Monday, April 02, 2007

Lacordaire, Conferences

The following is continued from Lacordaire's
"God: Conferences delivered at Notre Dame in Paris"

(series begins here)



In contemplating nature, man sees realities; in contemplating his intelligence, he sees truths. Realities are finite like the nature that contains them; truths are infinite, eternal, absolute, that is to say, greater than the intelligence in which we find them. Nature shows us geometrical figures; the intelligence reveals to us the mathematical law itself, the general and the abstract law of all bodies. It does more, it reveals to us the metaphysical law, that is to say, the law of all beings of what kind soever, the law which is as applicable to spirits as to bodies. At this height, and in this horizon, the universe disappears from our mental vision, or, at least, we no longer perceive it save as the reflection of a higher world, as the shadows of a boundless light; the real becomes absorbed in the true, which is its root, reality becomes measured by truth.

But where is truth? Where is its dwelling place, its seat, its living essence? Is it a pure abstraction of our mind? Is it nothing by the universe magnified by a dream? If it were so, our intelligence itself would be but a dream; truth, which appears to us as the principle of all things, would be only the exaggeration, and, as it were, the extravagance of sensible reality.

Shall we say that truth has its seat in our mind? But our mind is limited, truth has no limits; our mind had a beginning, truth is eternal; our mind is susceptible of more or less, truth is absolute. To say that our mind is the seat of truth, is to say in obscure terms that our mind is truth itself, living truth: who is so mad as to believe this? Besides the contradiction existing between the nature of our mind and the nature of truth, do we not see the minds which form mankind engaged in a perpetual war of affirmations and negations? Truth would then be battling with itself. It would affirm and deny at the same time, although remaining absolute. It is the very height of folly!

If truth be not a vain name, it is in the universe only in the state of expression, and in our mind only in the state of apparition; it is in the universe as the artist is in his work, it is in our mind as the sun is in our eyes. But beyond the universe and our mind, it subsists of itself, it is a real, an infinite, an eternal, an absolute essence, existing of itself; for how could it be that truth should not understand itself, since it is the source of all understanding! Now, so to speak of truth is to define God; God is the proper name of truth, as truth is the abstract name of God.

There is then a God, if truth exists. Would you say that there is no truth? It is for you to choose. I do not deny your liberty.

Henri-Dominique Lacordaire
God: Conferences - Notre-Dame in Paris (1871)

next reading here

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