Sonntag, 17. September 2017

Self-movement and spiritual death

Death as a theological concept (and mind you, the Genesis narrative presents a theological reflection, not a scientific, or biological, or psychological study) is distinct from mere material (physical, chemical, biological) change, or trans-formation, or meta-bolism, even though it can correspond with it.

Speaking analogically, and using scholastic lingo: Life is auto-motion, self-movement - it is the ability to intrinsically move oneself. Death, on the other hand, is not its contrary, but (rather) its absence. As such, life in the physical world can be observed in various degrees:

  • Plant life is able to move itself, e.g. towards the sun, but only in a somewhat restricted way; it subsists vegetatively, as it is named.
  • Animal life is able to move itself, e.g. towards food, and it is more autonomous than plant life, yet with its own restrictions - it moves instinctively, as one might say.
  • Eventually there is another modality exceeding (but not abolishing) mere vegetative and instinctive movement. Humans participate in this modality, and it can be called rational movement since it incorporates reflecting on both vegetative necessity and instinctive needs, and it is aimed towards actual goals of movement.

Now, mind you: this is physical} life.

In addition to that, one might in analogy speak of spiritual life: the ability to intrinsically move oneself towards something beyond the physical. Christian theology professes that humans are endowed with this kind of life, and that it comprises movement towards God, towards the unconditioned Good, towards the subsisting act of to be.

Both physical and spiritual life are related to one another, but obviously the physical life does not restrict spiritual life as can be seen with the saints who are physically dead but have eternal life. Moreover, eternal life is not merely the indefinite extension of physical life but much much more: it is life as such, intrinsic self-movement as such.

Spiritual death, on the other hand, is the absence of spiritual life, the absence of participation in this modality of auto-motion, which can occur independently from physical death.

Keine Kommentare:

Kommentar veröffentlichen