Philosophy, Art, and Nature
Part I. The Machine That Is Grace
Part I . The Machine That Is Grace The idea of grace is born in antiquity and develops in the history of philoso- phy, theology, and the arts. It belongs to Mediterranean culture, but its mean- ing can also be found in other cultures quite different from this one. And so, just as there is an aesthetic of the sublime, an aesthetic of the beautiful, an aesthetic of the tragic, which are sets of values and feelings, there exists an aesthetic of grace. In the religious context, grace is the benevolence that God or a deity manifests toward the human creature, like a sovereign who looks with favor upon a subject and gives him gifts, not because he is obliged to do so, but because this is pleasing to him. As Voltaire writes in his Philosophical Dic- tionary, however, if Emilius Paulus, Cicero, Caesar, Titus, Trajan, Marcus Aurelius (and we could certainly add Seneca) were to return to the Rome for whose glory they had devoted themselves, “you must admit that they would be astonished by your decisions regarding Grace” (Voltaire 1981, p. 353). They would be equally confused, says the witty writer, to hear talk of Aqui- nas’ “Grace of salvation,” Cajetan’s “medicinal Grace,” and “inner,” “exter- nal,” “gratuitous,” “sanctifying,” “actual,” “habitual,” “cooperative,” “effective,” “sufficient,” “versatile,” and “congruent” grace. It is said that everything is grace from God. If this is true, Voltaire goes on to say, we must ask ourselves if God bestows a special grace upon a wolf...
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