Date of Award
Dissertation - Restricted
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Beatrice H. Zidler
John O. Riedl
James H. Robb
Michael V. Murray
In the absence of an ex professo treatment of knowledge by connaturality by St. Thomas, it is necessary to derive his understanding of the nature of this type of knowledge from his treatment of its instances, i.,e., the moral judgment of the virtuous man and the judgment arising from the gift of wisdom. What is the role of the inclinations or the affections in each of these instances?
In the area of moral knowledge, the affections as perfected by the moral virtues have a two-fold function in relation to knowledge. First, in regard to discovering and judging the objective moral good on the level of means to the end, the affections operate only indirectly and dispositively (although they operate intrinsically and essentially in transposing the objective moral judgment into a moral choice). Secondly, the affections perfected by the moral virtues actually constitute affective or experiential knowledge of moral goodness or virtue as a subjective affective state. But since this experiential know ledge of the moral good is posterior in nature to the moral judgment it does not constitute a separate independent means of discovering the objective moral good on the level of means ( although it is possible that it does so in regard to natural ends).
In the area of mystical knowledge, the affections have a three-fold relation to knowledge. First, charity disposes to the action of the Holy Spirit and therefore to the knowledge which comes from the gifts. Secondly, it constitutes affective, experiential knowledge of God's goodness, of God as final cause and object of beatitude. And thirdly, charity in its perfection as love of true friendship leads to and partly constitute that real union through assimilation which makes possible a knowledge of God through similitude.
It is impossible, then, to discuss knowledge by connaturality, i.e. knowledge through loving union, without distinguishing between the different stages of love and the different types of union involved. First, there is the stage of adaptation to or resting in the object loved. This is the stage of "affective union" which is the essence of love and which constitutes affective, experiential knowledge of the good. Secondly, there is the stage of desire or tending to the object loved. Love as desire has a dispositive relation to know ledge. Thirdly, there is the stage of final resting in the object obtained. This is the "real union" which is the effect of love. In the love of friend ship this real union consists in an assimilation to the beloved which makes possible a knowledge of the beloved through similitude.
If any priority can be assigned to these different meanings of affective knowledge, it would seem that first place should go to that affective, experiential knowledge of the good which constitutes love essentially. Secondly, affective knowledge can mean that knowledge by similitude which results from the real union which is the effect of love. Finally, affective knowledge can also be applied to knowledge in which the affections play a dispositive role, but even here there seems to be an order of priority. It applies more properly to practical knowledge where the end is the principle, and to knowledge which can only be had in virtue of a prior disposition in love, e.g. faith and knowledge of other persons. It is less applicable, if at all, to knowledge which is merely, as a matter of fact, influenced or commanded by the affections, e.g. judgments based on custom, prejudice, etc.