22 May 2014

'Something Eternal': Pitt's notes on spirituality

Scattered about in various record offices around the world are miscellaneous notes in Pitt's handwriting. Most of these are undated as he was writing for himself during his fleeting leisure moments. He probably never imagined they would be seen by anyone else. One of the most intriguing notes in his handwriting is in relation to spiritual matters. It appears that Pitt was taking notes from a book he was reading (possibly on something from, or in answer to, the 17th century philosopher Spinoza as he mentions him by name). The notes deal with spiritual matters - and are apparently on the subjects of eternity, the original creator of the universe (although the word 'God' is not referred to once in the text), and infinity. 

Copied entirely verbatim, this is what Pitt wrote on this complex subject:

“Something Eternal - That Something Source of all Power - most powerful - first Cause. -
Necessary Existence - Cannot be the Material World
Must be something eternal & intelligent - Things void of knowledge could never produce a knowing being.
Only two sorts of Beings in the World, that man knows or conceives - Cogitative & Material Incogitation

Incogitation can never produce Cogitative matter if Eternal can never produce motion, matter and motion if Eternal can never produce Thought. 
Matter cannot in itself be Cogitative (for then Perception etc must be inseparable from every particle). 
First Eternal Being cannot be Matter.
Every particle of matter as such cannot be cogitative.
One Atom alone cannot - A System of incogitative matter cannot, whether in motion or at rest.
Matter need not (cannot) be coeternal.
Material world cannot be self Existent - form - matter - motion. Tendency - one way or every way to some or all. Matter - Gravitation - Vacuum.”

Something Eternal. (Difficulties about Eternity)
Some original Independent Being.
Every thing produced by External Cause, or self Existent
Idea of self Existence. (Eternity and Infinity, therefore, the Substance to which these modes belong - cannot be supposed not to exist without a ContradictionMaterial World not self existent, because the whole, and every Part, their Situation and Motion, the Form and Matter, are arbitrary 
Motion: Tendency to it either one determinate way (it cannot be essential to the nature of any Particle) or every way (which must produce Rest) - or in some matter only it is supposing absolute necessity not universal
Matter must either include Gravitation (and then there must be a Vacuum) or not, and then there never could be motion.
Self Existent being must be Eternal and Infinite because Absolute Necessity is every where and always the same, - But One - necessity simple & number a deformity.
Two (or more) Independent Beings a Contradiction
Intelligent - Cause must have every Perfection that is in Effect, and therefore Intelligence. Intelligent  Beings cannot have been from Eternity without any original Cause - nor have arisen at any Time out of that which had no such Quality (because Perception is a distinct Perfection, and cannot therefore have arisen out of that which had no such for no Effect, etc. - From Final Causes, etc. - From the origins of motion. 
A Free Agent - Consequence of Intelligence - From Arbitrary disposition in the World (Answer to Spinosa) From Final Causes - From Finite Beings - From impossibility of infinite Succession of Causes. 
All powerful - not to work Contradictions - natural or moral Evils - can create Matter - and Cogitative  Substances with Power of beginning Motion, and with Freedom of Will.”

Source:

Miscellaneous Notes in Pitt's handwriting (undated). The Kent History & Library Centre, Pitt MSS: U1590/S5/O11. 

No comments:

Post a comment