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Re: [thomism] Aquinas on sex between infertiles

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  • Anthony Crifasi
    The same word is used by Aquinas to describe virginity: It would seem that the Mother of God did not take a vow of virginity. For it is written (Dt. 7:14
    Message 1 of 56 , Aug 26, 2013
      The same word is used by Aquinas to describe virginity: "It would seem that the Mother of God did not take a vow of virginity. For it is written (Dt. 7:14): 'No one shall be barren [sterilis] among you of either sex.' But sterility [sterilitas] is a consequence of virginity." (ST III.28.5.o1)

      So the word is here used in a context that clearly implies *no* chance of conception (virginity). As for Natural Family Planning, I would have to think about what Aquinas would say regarding its possible contraceptive use.


      On Mon, Aug 26, 2013 at 1:18 PM, Jude Chua Soo Meng <judechua@...> wrote:
       

      Thanks Anthony, this is useful.

      I must say, looking at the English translation, it does not seem to read that way.  But if sterilem is used, then perhaps we have to grasp what precisely that means for Aquinas, and how (sterilem) barren is taken precisely to mean.  I wonder if Aquinas might have commented on the story about Abraham's wife.  Using the word barren might complicate matters, for what I am thinking, so I will stick with the latin.  

      I am thinking: Does being sterilem mean for Aquinas, that there is absolutely no chance of conception, or that there is close to no chance of conception - but there is still a natural possibility?  Was Sarah's conception of Isaac considered a miracle? I mean, when God told Abraham to have sex with Sarah, and when she conceived, was it (1) she could never have naturally conceived and a miraculous intervention occured, or (2) there was a very puny chance she could conceive naturally, maybe she had that one last egg lodged there somewhere, and God, knowing this, told Abraham to go for it, and viola, which looks like a miracle, but is in fact not.   This would help us, it seems to me, grasp the meaning of sterilem more precisely. For it is (1), then sterilem means truly that there's no chance of conception, but if (2), then sterilem here refers to a scenario where there is still a mere chance of nturally conceiving. And if (2), then one could say that postmenopausal women still may in principle have a chance of conception - look at the case with Sarah! I am curious what the doctors would say. I understand menopause is a gradual affair. 

      (I do apologize for this very unusal interest in menopause in women!!; I;m thinking through some of my own ideas in my paper about marriage and where and how and in what context is sex virtuous, and procreative intention needed).

      The other question that I have is, whether it is not impossible to practice "Natural Family Planning" in a contraceptive way, and I wonder what Aquinas might say to that. Suppose a man and a women are absolutley certain (of course no one can be but suppose for arguments sake they do think that way) that one certain days they cannot possibly conceive: would one not say that in having sex, they did not at all intend to procreate, and this intended not to procreate? 



      Jude


      From: Anthony Crifasi <crifasian@...>
      To: thomism@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Sunday, 25 August 2013, 3:11

      Subject: Re: [thomism] Aquinas on sex between infertiles

       
      The Latin word Aquinas uses is sterilem, which means barren. (It is used regularly in the Vulgate in that way - e.g. to describe Abraham's wife, Sarah.) When Aquinas says a woman who "happens" to be barren, he doesn't mean a woman who sometimes is and sometimes isn't. He's saying that her sterility is *accidental* to the situation. In other words, he's saying that it's not unnatural for men to have sex with women, even if the woman happens to be a sterile one. That's what "happens to be" means.

      On Sat, Aug 24, 2013 at 1:44 PM, Jude Chua Soo Meng <judechua@...> wrote:
       
      By "happens to be sterile" does he mean at the period of time when the woman is sterile between other possibly NONsterile periods, as would be the case for a woman who had not yet experienced menopause - afterall, there is still the chance that she can get pregnant, and its' hard to tell for sure. In this sense one speaks of a women who "happens to be" sterile. 

      But a woman who has had menopause is certainly sterile, and is not someone who "happens to be" sterile in the same sense. I don't know what the Latin is, but has he ever taken into account post-menopausal women?  If a woman who has had menopause, it is not quite correct to say that she "happens to be" sterile (at the time of intercourse). You just dont talk like that.  

      In the same way, you might say that, the man was drunk and so happens not to be rational - because you would think in other sober times he can still be rational. Whereas if you spoke of a brute, it would seem odd to say that, look here is a brute, a donkey say, and oh, the donkey "happens to be" irrational.   Or you would speak of a woman who typically on many occasion ovulates, and on this occasion "happens not to ovulate", but you would not say of a man, who has no womb nor eggs, that he "happens not to be" ovulating.  You see what I mean?

      Thanks
      Jude


      From: Anthony Crifasi <crifasian@...>
      To: thomism@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Sunday, 25 August 2013, 0:42
      Subject: Re: [thomism] Aquinas on sex between infertiles

       


      On Fri, Aug 23, 2013 at 3:44 AM, Jude Chua Soo Meng <judechua@...> wrote:
       
      Do you think Aquinas would say that an infertile couple (not just unlikely to conceive, but cannot conceive), say a woman who has had menopause and her husband, can have sex?

      Jude









    • jamesmiguez
      Aquinas relates all truth to the First Truth which is God. And all words to the Word of God, which is the Second Person of the Trinity. It doesn t matter,
      Message 56 of 56 , Nov 15, 2013

        Aquinas relates all truth to the First Truth which is God.  And all words to the Word of God, which is the Second Person of the Trinity.  It doesn't matter, temporarily speaking, where human knowledge begins.  It's where it ends qualitatively that counts.  Philosophically speaking, and in terms of anthropology, Aquinas takes the pain to demonstrate the non material nature of the human soul.  Metaphysically, the principles of philosophy are self-evident (apart from matter) and the knowledge of essence (universal and extending across time) intelligently abstracted.  The truth of the essence meanwhile is affirmed in existence -- by the judgement taken from sense knowledge -- the no nonsense verdict -- that the thing, the composite of essence and existence, real being, it is, it exists.  This real thing has virtue and quality that is experienced. Moreover Aquinas shows, following Augustine, the three-fold nature of the word: 1) the word as it exists in sound (physics), 2) the word as it exists in the imagination (psychological, conventional), and three the word as it exists in the heart (intellectual, spiritual) without physics or imagination. 


        So it lacking in intelligence to try to see everything simply in terms of word games.  Which we know from experience always leads to abuse and despotism.  


        Without universal knowledge we know very well what to expect -- ignorance.


        Metaphysics cannot be reduced to matter, or words to imagination.


        It is against this ignorance that Aquinas teaches, even unto the knowledge and understanding of God, who is no figment.


        Although our bodies are material, our souls are higher, non material, and this is known based upon experience and sound judgment.  So it is no emotive release to speaker of higher science, but fact.


        To be conscious of this fact and to apply it rigorously.


        This is thomism.  It is both wisdom and science.  It is wisdom because it understands first truth and philosophical principle, and science because it can conclude


        James





        ---In thomism@yahoogroups.com, <gottlos752004@...> wrote:

        " Essence is the object, along with existence, of metaphysics, which as a science is higher and more comprehensive than that of natural philosophy."
        --
        But did not Aquinas say all knowledge was primary grounded in sense knowledge? Therefore purely emotional evaluative epithets such as "higher" and "more comprehensive" are merely words literally invented by "language" - nitty ritty: English, since there is no such thing as "language" per se and therefore "language" always has to be specific and connected primarily and solely to the material, sensual fundament of a real language based upon accidental circumstances of material history. And does "history" , material or 'otherwise' only in the mind of the single, unique person reading, contemplating, imagining it into what he speculates 'fairy tale' wise as the interconnections of mial causes he had no experience of whatsoever other than ABSOLUTELY verbal? Ergo "language", that is, "essence" is just a water bubble out of mud?
        --
        Gary C. Moore


        On Friday, November 15, 2013 9:00 AM, "jamesmiguez@..." <jamesmiguez@...> wrote:
         
        You cannot "suppose" that things such knives, technological achievements, icons, culture, art are circumscribed by natural philosophy.  Essence is the object, along with existence, of metaphysics, which as a science is higher and more comprehensive than that of natural philosophy.  Nor can you suppose that such things, existing in reality, have only accidental forms.  The question of essence, strictly speaking, belongs to metaphysics, and to speak of such things as knives, technological achievements, icons, culture, art as though they had no essence (that is, only accidental form) is to speak non-nonsensically.  Such empty talk involves contradiction.  Accidental forms must adhere in an essence.  To the extreme, it is cynical behavior.

        It is precisely metaphysics that Aristotle brings into his discussion on natural philosophy to clarify materialism part and parcel of pre-Socratic views.  Thomas of course follows suit.  But goes further by synthesizing the philosophical disciplines with theology and preaching.

        So it is completely against truth and thomism itself to advocate natural philosophy as the reduction of higher metaphysical concerns.

        Aquinas' views are much much grand and his scope vast.

        James 


        ---In thomism@yahoogroups.com, <judechua@...> wrote:

        A quick question: 
        supposing that all artifical forms are accidental forms, can it still be said that such an accidental form had a nature, and thus a certain quality with its goals etc? An iron knife, whilst iron, seems still to have certain natures proper to its accidental form, being the form of a knife.  We would speak of such a "nature" as its affordance, correct?


        On Tuesday, 20 August 2013, 23:32, James <jamesmiguez@...> wrote:
         
        But the accidental unity does not account for the design.   The accidental unity is the result of natural forces (no self-consciousness and hence no self-direction). However We are speaking of human artifacts, not merely inorganic conglomerations.

        So natural philosophy here (pace Aristotle) has no final verdict, no insight-- because it cannot go beyond the accidental subsistence of material being.  It cannot render judgment on whether or not human artifacts contain an essence or an extension of human soul.

        James


        --- In thomism@yahoogroups.com, Anthony Crifasi wrote:
        >
        > The fact that a ship lacks an essential unity doesn't mean it lacks an
        > accidental unity. It's in virtue of that accidental unity (e.g. the parts
        > are still arranged the same way, serve the same external purpose...) that
        > we can still call it the same ship. Remember that for Aquinas, "one" has
        > just as many senses as "being," so even if an accidental being has no
        > essential principle of unity, there can still be a principle of accidental
        > unity.
        >
        >
        > On Mon, Aug 12, 2013 at 3:58 AM, Jude Chua Soo Meng judechua@...wrote:
        >
        > > **
        > >
        > >
        > > I am reminded of this puzzle in Aristotle, and perhaps Aquinas commented
        > > on it. I will look it up
        > >
        > > It involved the question whether the ship was still the same ship if we
        > > changed it plank by plank. Now in the light of Aquinas' idea of artifacts
        > > and the lck of an essence thereof, this would seem like a trick question:
        > > Well, to be honest, there was no "ship" in the first place! It was planks
        > > all along.
        > >
        > >
        > > http://www.amazon.co.uk/Aquinas-Ship-Theseus-Continuum-Philosophy/dp/082647828X
        > >
        > > I can only find the link to this book. Maybe the library deserves a copy!
        > >
        > > ------------------------------
        > > *From:* Jude Chua Soo Meng judechua@...
        > > *To:* "thomism@yahoogroups.com" thomism@yahoogroups.com
        > > *Sent:* Monday, 12 August 2013, 13:12
        > >
        > > *Subject:* Re: [thomism] Re: Aquinas on nature, essence
        > >
        > >
        > > Even if this is Aquinas' view, I still find it rather peculiar, than I am
        > > forced, as a thomist to deny that there is really "what-is a table" there,
        > > and can only say that, to be accurate, here's only a collection of wood and
        > > metal, etc.and that is all that what is here before us is. This is what it
        > > is: not a table, but a collection of metal and wood. It seems a very odd
        > > way of speaking.
        > >
        > > Jude
        > >
        > > ------------------------------
        > > *From:* Anthony Crifasi crifasian@...
        > > *To:* thomism@yahoogroups.com
        > > *Sent:* Monday, 12 August 2013, 8:40
        > > *Subject:* Re: [thomism] Re: Aquinas on nature, essence
        > >
        > >
        > > James, here's a text on artifacts having nothing more than accidental
        > > unity: "when a statue made from bronze the bronze which is in potency to
        > > the form of the statue is the matter; the shapeless or undisposed something
        > > is the privation; and the shape because of which is called a statue is the
        > > form. But it is not a substantial form because the bronze, before it
        > > receives the shape, has existence in act and its existence does not depend
        > > upon that shape; rather it is an accidental form, because ALL ARTIFICIAL
        > > FORMS ARE ACCIDENTAL. Art operates only on that which is already
        > > constituted in existence by nature." (De Principiis Naturae:
        > > http://dhspriory.org/thomas/DePrincNaturae.htm)
        > >
        > > Here's another: "we are now speaking of nature as it signifies the
        > > essence, or the "what-it-is," or the quiddity of the species. Now, if we
        > > take nature in this way, it is impossible that the union of Incarnate Word
        > > took place in the nature. For one thing is made of two or more in three
        > > ways. First, from two complete things which remain in their perfection.
        > > This can only happen to those whose form is composition, order, or figure,
        > > as a heap is made up of many stones brought together without any order, but
        > > solely with juxtaposition; and a house is made of stones and beams arranged
        > > in order, and fashioned to a figure... But this cannot be. First,
        > > because Neither Composition Nor Order Nor Figure Is A Substantial Form, But
        > > Accidental; and hence it would follow that the union of Incarnation was not
        > > essential, but accidental, which will be disproved later on. Secondly,
        > > because thereby we should not have an absolute unity, but relative only,
        > > for there remain several things actually. Thirdly, because the form of such
        > > is not a nature, but an art, as the form of a house; and thus one nature
        > > would not be constituted in Christ, as they wish." (ST III.2.1:
        > > http://www.newadvent.org/summa/4002.htm#article1)
        > >
        > > Aquinas' view is not that the elements in a table have an essence, but
        > > that the parts of a table do - e.g. wood, metal, etc. These aren't Aquinas'
        > > elements (earth, air, fire, water), but they still exist actually after
        > > being arranged into a table, and therefore have actual essences.
        > >
        > > On Sun, Aug 11, 2013 at 3:30 PM, James jamesmiguez@... wrote:
        > >
        > > **
        > >
        > > Anthony,
        > >
        > > I am not sure that your view of a table as an accident is correct. You
        > > seem to be taking a lower level view that the elements do indeed have an
        > > essence (although this essence is unknown to us, as Aquinas points out).
        > > So it is not known to us, but you affirm it. How? Accidentally through
        > > signs.
        > >
        >
        > Where is the textual support that a table is an accident? Even so, to
        > > proceed from signs marking an unknown essence (knowledge from senses), and
        > > to draw conclusions based upon this unknown, and to juxtapose the teaching
        > > of substance and accident is itself an accident! There is no *per se *
        > > cause!
        > >
        > > This is what I mean by lower level view. Based upon senses (knowledge *per
        > > accidens*) and imaginatively configured to theory. Intelligence however
        > > operates *per se* through knowledge of essence and judgement.
        > >
        > > Such is not found in recourse to physics-based natural philosophy alone.
        > > It requires greater matrix.
        > >
        > > Perhaps you
        understand.
        > >
        > > Best,
        > >
        > > James
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        >




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