On Fordham University stationery,
Francis Canavan, S.J., replies to
The essay he refers to therein is posted
August 3, 2011
April 6, 1994
Bronx, N. Y. 10458
Dear Mr. Flood,
Thank you for letter in reply to my
piece on knowing the good. Rather than try to answer all your
questions in detail, I enclose
an essay I wrote
ten years ago. It still may not answer your
questions, but it is the best I can do.
I would add only one point to it by
way of clarification. It is that all things, animate or inanimate, tend
to be instead of to not-be. Nature and natures are dynamic, not static,
and what they tend toward is their natural good. That is why the
universe exists at all, for if things had no tendency to exist rather
than not exist, the universe would have gone out of existence long ago,
if indeed it had ever come into existence.
If good is not the object of natural
tendency, then it seems to me that it will be reduced to pleasure or
felt satisfaction. Not that the achievement of natural good is not
accom-panied by pleasure, but the pleasure is conse-quent on the good,
and does not constitute it. One can go down the road of reducing the
good to the pleasure that accompanies it, of course, but our liberal
culture has already gone down it and I don't see it as getting anywhere.
By the way, I called you a young man
because you looked young, Besides, when one gets to my age, 40 is
Francis Canavan, S.J.
The Jesuit University of New York City