A Bite in de Lubac’s theory on Nature and Grace? Part 6

So far, nothing of great interest. We are however approaching our game.

Finite things are not their ends. Finite things are oriented towards ends, towards flourishing. If each finite thing is oriented to its end, if it would be meaningless if it could not obtain that end, then there are requirements (concerning its flourishing) that if it be made, it be wisely made. Short of these requirements obtaining, it would not be wisely made. Hence, these requirements are debita naturae.

For instance, if I am to start an espresso business, I would need to amass the materials: cups, saucers, spoons, napkins, sugar, beans, grinders, water, the machine (the glorious espresso machine!). I would need to hire people, to rent space, to advertise, etc. So, let’s say I have the business up and running. But let’s say that I have absolutely no interest or intent that the business flourish. Let’s say I just want “there to exist a business”. But I make no provision for its flourishing. Nor do I intend to make provision. Everyone on the planet would say, “You are nuts.” Moreover, considering all the employees I have mobilized for this event, considering their dependence upon this initiative for their well-being, they would add, “You are a rotten, stinkin’, no-good….” And they would be right.

In our moving, messy world, things are not for their mere essence; things are not for their mere existence; rather, things are dynamically ordered. Moreover, they are ordered not only to any ongoing activity but to a specific flourishing. Things “crest out” as it were, reach their maturity / apex. The orange tree reaches for a certain range of height; it does not keep growing indefinitely. It reaches that maturity and then begins its cyclic enjoyment of its maturity, producing sweet nectar year after year until it grows too old to sustain this maturity.

In short, each thing is ordered to its flourishing. In this flourishing is where we find the meaning of the thing. If you were to say, “It just exists; it does not flourish and is not tending towards flourishing,” you’d be presenting some imaginary nonsense. Even the Oxygen has its tendencies. Boom! (But especially living things.)

With respect to this requirement, we speak of dynamical debita naturae. These are: The requirements in a thing such that it be capable of attaining meaningful flourishing and so be wisely made. For a man, that he has the seeds of truth in his intellect and the seeds of virtue in his will; that he is vital energy in his body, a certain threshold of motive power, etc.; ultimately, that he can use his powers, with these seeds, in order to attain meaningful flourishing – constitute dynamical debita naturae.

(Rambling Philosophical Aside: Now, to assert that there is such a thing as dynamical debita naturae is not a mere analytic judgment of an essence taken statically. It requires an insight into finite being, the insight traced above. Namely: Finite being is dynamical. To put it succinctly: To assert the truth of dynamical debita naturae requires a grasp of essence (first act) as ordered to flourishing (second act). In the end, this may well constitute an analytic judgment, provided we do not (mis)take analytic judgments for statements such as “Every XY is X.” Certainly, if the judgment is “synthetic,” the synthesis is in the order of the real; it is not the knower’s contribution to the constitution of either sensation or experience. )