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The Universe: Desire for Thought
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The Universe:
Desire for Thought
Translated by J. M. Hubbard (bio)

Nature realizes its primordial and definitive trajectory in human intelligence. Creatures, we have shown, cannot find their explicit return to God, their first cause, except in thought.1 If God creates, necessarily he creates in order to manifest his glory exteriorly and not to manifest himself to himself, as if, by creating, he could better himself in his own sight. Creation is essentially a communication. Creatures must be able to understand the free gift of this communication, and creation must terminate in an intelligent creature who can glorify its Source. Thus, God could not create a universe that was not essentially ordered to an intelligent creature within that universe.2 We have shown elsewhere in what way creation is totally ordered to spirit: either as nature and inclination to man, or as subject of a spiritual form, or as essential constituent of the proper object of human knowledge, knowledge so impoverished that it cannot attain immaterial things directly.3

Only in the human mind does the universe become universe in the fullest sense. [End Page 172]

Note, therefore, that a thing is perfect in two ways. First, it is perfect with respect to the perfection of its act of existence, which belongs to it according to its own species. But since the specific act of existence of one thing is distinct from the specific act of existence of another, in every created thing of this kind, the perfection falls short of absolute perfection to the extent that that perfection is found in other species. Consequently, the perfection of each individual thing considered in itself is imperfect, being a part of the perfection of the entire universe, which arises from the sum total of the perfections of all individual things.

In order that there might be some remedy for this imperfection, another kind of perfection is to be found in created things. It consists in this, that the perfection belonging to one thing is found in another. This is the perfection of a knower in so far as he knows; for something is known by a knower by reason of the fact that the thing known is, in some fashion, in the possession of the knower. Hence, it is said in The Soul that the soul is, “in some manner, all things,” since its nature is such that it can know all things. In this way it is possible for the perfection of the entire universe to exist in one thing. The ultimate perfection which the soul can attain, therefore, is, according to the philosophers, to have delineated in it the entire order and causes of the universe. This they held to be the ultimate end of man. We, however, hold that it consists in the vision of God; for, as Gregory says: “What is there that they do not see who see Him who sees all things?”4

Furthermore, it is evident that all parts are ordered to the perfection of the whole, since a whole does not exist for the sake of its parts, but, rather, the parts are for the whole. Now, intellectual natures have a closer relationship to a whole than do other natures; indeed, each intellectual substance is, in a way, all things. For it may comprehend the entirety of being through its intellect; on the other hand, every other substance has only a particular share in being. Therefore, [End Page 173] other substances may fittingly be providentially cared for by God for the sake of intellectual substances.5

In order for the world to have a raison d’etre, to be one and a universe [one of many] it is not only necessary that it be composed of parts forming physically a whole, in addition, all these individual parts must be ordered to those parts where all can exist together; each of these principal parts of the world must be the whole world, each of these universes must be, in a manner, all the others.

In what sense is the soul all things? Shouldn’t one rather say that we have our intelligence to verify how obscure and impenetrable...