Natural Desire for God: Aquinas Lectures (Aquinas Lecture by William Richard O'Connor

By William Richard O'Connor

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He is a contributor to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Nelson's Encyclopedia, Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses, Thought, Theological Studies, The Jurist, The New Scholasticism, The American Ecclesiastical Review, The Homiletic and Pastoral Review, The Commonweal, The English Clergy Review, The Irish Ecclesiastical Record. Besides contributing to scholarly journals and periodicals, Father O'Connor has published three books: Page vii The Layman's Call, P. J. Kennedy and Sons, New York, 1942. Sermon Outlines, Newman Bookshop, Westminster, Maryland, 1945.

Thomas Aquinas no created intellect tends by its nature towards a direct and immediate vision of God as its natural end. The analogy of being makes this impossible. Knowledge always takes place according to the way in which the knowing subject exists. Where the mode of being of an object altogether transcends the mode of being of the knower, a direct knowledge of the essence of such an object is above the nature of the knower. God's mode of being is, as it were, to be subsisting being; every creature, spiritual or material, is not subsisting being but a compound of essence and existence.

24 These divine prime movers, in their intense self-concentration, are not even aware of the train of astral lovers following them around in eternal circular movement. We have here a genuine doctrine of natural desire, for "upon such a principle [sc. "25 Because the prime mover is also a God, we may call this a Page 11 natural desire for God. It is, however, a natural desire for God only as a source of motion and not as the source and end of being. It may be questioned whether the notion of God is any more relevant in the philosophy of Aristotle than it is in the philosophies of Plato and of Plotinus, in spite of the advantage Aristotle's God enjoys in being identified with his first philosophical principle.

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