The devil would like to present man with a cultural vision of the universe that would destroy the very concept of being. However, absolutely speaking, he cannot destroy being. For example, it is not in his power to make the material in this table to stop existing. He can cause a man to lose his soul but cannot destroy that soul. He cannot eliminate being as such. In order to reduce God’s work to the lowest point possible, the devil must not only fight for uniformity against hierarchy, but also work for nothingness, that is, to make the very idea of being completely obscured in people’s minds. He would thus reduce God’s work to the lowest point.
Applying the Five Transcendentals of Being
We will understand it better if we approach the problem from a different direction. In philosophy there are five transcendentals of being. Every being, by the very fact that it exists, has five properties. If the devil manages to instill a completely deformed notion of these five properties in man’s soul, then he has reached the final point of his victory. These five properties are:
1) Esse — Every being is a thing; it is a being. For example, this chandelier exists, and therefore it is a being. Nothing exists which is not a being.
2) Unum — Every being is one. Let us consider a cell. A cell is one, and if it is divided, two beings are formed. An orange is one, though it may be made up of parts; its sections, the pulp sacs, etc. But all this has a unity inside the united being which is an orange.
3) Verum — It has to be true. It has to be in harmony with the idea that man’s intellect has of it. In this lies the truth of being.
4) Bonum — It has to be good. Every being, as such, is good. The devil himself is good as a being, with angelic nature.
5) Aliquid — A being has to be something. A being cannot be something insubstantial, undetermined. It has to be definite; it has to be a thing. Either it is an orange, a bell, an angel, a man, or a cloud. A being cannot be made of nothing.
Three Fundamental Principles of Action
Additionally, being has three fundamental principles of action:
1) The principle of contradiction, by which something cannot be and not be at the same time.
2) The principle of cause and effect, by which every cause has its effect, and every effect is produced by a cause.
3) The principle of finality, by which every being has to have finality.
The devil’s goal is precisely to give man a completely upside down idea of all this; to completely transfigure these notions in people’s minds to the point of giving them a kind of art that denies these things as much as possible. He will truly have attained his end if he manages to distort mankind’s idea of the most fundamental aspects of being.
The goal of the Revolution1 is therefore to create a cultural and human situation in which all this will have been completely subverted. How can we find manifestations of this in modern culture? This would be a very long explanation that I will leave for the next lecture.
Here we will only go into the final part of this principle:
— Although he knows that he can do nothing effective against God, because he cannot eliminate the glory of God, the devil’s objective is to labor ad majorem Dei injuriam.
— On the other hand, he can diminish the extrinsic glory of God by taking souls to hell, souls which would give more glory to God if they were in Heaven.
— Working in this sense, he seeks above all to distort mankind’s vision of the universe as God made it, and thus to stop man from finding sanctification in this vision of the universe. By eliminating the latter, he obtains his objective, which is to cause men’s perdition.
In order to do this, he has to undermine mankind’s exact notions of being and its predicates, as well as the combinations of beings in their variety and hierarchy. If he obtains this, he has attained his objective. The characteristics of being that he must transform are the transcendentals of being. It is also good to remember the three principles of the action of being.
The preceding article is taken from an informal lecture Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira gave in 1957. It has been translated and adapted for publication without his revision. –Ed.
As seen on Nobility.org.
- The word Revolution is used here in the sense given it by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira in his book, Revolution and Counter-Revolution.