Tag Archives: being

Book I. Ch. 5


In V, Hooker begins the move into Human Law, having just given a brief introduction to Angelic Law. He announces the total non-conformity of Human Law to God’s own “law:”

“God alone excepted, who actually and everlastingly is whatsoever he may be, and which cannot hereafter be that which he is not; all other things besides are somewhat in possibility, which as yet they are not in fact.”

God is actus purus, God has fullness and abundance of life, there is nothing which he lacks, nothing which might make him the more perfect, no single ounce of potentiality that he must through appropriation realize in order to become who he is not — There is in him no shadow of turning. I remain confused by the accusation that those who hold to the traditional analogia entis end up making God rather too much like us, when to me it is instead the idea of God having the same kind of life as us, imperfect, potential, and unrealized, that much more clearly places God within the sphere of human becoming. Whatever else Human Law is, it is not the same Law as God’s own being. Obviously I come down with Hooker here against the cosmological-hegelians.

Indeed the first “law whereby man is in his actions directed” is “to the imitation of God.” In the following two ways especially: In the desire for the continuation of their being, manifested in the production of offspring, and also in the desire to work “in the constancy and excellency of those operations which belong unto their kind.” That is, Humans desire — and desire, ὀρέγω, is the important word — to live God’s life via participation, and act as God acts.

For the longest time I never really got Anselm’s Ontological Argument because I never really understood why is should be better to exist than not to exist. But as I’m coming to understand some of the classic Christian reflection on being, it makes much more sense to me. It is better to be than not be because not-being is to be cut off from God, indeed to be non-existent. The reason it is better to exist is because existence participates in the life of God, and how could this not but be the best possible thing?

And so humans long for the participation in God. Hooker quotes Aristotle: “For all things stretch out for this.” Much of the classical usage of this word is in relation to reaching out to embrace a loved one. The glory of humanity is, in a funny way, its many deficiencies. We are deficient in so many things because there are so many parts of our existence which aspire to greater perfection. Perhaps Robb might be able to answer this: Is this desire that Hooker is expressing akin to the “natural desire for the supernatural” in de Lubac? It feels like it is.

Some desires, like these first two, often go unnoticed because they are so ingrained into our normal patterns of life; some have to be awaken. These that must be ignited are fanned into flame by the growth in knowledge and virtue.

Hooker translated his third footnote, but only does a part of his second. Here’s my attempt:

“In these nature lacks what is best, if it is possible to come into being more and more. Nature always aims at the best of what is possible.”

On a final anti-climactic note, it seems I might need to learn about this Mercurius Trismegistus since Hoooker quotes him so often.

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