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Doing and speaking, created and uncreated.

"WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE, more is said than done." This (I think) modern proverb nicely expresses a sort of typically American penchant for results, a penchant for "practical results," for "getting the job done," that we alternately deplore or take satisfaction in. It is a sort of proverb of our popular pragmatism. Just as stated, however, it seems to be true. In human affairs, where many alternatives are explored in speech before a course of action is decided on, more things are spoken of than enacted. There are many designs for a new World Trade Center, but only one will be built. There are more World Trade Centers that are said, that exist in speech, than will be done or built.

Just as stated, moreover, the proverb brings to speech what is doubtless a very important, a very basic, distinction, the distinction between human speaking and human doing. When we do something, we change things, we rearrange the furnishings of the world. When we speak, on the other hand, we display what is but do not change anything. Of course, we may change someone's mind about some practical course to be taken, a course that involves "doing" something, and it may be our purpose so to change another's mind, and so to have the world changed in the proposed way. For St. Thomas, practical reason is not only apprehensive but causative, and one who commands another causes what happens "as imposing necessity." (1)

But in the first place, a mind is not a thing, and changing a mind or informing a mind with a command is not directly to change the world of mice and microbes, electrons and elephants. To change a mind is to change how things appear to it. But "appearing" itself is not one of the things that appears, though doubtless it, too, can be made to appear to the philosophical mind. (2) In the second place, if the world does get changed through my changing someone's mind, it gets changed only through being displayed in a certain way. (3) In speech, I contrast what is and what could be, and thereby show the desirability of what could be, its goodness, and in that way I persuade another to act directly on the world. My persuading or presenting something as to be done would be a moral act, praxis, but it would not be poesis. And of course, in the third place, sometimes we speak purely and entirely only to display the world, simply to show it, and perhaps to show it in such a way as to make manifest that it cannot be changed, or cannot be changed by us, or maybe should not be changed by us. We could say, in other words, that among the illocutionary speech acts, such things as promising and pronouncing judgment and persuading, there is also simple description or the giving of information. (4) We could say that in addition to practical reason, there is speculative reason.

The distinction between doing and saying is sometimes occluded. This happens popularly and politically where speech, or some kind of speech, is said to be not only an incitement to violence but itself a form of violence, and name-calling is made to be battery. This happens more speculatively where there is a theoretical attempt to reduce human speech to animal signaling. (5) Speech then turns out to be only one of the species of doing by which animals alter their environment. Evolutionary epistemology pushes things in this direction. Going the other way, things like the liturgy or architecture or couture are likened to language or said to be languages. This is not said without justice since the articulations we make in speech can be embedded in the way we act in or arrange the world, in worship, in buildings, and in clothing.(6) Where the embedding is a transcription of speech and has no immediate end except the very storing of the articulations of speech, there are books or document files. Where the embedding depends on or could be brought to the articulations of speech, but is not a simple transcription and aims to do more than store them, we have things like heroic architecture or cosmopolitan couture. Beyond praising the warrior the building also gives shelter, and beyond declaring a life common to both Paris and New York the clothing keeps one warm. It is only when it is denied that there is any natural realm prior to the artifactual (any stone prior to the worked stone or any wool prior to the yarn), or when it is denied that there is any access to such a realm independent of the human constitution of meaning, that the distinction collapses. In that case, there is no matter or patient prior to our activity to be changed, and all our doing turns into a pure if sometimes concealed making of signs. (7)

There are still other ways to question the fundamentality of the distinction between doing and speaking. It is said, for instance, that preliterate people experienced speaking as a doing, and indeed as a very powerful kind of doing. For his part, Walter Ong does not dismiss this apprehension of things merely as some relic of mythic thinking. He notes that the voice always indicates a live and therefore potentially active presence. (8) He does not, however, really give us grounds to discard the distinction as bogus. He illustrates his point with an appeal to performative language ("the king's statement that so-and-so is his representative makes him his representative"), and he says that for people of preliterate cultures, it is "eminently credible that words can be used to achieve an effect such as weapons or tools can achieve." (9) But he does not say it is credible for us, and even more, he seems to grant that while the difference between words and things--including tools--comes to light only with writing, it is a difference that is there all along. (10) It is the difference between doing and speaking. Ong rather helps us to relate the ease with which moderns make the distinction to literacy, and to a culture whose sensorium privileges the visible over the audible. Spoken words are events, but script and written words record. The written word therefore makes easy the distinction between a done past and a present beholding that does not change it. (11)

Ong also alerts us to yet another way in which the distinction can be challenged, a way of interest to Christians. It is the way the distinction functions when we speak of God as creating the world by his word. (12) There is also the relation of the divine causality, the divine "doing," to created doing and speaking; just as our human doing is something divinely done, so also is our speaking something divinely made.

1. Creation: a Doing or a Speaking?

It seems as if the Bible gives us plenty of warrant to link the divine doing and the divine speaking very closely together. In Genesis, the Lord speaks and the world springs forth according to his word. "Let there be light." And there is light. "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth," says the Psalmist (33:6). And taking things the other way round, "the heavens are telling the glory of God," and "day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge" (19: 1a, 2). It certainly seems, therefore, that the divine speech is a doing, a making, and the divine doing is a speaking. What God does displays, and what he displays by his word is done. What he does in creating and in redemption displays him, and whatever he displays that is other than himself is something also done by him, brought into existence from nothing.

Of course, there will certainly be one place in divinis where speaking and a kind of doing come together. The Father's speaking of the Word is his very begetting of the Son, and here, to be begotten is to be spoken, and to be spoken is to be begotten. (13) At this point, there can be no opposition or real distinction of speaking and doing in God, where only the Persons themselves are really distinct from one another.

When we come to creation, however, and the manifestation of God ad extra, the divine speaking and the divine doing begin to pull apart. Following St. Thomas, Josef Pieper takes human speaking to be the expression in voiced words of the interior or mental word. (14) So taking it, he distinguishes five ways in which God can be said to speak. God speaks interiorly and eternally in begetting the Word, and he speaks exteriorly and in time to us in the Incarnation of that Word. He speaks to the prophet in the act of revelation, and he speaks within the monuments of tradition subsequent to revelation, especially Scripture. Also, God speaks in creation. (15) "This last, however, is a "speaking" only metaphorically said, as Pieper points out, referring us to what St. Thomas says in the Sentences commentary: "A creature cannot properly be called a word [of God], but rather the voice of the word; for just as the voice manifests the word, so also the creature manifests the divine art ... whence Augustine says: 'all things cry out, "God made us."' But this is not said but metaphorically." (16)

The Lectura on the Letter to the Hebrews is helpful here, explaining how it is that the God who spoke in many ways to our fathers has spoken last of all to us through his Son. (17) St. Thomas begins with an analysis of human speech as follows:

"Three things are required for our speaking [locutio]. First, the conception of a word, by which namely there is preconceived in the mind what is to be spoken by the mouth; second, the expression of the conceived word, by which there may be insinuated what has been conceived; third, the manifestation of the expressed thing, by which the thing expressed may become evident." (18) It is the difference between the second and third things that is troublesome. How can there be an exterior expression of the interior word that is not a manifestation of the thing of which it is the conception? But the distinction will become apparent shortly in its application to creation.

Before that, St. Thomas notes that the first requirement is fulfilled in God by the generation of the Son, by the Father's speaking the Word. The second thing, "expression," occurs in three ways: in creation, in angelic illumination and prophecy, and in the Incarnation. But only the last two also comprise a "manifestation of the expressed thing," and so count as speech. As to creation, he says, "the first expression, namely in creation, is not ordered to manifestation. For it is evident that that expression cannot be called a speaking, and therefore it is never said that God speaks by creating creatures, but that he is known. Romans 1:20--'the invisible things of God are understood and seen by the things that have been made. (19) The problem seems to be that that manifestation of what the Word expresses is not achieved in creation. What is it that is manifested in creation? The conceived Word is expressed, in part, by a creature, for the finite intelligibility and goodness of the creature are an imitation and participation of the infinite intelligibility and goodness expressed by the subsistent Word and Image of the Father. But such partial expression of the infinite intelligibility that the Word expresses completely does not really make present the thing originally expressed in the Word, namely, the divine nature, nor consequently, does it really make present the Word as such. By contrast, the Incarnation and revelation (which anticipates and is ordered to completion in Christ) do make manifest the Word as such, even if they do not make manifest the divine essence, and so must be counted as speaking. In creation, the divine essence is incommunicable and so un-communicated-that is, it is not "said." Contrariwise, when God does speak, the divine nature is communicated and we become sharers in it (2 Pt 1:4).

We can try to make this point by asking if there is anything in the act of creation that we could say is being spoken "about" and in that way manifested. It is not the creature--the creature is rather made and comes into being; nor is God being spoken about: neither the divine nature, nor Father nor Son nor Spirit. So, creation is not a speaking. We can say that creation is by a speaking, according to Genesis 1 and John 1. Creation occurs according to the divine art, and the divine art is expressed in the subsistent Word. Therefore does God create by the Word, and so by speaking the Word. (20) If for God to speak were for him to create, however, then the world must exist necessarily, and be as eternal as the Son himself, eternally spoken. But no; to speak the Word is not itself to create, and in itself, creation is not a speaking but is rather a making. It can certainly lead to the cognition of God, but it does not signify God in the way a word can.

We can add that, even so, creation does not seem historically all by itself to have led to the knowledge of God except under the condition that God speak to man supernaturally, revealing himself through patriarch and prophet and the Christ. Whatever greater or easier cognitive access to God we impute to prelapsarian human nature, and whatever de jure capacity to know God we must impute to the human intellect in order to make faith possible, it remains that de facto, just as we do not ordinarily come to the natural knowledge of God now outside the shelter of faith, so neither was the knowledge of God in his distinction from the world as its creator first arrived at historically apart from revelation. (21) It seems that for the heavens to declare the glory of God to fallen man we must first hear him speak to us of sin and salvation. However we count the existence of the creature as a "display" of God, it is dependent for its full effect on the more perfect display of God that he gives us in speech. Touching on the issue of the supernatural and its gratuity, indeed, returns us to the consideration made above apropos of the Trinity. That the only place where the divine speaking and doing come together is in the procession of the Second Person seems but another way to maintain the gratuity of grace. If God necessarily spoke to us in creating us, the astonishment of revelation and of revelation as a personal call from the personal God could not be as great as in fact it is, and its character as gift must necessarily be diminished. If he necessarily speaks to us in creating us, the personal relation established by such an address would necessarily be given in creation, and gratuity could not be "double." (22)

2. Question 105 and the Divine Government

If the distinction between speaking and doing holds up in thinking about creation, and even necessarily emerges, it can seem less sturdy in thinking about the divine government.

Most of St. Thomas's treatment of the divine government in the Prima pars of the Summa, from q. 106 to q. 119, is taken up with how one creature may move (moveat) another. Just before that, God's own changing (mutatio) of creatures is addressed in q. 105. God can move a creature immediately; also, he moves creatures to move other creatures. Contrariwise, there is no creaturely motion without God's prior moving. The divine government is comprehensive, and God can be said to govern all the motions and changes of one creature by another because, as St. Thomas establishes in article 5 of q. 105, God works in every created working. He does this insofar as God, the infinite good, is the end of every action performed for a finite, participated good; he does this as applying every created agent to its point of operation, as fire to fuel; he does this as creating and conserving the operative power of the creature. (23)

Article 5 of q. 105 is architectonic. Subsequent questions treat the various operations of creatures within which God operates. Question 106 deals with angelic illumination, and so we must conclude that God operates in every angelic illumination, which is to say, he too can be said to illumine the inferior angel when the superior angel does so. (24) Question 107 deals with angelic locution, and so it seems we must likewise conclude that he speaks in every angelic speaking, although as we shall see, there is a problem here. Further, q. 117 takes up human teaching, and therefore does God teach in every human teaching (article 1), just as he acts in the activity of every corporeal agent (q. 115, article 1). So, when the sun warms the stone, God is warming the stone; when the professor teaches, God is teaching; when any speaker speaks, it seems, God is speaking. All of this is comprised in God's "movement" of creatures. In the light of q. 105, it seems that our own doing and speaking, both of them, become subspecies of the divine motion of creatures. It seems that human speaking gets pressed into a kind of doing, a divine doing.

We should not perhaps be surprised at this, granted the impossibility of whatever is not God to escape the epithet "created." All is created, both human doing and human speaking; so also, all things are "moved" within the providence of God by God's all-encompassing agency. To be sure, creation itself is not strictly a motion or any sort of doing that presupposes a prior subject, but rather the establishment of the whole of the creature in its entire being. (25) But whatever divine moving within creation we wish to pick out, it is but an aspect of the being that is wholly and entirely established by the creative act of God. Whatever distinctions there are within the created order, even so great a one as that between doing and speaking, get subsumed under the divine doing that is creation. (26)

Another problem, more serious, emerges from the relation of the divine creative causality to human speaking. Since every second cause owes its power to the first, the first cause may be said to be more a cause of what the second cause causes than the second cause itself. "God is therefore more principally the cause of whatever action there is than even secondary agent causes. (27) God is the cause of causes, and so it is strange but true to say that when George pours concrete, God pours concrete (though his hand is not on the trowel), and when the oak sends out leaves, God sends out leaves (on the oak), and that God is more responsible for the pavement than George and for the new leaves than the oak. We may want to say rather that God "brings it about" that the concrete is poured than that he "pours" in order to introduce some distance, but if so, we must not think there is some creaturely "pouring" over and above and in addition to the divine "bringing about. (28)

There seems little trouble with saying that God is more responsible for the doings of plants and animals than they are themselves. When we say God pours the concrete, however, and are thinking of God's responsibility for George and George's actions, we encounter the problem of George's defective actions, his morally defective actions. Suppose George is pouring concrete around the feet of his gangland enemy. St. Thomas teaches us to distinguish, on the one hand, God as cause of all the positive inclinations to the good comprised in some human action and of all the ordinary natural workings of commanded acts and natural agencies it involves, and on the other, the failure to measure our will by the natural law, by right reason. (29) So, if George murders John, God is more the cause of the muzzle velocity of the bullet than is the black powder, but he is not the cause of the defect of George's willing. He is more the cause of the demise of John than the various agencies in their natural operations, but he is not the murderer of John and not the cause of George qua murderer. George stands out, distinct from God, in his own defective moral agency; moreover, the only situation where we do so stand out as agents independent of God is in the situation of defective moral agency.

Speaking, however, is yet another situation of moral agency to be considered. If God pours the concrete and sends out the leaves, do we also want to say that when George speaks, God speaks? Further, do we want to say God is more the teller of the tale than I am when I speak to you?

In q. 105, St. Thomas picks out the divine motion of the created intellect (and will) as especially worthy of notice. In a theological summa, he surely must be interested in those motions on which the rational creature's motion to God depends. So it is that article 3 of q. 105, on God's motion of the intellect, anticipates discussion of creaturely teaching and illumination. God is said to move the created intellect, first by maintaining its natural light, and second by arranging for its information by species, all of which are partial expressions of his own intelligibility and truth according to which he gives things being. It should be noted that his "moving" the intellect is identified with teaching in the sed contra, and that no special way of informing the created intellect with species is mentioned. It therefore follows from q. 105, article 5, that God is speaking to and illuminating the inferior angel addressed by the archangel. Again, God is teaching the scientist as the scientist consults the evidence of nature; he is teaching the students of the geometry instructor as they are being instructed and considering the diagram; he is teaching the catechism when the catechist speaks; he is teaching the congregation when the priest preaches. The First Letter of Peter, after all, urges us to speak as if God is speaking and to work as though God is working in us (4:11).

The last two cases seem to deserve some special consideration. Of course, they are different from the others simply according to subject matter, and this is not unimportant. It is one thing for God to speak about the world when any created speaker does, and another thing to speak of himself. In addition to that, it is one thing for him to reveal, say, the moral law in conscience, and quite another for his revelation to meet us as revelation, as Cardinal Newman pointed out. (30) This raises the question, if someone speaks to me must I know that he does so? (31) Speaking, we think, seems to involve the standing forth of the speaker as responsible for what he says, as claiming, within whatever claim he makes about the world, to be speaking the truth. Can God speak to those who do not know he is speaking to them? On the above analysis, it would seem that he does. In principle, the scientist can know and be quite aware of the fact that when nature testifies, God teaches, and in principle, the students can know that the divine mind is the exemplar of every truth of mathematics and geometry. But even when the scientist and the students are ignorant of God, it will still be God who illumines them. (32)

Question 105, therefore, given its comprehensive scope, seems in the first place to make of speaking and doing both "motions," but more importantly, God's moving can seem to crowd out all other, his speaking overwhelm our speaking. Are we ever speakers without God being more of a speaker in our speaking? This is not a question of defending the reality of creaturely doing and action, which we know St. Thomas does consistently and thoroughly. (33) It is a matter of how best to speak, how best to let creaturely doing--here, especially, speaking--appear within a created world. A closer look at the articles on angelic illumination and speaking and on teaching is in order.

3. Illumination

A first step is to ask whether or not the illumination in which God illumines is always only the revelation of supernatural truths. The answer to this will depend on whether it is the illumination of the angelic or the human mind, and this will bear on the question of whether the speaker must be known to be speaking. It will emerge that angelic illumination is always of things supernatural, and therefore, the first Speaker or Illuminer is always known by those illumined. Whether God speaks in every human speaking, and where the knowledge is of the natural order, will be more obscure. What I hope to show is that this is a studied obscurity.

St. Thomas begins with a very large sense of illumination in q. 106, article 1, where illumination is "nothing else than a kind of manifestation of truth ,""nothing other than to hand on the manifestation of a known truth to another." In q. 107, article 2, the notion is similarly broad, for any "manifestation of what is conceived by the mind, according as it depends on the FirstTruth, is both speaking and illumination." Does the manifestation of the truth have to include manifesting its relation to the FirstTruth?

A narrower sense of illumination is declared in q. 109, article 3, where "properly speaking," illumination is "the manifestation of truth according as it is ordered to God [habet ordinem ad Deum], who illumines every intellect." The aim of these questions, after all, is to describe the details of the divine government, whose end is God. It is truth, therefore, not only as determined by God, but also according as it is referred to and leads to God that is properly what is manifested in "illumination." Since a demon does not intend to lead the one he addresses to God, his manifestation of the truth is not to be called illumination. (34) This is very noteworthy. The demon may be speaking the truth, which must of course in itself be reduced to the FirstTruth. Since his motive is however base, his speaking is not be called illumination, and God will consequently be said neither to illumine nor to speak within it.

A still more restricted sense of illumination is indicated in the reply to the second objection of article 3 of q. 109. Since angels and demons have known what they naturally know from the first moment of their existence, the manifestation of naturally knowable things is not necessary. Therefore, illumination is not of all truths that direct the created person to God, but it is only of supernatural truths that direct the created person to God. (35) In the same way, the illuminations at stake in the second and third objections to article 4 of q. 106 concern the Incarnation and the salvation of the elect respectively, and in the second article of q. 117 it is similarly a matter of divine things. (36)

In this way, St. Thomas does not change what he has received from the Celestial Hierarchy of Denis the Areopagite, where illumination is a matter of the mediation of divine revelation, the divine revelation that deifies the hearer. (37) The appropriateness of characterizing God as the source of all such illumination is evident.

Where an angel illumines a human being, or one human being illumines another as in teaching, however, then truths of the natural order are very much included in the scope of illumination. Human beings, after all, do not know what they naturally can know from the first moment of their existence. So, the examples of illumination in q. 107, article 2, as where one man is said to illumine another, are of naturally knowable things, namely, that the heavens are created by God, and that man is an animal.

The angelic illumination of human beings certainly can bear on supernatural truth. So, in the reply to the third objection of article 1 of q. 111, the illumination concerns the human being's faith, and in article 1 of q. 114, it is once again illumination bearing on our salvation . (38) But like one human being's illumination of another, it also bears on things naturally knowable. In the reply to the second objection of article 1 of q. 111, angelic illumination of men concerns the knowledge of God from the things that have been made, and the replies to the first and third objections of article 1 of q. 113 speak of angelic instruction of men in applying the natural law, and this is to "illumine" them. Evidently, it is a motion "unto God," a knowledge that leads to God since keeping the law leads to God. But it cannot be said that the enlightenment concerns the mysteries. Note that according to q. 113, article 5, ad 2, in fact, the principal effect of the angelic guardianship of man is enlightenment, and this seems to be with regard to the application of the natural law, as in q. 113, article 1. (39)

So, it seems there can be an illumination the content of which is natural. Still, it must again be said that the interest of the treatment of the divine government remains entirely theological, and that the motion of creatures St. Thomas is concerned with is to a supernatural end. The natural knowledge of matters moral with which a man is helped by an angel is wholly ordered to this supernatural end.

Now when it is a question of one angel illumining another, the angel who is addressed knows that God is, as it were, the first Illuminer and the first Speaker. The illumination concerns supernatural truth of which God must be the revealer. On the other hand, when an angel illumines a man, the man might not know the identity of this first Speaker. When it is a matter of expressly held faith, he will, although he might not know or be aware of the angelic speaker. When it is a matter of illumination pursuant to the knowledge of the natural law, neither the first Speaker nor the angelic speaker need be known. Not all know with Cardinal Newman that conscience is in the first place the voice of God.

There is also the case where a man is said to illumine a man with regard to naturally knowable truths such as that man is an animal. Here, the one illumined need not and might not identify God as in any way the original source of such knowledge. And there is the case where the man illumining does not know, while the man illumined does know, that God is speaking, and not just as to natural truths, but as to truths regarding supernatural things, as the Fourth Gospel says of Caiaphas that, speaking of the expedience of Christ's death, he spoke not "of his own accord," but that "he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation" (11:51). (40)

It seems as if, even so, St. Thomas could so describe human speaking of the truth as God's speaking. For in the first place, when describing what speaking is, St. Thomas feels no necessity to suggest that the speaker, in order to speak, must be recognized as speaking, and that he must stand forth as himself responsible for what he says. He says, laconically, only that "to speak to another is nothing but to manifest the concept of the mind to another. (41)

And in the second place, to repeat, God is the universal cause, operating in all created operation, and so illumining in all angelic illumination: for he is the creator of interior light in the angel illumined and illumining, and whatever intelligible species inform an intellect are derived from him, the first truth. (42) And whatever motion of will there be in an angel by which he wills to order his intelligible species and so manifest them to another, this motion of will, too, is from God.(43) There seems no reason not to extend this analysis to angelic illumination of a man in the formation of his conscience and human illumination of another man. But St. Thomas does not take the invitation that is issued by such reasoning.

4. Where God is Not Said to Speak

The point of this section is to notice a kind of restraint in St. Thomas's language. The immediately foregoing argument gives a kind of warrant to speak of God speaking in every speaking, but it is a warrant that is not acted on. Notice, for instance, in the commentary on First Corinthians, where there is an invitation to the most maximal view of God speaking in our speaking, St. Thomas does not exactly say that. Commenting on 1 Corinthians 12:3, St. Thomas observes that the Holy Spirit is said to move hearts to speak even when he does not dwell in them, as when Caiaphas prophesied (Jn 11:49ff) and Balaam spoke (Nm 23-24). He says, "In this way, therefore, it must be understood that no one can say anything true unless moved by the Holy Spirit, who is the spirit of truth, of whom it is said in John 16:13, 'When the Holy Spirit comes he will lead you into all truth. Whence also in the Gloss Ambrose says at this place: 'Every truth spoken by whatever man is from the Holy Spirit [a Spiritu Sancto].'" (44) And this is so generally, though specialiter, St. Thomas says, where it is a matter of faith. All truth is from the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit is not said to speak it; rather, following the example of Scripture ("will lead") and St. Ambrose (truth spoken by men is from the Spirit), St. Thomas says that when we speak the truth, we are moved by the Holy Spirit.

The same restraint can be seen in how St. Thomas does not speak of conscience. St. Thomas is very restrained in identifying the voice of conscience with the voice of God. Conscience is indeed characterized as a voice-inciting, reproving, accusing, tormenting. (45) But neither in the Sentences commentary nor the Quaestiones de Veritate nor the great Summa is it reduced to a divine locution. St. Thomas, in other words, does not offer us an anticipation of Cardinal Newman at this point. Only once, to my knowledge, does he liken the voice of conscience to the voice of God, and it is by simple juxta-position of the text of Romans 8:16, where the Spirit is said to bear witness with our spirit, to 2 Corinthians 1:12 in his commentary on the latter verse: "the apostle therefore is saying, 'I hope and trust in God, because of our glory;' that is, 'I glory in the testimony and purity of our conscience, on the basis of which I can surely trust in God."' And then he appends Romans 8:16, "the Spirit himself bearing witness," which therefore likens the voice of conscience to that of the Holy Spirit. (46)

There is a sort of restraint to be noticed in St. Thomas's treatment of teaching. As St. Thomas follows Denis for angelic illumination, he follows St. Augustine for human teaching. Therefore, God is said to teach insofar as he--the maker of man and his nature--is the maker also of the interior light of the mind. God is the author of the interior light of every man and so the interior teacher. (47) God, however, is not said to teach us in that he provides the species, the likenesses of the things known. It is the human teacher who does this insofar as his proposition of signs evokes the appropriate species in the mind of the disciple. And God is not said to be teaching in the teaching of the human teacher. But why not? If we ask also after the original provision of species, then article 3 of q. 105 can again be invoked: all species come (ultimately) from God. And as for the inclination of the human teacher's will to manifest by signs what is in his, the teacher's mind, article 4 of q. 105 can be invoked, according to which God moves the will. When the teacher teaches, then, God is teaching, both interiorly and exteriorly. This would be concordant with St. Thomas's remark about one man "illumining" another in article 2 of q. 107. And in this way, further, we continue to make article 5 of q. 105 architectonic, and we place in its scope not only creaturely illumination relative to the mysteries, but all human teaching whatsoever such that, when I teach, God teaches--not just by providing the interior light of the disciple, but in my very proposition of the signs that evoke the species in the disciples' mind. But St. Thomas does not say this.

There is also an important and expressly noted gap in the seamless web according to which God would be said to work in all created teaching and illuminating and speaking. It recalls the exclusion from illumination of demonic speaking of the truth in adverting to the speaker's will; it is a recognition in q. 107 of the Prima pars of an angelic speaking that is not an illuminating. Every angelic illumination is a speaking, but there can be an angelic speaking without illumination. In illumination, the manifestation of the truth, but not the truth itself, depends on the will of the created speaker. The truth itself depends on God, on his will. In speaking without illumining, by contrast, not only the manifestation of the truth but the truth manifested depends on the will of the speaker. The examples given of speech that is not illumination are reports of the speaker's desires, or communications of his proposed action. Such a report or communication counts as speaking because speaking to another is "nothing but to manifest the concept of the mind to another." (48) On the other hand, it does not count as illumination, for no created will is the light for any created mind. The will of God provides the created mind with the "rule of truth" as can no created mind for another. (49) Illumination, then, is the manifestation of the truth that depends on God's will. When a created person manifests his own desire or will, then, it cannot be said that God is illumining or speaking. It may be a good will, unlike the demon's; still, it is a created will, and this breaks the enchainment according to which it is imputed to God as first Speaker.

Does the denial that all angelic speaking is illumining mean a sort of relaxing of the reins of providence, an exception to the comprehensiveness of the divine causal power? Is not such a denial inconsequent? One could argue for divine illumination in all speaking in just the way a divine teaching in all teaching can be argued for. God is the one who inclines the created will, both to the good and to the good of speaking of one's inclinations. Why then does speaking one's wishes and plans not count as illumination? Rather than withdrawing it from the divine causal influence, the refusal to call this kind of speaking illumination has the effect of showing us where the speaker stands out most singly, most alone, as it were. It is when he declares not the common intelligibility of the common world, as it is to be measured by the divine mind, but the interior world of his own will, which, while it may itself be measured by both the divine truth and the divine will, is not itself in its immediacy a rule for any other created intellect. In the first case, I do speak a rule for all other intellects; in speaking, I display not what I want but what God has done. And so my displaying, because created, becomes the creator's displaying of what he has done.

There is a correlative to this difference between saying what God wills and saying what I will in the order of how the truth of my speech may be confirmed. When I speak some truth of what God has determined of the supernatural order, speaking as a prophet, or even when I repeat such a truth, the confirmation of it is by miracle. (50) When I speak and teach some speculative truth of the natural order, the confirmation is supposed to occur by force of the demonstration. But when it is a matter of confirming the truth of what I say of myself and of my own will and action, then I take an oath. For contingent matters of truth, and as depending on my will, I swear. My word attesting to my own determinations is in the end reduced to God, but by invocation of God, not by appeal to the natural light, the gift of the interior teacher, or to miracle, the extrinsic sign. What is "private," so to speak, is rendered "public" in another way, by oath. "Confirmation in things scientifically knowable occurs through reason, which proceeds from naturally known things that are infallibly true. But particular contingent facts about men cannot be confirmed by necessary reasons." (51) And so we call on witnesses and in the limit, the divine Witness.

5. Conclusion

First, "When all is said and done"--what have we managed to say about saying and doing? We began in section one with a contrast between a doing by way of a speaking and a doing that is a speaking. The doing that is a speaking is the procession of the Second Person of the Trinity, where begetting is speaking and speaking is begetting. The creation of the world, on the other hand, was found to be a doing by way of a speaking, but a doing that, just of itself, is not a speaking.

The divine doing of creation is, to be sure, said by way of extrinsic denomination; it is not an action in addition or other than the act of divine existence. But it expresses the truth that, just in itself and in its first moment, the created world is not a word.

In fact, the distinction between doing and speaking necessarily emerges in thinking about creation, for it requires the notion of a doing that is not a speaking. Creation is God's establishment of something that is not God. God, however, is mind, and God is mind in such a way that his mind just is an act of understanding whose object is itself, the infinite act of understanding that at one and the same time is infinite intelligibility. (52) There is no gap, so to speak, between being and minding in God. Whatever is divine is, absolutely, and whatever is divine is perlucid self-conscious understanding. Whatever is not God must perforce not be in that way, else it will not be really distinct from God. Suppose, by way of thought experiment, that the created order consisted solely of created, immaterial mind. It must even so be a mind whose act of minding, of understanding, is not its act of being. (53) In this way, creation requires a gap to be opened up between being and minding, and the radical possibility that there may be something to be spoken of that is not mind, even if, within the angelic order, it is nothing but a principle of being, and not some corporeal being, itself wholly mindless. In this way, we rejoin the neo-Platonist insight that, past the One, derived mind that is not consubstantial with the One necessarily introduces a duality of mind and being, of subject and object. In this way, therefore, creation requires of God a doing that is not a speaking; it requires the establishment of something that is not a word, that is not a saying, even though it be made by the divine saying of the consubstantial Word. The procession of the Word in divinis is a speaking that is a doing. Creation, on the other hand, requires a doing that cannot be a speaking, a doing whose "product" cannot be a word. The speaking that is the first procession of the Trinity just is a "word-ing"; it is the procession of the Word. The speaking by which the heavens are made and all their host produces a world that is not a word.

Second, discussing q. 105 of the Prima pars, we took up a created speaking that, like created doing, is a divine created doing. Within the created order, as it were, all things and all distinctions between things retire before the great and foundational fact of their being established and sustained by the divine causality, especially the divine efficient causality. In conjunction with the conclusion of the first section, we may say that though God cannot speak merely by creating he can create those who do speak. In this way, the display he makes of himself within the created order is a display mediated through a created mind that knows and speaks of God on the basis of the things that have been made.

Third, reading St. Thomas on angelic illumination, we found ourselves dealing with a created speaking that is a divine speaking. When one creature illumines another as to the economy of salvation, God illumines. Even, when one man teaches another or speaks the truth to another, God teaches and God speaks. The divine speaking in our ordinary speaking and the divine speaking in revelation ought to be contrasted as follows, however. Ordinarily--that is, when it is a matter of geometry and chemistry and of things available to the natural light of man--I cannot know God is speaking in the human speaking until I know what is said is true. With revelation, on the other hand, I know that God is speaking and so I know that what is said is true.

Fourth, and finally, we took note of a created speaking that is not, or is not suitably said to be, a divine speaking. The pointed exception to connecting creaturely speech to divine illumination and teaching that St. Thomas makes in q. 107 of the Prima pars tells us that while all our display is of what is chosen, we ought to distinguish whether it is depends on God's choice or some creature's.

To repeat, it is a question of where I am the inalienable speaker, and where I stand out most distinctly and even over against God. This happens not where I declare the intelligibility of the world made by God, for others as perspicuous as I can do the same, and so I am replaceable. When it is a matter of my choice and decision and action, however, then I must speak, and no one else, at least originally, even if my speaking my desire is declared only by the action itself that it informs.

Furthermore, the holding off of saying that it is God who speaks when I speak of my desire and will seems important to our being able to speak about prayer in a straightforward way. When I pray, God is not speaking to himself; I am speaking to him. When I petition God, it is not the Holy Spirit who petitions, but it is the Holy Spirit who makes me to petition, through the charity that has been poured into our hearts. (54)

In conjunction with the third point, it seems to follow from this fourth one that, other things being equal, I am more important for my human hearer the less I speak of myself; I am more authoritative the more replaceable I am. The end of the world is truth, as St. Thomas says in the beginning of the Contra Gentiles. And I bring my interlocutor closer to that end when I speak of things as fashioned according to the divine practical intellect and will.

Mention of the Contra Gentiles reminds us of what the world is for. It is the theater of our moral action and the field of our making, the space of both praxis and poesis. But that is penultimate. In the end, the last end, it is for beholding, which is to say, the world is for being displayed, and not to God but to created mind. (55) It can seem as if both speaking and action become forms of a more basic doing, as we saw considering q. 105. Our doings are God's; our displayings are God's doings. He does/creates created doing and he does/creates created displaying. But in the end, the world is made by God, for the display of truth, even though just in itself creation is not the displaying that is speaking. And therefore, we can say that our very doings, done by God, are in the end done for the sake of display. In the natural order, he displays not directly but only through the created displaying of creatures, whose norm is his uncreated will. All created displaying, however, seems to be ordered to his display of himself in vision.


(1.) Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 83, a. 1, c.

(2.) Robert Sokolowski, Introduction to Phenomenology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 50.

(3.) On the semantic and rhetorical uses of speech, see Robert Sokolowski, Moral Action: A Phenomenological Study (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985), 83-84.

(4.) J. L. Austin, How To Do Things with Words, 2nd edition, ed. J. O. Urmson and Marina Sbisa (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1975), 98-99.

(5.) See Joseph Pieper, "God Speaks," in Problems of Modern Faith: Essays and Addresses, trans. Jan van Heurck (Chicago: Franciscan Herald press, 1985), 126.

(6.) On work as the installation of meaning in the worked, see Oliver O'Donovan, The Ways of judgment (Grand Rapids, ML: Eerdmans, 2005), 250-51.

(7.) The idealism of Edouard LeRoy, in the early part of the twentieth century, is a good example of this.

(8.) Walter Ong, SJ, The Presence of the Word: Some Prolegomena for Cultural and Religious History (New Haven and London: Yale University press, 1967), 112, 189.

(9.) Ibid., 112, 113.

(10.) Ibid., 114-15.

(11.) Ibid., 35-36, 53-54.

(12.) Ibid., 182-83.

(13.) Summa Theologiae I, q. 27, a. 2, c.

(14.) Josef Pieper, "God Speaks," 1 27, citing Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 181, a. 3, c: "Locutio est signum audibile interioris conceptus." He later (131) cites Summa Theologiae I, q. 107, a. 1, c, for angelic speaking, where the sense perceivable "audibile" falls out: "Nihil aliud est loqui ad alterum quam conceptum mentis alteri manifestare."

(15.) Pieper, "God Speaks," 145 46.

(16.) In I Sent., d. 27, q. 2, a. 2, sol. 2, ad 3 (my translation); see Pieper, "God Speaks," 144.

(17.) Pieper knows this text but does not exploit it fully; "God Speaks," 145.

(18.) Super Epistolam ad Hebraeos, in S. Thomae Aquinatis Super Epistolas S. Pauh Lectura, vol. 2, ed. Raphaele Cai (Rome: Marietti, 19S3), cap. 1, lect. 1, at 1:2 (#1 S): "Tria requiruntur ad locutionem nostrum. Prime, verbi conceptuo, qua scilicet praecon cipiatur in mente id quod ore loquendum est; secundo ipsius verbi concepti expressio, qua insinuetur quod conceptum est; tertio ipsius rei expressae manifestatio, qua res expressa evidens fiat."

(19.) Ibid.: "prima autem expressio, scilicet in creatione, non ordinatur ad manfestationem. Manifestum est, quod illa expressio non potest dici locutio, et ideo numquam dicitur, quod Deus loquatur creando creaturas, sed quod cognoscatur. Rom 1:20: Invisibilia Dei per ea quae facta Bunt, intellecta conspiciuntur."

(20.) See Super Evangehum S. Ioannis Lectura, ed. Raphaele Cai (Rome: Marietti, 1952), cap. 1, lest. 2, at 1:3 (#77); Summa Theologiae 1, q. 4-5, a. 6, c; and I q. 74, a. 3, ad 1 . See Gilles Emery, OP, "Trinity and Creation," in Trinity in Aquinas (Ypsilanti, ML Sapientia press, 2003), 33-70.

(21.) For prelapsarian man, see Summa Theologiae I, q. 94, a. 1 , and Philip Reynolds, "Spiritual Cognition," The Thomist 67 (2003): Soy-38; for the de jure capacity for a natural knowledge of God, see Vatican I, Dei Fihus, canon 1 of chapter 2, and John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, nos. 19 and 2 2; for our de facto dependence on revelation for the exercise of the natural knowledge of God, see Thomas Prufer, "Creation, Solitude and Publicity," in Recapitulations: Essays in Philosophy (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America press, 1993) 33; Robert Sokolowski, The God of Faith and Reason (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1982) chapters z, 3, and 9; and my "The Natural Knowledge of God in Fides et Ratio," forthcoming.

(22.) See Pius XII, Humani Generis, DS 3891.

(23.) See Bernard Lonergan, Grace and Freedom: Operative Grace in the Thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, ed. J. Patout Burns (New York: Herder and Herder, 1971), chap. 4.

(24.) At In II Sent. d. 9, q. 1, a. 2, ad 4, one can teach by proposing the intelligible object, or providing light, per modum illuminationis. Teaching per modum locution is is a kind of proposing, it seems, and men teach only by speaking; God and angels teach by way of illumination, however. Angels teach by strengthening the natural light, and God by giving it; but since the inferior illuminator does nothing except in virtue of the first illuminator, "it is God himself who teaches all."

(25.) Summa Theologiae I, q. 45, a. 1, c.

(26.) It may be that this is not exclusively a matter of the subordination of creaturely activity, including our own speaking and doing, to God's motion. There is also the central role of form in St. Thomas's understanding both of nature and mind, physical motion and intellectual operation. Motion is the making actual of what is potential, which making actual is the introduction of form. But then knowledge, like being, is also a matter of form. There is introduction of form into matter, and so something comes to be or is modified; and there is introduction of form into mind, learning, which produces the knowing mind. So, just as there is question of the circumstances under which created agents introduce form into matter, so there is question of under what circumstances they introduce or modify form in some created mind. In this light, the distinction between changing things and manifesting things again retires.

(27.) Summa Contra Gentiles III, c. 67 (my translation). That God is more responsible for what the creature does than the creature is an inheritance St. Thomas readily receives from the Book of Causes; see Sancti Thomae de Aquino Super Librum de Causis Expositio, ed. H. D. Saffrey (Fribourg: Societe Philosophique, 1954), the commentary on Proposition i : Omnis causa primaria plus est inlluens super suum causatum quam causa secunda universalis. St. Thomas also receives this Procline inheritance through Denis, for which see, e.g., In Librum Beati Dionysii de Divinis Nominibus Expositio, ed. C. Pera (Rome: Marietti, 1950), C. VIII, lect. 3, #770. He receives this doctrine the more readily in that he finds it concordant with Scripture; for instance, he cites Isaiah 26:12 at Contra Gentiles III, c. 67, "You have wrought for us all our works."

(28.) It may be significant that Contra Gentiles III, c. 67, has it that because God is the cause of causes, the products of nature are attributed to God in Scripture, as for instance God is said to thunder in the heavens (Ps 17:14), but that the products or acts of created persons are not similarly said to be imputed to God.

(29.) Summa Theologiae I-II, q. 79, aa. 1 and 2.

(30.) John Henry Newman, An Essay On the Development of Christian Doctrine (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1909), 79.

(31.) See John Searle, Mind, Language and Society: Philosophy in the Real World (New York: Basic Books, 1998), 144, revising some ideas of Paul Grice: "Communication is peculiar among human actions in that we succeed in producing an intended effect on the hearer by getting the hearer to recognize the intention to produce that very effect. This is not generally the case with human action. We do not generally succeed in our actions just by getting other people to recognize what we are trying to do."

(32.) The same situation seems possible among men. When the abbot sends a "secret consoler" (senpecta) to a monk who has been excommunicated according to chapter 27 of the Holy Rule, does he necessarily know he is being addressed also by the abbot?

(33.) For example, Contra Gentiles III, cc. 69-70.

(34.) The reply to the first objection of article 4 repeats the principle that illumination bespeaks direction to God.

(35.) See James Collins, The Thomistic Philosophy of the Angels (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1947), 297: "In the discussion on angelic knowledge it was established that there is no potentiality in angelic intellect that is not actualized with respect to the natural objects of its cognition. Hence we are here obliged to maintain that one angel illuminates another only concerning those things that exceed the limits of its natural knowledge. These revealed truths bear upon either natural events beyond the ordinary ken of separated substances or the mysteries of grace and glory."

(36.) This is clear also from the prior treatment of the Quaestiones Disputatae de Veritate, q. 9, a. 1, ad 9 Summa Theologiae I, q. 106, article 1, the reply to the second objection, stating that angelic illumination comprises things of nature and of grace and of glory, does not certainly contradict this restriction of illumination to the mysteries.

(37.) See chapters 1 and 3 of the Celestial Hierarchy.

(38.) See also the reply to the third objection: all good and meritorious works are done with the help of the angels.

(39.) It is wonderful to note at the same time that the good of angelic guardianship is a natural good, flowing from the principles of creation and general providence (see q. 113, articles 1 and 5), and that this natural good of angelic illumination and guarding is known, according to the sed contra's of q. 113, from Sacred Scripture and the Fathers.

(40.) See Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 173, a. 4.

(41.) Summa Theologiae I, q. 107, a. 1, c.

(42.) Summa Theologiae I, q. 105, a. 3 .

(43.) Summa Theologiae I, q. 105, a. 4.

(44.) Super Primam Epistolam ad Corinthios Lectura, in S. Thomae Aquinatis Super Epistolas S. Pauli Lectura, Vol. I, ed. Raphaele Cai (Rome: Marietti, 1953), cap. 12, lect. 1 (#718).

(45.) Summa Theologiae I, q. 79, a. 13, c.

(46.) Super Secundam Epistolam ad Corinthios Lectura, S. Thomae Aquinatis Super Epistolas S. Pauli Lectura, vol. 1, ed. Raphaele Cai (Rome: Marietti, 1953), cap. 1, lect. 4 (#31). Commenting on Romans 8:16 itself, however, the Spirit is said to render testimony "through the effect of filial love, which he makes in us"; Super Epistolam ad Romanos Lectura, S. Thomae Aquinatis Super Epistolas S. Pauh Lectura, vol. 1, ed. Raphaele Cai (Rome: Marietti, 1953), cap. 8, lect. 3 (#64S).

(47.) Summa Theologiae I, q. 117, a. 1, ad 1; earlier, Q de Veritate, q. 11, a. 1, c.

(48.) Summa Theologiae I, q. 107, a. 1, c.

(49.) Summa Theologiae I, q. 107, a. 2 c. There may be an exception to be made here for the human will of Christ.

(50.) Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 171, a. 1, c, and q. 178, a. 1, c.

(51.) Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 89, a. 1, c.

(52.) See Bernard Lonergan, Insight: A Study of Human Understanding, 3rd ed. (New York: Philosophical Library, 1970), 658-59.

(53.) See Summa Theologiae I, q. 54, aa. 1-3; Summa Contra Gentiles II, cc. 53-54.

(54.) Super Epistolam ad Romanos Lectura, cap. 8 (at vs. 26), lect. 5 (#693).

(55.) See John H. Wright, SJ, The Order of the Universe in the Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas (Rome: Gregorian University press, 1957), 51-57, 63-72.
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Date:Jun 22, 2007
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