In annotationibus scripturae prioris (verbum significans “blog post” lingua Latina non habet, intantum scio), Michahel proponit quaestionem optimam, utputa utrum vita caritatis studio sapientiae melior sit. Attributio secunda a Sancto Thoma data studio sapientiae in loco posito est esse sublimius quam omnia alia studia hominum. Ratio eius positanda est: “Sublimius autem est quia per ipsum homo praecipue ad divinam similitudinem accedit, quae omnia in sapientia fecit: unde, quia similitudo causa est dilectionis, sapientiae studium praecipue Deo per amicitiam coniungit; propter quod Sap. 7-14 dicitur quod sapientia infinitus thesaurus est hominibus, quo qui usi sunt, facti sunt participes amicitiae Dei” (SCG, I, 2). Hic S. Thomas affirmat amicitiam fingi per dilectionem, quod concludat vitam caritatis esse vere meliorem quam studium sapientiae, quamvis quippe S. Thomas non trahit hanc conclusionem.
Haec possunt reconciliari per hoc, quod S. Thomas dicit alibi. In uno modo, sapientia est virtus intellectualis acquisita; in alio modo, est donum Spiritus Sancti. In hoc modo, sapientia producit amorem Dei, et coniungit igitur hominem Deo per amicitiam, ut Thomas dicit. “Duplex est cognitio veritatis, una quidem quae habetur per gratiam; alia vero quae habetur per naturam. Et ista quae habetur per gratiam, est duplex, una quae est speculativa tantum, sicut cum alicui aliqua secreta divinorum revelantur; alia vero quae est affectiva, producens amorem Dei; et haec proprie pertinet ad donum sapientiae” (ST, I, Q. 64, A. 1). Sapientia et caritas sunt sic adstricte ligatae una, atque distinctio inter studium sapientiae et vitam caritativam non est disjunctiva sicut argumentum suadet.
Hoc quaestionem ponit utrum sapientia qua donum possit appeti. Sicut enim Liber Sapientiae dicit, “scivi quoniam aliter non possum esse continens [sapientiam] nisi Deus det et hoc ipsum erat sapientiae scire cuius esset hoc donum” (8:21). Sed si sapientia de quo S. Thomas dicit hic non sit huiusmodi, sententiae eius sint invicem adversus, quod, licet possit, inconveniens videtur. Aut si hoc non est, donum sapientiae potest appeti. Atque hoc possibile est propter duo. Primo, quia Deus non dona dat indiscretim, et aliquis igitur studeat sapientiae quaerendo Deo, sicut Iacobus dicit, “si quis autem vestrum indiget sapientiam postulet a Deo qui dat omnibus affluenter et non inproperat et dabitur ei” (1:5). Secunde, quia gratia naturam perficit, aliquis potest appetere donum sapientiae mente paranda id accipere, atque unus modus faciendi huius–quamvis forsan non solus modus–est studere primo sapientiae naturali; scientia naturalis quippe frustra est si quis nolit accipere scientiam divinam. Videtur mihi quod talis interpretatio necesse est ut intellegamus S. Thomam recte. Evidenter enim argumentum annotationis verum sit si caritas et sapientia non aliqua coniungantur.
Translation in the comments soon. here:
In the comments on the previous writing (Latin doesn’t have a word for “blog post,” as far as I know), Mike proposes a very good question, namely whether the life of charity is better than the pursuit of wisdom. The second attribute given by St. Thomas to the pursuit of wisdom in the passage cited is that it is more noble than all other human pursuits. His account should be quoted: “It is more perfect, moreover, because by it man especially approaches to a likeness to God, who made all things in wisdom; whence, because likeness is the cause of love, the pursuit of wisdom especially joins man to God in friendship; for which reason it is said (Wisdom 7:14) that wisdom is an infinite treasure to men, which they that use become the friends of God” (SCG, I, 2). Here St. Thomas affirms that friendship is formed through love, which might imply that the life of charity is indeed better than the pursuit of wisdom, although of course St. Thomas does not draw this conclusion. (Addition to the original post: I am not saying that wisdom is better than charity, nor do I think St. Thomas is. In fact, I think the opposite is true. The key to understanding this passage, however, is in how we view the relationship between the two.)
These things can be reconciled by something that St. Thomas says elsewhere. In one sense, wisdom is an acquired intellectual virtue; in another sense, it is a gift of the Holy Spirit. In the latter sense, wisdom produces love of God, and hence joins man to God in friendship, as St. Thomas says. “The knowledge of truth is twofold, one of which is had through grace, the other of which is had through nature. And that which is had through grace, is also twofold. In one way it is speculative only, as when secrets of the divine are revealed to someone; in the other way it is effective, producing love of God, and this properly pertains to the gift of wisdom” (ST, I, Q. 64, A. 1). Wisdom and charity are thus tightly bound together, and the distinction between the pursuit of wisdom and the life of charity is not disjunctive as the argument suggests.
This raises the question of whether wisdom as a gift is something that can be pursued. For as the book of Wisdom says, “I knew that I could not acquire [wisdom] unless God gave her, and this itself was of wisdom, to know whose gift she was” (8:21). But if the wisdom of which St. Thomas speaks here is not of this kind, his opinions are opposed to one another, which, although possible, seems unfitting. Or if this is not the case, the gift of wisdom can be sought after. And this is possible for two reasons. First, because God does not give gifts indiscriminately, and someone can therefore pursue wisdom by asking God, as James says, “But if anyone of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all generously and does not reproach, and it will be given him” (1:5). Second, because grace perfects nature, someone can pursue the gift of wisdom by preparing his mind to receive it, and one way of doing this–although perhaps not the only way–is to first pursue natural wisdom; of course, natural knowledge is in vain if someone is unwilling to receive divine knowledge. It seems to me that some such interpretation is necessary if we are to understand St. Thomas correctly. For the argument in the comment is evidently true if charity and wisdom are not somehow joined.
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