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By T.S.Tsonchev


The Montréal Review, January 2015


St Aquinas


"For this I have been born and for this I have come into the world to testify to the truth...," Jesus said. And Pilate replied to Him, "What is truth?" and did not wait for an answer but went to the people to give them another chance to save their "king."(1) But Jesus was not their king, and Pilate lost his chance to find the answer of his rhetorical question from the mouth of God. Pilate was a ruler of an earthly kingdom, a cynic taught by experience that truth is a capricious play of fate, lacking order and logic, directed by passions and power, not by judgement and justice. Yet, he tried to be just, his conscience was not completely asleep, and so he listened to the people, as good kings do, and their verdict was a cry of passion, "Crucify, crucify him!..." Yes, indeed, "What is truth?" we could ask with Pilate, disappointed. (2)

We cannot discuss a method in theology and science, or even in art and music, if we do not believe that truth exists. If somebody asks, "What is the first proposition before the start of any kind of research," I would probably reply, "It is the belief that our questions have answers." Or, to put it in another way, I would say, "There is Truth." We cannot be lukewarm cynics like Pilate, thinking, "Yes, there is truth... But is there truth, really?"

In this essay, I hope to show that we need to believe that there is truth and that we must operate in life with the conviction that truth is accessible and worthy for pursuing, despite of its mystical elusiveness. This paper will be build around three fulcrums: Milbank and Pickstock's interpretation of Aquinas' concepts on truth, Aquinas' concept of law, and Lonergan's theological method. The first fulcrum will engage us with the discussion on truth in Aquinas. The second will track Aquinas' own understanding of truth through his general theory of law. The third will offer a potential method for discovering the truth and, I hope, will animate, and give a practical direction of the entire discussion. Again, this essay is not an attempt for proving some particular truth, or for coining a clear definition of truth, although definitions will be suggested. It is rather a friendly discussion that aims to demonstrate that the existence of truth is a necessity and that truth is worthy for pursuing and possible to attain (if not completely). It also aims to show that the attitude behind the question "What is truth?" must not be rhetorical or cynical, as it was in the case with Pilate, but serious, requiring earnest deliberation and responsible action.




In "Truth in Aquinas,"(3) the authors, Milbank and Pickstock, discern four main attitudes toward truth in contemporary thought: doubt that truth exists at all, confinement of truth to practice only, confinement of truth to theory only, and finally a fideistic conviction of the existence of a religious or other truth. These four attitudes are not just different, they are opposed. The doubting man, like Pilate for example, is a nihilist, who sees in practice, theory, and religion, that truth is impossible.(4) If he is a king, or a judge, he could follow the law, or the commonly accepted "truths" and rules, but he would not believe by heart, that these commonly accepted norms are the truth itself. This is also the attitude of today's "deconstructivist," who is capable to dismantle any system of belief on the ground that truth is simply an ideology of power. The second attitude, that truth is confined to practice only, is pragmatic, not sceptic (although as we have seen the sceptic can act pragmatically despite his doubt).(5) The pragmatist respects only the momentous utility of a fact, thus for him truth is bound by time and space, therefore "particular," its validity limited to the moment of its temporal expression. Today's pragmatists are, for example, the so-called "positivists" in jurisprudence, people like Kelsen and Dworkin.(6) The third group of thinkers, the ones who are confined to theory only, are the so-called "gnostics,"(7) the modern scientists, who are convinced that there is truth, a universal truth, but do not respect any human idea of beauty and value as related to truth. The fourth group is the group of the fideists who react against all—nihilists, pragmatists, and gnostics—with the simple proposition that truth does not need a proof at all. It exists, they are convinced, and known only through faith.

So, where is Thomas Aquinas in this classification of attitudes?

Thomas Aquinas' thought is like a symphony—a divine symphony, because of its high level of harmony that keeps diverse meanings and voices together, producing a coherent and pleasant for the human mind whole. It is not surprising that Milbank and Pickstock turned to Aquinas in order to discuss truth. They argue, and I agree with them, that the division we see in the modern thought concerning truth, the disagreement and the lack of compromise between the parties, is missing in Aquinas' understanding of truth. They say that his approach to truth is entirely different from contemporary thought, being able to explain the reasons for doubt, to see the truth equally practical and theoretical, to demonstrate that faith and reason co-exist in its defining, and finally to show that "truth is immediately accessible to the simplest apprehension, and yet amenable to profound learned elaboration."(8) We argue, they say, that "contrary to usual readings, reason and faith in Aquinas represent only different degrees of intensity of participation in the divine light of illumination and different measures of absolute vision."(9) (The italics are mine) What they exactly mean in the just quoted sentence will become clearer after a while, but now I ask the reader to note the word "participation" and think for a moment what this word means and how it could be related to truth. It is very possible that after a short contemplation and recalling diverse memories of acts of participation the reader to reach the conclusion that certain truths exist and that these truths have been attained by his own experience and mind communicating with the reality of the external world. So, even the skeptic would admit, following his personal experience and logic, i.e. his own participation in reality, "My doubt is my truth." In the next pages, we will unfold the idea of participation and will see it as a core concept, a concept accessible to "simple apprehension" and "yet amenable to profound elaboration," an idea embracing and reconciling the convictions of nihilists, pragmatists, gnostics, and fideists.     

For Aquinas faith and reason cannot exist independently, Milbank and Pickstock argue. Reason requires faith to operate continuously and faith still "demands discursive argumentation."(10) But faith for him is higher than reason because it "enjoys a deeper participation in the divine reason" as "direct intuition or pure intellectual vision."(11) This means that both faith and reason are equal, yet qualitatively different ways of participation in the divine mind and the created world, and as such, basic tools for discovering the truth or the reality of being. We see here that Aquinas is neither a fideist, nor a rationalist in the modern sense of the word.

In the reasoning of contemporary philosophers, Aquinas' conviction that truth exists and his interest in the meaning and role of faith and reason, is completely lacking. Post-modern philosophy questions not only the validity of faith and reason, it doubts the adequacy of "realism" itself; it challenges the very idea that there are such things as true and real. It represents the so-called "nihilistic" stance to truth. And the main argument of the nihilist against the existence of truth is that we live in a one-dimensional world, where the "participation" in the external reality is an illusion of mind. It is so because to participate means, before all, to communicate, to act and re-act, to move and be moved, and our supposed participation is simply a one-dimensional operation of mind that has knowledge of the world, but does not communicate with it on an equal basis. In short, human mind is alone, and what mind perceives and finds real is limited to its own perception.(12) It mirrors the environment, while the environment does not mirror it in the same way. If we destroy mind, we destroy reality, because reality itself has no equally corresponding mind, and as such, it has no existence. Therefore, the modern skeptic would conclude that there is no truth except the truth of our minds and particular experiences, but as far as truth is universal, the particular appearance of reality in the particular mind, or in general in the particularity of human mind, cannot be called truth unconditionally. Milbank and Pickstock say that one need not to accept these "essentially secular" conclusions.(13)

Some would argue that Aquinas is not very far from the skeptic notions of modern philosophy seeing the truth as revealed in the process of participation, and especially connecting the truth with the mind's discovery of meaning. Discovering the meaning (or understanding) is not describing or repeating some outer phenomenon, but interpreting and explaining it, as Lonergan, influenced by Aquinas, argues in Method in Theology.(14) Explanation is a semantical process and the entire human knowledge, the operations of our mind, its participation in reality, and the transmission of knowledge, rest on the exchange and understanding of signs. So, given this fact, one would say that Aquinas seems subservient to some epistemological notion of truth—we know what we know through reading the signs and their interpretation, and what "is"is only what our mind defines epistemologically and semantically, not what it is in itself or in reality (if there is such at all outside the mind).

But Milbank and Pickstock say that for Aquinas "grammar is grounded in ontology, because the criterion for making sense, or deciding which word can be conjoined with which other words and in what way, is what belongs together or could belong together in ontological reality, either in things outside the mind, or in the mind's mode of understanding of those things."(15) This simply means that for Aquinas human mind is not independent, it is not alone, and has no freedom to create its own reality, but is bound to the signs and objects it observes and to which it reacts. If mind's function is to create order, as the ancient Greek philosophers believed, the primary function of human mind is to reflect, discover, and conform to the already created order. Mind finds itself within the order, and its function is to understand it. It operates through language, but language itself cannot have meaning if it does not reflect both the coherence and the unity of the objects it describes and the coherence, and the unity, that human logic requires. The things for Aquinas exist in mind as real as their "extra-mental, material existence."(16) As we see, Aquinas' understanding differs from the modern theories of correspondence that are grounded in epistemology rather than in ontology and regard the mind as independent and single (and for that reason unreliable) criterion for truth and reality.

Milbank and Pickstock argue that for Aquinas "the real is identified in the meaningful, just as the semantic is identified in the ontological."(17) Moreover, (and this is very important) correspondence for him is not a matter of "mirroring things in the world or passively registering them on an epistemological level, in a way that leaves the things untouched;" rather it is "an event which realizes or fulfils the being of things known, just as much as it fulfills the being of truth in the knower's mind." Correspondence (or what I called "participation") is a kind of "a real relation or occult symphony—a proportion or harmony or convenientia—between being and knowledge."(18)

Whenever we have "fulfillment," we must also have a teleological process. Truth for Aquinas has teleological, practical, and theoretical dimensions, Milbank and Pickstock say. He understands the truth of a thing as "fulfilling the way it ought to be." A material thing cannot be fully what it is, if it exists independently of mind, untouched by mind. In the mind of God, things are what they are, is and ought coincide. Human mind, in a similar way, treats the things as true only when it discovers their ought. (19) A thing receives its full being (and meaning) through mind, and the mind itself fulfils its function or potentia in giving the thing the ought (or the meaning and application) it has. This kind of reasoning makes Aquinas a "correspondence theorist," who defends an extremely "realist" theory of truth. It is not only that mind operates under some pragmatic motivation or phenomenological appearances, it has also an active teleological function. It participates in reality, it corresponds the reality, as creation and vessel of meaning, as bounded by it and binding it, as grasping what is and "legislating" what it ought to be. The full cycle of is and ought in the mind and in its object is what we may call truth. The truth is not only what it is, as we will see after a while, the truth goes beyond the ontological existence of a thing in the moment of its perception, the truth of a thing is also its purpose, its potentia, and its actual animation. Here we speak about teleological fulfillment. (20)

The statements above almost answered the logical question, "How does truth differ from being?" But we must explore this question in a little more detail. Milbank and Pickstock explain that things move teleologically and relate to each other. They move to each other and to their ends, as the final end (we believe) is the absolute good. Therefore, the general trend of the existence and movement of all things is in direction to their fulfilment in goodness. They also say that things assimilate each other and are inside each other. We will see how exactly the things are within each other in the next part of this essay when we discuss Aquinas' theory of law. This unity of things is again "a relationship of convenientia," "of fitting and appropriate belonging together, or of analogy."(21)

The expressed above statement that we may call truth the "full cycle of is and ought in the mind and in its object" can be also expressed in Augustinian (Trinitarian) terms. Milbank and Pickstock explain that for Aquinas "one must refer these three Augustinian determinations of Being—Being, Life, and Knowledge—to one another, for together they form a circle. As a being, a thing reminds in itself; as living, it opens itself to the operations of life towards others; and as known or knowing it returns from others to itself." This is nothing but a process of fulfillment, and truth is the closing of the circle. We know that truth must be static, but now we see its paradoxically dynamic nature. The dynamism comes from the relations within being and from the fulfillment of its modes of existence, which we call truth; being is complete in truth, in truth actual and potential merge. Moreover, we cannot have true being, if the thing does not have its modes of existence—individuality, belonging, and understanding—fulfilled through their relations.

Truth is the harmonic fullness of being in all of its modes of operation, which is why every true judgment, for Aquinas, is also an "aesthetic judgment." And I mention this in connection to what we have said in the beginning of this part of the essay: that man has the ability to judge what is true not only by accepting the logical and undisputable coherence of a scientific or mathematical definition (the "gnostic" view), but also through his immediate and indescribable feeling and appreciation of beauty and value. We recognize immediately how a symphony of J. S. Bach differs from a Times Square street cacophony, without necessarily knowing the notation (or the descriptive image) behind the musical harmony. We recognize the higher level of goodness in music through our subconscious sense of beauty, not through reading the notation scale. It is the same with faith—we know what is good and high, before we try to define its meaning semantically.

I put in italics the words "higher" and "high" not without reason. They are related to the discussed above "ought" of a thing. There is an ideal dimension in Aquinas' realist concept of truth called by Milbank and Pickstock "ideal realism." In fact, any realism that goes beyond simple pragmatism is extreme and could be confused with idealism. This is so, because the extreme realism of Aquinas, for example, understands the world as a hierarchy of conditions and reciprocity of relations, i.e. a non-hegemonic hierarchy based on the equal importance of the composing parts of the whole. There is high and low in the created world, but the gradation does not underrate the lower parts in favor of the higher. This gradation is visible in the operations of mind towards its objects—the "is" of the now perceived thing, as we have said, receives an "ought" in the mind, so the material thing becomes related, through the mind, to its ideal state. As far as the ideal is an end of the thing, the ideal must also be the thing in its perfectness and goodness within the harmony of creation. Or, to quote Milbank and Pickstock, Aquinas' realism is "ideal" because "there is a continuity between the way things are in the external material world and the way things are in our mind."(22) This continuity is not, as we have said, a mere mirroring of the outer reality in mind, but an enrichment, a relation or fulfillment of mind through things and of things through mind.

Milbank and Pickstock believe that the "thinking of things actually bring them to their telos. This happens because, for Aquinas, truth is less properly in things than in mind."(23) We see here, again, the non-hegemonic hierarchical view—mind is higher than things, but this does not make things subjected or lesser in importance than mind; the same we noted in the beginning of the essay concerning Aquinas' treatment of faith and reason—faith is higher than reason by the power of its immediacy of perception, but reason is not less important than faith. In the hierarchy of conditions, things are on a lower level compared to the position of mind, only because they are in a "dormant" state until their end comes to be known by mind; the mind "awakens" the truth of things.

The correspondence between mind and things leaves "neither things nor mind unchanged."(24) This is Aquinas' understanding, and it differs from the modern view that argues that mind and things are basically indifferent to each other or at least the things are indifferent to mind since they do not communicate with it on an equal basis. In the modern view the hierarchy, if there is such at all in it, cannot be reconciled with equality revealed as reciprocity and interdependence. On the contrary, the correspondence theory (or the theory of participation, as I call it) insists that things and mind change each other (which proves the reality of both), the things "read" the mind in their own way, and the mind knows itself through knowing the things. Milbank and Pickstock remind the words of Aristotle in De Anima, "The soul is in a manner all things." And according to Aquinas the mind is a "corrective or remedy...for the isolation of substantive beings."(25)

Truth therefore, the authors conclude, is neither epistemological nor a property of statements. It is convertible with being; it is a "mode of existence" and an aspect of being, understood as "beautiful assimilation between things."(26) Truth, as we have said, is the full circle of the modes of existence. It is not only the temporal state of a thing; it is also its ideal. When we say, "This is a true rain!" (which is the example Milbank and Pickstock give), we imagine the strongest possible rain, and in this imagination we judge the truthfulness of what we observe through the prism of the hierarchy of conditions, where the level of density and power reveals the level of being of the observed thing.

And where is God in this discussion? "A thing is fulfilling its telos," Milbank and Pickstock argue, "when it is copying God in its own manner, and tending to existence as knowledge in the divine Mind: so a tree is copying God by being true to its treeness, rain by being reiny, and so on."(27) Milbank and Pickstock say that a thing is truest when it is "teleologically" directed, which finally means that truth is primarily in God, and secondarily in things as copying the Mind of God. Aquinas' realist theory of truth is a simple correspondence of mind to things as discovering the hierarchy and their direction to the divine intellect. Now, with the involvement of God, hierarchy, and direction, we can proceed to the second part of our discussion, namely Aquinas' theory of law.




We have been discussing so far the participation of mind in the created world; in the next pages, we turn to the question of how the creation, of which human mind is a part, participates in the mind of God.

As rational beings, no matter whether we believe or doubt God's existence, we are all capable to speak reasonably about the concept of God. So, everyone would agree that there must be inevitably a qualitative difference between human mind's relation to things and the participation of the created world in a real or imaginable divine Mind. God's mind, human reason asserts, cannot be equal to anything. Otherwise, it would not reflect the meaning of the concept of God. Also, the divine Mind cannot be in a hierarchical relation to anything, since God must be above and beyond creation. Hierarchy always presupposes interdependence. God's existence must not depend on anything, while everything that exists must depend on God's presence. And finally, our logic says that God's mind cannot participate in things in the same way as the human mind does. It is rather that things participate in God.

In his Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas argues that the creation participates in God's mind through His law. The function of law, according to Aquinas, is "to command and prohibit."(28) Therefore, law is always a prerogative of some authority. If the human mind participates in things through a non-hegemonic hierarchical relation, changed by them and being capable to cause change (although not beyond what things are in their ideal state), and if God's mind cannot participate in things because of its transcendence, then His relation to creation must be only from the position of authority. The legitimacy of authority comes from its ability to keep things together. We can say that the greatest authority could be the one that is "in a manner all things." In political matters this is the sovereign; in metaphysics, this is the "Soul" or mind, who has the function to know the is and the ought of the things, and through its knowledge to be, in a manner, everything known. Therefore, the authority of law can be found most properly in reason; law, Aquinas says, belongs to reason.

Mind discovers the end of things, and as such, it knows their direction. The end of all things is goodness (or blessedness). If there is God, who is absolutely good, he must have created a world directed to Him, since all good is in him. But we have also said that in the mind of God, things are what they are, is and ought coincide. How can, then, things be directed to God, if they are already in God's mind? The answer of this perplexing question is that the function of human mind (not of God's mind) is to grow in knowledge of how things are and ought to be; the task of human mind is to apprehend the fact of participation of the creation in the divine Mind. Thus, in the apprehension of truth through human mind, the entire creation moves consciously to God—now, it is not only known, it is knowing God. In other words, the human mind is the vehicle of creation's own, authentic effort to fulfill itself in the final good. Through mind, God's creation moves to its Creator, consciously and by its own free will.

Reason is the first principle of human action in the same way as unity is the first principle of numbers, says Aquinas. But reason itself has its own first principle. "Now the first principle of practical matters, which are the object of practical reasoning, is the final end: and the final end of human life is happiness or blessedness [...] law must therefore attend especially to the ordering of things towards blessedness."(29) Blessedness is found in the common good. Blessedness cannot be found in a particular good that overrides the happiness of the rest. Thus, some acts are lawful or unlawful as far as they are directed or not to common good. Or, as Aquinas explains, "Law [...] looks first and foremost to the ordering of things to the common good," and adds, "But to order something to the common good is the business of the all community, or of someone acting on behalf of the whole community."(30)

We see that for Aquinas everyone and everything participates in law. This reflects the will of the divine Mind. As we have said, God wants the creation, through mind, to participate actively, not only passively, in its way to blessedness. This autonomy, which is also called freedom, makes the creation value by itself.(31) Human beings are born with the law "written in their hearts" (Rom. 2:15), and free to obey it through the will of mind, and doing so, to animate the "dormant" truth of creation.

Law is not hidden for us, it is proclaimed. Truth is not a secret. In Scripture, what is "secret" is generally related to the work and the acts of Satan, not to God. "Laws are established when they are promulgated,"(32) says Aquinas quoting Civ. Codex Decretum. In the same way, truth is established when it is revealed. Following Augustine, Aquinas says, "We see a law above us, which is called truth."(33) Promulgation is necessary, if the law has to have a binding force.(34) We have said that mind is not alone, as the nihilists believe. It is bound to its objects of observation. Mind left alone, is the mind in its sleeping state—dreams without logic, wild fantasies in a lawless, unstable, incoherent semi-reality. Mind divorced of its objects is a useless, wandering spirit. Mind is fulfilled through its apprehension of God's law found in the nature of things. The mere fact of the existence of a coherent, stable reality, without which human reason is dysfunctional, proclaims the law of God. "The natural law (which is the specific way of participation of the creation in the eternal law of God) is promulgated precisely by the fact that God has inserted it into the minds of men in such a way that they are able to know it naturally."(35)

Aquinas explains that since everything is "ruled" and "measured" by the eternal law, and in this way participating in it, the mode of participation and grasp of truth is different for the different creatures. The matter does not have the capability to apprehend the law, but only to respond to it mechanically; the irrational creatures, like animals, are not more capable of comprehension than the matter, their will is bounded to their instincts; to comprehend means to have the power to make a choice, to be free in some way from the "dictates" of the law, thus only human mind has the function to participate in law intellectually and responsibly. This does not make the mind perfect or divorced from its creatureliness. The proclamation of law, although absolute, and open to all, is never grasped in its entirety in the same manner and by all creatures, even not by human mind. What make a thing creature are its limitations. Matter is limited to mechanics, animals to instincts, and mind through its freedom. Being free, mind is blessed (and cursed, some would say) to decide and discern what is "is" and "ought," what is right and wrong, good and evil, i.e. it has no a complete and immediate access to truth. The fact that mind cannot participate in God's law without the mediation of externals and signs makes it both dependent and secondary to faith; to operate, mind depends on matter (and on all forms of experience), separated from the signs and the objects, it has no pure intuition. As we have said, mind is not alone; it needs both objects and faith to apprehend God's law and become practical. "Human reason," Aquinas argues, "cannot participate in the dictate of the Divine reason fully, but only in its own way and imperfectly."(36) 

This imperfection of mind causes many troubles in the discussions on truth. Human mind cannot keep the pace of change in things, nor discover their complex connections and complete practical application (their ought). We discover a general principle or some kind of regularity and yet we cannot comprehend it fully, with all of its dimensions, applications, and exceptions. As we have said at the beginning of this essay, there is a permanent tension between the positivists and pragmatists (like the mentioned Kelsen, Dworkin, Rorty), who believe that truth must be practical and found in particularities, and those who argue that truth resides in general principles. Again, Aquinas offers a completely different solution to this modern, confrontational stance in understanding of truth. Here, I will suggest only one example of how pragmatism and faith in general principles are reconciled in Aquinas' realist vision.

The first thing that we must assert is that for Aquinas the Divine intellect is the truth itself. Thus, truth is the absolute lawgiver; there is nothing beyond it or truly against it. Every deviation from it is predicted and settled in advance. Truth is everything and in everything without exception, and thus it is beyond everything, it is the full circle of the modes of existence, as we have said. "The reason of Divine intellect does not stand in the same relation to things as the reason of human intellect does," says Aquinas and continues, "For human intellect is measured by things; that is, a human concept is not true simply in itself, but is said to be true or false according to what a thing is or is not."(37) So, not the human reason commands what is true or not, but rather the communicating with reason thing reveals its truth in and through reason. We have already explained that the Divine mind is transcendent and independent, the human mind immanent and dependent. As truth, the Divine mind is a measure of all things "since each thing has truth in it in so far as it represents the Divine intellect."(38) So, the task of human mind is not only to perceive what a thing is, but also to discover what is the thing's ought, or its ideal state and practical application.

The second thing that we must assert is that for Aquinas the first percept of law is "Good ought to be done and pursued, and evil avoided."(39) This is a key proposition. It is a general principle. Let's relate it to what we have said so far: we have said that law "looks first and foremost to the ordering of things to the common good," the good is the common good, and the absolute good is God, the Creator. Therefore, again, the mind's task is not only to discover what a thing is, but how a thing is directed to common good, i.e. to find its telos, its ideal state, its ought. If we observe any phenomenon, we first understand its momentous expression, and then we search for its practical application and relation to other things. The coherence mind respects, requires a discovery of how a thing fits harmonically, within the whole of creation. This fittingness (convenientia) of a thing within the whole is the thing in its ideal state and position; it is the thing in its universal goodness. So, whenever we start to apprehend the truthfulness of something, we must measure it with this general principle of law that requires everything, without exception, to be directed towards and in harmony with the greatest good.

Human reason has a natural pre-disposition to accept general principles. We all think, even the liars among us, that lying is against truth. "Lying is wrong," is a general principle that seems in accordance to the first principle of law "Good ought to be done and pursued, and evil avoided." The problem is that there are situations when this general principle about lying does not work, there are exceptions, sometimes may happen that a lie can save a human life. And here is the problem. Because of the exceptions, the positivists and the pragmatists argue that the general principles are generally useless, especially in practical and political non-speculative matters. Moreover, they even insist (not without reason) that general principles and ideals have been successfully used throughout history for ideological purposes on a wide scale, something that would be impossible in social orders ruled by particular decisions and flexible, rational norms. We cannot forget that the 20th century became the most tragic example of speculation with ideas and ideals for the goals of politics and will to power. But the critics of natural law, in which all these principles and ideals are found, are wrong to insist that the general rules have no practical validity.

"The more we descend to matters of detail, the more the general principle will be found to admit of exception,"(40) Aquinas observes and continues with an example, "Goods left in the care of another should be restored to their owner. Now it is true in the majority of cases, but it can happen in a particular case that it would be harmful and consequently unreasonable, to restore such goods: for instance, if someone claimed them in order to fight against country."(41) Or if we take another example, the story with which we have started this essay. One of the general principles of good governance is that the ruler must respect the will of the people and try not to impose his personal will. So Pilate, although saying about Jesus, "I don't find this man guilty of anything," complied with the general principle of good governance, prudently seeking the utility of peoples' approval, and authorized the death sentence. But Aquinas also says, "...what glory of human prize can be compared to that which is produced not by the treachery of flattering tongues and deceitful human opinion, but by the inward testimony of conscience..." The "inward testimony of conscience" is the whisper of God in our heart: "Good ought to be done and pursued, and evil avoided." Pilate followed the general rule, the "ideal" of governance; he acted prudently, but did not follow God's command, "imprinted" in his heart. This is an example of how mind needs, in a concrete situation, the insight of faith with its natural, immediate sense for right and wrong. In this case, prudence of mind has no worth at all. Therefore, we agree with the positivists and the pragmatists that exceptions to general principles are possible, logical,and expected, yet we must also correct them with the argument that these exceptions cannot contradict, in fact, never contradict, the first general principle of law "Good ought to be done and pursued, and evil avoided." Applied to the case with Pilate, this simply means that the principle of saving innocent life must stay above and regulate the principle of the sovereign will of the nation. Neither Pilate, nor the nation in its collective will, have the right to take innocent human life. Pilate had to measure his principles and decisions on the fundamental measuring scale of the rule "Good ought to be done and pursued, and evil avoided," and make an exception from the general rule of governance with applying an even higher general rule.(42) It is paradoxical, but the exceptions from the general rules are successfully resolved through the application of higher universal rules.(43) It is not a co-incidence that the state Constitutions and the Charts (and Declarations) of Human Rights are the supreme regulative principles in the systems of law.  

Aquinas' understanding of truth and law cannot be exhausted in a single article, so I will proceed with the final part of this essay. In this third part, I will try to show the process of discovering the truth as suggested by one of the most eloquent students of Aquinas, Bernard Lonergan.




In the next pages, we will unpack, gradually, the process of participation of mind in things and of mind and things in the Divine mind. We will see one possible method of how we reach the truth and how we respond to it. In the following discussion, two words must be regarded with a particular attention: coherence and responsiveness. I am not aware whether somebody has tried to sum Lonergan's method in one sentence, but my reading led me to the following conclusion: All operations in Lonergan's method can be summoned under two basic functions—the discovery of coherence, and the response to it. We will see, these two general functions reflect our theory of participation that asserts that truth exist, exactly because of the coherence of the external world (the world beyond our mind) and because of our natural responsiveness to it. Coherence is the "is" of a thing, the responsiveness brings the teleological "ought". But let's now turn to Lonergan.

"A method is a normative pattern of recurrent and related operations yielding cumulative and progressive results,"(44) he says. We must not forget that the goal of a method is not simply the discovery or invention of some normative patterns of related operations, nor the achievement of some self-serving cumulative and progressive results; the goal of method is the discovery of truth. In natural sciences, the process of grasping the truth involves a recurring chain of discoveries and hypotheses, explains Lonergan. The discoveries happen in the following way: first, we observe something, then we describe it, the descriptions give rise to questions or problems and the problems are solved by insights. He says that scientific inquiry is a coherent process (a pattern) of related actions of proposition, hypothesis, experiment, and confirmation or discovery. The inquiry, the process of discovery of truth, has no definite end; the reason for this constant, and yet temporal in character process, is in the limited nature of mind that cannot, as we have said, grasp the Divine mind (or the Truth) in its fullness. Truth as we have said is proclaimed and accessible, but never fully apprehended. So, the "wheel of method," or this constant discovery and revelation of reality, "not only turns but rolls along," says Lonergan, "The field of observed data keeps broadening. New discoveries are added to the old..."(45) To be our knowledge progressive and cumulative, it must necessarily grow in discoveries, these discoveries must fit in broader syntheses (or structures), and the broader syntheses to lead to new problems and insights (or apprehensions). There is no end in this process of an ever-expanding apprehension of truth, but we know there must be a direction in it, and the direction is, as it has been said, to harmony and goodness. God wants His creation emancipated, not only known, but knowing, not only passive, but active.

The pattern of discovery of truth is composed of specific operations, says Lonergan. These are the operations related to senses—seeing, hearing, touching, etc.; and also the pure operations of mind—inquiry, understanding, etc. All these operations are "transitive," i.e. they require a relation between subject and object. This conclusion is both semi-Cartesian, semi-phenomenological. The operations reveal that a subject (let say the mind) needs an object to operate. So we hear only if there is something to hear, we see only if there is something to see, we read and understand only if there is something to read and understand. This co-existence and mutuality of object and subject, is called by Lonergan on the part of the subject, "intentionality" (or directness), a term perhaps borrowed from Husserl's phenomenology.

The subject always operates "consciously;" mind is not properly intentional in its dreams, or in a state of coma. Or as Lonergan explains, if we sleep our consciousness and intentionality "are fragmentary and incoherent." Consciousness is important because it reveals that the subject is fully itself only when responding to objects that are in a coherent relation between themselves and according to reason. In our conscious state, we operate on four "successive, related, but qualitatively different levels": the empirical (sense, perceive, imagine, feel, speak, move), the intellectual (on which we inquire, understand, express), the rational (pass judgment on the truth or fallacy, certainty or probability), and responsible (take autonomous decision for action).(46) We notice that the underlying basis of these four levels is the discovery of coherence within the perceived and our response to it. We may perceive, but our perception cannot bear a fruit, if not related to our intellectual inquiry, i.e. to our ability to pack the empirical data into a coherent, meaningful whole. Moreover, we can pronounce a judgment of true and false only after our understanding is full, that means when our mind discovers the logical consistency of empirical data. And finally, our judgment would not have any concrete or practical meaning, if we do not see the necessity or the direction of the observed phenomenon, the necessity would oblige us to response, i.e. to decide and act. The discovery of practical meaning is the apprehension in its fulfillment. To find the practical meaning of a thing is to take it out from its "isolation of substantive being" and animate it as a part of a dynamic, directed to goodness whole.

On all four levels, says Lonergan, we are aware not only of the objects we observe, but also of ourselves, and as we "mount from level to level, it is a fuller self of which we are aware and the awareness itself is different."(47) This process of growth in consciousness, of discovering the outer coherence and rising in responsiveness, becomes a journey to truth; we become "detached" and "disinterested" as far as our responsiveness to the object of observation grows—we not only take the object out from its "isolation of substantive being," we alone depart from our own isolation. As reflectively and critically conscious the subject "incarnates detachment and disinterestedness, gives himself over to criteria of truth and certitude, makes his sole concern the determination of what is or not so; and now, as the self resides in that incarnation, that self-surrender, that single-minded concern for truth."(48) Awareness, I would say, is a process of an expanding unity, of transforming the mind and the things, the subjects and the objects, the I and the Thou into a We. Awareness, or the discovery of truth, "abolishes" the organization of humanity on the basis of "competing egoisms," says Lonergan.(49) Thus, this journey to truth becomes not only a clear impression in subject's mind of what thing is or is not, it develops into an ethical relation between subject and object.

According to Lonergan, there are two modes of intending: categorical and transcendental, static and dynamic. The categorical needs determinate questions and leads to determinate answers; the transcendental is intentionality in the form of "questions prior to answers." The transcendental intention is therefore the always present question; it is a priori and fundamental because it puts the beginning of a new relation, going beyond what we already know. It appears in the second level of intentionality, the intelligence, and takes us beyond experiencing, asking "what and why and how and what for."(50) The transcendental intentionality succeeds the categorical and moves us to explore more; it finally leads us to judgment (the third level) and action (the fourth level), viz., to the ethical conclusion and action, the so-called "ought." This is an infinite process, explains Lonergan, because it adds a question to every answer of the received data, and yet finite since it leads to a judgment and decision regarding the concrete data.

Here how Lonergan explains this process of (as he calls it) "compounding," of moving to and ending in apprehension of truth (and goodness): "Now the process of compounding is the work of the transcendental notions which, from the beginning, intend the unknown that, gradually, becomes better known. In virtue of this intending, what is experienced can be the same as what is understood; what is experienced and understood can be the same as what is conceived, what is experienced and understood and conceived, can be the same as what is affirmed to be real; what is experienced, understood, conceived, affirmed, can be the same what is approved as truly good."(51) (Italics are mine) Lonergan's compounding is not so far from what we described in the first part of the essay as process of "fulfillment," where we have seen the truth as the "closing of the circle." Lonergan calls this method "transcendental" and breaks it down into four basic operations that correspond to the four levels of awareness: 1) experiencing, correlated to attentiveness, 2) understanding to intelligence, 3) judging to reasonableness 4) deciding and action to responsiveness. What is important to be kept in mind in this process is the role and the nature of transcendence—the transcendental notions that actuate the mechanism of operations toward knowledge and truth are not defined by what is known or can be known, but by what can be asked about; they are both the primary initiator of the movement and its conclusion (conclusion, because they always reveal the limits of mind's knowledge).

Finally, before we end our discussion, we have to stop on two last questions: the role of mediation and of belief in the discovery and transmission of the apprehended truth, and the notion of value. The reader perhaps remembers this moment in Exodus 4, when Moses asked the Lord, "Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue." In response, the Lord appointed a mediator with the words, "Is there not your brother Aaron, the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently..."(52) Or, this moment in 2 Corintians 10, regarding Paul's ability to deliver the truth to his hearers, "For they say, 'His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive and his speech contemptible.'" Both Moses and Paul, as human beings, needed a mediator to bring the truth they knew to the understanding of men—Moses delivered his knowledge of God to Israel through his brother Aaron, Paul reached the Christian communities through his letters. We always operate through mediation, the connection between subject and object is always in some way mediated, the only moment when we perceive the truth and reality without any help and external influence, is the moment of faith that is, as we have said, a "pure intellectual vision."

In Method in Theology Lonergan explains that there are immediate and mediate operations. The immediate are generally classified under the first level of operations, the experience; the mediate are those in which the essence of the object is not directly seen or felt and yet perceived. He says, "[B]y imagination, language, symbols, we operate in a compound manner; immediately with respect to the image, word, symbol; mediately with respect to what is represented or signified."(53) And he continues with something very important in regard to quality and character of mediated knowledge. Through mediation, he says, we can operate "not only with respect to present and actual, but also with respect to the absent, the past, the future, the merely possible or ideal or normative or fantastic..."(54) This is a great insight, because it points how in the mediated knowledge time and space dissolve, how through mediation any kind of particularity becomes secondary in order to give a way of the delivery of truth—from Moses who has an access to God, but cannot claim authority in presence, to the person who delivers the truth like Aaron, but admits no possession of it, to Paul whose weak physical presence played no role in the massive impact of his written word, to the multitude of those, who willingly accepted the revelations and bequeathed them, through their work, life, speech, and writing, to the next generations. I mean, since the time of Reformation it is fashionable to argue that the role of mediator is unimportant, even corrupting, but the truth is that the principle of mediation with all of its related activities is indisputably necessary, because in mediation, and only through mediation, individual, time, and space melt into the essence of what ought to be delivered, viz., they melt in the only one important thing—the conveyance of truth. That's why Lonregan rightly argues that the mediated world is definitely producing a higher culture (of course, not without the help of the immediate power of faith). Mediation, in all of its forms, helps the particularity of individual experience to grow into a universal, shared, common experience; through mediation, the perceived truth and the accumulated knowledge depart from their unnatural, private state, and become a common possession. A society where knowledge is not shared and transmitted, and secrecy is a rule of behavior, is a society in decline. The ancient lawmaker of Athens, Solon, did not simply learn from the Egyptian priests that there was a great nation of Atlantis that was forgotten; he rather discovered that there was knowledge lost in the history of Greek generations. "O, Solon, Solon," the priest told him, "you Hellenes are never anything but children, and there is not an old man among you."(55)  

Mediation naturally leads us to the question of belief. Very small portion of man's understanding is a result of man's own experience, intelligence, and knowledge. We operate and rely on mediated knowledge. Lonergan says that science has been often "contrasted with belief, but the fact of the matter is that belief plays as large role in science as in most other areas of human activity."(56) Moreover, the so-called scientific progress does not simply rests on revolutions of perception, on destruction of "old systems of belief," there is a smooth, less visible "humming" throughout the history of scientific knowledge that is the growing mass of transmitted, mastered, and gradually developed into new knowledge information. This "humming," as I call it, the invisible motor behind the constant development of science, is possible through the agreement among scientists that certain theories are right and there is no need for revision or for new tests to be proved again. The constant repetition of an experiment, or the frantic revision of past knowledge (that took the form of ideology in the 19th and early 20th century), would not bear any results in terms of progress. Science moves not only through breakthrough discoveries that overturn systems of thought, but also in a calm, "conservative" pace—the diligent usage of the accumulated knowledge, its gradual improvement, and the expanding diversification of its practical application. "There is a progress in knowledge," writes Lonergan, "from primitives to moderns only because successive generations began where their predecessors left off. But successive generations do so, only because they were ready to believe."(57) And he adds something very important, a principle that must be remembered, that the process of belief is possible, because "what is true is of itself not private but public."(58)   

Here we have reached the concluding part of this essay. Perhaps the reader has noticed that we have covered and judged, without an explicit admission, enumerated at the beginning of the essay four modern attitudes to truth—the nihilist, the pragmatist, the gnostic, and the fideist. For example, we have just finished contemplating some of the problems related to the gnostic view (as we have called the attitude of the scientist). If you remember, we have said that the so-called "gnostics," the modern scientists, are the ones, who are convinced that there is truth, a universal truth, but do not respect any human idea of beauty and value as related to truth. Once we confronted them with the example of Bach's symphony and street cacophony as truth revealed immediately through our intrinsic sense of beauty, but this would surely be not enough to convince them in the importance of the aesthetic feeling as a way for proper apprehending of truth. They would continue to insist that pleasure from music is due to some chemical processes in human brain. Therefore, let's try to convince them of the importance of the idea of value. They would definitely agree with Lonergan's definition, "Value is a transcendental notion,"(59) and perhaps on the basis of this agreement will discard it again as unworthy for discussion; they are concerned with physics, not metaphysics. But I would remind them that the transcendentality of value is closely related to practice, to moral action, and as humans, not simply as scientists, they cannot disregard the problem of ethical behavior. In fact, science, as any field of human activity, is absolutely dependent on ethics—it relies on the efforts of many, it needs open social organization to function, fairness in presenting the facts is mandatory, respect to opposing views essential, moral responsibility in application of knowledge crucial.  

Lonergan explains that value is a transcendental notion about good. It is the application of what we have as knowledge, it is the move from the descriptive to the prescriptive, from the is to the ought. It is transcendental, because it comes first as a question. "So when I ask whether this is truly or not merely apparently good, whether that is or is not worth while, I do not yet know value but I am intending value."(60) The questioning "promotes the subject from lower to higher levels of consciousness, from experimental to intellectual, from the intellectual to rational, from the rational to existential."(61) Existential (and this is very important) means actual or final. Lonergan speaks about the path of actualisation, of fulfilment. Knowledge, left on its own, has no sense, as we have remarked in a footnote quoting Berdyaev; we know that what we know must have practical application, and this practical application must be towards good. This is a "drive to value," it leads to truth. It is the movement of the circle—the Augustinian circle of Being, Life, and Knowledge—where the subject departs from the self through life, the operations of life lead him towards the others, where he becomes known and knowing, and eventually returns to himself transformed. This fulfillment is called truth, and truth, as Lonergan says, is what is good. This is a process of self-transcendence through questioning. The end of this process, in a concrete situation, is the point of certitude that we cannot find in the object of our knowledge something that has a negative aspect, i.e. the path to love is cleared from obstacles. So, when we start with a question and pass all levels of operations, we finish with a judgement about the practical application of what we have conceived. The true judgements of value, says Lonergan, are not only knowledge of what is good or not, but also doing of what is good, and avoiding what is evil. Here we really have closed the circle, we have returned to Aquinas' first principle of law that states, "Good ought to be done and pursued, and evil avoided."

Doing is "moral self-transcendence," it is fullness, and love. Moral self-transcendence, in which the judgment transforms into action, is the final act of creature's participation in the mind of God; it is the completion of responsiveness, the gladness from the apprehension of truth, the readiness to follow the command of God's law in practice. Lonergan says that the progressive development of goodness is a never-ending process, an ever-expanding "horizon" of clarifying and refinement of behavior and actions, of understanding, and adjustment. As such, we must say, this is also a never-ending blessing, a never-ending opportunity to rejoice from the apprehension of truth and its actual realization in the self. Now, we understand the appeal of the apostle: "Rejoice in the Lord always; I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Phil. 4:4)




More from the same author:


Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and Oliver O'Donovan on Judgment and Justice


1. John 18:37-39

2. We will return to this story in the second part of the essay, "Law in Aquinas."

3. John Milbank and Catherine Pickstock, "Truth in Aquinas," (Routledge, 2001)

4. In "Truth: A Guide" Simon Blackburn discusses in detail the centuries long conflict between relativists and absolutists. Commenting on the "nihilist" branch of relativism, Blackburn noted that Nietzsche's words "There are no facts, only interpretations" (in his book "The Will to Power") could serve as a "motto for the relativist movement." (See Simon Blackburn, Truth: A Guide, Oxford University Press, 2005, p. 75)    

5. For an interesting exchange between pragmatists and deconstructivists, see S. Critchley, J. Derrida, E. Laclau, R. Rorty, "Deconstruction and Pragmatism" (Routledge, 1996).

6. Hans Kelsen and Ronald Dworkin are rather typical 20th century thinkers. Their understanding of truth was a natural reaction to the radical ideological confrontation that characterized their age. For example, Kelsen (an early opponent of Carl Schmitt and a late critic of Eric Voegelin) criticized the natural law theory that accepts the existence of universal truths with the following argumentation: "[O]ne is inclined to set forth one's own idea of justice as the only correct, the absolutely valid one. The need for rational justification of our emotional acts is so great that we seek to satisfy it even at the risk of self-deception. And the rational justification of a postulate based on a subjective judgment of value, that is, on a wish, as for instance that all men should be free, or that all men should be treated equally, is self-deception or—what amounts to about the same thing—it is an ideology. Typical ideologies of this sort are the assertions that some sort of ultimate end, and hence some sort of definite regulation of human behavior, proceeds from "nature," that is, from the nature of things or the nature of man, from human reason or the will of God. In such an assumption lies the essence of the doctrine of so-called natural law." (Hans Kelsen, General Theory of Law and State, The Lawbook Exchange, 1945 p.8)

7. This is the word Milbank and Pickstock use. The political philosopher Eric Vogelin employed this term extensively in his writings. He criticized modern political engineers, social and political scientists, calling them gnostics, because of their conviction that they have an exclusive access to truth and because of their veiled behind abstractions and terminology knowledge. The problem with the "gnostics", according to Voegein, was their ambition for power. In The New Science of Politics (1952), Voegelin said that the "essence of modernity" is the "growth of gnosticsm," i.e. the usage of knowledge for the aims of libido dominandi. (See Eric Voegelin, The New Science of Politics, University of Chicago Press, 2012 and Kelsen's answer to it A New Science of Politics: Hans Kelsen's Reply to Eric Voegelin, Walter de Gruyter, 2004)

8. John Milbank and Catherine Pickstock, "Truth in Aquinas," (Routledge, 2001)  p. xiii

9. Ibid. p.xiii

10. Ibid. p.xiii

11. Ibid.

12. This radical vision comes from skeptical views like those of David Hume's, who argued that nothing is "ever present in mind but its perceptions." (See David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, Book III, Section I). The debate between Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein on the so-called "Copenhagen interpretation" of the behavior of photons could serve as an example. If we regard the debate not as one on the problems of quantum physics, but as a philosophical one, we could call Bohr's argument that something comes into existence only after we measure it relativistic and pragmatic. As pragmatic, it has been widely accepted. While Einstein's argument that the photons behave in their particular way because some still unknown power (or law) presupposes their movement could be described as deterministic and gnostic. "Copenhagen interpretation" led to the famous exchange between Einstein and Bohr: "I at any rate am convinced that God does not throw dice," said Einstein and asked "Do you really think that the moon is not there if you are not looking at it?" Bohr's reply was, "It cannot be for us to tell God how he is to run the world." (See Werner Heisenberg, Encounters with Einstein, Princeton University Press, 1983)  

13. John Milbank and Catherine Pickstock, "Truth in Aquinas," (Routledge, 2001), p.1

14. See Bernard Lonergan, Method in Theology, (Toronto University Press, 1990) Chapter 7.

15. John Milbank and Catherine Pickstock, "Truth in Aquinas," (Routledge, 2001). p.4. There is an "ocean of meaning" behind this proposition. This is not the place to discuss in detail, but I am tempted to mention a few ideas of Wittgenstein's theory of language found in his Philosophical Investigations. His philosophy could be creatively used in all parts of this essay, not only here. Wittgenstein says that the essence of human language is that "every word has a meaning" and that "every meaning is correlated with a word." The meaning is the "object for which the word stands." But it is not so simple, because the word could lose its entire meaning and with this the adequate description of its object, if it is employed outside context and environment; thus the meaning flows not so much (or not exclusively) from the simple correlation word-object, but from the greater context in which a word and object find their place. The meaning of a word and object changes in different contexts, while they continue to keep their most general or ideal designation. "When we say," Wittgenstein explains, "'Every word in language signifies something' we have so far said nothing whatever; unless we have explained exactly what distinction we wish to make." This means that we cannot find the meaning of a word outside some general, logically ordered context, composed of plurality of distinct meanings and words. Moreover, language has this quality to signify one particular thing not only with one single word, but also with one particular sentence, thus the sentence often plays the role of a word, when a word cannot deliver the full meaning of the object. Sentences could be regarded as compound generalizations or higher principles that resolve particular problems of meaning (or reality). I say this, because in the next pages, we will see that an exception in law can be resolved only with the application of a higher principle, the automatic, simple correlation between situation and corresponding special rule does not apply to exceptional cases. In language and law, the issues of particularity and complexity of meaning could be settled only through discovering greater principles and finer descriptions. Law and language are holistic entities mirroring the reality, but as tools of human mind, they still have limits. (See Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, Blackwell, 1968) 

16. Ibid.

17. Ibid.

18. Ibid.

19. This is against David Hume's conviction that "is" cannot be related with an "ought." For him, what a thing is cannot be what it ought to be, i.e. one cannot mix descriptive with prescriptive. Hume is suspicious to the attempts of the moralists to replace the objective reality with subjective imperatives. "I am surprised to find," he says, "that instead of the usual copulations of propositions of is and is not, I meet with no proposition that is not connected with an ought and an ought not; and at the same time a reason should be given for what seems altogether inconceivable, how this new relation can be a deduction from others which are entirely different from it." He asks the readers of moral tracts to pay attention to the contradictions of the "vulgar systems of morality." "[I] am persuaded," he says, "that this small attention would subvert all the vulgar systems of morality and let us see that the distinction of vice and virtue is not founded merely on the relations of objects, nor is perceived by reason." (See David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, Book III, Section I) What Hume misses is that the "is" of something is always an "ought" in "practical" matters. From here we can say that a piece of wood ought to become heat or fire in a cold night, a sick man ought to be cured in order to become a healthyman, a criminal must be corrected into a good citizen. Yes, there are risks in this transition of is into ought, it opens the possibility for speculation and coercion, but we cannot simply disregard it as wrong and impossible.

20. Discussing truth in his The Kingdom of Spirit and the Kingdom of Caesar, Nikolai Berdyaev says "The truth is not [simply] a reflection or correspondence to the reality of the world, but a triumph of its meaning." With the ought of mind (or Spirit) the "Divine Logos is reigning over the meaningfulness of the objective world... Truth is a triumph of Spirit." (Nikolai Berdyaev, Царство Духа и Царство Кесаря, Paris, YMCA-Press, 1949) Thus, we can say that Hume's skepticism about giving a direction of things after their perception is in fact skepticism about the possibility to find their meaning. A thing left in its abstract or in its actual and temporal state would not receive any meaning, if not entitled with the teleological judgment of mind. In the same book, in the introductory chapter entitled "The Battle for Truth," Berdyaev argues, "Knowledge of truth is not making rational assertions (i.e. discovering and describing the is of a perceived object), it is before all an act of judgment" (i.e. of "legislating" the ought of the object). This will be discussed and clarified in the next pages.

21. John Milbank and Catherine Pickstock, "Truth in Aquinas," (Routledge, 2001), p. 6

22. John Milbank and Catherine Pickstock, "Truth in Aquinas," (Routledge, 2001), p.7

23. Ibid.

24. Ibid.

25. Ibid.

26. John Milbank and Catherine Pickstock, "Truth in Aquinas," (Routledge, 2001), p.8

27. Ibid.

28. St Thomas Aquinas Political Writings, ed. R.W.Dyson (Cambridge University Press, 2002) p. 77

29. Ibid. p. 78

30. Ibid. p. 81

31. This can be related to the concept of "dignity" and "authenticity" (in Kierkegaardian sense). 

32. John Milbank and Catherine Pickstock, "Truth in Aquinas," (Routledge, 2001), p. 82

33. Ibid. p. 101

34. Ibid. p. 82

35. Ibid.p. 83

36. Ibid.p.88

37. Ibid.p. 103

38. Ibid.p.103

39. Ibid.p. 117

40. Ibid.p. 122

41. Ibid.

42. Note here that Pilate and the Jews had the freedom not to comply with the requirements of natural law. This fact could open an entire new chapter on truth, law, and freedom, so it would be better to discuss it in a separate article. Now, I will only note that Hans Kelsen (since we have already started to quote him) rightly explains in an essay (The Idea of Natural Law) that one of the main differences between natural law and positive law is the accommodation of freedom of will in the former, and the necessarily coercive nature of the latter. See H. Kelsen, Essays in Legal and Moral Philosophy (D. Riedel Publishing, 1973)  pp.27-61

43. In this sense, the highest rule is the "king" of all rules, and the king of all rules is Truth. This is the meaning of Jesus' words "You said correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice." (John 18:38) Jesus is the truth, "I am the Truth," he says in another place (John 14:6). In fact, everyone who testifies to the truth is a king, and everyone who respects the truth is a citizen of the "Kingdom of Truth."  

44. Bernard Lonergan, Method in Theology, (Toronto University Press, 1990). p.4

45. Ibid. p.5

46. Ibid.

47. Ibid.p.9

48. Ibid.p.10

49. Ibid.

50. Ibid.p.11

51. Ibid.p.12

52. Although angry that Moses needs a mediator, God did not refuse to give him one. This could be related with the superiority of faith, in which, as Augustine says, there is no need for Scripture or signs or prophets and speakers for the apprehension and delivery of Truth. But our faith is always insufficient as well as our understanding; if the limits of reason are a result of its dependence on matter, faith has been limited by the existence of sin.

53. Bernard Lonergan, Method in Theology, (Toronto University Press, 1990). p.28

54. Ibid.

55. See Plato's Timaeus. This is a key passage for understanding Plato's philosophy of knowledge, so I provide the full quote: "O Solon, Solon, you Hellenes are never anything but children, and there is not an old man among you. Solon in return asked him what he meant. I mean to say, he replied, that in mind you are all young; there is no old opinion handed down among you by ancient tradition, nor any science which is hoary with age [...] just when you and other nations are beginning to be provided with letters and the other requisites of civilized life, after the usual interval, the stream from heaven, like a pestilence, comes pouring down, and leaves only those of you who are destitute of letters and education; and so you have to begin all over again like children, and know nothing of what happened in ancient times, either among us or among yourselves." The priest simply tells Solon that Athens at this time was a lesser civilization than Egypt; the lack of mediated, shared knowledge made Greeks like children, relying only on their own temporal and limited experience. This passage also reveals the importance of the written word and education as vessels of knowledge and experience through time and space.

56. Bernard Lonergan, Method in Theology, (Toronto University Press, 1990). p.42

57. Ibid. p.43

58. Ibid.p.44

59. Ibid.p. 34

60. Ibid.

61. Ibid.



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