Personality section - Rita Byrne - 16 Feb 02 : LUSENET : von Balthasar Seminar : One Thread

Footnote pg. 189: ' Created truth is mutable.' Q . Is truth created?

Pg. 190: 'By personal truth, we mean the truth that one acquires by personal decision, that one maintains & hands on with personal responsibility......further on... By it's very nature this kind of truth is always ripened through decision, and so it demands new decision from its recipient. Q. What does he mean by 'decision' here,.

Bottom of pg. 190: 'NO MIND that tries to bore into the abyss of existence will ever get to the bottom of it'. Q. So why try?

Pg.195.; How is time a fundamental structure of being? Middle of page. If I have any more questions I'll put them in later


-- Anonymous, February 16, 2002


Rita, First of all on the quote from Thomas Aquinas "Created truth is mutable". Your question is tricky: Is truth created? Truth is something to do with intellect when it stands in a correct relationship with reality (being). Our intellects are created. We can know created things--and we can know the truth about them. In this sense, the truth in question is then "created truth". However, ther is much about truth (as Plato so emphasised) that seems to be more stable than this.

Just a little technical bit of information. The quotation from Thomas Aquinas is from his "Summa Theologica", part I (the "prima pars"), question 16, article 8. The "Summa" is available on the Internet at:

There you can find the appropriate bit. And in this case it reads as follows (I am not making this easy!):

"Truth, properly speaking, resides only in the intellect, as said before (1); but things are called true in virtue of the truth residing in an intellect. Hence the mutability of truth must be regarded from the point of view of the intellect, the truth of which consists in its conformity to the thing understood. Now this conformity may vary in two ways, even as any other likeness, through change in one of the two extremes. Hence in one way truth varies on the part of the intellect, from the fact that a change of opinion occurs about a thing which in itself has not changed, and in another way, when the thing is changed, but not the opinion; and in either way there can be a change from true to false. If, then, there is an intellect wherein there can be no alternation of opinions, and the knowledge of which nothing can escape, in this is immutable truth. Now such is the divine intellect, as is clear from what has been said before (14, 15). Hence the truth of the divine intellect is immutable. But the truth of our intellect is mutable; not because it is itself the subject of change, but in so far as our intellect changes from truth to falsity, for thus forms may be called mutable. Whereas the truth of the divine intellect is that according to which natural things are said to be true, and this is altogether immutable."

Now your next question. What is meant by 'decision' in the quote from p. 190? I think it is straighforward. When we decide things, we become more definite ourselves. I think we are like sculptors: At the start of our lives, we are not completely defined. As we make decisions, the form of our lives gets carved out, comes into view, gets defined. Some people hang back from making decisions and they remain ill defined: they are like "blobs" rather than like works of art! We enter ever anew and ever more completely into our own lived truth by right decisions--and the challenge is renewed at every moment.

About not getting to the bottom of the abyss of existence... so why try? His reflections here are linked with his other reflections on mystery earlier on. Why try? Because we are facinated, drawn by things. His point is that things are inexaustible and marvellous, not flat and empty facts. And this comes from their being, their inexaustible presence which is new at every moment. The world is not tired and empty, but vibrant and present.

On time being fundamental in the structure of existence: the best answer is to invite you to reflect with Balthasar on this in pp. 195- 199 (middle of page in both cases)!

You might well want to come back on any of these--or raise new questions!

-- Anonymous, February 17, 2002

Thanks for the above Philip, it is appreciated. Taking my cue from the top of page 203 I'd like to express the following view-point. The essence of existence is love, beauty, truth, joy, time. The essence of Being is Intellect, sensorium, will, matter(body).

Time is not a part of being; being is a becomming in time. Truth is part of the essence of existence and can be apprehended by the intellect, it is not part of the intellect.

The reason we continiously seek the truth of things is because we will eventually see as God sees, and know as God knows, so we will understand all mystery.

Is this truth, or a partial view of reality, or, 'a mode of deficiency'. Rita.

-- Anonymous, February 19, 2002

Rita, I think that getting a feeling for these themes and questions is part of the great adventure of our short existence in the world. I think that a deep appreciation of being alive is linked with a meditative presence in the way we approach and do everything--doing everything from the roots up (from our own roots responding to the roots of being in everything). Existence, being, truth, beauty, love ... these are great matters of heart and mind. And to be "great-souled" is to live in sympathy with all these and to look for and to promote them everywhere--with gentleness and great attention.

On whether we will ever come to see as God sees: well, there is the passage in the New Testament: "Then we shall know even as we are known". But in general, I like the oft repeated emphasis in von Balthasar: that there will always be surprise, that God will always be a great horizon towards which and in which we endlessly journey and discover and rejoice. Mystery is our place: we live in the midst of it and always will--and it is always opening up new vistas, always unveiling... Did anyone ever, von Balthasar asks, even see one "material" thing from every possible angle, did anyone ever exhaust any one existing thing? And we know that the answer is no!

-- Anonymous, February 20, 2002

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