[Disclaimer: this is one of those “I-haven’t-finished-the-book-yet-so-it-might-still-be-coming” posts. So please don’t reply with comments of the “you-idiot-just-read-this-section-that-comes-later” variety.]
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“The natural desire of the rational creature is to know everything that belongs to the perfection of the intellect, namely, the species and the genera of things and their types, and these everyone who sees the Divine essence will see in God. But to know other singulars, their thoughts and their deeds does not belong to the perfection of the created intellect nor does its natural desire go out to these things…”
Thomas Aquinas, ST Ia, Q. 12, A. 9, Ad. 4
This sounds like a certain kind of intellectual dictating what is right and good to the rest of the world, namely, “knowing everything,” by sorting and categorizing things. There is another kind of knowledge, though, the knowledge that revels in particularity, or what Aquinas here calls “singulars.”
This passage is key for understanding a genre mistake of Thomas. His method of discourse has no conceptual space for history, fiction, poetry, contextualization, the depth of a human person, or any other kind of particularity, except the unintentional particularity of the Latin language. [Oops Thomas!] This is embodied in the very structure of his argumentation, organized as it is into little sorting boxes.
I know I have a long way to go in ST, but until we get to the Incarnation, Aquinas’ theology of history, or his explication of things in their particularity, it’s going to be tough going for me.
One final pea shooter shot at the greatest theologian of all time: Thomas, you say that “the natural desire of the rational creature is to know everything.” Well, that may be true for an enneagram 5, but surely it is not the only truth for all people everywhere? Why wouldn’t you say that “the natural desire of the rational creature is to be known, or to be loved?” And how, HOW, does sorting things into “species” and “genera” enable you to love your neighbor? It might in some occasional instances, but not as a general rule! On the contrary, what you say “does not belong” to us — “to know other singulars, their thoughts and their deeds” — is a basic action of Christian love!