Author Archives: Tony Hunt

Bulgakov and Hooker’s First Divine Law

In I.ii-iii, Hooker, somewhat against general theological wisdom, posited two divine laws rather than one. The second is the law that orders all natural laws – what is generally thought of as the only divine law – but the first is the law that God established for himself to work by.

God is infinite and totally free, but in order to create, inasmuch as a creation necessitates a work fitting to or appropriate for finite existence, God must first determine the way he will work with respect to what is not him. So, since a law is a limit, and since God is limitless, his actions are “naturally” infinite but must be (or are meet to be) “finite” with respect to his working in creation.

Hooker says that some consider a law that which has a superior force at work over it, but he differs in saying that it is rather a boundary. Since God has no superior force over him that causes him to create, yet since he must act finitely in order to create, he imposes freely a limit on his acting, which is a properly called a law by Hooker. (I continue to wonder to myself the ways this differs from the contemporary post-barthian strain that wishes at all times to stress the will of God to be what he wills to be. Sometimes it seems to me that God’s will becomes it’s own primordial “thing” that establishes a law even over God’s being. But I would need to read the sources more closely to confirm this)

Since this law is a boundary for himself and is prior to creation, then there is left still the law that will directly govern creation, yet since this must be dependent on what is superior (since creation does not create itself), namely God, then this law too must be an eternal rather than a natural law. The one for himself the other for all else. From the second issue all the various laws specific to each form.

Now to Bulgakov. Bulgakov doesn’t use the same kind of vocabulary as Hooker and the method of the two are quite far apart, but I was reading The Lamb of God recently and came across this passage:

“A distinction thus enters into our idea of Divinity: the distinction between the life of God according to Himself, as He is in His unchangeable essence, and His life for Himself, as He lives out His essence for Himself in the living act. Here He has the power to change for Himself the mode of the living out of his essence. … For God, self-limitation or, in general, distinction in the mode of the living out of the divine fullness is determined only by God Himself; it is the realization of His aseity and freedom.” 221-223

He goes on to argue against there being any necessity in God’s being and work, which is also a theme in this passage in Hooker. Here we see, I think, two ways of parsing a common insight; the one fairly old and the other quite contemporary and even controversial (I mean Bulgakov’s christology more broadly). It is fascinating to me to see the two come up next to each other. An odd couple indeed.

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Book V, Chapters II-IV : Hooker’s Triumphal Return To The Blogosphere

Tony Hunt

Life happens, and it has happened. Having needed some time to tend to matters domestic, I am now in a place to return to the regular upkeep of this blog, the neglect of which falls to me and not my esteemed coauthor Robb.

Chapter IV brings us to the edge of Hooker’s main engagement with critics of the Church of England’s public worship and so it seemed like a fitting place to stop. Our pace will have to be a bit brisker for Bk V, given its length.

I think if there was any doubt, a cursory read of these first chapters of V lay to rest any attempt to claim that Hooker is a political liberal – in the full modern and historical sense of that word. In point of fact, he would be deeply opposed to the kind of anthropology that lies at the base of political schemes that would come after him.

Proper religion, he tells us in chapter I, is the foundation of all good politics. There are two main forms that religion takes: An “inward reasonable” and a “solemn outward serviceable worship. Of the former kind are all manner of virutuous duties that each man in reason and conscience to Godward oweth. Solemn and serviceable…[are] whatsoever belongeth to the Church or public society of God by way of external adoration.” V.iv.3

If all people were properly religious, he says, then there would in fact be no need for laws in the first place, because the person governed by the Spirit has no need of other restraints from evil. Justice and right do not depend on positive laws, and what is truly just is something that is discerned, not simply applied.

There are several distortions of religion which do not lead to justice. Zeal is problematic when it is not properly ordered; without a “sober guide” zeal leads to conflict as well as destructive judgement: “through hatred of tares the corn in the field of God is plucked up.” Fear is another. Fear squeezes out wisdom and reflection. The person ruled by it distorts who God is, and so is led to “superstitions,” to frenzied attempts to appease an angry God. Undistorted religion leads to governors and people who do not do good for fear of punishment, or for personal gain and glory, but for a genuine love of justice.

But for Hooker, “The most extreme opposite to true religion is affected atheism.” But before this is taken in some triumphal manner, I think it’s important not to miss what are the fruits of “affected atheism.” By this he does not mean that “not believing in God” is the opposite of “true religion;” rather it is that “impiety which is a resolved purpose of mind to reap in this world what sensual profit or pleasure soever the world yieldeth, and not to be barred from any whatsoever means available thereunto.” Perhaps I should put that in block quotes.

Atheism is that “impiety which is a resolved purpose of mind to reap in this world what sensual profit or pleasure soever the world yieldeth, and not to be barred from any whatsoever means available thereunto.”

Here, I think, is a very clear statement underlining the fundamental disagreement between Hooker and “liberal” politics, including – obviously! – the capitalist economics that come with them.  Any political scheme that imagines social engagement is one of navigating the self-interested desires of people so as to maximize negative freedom cannot be one that Hooker would sign up for. Any economics that imagines the public good is achieved not by submission of vice to virtue but by the overflow of people acting in their own supposedly rational self-interests would thus fall short as well. Indeed, Hooker might call such a political economy an atheist one!

I’m not trying to bring Hooker into modern politics in some simple anachronistic way. In fact I think it is going to be exceedingly difficult to bring book V into the present insomuch as we don’t have the same political situation anymore. Hooker’s book is a book that is only possible in a ‘christendom society’ where one is able to talk about public polity and public worship as if they belong together (Please do not take my use of ‘christendom’ to be negative; only descriptive). Nevertheless, to the extent that capitalism and secular politics are embraced by Christians in the west, Hooker may very well end up being very useful to dispel myths and recreate Christian political imaginations.

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Leithart on “The Perils of Natural Law”

However much it pains me to link to First Things, I do appreciate me some Leithart. This piece is right on, in my opinion. Granted I don’t care about being a faithful Reformed theologian, but…

“For Herdt, the cautionary tale of this history (I have only touched on her richly detailed discussion) is not simply that natural law is ill-suited to being “a source of substantive action-guiding moral norms” or “providing concrete ethical knowledge.” The peril is that when Reformed thinkers have looked to natural law for such norms and such knowledge, they have inadvertently “created pressures that tend to empty out the substance of key Reformed commitments that animated Calvin’s thought, leaving behind intuitionist appeals to conscience, empiricist appeals to human nature, or unstable conflations of the two.” Not only did the weakening of theological commitments encourage shifts in the understanding of natural law. The deeper peril was that certain uses of natural law corrode Reformed theological commitments. Herdt goes so far as to suggest that “the secularization of modern natural law discourse is directly linked to pressures exerted by the hope and expectation that the natural law could provide such norms.”

Chapters XV & XVI & Closing Reflections on Book I & Theological Blogging

Tony Hunt

Chapter XV is really the final chapter of positive instruction in Book I; XVI being a summary and conclusion. The main point of XV is that there are Laws which differ in degree and in authority. There are laws that are positive but are also ‘divine;’ yet not all positive laws are binding, only such as give political force to more universal laws. There are laws that individuals impose on themselves, and which might even engender good, which do not have the force of public law. When such (legitimate) individual conscience is used either to exempt oneself from public laws or to attempt to impose such laws on the public, unrest follows.

Chapter XVI, aside from offering a concise and helpful summation of the main points considered in Book I, also explains that while some might consider Book I superfluous, it is meant to provide a larger schema as to the toloi of laws in their kind. If such considerations were not examined, it would be all the more difficult to judge the matters to which Hooker is going to attend. And in Book II he jumps right in with considerations of Ecclesiastical laws; and having done this legwork, he is able to show – or at least argue – how laws in England, both civil and religious, fail or do not to work toward their proper ends.

I don’t know about other people but I found Book I to be an entirely worthwhile read, even in those sections where Hooker was addressing topics that bore me, or where the spirit of his age was most obvious. Overall I found the very manner of discourse – his measured and rigorous arguments, and his delightful Early Modern English prose – not only enjoyable but worthy of emulating. He clearly cares about the people involved, perhaps especially those against whom he is polemicizing, whom he takes seriously enough to compose so large a work as the Laws. Before I reread this book, I was confused about ‘Natural Law;’ I didn’t know what to think about it, how to accuse it, defend it, or describe it. I found that Hooker does not fit well with modern Natural Law theology, even with the doctrines of those who are supposedly dependent on him. Much of what I thought I had against Natural Law I found was against a particular kind of Natural Law, and problems I imagined I would have with Hooker were often dissolved on close reading. None of which is to say that I think Hooker can simply be bought; hook, line, and sinker. Nevertheless I was surprised by how relevant he is to contemporary disputes in theology. I think that Stanley Hauerwas’ With The Grain of The Universe is a necessary conversation partner, as is Ephraim Radner’s The World In The Shadow of God – among others. Work in aesthetics, for instance, can helpfully supplement Hooker, which tends to be able to talk about fundamental realities while avoiding rationalism. I look forward to seeing how all of this relates to Book V, which Robb and I will begin work on next.

Finally, I wanted to say that I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished here. There has been enough junk going on in our lives – perhaps especially mine – so as to prevent us from always blogging as regularly as we had planned, but precisely because we were conservatively realistic in scheduling were we able to let a couple weeks pass between posts without the blog dissolving entirely. While it may be true that the initial wave of internet theology blogging has passed – and I’m trying not to sound hyperbolic here – I think that this little blog, read by like three people, is one of the more serious theology blogs that I know of. Blogs that are going to plow through the Dogmatics spring up like flowers but their output dies out just as quickly; we were able to keep things going. Thanks to Chris Green and Benjamin Guyer for commenting and thanks to Robb for being so patient with me and for all his great work.

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Book I Chapter XII

Tony

To our three readers, I do apologize for having taken such a long break in what already is a generous posting schedule. I’ll not bore you with all the details but instead shall endeavor to continue commentary on Book I, which is not too far from coming to a close, after which we shall begin the monumental and amazing Book V.

Having just stated that there are no natural means of salvation, and assuming the framework he has already been working with, Hooker examines “The cause why so many natural or rational Laws are set down in Holy Scripture.” The question must be raised given the focus Hooker has placed on the knowability by Reason of natural laws. Both this and the previous chapter help to address questions I have been consistently asking and ones that are unavoidable for those who have made the post-critical turn: If there are all these Laws that are supposedly able to be known by all people endowed with Reason, why is it that so many are not known and even outright rejected in entire societies? I presciently knew a bit about this because of the essays on Hooker which I have read by Rowan Williams — for whom, following a rather recent tradition of Hooker interpretation, Hooker is not so much a classical “Natural Law” theologian of the 18th and 19th C. school but one who, in a patristic and scholastic synthesis, chastened any naive notion of simple Natural Law with an ascetical theology that knows the tendency of humans to pervert reason through sin. Hooker states that the reason there are so many natural laws in Scripture is because not everybody is actually skilled with reason enough to know natural laws. Moreover, we don’t know many natural laws because of “imbecility.”

Again, being so prone as we are to fawn upon ourselves, and to be ignorant as much as may be of our own deformities, without the feeling sense whereof we are most wretched; even so much the more, because not knowing them we cannot so much as desire to have them taken away; how should our festered sores be cured, but that God hath delivered a law as sharp as the two-edged sword, piercing the very closest and most unsearchable corners of the heart, which the Law of Nature can hardly, human laws by no means possible, reach unto?

All in all, we’re messed up, and often don’t even know when we’re messed up, so we’re helped along by Scripture containing Natural Laws, seeing as without such help, who knows when we’d stumble upon even some basic natural laws? For Hooker, it’s not enough simply to say that it is difficult to discern even natural laws because of the Fall. He goes further: It is practically impossible for fallen humanity to know such things as they ought to know for salvation, and so “that which is desired naturally must now be supernaturally attained.”

Here, I believe, is the “post-liberal” avenue into Natural Law in Hooker. The reason we will need to check Reason against Revelation is because we are prone to fawn upon ourselves, prone to be convinced of convenient untruths even in the name of tradition.

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Book I Chapter 10: 8-15

– Tony

In the previous subsections Hooker has differentiated Natural laws and Positive laws; he here moves on to consider other kinds of differentiations within laws. In positive he hits on these three:

Mixedly human laws – These are laws that are required to be followed by Reason but which for one cause or another are not. In order to correct this, the force of positive law is needed, though I imagine Hooker would say that this is unfortunate. Hooker hits an interesting note here, helpful for those of us curious about the relationship between the reformation of laws and the discernment of Reason. Here, as he already has done, Hooker draws attention to customs, such as polygamy, which appear to be founded on Reason and have the force of tradition, yet which must be corrected for their unreasonableness. Unfortunately he is silent on just how it is that there is a persistent disconnect between what is, in his mind, manifestly true and understandable by Reason, and what is not. There are ways of discerning the strength of a law or belief that aid us in judging the reasonableness of this or that, but it is never quite so clear as one might desire. While I appreciate this unwillingness to say too much — Hooker’s natural apophaticism shines through — I’m yet looking for the, to use a convenient word, “apocalyptic” freedom or impulse that might open the critical space to test Reason.

Merely human laws – These are laws that, though guided by what is public good (since all laws are enacted by politic societies), are local, contextual, and not universally binding.

Law of nations – Within these laws there are primary and secondary laws; Primary Laws of Nations are “sincere” and not-fallen in nature. An interesting way to put it to be sure as Hooker has previously laid out that laws are only framed correctly when humans are assumed to be fallen. Examples of this law are hospitality for strangers and laws concerning ambassadors. Secondary Laws of Nations are those that are necessary only because of the fallenness of people and their nations. Laws having to do with war and arms and the like.

The differentiation between primary and secondary is interesting, but some things about it become clearer when looked at in conjunction with other things he says here. Consider this quote:

“We covet (if it might be) to have a kind of society and fellowship even with all mankind.” 10.12

There are several other such quotes. Not only does Hooker, following Aristotle, consider humans a political animal, but he thinks that humans by nature desire universal fellowship. Why would this be the case? Surely if a local political society was well run and allowed for the good life among its citizens, it would be a matter of indifference to “have fellowship” with distant societies? But Hooker says that having fellowship with other societies brings about many goods. We need other people in order to enter most fully into our nature. See the opening lines to the chapter 11.

Might we say, then, that the unfallen nature of humanity longs for the Church? The unlimited peaceful fellowship of gift giving and receiving with and from other humans? I honestly don’t think this a stretch at all. Because this unity is not only for commerce but simply for the good of knowing and being in relation with others. In fact I think it hews quite closely to Hooker here, and it’s something I aim to explore more fully in the future. In Bulgakov’s terminology we could say that Divine-humanity longs for its sophianicity to become full in sobornost.

There are two other little things I wished to note:

– Hooker says that “The chiefest instrument of human communion therefore is speech, because thereby we impart mutually one to another the conceits of our reasonable understanding.” – 10.12 I wonder, if I might be allowed a moment of pure speculation, if certain animals could speak and “impart their conceits” to us, whether we could, indeed whether we might not be required, to enter into a fuller communion with them. I’m thinking in the back of my mind of the talking beasts in Lewis, both in the Narnia books and in Out of the Silent Planet.

– Something else that will be important to think about concerning canon law and even ecumenism is Hooker’s thought on Church councils. General councils enact the “Law of nations” between churches. I’m curious to learn how Hooker differentiates churches and what he thinks of the empirical church. Obviously the Church is not limited to the “physical Church,” including as it does the “spiritual Church,” yet he calls the Church a “spiritual society” here. I don’t really have any specific questions yet, I’m noting only my curiosity.

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Book I. Chapter 9.

At a mere two sections, chapter 9 is nonetheless an important transitional chapter, forming a bridge from the serious and eternal laws of God, of creation, of angels, and of humans, to positive and political laws created by humans for humans. That is, we are moving from divine and immutable laws to mutable human laws, which creating nonetheless does mimic God’s own creating enacting of laws.

There is an answer to an unasked question here: “Why should humans bother with conforming to the laws of their own nature?” The reason is, “Because it’s good for you!” Not only that we receive natural goods now, but that we receive them at God’s judgment. Moreover, not conforming to God’s will for us not only throws us in disarray, but creation itself. I can’t resist quoting Hooker here. (Am I the only one learning to truly love his prose?)

“Let any principal thing, as the sun, the moon, any one of the heavens or elements, but once cease or fail, or swerve, and who doth not easily conceive that the sequel thereof would be ruin both to itself and whatsoever dependeth on it? And is it possible, that Man being not only the noblest creature in the world, but even a very world in himself, his transgressing the Law of his Nature should draw no manner of harm after it?”

The rest of the chapter is fairly self-explanatory. I think it would be possible to fill in his picture of various ways of breaking the will by an examination of Romans 7 and how St. Paul finds “another will” at work inside him.

Of things that I am anxious to see develop in Hooker, an important one is whether the salvation we receive in Christ supersedes our “nature” or whether it merely restores it. In Christ are we only given again that nature we were first given, or does the Incarnation in fact elevate us further up? Is the second Adam greater than the first? I am hoping it is the case that he sees salvation, as in St. Gregory of Nyssa, as an infinite progress. It’s my conviction that “natural law” must always be relativized, or perhaps qualified, by a faith in transfiguration, and in transubstantiation.

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On Not Quite Agreeing With Hooker’s 8th

Tony

We have seen both in this and in previous chapters, that Hooker uses examples from pagan antiquity to substantiate claims that there are some things both about God and about the world that are universally available to be known by the exercise of reason. Humans should be able to know and indeed have known that God creates all things by law; and here in the eighth chapter he adds that by reason there are some particular goods that can be known universally.

Now to be fair, these are fairly limited claims. That God is creator, that all things are ordered by law, and there are some things that are good to do; these aren’t some confident claim that people may know that God is Trinity, or predict the Mystery of Faith, based on the traces of desire and being. For instance he approvingly cites those who knew that all is created by law, yet they still thought God was of nature fire! He also quotes a passage about Zeus from the Illiad. Thus it can hardly be said that these pagans, however they anticipated the Gospel, had anything more than a fleeting and ecstatic glance at who God is. (I pointed these out previously in the comments)

Nevertheless, Hooker will say

“It is not agreed upon by one, or two, or few, but by all. Which we may not so understand, as if every particular man in the whole world did know and confess whatsoever the Law of Reason doth contain; but this Law is such that being proposed no man can reject it as unreasonable and unjust. Again, there is nothing in it but any man (having natural perfection of wit and ripeness of judgement) may by labour and travail find out.”

Allow me to offer a couple points before moving to possible ways of making Hooker more appealing to me here.

Given the range of pagan sources he uses, I find it questionable to surmise that the ancients knew what they knew about God (or their gods) and about goods by the sole exercise of reason. Given that Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles, and these others were in fact pagan idolators, offering gifts at the temples, writing their plays and poems for public festivals in honor of their gods; however sharp they are in reason, I would assert that Hooker is underestimating the extent to which their assertions about God are conditioned and dependent on their own pagan culture. Clearly when Homer says that “Zeus spoke and his counsel was accomplished,” he is not making a claim abstractible from the cultic knowledge of Zeus from which he is working. Likewise for Sophocles in the Antigone.

None of this is to say that pagans do not anticipate in philosophy and art the later revelation of God in Christ — far be it from me! But it’s more oblique and coincidental than Hooker is willing to grant.

So, while I can agree with Hooker in pretty much all of his theology of Law, I think even he misjudges the extent to which this is founded on the Church’s teaching rather than sheer natural reason. I would want to move more toward “reason by faith alone.”

This being said, there are a few concessions Hooker makes that, I think, can be used to move him in a more cultural-linguistic direction.

While saying it is the lesser of the ways that people may come to know goodness, Hooker says that the wide assent of human societies is one way. Which is as much as to say that we learn the good by a traditioned culture. Certainly, as he later says of the failures of idolatry, such cultural assent can often mask something completely against reason and must be disrupted, but it is at least one way.

Similarly, he says that in order to use reason correctly one must be educated in its use. Moreover, it is the special task of those who have “natural perfection of wit and ripeness of judgement.” So even in order to use reason rightly, one must first be formed in its proper methods and limits by an authority.

There remain more of the Laws to explore and perhaps he will provide his own explorations. I remain open. Yet I imagine that Hooker will yet need in the end, at least for me, a cultural-linguistic corrective.

Cleanthes’ Hymn to Zeus: A Translation in Meter (Sort of)

– Tony

In Greek this last semester we read through an old proto-stoic hymn to Zeus by Cleanthes. It’s a lovely little poem and is quite unique. It goes against stoicism by the very fact that it’s a hymn, thus personalizing the divine in a way foreign to stoicism. It’s interesting to contrast this with proper Christian theology, which lines up in certain parts yet most definitely not in all parts. Either way I thought it fitting for this blog.

I tried my darndest to put this thing in meter but I found it incredibly difficult. I need to spend some more time at the feet of Allen Mandelbaum clearly. Ostensibly in Blank Verse, that is, unrhymed iambic pentameter, I allowed myself significant “freedom” to diverge. Thus you’ll find plenty of anapest, amphibrach, and trochaic feet, as well as feminine endings. My scantron is a mess so it’s a good thing I’m not trying to publish this sucker.

 

Most Glorious Zeus, the Many-Named, eternally
All-Μighty, First Mover of nature; all things do you
direct with law; We hail you, since it is right
for all us mortals to speak of you. From you
we have our birth, and we alone by lot
have obtained the image of your voice;
alone of all the mortals who crawl and live
upon the ground. In this will I hymn you
and sing of your eternal strength. In truth
for you the cosmos turn around the earth,
obeying you to where you lead – Willingly
is it ruled by you. A fiery, two-edged, sword
you hold in your unconquerable hands –
All works of nature move beneath the blow
of your eternal servant; with it you direct
the universal reason; which moves about
through all things, mixing with the Great and small Light.
Thus you have become so great, the most high king
in everything. No work occurs upon
the ground apart from you, O god, neither
on the axis of the divine heavens, nor the deep,
save when evil men act in their foolishness.
But you know how to make the vain things perfect,
and how to order the disorderly –
Even the unloved is loved to you.
For in this way have you so joined all things
in one, the good in the bad, so that one thing
has come to be, which is for all: Thy Word
eternal; which those who flee avoid, Ill-fated
evil mortals; for these do always yearn
to sieze the good, yet they do not behold
god’s universal law, neither do they
hear it. If by this they would be pursuaded
with understanding they might have a good life,
But they in fact do hasten on without
the good – Each to another thing. While some
above their glory hasten on for strife;
Others, no one with order, are turned against
what’s right; still others turned toward liscensciousness,
even the sweet works of the body; the good
they yet desire but bear along now here
now there. They hasten to become the very
opposite of these good things. But Zeus, All-Giver,
Cloaked in black clouds, Ruler of the Thunderbolt,
Deliver thou all human kind from their
so baleful ignorance, which you, O Father,
disperse from the soul, and give to light upon
the mark by which you trust to steer all things
with justice; that we, being honored, may in turn
honor you, hymning your unbroken works,
as is right for mortals so to do,
For there is no gift greater than for men
and gods in common eternally to hymn your law in justice.

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Book I. Ch. 7

– Tony

Taken in itself the statement that “By reason man attaineth unto the knowledge of things that are and are not sensible” could be said to mean that reason is simply the exercise of logic, or of tracing the “chain of being;” but that is to miss the conclusion to the previous chapter which Robb so expertly exposited: The right use of reason requires “education and instruction;” furthermore, Hooker claims that reason is dependent on teloi and desire. No thing is able even to “move” without there being an end toward which it moves, and the provocation of the desire of that end. (I’m not entirely sure if it is important to note that Hooker says nothing can move without an end/desire rather than that nothing does move. It’s probably nothing) “End” need not imply a static and fixed point of orientation but can mean simply that movement or action is itself the desired end.

Whatever else it means that we are made in the image of God, it means that we “resemble him also in the manner of working.” We work “wittingly” and “freely,” such that we can choose even not to do things which may or ought to be done. From here Hooker moves into a tightly packed set of sentences:

“To choose is to will one thing before another. And to will is to bend our souls to the having or doing of that which they see to be good. Goodness is seen with the eye of the understanding. And the light of that eye, is reason. So that two principal fountains there are of human action, Knowledge and Will; which Will, in things tending towards any end, is termed Choice.”

Let us attempt to summarize Hooker to this point.

There are teloi, but these do not move anything to action. The desire of the end is what provokes to action/motion. We know that an end is desirable and/or good by apprehension, by Knowledge. But, again, it is not knowledge but desire that provokes motion. Yet sometimes we might not desire unless we first knew to desire, or if knowledge awoke desire. We come to know by reason. Having known, by will we choose, but it is only choice if we might have been able not to do.

Oi

Yet to will is different in fundamental ways than to have appetite, an “inferior natural desire.” “The object of Appetite is whatsoever sensible good may be wished for; the object of Will is that good which Reason doth lead us to seek.” (emphasis added). It lies not entirely within our power to choose to have joy, grief, or fear. It is the non-reasonableness and lack of will to choose which marks appetite. Appetite can in some ways be controlled, though, by Will. “Appetite is the Will’s solicitor, and the Will is Appetite’s controller.”

Hooker calls the objects of appetite a “sensible” and a “natural” good. I am curious, then, if we might choose by will not to do something for which we have an appetite, will the objects of appetite therefore also sometimes be not-good? I’m guessing that here Hooker is being quite subtle: for he says that we cannot desire a non-good because non-goods do not exist according to the normative notion of evil as privation. Yet surely if by reason we comprehend that the end or doing of an appetite is better to be left undone, then isn’t it the case that appetite sometimes does “desire” a not-good end? Since if it were better and reasonable, should it not necessarily be better to do it than not to do it? As he goes on to say, we can only will to do such things as reason teaches are possible. All true goods are possible goods. Yet appetite is not so constrained. Therefore appetite does not always wish for that which is good insofar as it does sometimes wish for that which is not possible. Perhaps then, with section 6, it is the case that there is a “goodness which is or seemeth to be joined with it. Goodness doth not move by being, but by being apparent;” (emphasis added)

I’m left, therefore, with more questions about what appetite is.

The reason that we sometimes will the less-good or even evil is not because such knowledge lies entirely outside the possible knowing of reason, but because our reason and will are weakened by the Fall, by “divine malediction.”

I’m not gonna lie, this little chapter was tough for me to wrap my head around. Please to help if you see weaknesses in my reading.

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