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The Philosophy of Thomas Aquinas

On-line since: 31st January, 2017

V

THE APPLICATION OF INTELLIGENCE TO THE HUMAN BODY

Thomas could get no further than the abstract affirmation that the psychic-spiritual really has its effect on every activity of the human organism.” [p. 96]

This “abstract affirmation” is — as emerges from the trend of the three addresses — in no sense to be taken as a toying with concepts invalidated by the “pale cast of thought.” The whole drama which surges in the background of scholastic thought, lives in this “abstrahere,” this “abstracting,” in this up-building of the scholastic-gothic cathedral. In this mighty building there is this abstracting, from the bottom to the top; first, from the material things of the world, the “phantasmata,” the sensory images, through the activity of the senses; then from these images, the “species,” the special concepts, through the “intellectus agens,” and finally, the “universalia,” the general concepts, through the “intellectus possibilis.” But this “abstracting” from below upwards, through which man draws into his thought as it unfolds itself “post res,” what before lay “in rebus is to serve the purpose of fitting the created human reason into the spirit forms, through which the Creator's power which works” ante res acts from the top downwards.

The innermost impulse of this “abstract affirmation” applied to the ideal transfiguration of the human body (which is found by Thomas to be a vision of the future real transfiguration of the risen body) appears in the works of Thomas Aquinas in the passage which Rudolf Steiner analyses as the dramatic climax: when the problems of creation, of human knowledge and of human individuality concentrate, as it were, in a knot. It is clearest in the answer to the question: Why one human soul differs from another.

Since the soul as such (i.e. when abstracted from the body) is not composed of matter and form, the differentiation of one soul from another could only be formal, if they were differentiated only according to their existence as pure soul. But a formal differentiation involves a division of the species; (i.e. men would not then all belong to the same class, but each would be a species in himself, which Thomas grants to the Angels, but not to men). But the division according to mere number within one and the same species arises out of the material difference. And the soul cannot have this material difference from Nature, out of which it is created, but from matter in which it is created. Thus, we can presume the existence of many human souls, which are different within the same species according to their number, if they are united to bodies from their own beginning, (i.e. if they have not a pre-existence in the Kingdom of Nature, out of which they are created) so that their differentiation originates from union with the body as the material principle, even if their differentiation originates from God as the effective principle. (Quaestion Of the Might of God. III. 10.)

In the chapter “Reincarnation of the Spirit and Destiny” of the book Theosophy, Rudolf Steiner carries on with compelling logic this Thomistic thought: “... The man who rightly ponders over the essence of biography, comes to see that spiritually every man is a species in himself” This means “secundam naturam ex qua fit,” according to the pre-existing individual “nature” which after previous incarnations enters on birth, the individual human being is a species of his own. The “materia in qua fit,” the bodily material, is no longer the “principle of individuation” though it may retain its full significance as the object, on which the spiritual individual, in accordance with his destiny, works.

But this Thomistic train of thought is a necessary preliminary, from the point of view of spiritual history, to the spiritual individualism of Rudolf Steiner. The second of the foregoing quotations comes from the midst of the fight against Averroës. The “material individualism” — if one may call it so — of Thomas is a fortress built of earthly stone as a protection of human individuality against the doctrine of Averroës, who snuffs out the intellectus possibilis and individuality in a universal spirit. Man acquires — according to Thomas — his individual nature precisely by living in this earthly body, from which state (as one then pre-existing) God will after the day of Judgment vouch him eternal life in a transfigured body through the Grace promised by Christ [p. 180].

Each human body is, in the sense of Thomas, the concrete tool, by which God — if one may put it so — takes up the material with one hand from the realm of Nature, by Him created, and into which with the other hand, he impresses the anima humana through the first act of creation of each separate man. The so-called “Creationism” — the doctrine that every soul at birth is created by God absolutely anew — is the inevitable consequence of a thought-system which through “abstract affirmation” would allow heaven to triumph completely over the earth in man, without having the disposal even of the powers of the human Ego, which have been acquired with difficulty through centuries, during which the Ego had to find and assert itself without God or spirit in the universe of material reality, suppressed by Nominalism with its feeble abstractions.

The whole force of “abstract affirmation which lives in Thomas' effort to find a knowledge of the body, is an expression of the will: to get an insight into the working of God's” right hand which by the preparation of the body of the newly-created human soul ordains the conditions of its individual form, and there with the conditions of its earthly and heavenly destiny.

God as Perfect Creator of the Imperfect

The effect pre-exists according to its power in the effective cause. To pre-exist in the power of the effective cause, does not mean, however, to pre-exist in a less perfect, but in a more perfect mode; even if pre-existence in the potentiality of the material cause is pre-existence in a less perfect mode, because matter as such is imperfect, whereas an “agent” as such is perfect. Now, since God is the first effective Cause of things, the perfections of all things must pre-exist in God in a still more eminent degree. And Dionysius touches this thought when he says of God, in the book Of Divine Names: “… He is certainly not this thing; but He is all things, being the Cause of all.” (S. Theol. /. 4. II.)

Of the Creation of the Body of the First Man

Since God is perfect in His works, He gave perfection to all creatures after their kind ... He Himself is perfect by reason of the fact that He prepossesses all things in Himself: not in the manner of something composed of different elements, but simply and solely, as Dionysius says: that is, in the manner in which different effects pre-exist in their causes, according to their single power. Thus, to the Angels He communicates His perfection in the knowledge of all natural things in divine forms, a perfection which is received by man after an inferior manner: for man has not the knowledge of all natural things. For he is to a certain extent composed of all things; from the type of spiritual substance he has the rational soul. From his likeness to the heavenly bodies he has the differentiation from the opposites by virtue of the extreme balance of his constitution. The elements, however, are substantial in him, and indeed in such wise that the higher elements predominate according to power, namely Fire and Air, since life is passed agreeably divided between warmth, the quality of Fire, and moisture, that of Air; but the lower elements prevail in him according to substance. For in no other way could there be a balance of the mixture, unless the lower elements, with their smaller power, outweighed the higher in man in quantity. And there is this justification, that the body of man is made from a clod of earth, for earth mixed with water is called a clod. Therefore, also, man is called a “small world” because all creatures of the world are somehow found in him.

Man's body had to be created out of the matter of the four elements, so that man might be in agreement with the lower bodies — standing half-way between the spiritual and material substances.

If Fire and Air, which are greater in effective power, were to predominate also in quantity in the composition of the human body, they would attract the other elements completely to themselves, and there could be no balance which in man's composition is necessary for the excellence of the sense of touch which is the basis of the other senses: for the organ of each sense may not have anything in reality contradictory, which the sense can test, but only in potentiality, either in such a manner that it is altogether free of every kind of this contradiction, as the pupil lacks colour, in order to be “in potentia,” towards all colours — which, however, was not possible with the sense of touch, since it consists of just those elements whose qualities it experiences — or else so that the organ might hold the middle place between the opposites, as is necessarily the case with touch. For the middle is “in potentia” to the extremes ...

All natural things are created by divine art, and are therefore equally God's work. But every master endeavours to give his work the best form, not simply for itself, but with an eye to his general purpose. And if this form necessitates leaving something out, that does not worry the master: as a master who prepares a saw for cutting, makes it of steel, so that it is fit to cut; it does not occur to him to make it of glass, which is a more beautiful material, because such beauty would be an obstacle to its purpose. So God constructed every natural thing, also not simply for itself, but according to His arrangement for its particular purpose, as Aristotle says ...

…The primary purpose of the human body is the rational soul and its accomplishments. For the matter is there for the sake of the form, and the tools are there for the sake of the efficiency of the worker. I say, therefore, that God has given the human body the best combination in the sense of fitting it to this form and these accomplishments. And if something is found to be lacking in the construction of the human body, it must be remembered that such a defect follows from the necessary arrangement of matter with regard to that which the body requires, so that there may be the right relationship of the body to the soul and its accomplishments.

…The sense of touch, the basis of the other senses, is more perfect in man than in any other creature that has a soul; and for this purpose man had to receive the most temperate constitution. And man also exceeds the other creatures in the inner powers of the senses. (N.B. — The doctrine of the four inner senses — the social sense, imaginative power, capacity to reason, and the sense of memory, cannot be discussed shortly.) But from a certain necessity it appears that man falls short of the animals in some outer senses; thus, among all creatures with souls man has the worst sense of smell; for man had necessarily to have the largest brain among all in proportion to his body, so that the accomplishments of the inner sensory powers could develop more freely, which he needs for the achievements of the intellect — and also so that the coolness of the brain might moderate the warmth of the heart, which again must be large in man on account of his more erect posture. The size of the brain is an obstacle to the smell because of its moisture, for the sense of smell is dependent on dryness. And similarly the reason can be given why certain animals have a keener sight and a finer hearing than man — because of the retardation of these senses which is necessarily postulated in man through the complete balance of his constitution. The same reason can be adduced for certain animals being speedier than man, since an immoderate speed is contrary to the balance of his constitution.

…Horns and claws, the weapons of certain animals, the thickness of the hide, of hair or feathers, which serve animals as covering, show the preponderance of earthly elements, which are contrary to the balance and delicacy of man's composition; and therefore they were not adapted to him. But instead he has reason and hands, wherewith he can arm himself with weapons and protection and other requirements of life in endless variety. So that Aristotle calls the hand “the organ of organs” — which, however, really applies still more to the power of reasoning, which is open to countless ideas, and gives him an illimitable capacity to make tools.

…The erect posture was given man for four reasons: First, because man was given the senses not only to provide himself with the necessaries of life, like the other animals with souls, but also to appreciate. So while the other animals rejoice in the senses only in so far as they are concerned with nutriment and reproduction, man alone rejoices in the beauty of things as such. And because the senses live pre-eminently in the countenance, the other animals have bent their eyes to the ground, in order to search for food and find nourishment — but man has raised up his countenance in order to be able to appreciate freely material things on every side, heavenly as well as earthly, through the senses and especially through that of sight, which is the noblest and reveals the greatest number of varieties in things, so that he may reap the intelligible truth from all. Secondly, so that the inner senses might be more free for their accomplishments, by reason of the fact that the brain in which they are perfected is not depressed but raised above all other parts of the body. Thirdly, because man, if he were bent down, would have to use his hands as fore-feet, which would destroy their fitness for carrying out manifold works. Fourthly, because, if he were in this position, he would have to seize his food with his mouth; and for this he would have to have a prominent snout, and hard thick lips and a hard tongue, as one sees in animals in order not to be injured by things. But such a construction would completely prevent speech, the peculiar work of the understanding.

Although man has an erect posture, still he is the furtherest removed from plants. For man has raised his upper part, his head, towards the upper part of the world, and his lower part is towards the lower part of the world, and is therefore arranged the best in accordance with the total arrangement. But plants have their upper part towards the lower part of the world (for the roots correspond to the mouth). Animals behave in a middle manner: for the upper part of an animal is that through which it takes in nourishment, and the lower part that through which it rejects waste. (S. Theol. Quaestio 91, from several articles.)

…it was ordained that the woman should be formed from a rib of the man. First, as a sign that there should be a union of a special kind between man and woman; for woman is to be neither the lord over man — otherwise she would have been formed from his head — nor looked down upon by man as his slave — otherwise she would have been formed from his feet. Secondly, because of the Sacrament: for the Sacraments, namely, blood and water, out of which the Church (the Bride of Christ) has been erected, flowed from the side of Christ as he fell asleep on the Cross. (S. Theol. I. Quaestio 92. Art. III.)

From Thomas' Teaching concerning the Heart

Thomas' teaching concerning the heart is the heart of Thomism. In the heart intellectual activity comes to an end: in the “verbum cordis,” in the heart's word, each thought takes a definite shape. From the heart every movement of the body, and therefore also speech, the formation of the “verbum oris,” the mouth's word, originates. The rhythm of the pulse-beat follows the laws of the heavenly movements: but disturbances of the rhythm come from passions that rise in the earthly body. In the heart given to God passions are purified into virtues: as, for instance, the burning red of anger becomes the illuminant red of charity. Here is translated a passage from Thomas' Commentary on the Treatise of AristotleOn the Soul,” which shows how through “abstract affirmation” Thomas attempts so to “intellectualize” the form and movement of the heart, that all the manifold facets can combine with the imaginative and conceptual image already there.

Aristotle says that the prime mover in the organism must be of such a kind that in him must be both origin and end of the movement, as in a sort of circulation between a convex and a concave form, of which one is the result, but the other also the origin. For the concave appears as a reality, but the convex as an origin of the movement. By virtue of its concavity the heart is compressed, but by virtue of its convexity it expands. And because origin and end are contained in it, and the origin of every kind of movement must all the same be unmoved — as the arm remains still when the hand is moved, and the shoulder, when the arm is moved, and as every movement arises from some sort of non-movement — so there must be something at rest in the organ of movement, the heart, in so far as the heart is the origin of movement, but causing movement in something else, in so far as the movement attains its object in it. And these two, namely, the stationary and the moved are different in their behaviour, though inseparable according to their basis and their size. And that the heart must be at the same time origin and end of the movement, and consequently at the same time stationary and in motion is explained by the fact that every movement in a soul-endowed creature consists of thrust and pull. The thrust is that which gives motion, the origin of it, because that which thrusts something pushes it away from itself. In the pull is also that which gives motion, the objective of the movement, because the puller draws the pulled to itself. And therefore the first organ of the local movement must, in a soul-endowed being, be arranged at the same time as origin and objective of the movement. And there must be a stationary part in it, yet it must all the same be capable of starting movement; as in a circular movement. For a rotating body does not change its position as a whole except relatively, because its centre and its axis remain stationary and stay as far as the whole and its basis are concerned in the same spot. Its parts, however, change their position not only relatively but basically. Thus it is in every movement of the heart. For the heart remains fast in the same place in the body, but moves in the sense of expanding and contracting, in order to produce the movements of thrust and pull. In one way therefore it is moving, and in another stationary.

With all this it must be carefully noted that the heart is not presented as a pump for the blood. Scholasticism has as yet no conception of the circulation of the blood. The movements of the heart's thrust and pull are rather regarded as a perpetually available supply, from which the soul when it desires to institute some definite thrust or pull in the body, transmits the necessary movement-action by means of the warmth that moves freely in the body, and the inner life-spirit, to the organ concerned.

Noble and Ignoble Bodily Qualities

The teaching of “the foundation of the senses,” the sense of touch, is very closely connected with the teaching concerning the heart. We differentiate between hard and soft, warm and cold, dry and moist, etc., not (like colours and sounds) through an organ which is itself without the qualities it perceives, but through our body which is provided with these qualities — but which has in the origin of the heart and lungs a general balance, and this enables it from “the golden mean,” to differentiate the extremes. The real organ of touch is, according to Thomas, the heart and lung region; the flesh is only a medium of touch — like the “transparent” in vision and the atmosphere in hearing. From the formation of this medium, through which we are connected with the elements — particularly, as “earth-clods,” with the heavy elements — deductions can be drawn concerning the “nobility” of individual man.

In the Commentary on the 19th chapter of Aristotle's work on the sensibility of the senses (with respect to the treatment of the sense of smell) Thomas writes:

Man has the most reliable sense of touch among all soul-endowed creatures, if in other senses he falls behind certain animals. Because of this he is the cleverest. And among the race of men we find from the quality of the sense of touch, and not of any other sense, that some people are endowed with talents and others not. For those people whose flesh is hard and who have in consequence a poor sense of touch are mentally ill-equipped; but those whose flesh is soft and whose sense of touch is consequently good, are mentally well-equipped. And the other beings endowed with souls have also harder flesh than man. To this it might be objected that the capacity of the spirit corresponds more with the excellence of sight than with that of touch, because sight is the more spiritual sense and reveals more numerous and more diverse sides of the senses. But against this must be said that for two reasons the excellence of the spirit corresponds with the excellence of the sense of touch: first, touch is the foundation of all the other senses; for the sense is obviously distributed throughout the whole body, and what is an instrument of every other sense is the instrument of touch. And touch is that by which anything is characterized as material. It follows from this that if someone has a better sense of touch, he has a more sensitive nature, and in consequence a better intellect; for excellence of the sense means a disposition to excellence of intellect. But from the fact that a man hears or sees better it does not follow that he plainly has more acute senses, or has a more sensitive nature, except in a particular respect.

The other reason is that the excellence of the touch-sense follows the excellence of the whole constitution or of the balance. For since the instrument of touch cannot be free from the class of touchable qualities, because it is composed of the elements, it must thereby be “in potentia” to the extremes, so that it keeps the mean between them. Good composition of the body results in nobility of soul, because every form is proportioned to its matter. And from this follows that men with good sense of touch are of nobler soul and acuter mind.

Touch is “Tactus,” tact! “Tact” as a psychophysical quality is for Thomas the basis of man's sense-nature, on which through the functioning of the intellectus agens and the intellectus possibilis he builds up the gothic cathedral of scholastic wisdom. How thoroughly “kneaded” the clod of earth is apportioned by God to each soul at birth — as delicate or coarse flesh — from this Thomas Aquinas, the scion of generations of highest nobility, the cousin of the Emperor Frederic II of Hohenstaufen, recognizes the “nobility of the soul” in each man.

But this bodily delicacy is already a foretaste on earth of the quality of that spirit body which the blessed souls will receive after the day of Judgment, through the transfiguration of earthly bodies put off for a time at death:

Because the Blessed soul will be noble and virtuous in the highest degree, in tune with the primeval principle of the world, the body united with it by God's disposition will be substantial in the noblest way, so that the soul can keep it completely in its control, wherefore it will be delicate and spiritual as a breath. It will also be distinguished by the noblest quality, the glory of clarity. And thanks to the virtue of the soul, this body will be incapable of being deflected from its construction by any agent; i.e. it will be impervious to all suffering. And because it will be completely obedient to the soul, as the tool is to the person who moves it, this body will be mobile. Transfigured bodies will therefore possess the four following characteristics: subtilitas, claritas, impassibilitas et agilitas ... (Compendium Theologica. Chap. 169.)

A comparison of this “Anatomy” of transfigured bodies with Thomas' doctrine of the Hierarchies [p. 66 et seq.] shows that the transfigured body will resemble the Holy Ghost in spiritual substance, the first Hierarchy in the quality of light, the second in power, and the third in mobility. It will be “sicut Deus” and will have assumed the characteristics of pure Spirits.

From Thomas' Teaching concerning the Passions

But because substance, quality, virtue and mobility do not “in via,” on the earthly Pilgrim's road, have the perfection they will have “in patria,” in the Fatherland, the path to heaven must be fought for on earth by spiritual building as a guide to the soul's growth. In order to get at least an idea of the mighty edifice which in the second part of the Summa Theologica brings the whole medley of human passions under the influence of the virtues, some chapters from his Teaching concerning them are appended in conclusion. They make clear how Thomas throws the bridge from his knowledge of the body to the spirit world by means of “abstract affirmation.”

Of Fear

…in the passions of the soul the formal element is the movement of the power of desire itself, whereas the material element is the bodily metabolism; and both stand in a definite relationship with each other. Therefore, the bodily change begins after the likeness and standard of the desire-movement. Now Fear brings with it a certain contraction of the soul's desire-movement. The basis of it is that Fear arises from imagining a threatening Evil, which can with difficulty be driven away ... But that something can with difficulty be driven away comes from the inadequacy of strength ... The more inadequate the strength is, the less far can it reach. And so there results from the imagination itself, which produces Fear, a certain contraction in the desire; as we see in the dying, that nature withdraws into the inside on account of the insufficiency of strength, and as we see in the case of a community, that the citizens, when they are afraid, retire from the outer quarters of the town and concentrate as much as possible in the centre. And similarly with these contractions, which take place in the desires of the soul, there appears also in the body a contraction of warmth and life-spirits into the interior.

... but, as Aristotle says ... even if in one who is afraid the life-spirits are withdrawn from the outer organs to the inner, still the movement of the spirits in one who is afraid and one who is angry is not identical. For in an angry man on account of the warmth the subtlety of the life-spirits which arise from the desire for revenge, an inner movement takes place from the lower to the upper organs, whereby warmth and the spirits are collected round the heart. Hence it follows that the angry become skilful and bold to attack. But in the fearful, on account of the increased cold which arises from the imagined lack of strength, the spirits move from the upper to the lower organs, and so warmth and the spirits of life are not only not increased round the heart, but rather flee from it. Therefore, the fearful do not proceed promptly to attack, but run away.

The man or animal that is always suffering, seeks every means to be rid of the trouble which causes him pain. Thus we see suffering animals belabouring themselves with mouth or horns. But the greatest help for everything, among animals, is warmth and the life-spirit; and therefore Nature in pain collects them into the inside, in order to use them in fending off the harmful. For this reason, Aristotle says ... that air is provided for the spirit and the warmth which are collected in the interior, through the voice; and therefore sufferers can scarcely suppress cries of pain. But in the fearful the movement is from the heart to the lower organs, and so Fear prevents the production of the voice, which takes place by the emission of the life-spirit upwards through the mouth. Hence Fear induces dumbness as well as trembling ...

Danger of death works not only contrary to the soul's desires, but also contrary to Nature, wherefore in this kind of Fear there is not only a contraction of desire but also of the body's nature. The soul-endowed creature, when in imagining death, it withdraws the warmth inside behaves exactly as if it were in reality confronted with death; and therefore those who are a prey to the fear of death become pale ... But the evil which shame fears is not contrary to Nature, but only to spiritual desire, wherefore there follows a certain contraction in proportion to the spiritual desire, but not in proportion to bodily nature; and the soul keeps itself free from the movement of the life-spirits and the warmth, as if it were itself contracted, which results in their diffusion into the outer members. Hence those who are ashamed blush.

... the result of Fear is a contraction from the outer into the inner organs; wherefore the outer organs become cold. This gives rise to trembling, which is caused by the inadequacy of the strength which holds the limbs together. But such an inadequacy is chiefly the result of a lack of warmth, which is the instrument by which the soul produces movements, as Aristotle says.

... because with Fear the warmth leaves the heart, going from the upper to the lower organs, the fearful tremble most in the heart and in the limbs, which have a connection with the breast where the heart lies. Therefore, also the fearful tremble in voice particularly, because of the proximity of the windpipe to the heart; the lower lip also trembles and the whole lower jaw because of their connection with the heart. From this comes also the chattering of the teeth. For the same reason the arms and hands tremble ... but possibly also because these limbs are more flexible; which applies equally to the knees.

In the category of bodily tools Fear as such is always of such a kind that it prevents the outer accomplishment on account of the lack of warmth, which through Fear occurs in the outer limbs. But in the sphere of the soul Fear, if it is moderate and does not confuse the reason too strongly, helps to produce good by causing a certain anxiousness and leads man to reflect and act more carefully. Nevertheless, if Fear so increases that it confuses the reason, it hinders accomplishment also in the province of the soul. (Summa Theologica, II. 1. Quaestio 44, from different sections.)

Of Anger

If we consider the nature of the genus — i.e., the nature of each man as a soul-endowed being, concupiscence is more natural to him than Anger, because by reason of a common Nature man has a certain tendency to desire what serves to maintain the life of his kind or of the individual. But if we consider human nature in the domain of the species, namely in so far as man is a rational being, then anger is more natural to him than desire, because anger is closer to reason than lust. ... If, finally, we consider the nature of one definite individual in accordance with his own temperament, then Anger is more natural than lust, because from a natural tendency to get angry, which comes from this temperament, Anger is much more easily let loose than lust or any other passion. For man is liable to be angry in proportion as his temperament is choleric. But among all juices, choler is the quickest roused, it — after all — resembles Fire; and so one who is liable to Anger because of his natural temperament, is quicker to become angry than one who is inclined to concupiscence is to become lustful ...

… In the sphere of bodily temperament it is natural for man, according to his kind (as rational being), not to have any excess, either of Anger, or any other passion, because of the proper admixture of his temperament. But animals, since they are far removed from this temperate quality, and are extremes in one direction or another, are correspondingly addicted by Nature to excess of one or another passion, as the lion to boldness, the dog to anger, the hare to fear and others similarly. But in the domain of reason both anger and control are natural to man, since reason in one sense induces anger, by making the cause for it conscious, or in another sense assuages it, in so far as the angry man does not entirely obey the command of reason ... (Summa Theologica, I., i. Quaestio 46, 5.)

…the bodily metabolism stands in a definite relationship to the rousing of desire ... Every desire strives more strongly towards its opposite, if it happens to be present [p. 123]. The rousing of anger, however, is caused by an inflicted insult, as well as by stubborn opposition, and thus the desire seeks to the utmost to retaliate for the insult by revenge. Hence the violence and impetuosity of irate movement. And because the movement does not occur in the manner of a retirement, corresponding with cold, but rather in the manner of an advance, corresponding with warmth, it causes in consequence a certain glow of the blood and life-spirits round the heart, which is the instrument of the soul's passions. For this reason, on account of the great Turmoil in the heart, which Anger implies, certain signs appear in the outer limbs of those who are angry. Thus Gregory says: “The heart inflamed by the pricks of Anger twitches, the body trembles, the tongue is tied, the face becomes hot, the eyes wild, and friends are no longer recognized; the angry man shouts with his mouth, but knows not what he says.”

…Love is felt differently ... True, when a man experiences through insult a diminution of a beloved excellence, Love is felt more strongly; and the heart is more passionately stirred to banish whatever attacks the beloved object, as if the flame of love grew and became stronger through Anger. Nevertheless, the glow following the warmth of love is different from that of Anger; for the warmth of love is characterized by a certain sweetness and mildness; it extends to include the beloved possession, and so is assimilated to the warmth of the air and the blood. Wherefore those of sanguine temperament are more inclined towards Love; and it is also said that the liver, in which a certain blood-production takes place, urges one towards Love. The heat of Anger, on the other hand, is filled with a bitterness and desire to devour, because it urges one to punish what opposes it; and therefore it is assimilated to the heat of Fire and Choler.

…As a large fire quickly goes out after the fuel is consumed, so Anger by its very violence, comes soon to an end.

… although the reason makes use of no bodily organ for its own ends, bodily disturbances must nevertheless impede the rational judgment, because it is dependent for its functioning on the powers of the senses, whose activity is limited by bodily disturbance, as is seen in drunkenness or sleep. Now Anger produces a disturbance chiefly in the region of the heart, so that it is transmitted also to the outer limbs, and for this reason Anger of all the passions interferes most visibly with the judgment of reason.

… one says of someone seized with sudden anger, that he is open, not because it is clear to him what to do, but because he acts openly without seeking any secrecy. This comes partly from the interference with the reason, which cannot differentiate what is to be hidden and what revealed, and cannot think sufficiently for the cunning required for concealment. But partly it comes also from the breadth of heart which is a quality of magnanimity and this is caused by Anger. Therefore, Aristotle also says of a man with large soul, in his Ethics, that he is an open hater and an open lover, and that he speaks and acts frankly. But concupiscence one calls underground and insidious, because for the most part the desired object of delight savours to a certain extent of disgracefulness and voluptuousness, and herein man prefers to remain unseen. But in those concerns which belong to manliness and excellence, man seeks to be frank. [Summa Theologica, II, 1. Quaestio 48, several sections.)

Anger, like every other passion, according to Thomistic philosophy, is introduced into the Soul, not by reason of the Soul's own spiritual nature, but by reason of its being tied to the body — i.e., from outside, in so far as the whole, composed of soul and body, undergoes the passion. In the Paradisal condition of “justitia originalis,” the body was completely subject to the soul, whose lower powers, from which the passions rise, were subject to reason, and the reason to God. Through the Fall this condition of “original justice” was lost. Christ, who had no “passions” in the sense of Thomas' doctrine of the passions, because, for instance, his “Anger” was entirely the effluence of the Divine Will, and his “Love” entirely the “actio” of the presence of the Divine Spirit, has through his “Passion” opened up the way for man from out of the chains of the “passiones.” With the simple stress and the endless complexity of a Gothic cathedral, Thomas, in his doctrine of Virtue, with its base the Cross of the “passio Christi,” raises man towards heaven out of the fetters of their “passiones” — towards that condition of the future transfiguration, where the new body will be “impassibilis,” freed from the fetters of passion, [p. 180.]

But Rudolf Steiner states that “in the 13th century the Christian principle of Redemption could not be found in the idea-world,” [p. 108.]

Rudolf Steiner's Anthroposophy, the spiritual Goetheanum answers the question: “Where does Thomism dwell in the present day?” In the spirit of the Risen Christ, who in the form of a mighty wooden statue appears in the double-domed chamber of the Goetheanum, Rudolf Steiner in the last of his three Addresses could say: “The redeemed human reason, which has the real relationship with Christ, this forces itself upward into the spiritual world; and this process is the Christianity of the 20th century, — a Christianity strong enough to enter into the innermost recesses of human thinking and human soul-life.” [p. 108.]

After seven centuries the Thomistic contribution to knowledge of the human intellect crucified in the body, towering up from the Gothic ground-plan of the Cross, gives way to the contribution of Rudolf Steiner, envisioning the body and releasing and awaking the soul, a contribution whose “Goetheanic” plan is related to the Gothic Cross, as Easter is to Good Friday.

Diagram 3




Last Modified: 29-Apr-2017
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