Friday, June 15, 2007

The wise man, cont.

So, one more note on the wise man.

It's not enough to say the wise man is the one who contemplates the first causes or principles of things. As human beings, we want one thing above all: happiness. We want to know and run after what appears good to us.

The wise man, however, does not run after something simply because it looks good. He runs after it because it is good. That is, in knowing the source of all things, he knows the good of all things. He knows the good of himself.

The good for man lies in his source, in the first cause of all things. For Aristotle, it all comes back to the source. The first cause is also the end (the fixed goal) for which we long. If all of us by nature desire wisdom, we find wisdom in knowing our source and our end, our cause and our good.

Of course, in the Catholic tradition this Aristotelian thinking has helped lead to the contemplation of God as our source and our final rest.

It also has meant, however, that wherever human beings are, there is a search for their source going on. That is why Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI could say that there is at least some truth in every human religion: in all ages and cultures, the wise man contemplates his source and his good. That's a huge can of worms, so I'll submit it to the priests, prophets, and kings, and move on...

But the main point is this: the lover of wisdom (yes, the philosopher!) is the one who articulates the truth of the first causes and principles and the truth about the good of all things. Rock on, philosopher moms, rock on.

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