An organic philosophical ground for the theological virtues.
|Moving from the:||Mind||Heart||Action|
|Moving upon the:||(heart/action)||(mind/action)||(mind/heart)|
The leap of faith is a daily task, one which we often do without the least inhibition. It happens when we move from the understanding, or the limits thereof, to the perception of the understanding that there is more to be trusted in. Reality holds more reality than is apprehensible by the senses and the understanding; but the understanding is capable of knowing beyond itself through faith (we are not yet speaking of religious faith, but even the most basic postulate that consciousness of time, of movement, of space, and the pretension of legitimate action as a real interaction with our surrounding implies). The building blocks of faith are present in the human experience from the very moment that we are conscious of ourselves as free beings, capable of desiring and acting. In consenting to action, our faith becomes life, it is affirmed or mortified by experience, whose retro-alimentation upon understanding constitutes the unity of an intelligent existence.
Faith gives us unity, not merely as a postulate, but concretely, with metaphysical density, when we discover the internal contradiction of privation (steresis); things are never quite what we had hoped them to be. For the ideal world we identify as the reason for our desire and action comes into conflict with what we discover as actually possible, as actually imposed, whose often unsatisfying conditions we must accept as real, placing (by faith) the whole of our ideals into the realm of privation. Yet, they do not, as such, cease to hold their position as the reason for our desires and actions, and although they are “irreal” in the sense of concrete reality, they subsist in hope (both immanent in us, and transcendent to us), existing as the soul of what we know (and believe in), for although they “are not” they cannot cease to be. We are deprived of them, but this is precisely the affirmation that demonstrates metaphysically the subsistence of our being. We know what is not, and yet must be, and what must be cannot be invalidated but submits itself to contingent reality, until contingent reality passes, releasing its hold.
For this reason faith does not place its ultimate trust in contingent reality, for this itself passes away. What today is contradicted can fade with time and loose its pressure under impossibility. Instead, what is held as belief endures underneath every pressure of contingent reality. It does not fade but gains density, is polished by the understanding, is matured and made prudent in its being desired, and is organically, even if slowly or still incompletely, made efficient in action, until it reaches the fullness of its real possibility. This existence of patient enduring among contingent contradictions means that faith either must subsist in hope, or cease to exist. Faith, because of nature, must therefore place itself into hope.
Hope is the heart’s agenda. As Pascal says, it is a reason that the mind does not know. It is an endeavor of the will towards something greater than what is present and is not eminent to reasonable expectation. Hope is not seen, nor by the imagination, nor by the senses through exterior data, but it is present in both and moves both in every human activity, as if it were the soul and reason of our prospective, vital action. As described above, it becomes the vehicle of faith, because unlike faith whose font is the understanding, upon whose logical fabric no contradiction is valid, hope is capable of housing contradictions, because hope’s font is the heart.
Even from the pre-conscious waters of human existence, the mess of divergent and contradictory desires constitutes the nascent spontaneity of our vitality. In this sense, there is evidence that we are preceded by a hope, and that our understating arrives on the scene already, as it were, subjected to this superior hope (cf. Rom 8;20). However, between the building blocks of hope, present in the fundamental human experience, and the hope, which becomes a deliberated vehicle of faith as the leveraging tool of our understanding, there is an infinite gap. This division is drawn by Hebrews 4;12, indicating the separation between the “feelings” and “intentions” of the heart. While it is the Spirit who allows us to discern the limits of our internal divisions, it is our spirit who represents the infinite gap between them. The dividing line between them represents the consent of an act, the intention of a newly updated assimilation of the whole, the ratification of the anterior conditions and the consecration of a chosen imposition for their integration into act.
In this space, where a consecration takes place, it is precisely here where the Spirit can enter, in order to discern. Such a proper consecration (the ‘descent’ of the Holy Spirit) is marked by the disposition of listening/obedience, by which hope becomes self-conscious, and offers itself to become synchronized with the superior hope to which all things have been submitted. Whom will the Spirit enter if not the one who first possesses faith? And what will it discern if not the contradictions that emerge before our understanding, our will and our action? These contradictions as we have said, are to be deliberately placed in hope, being oriented by faith. By subsisting in this “vectorized” hope, they can be discerned into two. First, are those “feelings” which have not yet moral weight, still preceding the will in their pressures upon us, their consequence will be determined in each act; either their energies are to be absorbed by the acts that deprive them of a realized existence; or they may assimilate their real existence as subject to the superior synthesis held and distributed by the “vectorized” hope.
Alternatively are found those “intentions”, whose accomplice has been our will, with a morally liable imposition, being joined with every subsequent action they have inspired. These stand guilty when they in open contradiction with our beliefs. They would thus represent a contradiction of vectors, an interior battle of existential positions. When this occurs, hope itself suffers mortification, but because the heart houses contradictions, even intentional ones, hope does not disappear, but it may find itself enslaved by stronger impulses and their entrenchments in habit. Every hope however seeks to reassert itself, for which reason, one of the vectors must bow to steresis, and become subject to the other. In order for a belief-oriented hope to recuperate its vector, and strengthen itself to submit its rivals, hope must also deliberate itself by way of an ulterior vehicle. In other words, in this painful and gradual process of ‘interior deaths’ or privations, love appears on the scene as the ultimate resolution of existential unity.
Love is usually associated with the heart, but a love that only resides interiorly, without ever manifesting itself, cannot be considered love (only hope at best). Love shows itself, and not in the imagination or in desire but in action, and it is the true soul of action, because it is the necessary synthesis and deployment of every content held in faith and hope (that which does not enter into the synthesis or is never deployed forms part of the contradiction of rival vectors). Love represents the effective reckoning of mind and heart with life; Blondel’s adaequatio realis; which is brought to a full through the option of personal sacrifice (its inverse position represents the effective division of mind and heart and life a certain desintegratio realis which flees from the personal reality of sacrifice). Love is furthermore the matured manifestation of the infinite tendencies of the mind (in faith) and the heart (in hope), the only possibility of a sincere and unified existence that is coherent with itself. This sincerity means the effective capacity to offer up one’s self in order to reconcile the divided camps within the mind, the heart and practice, for the sake of integrating the whole. Though the radicality of this self-offering frightens, it proceeds from much less dire beginnings, and can be seen in the natural human impulse to go beyond ourselves, not only via thought and desire, but in practice.
[pullquote]Love cannot exist but in lived action, and it always involves others. Every single life that exists has come into existence through a love, which has received and assumed, in one order or another, a hope and a faith with respect to itself. Love is the perennial building block of existence, even being communicable without knowledge or will (through presence). Obviously despite this, it’s subsistence seeks the enrichment of both as a nonnegotiable imperative, whose reciprocal action, in turn, informs interpersonal levels of faith and hope that are undeniably metaphysical, generating new forms of activity and exchange that entirely defy all calculability. Interpersonal exchange reveals itself then as the first threshold of mystery into which man eagerly hurdles himself. Moving upon trust, seeking always a hope, so that we might exist, established as true being beyond the limits of our own interior, aspiring perhaps to discover being (our permanence and unfolding) even within the hidden limits of another’s interior. There exists no more exciting prospective than this. Love held the first word of our existence, and pronounces our finality and highest aspiration.[/pullquote]
Love is not fulfilled or exhausted in mere immanent action, as formalism or activism, but is a prospective action informed by faith and moved in hope towards a transcendent good, whose superior orientation precedes and impels us, be it in the experience of affirmation (hexis) or privation (steresis). If hope was found capable of containing contradiction, love is even more so. Hope’s passivity before contradiction, in love becomes assertive and bold. It easily dares to trespasses obstacles and will be held by no one; it knows no doubt, and rejects timidity. How many times has this impetus of naïve love carried one into completely unrealistic waters? There it must either die or adapt, becoming sacrifice before reality, when this will not give way to its push.
Love furthermore becomes discoverable as the imperative moral principle, not only applied to the one who holds it, but to all who can be held in their radius. And when the contradiction of the foreign will of another defies this imperative, love’s capacity for housing contradictions is augmented by way of opting in favor of the privation suffered. This capacity however, is interdependent upon faith and hope, without which, love becomes an irrational (and frustrated) force of attraction (paradoxically capable of becoming a force of repulsion). In the same way, without love, our mind and heart loose their vital orientation, to decree all attempts at faith and hope as foolish and naïve endeavors. The possibility of generating a vicious circle here is not only comprehensible, but verified as a common place experience for so many. Notwithstanding, it is life itself that teaches and impels love, and in experiencing it, we discover that love without faith and hope is disvirtued and false. It cannot sustain itself without the other two, and the other two cannot reach their own unity without love.
Therefore, of the three, love is the greater, and will remain because what we grasp of its contingent reality is but a foretaste and a participation of the transcendent reality already indicated by faith and hope. If these two move towards love, it is because Love is their destiny. And if our natural destiny unfolds itself through faith and hope and love, albeit our contingent existence assimilating them in trial; and although in many persons, these trials have not yet welcomed consciously the integrating presence of the Spirit; their seeds continue to sprout perennially, because the Spirit lives and moves and has its being in creation (obviously we are not speaking of material realities, but metaphysical ones). Finally, in order that we might live and move in the Spirit, we must have conscious (and deliberated) openness, not only to receive, but to give these building blocks, in a religious sense. And in the measure that our lives are built-up, upon the design of this superior prospect by which all things have been submitted, we may go constructing, with our Love, the long awaited, and long suffered, unity and communion of persons, families, associations, towns, nations, civilizations, even unto the limits of humanity itself; to reach, by way of the rhythms of life and the movements of the Spirit, daily assimilation into what Blondel calls the sperandarum substantia rerum; daily possessed and consolidated in privation’s sacrifice; the finality which the theological virtues serve to nurture: the maturity of the fullness of the stature of the Body of Christ.
© 2015 – Benjamin Oldani para el Centro de Estudios Católicos – CEC