Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Bite Size Aquinas: Question 1-The Nature and Extent of Sacred Doctrine; Article 5

Article 5: Whether Sacred Doctrine is Nobler than Other Sciences? 

So to the fifth question it proceeds. It is evident that Sacred Doctrine is not more worthy than other sciences. For certainty extends to the more worthy sciences. But the other sciences of which the principles are not able to be doubted are evidently more certain than Sacred Doctrine, whose principles are naturally articles of faith which receive doubt. Therefore, it is evident that other sciences are more worthy.

Moreover, the inferior sciences are received from the superior ones, just as music from arithmetic. But Sacred Doctrine is accepted somewhat from the philosophical disciplines, for Jerome says in his letter to the great orator of the city of Rome, "The doctors of antiquity so enriched their books with philosophical doctrines and ideas, that you don't know that which to admire in them, their profane erudition or their scriptural learning." Therefore, Sacred Doctrine is inferior to other sciences.

On the contrary, other sciences are declared to be handmaids to this Sacred Doctrine, "Wisdom sent her handmaids to beckon to the tower."
I respond saying that with this science, which is somewhat speculative and somewhat practical, it transcends all other sciences, speculative and practical. For one speculative science is said to be more worthy than another because of certainty or because of the dignity of the subject-matter. In both respects this science surpasses other speculative sciences. Indeed, the certainty held by other sciences comes out of the light of human reason which is able to wander, however the certainty this science has comes out of the light of divine knowledge which cannot be deceived. Truly, of the two, the more appropriate subject-matter is that knowledge which itself chiefly transcends the height of reason. Truly, other sciences are concerned with only that which can be subdued by reason.Truly of the practical sciences, that which is more noble is ordained to a further end, just as political science is nobler than military science; for the good of the military is ordered to the good of the State. However, the end of this doctrine, in as much as it is practical, is eternal bliss, to which is the ultimate end to which all other practical sciences are ordered. Whence it is apparent from all modes, it is nobler than the others.

Therefore, to the first objection it is to be said that nothing is preserved because what si more certain is, to us, less certain on account of the weakness of our intellects, "which itself is dazzled by the most apparent qualities of nature just as the eyes of an owl are dazzled by the light of the sun," as is stated in Metaphysics II. Whence doubt which descends on someone concerning the articles of the faith is uncertain not on account of the matter but on account of the weakness of the human intellect. And nevertheless, the smallest knowledge that is able to be had of the highest things is more desirable than the most certain knowledge which had of the lowest things, as is stated in de Animalibus XI.
To the second objection it is to be said that the knowledge received is something for the philosophical disciplines, not out of necessity that it is lacking, but to make more apparent that which is handed down in this science. It is not accepted that its origin is from other sciences but immediately from God by way of revelation. And therefore it is not depednent on other sciences as the higher, but is employed of them as of the inferior, and as handmaids; just as master sciences use sciences that supply their materials, as politics of military science. And so that it uses them is not on account of its weakness or its insufficiencies but on account of the defects of our intellects which is more easily led by what is known through natural reason (out of which proceeds the other sciences) to that which is above reason, such as this science receives.

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