Chapter 2

Bodies

So the phenomenological grounds for saying that there is a real effect here are these: our perceptions at any one moment seem to be perceptions of many distinct objects, each of which is both many different acts and some kind of unification of these acts, such that a given set of acts "belongs to it" and not to other objects in my perception at that time.

And, as I was just saying, the problem can't be dissolved consistently, because (a) it is impossible to deny that in our experience there are these collections that "go around together," and (b) since these multiple units are only parts of the total experience at any given moment, then the (one) mind can't account for the many multiple units, or an identical cause would be the explanation of different effects.

Hence, there has to be some "glue" "out there" that explains why this set of acts "belongs together" as only this set, and that set of acts belongs together as only that set.

Let me now make a few definitions:

A set is any multiplicity that is experienced as or considered as a unit A member is one of the multiplicity that make up the set.

Sets, then, can be "units" that are recognized to have no real unification about them, and are simply considered as units because we choose to lump all the objects together. Thus, we recognize that there is no real unity in the set of all red objects just because each of them happens to be red; if you paint one of them green, this makes no objective, real difference to any of the others, and the only thing it does to the set is make it one member less than it was.

Of course, sets can also be real units; the human body, for instance, can be thought of as a set of cells or a set of organs. "Set" is the largest class of multiple units: it includes within it both those multiple units that have no real unification and the units that are somehow objectively one as well as being objectively many.

The next smallest category is the system.

A system is a multiplicity that acts in some way as a unit. An element is one of the multiplicity that makes up a system.

So a system is a set in which there is a real unity of some sort (since it acts as a unit as well--obviously--as acting as a multiplicity). Thus, the solar system is not just a set of heavenly bodies; there is the gravitational interaction among the sun and its planets that makes the whole system go through space together, and which is such that moving the earth to a different orbit would disturb the orbits of all the other planets to some degree. Hence, the bodies in the solar system have a real effect on each other, or a real interaction with each other; and this makes them behave, to some extent, as a unit.

Clearly, then, the difference between a mere set and a system is some kind of unifying activity. This would have to be the case, or the unity could not be something real. The fallacy in the views of Hume, Kant, and Dewey can be seen in the fact that logically speaking they could talk about nothing but sets, and it would be impossible to distinguish something like the solar system from the set of left-handed people, whose "unity" is just a fact about each of them.

In many systems, the unifying activity is even observable and measurable. We can, for instance, measure the gravitational attraction of the sun for the earth, and can pretty well "map out" the gravitational field of the sun and the place that the planets have in this field.

It seems reasonable to say that any field establishes a system as soon as it acts on any other object. But of course there are other acts besides fields that make systems out of objects. A society is a system of human beings who are unified (i.e. interact with each other and behave together) by the laws or the expectations of the group as such: the constitution of the society, whether this is written or not, is the unifying activity of the society. Even something like a family or a car pool has a set of expectations for the members and it is this that makes it a what the sociologists call a "group" and not a haphazard gathering. (Note, however, that in a society, the individuals are called "members" rather than "elements" to stress that in this system the individuals are what is important and what the system is really "for"). That the constitution is something active is clear from the fact that when the laws are not enforced (i.e. made to affect the behavior of the members), the society falls apart.

But, of course, there are systems and systems. Some are so loosely knit that they might as well be sets, like the people that happen to be traveling together on an airplane, where the only "interaction" they have with each other is the common courtesy any person owes another; they are not "working together" in any real sense to get to a "common goal." Other systems, however, are so tightly unified that to think of them as a plurality of interacting objects is ludicrous: an animal, for instance. If you kick a dog in the hind quarters, you find its teeth in your leg, not because there is a "linkage" between the two, but because the dog has been attacked, and the dog responds.

A body is a system whose unity predominates over its multiplicity. A part is one of the multiplicity in the body.

It should be clear from the definitions of system and body that a body is a special case of a system; but while there is a clear difference between a mere set and a system (because the set has no unifying activity and the system does), there is no obvious dividing line between a mere system and a body.

One could argue, for example, that a desk is a body, because all the pieces of wood that make it up are screwed and glued together, and it "goes around" as a unit. But on the other hand, the pieces of wood themselves are not really different in any significant way by being attached to the other pieces. The same could be said, actually, for the different molecules that make up a given piece of wood. If you break it apart, then what was attached is no longer attached, that is all; but the molecules themselves are still what they were.

On the other hand, if you "break" a single molecule of wood, you don't have wood at all any more, but carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, which have entirely different properties from wood. So something in the way these atoms are "attached together" makes the system behave in an entirely different way from the mere sum of the parts, as in a board of wood.

Hence, it would seem obvious that if there is to be a dividing line between a system and a body, then the molecule is definitely on the "body" side of the line. And this can give us a criterion for distinguishing bodies from mere systems:

Conclusion 1: A system is a body if its behavior as a unit is significantly different from the behavior of its parts.

But why call a tightly knit system a "body" and not something like a "thing"? The reason for this, as we will see, is that a body is something material, not spiritual, and it seems that spiritual things cannot have parts in the sense that a system or body would have.

That is, in order for something to be a system or a body, each of whatever is "multiple" about it (the element or the part) has to be distinct from the others and connected to them by some activity. But spiritual acts, since they have no quantity, do not have this distinctness and separation. We saw that consciousness, while in some sense it is not the same as being-conscious-of-being-conscious, it still contains that "other" act within it while it is contained within the "other" one, so that the "two" of them are as much one as two. This is not a system of two interconnected acts, since each is in reality the other one.

Hence, it would seem that in order for there to be the distinctness which would make for a real multiplicity as well as a real unification, there has to be limitation on the level of quantity.

And if this is true, then we can say the following:

Conclusion 2: God is not a system nor a body.

But getting back to bodies, just as there may be disputes about whether a given object is a body or a system, there is also no clear-cut way of saying what a part of a body is. Are the parts of the human body, for instance, the various "systems" within it, like the circulatory system, the digestive system, the nervous system, or are they the organs that make up these systems, or the cells, or the molecules in the cells, or the atoms, or the subatomic particles, or what?

The answer, I think, lies in what you want to focus on in considering the body as a multiple unit. Any body big enough to be observable with the naked eye actually has many subunits within it (at the very least, atoms), each of which could be considered a kind of body in its own right, except for the fact that it is unified into the larger unit, which is what "really acts" as a unit.

The ultimate parts, I suppose, would be the single acts (like electricity, magnetism, the "strong force," and so on) which are unified into the various subatomic "particles," when then are unified by their interactions with each other into the atoms, which interact to form the units that are molecules, which then (in living bodies) are unified into cells, and then organs, and then systems of organs, and then finally the body, the whole.

But if what you are talking about is a body and not a mere system--something like a dog, for instance--then the unifying activity(2) of the whole permeates, predominates over, and governs all of these subunits, because in fact the body "behaves" more as a unit than as an interconnected multiplicity. Hence, which of the subunits is to be taken as "what is unified" by the unifying activity of the whole is arbitrary--and so depends on the convenience of the investigator.

That is, it may be, for some purposes, that it would be better to consider a dog to be a unified multiplicity of cells; but for some other purpose it might be better to consider it as a unified multiplicity of organs; or if you want to consider the dog as analogous to other physical bodies, then it would be more reasonable to look on it as a unified multiplicity of molecules or atoms, and so on. Any of these is a valid way of looking at the dog, since they are all unified by the primary interaction, which is whatever makes the dog as a whole act primarily as a unit.

And this is particularly evident in living things like dogs, because the initial cell, once it is "activated" by fertilization, actually builds the other cells with their differences and constructs them into organs and systems of organs which are distributed throughout the body in such a way that they are all "functional": that is, they exist and act for the body as a whole first and foremost, and themselves secondarily. In fact, if they start acting to the detriment of the body, as in cancer, the body as a whole produces acts (from other parts) that destroy them and keep the body as a whole intact.(3)

Let us look at this unifying activity a bit. First of all, it would seem that what the unifying activity is is the interaction of the parts: what they are doing to each other to "hold together" so that the whole thing behaves primarily as a unit. This would mean that, from the point of view of one part, the body is a system, and the unifying activity is a kind of "behavior" of that part (a sort of property of it) by which it acts on the other parts and is acted on by them. From the point of view of the part, in other words, the unifying energy appears as a kind of set of forces interconnecting it with the other parts.

The reason for saying that the unifying activity is an interaction of the parts comes first from what we know of systems that are not things, like the solar system, where what unifies the elements is their interaction with each other; and secondly from the fact that the unifying activity has to permeate the parts so that it also is involved in the unification of the subunits of the parts themselves to some extent--which implies that it enters into the makeup of the parts themselves instead of being something that glues them together and is externally imposed on each of them.

Thus, if you mix hydrogen and oxygen, what you have is first of all a system: a gaseous mixture of hydrogen and oxygen, with each molecule of hydrogen and oxygen connected gravitationally with the others. But if you pass a spark through the mixture, then you get water, which is liquid at room temperature and has behaviors that belong to the compound as a whole.

But the hydrogen and the oxygen, in forming the compound, give up some of their energy (which is released in the heat of the explosion); and this shows that neither the hydrogen nor the oxygen behaves as it did when it was hydrogen or oxygen; each atom loses some of its identity, and "shares" its electrons somehow with the other atoms in the compound, so that there is a new kind of energy-field in the whole compound in certain places of which we find elements of what used to be the hydrogen (its nucleus, for instance) and the oxygen.

It is this new "shape of the internal space": this internal field, which can be considered as a "trading" of energy between the parts, that is the unifying activity that makes the compound now a water molecule and not a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen. But this "internal space" is all through the molecule, the chemists insist, and is not something that just connects the atoms, as if it were a kind of string tying them together; it has borrowed from them in such a way that as parts they are not what they were when they were not parts. Since, for example, the electrons now "orbit" the entire molecule, then if you break the molecule up again into hydrogen and oxygen, you won't necessarily get the same atoms that went into the molecule. Each will have the right number of electrons, but they won't necessarily be the electrons that it had originally. Forming a molecule and breaking it up again is like cashing in four quarters for a dollar and then cashing in the dollar for four quarters; you get four quarters back, but not the same ones.

I stress this, because it is all too easy to see a body as a mere system of bodies that are "held together" by forces, and to think that what it "really is" is the parts that it is made up of, and the interaction is external to the parts and is simply imposed on them. But if what you are talking about is a body and not a system, this interaction, not the parts, is what is primary about the body.

And this again can be seen from living bodies, where the parts wear out and are replaced with other parts of the same type, and the body continues to be the same body. We all completely renew our skin, they say, every seven years; but the new molecules we have that make up the new skin cells make very little difference to the body as a whole; the body remains one and the same, even if the parts come and go.

This is not quite true, however, and it is another effect which we will consider in the next chapter; because different parts (for example, more of them) will necessarily have to enter into the interaction, and so the interaction itself will have to be somehow different. But for now, what I am getting at is that it isn't the parts that define what body you are talking about, it is how the parts are behaving together as a unit.

Let me emphasize this and say why it needs emphasizing: The "material fallacy" is the fallacy of considering the parts (the material) as what is primarily the body; what makes the body what it is is its unification, not the parts or what it is "made of."

The reason this fallacy is so widespread is that physics, which is supposed to be "the science of all sciences" looks on bodies as systems of interconnected parts; and therefore from its point of view, what is primary is the parts--which have various forces interconnecting them. Thus, physics considers chemical molecules "nothing but" a certain configuration in space of atoms, which are configurations of subatomic particles; and the impression given is that the configuration is some kind of accidental way in which the elements happen to be arranged.

But of course, from that point of view, the chemical bond (which establishes the internal space of the molecule) is secondary to the subatomic particles, which are what the molecule "really is," and so a water molecule is not really all that different from a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen, except that the forces are rearranged and stronger than before.

But this ignores the fact that the molecule is completely different from its component parts, and they themselves are enormously different from what they would be if they weren't parts of it.

And in fact, the material fallacy is self-destructive, because the subatomic particles are only "configurations" of the "basic forces" (energies): electricity, magnetism, etc. But in that case, what a body is "made of" is energy. The assumption in the material fallacy is that if you can get these energies out of a body or system by breaking it up, then these are the only forms of energy there "really are." But of course, that is absurd. Energy can be transformed into different forms; and when electricity and magnetism get transformed into an electron and a positron, for instance, we get a new form of energy, the mass, which is not "just a configuration" of electricity and magnetism.

Similarly, the binding energy of an atom is a new form of energy (its internal field), with which electricity has a great deal to do, but which it is not the same as (since an electrical field extends outward through the universe, and the internal field in an atom precisely stops and is "tied up" in the protons and electrons). It is a falsification to look at the internal field of an atom as "merely a configuration" of the force connecting the subatomic particles.

I hasten to say that it is a falsification to consider it merely in this way. It is, of course (among other things) a configuration of the interactions of the parts of the body. But when you are talking about the internal field of an atom, it controls the whole thing in a sense entirely different from the sense in which the gravitational field of the solar system "controls" the behavior of the sun and the planets.

So there is nothing wrong with physics taking the point of view of considering bodies as systems, because they are systems. What is wrong is considering this point of view as the "real" or even "more true" point of view. In the case of a body, it is a secondary point of view, no matter how true it is; and the real energy defining the body is the unifying energy; it is not the "component energies" at all, because these component energies are subordinate to and controlled by the unifying energy.

But of course, if the unifying energy is the interaction of the parts, then we can draw the following conclusion:

Conclusion 3: A body acts as a whole in and through its parts.

That is, it is bound to be simultaneously true that when the body does something, some part or parts does something; the body can't do anything "by itself," without having some "mechanism," some part, do the act. The reason for this is that the body is (a) the parts, and (b) the interaction of the parts. But since the interaction is the act of the parts connecting each other into the dynamic unit, then obviously, if the body acts, then it is a part acting as interconnected with the other parts.

Thus, when I open my eyes and see something, I see, but my eyes and brain do the seeing. But they don't see "by themselves," because the seeing is affected by the state my whole body is in, to such an extent that if I am concentrating deeply, the information can be getting into my eyes and brain, but no consciousness occurs, and so on. My unifying activity cannot see "by itself" either, however; it can only see if it has eyes that are intact in their functioning.

Similarly, when I get a virus, which cheats my cells into becoming factories for manufacturing virus particles, my body fights this virus by making antibodies which attack it; the unifying activity can't destroy the virus just by itself. Or if I receive a transplanted heart, my unifying activity "recognizes" the heart as not a part of my body by means of certain "detector cells" and then the interacting parts by their interaction create cells that attack the foreign object to destroy it. Fortunately, since I need some kind of pump for my blood, I can block this self-defeating rejection by destroying the parts that do the job of rejecting.

This intimate relationship between the parts and the unification shows that Plato's notion that the "soul" or what makes the living body a unit is not a "something" that gets into the body the way a pilot sits in a ship, directing it; the unifying activity is the way the parts themselves are behaving as together. So here we have no Cartesian "ghost in a machine" the "ghost" comes from the parts and is the way the parts behave together; it is just that, in a body, this interactive behavior is what is primary about the body, and more "important" than what the parts are doing "for themselves."

Now then, since there are different kinds of bodies, and especially different kinds of bodies that have the same parts (and even the same number of the same kinds of parts), we can draw our next conclusion:

Conclusion 4: The form of the unifying activity defines the kind of body.

Thus, there are different kinds of sugars, sucrose, dextrose, fructose, and so on, all of which are made up of six atoms of carbon, six atoms of oxygen, and twelve atoms of hydrogen (C6H12O6); but they behave differently because of the way these atoms are "configured": that is, because of the way they are interacting or the shape of their internal fields.

But there isn't actually all that much difference among sugars; but when you get to dogs, cats, and other mammals, you can see the vast differences which depend, not on the parts, but upon the way the parts are interacting. If you take a dog and a cat, say, that weigh the same, you will find that the number of molecules in each body is for practical purposes the same, and the proportion of each element (carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, etc.) is the same in each case. The difference does not come from what the dog and cat are made of, but from how these parts are arranged to form the body. Remember, the initial cell builds the whole body and distributes the elements into the organs, which this whole as unified in this way needs in order to behave as a whole in the particular way it behaves: as a dog in one case and a cat in the other.

And, as I said, the parts keep getting sloughed off and replaced with other parts of the same type; and the body, even if it becomes different in some sense, doesn't become a different kind of body. And the reason for this is--and has to be, if you think about it--that the kind of interaction among the parts remains the same kind of interaction throughout (even though it may differ, for instance, in degree at various stages of the animal's development).

Hence, the conclusion above is valid: what makes a body a given kind of body is the type of interaction among its parts, or the form of the unifying activity, not the parts themselves(4).

It would follow from this that as long as the parts are interacting in a given way, the body is the kind of body in question, whether it looks superficially like other bodies of the same type or not. Because, for instance, Black human beings can unite sexually with White humans and produce offspring that are also fertile, and, so to speak, neither black nor white, we can argue that Blacks and Whites have basically the same kind of unifying activity, and so are the same kind of body--even though skin color, hair texture, and various other characteristics are different.

Similarly, a young child is one and the same thing as the adult he turns into, even though he increases his energy-level as a whole, and even acquires new acts (like sexual potency) in the process, and even though as a child he looks quite different from the way he will look as an adult. But there doesn't seem to be enough of a change at puberty so that it is reasonable to say that he has turned into a different kind of thing.

On the other hand, a caterpillar seems to be organized in a quite different way from the same body when it is a butterfly. And, in fact, there is no gradual development of the caterpillar into the butterfly; it grows first of all into a larger and larger caterpillar; and then at some stage something triggers a mechanism by which the body completely rebuilds itself, with new organs and a new metabolism and so on. Hence, even though the caterpillar-butterfly is, through its life, one and the same (individual) body, it is two different kinds of bodies in the larval and adult stages; the parts are interacting in different ways.

This, actually, can lead to a solution to the abortion question, which turns on whether the embryo and fetus are actually human beings or (a) parts of the mother or (b) in a prehuman condition, the way a caterpillar is a different kind of thing from the butterfly it will be.

If the embryo or fetus were a part of the mother, then it would be subsumed into the whole body and be acting for the body as a whole. But from the very beginning, embryos make their host organism sick; and the developing embryo and fetus will take chemicals from the mother (calcium, for instance) that she needs and develop at her expense if she doesn't ingest enough calcium for both. It is also now known that the mother's body tends to reject the embryo at the beginning, and that this parasite creates mechanisms to block the mother's rejection. Hence, there is all kinds of evidence for saying that the embryo or fetus is a foreign parasite or at best a symbiote, and not a part of the mother's body at all.

If the embryo or fetus were in a pre-human state, then it would have a different kind of unifying activity, which would adapt it (presumably) to its life inside the uterus; and at birth there would be a metamorphosis analogous to that of the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into the butterfly.

But the organs the embryo develops from the very beginning (the eye, for instance, which is one of the very first organs visible) make no sense for its life inside the uterus, but only for its life outside. The only organ that adapts it to its life in the uterus is the umbilical cord, which, of course, is sloughed off at birth; but all the rest are the same organs that the baby has, and are adapted for the baby's life, and in fact are an encumbrance in the uterus as the fetus grows--as any woman who gets a kick from her fetus can testify.

But since it is the parts as interacting that build the organs, then it is obvious that the way the parts are interacting determines what the parts are to be, since the organs are built for the behavior of the body as a whole. But since the organs that are built by the embryo and fetus are the same organs with the same functions as the adult human being, it follows that the way the embryo is organized is from the very beginning the same form of unifying energy as the adult human.

Therefore, from the time of fertilization of the human ovum (when its organization as an ovum is disrupted and it starts developing toward adulthood), the body is a human being.

Either that, or there is no real difference between dogs and cats and it's merely a matter of "personal choice" whether dogs are the same as cats or not, and there's nothing objective about it. Dogs are different from cats, not because of what they are made of, but because of the form of their unifying activity, which we can argue to from the basic shape of the body and the functions of the various organs. But if that is the case, then you must, by the reasoning above, conclude that fetuses are not "fetuses," but human beings.

Because, however, there is a controversy about whether fetuses are human (as there used to be about whether Blacks or Jews are human), we can draw the following conclusion:

Conclusion 5: The unifying activity of a body is not observable from outside it.

And this would have to be the case. The unifying activity is simply the interaction of the parts which makes the body one body. It follows from this that if the unifying activity were to be "observable" (and so act on the observer), it would have to integrate the observer into the body, making him a part of it.

And, as I mentioned when discussing the transplanted heart, what the body as unified actually does is exclude what does not belong to it (what isn't a part of it) from the body; hence, the unifying activity not only unifies the body, it separates it from other bodies.

This, of course, occurs also in the inanimate realm, and it is why you can't put your hand through the table when you lean on it. It is not that the wood of the table is continuous, but that the internal field of the wood (the unifying activity) is such that it does not allow your hand (which has its own internal field, of course) to "get in the spaces between the atoms" and so pass through the wood.

Of course, wood is porous, and so there are some bodies that can go through the wood without disrupting its organization; so this exclusion is not absolute. And obviously pregnant women show, some bodies can have totally different bodies inside them. And this, of course, is also true when we harbor parasites like tapeworms inside our bodies. The point, however, is that these "inside" bodies are still really excluded from the body as such; they just happen to occupy part of the place that the larger body occupies, and its interaction occurs "around" them, as it were, as if it were a doughnut and they were in the hole.

To take the next step, since there are many instances of the same kind of body, and since the kind of body is defined by the kind of unifying activity, are the many individual bodies simply the fact that there are many cases of parts unified in exactly the same way, or do the unifications differ in each case? That is, is the unifying activity a kind of spiritual act--a pure form of activity holding the parts together--or does it itself have a quantity?

The answer, it seems, is clear if we consider living bodies, which grow. Provided we don't have the case of a metamorphosis, like a caterpillar into a butterfly, we have every reason to believe that the growing organism has the same kind of unifying activity throughout; but the body as a whole has different behaviors and different degrees of behavior through its life, so that at the beginning it can do much less and many fewer acts than it can do later.

But if the acts depend (as it seems they would have to) not only on the parts (which are there from the beginning) but on their interaction, then it would seem that the interaction itself has to be different later from what it was before. But since it is the same kind of interaction, then there must be a difference within the same kind of interaction, and this sort of thing is the definition of quantity.

Furthermore, even in inanimate bodies, different bodies seem to have different "powers" as a whole, even if they have the same parts. There are atoms, for instance, which have received extra energy and are moving around faster than other atoms that have the same parts. And, in fact, the color of a body is explained in physics by the fact that the body absorbs energy, which "knocks the electron from its ground-state shell" into a high energy state which is unstable, and then it "falls back" into its ground state. Now this "state" has to do with its interaction with the nucleus, or its position in the internal field of the body; and this interaction is, of course, the unifying activity of the body. Hence, the interaction must be susceptible of degrees while remaining basically the same kind of interaction, which means that it has a quantity.

Of course, it stands to reason that the interaction of the parts of a body is a form of energy; but since it isn't directly observable from outside, we have to have observable evidence that would settle the question of whether the body is unified by a spiritual act or whether the act is a form of energy, with a quantity.

But it seems that the evidence above settles it, and so we can draw this conclusion:

Conclusion 6:The unifying activity of a body is a form of energy (with a quantity).

There are a couple of peculiarities here to be noted. First of all, even though it is a form of energy and is in principle measurable, it will not in practice be able to be measured, because of Conclusion 5 above: that it is not observable from outside.

That is, you couldn't get a measuring instrument inside the body to measure it, because the instrument would not be a part of the body, and so would not be interacting with the other parts, in which case, how could it measure the interaction? At best, even if you could get the instrument inside, it would be "inside" in the sense that the fetus is inside the mother or the air is inside the hole in the doughnut; it wouldn't be "inside" in the sense that a part is inside (integrated into) the body.

This is not, however, to say that you can't make a stab at measuring the unifying energy indirectly, since it is energy and has a quantity. For instance, you can note the difference in total energy of the parts as not integrated into the body and the total energy of the body, and the difference will obviously have something to do with the unifying energy.

But this is by no means a simple indicator, as is shown by the fact that the total energy in a water molecule is considerably less than the total energy of two atoms of hydrogen + one atom of oxygen taken separately. You "add" them together into a body and the result is less (and the excess, of course, is given off as heat).

But how can that be? Simply that the atoms lose their reality as atoms when they are in the molecule; it is not a system of interconnected atoms. And, of course, if they lose their identity as atoms, then each of them as a part doesn't need all the energy it needed to be a body in its own right; and so it doesn't just "connect itself" to the other atoms with its field, but "gives up" all the energy it doesn't need--some of it to the construction of the new internal field, and the rest just dumped into the surroundings.

So how much energy is given up to the internal field itself is not obvious from the difference in total energies, because we don't know how much energy is lost out of each component when it alters itself from being a body to being a part of a different body.

This, of course, is another indication that the material fallacy is a fallacy.

While I am on this subject, would it be possible for a spiritual act to unite a body? There does not seem to be anything that would prevent it; and, in fact, in the next part of this book, when we deal with conscious life, we will find that the only reasonable explanation for a body's being able to perform a conscious act (which is in some sense spiritual as "doing itself over again" more than once while being only one act) is that it is organized in a way that is spiritual, but which in one of its "reduplications" of itself it restricts itself quantitatively, uniting the parts of the body. This is not a contradiction, since what can do more can do less, presumably; and so a spiritual act can "empty itself" to doing no more than a certain amount(5).

Notes

1. Thus, when Jesus said, "The Father and I are one and the same thing" in John's Report of the Good News, he explained this a few paragraphs later in saying, "believe the deeds, so that you will recognize and know that I am in the Father and the Father is in me." If what we said above is true, this is a description of Jesus and the Father as spiritual. Of course, Jesus, as having "emptied himself" into acting in a quantified way (i.e. having restricted his infinite activity down to not doing more than human activity--as is conceivable, since what can do more can do less simply by not doing all it can) is also a body and a real multiplicity really unified. In that sense "the Father is greater than I am."

The reason I am putting this sort of thing here in a work of philosophy is that, though the evidence for Jesus' being God is not philosophical (it is the evidence that the New Testament tells what really happened, and the evidence in it that Jesus' statements and behavior are only explainable if he is in fact God), the obviously it has to be possible for God to be a human being, and any philosophical theory would have to leave this possibility open.

Not, I hasten to add, that it is the job of philosophy to leave open the possibility of the truth of Christian revelation; it must be true to itself absolutely and not "fudge the facts"; but there is certainly nothing wrong with pointing out that philosophy, honestly pursued, does in fact show how Jesus' claims could be true--and I think illuminates them, while they in turn illuminate some of the darker areas of philosophical investigation.

2. This term "unifying activity" and later "unifying energy" (because it always is a form of energy, is what replaces the Scholastic "substantial form." In one sense, the two are not exactly equivalent, since as energy, it also is limited quantitatively, and the particular quantitative limitation of the unifying energy is what Aristotle (and especially St. Thomas) were referring to as "matter," as we will see later. Of course, as energy, it always "has" a form; as we will see just below, it is the different forms of the unifying activity which define the different kinds of bodies, not the parts that make them up.

3. It can't always in practice achieve this, of course, as we can see from the cancers that eventually kill the body, making it no longer behave as a unity--and in the process kill themselves, since they can exist only as (recalcitrant) parts of the body.

4. And here is where the unifying energy and "substantial form" coincide.

5. What about the question implied in "This is my body," which Jesus said at the Last Supper? Could the piece of bread be "transubstantiated" into what actually is his body? Presumably it could, if what we are saying is true, but not in the same sense as traditional Thomism has it: that the "substance" is Jesus, but the "appearances" are those of the bread. The appearances are the behaviors of the bread, and what this view seems to be saying is that Jesus "behaves like" bread (e.g. radiates out light from a certain area of space, interacts gravitationally with the surroundings, etc.) just. as if he were bread--which of course he could do if he is divine; but there's no bread there at all.

That's a possibility. But what the discussion above suggests is another one: Jesus takes over the act of unifying the parts that make up the bread. And since the unifying act is what defines the body as such, then the atoms and so on are not interacting as bread, because Jesus himself has replaced this interaction by copying it. But that means that the wafer is in fact Jesus, just as the water molecule is water, not hydrogen and oxygen. In this view, the parts would be there, but the whole is Jesus, and therefore the name of this body is Jesus, not "bread." But of course, since Jesus is imitating the way in which the parts are unified, then the behavior of this body would be that of bread and not a human being.

And, of course, insofar as the different wafers are in different places (i.e. acted on differently by different surroundings), then the bodies which are Jesus would be in different places. But since it is one and the same Jesus who is integrating each of these wafers as his body, then each is his body and all are his body; and his body is in different places simultaneously. And, for instance, if you break one wafer, then each of the two fragments is also unified by Jesus, and so each is now his body.

On this view, the wafer would cease to be his body when the parts were no longer capable of supporting the "bread" type of interaction, as, for example, when the digestive process breaks up the bread. Then what were parts now become bodies or component parts of other bodies, just as the parts of bread would.

It seems to me that this description would make it "truer" that the wafer is the body of Jesus, because there is a real body there, and not a Jesus hiding behind appearances. .

This is not to say, of course, that this theory establishes the truth of the "transubstantiation"; it is just that, if you believe it (on other grounds), then you are not necessarily believing in an absurdity.

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