Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Norris Clarke S.J. #4

Norris Clarke describes himself as a metaphysican not predominantly a theologian.
The difference may take some explaining.

"One and the Many" (2001)

“although the scope of the metaphysical is universal, embracing all being, its method of investigation is strictly philosophical. i.e. drawing on the resources of natural reason alone as applied to our common human experience, without taking its data or its conclusions from any higher source of wisdom transcending the human, such as divine revelation and its theological explication. Should the metaphysician as a personal thinker, however, judge these to be authentic, they should be respected; and occasionally they can be sources of new illumination on the deeper meaning of the natural order itself, so as to stimulate natural reason to look more deeply into our human experience to discern what it may have overlooked before. This is to respect the great guiding principle of medieval Christian thinkers’ who were both theologians and philosophers, namely that God has spoken to us in two great books: The Book of Nature where created things speak to us directly, and the The Book of Revelation, where God himself reveals to us his own inner nature , his free gifts and special plans for humanity. These two books written by the same author can not contradict each other.

Clarke’s life’s work was devoted to as he called it the ‘creative retrieval’ of Thomistic thought.

"Explorations in Metaphysics: Being God: Person" (1994)

p107. The modern church in exploring ways to better connect with the wider population has reconnected with its long tradition of emphaising relationality. Relationships between the trinity, us and God and  us as collective individuals in need to be a community. But this leaves us somewhat unembodied. 

Clarke seems to me to offer a way out of this without denying relationality.

Explorations in Metaphysics. 
"To Be is to be substance in relation".

Thus, for humans as material substance to exist and have relationship is be be physical and not mere vapour. Indeed as Clarke implies the second you materially exist you exist within a complex web of relations. Indeed this completely is true and more and more fields of science have begun to emphasis substance-in-relation network analysis over the last 20 years or so – but Clarke provides us with a metaphysical interpretation not a sociological one.

In every finite (created) substance there is a more primordial relation of receptivity constitutive of its very being before it can pour over into action at all: namely, that it has received its very act of existence from another, ultimately from God, the source of all existence. Thus we should describe every created being as possessing its own existence from another, in itself and oriented toward others – a triadic rather than just a dyadic structure.

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