Thomas Aquinas (Born: Tommaso d'Aquino, 1225, Roccasecca, Kingdom of Sicily. Died: 7 March 1274 (aged 48–49), Fossanova, Papal States).
It is his feast day today.
Everything imperfect must proceed from something perfect: therefore the First Being must be most perfect. Everything is perfect inasmuch as it is in actuality; imperfect, inasmuch as it is in potentiality, with privation of actuality. That then which is nowise in potentiality, but is pure actuality, must be most perfect; and such is God.”
(—St. Thomas Aquinas, “That God is Universal Perfection,” in Of God and His Creatures, 64, www.ccel.org)
The sheer volume of his writings in theology, his dedication, is impressive. And with medieval philosophy and theology, intellectually demanding. Understanding is a labor both of attentiveness and capacity for it. (I seldom have either,)
Not infrequently, in different texts, Aquinas refers to a principle which he uses as a principle of explanation–a principle which avers that “whatever is received into something is received according to the condition of the receiver.” Quidquid recipitur ad modum recipientis recipitur. Cf. Summa Theologiae, 1a, q. 75, a. 5; 3a, q. 5. In the Summa Theologiae, 1a, q. 12, a. 4, a more specific application of this principle is proposed in terms which say that “a thing known exists in a knower according to the mode of a knower.” Cogitum…est in cognoscente secundum modum cognoscentis. For further references, see Summa Theologiae, q. 14, a. 1, ad 3; q. 16, a. 1; q. 19, a. 6, ad 2; Summa Contra Gentiles, 2, 79, 7; De Veritate, q. 2, a. 3. In knowing anything, or in thinking that one knows anything, something is known by a prospective knower according to the mode of a knower’s being where what is understood and known is regulated or determined according to how a thing is known by a knower. In the context of his systematic theology of the Trinity, Lonergan takes this Thomist principle and uses it to explain why ongoing development sometimes fails to occur in theology. See Lonergan, The Triune God: Systematics, p. 25. Seminal insights are not always well understood (as these insights come from major thinkers in the theological tradition as in St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, or Cardinal Newman) and the result can be a tradition of misunderstanding (constituted by truncated understandings) which introduces a distortion into the development of later theology
(—from, Applying a Thomist Principle: Quidquid recipitur ad modum recipientis recipitur, October 16, 2009 by Br. Dunstan Robidoux OSB)
”Truncated” is such a workable word.
Take, for example, the definition of a truncated mean:
A truncated mean or trimmed mean is a statistical measure of central tendency, much like the mean and median. It involves the calculation of the mean after discarding given parts of a probability distribution or sample at the high and low end, and typically discarding an equal amount of both. This number of points to be discarded is usually given as a percentage of the total number of points, but may also be given as a fixed number of points.
The phrasing I am familiar with goes, “Whatever is received is received according to the personality of the one receiving it.”
And if our personal development is stunted or truncated, what is received is partial or distorted.
Such an understanding suggests why we seem to have such difficulty comprehending and thus acting upon justice, compassion, or integrity in the realm of either politics or human discourse.
Beyond that, intentional truncation for personal advantage dealing with the public, complicates further the transmission of necessary truths and implementation of same.
Thomas told us. He let us in on our difficulty. It is a problem of reception.
It is the task of receiving and passing on that often evades or makes onerous our facility or capability.
Add to that a reluctance to faithfully retransmit even what we do receive with clarity or dedication to its truth — and we have what we have today.
And so, we take to practice.
A practice of receiving, of being open to receiving, a practice of taking in and letting go without actively obfuscating what is passing through, a practice of allowing value to be amplified through integrative participation in wholesome transmission of actual fact and facticity.
Of you —