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ITS PROCESS EXAMINED.

The implicit idea we have of any object is, of its nature, a totality or single whole, being commensurate with the object so far as it has been apprehended. Such an idea may be shadowy and imperfect, or it may be clear and full; but in any case it is simple, and holds a definite place of its own in the mind. We may, if we will, leave it alone as it is; or we may reflect upon it, analyse it, and thus begin to develop it. In this process we go, so to say, round and about it, examining it from different points of view and in varying lights; comparing its several parts and aspects one with another, and these again with the integral whole; we bring in other cognate ideas and knowledge from outside, for comparison and contrast, to aid us in our survey, and take note of such results as we have found obviously to flow from the whole idea and the various views we have taken of it. In this way we have formed in our mind a number of concepts arising out of the simple idea, and on them we must pass some judgment. Thus, on the one hand, the idea remains present to our mind as it was originally, a simple whole, corresponding with our first implicit apprehension of the object; whilst, on the other hand, it appears broken up into its integral parts, that is to say, into a number of particular concepts. These concepts, even of one and the same idea, as also the judgments that may be passed on them, will vary in different minds, according to the more or less true and adequate apprehension that was first formed of the object, the amount of reflection and intelligence brought to bear on the idea, the aspects in which it was viewed, as well as the character or bias of individual minds.

This analysis, or resolution of an idea into its component parts or concepts, is the first stage in the process of development. The other is synthetical,* and consists first in the verification of the concepts, as really belonging to, and normally evolved from, the original implicit idea; then, in passing judgment upon them, determining their relative place and importance; and in fitting them together again in harmony one with another and with the whole original idea as an integral unity.

Let us aply this to development of Christian doctrine. All truths of Christianity, so far as they are of Catholic faith, have their source in the exposition that was first given of them by the Apostles to whom they were originally and exclusively revealed. That exposition was definite, as also was the knowledge of revealed doctrines which the Church thence received. This faith once for all delivered to the Saints+ can admit of no addition or diminution. It hence follows that all subsequent definitions of faith must have been really contained in the explicit teaching of the Apostles, whether oral or written, and were really and adequately known by their successors, at least implicitly. This means that the several verities of faith were given in their totality or whole, and that their integral parts were from the first either explicitly taught, or were held implicitly, as being really contained in the whole. So also were they apprehended and delivered in their totality by the Apostles' successors, and handed down by Tradition.


* "The movement of the inner dialectics by which the mind coins ideas into concepts is essentially one of three stages, thesis, antithesis and synthesis. First comes the rude apprehension of the idea, which is positive; then comes a negative stage, when the judgment analyzes its view, see contradictions in it, and struggles to harmonise them; lastly comes the final harmony, which brings back the confusion to its original unity." -- Dublin Review, July, 1869, p. 62.

+ Jude 3.

 

 

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