Friday, 1 June 2012

Natural and supernatural in the religions: in fieri

The paper is proving to be a long haul.

Section 1

I began with the gnawing little question, what I have been calling the anomaly, arising from chapter 20 of Insight: how can a natural solution to be problem of evil be somehow supernatural?

Or perhaps not even that question was quite so clear. The question arose rather from the fact that I had identified the 3 specializations of the general heuristic structure of the solution with 3 types of religion: natural, relatively supernatural, and absolutely supernatural. While I had not been so rash as to give examples, I might have implied that there are religions - perhaps Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism - that might easily fit into a natural theology as far as their teachings were concerned.

A raid of the references to 'supernatural' in the Lonergan corpus turned up odd hints, mainly having to do with different meanings or senses of supernatural: the strict sense (absolutely supernatural), and the broad sense (quoad modum) (entitatively natural, but coming from God); virtually and formally supernatural.

Also different possibilities, thanks to the consideration of the formal object quod and the formal object quo, or more simply, object and motive. You have acts where both object and motive are absolutely supernatural, and these acts are themselves absolutely supernatural. Then there are acts where both object and motive are natural, and these acts are natural. Then there are acts whose object is known to be absolutely supernatural; the motive cannot be less (the principle cannot be less than the resultant), and so has to be absolutely supernatural, making the act itself the same.

But the interesting possibility is that of acts whose motive is ASN and object N: these are ASN.

In the context of the praeambula fidei, per se there is no need of ASN acts. Given, however, our fallen state, there could de facto be acts that are ASN. There is a further reason: since the process is heading towards a SN end, some theologians holds that de facto all graces in this process are supernatural.

But the nuance in Lonergan's answer: the hypothetical possibility of God revealing only natural truths. Here it is possible that he could have restricted himself to an assistance that is supernatural only quoad modum.

This opened up a way of accounting for the anomaly: a natural solution that was in some sense supernatural, supernatural quoad modum. The formal object quod would be natural; divine assistance would be there, but it would be supernatural quoad modum. The acts would be entitatively natural, but supernatural quoad modum.

But these considerations opened up an interesting possibility: supernatural acts with natural objects and supernatural motives. The early Lonergan restricts this to Christians. We might be forgiven for asking: could it be extended to non-Christians? How? By postulating that absolutely supernatural grace is given to all?

Section 2

The second part of the paper proved to be difficult, most probably because the question I was trying to answer was not clear.

In a sense, my original question had been answered: how to make sense of the anomaly in ch. 20 of Insight. I could have stopped with that. For some reason I thought it fit to open up the second section. Perhaps because the first had opened up to this possibility, with "supernatural acts with natural objects and supernatural motives."

At any rate, work on this section originally took the form of trying to establish an equivalence between the the largely metaphysical categories of section 1, and the methodical-experiential categories of Method in Theology.

This endeavour quickly led me to Doran's work. Perhaps because among the few articles I had managed to access were one of Crowe's, and a couple of Doran's. Perhaps my thinking developed this way: Doran (I had one of his latest papers) identified the Gift of God's Love (Gift from now on) with Sanctifying Grace (SG from now now), and the dynamic State of Being in Love with God (= State) with the infused virtue or habit of Charity (= C). Of course he was reflecting on the famous four-point hypothesis that he found in DDT and in an earlier set of notes, the Supplement to SG, I think it was. And so he correlated Gift with SG and Active Spiration (AS), and State with C and Passive Spiration (PS).

I had two questions or difficulties with this: (1) Lonergan in Method does not seem to distinguish clearly between Gift and State; in fact, he seems to use them interchangeably; (2) does C, which I presumed is operative grace, involve the act of consent?

There followed a period of reading of works which I had not read properly before: De ente supernaturali, the Supplement to SG. Or perhaps I was dipping into them with the help of the Index. At any rate, this was a learning experience: the meaning of SG, supernatural, justification, the infused virtues, and so on. I had to go back once again to Grace and Freedom, because I thought I had to get clear about how exactly grace and freedom held together. Perhaps I did not have to but I did. Or perhaps it was just part of the effort to locate consent.

From here, to other papers of Doran, mainly after coming across Hefling which was dramatic and enlightening.

Tentatively: I see that the habit of charity involves mutual love, love of friendship. I am not so sure that the habit as infused, if there is such a habit, involves our free consent. I am not, therefore, sure I can agree with Doran when he talks about "acts of loving coalescing into a habit of charity." I need to check whether we can have acts of charity before the infusion of the habit. I thought not. My impression is that acts of charity can never be uninformed, unlike acts of faith and hope. So the problem remains: how is the habit of charity a mutual loving, if consent is only subsequent?

Back to section 1

Since all this work was still not cohering with section 1, I found myself having to go back to section 1, to clarify things left hanging: things like the natural virtue of religion, gratia elevans and sanans. I remember coming across the remark somewhere that ch. 20 of Insight was all about gratia sanans. I now remember Lonergan also saying it was about the supernatural. At any rate, this kind of clarification was needed, and was good.

Now I have to rework section 1, and then section 2.

the new thing that has opened up: the natural solution is probably gratia sanans. The question was whether gratia sanans was supernatural quoad substantiam, or only quoad modum.

The major problem: how to link the two sections.

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