Saturday, May 10, 2014

Dorothy Sayers, Have His Carcase


Opening Passage:

The best remedy for a bruised heart is not, as so many people seem to think, repose upon a manly bosom. Much more efficacious are honest work, physical activity, and the sudden acquisition of wealth. After being acquitted of murdering her lover, and, indeed, in consequence of that acquittal, Harriet Vane found all three specifics abundantly at her disposal; and although Lord Peter Wimsey, with a touching faith in tradition, persisted day in and day out in presenting the bosom for her approval, she showed no inclination to recline upon it.

Summary: Unfortunately for her, while Harriet Vane is getting away from things on a walking tour, on which she hopes to write her next mystery novel, she happens upon a dead body (a man with his throat slit by an old-fashioned shaving razor) on a rock called the Flat-Iron, by the seashore, during the rising tide. She has the presence of mind to get a good look at the body and take pictures, and then goes for help. Because she's out in the middle of nowhere, it takes a while to get to someplace she can report it, and by that point the body has been washed away.

If solving a mystery is straightforward, it doesn't usually make for much in the way of detective story, so stories in the mystery genre are usually designed as obstacle courses; they are structured around impediments or obstacles to finding the truth. Here we have our first major obstacle or impediment: we know someone has died, but for most of the book there is no body. The second major obstacle will be a lack of information about why the man, who turns out to be man of Russian background paid by a hotel to dance with women who need partners, was at the Flat-Iron at all. The third major obstacle will be that even when more information is uncovered, every hypothesis that takes into account most of the evidence runs aground on the key issue of time of death. In addition, we have various minor obstacles: unreliable or untrustworthy witnesses, the difficulty of tracing certain key items, and even, eventually, a letter written in code.

Evidence is a major issue in this book, which is why every chapter has the word 'evidence' in the title. One of the things Sayers does very skillfully is manage to make each new piece of evidence change the complexion or character of all the previous evidence, so that every new point of evidence does not require just some slight modification of one's interpretation of events, but shifts the entire tendency of the evidence considerably. And the evidence is not all physical; the single most important piece of evidence in the book, the one that suddenly makes all the other evidence snap together properly, is not itself something directly discovered, but something that has to be inferred from the convergence of several other pieces of evidence.

Storywise, the book is funnier than I remember it being. Sayers has some quiet mockery of mystery writers like herself, and some humorous interactions between characters, and some rather sarcastic presentations of the foibles of Englishmen and Englishwomen. Probably the funniest part of the book is when Bunter has to tail a man in London.

This is also a Lord Peter & Harriet Vane story, so we get the romantic side of things. The book is in many ways very concerned with sexual issues -- the dead man is a gigolo about to marry a very wealth woman, the woman's son is a little more handy with the ladies than is exactly respectable, illegitimacy and genealogy play major roles, interaction between men and women comes up repeatedly, and, of course, we have Lord Peter trying to get Harriet to marry him. The events of the book occur 1931-ish; at this point, people are playing fast and loose with things and social standards of sexual propriety are in a serious state of deterioration. This ends up being more of an occasion and complication of the crime than a direct cause of it, but it is a nearly constant background.

Favorite Passage:

"Then your verdict is that deceased came to his end by cutting his own throat."

"Yes, sir." (A further consultation.) "We should like to add as we think the police regulations about foreigners did ought to be tightened up, like, deceased being a foreigner and suicides and murders being unpleasant in a place where so many visitors come in the summer."

"I can't take that," objected the harassed coroner. "Deceased was a naturalised Englishman."

"That don't make no difference," said the juror, sturdily. "We do think as the regulations ought to be tightened up none the more for that, and that's what we all say. Put it down, sir, as that's our opinion."

"There you are," said Wimsey, "that's the breed that made the Empire. When empire comes in at the door, logic goes out at the window...." (p. 252)

Recommendation: Not Sayers's strongest work, but excellent nonetheless. The major difficulty in reading it, I think, is that many of the innovative features Sayers introduces here would end up being copied in one way or another by other writers, so it can come across as more of a typical mystery story than it actually is, unless you put yourself in a fresh mindset. But even if you find that difficult, many of the character interactions are worth reading on their own. Highly recommended.


Quotations from Dorothy L. Sayers, Have His Carcase, Haper & Row (New York: 1986).

Friday, May 09, 2014

'The Glitter Is the Gold'

"What would be the good of gold," he was saying, "if it did not glitter? Why should we care for a black sovereign any more than for a black sun at noon? A black button would do just as well. Don't you see that everything in this garden looks like a jewel? And will you kindly tell me what the deuce is the good of a jewel except that it looks like a jewel? Leave off buying and selling, and start looking! Open your eyes, and you'll wake up in the New Jerusalem.

"All is gold that glitters--
Tree and tower of brass;
Rolls the golden evening air
Down the golden grass.
Kick the cry to Jericho,
How yellow mud is sold,
All is gold that glitters,
For the glitter is the gold."

"And who wrote that?" asked Rosamund, amused.

"No one will ever write it," answered Smith, and cleared the rockery with a flying leap.
[G. K. Chesterton, Manalive, Chapter 3.]

The last line of the poem happens to be quoted in passing, without attribution, by Lord Peter in Have His Carcase. In the first and second to last line, Chesterton is, of course, turning a common saying upside down, one which is found in various forms elsewhere, including Dryden (The Hind and the Panther), Shakespeare (Merchant of Venice Act 2, Scene 7), Chaucer (House of Fame Book I), Spenser (The Faerie Queene, Book II, Canto VIII), and Alanus de Insulis (Parabolae). Dryden seems to be usually credited with the common form in English, "All that glitters is not gold."

A Brittle Crazie Glass

The Windows
by George Herbert

Lord, how can man preach thy eternall word?
He is a brittle crazie glasse:
Yet in thy temple thou dost him afford
This glorious and transcendent place,
To be a window, through thy grace.

But when thou dost anneal in glasse thy storie,
Making thy life to shine within
The holy Preachers ; then the light and glorie
More rev'rend grows, & more doth win:
Which else shows watrish, bleak, & thin.

Doctrine and life, colours and light, in one
When they combine and mingle, bring
A strong regard and aw : but speech alone
Doth vanish like a flaring thing,
And in the eare, not conscience ring.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Kasper's Interview

I was struck by this passage in Cardinal Kasper's interview at Commonweal:

That’s a real problem. I’ve spoken to the pope himself about this, and he said he believes that 50 percent of marriages are not valid. Marriage is a sacrament. A sacrament presupposes faith. And if the couple only want a bourgeois ceremony in a church because it’s more beautiful, more romantic, than a civil ceremony, you have to ask whether there was faith, and whether they really accepted all the conditions of a valid sacramental marriage—that is, unity, exclusivity, and also indissolubility. The couples, when they get married, they want it because it’s stable. But many think, “Well, if we fail, we have the right.” And then already the principle is denied. Many canon lawyers tell me that today in our pluralistic situation we cannot presuppose that couples really assent to what the church requires. Often it is also ignorance. Therefore you have to emphasize and to strengthen prematrimonial catechesis. It’s often done in a very bureaucratic way. No, we have to provide catechesis. I know some parishes in Rome where couples have to attend catechesis, and the pastor himself does it. We must do much more in prematrimonial catechesis and use pastoral work and so on because we cannot presuppose that everybody who is a formal Christian also has the faith. It wouldn’t be realistic.

Cardinal Kasper has a longstanding habit of saying things very confidently on grounds that are not obviously adequate for the confidence, but I think it needs to be pointed out that if the Cardinal is right, doing "much more in prematrimonial catechesis" and using "pastoral work" is simply not going to cut it. The level of failure he is suggesting is so extreme that it could not possibly have come about without extraordinary and culpable negligence on the part of bishops and priests. Bishops and priests exist for the purpose of maintaining and protecting the sacramental order; what Cardinal Kasper is claiming is that they have failed on such a scale that it amounts to an outright betrayal of the laity and could reasonably be said to cry out for serious public penance on the part of bishops and priests who are guilty of letting the situation deteriorate to such an astounding degree.

In any case, as Ed Peters has noted, it is an extraordinarily irresponsible thing to toss out in a public interview as if it were a serious assessment: sacramental validity is not a trivial matter, and if you are going to make a statement like this in public, as opposed to just a private conversation, you had better be doing so on the basis of rigorously established principles and you had better be offering a considerable sight more than vague suggestions about catechesis as your solution.

Elements of Modal Logic II

Part I

Let's do a little more carefully what we did in the previous post. To do this, I will add another kind of table, which I will call the Reference Table. It's where we'll find our modal information. (Depending on what you are doing, the Reference Table is sometimes set apart, and sometimes is just one table among man. For instance, you could be doing something with times, and want to make the Reference Table 'now' -- then the Reference Table is one of the tables of times. We could also have things set up so that any table can be the Reference Table for other tables. In the example that follows, the Reference Table is just a different sort of thing from the tables it describes.) The Reference Table can describe different things, depending on what we are doing. One of the most important things in modal logic is often to know what your Reference Table is; a lot of mistakes in modal logic are caused by switching Reference Tables, or not having a clear idea of what the Reference Table is.

The single most important thing in modal logic, however, is to know exactly what all your other tables are supposed to describe. Suppose you want to compare the Tolkien books on the top shelf of your bookcase; and, as it happens, you have three: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. We will therefore have one table for each of these. We can make a table for each of these, and put down some of the things we know about the characters in those books.

TABLE 1: The Hobbit
Bilbo Baggins is mentioned.
Gandalf is mentioned.
Elrond is mentioned.

TABLE 2: The Lord of the Rings
Bilbo Baggins is mentioned.
Gandalf is mentioned.
Elrond is mentioned.
Frodo Baggins is mentioned.
Galadriel is mentioned.

TABLE 3: The Silmarillion
Galadriel is mentioned.
Elrond is mentioned.
Gandalf is mentioned.
Frodo Baggins is mentioned.

Now, if this is all we know about the characters, we still can put some information on our Reference Table. The rules will be this: (1) If we would find a statement on any table there might be, we can list it in our Reference Table as Box (□); (2) If there's a statement definitely on some table somewhere, we can list it as Diamond (◇). (Note that rule 1 is tentative in a way rule 2 is not, since it doesn't actually tell us that there are any other tables besides the Reference Table, while rule 2 always gives us a table; the reason for this difference is complicated, and somewhat arbitrary, but it's the way many systems are set up, so we'll go with it for now.) The Box tells us that, for the things we are talking about, something 'is always true' or 'is true everywhere' or 'must be true'; the Diamond tells us that something is true 'sometimes' or 'somewhere', or else that it 'can be true'. How we translate it depends on what we're talking about. Here Box tells us about every Tolkien book on the top shelf and Diamond tells us about some Tolkien book or other on the top shelf.

REFERENCE TABLE: Tolkien Books on the Top Shelf
□(Elrond is mentioned)
□(Gandalf is mentioned)
◇(Bilbo Baggins is mentioned)
◇(Frodo Baggins is mentioned)
◇(Galadriel is mentioned)

This is not an exhaustive list of statements we could make, since there are lots of others, like ◇(Elrond is mentioned and Gandalf is mentioned and Bilbo Baggins is mentioned and Galadriel is mentioned and Frodo Baggins is mentioned), which is a description of Table 2, but this will do for our purposes, since we're keeping things simple for now. (Note, too, why our Reference Table is separate from the other tables: 'Tolkien Books on the Top Shelf' is not a Tolkien book on the top shelf.)

So now we've taken our original tables, where there are no modal statements, and created a table of modal statements out of them. So far, this is just a way to do what we did last time. But in many cases of modal reasoning, we aren't just summing up our information with modal statements; we are working backwards from modal statements to try to see what they tell us.

So let's forget our first three tables for a moment, and suppose that someone else did all the work to get the Reference Table, and we are trying to reconstruct the information in the other tables just from what the Reference Table tells us, without knowing anything about what the books are. Because our Reference Table does not describe the other tables in exact terms, we will not be able to reconstruct them exactly. Let's see how close we can get, though.

REFERENCE TABLE: Tolkien Books on the Top Shelf
□(Elrond is mentioned)
□(Gandalf is mentioned)
◇(Bilbo Baggins is mentioned)
◇(Frodo Baggins is mentioned)
◇(Galadriel is mentioned)

We'll do the Diamond statements first, because each one tells us something about some table somewhere. But, they don't tell us which tables. The statements might be true for the same table, but they might not be. And since we have three Diamond statements, we get three tables, which might be different or might not, and which might be all of the original tables or only some of them:

Bilbo Baggins is mentioned.

Frodo Baggins is mentioned.

Galadriel is mentioned.

But our Box statements still need to be added. By rule 1, they tell us that any tables the Diamond statements give us have the other statements, too. So now our tables look like:

Bilbo Baggins is mentioned.
Elrond is mentioned.
Gandalf is mentioned.

Frodo Baggins is mentioned.
Elrond is mentioned.
Gandalf is mentioned

Galadriel is mentioned.
Elrond is mentioned.
Gandalf is mentioned.

And remember, just from what our Reference Table tells us, we don't know if these are all the same table, or if two of them are the same, or if none of them are the same; likewise, we don't know whether these are all the tables or just some of them. The information in our Reference Table was very incomplete and not very precise. But it still gave us enough information to reconstruct something about the Tolkien books on the top shelf.

Most reasoning in modal logic is like this last example: we have a Reference Table and are trying to see what its implications are. You can think of it like a puzzle, in which the Reference Table is a list of clues that someone else gave you, and you are trying to see what those clues tell you.

In the next post we'll look at how some slightly more complicated cases work. What you'll find, though, is that we've pretty much covered all the essentials of basic modal reasoning -- it all works exactly like this, and more complicated cases are only more complicated because they give us more information to use.

to be continued

I, Except You Enthrall Me, Never Shall Be Free

Holy Sonnet 14
by John Donne

Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The Mind a Creature Is, yet Can Create

Look Home
by St. Robert Southwell

Retirëd thoughts enjoy their own delights,
As beauty doth in self-beholding eye ;
Man's mind a mirror is of heavenly sights,
A brief wherein all marvels summëd lie,
Of fairest forms and sweetest shapes the store,
Most graceful all, yet thought may grace them more.

The mind a creature is, yet can create,
To nature's patterns adding higher skill ;
Of finest works with better could the state
If force of wit had equal power of will.
Device of man in working hath no end,
What thought can think, another thought can mend.

Man's soul of endless beauty image is,
Drawn by the work of endless skill and might ;
This skillful might gave many sparks of bliss
And, to discern this bliss, a native light ;
To frame God's image as his worths required
His might, his skill, his word and will conspired.

All that he had his image should present,
All that it should present it could afford,
To that he could afford his will was bent,
His will was followed with performing word.
Let this suffice, by this conceive the rest,—
He should, he could, he would, he did, the best.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Yet, Do Thy Worst Old Time

Sonnet 19
by William Shakespeare

Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion's paws,
And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;
Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger's jaws,
And burn the long-liv'd phoenix, in her blood;
Make glad and sorry seasons as thou fleets,
And do whate'er thou wilt, swift-footed Time,
To the wide world and all her fading sweets;
But I forbid thee one most heinous crime:
O! carve not with thy hours my love's fair brow,
Nor draw no lines there with thine antique pen;
Him in thy course untainted do allow
For beauty's pattern to succeeding men.
Yet, do thy worst old Time: despite thy wrong,
My love shall in my verse ever live young.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Elements of Modal Logic I

When dealing with arguments we generally have a universe of discourse; 'universe of discourse' in the sense used here is the category that includes all the things that are relevant to the argument and leaves out all the things that are not relevant to it. It is presupposed by everything in the argument. For instance, if I say, "Dragons breathe fire," it matters considerably whether we are talking about characters in a story or real-life monitor lizards.

Imagine we had a table corresponding to this universe of discourse; on this table we could write whatever premises might be used. So, for instance, we might have a very simple table, corresponding to a particular group of men, on which we've written:

Socrates is strange.
Plato is not strange, but elegant.
Aristotle is not strange, but bossy.

We could then put these together in ways logically implied by these premises, and say that these things are true at Table 1.

But we don't always assume the same category. For instance, Table 1 might correspond to a particular group of men at a certain time. We might then also be interested in the same particular group of men at a different time. So we could have different tables. If Table 1 is the group of men on Tuesday, perhaps another thing we are interested in is the same group of men on Wednesday, so we can make another table corresponding to that, e.g.:

Socrates is strange.
Plato is strange.
Aristotle is not strange, but bossy.

Strictly speaking, each table has its own logical operations and conclusions. For instance, on Table 1, we can conclude that neither Plato nor Aristotle are strange; but on Table 2, this is false. This is not a contradiction, since in drawing each of these conclusions we only stay on the relevant table, and don't leap from one to the other.

But we may also be interested in how they related to each other. And we certainly can say something about that. For instance, we can say, if these are our only two tables, "If we're looking at these tables, we would always find that Socrates is strange." We can also say, "We can find a table on which Plato is strange." In our example, the tables in question are interpreted as days, but they could be anything else. We could have tables that represent cities, possible worlds, stories, or whatever we please.

At its most crude and basic, this is all that modal logic is. "On any table, we would find that Socrates is strange" is a Box proposition; it is said to have a strong modality. "We can find a table on which Plato is strange" is a Diamond proposition; it is said to have a weak modality.

Even this on its own is, logically speaking, very important. But there is much more that could be done. For instance, we've been assuming that it's perfectly straightforward what you have to do to find a table on which a claim is found. But it could be that there are restrictions on how we find tables; and, as it happens, depending on how we interpret the table, we often want there to be different kinds of restrictions on which tables we can talk about under which circumstances. There might be tables that we can find if we start at one table but not if we start at another. Likewise, it's possible that one of the claims we have on a table tells us something about other tables, or about what we will find if we find any other tables. And in practice, most of what is dealt with in modal logic has not to do with general statements about tables as a whole, but about how they relate to each other given different assumptions and interpretations. I hope to begin discussing this a bit in a future post.

This is the first post in a series in which I'm experimenting with finding the simplest possible ways to teach the basics of modal logic at an undergraduate level, so that, for instance, one could introduce serious and substantive discussions of modal arguments into an intro-level class, or, for that matter, a high-school class, without taxing the students with too many technicalities more suitable to a higher-level course. The word 'experiment' is used advisedly.

Music on My Mind

First Aid Kit, "My Silver Lining". I very much like the chorus. And since I'm entering the last crush of grading this week and into the next, having to keep on keeping on is very much on my mind.

Two Poem Drafts


"I do," said God. The Dove upon the sea
was baptizing creation with the wind,
and light burst forth, a promised liberty,
with streaming rays out to the endless end;
then order flowed like breath throughout each kind,
the covenant and contract making law.
It echoed forth from out eternal Mind
as stars of morning formed in ranks of awe.
Reverberation made the world take form;
the sun and moon and stars were bright and clear
as fish and fowl rode mighty waves of storm
and beasts began to move with savage cheer.
The human heart looked round with thought anew
and sallied back with whispered words: "I do."


My heart in crystal filigree has formed
a lacing latticework by winds of storm,
and every snowflake shines like star at night,
a million million twinkles gleaming bright
with diamond rainbows flashing through the white.
No vernal melt, no summer thaw, can break
the glaciers raised; no warming sun can wake
the ice to water's liquid gush and flow.
My heart's enchantments glory over snow,
rejoice in blizzards fierce no arctic knows.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Notable Links

* David Sedley defends Epicurean hedonism. I think the actual weakness of the essay isn't on the ethics side but on Epicurean epistemology, which, it seems to me, it slides over a little too easily. But on the ethics side it was a pretty good summary.

* A good book review of C. S. Lewis's Till We Have Faces:

I've had several people every day landing on my Till We Have Faces post since February; I'm not sure why that is. Looking around, this is possibly one of the reasons, but I don't know, and it probably wouldn't be the exhaustive reason, anyway.

* James Chastek's notes on evil are worth reading.

* The Politics of Nostalgia at "Sancrucensis"

* Matt Flanagan discusses a recent argument by Scott Bawulski on hell.

* Zachary Braiterman discusses Shmuel Feiner's biography of Moses Mendelssohn at "jewish philosophy place".

* The publication history of Mansfield Park gets an overview at "Jane Austen in Vermont". I'm somewhat struck by the subtitles for the French translations of MP and SS. SS's subtitle is Les Deux Manières d’Aimer, which is a succinct summary of one way to read the book: two ways of loving. MP's, though, is Les Trois Cousines, which stops me short, because there are a lot more than three cousins in the book. Edmund and Fanny obviously have to be two of them. I suppose Maria Bertram is the third cousin -- Tom Bertram, Julia Bertram, and Susan Price are certainly less significant to the major plot -- but I would never have picked up Mansfield Park and, when asked to summarize it, replied, "Ah, yes, it's a story about three cousins."


Redundantia originally conveyed the image of waves -- after one wave, another wave comes, and this re-undulation is what redundantia originally meant. You can see how this would connect to our word 'redundancy'. Historically, however, the word meant a superabundance in a broader sense, and not necessarily a mere redundancy; it suggests being overwhelmed (you manage to get through one wave and another hits you) or having more than you know what to do with. Usually you will find it and its cognates translated as 'overflow'. I would suggest that redundantia in a slightly more technical -- but still connected -- sense is an important idea in the thought of Aquinas that has almost universally been overlooked.

Aquinas uses the term, or cognates, in a wide number of circumstances, but all of them have important links to each other. I'll just briefly note a few cases.

I. Providence

Divine order is such that excellence overflows from higher to lower, like the clarity of sun into the air: ST 2-2.83.11. Compare ST 2-2.175.2 ad 1, which uses the related word abundantia in a quotation from Dionysius on the overflow of divine goodness, thus linking it to the idea of participation.

II. Human Cognition

Desire in the superior part of the soul can be so vehement that it overflows lower desire, so that the latter, in its own way, tends toward the spiritual good of the higher desire, so that the body serves the spiritual: ST 2-1.30.1 ad 1.

In the human soul there is an overflow from higher to lower, so that the delight of contemplation can overflow so as to mitigate sensible pain or sorrow: ST 2-1.38.4 ad 3.

Human cogitative and memorative powers owe their excellence (compared to the corresponding capabilities in other animals) simply to their association with reason, which in a way overflows them: ST 1.78.4 ad 5.

Vocal prayer is an overflow from the soul to the body through a vehemence of affection: ST 2-2.83.12

III. Virtue

The qualities of prudence overflow into all other virtues, and likewise with the other cardinal virtues: 2-1.61.4 ad 1.

Because lower powers follow the motion of higher powers, the states of intellectual desire following from virtues overflow into sensible desire to cause passions; so that if joy in the will is increased through justice, it will cause the passion of joy in the sensible appetite: ST 2-1.59.5.

IV. Christ in the Transfiguration

That Christ's glory did not overflow His body from conception was due to a special dispensation, but he retained the power of pouring out the glory of His soul into His body; in Christ's transfiguration, the glory of His Godhead and His soul overflowed His body not as an innate quality but as a transient passion, like the clarity of the sun in the air, and thus miraculously: ST 3.45.2.

Since Christ was still on earth, in His Passion there was no overflow of glory from the higher part of his soul to the lower part, nor from his soul to his body, but the higher part of his soul still enjoyed contemplation of God: ST 3.46.8.

V. Christ as Head of the Church

Grace was bestowed on Christ not merely as an individual but as Head of the Church, so that it might overflow into His members: ST 3.48.1. Christ as man is mediator between God and men, so it is appropriate for him to have a grace that overflows to others: ST 3.7.1. Christ was predestined to be the Son of God in power of sanctification, so it was appropriate for Him to have a fullness of grace overflowing to all, while the Virgin Mary is full of grace as being close to Him and dispensing grace to us by receiving Him: ST 3.27.5 ad 1. The Virgin Mary was full of grace in that it overflowed from her soul to her body, from which was conceived the Son of God; and it is such as to extend to all: Exp. Sal. Ang. art. 1.

To know the secrets of the heart belongs properly to God alone, but Christ Ascended may also know and judge human hearts as man through an overflow from His Godhead: ST 3.59.2 ad 3.

VI. Glory to Come

The soul desires to enjoy God in such a way that its enjoyment may overflow into the body, as far as this is possible: ST 2-1.4.5 ad 4.

Some people attribute Christ's Ascension to the glorified soul itself, whose overflow glorifies the body, as Augustine suggests (Ep. ad Dioscor. cxviii); but as the body is made glorious by participating the soul, so the soul is made glorious by participating God, and thus divine power is the first cause of the Ascension: ST 3.57.3.

Paul's vision of God in the third heaven did not beatify him so as to overflow his body, but only incidentally: ST 2-2.175.3 ad 2.

By divine ordinance, glory overflows from the soul to the body according to merit, so that as we merit by acts of the soul in the body, we are rewarded by the glory of the soul overflowing the body: ST 3.19.3 ad 3. Our bodies are unable to enjoy God by directly knowing and loving Him, but it is through bodily acts that we attain to knowledge of God; so that the enjoyment of the soul overflows into the body with a 'flush of health and incorruption', as Augustine says: ST 2-2.25.5 ad 2. Charity extends to that from which happiness flows, namely, God, and to that which directly perceives happiness, namely, men and angels, and to that to which happiness comes by a kind of overflow, namely, the body: ST 2-2.25.12. Friendship based on full participation in happiness, as with love of neighbor, is a greater reason for love than that based on happiness by overflow, as with love of our own body: ST 2-2.26.5.

The clarity of the soul overflows the glorified body by way of a permanent quality: ST 3.45.2.


There are many other passages that could be added. Interestingly, Aquinas does not seem to apply the concept in the one situation in which modern Catholics are likely to come across it being applied: the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. Unction is a sacramental preparation of the soul. Historically it has been associated with all sorts of healings and recoveries, but these have not generally been considered miracles in the proper sense; rather, they are understood as being the result of overflow: as we take courage and consolation from the sacrament, this allows our body to rally, at least temporarily, by taking part in the mental surge and comfort. It is, as we would say, 'psychosomatic'. That it should be understood in this way is unsurprising, I think. First, because all the sacraments and sacramentals involving oil indicate, by the very use of oil, that some kind of overflow is expected or asked for. And second, and most importantly, all the major sacraments are associated with some major aspect of Church doctrine (Baptism with the Trinity, Eucharist with the Incarnation, Matrimony with the Church, and so forth); the aspect of Church doctrine with which Unction is associated is the Resurrection of the Dead and Life in the World to Come. So the oil is a sign of the overflow of grace into the soul through Christ our Head, which may and sometimes does overflow the body, because strength and consolation of mind are already capable of overflowing the body; and this all is itself a sign of the overflow of glory from God to the soul to the resurrected body in the life to come. Aquinas, as I said, doesn't see this connection (although we have to keep in mind that we never get his final account, since it would have been in the part of the Summa that was never finished). What he says is consistent with it, but his account depends on an analogy with the sacrament of Baptism (Baptism is to the internal as Unction is to the external), and not on the redundantia which later Catholics came to recognize in it, and which was occasionally suggested in various versions of the rite. (It would be interesting to look at the history of this development.)