the sacred worlds. They are expressions of the Ground of Being. who is in us.
Now this mysticism was very influential in the Church for a long time, and is still influential in many people. The Dominican mysticism is a counter-balance against the nominalistic isolation of the individual from the individual. In the realm of the religious, one could say that the impulses given by German mysticism prevailed. In the realm of the secular culture, it is the nominalistic attitude which prevailed.
And now I come tomorrow to the so-called pre-Reformers, especially Wyclif, and after this we must have a survey on the development of Catholicism, and then to the Reformation. Now you see this means, practically, that we have dealt very thoroughly with the ancient and medieval Church. And this was our intention, because that is what you will never hear again. You will hear about the Reformation, and you will hear sometimes, very often, about the modern development, But you will not hear about the Early Church and the Middle Ages. So we intentionally put this into the center, because of the limits of our time.