“St. Bernard says: ‘There are those who wish to know for the purpose of knowing a great deal, and this is curiosity; some that they may know, and this is vanity; some that they may sell their knowledge, and this is base gain; some that they may be edified, and this is prudence; some that they may edify, and this is charity.’”(The Three ages of the Interior Life, Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P, Ch. 26, footnote 32,

That was a quote from S. Thomas Aquinas in his commentary on First Corinthians (8:1). One thing confuses me and I ask if someone could help me. How does a soul wish to know for the purpose that they **may **know and so fall into vanity as was described abovementioned?

I’m not entirely sure, but in reading it, I would say that the distinction is in WHY you want to know.

The first one, Knowing for the sake of knowing great deal would be like a child or, ideally, a scientist. Someone who seeks knowledge for the sake of knowledge, simply because there are things to be known.

The second, “some that they may know, and this is vanity” probably relates to seeking knowledge strictly for the purpose of not having to concern yourself with something anymore. This would be like a man who seeks proof of God’s existence so that they don’t have to concern themselves with whether or not he exists anymore. This is the opposite of faith and in fact would destroy faith. Faith is acceptance without absolute knowledge off truth. WE have faith that the Catholic Church is true because we see truth in it’s writings and deeds. We cannot -know- that God exists as, say, a scientist can know that water is H2O; but we can KNOW it through faith in such a way that we cannot contemplate of a universe wholly apart from God. We KNOW this to be impossible just as an atheist KNOWs that God is impossible. Both are a matter of faith, but our faith, to us, has more backing it, and offers a fuller picture of reality.

The others are pretty self-explanatory.

A very good question - I wonder if there could be a translation issue involved in this…Sometimes things don’t translate to English so well…

About the only thing that I could offer in way of explanation might be if we emphasize the statement thus: “some that they may know, and this is vanity”.
The thought that came to mind in this is the “know it all” the one who wishes to know, not to edify others, but to appear superior to them.



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