Friday, January 28, 2011

Aquinas on Wisdom as Play

We should here note that the contemplation of wisdom is suitably compared to play on account of two features found in play. First of all, play is delightful, and the contemplation of wisdom holds the greatest delight. Accordingly, in Sirach 24:27 the mouth of wisdom says: My spirit is sweeter than honey.

The second is that the activities of play are not directed towards something
else, but are sought on their own account; this is also true of the delights of wisdom. For sometimes it happens that a person takes delight within himself in considering those things which he desires or which he proposes to do. Now this delight is directed to something external he is striving to achieve. Yet if this were lacking or delayed, no small affliction is added to such delight, in line with Proverbs 14:13: Laughter shall be mingled with sorrow. But the delight pertaining to the contemplation of wisdom holds the cause of delight in itself. Thus it allows no worry, as though awaiting something it lacks. For this reason Wisdom 8:16 says: Her conversation hath no bitterness; and it hath no sorrow to live with her (i. e. wisdom).

Hence Divine Wisdom compares its delightfulness to play (Proverbs 8:30): I was delighted for days on end, playing face to face with it.

Thomas Aquinas, Exposition of Boethius's Hebdomadibus (PDF), Prologue.

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