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perfection

So Aquinas thinks God is all about form. What else does he think we can deduce? He thinks we can deduce that God is perfect and God is good. That's probably not much of a surprise, but Aquinas means something quite specific when he says these words.

For him, the perfection and goodness at the heart of the mystery of life is best described by the idea of actualization, which means the following.

For humans, to actualize means to realize your inherent potential; to unfold the way you were meant to unfold; to grow into what you intrinsically should become. Much like children carry the as-yet-unknown shape of what they will look like as adults, we all carry a potential maturity, the thing towards which we are most happy growing, the shape of a fullness yet to come. Of course we're all here in the known universe, trapped in the space-time continuum, and we have to go through all these painful form changes and growth experiences to get to who we're supposed to be, to say nothing of all the life events, fear and laziness that hold us back from whatever blooming and becoming we're supposed to be doing. So we have inherent potential, along with time, luck and will, and we use them to realize our potential.

And what of God? In typical style, Aquinas says that God isn't like that; God has no potential and God is not in the process of becoming, because God is already fully actualized. When Aquinas says God is perfect, this is what he means: God is complete, fully realized, fully unfolded, and everything else you can imagine along those lines for a being not constrained by space-time. As Robert Heinlein likes to have his characters say in his novel Stranger in a Strange Land when speaking of things divine, "It's a fullness."

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"Things ... are called perfect when the potentiality of them has been actualized."
(Ia.4.1)

 

"... may you always grok in fullness."
- Stranger in a Strange Land

 
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