Whether what is Transcendent is Dependent?

by Roderick T. Long

[written around 1983, age 19, Cambridge MA; it’s supposed to be a parody of Thomas Aquinas, but ends up not really being different enough from Aquinas to count as much of a parody. For a real parody, see my later inquiry as to Whether Elvis was kidnapped by space aliens.]

Objection I. It would appear that what is transcendent is not dependent. For St. Augustine says: “The spirit becomes transcendent through standing without any other thing.” But that which stands without any other thing is evidently dependent on no other thing. Therefore, what is transcendent is not dependent.

Objection II. Further, to transcend something is to become independent of it. What is transcendent is therefore independent and cannot be dependent as well, for the Philosopher says: “The same predicate cannot both pertain and not pertain to a subject at the same time and in the same respect.” Therefore, what is transcendent is not dependent.

On the contrary: The obscure Transylvanian St. Vitius writes, “O Blessed Pelican! It transcendeth, and yet it dependeth.”

I answer that: Whatever is transcendent has a principle of transcendence within it whereon its transcendence depends. Thus, what is transcendent depends qua transcendent upon its inward principle of transcendence, and therefore what is transcendent is dependent.

Reply to Objection I. The word “without” in St. Augustine’s statement must be understood in the sense of “outside.” Thus, what is transcendent becomes so by standing outside every other thing, but it does not follow that what is transcendent is therefore dependent on no other thing.

Reply to Objection II. What is transcendent is independent of whatever it transcends, but we need hardly suppose that what is transcendent transcends all things and is therefore dependent on no thing. Furthermore, even God, who transcends all other things, is nevertheless dependent on the principle of transcendence within Himself. It is in virtue of this dependence that we declare that the Person of the Son emanates from the Person of the Father in the Holy Trinity.

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