Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Glossing Dante

“Nam in omni actione principaliter intenditur ab agente, sive necessitate nature sive volontarie agat, propriam similitudinem explicare. Unde fit quod omne agens, in quantum huiusmodi, delectatur; quia, cum omne quod est appetat suum esse, ac in agendo agentis esse quodammodo amplietur, sequitur de necessitate delectatio, quia delectatio rei desiderate semper annexa est. Nichil igitur agit nisi tale existens quale patiens fieri debet” (Dante Alighieri, De monarchia, ed. Pier Giorgio Ricci [Verona: Mondadori, 1965], 1.13.2-3, my emphasis). “For in all action what is principally intended by the agent, whether he acts by natural necessity or voluntarily, is the disclosure or manifestation of his own image. Whence it happens that every agent, insofar as he is such, takes delight. For, because everything that is desires its own being and in acting the being of an agent is in a certain way amplified, delight necessarily follows, since delight always attaches to something desired. Nothing acts, therefore, without being such as what is acted upon is supposed to become.” In other words, my action discloses me, pro-duces me, renders me present, visible, as an image, to myself and others. Action does so not only in the weak sense that action, whether as doing or making, expresses or signifies something about me, such as a thought, feeling, or habit I happen to have. Action enacts or produces me, in the stronger sense, as an actuality, that is, on the basis of my existing as or being such a thing that is already and thus can be enacted or produced. Action thus takes on the character of a self-production grounded in the always already produced nature of existence, in the fact of being. And the increase of being that happens through action has the character of a circulation of the original, impossible gift of being, a recreation of createdness. Action gives us our own being, realizes it as our existence, and thus produces the delight of a pure reception, of receiving oneself.

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