[“Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” (John, 8:34)]

Excellent post at Just Thomism.


[To be free is to be intelligent. To be intelligent is to be real.]

(This post is continued from a previous post, here.)

“A high level of free will must employ a combination of these three levels thus: an idea or value or ideal in the intellective sphere must arouse an appropriate emotional response in the animic sphere, and that in turn must trigger a corresponding outward action. Where activity is consistently directed on this basis, the person in question is said to be an authentic being. (This is also a major example of the universal action of ‘vertical causality’, as opposed to the physical kind, acting here in the individual person, and so is under his or her direction.)

The converse of this is the case where the contents of the intellective sphere have little impact on the animic, whose emotional responses are nearly always triggered instead by whatever stimuli happen to be present. In this case, the contents of sense-perception, including the inclinations of other persons, are the causes of one’s actions because of their unopposed access to the animic sphere which prompts action. Where this condition is dominant, it is that of the inauthentic being, who is failing to exercise free will in any significant manner…

…The difference between the authentic and inauthentic person can also be understood in terms of the soul’s representation of its world. In the former case, the soul has full awareness owing to the conscious relations it has both to the intellect and to the senses, whereas in the latter, self-awareness is stifled by the soul’s habitual confusion of itself with the sense-content of its world. Such failures to realize the difference in degree of being between the self and its world reduce the power of free will. When the self puts itself on the same level as that of its own mental contents, or even lower, it is committing the fundamental confusion which I have already called the ‘cosmic illusion’, because in this case the individual cannot distinguish himself from his ‘cosmos’, or see himself as anything other than an item in the system which depends on his conception of it. All things under the headings of sins and crimes and vices result inevitably from this confusion. Such things are obviously failures to realize values in practice, because the nodal point or fulcrum of value, the difference in degree between the person and his perception, has been lost from his awareness.”

Source: Robert Bolton, Self and Spirit, pp. 93-4,95

[‘What am I?’]

“The reality of the soul as the true core of our being makes a vital difference to the idea of personal identity, that is, how we answer the question ‘What am I?’ From what can be said about the soul’s role in perception, it can be seen that there is one way in which soul and body are not only complementary realities [transcendent and immanent], but that each is exactly the inverse of the other. For the common sense idea of identity—based on the body—the ‘I’ or self is one more physical entity among others, and it is wholly contained by a physical world which is made up of other such things. It is a certain kind of organism which runs about on the surface of a certain kind of planet, and is therefore relative by definition.

Conversely, for the soul, the body and the whole physical world which the body belongs to, appear as content. While the body is essentially something contained, the soul is essentially a container of phenomena. Its content is a world-representation which has the body or ego at the center. This does not mean that the common sense idea of the self as a physical entity is false in itself, only that it is extremely one-sided. The complete ‘I’ or self is indeed this physical entity plus the world-containing and world-representing soul. The world, as it appears from one’s unique point of view, is in a real sense a part of one’s identity as well, therefore.People are aware that Gilbert Ryle applied the dismissive expression ‘the ghost in the machine’ to the idea of mind or soul as a substantive reality, but we can now see the irrelevance of this remark once the soul is understood as the container of the representations which make up for us the body and its relations with other physical things. An alleged soul which could be contained by the body, therefore, like an internal organ or an actual ghost in a house, would, on this basis, be just a contradiction. By reason of the soul, therefore, the true and complete self cannot be a passive item in the flow of natural phenomena. A vital part of its being is in effect the stage upon which this flow of phenomena is represented and privately made known, in a way which is distinctive to the person concerned.

The full development of personal identity, which includes the activity of the soul, points towards the traditional idea of the self as microcosm. The idea of the microcosm is that of an epitome of all realities, from the most subtle to the most material, comprised in a separate unity or ‘little world’. This idea has been revived in recent years in the Anthropic Principle, which seeks to explain our ability to understand everything in the universe on the grounds that all cosmic realities are present to some degree in each human individual.”

Source: Robert Bolton, Self and Spirit, pp. 58-60