Catholic Apologetics



Man: God's image

We can hardly find a more persistent misunderstanding than with the non-Catholic philosophers who refuse the Catholic doctrine about human nature, because, whether influenced by monism or extreme dualism, they don't understand it.
The council of Vienne (1311-1312) condemned, as an error contradicting Catholic truth, the opinion of Petrus Olivi, who taught human soul as a reasonable substance isn't on its own strength and essentially the principle of form of human body:
"If anyone would obstinately assert or plead or maintain the reasonable or intellectual soul isn't on its own strength and essentially the form of principle of human body, he should be considered a heretic."

This verdict of the Catholic church didn't only affect the opinion of Olivi. It also refused as untenable, once and forever, materialism in all its forms, psycho-physical parallelism, occasionalism and new-Apollinarism.
Does the Church in this decision positively pronounce for Aristotle's doctrine about matter and form?
The number of scholars who denied it is about as great as the number of scholars who affirmed it. However, it's sure that the Church is, in fact, only supporting scholastical antropology, excluding all other systems that try to philosophically unveil the enigma of human nature.

What is man?
Whereas the cultivaters of distinct sciences like anatomy, morphology, physiology, oecology and experimental psychology consider man in so far as he's accessible to immediate perception in some respect, the philosophers always set themselves the task to find out which units the numerous and multifarious actions of man can eventually be reduced to.
For man is a manysided being, capable of universal things. Some called him the microcosmos, the world in miniature, and rightly so. In man we find the expression of all riches of created nature in one pocket format whole. He has corporeality in common with the lifeless beings, life with the plants, sensory knowledge with the animals. Moreover, he's a knowing and thinking being: an animal rationale - a reasonable animal. This name may sound like an offence in the ears of the king of creation, yet it sheds more light upon the universality of his composed nature than any other name.
Perhaps this manysidedness explains why philosophers have so much trouble with agreeing about anthropology?
Plato thought he couldn't explain the distinct utterances of man's life without assuming three distinct souls in man's body. Aristotle could advance strong arguments for his thesis that we should in the end reduce all revelations of vegetative, sensory and intellectual life of man to one all-embracing principle of form: the spiritual and intellectual soul.
Both opinions became popular. But, whereas Plato's opinion got never different and stronger demonstrations than those Plato gave himself, Aristotle's developed in later medieval times, especially by the brilliant guidance of Saint Thomas Aquinas, to a level that was to become the standard for all thinkers educated in the field of scholasticism.
The cartesian reformation didn't carelessly pass speculative anthropology, either. It placed man under a new light. Whether it was a better light than scholasticism offered, is a question only those people answer in the affirmative who are not able or willing to understand the School's view on life and world.
We may have every respect for the scholarly capacities of Descartes, who called man a composition of two completed substances - the corporeal one, which is the body, and the spiritual one, which is the soul - yet his reference to the glandula pinealis, the pineal gland, to explain the interaction between soul and body, is bearing an uncomfortable resemblance to a put-off, which in fact occasioned Descartes himself much brainracking.
And after Descartes?
We can hardly imagine a greater contrast than between the definition the occasionalists gave of the concept "man", and Spinoza's definition of the homo cogitans.
Geulincx and Malebranche were convinced man is divided in two parts: there is no interaction whatsoever between his soul and his body, which God's hand is guiding as passive and helpless instruments. On the contrary, according to Spinoza man is highest possible unity. He is not divided in himself, and, moreover, he's in the highest unity with the All-one. Spinoza defined the peculiar being who calls himself man as "modality of God's essence according to the attributes of thinking and extent".
Meanwhile, these theories are long forgotten. And we can't imagine that the newer theories, which are diverse and numerous indeed, will have eternal life, either. They usually do exhibit a strong imagination, but not a sober view on reality.

The Catholic opinion, however, does exhibit a sober view on reality. The catechism gives the following formulation for children:
"Man is a reasonable creature of God, consisting of an immortal soul and a mortal body".
This simple definition has all characteristics of truth. It fully agrees with the primary data of selfconsciousness, and, furthermore, it can stand the criticism of a quiet external observation in every respect.
For it's certain man must bear in himself a spiritual principle that's essentially distinct from matter and body, which are directly perceivable.
Indeed, how else could we explain purely incorporeal utterances of life, like "knowing", "judging" and "reasoning"? And where else do general ideas come from, like "man" and "life", and abstract concepts like "cause and consequence", "right and duty", "truth and lie"?
From the vibrations of the brain? Or from the mechanical motion of immeasurably small particles of matter?
The fact we can pathologically explain possible disturbances in thinking from disturbances in the formation of the brain, is in full conformity with the task of serving the brain has to fulfil in relation to the pure act of the intellect. They are forming the material organ of phantasy, from which the intellect draws the concrete images which it subsequently strips of its material restrictions independently, and which it changes into abstract concepts that aren't tied to any material organ.
The materialistic explanation is clearly contradicting human consciousness, which, whether on purpose or not, distinguishes a spiritual act from a material motion. Everything the materialistic anthropologists ever invented to deny the incorporeal soul its right of existence, only proves that soul and body are cooperating in full harmony within the substantial unity of a man.

{{The so-called Negative Anthropology is monistic in its essence. It says it can't agree with the philosophical "vivisection of man", as scholasticism uses to practise.
Sigmund Freud and Ludwig Klages are its main propagators. It evokes strong reminiscences of the aphoristic considerations Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche offered in his Also sprach Zarathustra.

When Freud finds the development of a man's mind very dangerous, because he considers it a krankmachende Triebverdrängung, and Klages takes life under his protection against the intellect, which in the Lebensentfremdung of present-day western culture is degrading and humiliating man rather than comforting him and honouring him, these modern champions of an irrational view on world and life prove themselves highly allied to the prophet of the Uebermensch, whose ideal was to let the Untergangsmensch die from himself to make place for the brilliant hero "der sich Selbst bejaht".

When Nietzsche is pitching into the exuberant despisers of the human body, he himself is guilty of an exaggerated contempt of the soul:
"Leib bin ich ganz und gar, und nichts auszerdem; und Seele ist nur ein Wort für ein Etwas am Leibe.
Der Leib ist eine grosze Vernunft, eine Vielheit mit einem Sinn, ein Krieg und ein Frieden, eine Herde und ein Hirt.
Werkzeug deines Leibes ist auch deine kleine Vernunft, mein Bruder, die du 'Geist' nennst, ein kleines Werk- und Spielzeug deiner groszen Vernunft."

Peter Gast, an enthusiastic admirer of Nietzsche, thinks he should comment on this bold sally as follows:
"Das rein biologische monistische Verständnis desselben (des Phänomens 'Mensch') - nämlich das der 'Leib' und die 'Seele' nichts Getrenntes und Trennbares, nichts nur Ineinandergeschobenes seien: dasz vielmeer die 'Seele' nur eine Funktion des 'Leibes' sei, zu ihm durchaus in Verhältnis von Wirkung zu Ursache stehend, mit ihm steigend und fallend, und mit der geringsten organischen, zumal zerebralen Veränderung sich sofort mitveränderend - diese monistische Auffassung des Phänomen 'Mensch' verbreitet sich zwar zum Glück immer mehr, offiziell aber ist sie noch nicht anerkannt. Offiziell wird immer noch die dualistische Auffassung gepredigt: die Seele ist nicht abhängig vom Körper ... Zurückzuführen ist diese Lehre, soweit sie unter uns noch herrscht, auf einen Religionsstifter, der für die Auffassung des Phänomens weder künstlerisch, noch naturwissenschaftlich, - sondern nur moralisch, und dies wieder ganz einseitig, beanlagt war ... "
This way, Peter Gast continues to talk during several pages.
But we can't find anywhere in his discussion a proof that could make the dualistic explanation of the phenomenon "Mensch" untrue - or it must be a vague reference to history, which he doesn't understand. He keeps supposing, calling witnesses, allaying, exhausting himself in complaints, just as Nietzsche did, who, in fact, knew this job better.}}

So the soul is a reality distinct from the body, even though we don't immediately experience it. Because, as we decide that a being is alive and real when we see it walking or listening, so it's also logical to decide there must be a real intellectual principle where we perceive someone knowing and judging, or else we can't explain this spiritual act.
By its intellectual efficacy, the soul is rising above the conditions of the body. It's not essentially tied to matter, even though it's needing, as long as the body's alive, the cooperation of the sensory organs which are to yield the prerequisites to develop its own independent activity. The soul has its own independent spiritual activity, because it's selfconscious and it's knowing through abstract concepts, and that's why it's standing apart from the body and forming an own substance, as against the soul of an animal, which is dependent on the body in everything and, hence, necessarily tied to the body. Without presupposing this consistent and permanent substance, we couldn't explain the facts of remembrance, the possibility to compare distinct things with each other, or the identity of the selfconsciousness. That's why the soul is the permanent and consistent subject of its variable efficacy, and not, as the champions of actualistic psychology are thinking, a concatenation of incorporeal acts or the sum of consecutive phenomenons of consciousness.

Man has only one soul, which is the all-embracing principle of life, explaining in the final end all efficacy that's originating from himself: the vegetative and the sensory efficacy and also the intellectual efficacy. The gradual development of life in its organic, sensory and intellectual phases, the dependence and interaction between the distinct functions, and, last but not least, the clear testimony of human selfconsciousness, which credit the same I with distinct acts of life, they are all very strongly militating against Plato's trichotomy.
Saint Thomas completely refuses the theory of more souls. He judges a split in the one and only human life of a man is contradictory to the conviction every man has about the consistency of all actions in his life within the own I:
"Plato thinks that a man is not composed of soul and body, but that man is a soul that uses a body. Furthermore, he thinks there are two or three souls. If man is all these souls, he isn't one but two or three. Or is he, properly, only the intellectual soul, which is using the sensory and vegetative soul that's the principle of form of the body? In this case, man isn't an animal, but he's using the animal; and he hasn't a sensory life, but is using a thing with senses."
Like Aristoteles, who said the soul is the first completion of a physical body that's able to live, Saint Thomas Aquinas and other prominents of scholastic philosophy called the soul the form of substance of man's body. As such, it's giving the body the characteristics that are distinguishing it from all other beings: life with all its characteristic peculiarities, and all active and reactive abilities that characterize man with his natural efficacies and exceptional receptiveness.

Because the soul is a spiritual substance, essentially rising above all matter, despite of its forming and inspiring influence on the body, it can't possibly be a natural product of some procreation that's tied to matter in all circumstances; it must come about by creation.
Although the parents are the procreaters of the new human being, the child, they are not the exclusive and all-explaining cause of it. Their efficacy isn't different from the efficacy of second causes in general: they can change an existing thing, and call a new being to existence by modification, but they can't directly influence the originating and existence of an inchangeable substance like the soul. By the consummation of marriage, the parents inaugurate the beginning of a long and gradual process, which is taking place in the body of the mother alone, but is presupposing an immediate intervention of God as Creator, to be able to attain its natural award.

{{As against Creationism, which the Church repeatedly pointed to, whether directly or indirectly, as the only sufficient explanation for the origin of human soul, pre-existentianism taught that the human soul is already existing, whether created or not, before it is being united with some body. The main preachers of pre-existentianism are Plato, Philo, the Gnostics, the Manicheans, the Origenists, Kant, Hegel, and all people who think they can defend reincarnation on a scholarly base.

Generatianism is an other error related to the origins of the soul.
Tertullianus was a great advocate of it; and in the eighteenth century, Jacob Frohschammer was asking for new interest for this theory.
Generatianism starts from the hypothesis it are the parents that produce the child with all its human existence including the soul, on the strength of their sexual abilities, which are tied to matter but uncurbed in their urge to procreation.}}

So, man is a microcosmos. He has something in common with all lower beings. With the anorganic things, the plants and the animals he has in common, respectively, contingent being, life and sensory knowledge, which are properties that of necessity presuppose matter.
On the other hand, in man there is one property that's not essentially tied to matter, which beings of a lower rank can't possess: man is a creature gifted with reason. By his intellect, man rises immeasurably far above all other visible creatures. In this respect, he resembles God.
Saint Augustine, more than anybody else, celebrated the nobleness of human nature, when he compared man as an image of God with man as related to things earthly:
"Only your intellect is distinguishing you from the animal. So don't glory in anything else. You have a great idea of your strength? Animals are stronger! You wish to boast of your velocity? Flies are faster. You take pride in your beauty? But the feathers of a peacock are more beautiful! So what's disinguishing you? That you're God's image. And how are you God's image? By your mind and intellect."
Man: God's image!
All things in visible creation are exhibiting some resemblance with their divine Origin. They have existence, often life or even consciousness. They are striving for self-preservation, they are productive, and they are demonstrating a surprising efficacy in the development of their abilities, although they may be lacking freedom of independent choice. They all have their own charm, excelling in strength, love or beauty.
However, among all these splendid creatures in visible nature, only man is God's image.
For, besides the arbitrary resemblance of a vague sign, he's bearing in himself a higher conformity to God by his intellect. His intellectual knowledge makes him assimilate the essences of all other realities, including God. That's why Saint Thomas says:
"In so far as a knowing being becomes equal to the known object, our intellect becomes equal to God when it knows God."
By ascertaining this, he isn't guilty of an impossible deification of human nature, because:
"We call man God's image, not because he could be this on the strength of his essence, but because the image of God is expressed in his intellect, just as we call a denarius an image of the emperor, in so far as it's bearing the image of the emperor."
Man may rightly pride on the knowledge he's the most perfect reflection of divine Essence in creation, because of his intellectual abilities and because of the act of knowing that's repesenting God in his intellect.
However, he should also be humble, because "the image has come about by the example that's God Himself, but it's not a resemblance of full value, because the example is standing infinitely far above this image".

The intellectual abilities

In the masterpiece of nature, man is occupying a very exceptional place. He is in some measure autonomous; he's leading himself and his own master. He judges and manages the servitude of soil, plant and animal, which are forming his realm, and he's holding his fate in his own hands, in so far as he can dispose of the things as a second cause.
Man can take an initiative of his own.
He isn't tied to a fixed place, like the plant. He isn't an instinctive force and "brute force", like the animal. He is very original and inventive.
Man can voluntarily engage in the harmonic whole of the visible order of the world, and consciously cooperate in the perfection of the cosmos. Or ... he may place his own conviction against the Creator, go his own way, and disturb the order of nature.
From an anthropological standpoint, it makes little sense to distinguish between homo sapiens, intelligent man, and homo faber, the handworker, because we can explain the noble gift of intelligence and the art of honorable handwork equally well from the one and only human nature, which is a reasonable nature.
Man is able to do what the animal can't: control matter, make instruments, regulate, cooperate consciously in making life more beautiful, cultivate scholarship and art. Man can indeed, because he has the mental gifts of intellect, which defines his essence, and of will, which is tied to the intellect and a mental power as well.
Whoever calls man and animal equal, and identifies the activity of the intellect and the mechanical interaction between material particles, must have descended to the lowest level of materialism.
Reasonable man is positively conscious of the opposite. Even those philosophers who credited the impulsive power of cosmic order, the will of the world, or the stream of life, with more value than the believing Catholic can accept, are convinced that the intellect, in spite of everything, has a power of ordering, characterized by reflection and intellectual control of the possibilities in nature that haven't become facts as yet.
For example, Leibniz speaks of the intellectual act of knowing, "intellection, qui est une perception distincte jointe à la faculté de réfléchir". Schopenhauer considers intellect as the rare ability "um sich abstrakte Begriffe zu bilden und diese in Urteilen und Argumenten ordnend zu verwerten". And Bergson thinks the intellect is especially characterized by the arbitrariness with which it can distinguish or associate its objects: "l'intelligence est caractérisée par la puissance indéfinie de décomposer suivant n'importe quelle loi et de recomposer en n'importe quel système".
Scholasticism starts from a realistic standpoint, relying on the fact all men know it's the existing realities that are offering from outside to our receptive minds the material for our intellectual knowledge, and it's not our developing mind that's actively and independently constructing the world of ideas.
As opposed to our sensory faculty of knowing, which is only open to the influence of purely material properties like colour and extent, because of its own material restrictions, our intellect as a spiritual faculty of knowing can "understand" the essences of the realities.
The word "intellect" stems from intus-legere, i.e. search the inner side of things (Saint Augustine). Our intellect understands the essence of a thing in an incorporeal way. Although it's presupposing the cooperation of the sensory organs that supply the material, it can independently form conceptions that represent reality in an image, which has no room for matter as such, but is expressing the own essence of a concrete material thing like "this house" or "that tree" in a much more perfect way than in the sensory picture, which can represent the external phenomenon but not the inner essence.
By his intellectual knowledgde, man assimilates reality in a more perfect way than animals, which have only sensory knowledge.
Moreover, man can know more realities.
He can form universal concepts like "man" and "animal"; he disposes of a riches of abstract ideas that represent realities like "love"and "justice"; he even is able to acquire some knowledge of the most incorporeal essence, God, despite of the fact his reason is externally tied to matter.

Man isn't only a perceiver and understander, he's also active in the conscious striving of his will.
Besides the intellect, which as a faculty of his incorporeal soul is giving him the opportunity to intentionally assimilate the essence of things, he can also dispose of a spiritual faculty of striving, which make him take his position among many things he could strive after and choose a specific good, while disinterestedly neglecting or positively denying other goods.
And this will as a spiritual faculty of striving is free.
Animals don't have such freedom. They instinctively strive after the concrete goods they contact through sensory experience. They can't choose independently. Only goods they perceive as falling within their immediate reach determine their sensory acts of striving.
Man's act of will isn't determined by a concrete good alone. Indeed, it's presupposing a motive, which is a good in a thing, but this good doesn't determine it. Man can long for a certain partial good, but he can also refuse it. This freedom is certain by the testimony of human consciousness, it is lying in the indifference of will as a faculty, and in the final end it's resting on the spiritual and intellectual character of our will, which, as contrasted with the sensory faculty of striving of the animals, doesn't find its formal object in this or that partial good we can perceive with our senses, but in the universal good that only our intellect can know. If our intellect finds that a thing is good in some measure, so we could strive after it, but that it still has a shortcoming of good, so we could also refuse it, and that we could find it somewhere else with less shortcomings, so it doesn't irresistibly attract us, our faculty of will can take its own decision.
However, there's one good that man can't refuse, and which he can only long for.
It's his own happiness, which Boethius rightly defines as "the perfect situation, in which we find every good without shortcomings".
Just as our intellect can't deduce truths from principles it doesn't perfectly understand, so our will can't do free deeds unless there's a final object that's permanently attracting him: perfect happiness, which our intellect is perceiving as the fulness of all good. This happiness will eventually appease all strivings of our will, and fully satisfy us. Saint Thomas says: "Happiness is the perfect good that completely satisfies our faculty of striving; because, if there would remain something to strive after, it wouldn't be our final object".
Happiness completely controls us.
Our intellect may perceive it here or there, in the eternal contemplation of divine Essence or in Nirvana or in Valhalla, in earthly paradise or, if necessary, in negation of life, but in any case it's so strongly enchanting him that he doesn't find the strength to resist it.
However, against any further good, in which he can think he sees some shortcoming, man is free. Also against God! For our consciousness doesn't say something else, and the practice of so many a human life shows it.
The freedom of our will is a difficult problem both in rational and in experimental psychology. We can agree with Bergson, when he says the analysis of the genetical development of the free act of will is an endless task, so we'd better not give a ready-made definition because it would only foster determinism. But we have a right to maintain that the analysis of an deterministic explanation of will should lead us to the acknowledgement our will is free.
How did Bossuet say it again?
"Plus je recherche en moi-même la raison qui me détermine, plus je sens que je n'en ai aucune autre que ma seule volonté; je sens par là clairement ma liberté, qui consiste uniquement dans un tel choix. C'est ce qui me fait à l'image de Dieu, parce que, n'y ayant rien dans la matière qui le détermine à la mouvoir plutôt qu'à la laisser en repos, ou à la mouvoir d'un coté plutôt que d'un autre, il n'y a aucune raison d'un si grand effet que sa seule volonté, par où il me paraît souverainement libre."
The question of free will may be difficult, but it does find a sufficient and radical answer in the conviction of a free man who credits himself with the right to decide in a choice he knows he's responsible for.

{{There are many forms of a view on life that deny man's will is free. We can summarize them in two groups: Fatalism and Determinism.

Fatalism teaches every fact or deed, even an act of man's will, is guided and controlled by some higher power.
We may distinguish:

I. Astrological fatalism, which links a disposal of fate to the constellation of heavenly bodies. In olden times, it was in vogue with the peoples of semitic race, but nowadays it's only recognized in circles of theosophists, anthroposophists and occultists.

II. Mythological fatalism, as recognized by old religions, especially those of the Greeks and Romans. They thought gods and people were subject to the inevitable power of fate, which they understood was an impersonal external power: Homer's Moira, Hesiod's Moros.

III. Philosophical fatalism of Stoa. Stoic philosophy taught every causality and consequence can only come about of necessity, because in the last instance the infallible Pronoia is guiding them, if via a short or long chain of intermediate causes. Zeno, Kleanthes and Chrysippus identified them with the universal and immanent spirit of the world.

IV. Theological fatalism.
The many followers of Mohammed professed this in its most radical form, because, for them, Allah is the omnipotent being that disposes independently and arbitrarily of everything without using intermediate causes.
Theological fatalism occurs in a different but not milder form with John Calvin and some other reformers, whose conviction about God's reign over the world and man's life is that God's eternal decrees irresistibly come over man and cosmos, so that some people will of necessity be happy, other people of necessity damned.
Calvinism with its strict predestination doctrine, however, is contradictory to itself, because it formally maintains the freedom of man's will, but isn't able to maintain it logically. Indeed, Calvin concludes God is the cause of everything that comes about outside Him, and He elects or rejects whomever he wills. We can't raise any objection against this starting point, because Saint Paul expicitly says so, and, in fact, it's in complete agreement with everything any sound philosophy maintains about God's omnipotence. However, when Calvin teaches everything happens with inevitable necessity, he's confusing actual events and necessary events. He fails to appreciate God's omnipotence, which also appears when God wills something actually happens, whilst this actual happening is immediately dependent on a free cause. This way, God can decide from eternity that somebody will certainly acquire eternal happiness as a reward for the virtuous actions he effectuated as a free cooperating cause.
In strict Calvinism there's no room for free will. Nevertheless, the Calvinist thinks he can't completely deny free will, because it's clear from Revelation that man is responsible for his deeds. However, it's impossible to answer for free will in synthesis with predestination. Moreover, neither as a theologist nor as a philosopher, man can simply leave this difficulty to God by referring as usually to the mystery of God's Essence.

In any form, fatalism is untenable.
It's not only contrary to the explicit doctrine of the Church, but also contradicting our natural concept of God, which philosophers can form independently ... and contradicting common sense, because every ordinary citizen agrees with La Fontaine, when he says:

"Je ne crois point que la Nature se soit lié les mains et nous les lie encore jusqu'au point de marquer dans les cieux notre sort."

Determinism also denies that man is free, but on different grounds.
Like fatalism, it negates the possibility that man can independently choose his own destination. According to determinism, however, the deed we call free doesn't really start from a personal unforced initiative, but from a coercive force of causes that influence our will from outside. Whereas fatalism tries to explain the determination of our longing from a cosmic or extra-cosmic, in any case external primitive force, which people think of as the principle that's leading and controlling everything, determinism teaches we should understand human actions in all fases as the necessary consequences of preceding events that took place in the mind of the willing subject.

We must say physical or mechanical determinism is very superficial. The materialistic view on life of Jacob Moleschott, the doctrine of descent of Ernst Haeckel and the criminal biology of Cesare Lombroso all are restricting, for convenience, the contents of psychological events to the process of metabolism and the physical life in a human body. Especially Moleschott is lacking any necessary contact with spiritual life.

The so-called metaphysical determinism is more important and relying on a stronger base. Its best representatives were Spinoza and Leibniz.

The antropological explanations of Spinoza are apparently influenced by Hobbes' mechanical explanation of nature. Spinoza says any human individual is a certain modality, one out of many possible ways of being of the All-One; so we can deduce human personality from the concept of God. Because all modalities are in fact identical to divine essence, and a human soul is nothing else but a sequence of modalities of God's thought, we must reduce human consciousness to representations that God decides upon as to both their essences and their development, so we must exclude any independent human decision. That's why God is essentially determining every form of human action, just as the properties of a triangle are determined by the unchangeable laws of its construction.
The determinism of Leibniz is more moderate, because it doesn't deny all indeterminateness. We prefer to call it psychological determinism.
Leibniz starts from the considertion that the indeterminateness which free action is presupposing is only possible provided several equivalent motives are influencing our will or none at all. In the second case, there can't be real freedom because our will needs a motive to be able to desire it or refuse it; in the first, case there's no sufficient reason why our will should choose one motive above the others. So we must conclude man chooses always what he considers best.
Thus, free will seems to be absent. If every act of man's will is determined by the "better" choice, and nothing happens in the absence of a sufficient reason, there's no room left for independent selfdetermination, so every new situation is determined by the preceding ones: "Le présent résulte du passé et est gros de l'avenir". Freedom of will can't be anything else but lack of knowledge of the causes that induce our actions.
Other supporters of psychological determinism, in which the force majeure of motives is predominant, are Johann Friedrich Herbart, Wilhelm Wundt, and, in the Netherlands, Prof.G.Heymans.

Kant is at a loss what to do with man's freedom of will. He does acknowledge the phenomenon of freedom that consists of being able to negate carnal passions, but "ob das, was in Ansicht auf sinnlichen Antriebe Freiheit heiszt, in Ansehung höherer und entfernterer wirkenden Ursachen nicht wiederum Natur sein möge ... ist eine blosz spekulative Frage". This question arises in his Kritik der reinen Vernunft, but he can't find a positive answer. Neither can he positively answer the problem of God or the problem of the immortality of the soul.
However, Kant didn't ever positively refuse freedom of will, either. Many of his followers did, for example, in the Netherlands, neo-Kantians like C.Bellaar Spruyt and Leo Polak.

The Church repeatedly condemned both fatalism and determinism.
The reason why determinism is to be rejected from a philosophical standpoint is not because it demands a sufficient motive for each conscious act of will, nor because it involves the personal constitution of an individual in the explanation. Indeed, our will does need motives and the freedom of will may be more or less dependent on the influence of personal inclinations. However, the personal constitution and the external motive don't form all that determines the factual desires of our will. Our inner inclinations have only a certain measure of say in the matter, and the motive as an external cause doesn't independently influence the striving subject. The power of the motive predominantly depends on our mind, which has to desire what it perceives as absolute good, but is free before any partial good, because there's no compelling preponderance of the relative good included in it above the desirable things it's lacking.}}

The immortal soul

We spoke of the intellect that knows and the will that strives, but in fact we should use a different terminology. For intellect and will aren't independent subjects but spiritual abilities of man's soul. It's man that thinks and wills. He does so by means of his faculties of knowing and striving.
Now, although man can already essentially distinguish himself from all lower beings in his intellectual activity, yet he has also many properties and activities in common with them that we can only explain from the corporeal things in him: the body that is "inspired" by the soul.
According to the universal law of transitoriness, man, too, will once have to face the inevitable downfall of his corporeal existence: he'll have to die. His composed being will sooner or later fall apart into the two elements it's composed of: matter and soul.
Presupposing the almighty Creator will maintain the cosmic world in its existence for some time to come, the corporeal part of man will take up other forms of essence after his death, and this way continue its existence in other things. Then man's body perishes. It's no longer there.
And what about man's soul?
When the body as such stops existing, and the matter, from which it became a living human organism through the active efficacy of its form of essence, passes into other beings, then the forming function of its soul must of necessity come to an end.
But what becomes of the soul?
Will the soul disappear as a created reality, together with the body?
Will the soul perish as soon as its forming influence on matter comes to an end, just as the body perishes as soon as it's withdrawn from the forming causality of the soul?
It could be so.
After all, the soul, too, has a contingent existence. It exists by the grace of God's free will of creation. It can also immediately fall back into nothingness, if God wills.
But our question is not whether God is able to lead the soul back to nothingness, but whether he is willing to do so. Here we must think of the complete identity of all perfections in God's Essence, lest we might erroneously uncouple in our imagination God's omnipotence from His other essential properties.
Now, to begin with, it's sure even God can't give our souls a death according to nature so that it would "go the way of all flesh". Simply because our souls aren't flesh. They are no corporeal beings. Things corporeal will certainly decay, because in the everlasting change of forms of being, which come and go constantly, every visible and tangible thing composed of form and matter will sooner or later face its downfall. Its unity decays, it loses its consistency, and it disintegrates.
Man, too, has a composed nature. So it's also awaiting its disintegration.
However, when the things of nature that are void of reason disintegrate, they dissolve in matter and form. In this case, matter continues to exist as long as the Creator wills it, whereas form disappears without further preface, because its only function was the active giving of form. But when man dies, he dissolves in matter and ... soul which doesn't decay but continues to exist.
Because a soul is more than only the form of being of a human body.
Form giving is only one function of the soul. We may feel it's the most apparent or at least the most tangible activity of our souls. However, besides this one, they are developing other, more perfect and pure, spiritual activities.
It's these incorporeal activities that made us recognize soul is a spiritual substance, which isn't essentially tied to matter, so can't be subject to a change of matter. The same spiritual activities convince us our souls are simple beings and , hence, can't fall to pieces. Because a soul has its own being that as a principle of spiritual acts must be incorporeal, so can't be composed of parts. If its being isn't composed, it can't dissolve, either. It's unperishable.
Whatever is impossible in itself, can't become reality, not even through God. Therefore, it's unthinkable that a soul might in the moment of death suddenly decay or waste away into a broken or completely imaginary existence.

But there's more we can say about it.
Although we're convinced the soul as a spiritual substance is able to permanently survive and has no potentiality to decay, we still can consider it will eventually depend on God's free will whether the soul will eternally live or not.
Saint Thomas has seen this difficulty.
He refers to Aristotle's principle of natural finality to argue that man's soul will actually have eternal life, in so far as God's plan can appear from the creation we can experience.
"Natural desire can't be idle, because nature doesn't do anything without a sense. Now every intellectual being naturally longs for eternal life, so that it will prolong its existence not only in the species, but also as an individual."
The angelic doctor apparently thinks it's senseless to speak of immortality, unless we credit the individual personality with it. Man naturally longs for the permanent existence of his individual personality. As to the remainings of blood or honourable reminiscences in posterity, family or race of the deceased person, we can't even call it a faint substitute of real immortality.
Moreover, Saint Thomas explicitly speaks out against the thesis that all creatures are naturally striving for imperishableness.
The beings that are void of reason don't do so. In fact, they do at any moment resist downfall, but the natural longing for existence that's evoking this active resistance against every new menace, doesn't reach further than sensory knowledge of being. The animals only perceive momentary being. Therefore, they long again and again for momentary existence. We may say the animals permanently long for existence, but they don't long for permanent existence. Only spiritual substances can long for permanent existence. The're able to do so, only because they possess an intellectual concept of permanent existence.
The power of the demonstration we're giving lies in the true concept of God's omnipotence, which we should not detach from His wisdom.
The one and only wise and almighty Creator made the nature of man's soul such that neither own initiative nor chance can threaten it with downfall. In itself, it's missing any potentiality and possibility of decay. Furthermore, from its striving efficacy it appears it's essentially directed to eternal life. Now God's wisdom is as infinite as His omnipotence. So the Creator won't arbitrarily undo through His omnipotence the wise plans which He's expressing in the revelations of nature.
"Therefore it's impossible the intellectual substances could stop existing", says Saint Thomas.
Man's soul is immortal!

{{In flat contradiction with the scholastical concept of the immortality of man's soul, Materialism teaches it is foolish to call our souls immortal, because in its monistic view it considers a soul as something that can't anyhow become a substance.
Materialism appeared in several forms in the course of history, and it always refused incorporeal substances as being fictive. Materialists equate what we use to call life or thought or spirit or soul to a certain combination of particles of matter - "grosze Köpfe, grosze Geister" - or (often in a mechanical sense) to some efficacy of matter - "Ohne Phosphor kein Gedanke" -.

Following more or less in the footsteps of Leucippus, Democritus, Lucretius, Hobbes, Lamettrie, Holbach and Feuerbach, the physiologists Jacob Moleschott and Ludwig Büchner and the zoologist Karl Vogt propagated a so-called scientific materialism, which brought them to a radical denial of all spiritual values, especially in the publications of Moleschott, who was born as a Dutchman.

In our days, scientific materialism is always completely off the map, although we can't deny that even nowadays many students of exact sciences are at a loss what to do with the problem of immortality, which is in fact a metaphysical problem.
As to this, it's significant to note the judgment of life, formed on scientific grounds, of Professor J.Boeke, who by now is believing in the immortality of the soul as a Christian, but turns out to have no clear idea of the significance of the metaphysical proofs:
"We see not only that life is always tied to living matter, but we also see that life is growing out of existing matter; so life is eternal and immortal, and this concept of the eternal continuity of living matter and life on earth, as man formulated it in the course of the last century, is a scientific principle ... ".

The Song of visible creation

It seems both ridiculous and shortsighted to intend to measure "die Stellung des Menschen im Kosmos", looking only at the external and tangible phenomenons in which this cosmos is appearing before us.
Whoever can't measure but with the rods of material extent or specific gravity, finds no reason and has no right to credit his own personality with a place of honour above all further cosmic entities, which, when measured by the volume or the density of mass, are often superior to this insignificant small human being that is hidden somewhere in a little corner of the immeasurable cosmos and can't readily be found back again.
A man may easily be stupified seeing the enormous measures of the sun and the solar system or the gigantic milky way we belong to or the even more gigantic nebula of stars we can't even see with the naked eye, so that he may forget himself for a moment, so to speak. And homo sapiens may become dizzy when he sees the inestimable figures and enigmatic formulas in which geographers and astronomers try to comprehend corporeal creation. But, nevertheless, he appreciates life more than lifeless things and spirit more than matter, so he understands that the true value of each thing is to be found in quality rather than quantity. And, as to quality, the intellect is standing out far above every other piece of creation, and man is the centre of visible nature.
The seat of honour man is entitled to because of his intellectual and immortal soul, is getting on very well with the humbleness of his body, which isn't very impressive compared to the large measures of many a creature without life or void of reason. For the measures and numbers are playing a subordinate role in the realm of real values.
In the industry of nature and of man, there is often an overwhelming amount of efficient factors and forces that isn't anyhow in the right proportion to the apparently insignificance of the results. It's often the tallest trees that bear the smallest blossoms and fruits, isn't it? Likewise, the useful effect of human exertions isn't very often proportionate to the sum of the exerted forces, is it?
Yet we know the tree by its fruits and we know man by his intellectual and moral performances. However, only creatures that can see with the eyes of intellect, can appreciate this. A wise man pays more attention to the nobleness of the essence than to mass and number. He is convinced of the value of Staring's wellknown sentence: "We measure oakbark in pounds, but cinnamon in grams". We could apply this sentence with a small variation outside the narrow domain of botanical products to the widely divergent values of other cosmic realities, including the relation between spirit and matter: "We measure the body in centimetres, but the spirit in ... a measure that in its simplicity escapes every metric weight or length: the degree of intellectual knowledge and free will".

On the first page of the creation story in the bible, the inspired author wrote down the following passage, which is very flattering for man:
"God said: Let's make man as our image, resembling us; may he reign over the fishes in the sea, the birds in the sky, the fourfooted beasts, and the earth with all that's crawling on it."
These words have an understandable sense even for them who say they can't believe in divine Revelation.
For in the circle of things, man has the highest vocation and, thus, the first right to the servitude of the creatures that are inferior to him as to rank and dignity. Teilhard de Chardin said: "c'est en vue de l'humanité à recueillir que Dieu a lancé le courant des choses visibles".
Apparently, God created the corporeal beings for to maintain and develop human spirit.
Nobody has seen and said this more clearly than Saint Thomas Aquinas, who has a lot of arguments ready to hand in his disquisition about the privileged place the Creator assigned to man, but says the finest things when he refers to the usual course of things:
"In the natural course of things we see that the intellectual substance is using all other things to his own profit: either to perfect his intellect which finds truth in those things, or to develop its forces and assert its knowledge, as the artist expresses his concept in matter, or to maintain the body tied to the intellectual soul."
But, after all, man's body isn't the final end of visible creation. The body is intended to serve the soul; it has to contribute to the development of the spirit. And the forces man is exerting on matter through the body, are eventually serving the own spirit more than the material object. So, in the end, according to the law of nature - that is: according to God's plan - all corporeal beings with their riches of possibilities are essentially intended to form man's intellect and to free man's will.

However, it's rather important to observe the way man's trying to develop his spiritual faculties.
Like every other nature, human spirit is essentially striving for the highest he can reach: the highest good and the highest truth.
Whoever knows only the external manifestation of a created thing, and doesn't really understand the relations of the thing to other creatures and ... God, knows only half of the truth and misses the best chances of spiritual perfection. And whoever is obsessed by the partial good of creation, without realizing that any use and joy he finds in creatures give only a very weak foretaste of divine good which can fully satisfy him, makes his will permanently destitute of the joy that's unrestrained and eternal. Because all creatures are bearing the marks of their origin and final end, that is: of God's truth and love.
To know this truth and to enjoy this love, that's the object of man, who is the pearl of visible creation.
Here lies his highest perfection. All nature is lifting him in that direction.
Saint Paul pointed out to us, and rightly so, nothing can excuse people who think God doesn't exist. Because, to begin with, they fail to seriously search for their own perfection. Moreover, they misjudge visible creation with all its riches that's serving man to raise his spirit and heart to God: "the visible creatures are made so as to show God to the reasonable being called 'man'".

From the beginning of creation, man enjoyed God's visible preference.
Everything is serving him. All things receive existence for the use of man. All things are striving, living and working to serve him.
In lifeless nature, it's the sun, the moon, the stars, the refreshing atmosphere, the fruitful soil and the rich minerals, that are rendering manifold services. The realm of plants is offering man a luxury of shelter, food and spiritual relief. The animals seem to find the very reason of their existence in the sacrifice of their manisided fruitfulness, with which they strengthen and enrich human life.
And everything is lifting man to God.
It's the natural law of all things created they're only satisfied with perfection.
Nature doesn't know arbitrariness. Natural values can't perfectly assert their rights as long as king Man thinks he can dispose of it as a whimsical tyrant.
Man's own natural vocation is obliging him to consciously direct the forces of his earthly realm to the highest perfection of his essence, which is God's image.
This obligation is the condition for his right.
It's this condition he has to satisfy to rightly and honourably bear the royal title that makes him the image of God and the king of visible creation, "das Hohelied der schaffenden Natur" (Von Ranke).