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CHAPTER LVIIThat the Knowledge of God is not a Reasoned Knowledge

OUR thought is then reasoned, when we pass from one object of thought to another, as in making syllogisms from principles to conclusions. Reasoning or arguing does not consist in seeing how a conclusion follows from premises by inspection of both together. That is not argument, but judging of argument.115115St Thomas’s words here and in the next argument should be considered by any student of J. S. Mill’s Logic. Mill judged the syllogism from ready-made specimens, failing to note that the power of syllogism and the ability of a syllogiser is displayed, not in the made syllogism, but in syllogising. It is such a view as would be that of the biologist, who considered only dead plants and animals, and undervalued life accordingly. Now God does not think of one thing after another in any sort of succession, but of all things at once (Chap. LV). His knowledge therefore is not reasoned or argumentative, although He knows the argument and reason of all things.

2. Every reasoner intues principles with one thought, and the conclusion with another. There would be no need to proceed to a conclusion from the consideration of premises, if the mere consideration of the premises at once laid the conclusion bare. But God knows all things by one act which is His essence (Chap. LV). His knowledge therefore is not argumentative.

3. All argumentative knowledge has something of actuality and something of potentiality, for conclusions are potentially in premises. But in the divine mind potentiality has no place.

5. Things that are known naturally are known without reasoning, as appears in the case of first principles. But in God there can be no knowledge that is not natural, nay, essential: for His knowledge is His essence.

7. Only in its highest advance does the inferior touch upon the superior. But the highest advance of our knowledge is not reasoning, but intuition (intellectus), which is the starting-point of reasoning. God’s knowledge then is not ‘rational,’ in the sense of ‘argumentative,’ but intuitive only.116116Reasoning all rests ultimately on intuitive first principles. All men ‘intue’ something: but a man of genius intues far beyond other men. His followers take his word an trust. To the world at large, the soundness of his judgement is vindicated by experience: scholars and critics arrive at some appreciation of it by a slow process of reasoning. Instances are found in Newton’s Principia and the campaigns of Marlbro’.

8. Reasoning means a lack of intuition: the divine knowledge therefore is not reasoned.

If any should take it amiss that God cannot make a syllogism, let them mark that He has the knowledge how to make syllogisms as one judging of them, not as one arguing syllogistically.

To this there is witness of Holy Scripture in the text: All things are 43naked and open to his eyes (Heb. iv, 13): whereas things that we know by reasoning are not of themselves naked and open to us, but are opened out and laid bare by reason.


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