Monday, November 16, 2009

The Summa Theologica for Kicks--Aquinas, De Mendacio

(Erudition: Dust shaken out of a book into an empty skull. Bierce).

""""On the contrary, A gloss on Ps. 5:7, "Thou wilt destroy all that speak a lie," says "that there are three kinds of lies; for some are told for the wellbeing and convenience of someone; and there is another kind of lie that is told in fun; but the third kind of lie is told out of malice." The first of these is called an officious lie, the second a jocose lie, the third a mischievous lie. Therefore lies are divided into these three kinds.

I answer that, Lies may be divided in three ways. First, with respect to their nature as lies: and this is the proper and essential division of lying. In this way, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. iv, 7), lies are of two kinds, namely, the lie which goes beyond the truth, and this belongs to boasting," and the lie which stops short of the truth, and this belongs to "irony." This division is an essential division of lying itself, because lying as such is opposed to truth, as stated in the preceding Article: and truth is a kind of equality, to which more and less are in essential opposition."""
Aquinas, like his great forebearer Augustine, wrote at length on Mendacity. Aquinas generally agrees with The Philosopher (Aristotle) that irony, while not a cardinal sin, should be considered a lie (and thus a sin of some sort--Augustine rarely gives unqualified praise to the greek philosophers). Aquinas also perceived the truth functionality issue (ie, the Law of the Excluded middle: A v ~A); if you do not assert the Truth, you offer non-truths (ie mendacity). Aquinas was thus not a Roody Guiliani/ machiavellian sort of catholic--at least in principle.

This also applies to cultural products, such as theatre. Aristotle, in the Poetics, does not accept comedy [which includes a few varieties of irony] as a legitimate art, or form of discourse; he does allow for tragedy and historical works concerning serious matters (ie great battles, or having to do with statesmen, etc). Aristotle does not (as Plato does in the Republic) call for a ban outright, but does view comedy as a lesser form, if not salacious (he had words for the satyr plays.... Plato took a somewhat more maoist--or muslim-- approach , and forbade all theatrical arts--except music for state occasions (ie JP Sousa-sort)). We here at Contingencies suggest that Aristotle (really, the school of Aristotle/the Academy) usually affirmed positivism of a sort. Like Bertrand Russell, he would not mistake Hamlet for Napoleon.

Most WASPs have been spoonfed anti-catholic (and ergo, anti-hellenic) propaganda by sunday school teachers, or perhaps zionist professors, and were told that the ancient greeks were merely decadents and pagan soothsayers. First, the Septuagint (the version of the OT which Aug.and Aquinas both use) did not appear until after the time of Alexander; there was NO official version of the Old Testament, but merely a collection of ancient semitic texts (not all "hebrew", which was not established until AFTER the rise of the early Christian church. Ancient jews, say of the time of the Seleucids, knew Aramaic, or other semitic tongues. Koine Greek was the language of the Levant at the time of JC (and Latin...Pilate appears to address JC in.....Greek).

Anti-hellenic views were not the view of the Old South; Robert E Lee, for one, read the Classics, so did--Jefferson Davis (however unsavory and un-PC, Davis's oratory approaches a Ciceronian eloquence at times). Had the usual Yokeli Americanus read a few pages of Aristotle he might have discovered that The Stagirite generally favors moderation, and rationality in regards to politics and Kultur, while objecting to the Mel Brooks of his day. Aristotle's stoical moderation was not quite as severe as say Martin Luther. Luther wanted the works of the greeks, and Angelic Doctor Aquinas, not to say poets and pipers, tossed on a bonfire.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi I am from Australia.

But what is our entire "Civilization", including its religion, is based on lies?

And is in the situation described in this very sobering essay.

Plus something completely different (but part of the same integrated Communication)

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