Venerable Mary of Agreda on Conception and the Soul.
#31
(12-31-2011, 02:54 PM)Cato76 Wrote: And its this argument I was attempting to make.  If an embryo does not "contain" a soul, then this situation opens up all kinds of arguments for the pro abortionists.  It seems at the moment of conception that the fertilized egg takes on the human character and now has person-hood and deserves protection.   

I'm not entirely convinced that's true. It is proper for the form of man, being created in the image and likeness of God, to be composed of both body and soul. Since this is proper according to the nature of man, it can rightfully be said that the man is distinguished by his unique capacity to host the higher order faculties. Thus, in much the same way that a soul of an infant ever retains its capacity to reason, though it may take several years for this capacity to fully develop, the form of a man ever retains the capacity to receive the infusion of the soul; for such an infusion is proper to his nature as man.

Please consider this excerpt from a piece I wrote against Peter Singer's philosophy on abortion. (NOTE: All I have available to me at the moment is a rough draft, so please bear with me.) For the sake of the argument, it accepts his utilitarian framework but distinguishes between two separate types of potentiality that hint at the importance of looking beyond the collective whims of humanitarian sentimentality as the source of the moral order.

Quote:In order to understand the full moral implications afforded by potentiality, we must understand its complete nature. If we intend to understand its complete nature, we must first acknowledge the distinction between two different kinds of potentiality. The first kind is that potential which denotes existence in possibility – capable of development into actuality – only by means of an external force. By this I mean that the potential is static and non-moving. It can only be actualized through an application of external accelerants. For the purposes of clarity, I shall refer to this type as passive potentiality.

          As an example, let us consider a nation which is governed by the hypothetical political system of a ‘democratic empire’. Say, for instance, that every member of the nation has the potential to be elected to the throne by means of the citizenry. In this system, since none of the citizens are heirs to the throne, there is no immediate expectation of imperial rights or authority by any of these citizens once the emperor is dead. Each of them is as equally capable of being elected to the throne as any other. If a certain citizen desired to increase his chances of becoming emperor, he would have to accept the influence of outside agents that would make him more likely to be chosen by the demos. In his present state, however, he has no guarantee of the position when the emperor dies because the appointment is effected by the desires of the people. In this way, he has no more right to the throne than anyone else. Indeed, no one has any intrinsic “right” to the throne at all.

         The second kind of potentiality is that which denotes existence in possibility – capable of development into actuality – by means of progressive inheritance. By this I mean that it is a latent capacity which will become manifest in time unless inhibited by an external force. For the sake of clarity, I will refer to this application as active potentiality. 

          For example, let us consider this potentiality within a monarchy whereby an heir to the throne of the king awaits the inevitable consequence of time, a consequence which will yield his inheritance of the crown. By means of his heredity and hereditary connection to the monarch, there is an imminent expectation, anticipation, and presupposition that the prince will be the heir to the throne of the kingdom upon the death of his father; moreover, there is the expection that he will acquire the rights most proper to that office. Of course, as prince, he is not the king and only maintains the potential for this authority. But this potential is such that he will inevitably inherit the rights afforded him by his bloodline unless an outside agent interferes.

          We see this second nature of potentiality evidenced all the way to the micro-level of science. When molecular biologists speak of genetics, they do not say that genomes don’t carry genetic instructions because their phenotypes have not yet been expressed. Instead, they say that a genome is a set of characteristics pending manifestation. If allowed to develop according to their natural design, a gene will express the genetic code it carries in the form of the observable, physiological characteristics of the host. This will occur inevitably unless frustrated by some external inhibition. However, this is only significant insomuch as the genomes are presently in existence. There is no expectation that a phenotype would exist by nature of its own propensity to manifest itself without first relying on the preliminary existence of its genotype. Applying this to our foetus, we can say that these rights are more than just a passive potential; they are rights that are inherited by the very nature proper to the foetus.

. . . and so on and so forth. This was just from an introduction to my argument, so the conclusion was much later. A more concrete example way to think of the difference might be the distinction between any potentially existent being and a sperm cell that is actively travelling to an egg as a consequence of its own biological programming. The former requires an willful accelerant for actualization; the latter is actively progressing toward its natural end.

Anyway, as it pertains to pro-abortionists' arguments gaining merit in light of an conception-infusion interval, the point here is simply that the rights of a thing are derived from the nature proper to that thing, not from what faculties are manifested by an individual at some arbitrary point in time.
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#32
(01-02-2012, 02:41 AM)Gerard Wrote:
(01-02-2012, 01:26 AM)orangemetal Wrote:
Crusading Philologist Wrote:Well, that isn't quite what I'm saying. My point was that form is what makes a thing what it is, so I don't think a bunch of matter would develop and function as a human body develops and functions unless the matter had the form of man "in it."
Wait a minute doesnt Genesis say that God formed Adam's body from the slime first and then infused a living soul into it?

"And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth: and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul. "

That reads as simultaneous infusion of life and soul.  The slime doesn't seem to have been "living slime" that had a soul infused into it.  It seems more like a transformation from slime to flesh at the same moment the man's soul was in his body.

Actually the opposite. There was a face, for example, before life was breathed into it.
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#33
(01-02-2012, 10:22 AM)Habitual_Ritual Wrote:
(01-02-2012, 02:41 AM)Gerard Wrote:
(01-02-2012, 01:26 AM)orangemetal Wrote:
Crusading Philologist Wrote:Well, that isn't quite what I'm saying. My point was that form is what makes a thing what it is, so I don't think a bunch of matter would develop and function as a human body develops and functions unless the matter had the form of man "in it."
Wait a minute doesnt Genesis say that God formed Adam's body from the slime first and then infused a living soul into it?

"And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth: and breathed into his face the breath of life, and man became a living soul. "

That reads as simultaneous infusion of life and soul.  The slime doesn't seem to have been "living slime" that had a soul infused into it.  It seems more like a transformation from slime to flesh at the same moment the man's soul was in his body.

Actually the opposite. There was a face, for example, before life was breathed into it.

That doesn't mean it was a flesh face.  The slime could have been in the shape but transformed into the human at that moment.  No different than a marble statue having a "face."

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#34
(01-02-2012, 12:36 PM)Gerard Wrote: That doesn't mean it was a flesh face.  The slime could have been in the shape but transformed into the human at that moment.  No different than a marble statue having a "face."

Ah...well now were just inferring...which is fine by the way but hardly empirical or dogmatic.
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