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Homanisation by Karl Rahner


Karl Rahner, S.J., studied theology under Martin Heidegger, then taught dogmatics in Catholic unversities in Munich and Innsbruck, Germany, between 1937 and 1984. He wrote more than a half-dozen books and was an observer at Vatican Council II in 1962-1965. This book originally appeared in 1958. This edition was published in West Germany by Herder K.G., in 1965. Translated by W. J. O’Hara. Prepared for Religion Online by Rev. Herbert F. Lowe.


Section Three


Theological and Philosophical Questions

In this third section a few reflections are to be suggested which will show that the "peace" established between sacred theology and the present-day scientific theory of man's evolutionary origins, hominisation, by the declaration of the Church's magisterium under Plus XII and by a correct interpretation of the Genesis account, is not the end and solution of a comprehensive set of problems, but is only the basis and pacific condition of a genuine encounter between the various branches of study concerned with man. This exposition is intended to show that we still stand merely at a beginning, even apart from the fact that palaeontology and other branches of the scientific study of man are far from having reached the end of their inquiries in their own domain. Even when the present reflections give an answer or at least sketch one, they are intended as an introduction to the new set of problems which are only gradually opening out before theology. They are not final answers. Such answers are not possible here, nor are they aimed at, if only because all reflection on these matters quickly leads into wider questions of the philosophy and theology of nature generally, and so could only suitably be treated within a comprehensive natural philosophy and a theology of nature. We have, therefore, only selected a few topics concerning hominisation which have to be raised not merely or primarily in science but in theology. The aim is to make the point at issue clear and then inevitably we have to move on to further questions. In all this we cannot even claim that the questions raised are systematically set out in their correct context.

1. Spirit and matter

In connection with the question of the evolutionary origins of man, the Church's teaching emphasizes that spirit and matter are not the same, that spirit cannot be derived from matter, and that man, because spiritual, has a metaphysically irreducible position in the cosmos, so that his origin, as far as his spiritual nature is concerned, cannot be found in matter. In such propositions the Church's magisterium does not actually define the concepts employed but presupposes that they are already known. This fact itself sets tasks of a fundamental kind, if the question is really to be answered intelligibly whether, and if so in what sense, man originates from matter. We must know what spirit is, by reason of which man's origin cannot be derived from matter, and what matter is, from which, not only according to present-day science but also according to the Bible, man has a source and origin. An attempt has to be made to attain an accurate grasp of the mutual relation between spirit and matter. Only in that way is it really possible to understand that it is meaningful and not a dubious compromise when a Christian says that man takes his origin from the material and animal realm as regards his corporeal but not his spiritual nature.

a) On the distinction between spirit and matter

What "spiritual" means is an immediate non-empirical datum of human knowledge, though it needs, of course, to be articulated and interpreted by reflection. It is only on the basis of that knowledge that it is possible to determine the actual metaphysical meaning of "material". It is an unmetaphysical and ultimately materialistic prejudice common among scientists to suppose that men primarily deal with matter and know precisely what matter is, and then subsequently and laboriously and very problematically have to "discover" spirit in addition, and can never properly know whether what it signifies cannot after all be reduced to matter in the end. When a materialist says that only matter exists, it is sufficient to inquire what he understands by this matter which he claims is the sole reality. It will be recognized that with a materialistic system, the first and last proposition of the system has no assignable meaning whatever. Scientific statements in fact can always only record functional connections between different items. If A, then B occurs. If "all" is matter, it is impossible scientifically to state and to determine what this "all" is, in other words, what matter is. For by definition there can be nothing on the basis of which this "all" could be determined, that is, expressed as a function of something else. The attempts to equate matter with everything can only lead to interpreting the purely formal structure of the network of functional statements, as the "nature" of this "all", which would be an extremely Idealist interpretation of the nature of matter. It would at least prompt the question whether this "nature" were not simply the a priori structure of the knowing subject's cognition, having nothing at all to do with "reality in itself". But it might suggest that the nature of matter consists of the purely empirical data themselves which are set in order by the interrelations expressed mathematically as functions. But that would quite certainly not be a statement about matter as such, for such purely a posteriori empirical data are varied and differ from one another and so represent nothing unified and one, and of themselves, therefore, supply no ground for a statement about matter and still less for the thesis that only what is exactly the same as what has previously been experienced can occur. The statement, therefore, that everything is matter, has no precise sense on the lips of a materialist who is working with purely scientific methods, for in his system and with his methods he cannot say what he understands by matter.

If the statement that only matter exists were to have any meaning, therefore, it could only aim at expressing the postulate and heuristic principle that an absolute and in every way irreducible plurality of realities absolutely disparate in every respect, with no lowest common denominator, and yet at the same time the possible objects of knowledge by one and the same human mind, is from the start an idea that is logically and really impossible to form, a piece of metaphysical nonsense. That is, of course, the case. But if it is formulated in the way we have mentioned, the term "matter" is simply being equated by definition and a priori with the concept of "being", of "what exists". It would be possible in itself to do that, without asserting anything totally false thereby, because nothing would have been asserted excepted that "there is nothing but being", and that "regarding absolutely anything that can be thought of, at least some statement can be made, common to and valid for all beings". The attempt might even be made positively to recommend this fixing of a terminological starting-point, by recalling that for Christian scholastic philosophy, too, in contrast to Platonic and Idealist philosophy, what first meets man's cognition and what he therefore rightly takes as the starting-point and model case of possible objects of his knowledge, is what is experienced by the senses and to that extent material. But to this it would have to be objected that it would have to remain quite clear that it is entirely compatible with the statement in question that within this one "matter" there can still be differences which must be characterized, ontologically speaking, as essential differences between realities irreducible to one another. Yet even so the question is not answered whether the unity of these realities which are irreducible to one another and essentially different from one another, a unity in fact and principle, is simply a logical one posterior to their own individual reality, or a unity that in some way or another is real. And a second objection would have to be made that what is really the first datum is the unity of a relation between a person inquiring, in the perspective of a limitless horizon of inquiry, and an object that manifests itself as sensibly perceived a posteriori and is received within the horizon but cannot be derived from it. The primordial reality is, therefore, this unity. It reveals and affirms, of course, the intrinsic coordination and relatedness or "kinship" of subject and object, and so gives us the right to subsume subject and object under a common concept and word. But it does not, however, permit us to postulate after the fashion of pan-psychism or dialectical materialism or thorough-going psycho-physical parallelism, a similar unity of relation between subject and object for every particular item met with within this unity, for that would clearly introduce a meaningless infinite regress or would once more annul the dualism found within the unity. Consequently as regards the fundamental contention we are examining, it is not appropriate, in view of the historical associations that burden the word "material" to subsume under the term "matter" the subjectivity which is also met with within the primordial unity we have described, because to do so would at least obscure the equally fundamental difference encountered in that unity between the knowing subject and the object which is merely met with. The refusal to use this terminology is, therefore, not at this point in itself a prior decision in favour of a Platonic conception of spirit, nor is it a prior decision whether within the world, that is to say within the domain of possible individual objects of cognition, there are any which absolutely and in every respect can be exempt from those "material" laws which we discover in the reality which we empirically experience, or whether this is inconceivable.

Nothing at all is settled in the Christian view of the world about a "dialectical" unity of spirit and matter of some such kind, for God, as Christian metaphysics views him, is not a part of the world but its comprehensive ground. He is not the unity of all reality produced by the parts of the world, but the antecedent ground of the possibility of this unity, and he is, therefore, anterior to the duality of subjectivity and objectivity. God's "spirituality" is, therefore, in principle different in kind from any that can be met with within the world. The latter is something other than matter which presupposes but does not create materiality, whereas the divine spirituality is the ground of spirit and matter in the world, having an equally direct relation to both. We only term God "spirit" because the spirituality that we experience rightly seems to us to be what is higher in the world, and because it includes in its very essence a transcendental conscious relationship to the fundamental original ground of all that exists, which we call God, and consequently through this limitlessness of its orientation, it positively and intrinsically does not include the negativity of what is absolutely and in every respect merely finite. It can, therefore, better be used to characterize God than the materiality of something that in every respect is finite.

It is possible also to say that there is no official and strictly binding teaching of the Church according to which the "angels" are so "spiritual", that they are so independent of the material world in its totality, that they are in no way and to no extent also determined by it in their being and activity. But if this doctrine is distinguished, by rejecting or doubting it, from the doctrine of the incorporeality of the angels, that is to say, the doctrine that their life and history does not occupy any point in space and time within the unity of the world, as ours does - a doctrine which, carefully formulated in this way, corresponds both to experience and to the teaching of faith -then, as we have said, the statement that there are finite realities which individually have absolutely "nothing to do with matter" and in that sense are spiritual, is very far from being a proposition binding on a Christian. But even if it is in fact rejected in view of the historical associations of the terminology and in order to respect the ecclesiastical use of the terms, we are far from being obliged or authorized to start from the proposition that everything individual is material, in the sense that this would be at least a heuristically valid principle. For, to come back to the decisive point, the really primordial and original reality met with is the unity of the relation between cognition and the object manifesting itself a posteriori in experience and it is only through this that it is possible to inquire into the meaning and nature of what is encountered.

If, therefore, it is not at all so directly evident what "matter" is, as at first sight might appear, "spirit" is already posited and its nature experienced by asking a question about it. Its meaning can be unfolded from the question itself by transcendental deduction. What matter in general and as a . whole is, is not a question for the natural sciences as such at all, but a question for ontology within a general philosophy of man. And such an ontology could answer the question because it already knows what spirit is, and on the basis of that metaphysical acquaintance with spirit, can say what matter is, namely, what is closed to a dynamic orientation above and beyond itself towards being in general. This will make clearer in retrospect what was said earlier (section I, b) regarding the irreducible character of the various component factors in the one human being. Because spirit as a genuine and indivisible mode of being is a primordial datum in transcendental experience in which man knows himself as one single spiritual and corporeal being, man has an underivative nature which is present either totally or not at all. This nature, therefore, is either necessary and eternal or it comes into existence by being posited transcendentally, through creation by the absolute cause. It cannot do so by combining previously existing independent elementary parts, whatever form these may be imagined to take.

b) On the unity of spirit and matter

It is apparent from the very point of origin of human cognition (though it has only been possible to indicate this briefly), that spirit is a reality that can only be understood by direct acquaintance, having its own proper identity derived from no other. It is only possible to say what matter actually is by contrast with spirit so known. It is clear from the start, therefore, in an ontology and general metaphysical philosophy of man, that the very question of a possible derivation of spirit from matter has no meaning, because that would amount to attempting to derive what is logically and ontologically prior from what is in both respects posterior, and to imply that what is earlier in temporal succession must ipso facto also be the ontological ground of what in space and time is later and more material. The question of the relation between spirit and matter is not, however, exhausted thereby. For that relation must be determined not only negatively, but positively. And this second aspect is of urgent importance as one of the themes of the present inquiry. For of course we are concerned with the origin of the one total nature of man. But if it is to be possible to give a dialectical answer affirming that man is "original" and "underivative", and yet that he is also a component in a cosmic history and consequently also has an origin within the world as a whole, then spirit and matter cannot be envisaged merely as disparate entities and seen as purely and simply different. Otherwise the dialectical answer would either be merely a shoddy compromise of a verbal kind and ultimately false, or man would not be truly one but an adventitious assemblage of independent realities which themselves in that case could of course be of quite different origins.

Now it has already been necessary to indicate in connection with the question of the essential distinction between spirit and matter, that such a distinction cannot be conceived simply as an absolute metaphysical heterogeneity. That would not even be theologically legitimate. If spirit and matter are to be objects of one and the same cognition, they cannot be absolutely heterogeneous. Not only because they can only be known if they are brought together by this one cognition under definite common formal principles, but also9 because cognition rightly understood is not simply the conscious taking cognizance by a knower of an object which confronts the process of cognition in a completely external and uninvolved way. Cognition presupposes an actual communication between reality and cognition as its very condition, or it actually consists of such communication, at least in the primordial form of cognition, of the kind which is not mediated by another. The object communicates itself in an ontological process and really and ontologically impresses itself, informs and intrinsically affects the cognition. If this is to be possible, however, an intrinsic kinship must prevail between knower and known, whether what is known is "material" or not. This is all the more so because what is first known for man is precisely what is material. This consideration is not deprived of force by the objection that what is material is not in the first place grasped by the spirit but by man's senses. For if his sensibility is recognized as a material yet conscious reality, what is at issue is thereby fundamentally conceded. Furthermore, human sense perception is only to be understood as a condition of the possibility of intellectual cognition, posited by spirit in contradistinction to itself but for itself, and consequently once again affirms the kinship of spirit and matter.

In fact the classical theological and philosophical tradition of Christendom has always known this, and repeated it again and again, often at the cost of severe intellectual exertions. Matter in its whole nature and being is traced back to the creative act of God who is termed a "spirit". And however much it is implied by stressing the creation of matter that its reality does not simply emanate (as in pantheism) from the nature of God, (this is equally denied in regard to created spirit as well), and so is not an exteriorization or piece of God's reality, nevertheless the origin and what springs from it, even if this is created, cannot simply be completely heterogeneous and disparate. This is all the less possible as what has this material character is created by God essentially for the sake of the spirit and as orientated towards it. Even from the point of view of purpose and finality, matter cannot simply stand side by side with spirit incommensurable with it. For Christian philosophy quite rightly disputes the contention that God "could" create a material world for its own sake, on the ground that this would be simply meaningless. But such a philosophy must then recognize that what is really meaningless is ontologically impossible, for the distinction between what is physically impossible and what is merely morally impossible in regard to God, is an absurd anthropomorphism. What is material, therefore, is for a Christian, theistic philosophy only conceivable at all precisely as a factor in relation to spirit and for the sake of (finite) spirit. Consequently Thomistic philosophy at least has always regarded what is material simply as a kind of "limited" being. Its positive entity as such, that is to say, prescinding from its negative aspect and limitation by materia prima, which has in reality only a negative character, in itself and of itself connoting no real act and no positive reality, is precisely the same being and perfection which, independently of such limitation and apart from it, connotes spirit, immanence and cognition. It cannot be said that this particular interpretation of the general Christian philosophical doctrine that all that exists whether material or spiritual, must be brought under the same concept of being and conceived as subject to the same metaphysical norms, is the interpretation favoured by all philosophical schools. But it is the interpretation of the school of thought most respected among Christians, namely, the Thomistic, and this was declared by the Church's magisterium under Plus X to be a norma tuta (safe guide) of theological thought precisely with regard to doctrines of this kind.

It cannot be said, therefore, that in philosophy Christians were only concerned to work out the difference between spirit and matter or that they overlooked the intrinsic ontological kinship in nature between them as two different levels, "densities", greater or less limitation of "being". In a Thomistic philosophy it is quite possible to say that finite spirit is conceived as a limitation of exactly the same reality which confers on matter what is positive in it, namely, "being", and that what is material is nothing but a limited and as it were "solidified" spirit, being, act. Obviously this limitation in the material being, its lack of the immanent self-possession given by transcendent dynamic orientation towards being as such, is of a metaphysical kind; it must not be imagined that the real intrinsic negativity that belongs to the nature of a particular material existent could of itself be stripped from it so that by a cosmic process of becoming it could change into spirit. For since its intrinsic negativity is posited by the transcendent cause, God, and so belongs to its essence, all its activity is necessarily and from the start comprised within the bounds fixed by God as the limits of its nature, and always unfolds on the basis of that negativity. It can never be annulled by the creature itself. Consequently, from what itself is material, there is no independent leap immanent in the nature of the material, into the "noosphere". But the removal of limits from what is limited (and is called material) can and does happen in mind and spirit, especially where spirit itself enters into matter in such a way as to remain distinct from it yet comprises it as a factor connected with its own actual constitution as spirit and the attainment of its own nature. This is so in man. And what in this way is liberated in the spirit and by the spirit from its negativity, is precisely the spiritual reality of matter. This is ultimately not "something or other" objectively known as alien to the spirit, but a factor significantly related to spirit and the latter's plenitude of being.

Only in this way is it ultimately conceivable even in a Christian philosophy that the anima intellectualis is per se ipsam the form and act of materia prima, as a Thomistic philosophy interprets the teaching of the Council of Vienne that the spiritual soul is of itself the form of the body. For according to this view, the positive, real, actual content in corporeal reality right down to what is most material in it, is identical precisely with the reality of the finite human spiritual nature, the "act of the soul". It cannot, therefore, be quite simply what is just heterogeneous and alien to spirit. It is a limited component or factor in this spirit itself. And the spirit distinguishing it from itself, itself posits it by formal causality as rendering possible its own achievement of its identity. For the spiritual soul, of course, as spirit, and as form of the body, does not possess two completely different functions but in both its partial functions it has only one, namely, to fulfill its unitary nature as spirit. Consequently its corporeality is necessarily an integrating factor of its constitution as spirit, not something alien to spirit but a limited factor in the accomplishment of spirit itself. The same thing also holds good regarding other material things, especially as they must be envisaged from the start as environment, an extension of the spirit's own corporeality. This is so whether from the purely external point of view these realities are found simultaneously or follow one another in time. For it is far from decided that God could have created the material world without necessarily at the same time the kind of spiritual reality we call the angels. We have, of course, already said that it is quite definitely an open question whether they too by their very nature bear a necessary relation to matter, without their needing on that account to be corporeal beings in the sense that human beings are.

How "spiritually" matter has on Christian principles to be interpreted, which of course involves a very "material" interpretation of finite spirit, is also clear on other theological grounds. There is to be such a thing as a perfected state of created reality in which what is material will, however altered, persist as such and will be an enduring element in the perfection of the total reality. Now the perfection of that one world will and cannot but consist in the achievement of the perfection of created spirits. For of course there could not simply be two perfections of two heterogeneous realities merely in fact juxtaposed, otherwise it would be impossible to see how and why the perfection of the material world should depend essentially as it does in Christian philosophy on the history of spirit and its freedom. Consequently the perfected material reality must be a factor related to the perfection of spirit itself, not something that there is "as well", in addition to spiritual perfection. From a Christian point of view, therefore, spirit, at least finite spirit, can never be thought of in such a way that in order to attain perfection it must move away from material reality, or that its perfection increases in proportion to its distance from matter. That is the permanent Platonic temptation to a false interpretation of Christianity. Spirit must be thought of as seeking and finding itself through the perfection of what is material. This again, however, is only conceivable if by their very natures spirit and matter are not simply juxtaposed as alien, heterogeneous realities. Finite spirit envisaged from the beginning and from its end, at least in the case of man, is "spirit in the world" or "cosmic spirit" and even with regard to the angels it will be appropriate for a Christian, and in the first place for a biblical, theology to see their distinction from mankind within this "cosmic spirituality" and not outside it or in contrast to it.

All this becomes even clearer if we think of the Incarnation of the Logos. A Christian theology and philosophy which does not wish to arouse the suspicion that this fundamental truth of Christianity is merely mythology, must put the question today why the infinite Logos, when he steps forth from himself into the sphere of what is finite yet wills to manifest his own nature precisely within that sphere, becomes material, and eternally maintains that material reality even when his finite manifestation is brought to its perfection. If this fundamental dogma of Christianity is submitted to closer philosophical reflection, it is impossible simply to affirm that the Logos "assumed" this or that reality and in so doing, to presuppose that the characteristic features of what was assumed were already there, needing no further explanation, existing ontologically prior to the "assumption", though of course purely superficially, in time, that is correct. The Augustinian conception should rather be remembered, in which the creation of what is assumed, is merely a factor of the Logos' self-manifestation, an instrument of his self-utterance into the sphere of what is finite and other than himself. In that case, however, matter too which is assumed and which still has its part to play when the manifestation of the Logos is perfected, must itself be regarded as a manifestation of the Logos, and therefore of spirit, and as an essential factor in what comes to be when the Logos himself manifests himself in the otherness of what is outside God, and finite. Matter, therefore, is the outward expression and self-revealing of personal spirit, in the finite realm. Consequently by its very origin it is akin to spirit, an integral factor for spirit and for the eternal Logos (as he freely but in fact exists to all eternity). But matter should not on that account be spiritualized in an Idealist manner, for the affirmations that have been made involve spirit too being just as fundamentally related to matter. It is clear that spirit and matter cannot be thought of side by side, alien and heterogeneous like two particular objects of our experience which are met with next to one another in their difference as mere brute facts. It is evident that Christianity, by reason of certain of its essential elements, of which we have not by any means listed all, even of those relevant to our purpose, positively requires this kinship and mutual relationship of finite spirit and matter in respect of origin, history and goal. It does not simply permit us to conceive it.

Whether and how far these reflections concerning a positive relation between spirit and matter may be significant when it is a question of asking in philosophical and theological terms whether an ontological connection between man and the animal kingdom asserted by the natural sciences to be a fact, is open to an explanatory interpretation on the basis of the nature of spirit and matter, can only be judged after we have examined some aspects of "becoming" in general.

 

2. Philosophical problems connected with the concept of becoming

a) The problem itself

Although a moderate theory of evolution is not objected to by the teaching Church at the present time, it does not follow that the theological question is thereby settled and that the whole matter henceforward is a purely scientific one. The immediate creation of the spiritual soul and the substantial unity of man's nature in body and spirit are, of course, Catholic dogmas. Consequently the Christian can only hold a moderate theory of evolution quatenus nempe de humani corporis origine inquirit, as Humani Generis says (Denzinger 2327). The term moderate evolution might therefore be applied to a theory which simply inquires into the biological reality of man in accordance with the formal object of the biological sciences as defined by their methods and which affirms a real genetic connection between that human biological reality and the animal kingdom, but which also in accordance with the fundamental methodological principles of those sciences, cannot and does not attempt to assert that it has made a statement adequate to the whole reality of man and to the origin of this whole reality. Such methodological and factual limitation of what is stated by the moderate theory of evolution is, however, not a sufficient solution of the problem of man. For philosophy and theology, in accordance with their doctrine of man, which is prior in principle to that of the natural sciences, affirm an immediate creation of what they call soul. Now this soul, and what is biological in man and what science makes its evolutionary affirmation about, cannot be regarded simply as two different things, concerning which of course opposed statements would not raise any difficulties. So the question arises, if both these statements are mutually taken into account, how they can be understood dialectically so that they do not simply sound like a lazy compromise between a theological and a scientific statement, and one which arises because, overlooking the substantial unity of man in a purely verbal fashion, different subjects are being postulated for the soul-body statement. Yet in actual fact an immediate creation of the soul, if given its full meaning, necessarily implies a statement about man's corporeal nature and its coming to be, and a statement about the body as such cannot be anything but a fragment of the real "pre-history"10 of the soul. Otherwise man would be divided in the Platonic fashion into soul and body.

This "pre-history" must, therefore, be the pre-history of a spiritual person. How can it be, if the goal to which this development must move is something absolutely and irreducibly new, which the substratum of the development, matter, cannot produce at all by its own powers? If it is said that this pre-history is orientated by God towards the point at which the spiritual soul is created by him, it must after all be added that this orientation of the development reaches a point that represents the appropriate "material cause" for the new creation of a spiritual principle. But if this is asserted and if we do not wish to think of the orientation of the development by God as a series of arbitrary measures taken by him and as giving impetus to the development from outside (a way of representing the matter which is absurd in fact and method, for all kinds of reasons), then this orientation can only be conceived as happening precisely through, and out of,11 the of course ultimately divinely-created reality of what Is itself developing in that way. Then, however, the question arises how it is conceivable that a being should develop by its own immanent -- in the restricted sense just indicated -- teleology towards a point which really only has "meaning" for a being which essentially transcends it. The question in fact arises how it is possible to conceive the development of a being that consists in producing as its term something that is higher than itself, or at least leads towards such self-transcendence.

The set of problems concerning the usual distinction between development of the body and creation of the soul of man must also be looked at from another quite different side. Science and metaphysics too, providing the latter is viewed as a natural mode of cognition and is not unconsciously supplemented by theological knowledge about God's saving action in the history of redemption, can each from their own angle quite well think of God as the transcendent ground of all reality, of its existence and of its becoming, as the primordial reality comprising everything, supporting everything, but precisely for that reason cannot regard him as a partial factor and component in the reality with which we are confronted, nor as a member of its causal series. For metaphysics, God is not the first member of a causal series, almost arbitrarily the first, "behind" which there is nothing more, simply because it is impossible to go back ad infinitum (as is often represented in the proofs of God's existence as these are popularly expounded). Nor is it the case that really only the penultimate member of such a chain of causes stands in a direct relation to God, as if he were its first member. For a genuine metaphysics, the credentials of which are shown precisely by the correct kind of "proof of God's existence" which it provides (fundamentally a single one) God is for every being equally the immediate condition of its possibility. Consequently the proof of God's existence and the proof of what Christian metaphysics and theology calls immediate conservatio and concursus on the part of God, are one and the same demonstration. Precisely for that reason, however, God is not a function or factor of the whole or in the whole of reality, but he is the transcendent ground of its manifold totality. For unaided metaphysics, therefore, God cannot be met with among other things as one of them. His activity is not an item in our experience, but is present as the ground, implicitly and simultaneously affirmed, of every reality met with and affirmed, and as being, which is the ground of what is, but always present as mediated by finite things. This fundamental conception of the relation between God as creator and the world, which is taken as a matter of course since Aquinas and his doctrine of second causes, has become a methodological principle of the natural sciences, not in opposition to Christian theistic metaphysics, but as deriving from them. A phenomenon encountered is explained, so the methodological principle runs, by being referred back to another phenomenon as its cause, whether this cause is actually met with in experience, or whether it is postulated and looked for within the world of experience. Recourse to God as an explanation of a phenomenon experienced is not a method employed by the natural sciences. We cannot discuss in this connection why and how some such recourse is permissible within human experience of a total and not methodically restricted kind, such as is involved in the history of redemption, for example in recognizing a miracle.

But now, however, the thesis from which we start seems to affirm that at a definite point within the world, within the course of natural history, an intervention of creative omnipotence of just such a "predicamental" kind did take place, there and then, at the place and time that a spiritual soul was created by God in the animal form which had developed in the direction of man, so that in that way man came to be. Does this not postulate an event in which secondary causes within the closed causal series are suddenly replaced by God himself? Does that not make God a demiurge? Does it not turn the secular sobriety of nature and its history into a marvel, in fact a miracle? Is God not in that way suddenly creating in the world instead of creatively and permanently sustaining the world? Are we not suddenly seeing God's creative act, whereas elsewhere we see God's creatures? Is not precisely the essential difference between natural and secular history on the one hand and the really personal, sacred history of redemption on the other, blurred, if God's action even outside the history of redemption receives a definite predicamental position within space and time, because a definite, precise individual reality in distinction to others and in a different way from others receives a privileged direct relation to God? Must science not perpetually try to remove this stumbling-block, by reason of the very principles of its method? Must we not say that God's causality,, precisely because it is divine and not finite and cosmic, is always and everywhere represented, when causality within the world is in question, by a created, perceptible cause, and that to determine and describe this cause more and more clearly is precisely the task of human sciences? If they did not do this any more or abandoned the attempt, would they not be acting like a man who answered the question why the lightning flashed, by saying that God had created lightning? Must we not say that of course God is the cause of the soul, because by definition he is the cause of everything, but that he is cause in the way in which it is proper to him, and to him alone, to be a cause, but not in such a way that this causing of the soul can be ascribed to him in a manner that is different from everything else in the world which originates within the world at a definite moment and place?

Of course, it is possible to reply that the alleged stumbling block occurs every day according to Christian teaching, because what here in the case of the first human being is felt to be contrary to the fundamental conceptions of metaphysics and the methodological basis of natural science, happens continually at the origin of every individual human soul, at the genesis of every single human being, for such souls equally with those of the first human beings, are created by God directly out of nothing. This objection only widens the problem, shows its urgency, but does not solve it. For precisely all that has been said can also be objected to the doctrine of the immediate creation of every human soul in the course of history, if this creation makes of God's action in a special manner a member of the chain of created causes, even if only in regard to a particular finite being, which in contrast to others and by its special individual and temporal features has no intra -mundane ground and basis. The problem that faces us is, therefore, the following. Is the creation of the soul of man at the beginning of the history of humanity and at the beginning of the individual life of each particular person, as this is understood by traditional Christian philosophy and the Church's magisterium (as a truth of faith), an exceptional, extraordinary occurrence whose special ontological features contradict everything that is otherwise understood regarding the relation of the first cause to second causes? Or can it be shown that precisely this event, too, exemplifies the accurate and fully developed concept of the relation between first cause and second causes which must and can be worked out by general ontology as the concept of becoming, and which is also found actually exemplified in other instances?

It is of course clear at once that terminative -- by reason of its term -- the creative relation between God and a soul is different from the relation between God and a purely material being, precisely because the two entities are different, and different in kind. But that does not settle the question whether God's creative relationship in each case is "in itself" "specifically" different. That is to say, it is not yet settled that the relation which Christian doctrine holds to exist between God and the spiritual soul as regards its origin, is to be regarded as not occurring otherwise in nature and its history. All the more so as it is easily conceivable on theological grounds that the teaching of faith may state something regarding the soul, which that teaching has no occasion to make about some other reality, even if such a statement were in itself possible.

In order to anticipate for the reader the line of argument to be followed and so to facilitate progress, it will first be urged that the concept of God's operation as an enduring, active support of cosmic reality, must be elaborated in such a way that this divine operation itself is envisaged as actively enabling finite beings themselves by their own activity to transcend themselves, and this in such a way that if the concept holds good in general, it will also hold good for the "creation of the spiritual soul" (see below, section 3a). Correspondingly, active change and becoming of finite things (at least in certain particular but quite normal and natural forms) will appear not only as the active asymptotic approach to what is higher than themselves through active self-fulfillment of their own natures, but also as an active transcending of their own natures, whereby an existent itself by its own activity (which itself implies that of God) actively moves beyond and above itself.

b) Suggestions from scholastic philosophy and theology

It is of course not possible, nor is it attempted here, to treat of the whole range of problems concerning the concept of becoming, as they are investigated in scholastic ontology and natural philosophy. The intention is the quite limited one of indicating as simply and non-technically as possible a few points in the scholastic philosophy of change which may be of use in suggesting starting-points for our purpose. We therefore take for granted the general scholastic Aristotelian doctrine of act and potency. A critical examination of the scholastic philosophy of nature may well give the impression that in its earlier history it often inevitably and of necessity took for granted certain processes of change as indisputable facts. It then attempted to capture these as best as possible in concepts, without yet inquiring with great rigour whether the theories invested in such concepts really matched the ultimate metaphysical convictions possessed and developed in other connections. It was thought that such and such facts had to be reckoned with, and that there is no arguing with facts. A typical example is the conception of the eductio e potentia materiae: the drawing forth (of the form) from the potentiality of matter. A new principle of being, and a substantial one at that, was regarded as produced by an efficient cause from an existing finite thing, even if only in and from the potentiality to it already present. It was thought indisputable that something of the sort occurs, and that the concept itself must consequently be intrinsically possible. But gradually people became convinced that the genesis of new substantial forms at least in the inorganic realm, cannot be demonstrated with absolute certainty, to put the matter very moderately. Whether something of the sort may be supposed to occur in the organic realm does not solely depend on whether in the organic (sub-human) sphere, substantial formal principles essentially higher than the principles constitutive of inorganic reality can strictly be postulated by natural philosophy, in the way claimed by Vitalism rightly understood, as entelechies of sorts, though of course in themselves these could not be the objects of perception, because a posteriori and experimentally it is only complete beings which are met with, never principles of being as such. 12 Even on the assumption of a Vitalism of essentially higher principles of that kind, which raise the organic, as an intrinsically higher level of reality, above merely inorganic matter, and constitute biology as an independent science, and even if we regard the entelechy factor as simple and indivisible, there would only be an eductio e potentia materiae when a new living being came into existence, if we excluded creation in this case in the way it is exemplified in the human soul, though that is not very easy to prove, and at the same time rejected the not at all absurd supposition that in the generation of new life below the human level what happens is only the extension of the entelechial function of one and the same vital principle to a new position in space and time within inorganic matter. Growth and generation would not then be essentially different processes in the infra-human organic realm, because between both, absolutely continuous transitions could be observed.

Despite the questionable character of what is presupposed by the idea of eductio e potentia materiae, namely, that facts exist which can only be described with the help of the concept, this traditional scholastic concept can be helpful here. Let it be supposed for a moment that its conceivability and especially the lack of theological objections to it are guaranteed by a long philosophical tradition, and let us attempt to examine it more closely. It is then stated that creatures can produce new reality. That is not a proposition that can simply be taken for granted as a matter of course. It is not possible to assert that if there is becoming at all in the world, there is becoming which is caused within the world, and consequently new being is produced. For of course the question is precisely whether the change and becoming which we observe and must take into account as a certain fact in our metaphysical thinking, can not be viewed as a mere "becoming otherwise" without any actual increase of being. The modern concept of a state of motion makes it clear what is meant: something which does not really become more but simply alters, and in this sense comes about, but in such a way that what is new in it is always identical with the relinquishing of something of the old. The level of being, the density of being, the degree of reality, still remains the same, and the very alteration as such constitutes the stable nature of the thing in question. After all, we are certainly entitled to distinguish between becoming otherwise and becoming more, at least in a first approximate description of phenomena. What is proper to change of place (no matter what physical reality lies behind it, it can be used simply as a model for the sake of metaphysical argument), is that to leave one place is to occupy another of the same ontological rank and vice versa. Mere circumscription to one place is replaced by another of the same kind, and something simply persists in the instability of a particular condition, particularly if this process is clearly viewed as one and identical with itself, not as a series of static conditions differing one from another, but is definitely regarded as a transition from potency to act, transitus a potentia in actum, more correctly than as a mere transition ab actu in actum. It might be added that the whole method of modern physics is based on this conception, when it describes reality with mathematical formulae. Every state which is brought into functional relation with another is regarded as equivalent and interchangeable with that other. It makes no difference to remark that this is done under a quantitative aspect which says nothing and decides nothing about the qualitative difference of the phenomena that are linked. By its method natural science aims at absolute equivalence of functionally linked phenomena and "local movement", change of place, in the sense referred to, is still fundamentally the dominant, if hidden, model for this kind of thought. And it is not at all settled that it is really inadequate. Is it not possible to say, therefore, that the concept of merely becoming-otherwise is inconceivable, on the grounds that the character of being-otherwise which comes about, is a reality different from what preceded it, and therefore, because new, requires to be produced and needs a sufficient cause, which must be sought within the cosmic domain? Can this objection be considered cogent if we refuse from the start (and why should we not be able to do so?), to regard what is "otherwise" as more, really new, and not really present before? On this view, the only new thing, which is still the old, is the state of motion, and this involves no increase of being, and in it, by definition, the static, fixed element can as little be regarded as something in itself and as a definite reality, as the individual parts in a continuum can be considered separately in themselves as constituting, in that distinct condition, the whole quantitative continuum. However these problematic features are regarded, they show at least one thing. If a new substantial form appears in an eductio e potentia materioe, and however much it may be stressed that the form is a mere principle of being which cannot itself be treated as a being, something really new in the sense of "being" appears. And this is not compensated for by a loss of being in such a way that the coming into existence of the new determination of being, and the cessation of the old, can be regarded as simply two sides of the enduring character of a state of change.

The question then arises, however, whether such a generation or becoming is metaphysically explicable in regard to its causes, solely from the active power of the finite being which is conceived to be the cause of the substantial formal principle. Can finite active power be the sufficient cause of such an increment of being? There is no question at all from the start of divine causality replacing finite causality or in some way or another inserting itself as an intermediary, between the finite cause and the increase of being effected. It would no longer be clear in that case how the finite cause could still be termed a cause. The genuine causality of finite being would be endangered, and all the problems would arise regarding the correct understanding of the ontological relation between infinite being and finite beings which we have already indicated as the starting-point of all these reflections. The problem would only be postponed, not solved. The theory of a transition from a finite intermediary produced by God alone and designed to bring the potentiality of the finite cause into act, to the new increase of being, which would be different from that intermediary yet not actually contained in it, for otherwise of course nothing new would come to be, must inevitably pose exactly the same problem once more. This is the case as regards a praemotio physica, for example. Nor however can the production of a new increasing reality and being by a finite cause be understood as the act of the finite being alone, with the divine causality understood as a conservation and as a concursus which only continues the conservation in the order of act. That is so if the principle of sufficient reason properly understood and its necessity are not to be contradicted. Otherwise something would give more than it possesses. It cannot be objected to this, that the finite efficient cause produces its effect in the potentia of another (the materia from which it educes the form), so that it does not itself become more than it was. For in the first place and fundamentally, every act of transitive causation must be regarded as a deficient mode of immanent self-realization of the agent's nature. This cannot be expounded further here but must be presupposed." And the self-realization in which the agent moves from being a potential to being an actual agent, for it is not of course always one, would itself have to be conceived as an increment of being. Consequently it would transgress the principle of sufficient reason if we were to attempt to imagine that a finite being could give itself this true increase of being which is not a mere modification.

Anyone, therefore, who does not suppose that in a metaphysical sense more can simply come from less, must, precisely if he wishes to perceive in the production of change through transitive causality a perspective open for "endless" becoming, introduce the idea of infinite Being as the ground of the very possibility of any becoming which involves an increase of being. But, in accordance with our earlier argument, he must not do this in such a way that the operation of absolute Being in providing a ground of the new and increasing reality is inserted side by side with the causal efficacy of the finite cause as though fundamentally it were itself a part cause. The relation of the absolute ground of being to the finite agent, when becoming is effected which is truly an increase and not just a variation, must rather be envisaged in such a way that the absolute ground of being and becoming is always regarded as a factor linked to the finite agent and belonging to it, though transcending it. It does not belong to the "essence" of the finite efficient cause and is not an intrinsic constitutive factor of its "nature", but, while transcending this nature, belongs to it precisely as its ground in relation to it as agent and cause. For an agent to be able to do what it cannot do of itself, must involve its having infinite being as its transcendent ground in such a way that, while this ground is not a factor in the agent "itself", it nevertheless belongs to it. This idea is not to be immediately pursued and made more precise. It will be taken up again in a wider perspective. It was only intended to show that certain concepts of the scholastic philosophy of nature, such as eductio a potentia materiae, if they are thought out without prejudice, compel us to think on lines which are perhaps of a kind to throw light on the real problem that concerns us here.

A few other concepts may be indicated whose apparent difficulties and obscurities may be of importance for us. It is well-known that in scholastic philosophy the precise meaning of the concept of concursus (as physical and immediate) is disputed. If it is taken to consist in a finite being's operation having its ground in the universal causality of God, because every reality of being must be sustained by God's creative omnipotence, then the concursus appears to be merely an application and extension of conservation. The concursus simultaneus as such, therefore, does not seem to explain becoming, the transition from potentia to actus, from less to more, when it is simply thought of as the already realized act, viewed in relation to God's causality. It does not make it clear what exactly the creature itself can do in effectuating or producing its act, how it can give itself its act. To all appearance it cannot; for the act, being a new reality and at the same time a determination affecting the agent itself producing it, makes this finite agent more than it was previously, so that the agent in the proper sense transcends itself, which after all seems impossible. It is precisely this which does not seem to be made sufficiently intelligible if we simply say that it comes about and is possible precisely because the absolute and infinite operative power of God has this act as its term. If this is all that is said, an explanation is given (in the sense of course in which metaphysical statements aim at "explaining" anything) of the aspect in which the act is more, but not how the act founded and sustained in that way, is not only the act of the finite being because it is received in it, as Aquinas puts it, but also because it is posited by it as a cause. If this is to be explained, it has to be made intelligible in some way why and how the divine causality belongs to the constitution of the finite causality itself, without becoming an essential component of the nature of the finite being itself. This was seen to some extent by the scholastic theory which in order to explain the transition from potency to act, postulated God's praemotio physica and saw the real nature of the concursus therein, that is, as praevius and not merely as simultaneus. Here God's power, without becoming an intrinsic component of the nature of the finite agent, contributes to constitute the capacity of the agent actually to act. In using this manner of expression, we do not have to decide the question whether this physical premotion is to be attributed to the actus primus or to the actus secundus, to the capacity to act or to the act itself. Only by including God and his action is the self-transcendence by the creature possible which occurs in the passage from potentia to genuine actus which involves an increase of being. And only if God and his power is thought of as comprised as a factor in the efficacy of the finite agent -- though once again it must be repeated, without thereby becoming an intrinsic constituent of the essence of the finite being itself -- and not simply as sustaining the actus secundus as such and as received in the finite agent, can the act be conceived as produced by the finite agent itself. To that degree, therefore, the doctrine of physical premotion certainly takes account of an absolutely essential and indispensable element of a metaphysically adequate idea of the unity of divine and creaturely activity where really new and increased reality is produced in one finite being by another.

But this conception is fundamentally untrue to itself, because it envisages this physical premotion, as regards its term, as a reality created by God, lying between the faculty of the creature and the act produced by it. In that case it is hard to see why such a created entity, communicated to the faculty of the finite being, could not lastingly belong to it, and why, therefore, we may not consider as conceivable the very thing that defenders of physical premotion attack as metaphysically meaningless, namely, that a faculty or power, understood to be an active power, could bring itself from potency to act, of itself, of course on the basis of conservatio and concursus, which latter, however, would not create some intermediary between potency and act but simply posit potency and act. The question arises, if premotion is different from the act, whether this act once more gives to the faculty a new increment of being, seeing that the faculty receives the act as its determination over and above the actuality which the premotion gives to the faculty itself as its determination. If it does, then the old question seems to recur. If not, then it is no longer evident what the act is to mean. Physical premotion, therefore, is in one way too static and too reified and too separate from God on the one hand and from the act of the creature on the other. As a finite reality, it explains predicamental being by predicamental being, the categories by something within the categories, in other words not at all. It tries to introduce God into the proceedings where God, in contradistinction to anything finite, is metaphysically unnecessary, and yet it replaces God once again in this function by something finite produced by him. From transcendent causality, physical premotion once again descends to a predicamental and cosmic causality, and it is not made intelligible why this latter has a more direct relation to God than other finite realities. It is not at all clear why the act which is supposed to follow on the premotion actually can ensue, if the premotion plus the faculty contains less reality and being than the faculty plus its act. Nor does premotion explain how the act is really the act of the faculty inasmuch as it is posited by the faculty, and not merely received in it. For the act is posited by an agent which is a true cause, and a finite, predicamental one, existing, that is, in the domain of cosmic reality, so that the act can be put in comparison with the power to produce an act of that kind which is actually said to produce it, while cause and the faculty itself are not identical. To put the matter in another way. By the finite created character of the praemotio physica on the one hand, and the fact that it is distinct from the act to which it premoves on the other, it cannot itself be thought of meaningfully as the reason for the increase in being which the act involves for the created agent, because in relation to it the physical premotion after all is still ontologically inferior and stands on the side of potentia. This difficulty is only avoided if it is simply and plainly seen that the infinite cause, which as actus purus pre-contains all reality in itself, belongs to the constitution of the finite cause as such (in actu), but without forming an intrinsic constituent of the finite being as such. The first half of this dialectical statement then makes it conceivable that the finite cause can transcend itself, and that it is truly the agent itself which does so, that is to say that its operation as received, or as produced from itself, is more than the agent, and yet is posited by the agent, so that the agent can in fact go beyond and above itself. The second part of the dialectical statement makes it clear that in this operation the agent really does transcend itself, rise higher than itself. This would not be the case if the actus purus, the infinite act, which belongs to the constituting of the finite cause as such, were an intrinsic constituent of the finite cause itself, so that the finite cause always possessed what it has still to attain by its self-transcendence.

The question, therefore, is whether such a concept of a cause to which the infinite reality of pure act belongs as a factor constituting it without becoming an intrinsic constituent of the entity of the finite cause itself, but in some way remains free, detached from the process of becoming, but provides the real ground of the self-transcending operation of the finite agent itself, is a valid and demonstrable concept, or only a paradoxical and intrinsically self-contradictory construction which can only conceal the fact that our thought has reached an impasse. Where can the validity and ontological necessity of such a concept be demonstrated? In order to answer this question, we must go farther back into fundamentals.

 

c) The transcendental source of a genuinely metaphysical concept of cause

In order to answer the questions that have emerged from this consideration of scholastic concepts relating to the efficient causality of finite things, we must assume two propositions which -can only be formulated here but not really proved. First, the validity of a genuinely ontological concept is proved by a transcendental deduction, that is to say, its validity is made plain by showing that it is implicitly affirmed as valid even when it is merely inquired into, or even when its validity is expressly contested or doubted. Secondly, for human beings the ontologically first and fundamental case or paradigm of a being and of its fundamental properties is found in the being himself who knows and acts. What is meant by "being", "operation", "causality", that is to say, all the transcendental properties of being, is ultimately experienced in the knowing subject himself, in his own activity, immanence, self-possession. Such activity must not be set apart as "intentional", "intellectual", "merely conceptual", from the "real", entitative activity of a being, for precisely what the being in question really and fundamentally is, is brought to realization and experienced in that activity. The mental event as such is the individually occurring real and actual event. The fact that besides this there is physical being with its activities, but not present to itself in its own awareness, does not make such being a paradigm case of what being "real" means. The physical must be regarded as a deficient mode of that being and reality which is immanently present to itself and precisely thereby brings its own ontological nature as an objective datum before itself. From that, too, it follows that if the genuine concept of becoming is to be attained, it must be attained in the operation of cognition itself. That is, if becoming is to be conceived as the becoming and operation of a being which fulfils itself and so reaches its own accomplishment. And to the extent that within this movement of the mind effecting its own fulfillment, certain factors not only seem to be present as a matter of fact, but are again posited even in the act of doubting them, so that their transcendental necessity is implicitly affirmed, the real nature of causal operation and becoming is primarily manifested in the sphere of mind and spirit and thereby the nature of operation and of becoming in general, proportionately of course, on various levels with their lesser modes.

What is, then, the nature of the operation and becoming of this ontological spiritual reality which manifests itself with transcendental necessity? An answer to this question cannot be developed here with adequate detail and precision. That is obvious. For such a precise answer would be identical with a complete metaphysic of cognition and consequently with metaphysics as such. Only the absolutely indispensable can be merely indicated here, as far as is required for our more restricted purpose. Man is a finite cognitive being who is immanently present to himself precisely because, on the occasion of any particular finite being that manifests itself to him as he encounters it in experience, his cognition is intrinsically orientated and tends towards being in general. This "transcendence" as a mark of mind or .spirit, that is to say, this dynamic orientation of mind or spirit above and beyond itself towards being in general, and thereby towards absolute being -- however the relation between the two latter may be more precisely regarded, a topic that cannot be pursued here -- is the very condition of the possibility of reflective self-awareness and of the objective discriminating conceptual representation of particular objects experienced, and consequently of the unity of these two. The orientation of this transcendence, the term to which its dynamism points and reaches out, must not be thought of as one object of cognition among others. It is more like a horizon, the condition of the possibility of the knowledge of objects and of self-reflection and freedom, and precisely as such it is not one of the possible "objects" of cognition. Naturally, of course, it can and must be represented conceptually after the manner of an object in subsequent reflection about it, as for instance now, while we are talking about it. And from other points of view such reflection may be of decisive importance. Any Ontologism is, therefore, excluded from the very start, and this "nonconceptual" term of transcendence must be more precisely determined in three of its aspects.

It is an essential factor in all intellectual knowledge. It therefore belongs in its own way to the factors without which ontology and the nature of the mind and its activity cannot be understood at all. It is in its own way as term, an immanent component of transcendence as a reality belonging to spirit. And to say that it is immanent means that the dynamism is not merely as a matter of fact orientated towards it, whereas the dynamism could fix on another goal and so show that its dynamic nature was independent of the transcendent term, which would then be an arbitrarily selected one. It means that the dynamism only exists and can exist because it tends precisely towards that term and so is sustained by it.

The orienting term of transcendence is immanent in the dynamic tendency in such a way that it can only possess that immanence in virtue of the very fact that it is above the tendency and superior to it, "untouched" by it, appearing as what does not belong to the multiplicity of finite objects, but is precisely a condition of the possibility of their being apprehended. It is decisive to realize the unity and mutual relation of the two aspects mentioned regarding the orienting term of transcendence. It is a question here of a fundamental relation which cannot be derived from some other source, and the two aspects are not first independent and then conjoined adventitiously. The orienting term as a constitutive factor of the dynamic tendency, is immanent in it, but precisely because it is above it and differentiates the dynamism from itself as not its own. This dialectical statement cannot be simplified after the fashion of Idealist philosophy by making the dynamic tendency a component of the term itself, the latter being the "Absolute Spirit". Nor is it possible, for reasons which must be dealt with in a moment, to try to separate the orienting term from the tendency as if it were purely external and merely as a matter of fact the goal to which the tendency moves, but only in virtue of an independent impulse in the latter not intrinsically dependent on the term but simply belonging objectively speaking to finite spirit as such. The dialectical formula asserting that it is by being above it that the orienting term is in the dynamic tendency as one of the factors that constitute it, is a formula that is both complex and single, and cannot be resolved without detriment to the phenomenon in question.

This orienting term is what sets in motion. It is not only the goal but the causal reason for the dynamic tendency. The latter does not merely move itself towards the term. The latter draws it on, sets the tendency in motion and sustains it. For at this point in a fundamental ontological datum we must not deviate into mere empirical fact and think that we could attribute to the knowing subject some impetus that would mean the term of transcendence was merely there as a goal confronting the movement indifferently and extrinsically and having in itself nothing to do with the movement. Of course it is not meant that finite spirit in itself, that is to say precisely when it is thought of as without the factor of having this orienting term "immanent in it and above it", has no motive force and is not an intellectus agens. The assimilation of the finite object encountered within the horizon of transcendence is an activity, and one not purely and simply identical with the dynamisrn of transcendence, even though it has the latter as its foundation. This itself would contradict any conception of the pure inactivity of the knowing subject in contradistinction to its movement by the orienting term. But precisely the movement by that term must not be thought of as replaced by some other impetus. Its significance must not be reduced to that of the movement which an object known can in this sense initiate as a final cause.

For of course it is not a question of an object but of the primordial causal condition of the very possibility of cognition in general, and so of the possibility of the operation of any actual final causality. Furthermore the explanation of the attraction which sets the dynamism of the mind in motion, by some "unconscious" motive force of the subject himself, standing outside the dynamism itself, would be to explain something known and intelligible and self-explanatory -- because here if anywhere the phenomenon and the reality are identical -- by something unknown and not of itself more intelligible. It would, therefore, be the explanation of something ontological and intelligible to itself in its own immanent operation, by something merely factual. In other words the actual state of affairs must be accepted without diminution. The orienting term of transcendence moves the movement of the mind; it is the originating cause, the fundamental ground and reason of the mind's transcendental dynamism. When "being" presents itself, in whatever mode, it makes possible its apprehension as the horizon of transcendence. Because it stands uncircumscribable above the mind, it causally sets in movement the transcendent dynamism of the finite subject which impels the latter above and beyond itself. The primordial transcendental experience of what precisely cause and capacity to act are, is given in the unity of the experience of active self-movement by the knowing subject with, in and under its impulsion by its own orienting term which transcends it. Any question regarding any other causality occurs within such a movement of the mind moved by being as such, and all despair of such a movement, is itself once again of the same kind and implicitly affirms what it despairs of or denies. Here, therefore, is where we can know what cause and action as such are. All other efficient causes can only be deficient modes of this causality, if they are really to be ontologically, that is metaphysically, understood. In the same way what an existent is and what being is, are primarily experienced as characters of the knowing subject himself. And all the transcendental properties of each and every existent can only be known as necessarily belonging to every being, in an analogous and hierarchical manner, because they are implicitly affirmed in every act of cognition as necessarily belonging to every possible object of knowledge by reason of the very character of a knowing subject.

d) Ontological theses on the concepts of becoming, cause and operation

On the basis of what has been established the following affirmations should now be intelligible.

Becoming is always by its very nature an advance, a going beyond, not a reduplication, a repetition, of the identical. Such reduplication itself, of course, if , closely examined, would again raise the question how and in virtue of what power, something identical can be produced by a finite agent. For even if it is only the same thing once again, so to speak, it is nevertheless more than what produced it. From the ontological point of view, therefore, it is simply and recognizably false to conceive the passing into act of the agent as at bottom the positing of a duplicate and then to assert that no metaphysical problem arises because the agent is only doing what itself is, so that the effect is as obviously a matter of course as the agent. Becoming involves, rather, that the agent advances beyond and above itself from its own lower plane to a higher, in a self-transcending movement. And in regard to the fundamental ontological paradigm case, it is to be noted that the movement towards being as such, in which the subject's self-transcendence is realized, really is a rising higher. What is effected, namely the possession of being,14 here in the most radical sense qualifies the subject himself that is affected. Here, therefore, we have the most extreme case of an agent's transcending itself in its operation, for what is effected is received in the agent itself and qualifies it. Nor can that movement towards being as such be reduced to insignificant triviality by alleging that it is only in an "intentional", that is, "conceptual" sense a possession of being as such. On the contrary, there occurs a real possession of being, even though being remains raised transcendent above the subject. There is an actual ontological determination of the operative subject by the being that supervenes.

The agent's rising beyond and above itself in action and becoming takes place because the absolute Being is the cause and ground of this self-movement, in such a way that the latter has this fundamental ground immanent within it as a factor intrinsically related to the movement. It is, therefore, true self-transcendence, not merely a passive being lifted beyond self. Yet it is not on that account a movement within absolute Being, because the latter, though a factor immanent in the self-movement of the subject of change which is advancing beyond itself, at the same time remains free and unaffected above it, unmoved but giving movement, an unmoved mover. Precisely from that, however, it follows that the movement does not cease to be self-movement when it becomes self-transcendence, but attains its own proper nature thereby. All finite causality is truly such in virtue of being that is operative both as immanent within it and as raised transcendent above it. This is so always and essentially, but that is precisely what gives finite causality its very identity. And for the same reason, causality can in this perspective of movement from within by being as such, be attributed to finite beings in regard to what is more than themselves. Within these metaphysical conditions (and those noted in the next paragraph), it can be said without anxiety that a finite being can effect more than it is. A denial of this, therefore, if still made for some particular reason, can only in principle be meant to emphasize and make clear that such advancing above and beyond the agent's own nature cannot take place at all unless absolute Being is involved in the process, if one may so express it, by moving below itself.

Consequently the "essence" of any being whose self-transcendence is in question does not determine the limits of what can be produced in the advance beyond itself. It can, however, be an indication that from some definite limited potentiality something is coming to be and must come about that is not yet a reality, an indication, therefore, of a process of becoming that has still to come. It also indicates that although the agent transcends itself, the starting-point of the movement always remains a limiting law of what can come directly from it. It is not, of course, the case that because every agent exceeds itself, anything can come from anything, and that directly. The starting-point, though gone beyond, can very well be an indication of the goal of the advance, and of how far the latter directly .proceeds. The concept of operation and becoming as self-transcendence gives no warrant for causally linking anything with everything, and negative statements such as "This cannot produce that", or, "From this that cannot come", are not to be rejected out of hand as meaningless. This is especially true in the realm of what is not mind and spirit, for there self-transcendence is always in the proper sense a going beyond an agent's own essence, because absolute Being is not present in the special sense as the ground of spirit and its operation. Whereas there belongs to the essence of a spiritual being an ever-open ontological transcendence towards being in general, and so a rising above and beyond self, for example to the participation in the divine nature through grace and glory, if made possible from above by grace, is always possible, without this agent having to lose the essence that was until then its own.

A case of self-transcendence that rises above the essence of the agent must not be declared impossible from the start. This is particularly so because, for a Thomistic metaphysics, the various essences are only different grades of limitation of being. An essence low in the scale, therefore, as regards what is positive in it, is not purely unlike and in contradiction to a higher essence. It is only a lower nature in comparison with a higher because it contracts or limits being more narrowly than the latter. So if in its becoming it were to move beyond itself, even in the sense of transcending its own essence, that would not involve the positing of a purely disparate being absolutely alien to its nature and in that sense a generatio aequivoca absolutely speaking. The new being produced could preserve all the positive constituents of the old essence within itself as its own properties (as for instance human nature preserves all the reality of lower natures). All this does not exclude, but rather presupposes, that even in an advance of that kind, the starting-point, that is, the actual nature of what is involved in the process of becoming and of transcending its own nature, is a prior law limiting what can come about here and now. In a similar way absolute transcendent dynamic orientation towards being in general does not of itself make it possible for everything to be known at any moment by a finite knowing subject. The particular subject-matter of knowledge is supplied by experience in each case and is the norm and limit of cognition. Becoming as self-transcendence in virtue of absolute Being, therefore, does not exclude but includes the question of the more precise sequence of stages of the becoming which opens out limitlessly. Just what, and in what way, in such a causal sequence, can directly follow what, can only be determined from actual experience, and by the nature of the case is still a very difficult question even then. On the one hand the concept of self-transcendence always involves a certain amount of discontinuity which cannot and may not be avoided. On the other hand the limit to the possibility of change which is set by the finite nature of the subject which is changing and rising beyond itself, demands that the discontinuity should not be thought of as too great and in fact implies the heuristic postulate that the leaps must be left as small and the transitions as gradual as possible without, of course, claiming thereby to provide an explanation of the development to a higher order. Where such a movement of self-transcendence is not directly observable (and the only case met with really is that of the procreation of a human being,. for all other evolutionary developments observable until now can scarcely be proved to have been changes of essence in a metaphysical sense), it will probably never be possible to get beyond a certain duality in methodological attitude. "Leaps" even to a new metaphysical essence will quite soberly be reckoned with, and no demand will be made for absolute continuity, which would be metaphysical nonsense, yet search will at the same time be continued nevertheless for new intermediate stages to make the transitions more gradual.

If what has been said is correct, and if attention is paid to the brief indications given earlier about the unity of spirit and matter despite their difference in nature, it is possible quietly to affirm that these principles can also be applied to the evolutionary development of material things towards spirit. If change really involves self-transcendence even, in certain circumstances, to a new essence, even though only in virtue of the dynamism of absolute Being, which of course does not, let it be repeated, alter the fact that it is a question of self-transcendence; if matter and spirit are not simply disparate in nature but matter is in a certain way "solidified" spirit, the only significance of which is to serve to make actual spirit possible, then an evolutionary development of matter towards spirit is not an inconceivable idea.15 If there exists at all by virtue of the motion of absolute Being, a change in the material order whereby this rises above itself, then this self-transcendence can only occur in the direction of spirit, because the absolute Being is spirit. As a matter of fact, the concept is not really alien to Christian and ecclesiastical tradition. This tradition has in fact always declared that the action of the parents in procreation, although simply a biological one, has as its term a human being. The parents beget a human being. If this statement is really taken seriously, it implies that the general concept that has been expounded is a legitimate one.

3. On the creation of the spiritual soul

The concept of becoming worked out above makes it possible to envisage the creation of the spiritual soul in a way that avoids certain difficulties which are not easy to remove when it is viewed as average theology sees it. The point can be dealt with in the present context because the coming into existence of the spiritual principle in the first man, and the coming into existence of any individual man, are necessarily related and the two occurrences throw light on one another. Of course at first sight there is a considerable difference between the two. In the one case a human being originates from an animal organism, in the other biological creatures which are already human beings procreate a human being. But whether the difference is really in fact as great as appears in this way of expressing it, a formulation which of course is in itself quite correct, is nevertheless an open question. It is possible to inquire whether what the human parents biologically contribute in the genesis of the human being could not, certain conditions being assumed, be brought about outside a human organism, in an animal one. If the mediaeval doctrine is presupposed, and it is coming to the fore again, that the spiritual soul only comes into existence at a later stage in the growth of the embryo, several pre-human stages will lie between the fertilized ovum and the organism animated by a spiritual soul. These do not yet, therefore stand in immediate and proximate potency to actuation by the spiritual soul. Yet they cannot any longer be regarded simply and in every respect as merely a part of the mother's organism. On that basis it is quite possible to say that an ontogeny viewed in that way corresponds to human phylogeny as present-day evolutionary theory sees it. In both cases a not yet human biological organism develops towards a condition in which the coming into existence of a spiritual soul has its sufficient biological substratum. For that reason something should probably be said here on the theological and philosophical problems connected with the creation of the individual human soul.

a) The problem

The official teaching of the Church, described by Pius XII as fides catholica (Denzinger 2327), though not, strictly speaking, an actually defined doctrine, holds that the individual spiritual souls are directly created by God. Since any pre-existence of souls is rejected (Denzinger 203, 236), it must be considered that this direct creation occurs in connection with the biological origin of man, though the Church has made no official pronouncement on the exact moment of this creation in the embryo's development, apart from condemning a proposition which assumed that it happened at a certain point after birth (Denzinger 1185). Now this doctrine seems on the one hand to be a matter of course for anyone who maintains the Church's doctrine of the spirituality, substantial simplicity and spiritual individuality of the human soul. Such a soul cannot be thought to be a part or fragment of the parents' souls, nor a product of what is biological in man. It must, therefore, be created directly by God. On the other hand, however, even without wanting to think of God's operation in any anthropomorphic way, the doctrine seems to involve viewing God's creative activity in a way that does not arise anywhere else in metaphysics. For metaphysics, provided it conducts a correct demonstration of God's existence which does not make him a component of the world and its process, God is the transcendent ground, sustaining everything, but not a demiurge whose activity is carried on inside the world. He is the ground of the world, not a cause side by side with others in the world. Divine causality that can be localized historically at certain points in space and time, appears rather to be what characterizes the supernatural operation of God in sacred history, in contrast to the natural relation of God to his world. And such intervention seems to have its correct meaning in sacred history because of the relation of dialogue in freedom between God and spiritual persons. As a principle of method, the case seems to be that everywhere that an effect is observed in the world, a cause within the world is to be postulated and such an intra-mundane cause may and must be looked for precisely because God (rightly understood) effects everything through second causes. Consequently, to postulate or discover such a cause within the world for an effect localized in space and time within the world does not derogate in any way from the total divine causality, but is in fact necessary precisely in order to bring out sharply the absolutely unique character of God's operation as compared with any cosmic causality. Now this fundamental conception seems to be violated in the case of the creation of the human individual soul, and however much the normality of this is stressed, it assumes a miraculous appearance. God's operation becomes an activity in the world side by side with the activity of creatures, instead of being the transcendent ground of all activity of all creatures. This "exception" seems to be the only one that has to be dealt with, if we leave out of account the fact that a thorough-going Vitalism, which after all is a doctrine quite commonly supported in Christian philosophy, would have to require a predicamental activity of God within the natural world and its history for the origin of life, too, and perhaps for certain definite categories of living things, unless of course such Vitalism were to hold that there has been "life" in the physical world from the beginning or that a special ratio seminalis of its own for life could have been created into the material world from the beginning. Against this it is not possible to point with the same plausibility to the origin of a single infra-human organism even if we assumed like the Vitalists an intrinsically non-spatial substantial living principle. For as regards infra-human living things, even on the suppositions already mentioned, the question is probably still open, or has not yet been sufficiently subjected to examination, whether the living substantial formal principle of what in the metaphysical sense would be a real species (biological category, etc.), is multiplied with the individuals of the species (biological group, etc.), or is one and the same principle which, unfolding its formative power at various material points in space and time, manifests itself more than once in space and time.

Everyday experience and the traditional philosophy of nature always answered the question in the first sense. As many really distinct substantial forms were directly assumed to be present as distinct "individuals" of different living "species" were observed. But this everyday experience is not conclusive. On closer examination the limits of biological individuals very often become vague. (Cf. the phenomenon of the "runners" at first connected with the mother plant and then separated from it; the fluid transition between various plants and animals which appear to be one; the germ-cell inside and outside the parent organism, etc.) Living forms which present what are apparently very great differences in space and time can ontologically have the same morphological principle, so that enormous differences of external form can derive from the material substratum and chance patterns of circumstance without change of substantial form (caterpillar-chrysalis butterfly). A true physical "continuum" (beyond the unity of the physical "field") is not necessary as material for a substantial formal principle of living beings. What for us is a plurality of living things visibly manifested by special discontinuity, is therefore no proof of an ontological plurality of living beings in respect of their formal principle. The same holds good of the antagonism between living forms, for this is also found within living things which everyone regards as one and the same. The biosphere would perhaps therefore be more correctly, because more simply, envisaged, if we were to think of it as perpetually based on one substantial formal principle. This latter would have a tremendous potentiality of ways of manifestating itself in space and time and would realize these possibilities in space and time in accordance with the conditions of physical matter actually present, even though these conditions themselves receive direction from that formal' principle. This picture on the one hand would match the development of physics, which reduces (or seeks to reduce) the plurality of "specifically" different natural substances to the space-time variation of one and the same matter. It would also bring out more clearly the formal ontological difference between biosphere and the "noosphere" of personal minds. Only in the latter would there be individuals simply and substantially distinct from one another; individuals that are no longer the increasingly complex modifications in space and time of the fundamentally one and evolving biosphere.

b) Towards a solution of the problem of God's "predicamental" operation in the creation of the individual human soul .

 God's operation in regard to the human soul loses its predicamental, intra-mundane appearance when it is recognized as exemplifying the concept which we have attempted to work out as appropriate to the relation between God and finite beings in their activities and change. The activity of God in the origin of a human soul would only have to be termed predicamental if this origin could not also be ascribed to a cause within the world. But if the operation of a creature is on principle16 to be regarded as a self-transcendence in such a way that the effect is not derivable from the essence of the creature acting and yet must be considered as effected by this agent, it is possible to say, without anxiety, if such a general concept of becoming and operation is presupposed, that the parents are the cause of the one entire human being and so also of its soul, because (as we have said on the basis of the particular concept of causation which has here been worked out), that not only does not exclude, but positively includes, the fact that the parents can only be the cause of the human being in virtue of the power of God which renders possible their self-transcendence, and which is immanent in their causality without belonging to the constitutive factors of their essence. And then the statement that God directly creates the soul of a human being does not imply any denial of the statement that the parents procreate the human being in his unity. It makes the statement more precise by indicating that this procreation belongs to that kind of created efficient causality in which the agent by virtue of divine causality essentially exceeds the limits set by his own essence. If this divine causality is insisted upon in the official teaching of the Church in the precise case of the origin of the human soul, that does not of course mean that a divine causality of that kind is found nowhere else. To be sure, the various instances differ from one another terminative, that is to say, in regard to the created term which concerns the divine activity, and moreover, because the creation of the human soul concerns a spiritual reality, this case is unique. But once again that does not preclude the occurrence of other cases which exemplify the concept of creation which we are using here, in the same formal sense. An example of this would be the origin of life in general in dead matter which in its highest and most complicated possible forms develops in the direction of the frontier with living things.

If it is possible in this way to regard the creation of the soul by God as a case of becoming through essential self-transcendence, because this latter concept formally includes what is meant in the former by creation, then the origin of the soul possesses its distinctive, unique character, in contrast to any other origin through the agent's self-transcendence by the fact that here the self-transcendence occurs in the direction of an absolutely unique individual being, spiritually unique. For it is probably possible to assume that this kind of becoming does not occur in the purely material realm. In the organic realm, too, a living thing's self-transcendence into another kind, if and to the extent that anything of the sort occurs, a question which does not concern us here, will constitute the new kind as such. The reproduction of this new species will presumably only be the extension of the formal type to a new point in space and time. It will not originate a new formal principle substantially distinct from the formal principle in other individuals of the same species. But this difference is a significant one. The higher the stage reached by becoming, the more is it orientated towards what is absolutely unique and enduring.

If now in this sense the creation of the soul by God is regarded as a case, even if a distinctive case, of becoming through self-transcendence, it loses its appearance of being miraculous and predicamental. This creation becomes an instance of God's operation as it is always to be thought of. The divine activity, as we have already indicated, is not really predicamental. It does not cause something which the creature does not cause, for it does not cause side by side with the activity of the creature. It causes the operation of the creature which exceeds and transcends its own possibilities. And this is the situation in which a creature always is; it belongs to its essence. The transcendental character of God's operation in relation to the world must never in any. respect be thought of as a purely static support of the world. The divine transcendent function as ground of the world posits the world as a world in movement, involved in becoming by rising above and beyond, and these ascents necessarily occur at points of time in the history of this developing world. But the fact that God makes possible such self-transcendence by finite causes does not mean that God's action thereby occupies a definite point in time or involves a predicamental miraculous intervention in the world.

4. The biblical narrative of man's origins and the theory o f evolution

From another quite different point of view, too, the reconciliation which was accomplished by Humani Generis between a moderate theory of evolution and the teaching of faith, can only be regarded as a beginning and not as an end. The question has to be raised whether and how the events of proto-history (Paradise, Fall), as these are recorded by the Bible and the Church's teaching, can be fitted into the modern scientific view of man's origin and early history. If the problem now envisaged were to be expressed by a formal comparison,, it might be said that the beginning of mankind according to scientific anthropology is a beginning in indigence and vacuity as the lowest point of a rising curve, whereas the biblical and ecclesiastical curve has a beginning in plenitude and the line of "development" descends from it. The scientific beginning is one from which development moves farther and farther away, the biblical is one which is only to be recovered again in the course of history. For the natural sciences, Paradise in a way stands at the end of evolutionary development, for the Bible, at the beginning of a history. Are these aspects and interpretations of the beginnings of human history contradictory?

a) The biblical statement

As regards the biblical account, we must refer to what was said in the second part of this essay. The Church's pronouncements contain fundamentally nothing more than a repetition of the biblical account, and as regards content and degree of certainty, have no intention of going beyond the biblical text. It follows that we do not know the visible and tangible concrete details of proto-history. The features of the biblical account which might give the impression of supplying such details, in reality belong to the form of statement, not to what is affirmed. Consequently we know nothing except that man was created by God as God's personal partner in a sacred history of salvation and perdition; that concupiscence and death do not belong to man as God wills him to be, but to man as a sinner; that the first man was also the first to incur guilt before God and his guilt as a factor of man's existence historically brought about by man, belongs intrinsically to the situation in which the whole subsequent history of humanity unfolds. How all this happened, however, we do not know. The question, therefore, how the occurrence of this biblical proto-history fits into the conceptions of the beginnings of mankind entertained by natural science, cannot be precisely formulated at all, because we do not know what the occurrence was like in its externals. For a Thomistic metaphysics of free decision in a spiritual being not subject to concupiscence, it would be quite obvious to say that such a decision, if it had been a good one, would by that very fact have implied "confirmation in grace". In other words, original sin can only be thought of as the first act of man's real, authentic freedom.17

On this supposition, however, the proto-history of man cannot be thought of as extending for some length of time in the pure condition in which God had established man. In that case, however, much (but not all!) that we almost automatically consider as belonging to the historical appearance and form of the first man is rather to be understood as something that really should be and as what ought to have been. The immortality, for example, of the first human being need not have manifested itself empirically. It had been intended for him if he had not sinned. The same could apply to immunity from suffering. It need not necessarily have been empirically experienced, if the human decision to which its possession was linked was the man's first act, and he rejected it. On the supposition we are making, this first decision was a fundamental commitment and attribution of meaning to human life, in which the first man radically disposed of himself, and this was made in virtue of an integrity, a freedom from any concupiscence that would have diminished the radical and total nature of the act. But this initial integrity of the very beginning (which aetiologically is postulated precisely as a condition of the possibility of such a radical decision determining the situation constitutive of human life throughout its future), can certainly be thought of as momentary, because posited with the beginning and lost in the reception of this beginning. For if we say today man does not possess integrity as the possibility of giving full expression to his freedom by means of his corporeal nature, that is a statement which is made about a certain length of time. In this time which is also determined and affected by outward circumstances, he has not at every moment the possibility of totally disposing of himself in freedom. In his free decisions he again and again experiences the resistance of his bodily nature with its own propensities for good and ill. Such a statement does not, however, deny that man can have quite definite situations presented to him and to his free decision, in which full disposal over his own freedom does not seem really diminished by the situation in question. Consequently in these he can act momentarily as if in possession of original integrity. Such a moment of integrity does not necessarily require a quite definite setting for the situation within which it may occur. Consequently such a moment of that kind is quite conceivable when man had freely to assume for the first time his spiritual and personal existence. The first human being in the first moment of personal decision did not necessarily on that account have empirically to look and feel very different from what he does today. Yet he could have a moment of integrity which integrated his existence into his decision.

With the data which the Church's doctrine requires to be maintained regarding Adam's history until his sin, it cannot be demonstrated that his empirically tangible situation need have been essentially different from ours. In addition, the first man, "Adam", is to be thought of, independently of his guilty decision, from the theological as well as from the scientific point of view, as being in a purely initial stage such as renders the subsequent history of himself and humanity intelligible as a progressive accomplishment. For he was, of course, to increase and multiply and subject the earth to himself. The Bible, therefore, does not represent him as if all subsequent history were to be regarded only as a decline or, at most, as a recovery of the original starting-point. Many mediaeval speculations about the condition of Adam in Paradise, which must not be confused with the real doctrine of faith, show themselves for this reason to be false, as a projection of the condition of ideal perfection back into the beginning. Such a beginning is the beginning of a history which by its innermost nature consists of genuine free self-development. What is most authentic in it comes from what is within and not from without. It must, therefore, already contain in potentiality of a genuine and not of a simply empty and passive kind, what is actualized and developed later. To that extent a theology which regards as already present in the first human being at his first beginnings what he is only to become in the course of his history, is not false, but correct, and corresponds to the characteristic nature of man, providing it distinguishes the pre-existence of the history in the potential beginning, from the presence of this ground of his nature in the history actually accomplished.

b) The scientific statement

It must also be stressed with regard to what science has to say, that we are not for the time being, and presumably never shall be, in a position to form a detailed picture of the inner and external situation in which the first man found himself. The empirical appearances of outward shape and form and of biological mode of life may show such very gradual transitions between animal and man, that in this respect it may perhaps not be possible at all to succeed in indicating concretely and unmistakably, where the dividing line runs between animal and man. Nevertheless we know that man is not merely an animal with a somewhat different and more complicated structure. We know that if there is, and because there is, a metaphysical difference of nature, it is the one which holds between spirit and non-spirit, between intellectual dynamism, transcendence, of limitless scope as a condition of the possibility of the most primitive human life, and the intrinsically restricted horizon of a consciousness from which its own bounds are hidden.

If such intellectual transcendence is present, there is man. If it is not, there is only an animal, however "intelligently" it may master its biological life. But where transcendence is found, there is a knowledge of God, however implicitly and unrealized it may be, and freedom. And consequently there is the possibility of all that the biblical account states regarding the history of the first man and what he was like in appearance. The form, the explicit reflective awareness of this assumption of human existence against the horizon of absolute transcendence, may be so unpretentious, that we, on the basis of our experience today, cannot form an idea of its possibility. Yet it is possible, because otherwise what constitutes a human being would not be present at all. For we observe, of course, even today, that the real decisions of a man can occur very implicitly in a global commitment, in a fundamental decision regarding some conceptual content which to all appearance is very far removed from God and moral principles, whilst in the domain of what is expressly religious and moral, more or less sham fights are waged and such things only serve to hide the real decisions. It is true that the really fundamental affirmation of God and of absolute obligation never takes place without some conceptual content before the mind, though this need not necessarily be that of God or an actually moral topic. But the scope, articulateness and reflex clarity of the object before the mind, are not in direct proportion to the direct, immediate, non-reflex clarity and absolute nature of the real decision in the centre of the spiritual person. Otherwise, of course, theoreticians and philosophers even today would have much greater chances in this respect than the "little man" who, to all appearances, dull and untouched by the absolute issues of human life, seems to live a day-to-day biological struggle for existence. In reality, in such a life there unfolds precisely what man always and inescapably is.

c) The relation between the two

It is not implied by this that the two sets of statements of natural science and of theology regarding the beginnings of mankind, can be made directly and positively to coincide in a concrete picture, so that it can be stated just how things happened. That of course is not possible and is not in any way to be expected. But it cannot be said, either, that the two sets of statements contradict one another. Each statement about the beginning which is not an immediate datum but which is aetiologically deduced from a later phase of the process of change, is by nature dialectical. It must affirm the beginning as a mere beginning which is less than what is to come, and it must also express this beginning in such a way that what springs from it afterwards is intelligible, if it is really to be the beginning. And so for really metaphysical thinking, all later reality which comes after the beginning and from it, is also a revelation of the hidden plenitude of the beginning. The higher the "evolutionary development" climbs, the clearer it becomes what genuine real potentialities were comprised in the beginning. There is no danger, therefore, that evolution if it is understood in a truly metaphysical and theologically correct way, will teach us to think less of the first human being than was thought in earlier ages. Man as we know him today, man of metaphysics, of abstract thought, the creator of his own environment, the space-traveller, the moulder of himself, the man of God and of grace and of the promise of eternal life, precisely this man who is radically distinct from any animal and who at the moment of man's origin, though perhaps very slowly, took a path which led him so far away from all that is merely animal, yet in such a fashion that he carried with him the whole inheritance of his biological pre-history into these realms of his existence remote from the animals, was there when man began to exist.18 And what now is historically and externally manifest, was then present as a task and as an active potentiality. Because now his biological, spiritual and divine elements are present in him, they are also quite plainly and simply to be affirmed of the beginning. If there are difficulties in thinking those three dimensions together in a man at the beginning of his history, it should not be forgotten that at the present time it is really just as difficult to do so for man as he is at present. For even today there are plenty of theories which consider that they must amputate man of one of these dimensions of his existence, in order to understand him. In this necessity of seeing man whole and entire in the inexhaustible plenitude of his nature, his history and his vocation, the whole difficulty of the inquiry into the evolutionary origins of man consists. This necessity itself clearly shows, however, that only a very complex answer, and one on several levels, can be the correct one, and that any simplification of the problem can only lead to error.

 

Notes

9 Cf. for what follows: K. Rahner, Geist in Welt (Munich 31964).

10 It should be noted that "pre-history" is not the same as the first portion of its own history. The history of the individual soul as such begins with its creation by God in whatever more precise way this event is described as an event in time, in relation to the temporality of the whole of reality distinct from the soul. But precisely the history of this soul has its pre-history, for the actual particular features that constitute the individuality of this particular soul are also a function of the constitutive features of the whole reality within which it comes to be, the body and its environment and the origin of both. To put the matter in scholastic terms, the actual character of the act or form is also determined by the character of the material cause because, of course, the formal effect which is dependent on the material cause is not constituted outside the formal cause (as happens with transitive efficient causality) but is a function of it. "Body" and "soul" stand in a reciprocal relationship, even if this is not identical in each term, each conditioning concretely and determining the other, and consequently the history of the body is the pre-history of the soul, even though the soul has an immediate and transcendental relation of origin to God.

11 What this "out of" means, remains quite an open question for the moment. It only implies that this material reality itself is orientated towards a point in its history which stands in a different relationship to the coming into existence of spirit than other moments in the history of matter do. Orientation after all is a real ontological predicate of matter everywhere and always, which does not mean, by reason of what we are here calling its essence.

12 It may well be a legitimate and well-founded thesis of the philosophy of nature (and in what follows we will confidently take it for granted) that infra-human living things are not reducible to purely material factors. But to assert an essential ontological distinction between the purely physical world and the biosphere is not strictly speaking a theological proposition.

13 Cf. K. Rahner, Geist in Welt (Munich '1964).

14 It must be noted that we do not say that "absolute Being qualifies the finite spirit", but "possession of being" qualifies it.

15 Cf. Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra Gentes III, 22: Ultimus ... generationis totius gradus est anima humana, et in hanc tendit materia sicut in ultimam f ormam ... homo enim est finis totius generationis.

16 That does not mean that any operation at all of a finite being must or can be regarded as self-transcendence. We can even perhaps regard all purely physical and chemical change (understood atomistically on the model of local motion) as change and activity without self-transcendence. In change as represented by the local motion model, just as much entitatively disappears as comes to be. But such activity and becoming can even then still be regarded as a limiting case of real activity and becoming with self-transcendence, if importance is attached to establishing a single metaphysical concept of becoming. This is all the more so because it may be wondered whether even in the inorganic realm there are not such adumbrations of becoming and operation with self-transcendence, for example, precisely at the point where inorganic change seems to move in the direction of life and produces structures (for example, high molecular amino-acids) which occur although they are more unstable and more "improbable" than the conditions which are their starting-points.

17 Action in a freedom that was not perpetually imperilled by concupiscence would, by its very concept, imply a man's total disposing of himself in a decision absolutely stamping the whole of his existence. In a way it would quite exhaust the available material of freedom. Such action would have to be thought of as analogous to that of the angels, who so dispose of themselves in one act, that from the centre of their nature and freedom they are fixed and confirmed in good, or hardened in the evil they have chosen. The reversibility of the evil decision of the first man is only to be explained by the fact that the integrity on the basis of which the first decision was made, was lost by the evil decision (as it would not have been by the good), because, in contrast to angelic integrity, it was an unmerited, preternatural gift. Cf. K. Rahner, "Zum theologischen Begriff der Konkupiszenz" in Schriften zur Theologie I (Einsiedeln '1964) pp. 377-414. English translation, Theological Investigations Vol. I (London 1961) pp. 347-82.

18 The problem then arises whether in the physical form of man, in his physiological automatisms and so on, there were or still are features not of course incompatible with his nature, but which do not yet represent that full accomplishment towards which man is still moving in a process of development. This amounts to asking whether the history of the biosphere culminating in man is still continuing in man now that he exists. If it is firmly held that the proper nature of man as per definitionem a personal spirit open to infinity cannot further be exceeded and has already reached its absolute culmination in grace and the Incarnation, nothing in principle can be objected to the idea of a further history of man in his biosphere (and not merely in personal spirit and the products of its self-objectivation in civilization). Such a history is actually taking place in what we can empirically observe as races, race-mixture and so on. And if the necessary moral conditions of respect for man were observed, even a deliberate manipulation of this history by man himself would be conceivable. Such a question might also involve consequences for moral theology.

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