Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Heidegger the onticologist

"Heidegger was in error, and for the most surprising of reasons:  because he, perhaps more than any other philosopher in Western thought, was oblivious of the difference between being and beings."

     David Bentley Hart, "The offering of names:  metaphysics, nihilism, and analogy" (2005), in The hidden and the manifest:  essays in theology and metaphysics (Grand Rapids, MI:  Eerdmans, 2017), 9 (1-44).

Saturday, July 22, 2017

"If they do not grow, they are not desires."

Encyclopaedia Britannica
"When our desires are not satisfied, they grow stronger, and becoming stronger they take hold of their object. . . .  Holy desires likewise . . . grow with anticipation, and if they do not grow they are not really desires."

"actumque est ut desideria dilata crescerent, et crescentia caperunt quod invenissent. . . .  Sancta enim desideria . . . dilatione crescent.  Si autem dilatione deficient, desideria non fuerunt."

     Pope Gregory the Great, Homily 25.2, as translated somewhat loosely by the Liturgy of the hours (Office of readings, Feast of St. Mary Magdalene), which does not mark the two lacunae.  
SC 522, ed. Raymond Etaix (2008), ; CCSL 141, ed. Raymond Etaix (1999), ; PL 76, col. 1190.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

"more directly and more intimately than . . . their bodies"

"By matrimony, therefore, the souls of the contracting parties are joined and knit together more directly and more intimately than are their bodies, and that not by any passing affection of sense of spirit, but by a deliberate and firm act of the will; and from this union of souls by God's decree, a sacred and inviolable bond arises."

"Coniugio igitur animi iunguntur et coalescunt, hique prius et arctius quam corpora, nec fluxo sensuum vel animorum affectu, sed deliberato et firmo voluntatum decreto: et ex hac animorum coagmentatione, Deo sic statuente, sacrum et inviolabile vinculum exoritur."

     Pius XI, Casti connubii 7 (31 December 1930).  I was put onto this by Jean Laffitte, "Le papes et la famille:  de Casti Connubii à Familiaris Consortio," Revue internationale catholique Communio 40, no. 1 (janvier-février 2015):  17 (13-26), who calls this an "originality" of the encyclical.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A couple of the ground rules: Schubert on the medieval and early modern disputatio

Karl Friedrich Lessing (1867)
"before the beginning of the real disputation came rules for the Tragen, [rules] that were to guarantee the inviolability of Church teaching.  Only doctors appointed to a university who had acquired the [requisite] 'licentia disputandi' were permitted to dispute freely, i.e. on a self-chosen theme.  And even they could only choose [from among] themes 'salva fide catholica'.  More than that, the disputants had to guarantee under oath, in a 'protestatio' offered at the start, [that they [(man)] meant to have discussed only 'disputative' everything that might be said in the heat of the battle and [everything that] might militate against [(gegen . . . verstoßen werde)] the doctrine of the Church, but [to have] treated nothing 'assertive'.  The integrity of church doctrine was in this way already secured by the choice of disputants, the choice of themes, and the scientifico-theoretical definition of the status of [a given (des)] statement."

"Especially significant was the ban against calling the remark of an adversary heretical, a [charge] that [(was)] could have life-threatening consequences for the accused."

     Anselm Schubert, "Libertas disputandi:  Luther und die Leipziger Disputation als akademisches Streitgespräch," Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche 105 (2008):  415-416 (411-442).

"took . . . and ate" redux

"The Eucharist is an act—better:  a decision.  [A] decision so irrevocable that, in it, Jesus can already communicate the fruits of the act itself before it has [actually] taken place:  it is thus that, on Holy Thursday, in anticipation of the sacrifice of the Cross, [and] even though his body has not yet been tortured and his blood had not yet been poured [out], Jesus can share with his disciples his Body given for us and his Blood poured [out] for us.  And this, by rendering them capable, by communion in this mystery, of not making of it a harpagmos, but of receiving it in the same spirit in which he is given to them [(il leur est donné)] in order that [they], in their turn might themselves be given [(se donner)].  [The verbs] ‘take’ and ‘eat’ have henceforth [been] transformed in sense:
In Genesis 3:6, these same verbs describe coveteousness in action:  in order to be as the god of the serpent and to master everything, the woman takes and eats.  It is these acts of taking and eating that Jesus invites his disciples to undertake [(poser)] when he shares the bread with them.  But the meaning of these two gestures is very different.  There they render concrete the totalizing envy that denies all alterity; here they are [a] reception of the other who manifests his desire to give himself [away].  In the case of the bread 'given in order that the world might have life' (Jn 6:51), to take and eat on the word of Jesus is the act par excellence of the acknowledgement of God who, in this Jesus, reveals that gives [us] all things (cf. Rom 8:32).
The fruit of the eucharistic attitude of Jesus (an action within the passion!) is to cause us to enter into the 'new and eternal' covenant with God.  It is not just, in fact, that the Eucharist gives us a share in this paradoxical act, but that, by actualizing the resurrection that is its end game [(aboutissement)], it gives us the capacity to respond to it and to deploy the fecundity of it in our lives by taking the same road.  Thus, the request for our daily bread is inscribed within the pascal act of him who 'suffered for [us] and left [us] the way to the end that [we might follow] in his steps' (1 Pet 2:21).  [The] request for [the] life which is death to self, it prepares us to live our own death as Christ experienced his:  in order that it might be given in communion with as [a] source of life."

     Jean-Pierre Batut, "Don du pain et combat de la persevérance," quoting André Wénin, Pas seulement de pain. . . .  Violence et alliance dans la Bible (Paris:  Cerf, 2002), 96-97, underscoring mine.  Revue internationale catholique Communio 42, no. 2 (mars-avril 2017):  72-73 (65-73).
  • Gen 3:6:  καὶ λαβοῦσα τοῦ καρποῦ αὐτοῦ ἔφαγεν· καὶ ἔδωκεν καὶ τῷ ἀνδρὶ αὐτῆς μετ᾽ αὐτῆς, καὶ ἔφαγον.
  • Mt 26:26:  λάβετε φάγετε.  The synoptics use the same verb for "gave" as well, Mk and Lk even the very same form (ἔδωκεν).

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

"It was only a matter of an inch; but an inch is everything when you are balancing."

"it is exactly this which explains what is so inexplicable to all the modern critics of the history of Christianity.  I mean the monstrous wars about small points of theology, the earthquakes of emotion about a gesture or a word.  It was only a matter of an inch; but an inch is everything when you are balancing."

     G. K. Chesterton, "The paradoxes of Christianity," Orthodoxy (London:  John Lane, 1909), 182.

Monday, July 17, 2017

You cannot serve [both] God and Hegel

"This [one] text alone should have checked the blind dash of all those who hurl themselves into pretending to be at once Christians and Hegelians."

"Ce seul texte aurait dû retenir l’élan aveugle de tous ceux qui se précipitèrent à se pretender àla fois chrétiens et hégéliens."

     Jean-Luc Marion, "À partir de la Trinité," Revue internationale catholique Communio 40, no. 6 (novembre-décembre 2015):  25n5 (23-37).  The passage in question is Phenomenology of spirit Preface.19, in one online translation (I have not checked any of this, least of all the German, against a critical edition),
The life of God and divine intelligence, then, can, if we like, be spoken of as love disporting with itself; but this idea falls into edification, and even sinks into insipidity, if it lacks the seriousness, the suffering, the patience, and the labour of the negative. 
Das Leben Gottes und das göttliche Erkennen mag also wohl als ein Spielen der Liebe mit sich selbst ausgesprochen werden; diese Idee sinkt zur Erbaulichkeit und selbst zur Fadheit herab, wenn der Ernst, der Schmerz, die Geduld und Arbeit des Negativen darin fehlt.
Marion's point is that Hegel
  • blasphemously "denies [Christ] before men" (Mt 10:33 and parallels) by subordinating the agape that is "the greatest" because it loves "to the end" (Jn 13:1) to these other virtues;
  • ignores the "theoretical (namely historical) consequences" of this thesis; and
  • remains oblivious of the fact that he had already been refuted in advance by St. Paul, "who defines agape by assigning to it precisely the four terms that Hegel will want to attribute to negation (au négatif).  For agape "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Cor 13:7).  I.e., St. Paul explores more than anyone else in the world and even beyond the world "the seriousness (pisteuein), the suffering (umpomenein), the travail (stegein), and the patience (elpein)" of agape.  "It is a question here of edification to be sure, but the 'edification of the [body of] Christ through himself [(par lui-même)] in agape' (Eph 4:16), without any danger of sinking into insipidity, because nothing endures as much as agape".  Hegel can't see what it is almost impossible for the philosopher to see qua philosopher (26).