I'll be reading, glossing, and posting Thomas Aquinas' Summa Contra Gentiles, chapter by chapter, about twice a week, until the final Amen. Your comments, questions, and constructive criticisms are welcome!

Monday, May 9, 2011


[1] But, again, it can seem to someone difficult or impossible that one and the same simple being, the divine essence for example, is the proper model or likeness of diverse things. For, since among diverse things there is a distinction by reason of their proper forms, whatever is like something according to its proper form must turn out to be unlike something else. To be sure, according as diverse things have something in common, nothing prevents them from having one likeness, as do man and a donkey so far as they are animals. But from this it will follow that God does not have a proper knowledge of things, but a common one; for the operation that knowledge is follows the mode in which the likeness of the known is in the knower. … the likeness of the known in the knower is as the form by which the operation takes place. Therefore, if God has a proper knowledge of many things, He must be the proper model of singulars. How this may be we must investigate.

The annotated edition explains: "As the likeness, so the knowledge. For a knowledge at once particular and all-embracing, there must be in the mind a likeness of all and each of the things known. But God has such a particular knowledge of all and each of His creatures…. There must then be in God a mental likeness of each and every such creature. But whatever is in God is God's own essence, which is one and simple. How then can the one, simple essence of God be a particular likeness of each of the whole multitude of actual and possible creatures? That is the question."

[2] As the Philosopher says in Metaphysics VIII [3], the forms of things and the definitions that signify them are like numbers. Among numbers, the addition or subtraction of unity changes the species of a number, as appears in the numbers two and three. It is the same among definitions: the addition or subtraction of one difference changes the species. For sensible substance, with the difference rational taken away and added, differs in species.

[3] Now, with reference to things that contain a multitude, the intellect and nature are differently disposed. For what is required for the being of something the nature of that thing does not permit to be removed. … But what is joined in reality the intellect can at times receive separately, when one of the elements is not included in the notion of the other. Thus, in the number three the intellect can consider the number two only, and in the rational animal it can consider that which is sensible only. Hence, that which contains several elements the intellect can take as the proper notion of the several elements by apprehending one of them without the others. It can, for example, take the number ten as the proper notion of nine by subtracting unity…. So, too, it can take in man the proper exemplar of irrational animal as such, and of each of its species, except that they would add some positive differences. On this account a certain philosopher, Clement by name, said that the nobler beings in reality are the exemplars of the less noble [cf. Pseudo-Dionysius, De div. nom. V, 9].

[4] But the divine essence comprehends within itself the nobilities of all beings, not indeed compositely, but, as we have shown above, according to the mode of perfection [Sounds rather Scotistic.]. Now, every form, … considered as positing something, is a certain perfection; it includes imperfection only to the extent that it falls short of true being. The intellect of God, therefore, can comprehend in His essence that which is proper to each thing by understanding wherein the divine essence is being imitated and wherein each thing falls short of its perfection. Thus, by understanding His essence as imitable in the mode of life and not of knowledge, God has the proper form of a plant; and if He knows His essence as imitable in the mode of knowledge and not of intellect, God has the proper form of animal, and so forth. Thus, it is clear that, being absolutely perfect, the divine essence can be taken as the proper exemplar of singulars. Through it, therefore, God can have a proper knowledge of all things.

[5] …we must observe in the divine intellect a certain distinction and plurality of understood exemplars, according as that which is in the divine intellect is the proper exemplar of diverse things … [and] as God understands the proper relation of resemblance that each creature has to Him, it remains that the exemplars of things in the divine intellect are many or distinct only according as God knows that things can be made to resemble Him by many and diverse modes. …


… [2] Our intellect cannot understand in act many things together. The reason is that, since “the intellect in act is its object in act,” if the intellect did understand many things together, it would follow that the intellect would be at one and the same time many things according to one genus—which is impossible. I say “according to one genus” because nothing prevents the same subject from being informed by diverse forms of diverse genera, just as the same body is figured and colored. Now, the intelligible species, by which the intellect is formed so as to be the objects that are understood in act, all belong to one genus; for they have one manner of being in the order of intelligible being…. … when certain things that are many are considered as in any way united, they are understood together. For the intellect understands a continuous whole all at once, not part after part. So, too, it understands a proposition all at once, not first the subject and then the predicate, since it knows all the parts according to one species of the whole [This points to one of many problems I have with perdurantism: if there is no subsistent entity to endure through a defense of perdurantism, no one could ever believe, much less defend, perdurantism as a unified doctrine/proposition. Since, however, the propositional unity of perdurantism abides even for and "in" a perdurantist, perdurantism is ipso facto false. Cf. Jaki, Means and Message, performative contradictions, etc.].

[3] …whenever several things are known through one species, they can be known together. But all that God knows He knows through one species, which is His essence. Therefore, God can understand all things together.

[4] Again, a knowing power does not know anything in act unless the intention be present. … But things that must fall under one intention must be understood together; for he who is considering a comparison between two things directs his intention to both and sees both together.

[5] Now, all the things that are in the divine knowledge must fall under one intention. For God intends to see His essence perfectly, which is to see it according to its whole power, under which are contained all things. Therefore God, by seeing His essence, sees all things together.

[6] Furthermore, the intellect of one considering successively many things cannot have only one operation. … But the divine intellect has only one operation, namely, the divine essence…. Therefore, God considers all that He knows, not successively, but together.

[7] Moreover, succession cannot be understood without time nor time without motion, since time is “the number of motion according to before and after.” But there can be no motion in God…. There is, therefore, no succession in the divine consideration. Thus, all that He knows God considers together [i.e. in an essential, perfect whole].

[8] Then, too, God’s understanding is His being, as is clear from what we have said. But there is no before and after in the divine being; everything is together….

[9] Every intellect, furthermore, that understands one thing after the other is at one time potentially understanding and at another time actually understanding. … But the divine intellect is never potentially, but always actually, understanding. Therefore, it does not understand things successively but rather understands them together.

[10] Sacred Scripture bears witness to this truth. For it is written: “With God there is no change nor shadow of alteration” (James 1:17).


… [2] Where there is habitual knowledge, not all things are known together; some are known actually, and some habitually. But, as we have proved, God has actual understanding of all things together. There is, therefore, no habitual knowledge in Him.

I understand "habit" here to mean an abiding, potential power for some operation(s).

[3] Furthermore, he who has a habit and is not using it is in a manner in potency, … [but] we have shown that the divine intellect is in no way in potency. …

[4] Moreover, … an intellect that knows habitually is lacking its operation, but its essence cannot be lacking to it. In God, however, as we have proved, His essence is His operation. …

[5] Again, an intellect that knows only habitually is not at its highest perfection. That is why happiness, which is something best, is posited in terms of act, not in terms of habit. If, therefore, God is habitually knowing through His substance, considered in His substance He will not be universally perfect. We have shown the contrary of this conclusion.

[6] It has also been shown that God understands through His essence, but not through any intelligible species added to His essence. Now, every habitual intellect understands through some species. For either a habit confers on the intellect a certain ability to receive the intelligible species by which it becomes understanding in act, or else it is the ordered aggregate of the species themselves existing in the intellect, not according to a complete act, but in a way intermediate between potency and act. … [7] Then, again, a habit is a certain quality. But no quality or accident can be added to God….

[8] But because the disposition by which one is only habitually considering or willing or doing is likened to the disposition of one sleeping, hence it is that, in order to remove any habitual disposition from God, David says: “Behold He neither slumbers nor sleeps, who keeps Israel” (Ps. 120:4). Hence, also, what is said in Sirach (23:28): “The eyes of the Lord are far brighter than the sun”; for the sun is always shining.

Friday, May 6, 2011

SCG, Book I, Chapter 51–53


[Too much Latin here of prime value not to inscribe.]

[1] [Although God knows other things beside Himself [
quod Deus cognoscit alia a se, cf. I, 49–50],] the multitude of intellectual objects [multitudo intellectorum in intellectum divinum], however, [do not] introduce a composition into the divine intellect…. [2] Now, this multitude cannot be taken to mean that many intellectual objects have a distinct being in God. For either these objects would be the same as the divine essence, and thus a certain multitude would be posited in the essence of God…; or they would be added to the divine essence, and thus there would be some accident in God….

[3] Nor, again, can such intelligible forms be posited as existing in themselves. This is what Plato, avoiding the above difficulties, seems to have posited by introducing the Ideas.
For the forms of natural things cannot exist without matter, since neither are they understood without matter.

[Roughly, tell me everything you can about a "horse" without adverting to its material nature. An eternal, hoofless, headless, organless, spatially undispersed thing is still somehow a "horse"? Right….]

[4] And, even if this position were held, it would not enable us to posit that God has understanding of a multitude. For, since the aforementioned forms are outside God’s essence, if God could not understand the multitude of things without them, … it would follow that His perfection in understanding depended on something else, and consequently so would His perfection in being, since His being is His understanding. …

[A thing is perfect––a thing perfectly "be's"––only insofar as it attains the end to which it tends. But since non-intellectual entities cannot tend to their ends without the guidance of a (superior) intellect (cf. I, 49–50 and the glosses and links therein), and since finite intellects can only attain their ends by a discursive ascent through diverse beings and syllogisms, only a perfect Being perfectly knows and, crucially, only a perfect Knower perfectly exists.]

[5] Furthermore, since whatever is outside His essence must be caused by Him, … if the aforementioned forms are to be found outside God, they must be caused by Him. … Therefore, so that these intelligibles may have existence,
it is required according to the order of nature that God first understand them. Hence, God does not have knowledge of multitude by the fact that many intelligibles are found outside Him.

[6] Furthermore,
the intelligible in act is the intellect in act [The demolition of critical idealism.], just as the sensible in act is the sense in act. According as the intelligible is distinguished from the intellect, both are in potency, as likewise appears in the case of the sense. … If, then, the intelligible objects of God are outside His intellect, it will follow that His intellect is in potency, as are also its intelligible objects. Thus, some cause reducing them to act would be needed, which is impossible, since there is nothing prior to God.

[7] Then, too,
the understood must be in him who understands. Therefore, to posit the forms of things as existing in themselves … must be in the divine intellect itself. [8] [Chapter 52] …the multitude of the aforementioned intelligibles cannot reside in any intellect other than the divine intellect—for example, that of a soul or an angel or intelligence. If this were true, the divine intellect would depend on a lower intellect for some operation. …

[9] Then, too, …
the divine understanding, by which God is a cause, is a prerequisite for the being of the aforementioned intelligibles in some lower intellect. … [11] Furthermore, just as each thing has its own being, so it has its own operation.each thing is through its own essence, not through the essence of another. Therefore, by the fact that there are many intelligible objects in some secondary intellect it could not come about that the first intellect knows a multitude.



We can solve the above difficulty with ease [Praemissa autem dubitatio faciliter solvi potest] if we examine diligently [si diligenter inspiciatur] how the things that are understood by the intellect exist within the intellect [qualiter res intellectae in intellectu existant].

So far as it is possible, let us proceed from our intellect to the knowledge that the divine intellect has [Et ut ab intellectu nostro ad divini intellectus cognitionem, prout est possibile, procedamus]. Let us consider the fact that an external thing understood by us does not exist in our intellect according to its own nature; rather, it is necessary that its species be in our intellect, and through this species the intellect comes to be in act [oportet quod species eius sit in intellectu nostro, per quam fit intellectus in actu]. Once in act through this species [in actu per huiusmodi speciem] as through its own form, the intellect knows the thing itself. … Understanding remains in the one understanding, but it is related to the thing understood because the abovementioned species, which is a principle of intellectual operation as a form [quae est principium intellectualis operationis ut forma], is the likeness of the thing understood.

[As if Kant were the first to wed first primary metaphysics to the order of knowledge! His mistake was to leave the marriage for a masturbatory celebration of the latter per se.]

[3] …the intellect,
having been informed by the species of the thing […intellectus, per speciem rei formatus], by an act of understanding [intelligendo] forms within itself a certain intention of the thing understood [quandam intentionem rei intellectae], that is to say, its notion [quae est ratio ipsius], which the definition signifies [quam significat definitio]. This is a necessary point [Et hoc quidem necessarium est], because the intellect understands a present and an absent thing indifferently [intellectus intelligit indifferenter rem absentem et praesentem; cue the ontology of fiction and a chaste Meinongism!]. In this the imagination agrees with the intellect [in quo cum intellectu imaginatio convenit]. But the intellect … understands a thing as separated from material conditions [sed intellectus … intelligit rem ut separatam a conditionibus materialibus], without which a thing does not exist in reality. But this could not take place unless the intellect formed the abovementioned intention for itself.


[4] Now, since
this understood intention is, as it were, a terminus of intelligible operation [Haec autem intentio intellecta, cum sit quasi terminus intelligibilis operationis], it is distinct from the intelligible species that actualizes the intellect [est aliud a specie intelligibili quae facit intellectum in actu]…. For, by the fact that the intelligible species … is the form of the intellect and the principle of understanding, [it] is the likeness of the external thing…, since such as a thing is, such are its works [Per hoc enim quod species intelligibilis quae est forma intellectus et intelligendi principium…: quia quale est unumquodque, talia operatur]. And because the understood intention is like some thing, it follows that the intellect, by forming such an intention) knows that thing.

[As the intellect partakes of the intelligible by a likeness of being, so the existent takes part of He Who Is by a related, analogous likeness likeness of being.]

[5] Now,
the divine intellect understands by no species other than the divine essence…. Nevertheless, the divine essence is the likeness of all things. … [T]he conception of the divine intellect as understanding itself, which is its Word, is the likeness not only of God Himself understood, but also of all those things of which the divine essence is the likeness [Intellectus autem divinus nulla alia specie intelligit quam essentia sua…. Sed tamen essentia sua est similitudo omnium rerum. … conceptio intellectus divini, prout seipsum intelligit, quae est verbum ipsius, non solum sit similitudo ipsius Dei intellecti, sed etiam omnium quorum est divina essentia similitudo] [NB: A strong suggestion of the eternal decree of the Incarnation!]. In this way, therefore, through one intelligible species, which is the divine essence, and through one understood intention, which is the divine Word, God can understand many things.

[So much for Islam. A theology which posits a pure monad as the epitome of being, has no way to account for the diversity of being as we ourselves diversely manifest it, much less the love of Allah for things outside himself.]

Thursday, May 5, 2011

SCG, Book I, Chapter 49–50

It has been some time since my last posting, so I want to make a quick note of context for the following. In the previous chapters, Thomas has discussed the existence, essence, comprehensibility, and essential self-knowledge of God. He now turns to God's knowledge of and relation to all other "things", basically, the foundation of the doctrine of Creation.


[1] From the fact that God understands Himself primarily and essentially we must posit that He knows in Himself things other than Himself.

This is a remarkable inference to make, since the thesis of the previous chapter was "that God primarily and essentially knows only Himself"! Let us follow the Doctor's dialectic….

[2] An effect is adequately known when its cause is known. So “we are said to know each thing when we know the cause.” But God Himself is through His essence the cause of being for other things. Since He has a most full knowledge of His essence, we must posit that God also knows other things [as their cause].

[3] Moreover, the likeness of every effect somehow preexists in its cause; for every agent produces its like. But whatever is in something is in it according to the mode of that in which it is. If, then, God is the cause of certain things, since according to His nature He is intellectual, the likeness of what He causes will exist in Him in an intelligible way. …

If the objects of God's power were unintelligible––such as a square triangle or a past event that had never happened or, yes, a rock so large that God could not move it––, not just to Him, but essentially intelligible, then they would not be objects of His power. Unreal objects can not be effected, much less generated. Since, however, God knows the likeness of existential power which everything has with His own essential being––i.e. God can "see Himself qua being in all things qua intelligible"––, then God knows those things in the knowledge of His existent power of existence.

[4] Again, whoever knows perfectly a given thing knows whatever can be truly said of it and whatever befits it according to its nature. But it befits God according to His nature to be the cause of other things. Since, then, God knows Himself perfectly, He knows Himself to be a cause. This cannot be unless He somehow knows what He causes.

This ties in with the point above.

[5] If we put together these two conclusions, it appears that God knows Himself as primarily and essentially known, whereas He knows other things as seen in His essence.

[6] This truth is expressly taught by Dionysius…: “In seeing them, God does not insert Himself in singulars, but He knows them as contained within a single cause” [De div. nom. VII, 2]. And later on: “the divine wisdom, knowing itself, knows other things.”

[7] To this judgment, too, the authority of Sacred Scripture bears witness. For it is said of God in the Psalms (101:20): “He looked forth from His high sanctuary”; as though to say that God sees other things from His own height.

While flying from Cebu to Camiguin in the Phlippines a few years ago, I was pondering special relativity and how, the higher one gets, the relatively slower things move. From an infinite distance, therefore, one would see all things in perfect stasis. The key is not to think of God's vision as "really good eyesight", but rather as a form of "ontic intuition" in every nook and cranny of existent reality, which sees, as it were, its own being immediately in those nooks and crannies. This intuition, this non-focal vision, is infinite precisely because it suffuses the extent of being. It is infinite in scope not because it is far from all things and takes them all in, but because it is so close to all things and thus takes them all in as single power of being. Consider what St Athanasius writes in De Decretis (HT to Siris, my emphasis):

For God creates, and to create is also ascribed to men; and God has being, and men are said to be, having received from God this gift also. Yet does God create as men do? or is His being as man’s being? Perish the thought; we understand the terms in one sense of God, and in another of men. … [M]en, being incapable of self-existence, are enclosed in place, and consist in the Word of God; but God is self-existent, enclosing all things, and enclosed by none; within all according to His own goodness and power, yet without all in His proper nature.


[1] …it remains for us to show that God knows all other things as they are distinct from one another and from Himself. This is to know things according to their proper natures.

[2] In order to show this point, let us suppose that God is the cause of every being…. Now, when the cause is known, the effect is known. … By knowing Himself, God knows whatever proceeds from Him immediately. When this is known, God once more knows what proceeds from it immediately; and so on for all intermediate causes down to the last effect. Therefore, God knows whatever is found in reality. But this is to have a proper and complete knowledge of a thing, namely, to know all that there is in that thing…. Therefore, God has a proper knowledge of things, in so far as they are distinct from one another.

[3] Furthermore, whatever acts through an intellect knows what it does according to the proper nature of its work; for the knowledge of the maker determines the form for the thing made. Now, God causes things through His intellect, since His being is His understanding and each thing acts in so far as it is in act.

As the annotated edition remarks: "Since the Creator is an understanding, He understands whatever He gives being to; and giving being to each thing in particular, He understands each in particular."

[4] Moreover, the distinction of things cannot be from chance, because it has a fixed order. … It cannot be from the intention of a cause acting through a necessity of nature, for nature is determined to one course of action, and thus the intention of no thing acting through the necessity of nature can terminate in many effects in so far as these are distinct. It remains, then, that distinction in things comes from the intention of a knowing cause. … Now, the universal distinction of things cannot be from the intention of some secondary cause, because all such causes belong to the world of distinct effects. It belongs to the first cause, that is through itself distinguished from all other things, to aim at the distinction of all things. God, therefore, knows things as distinct.

The annotated edition explains: "This merely means that physical causes act without any definite intention on their part of any particular results to follow from their action. Electrical tension in the air tends to discharge itself in the form of lightning, but not to kill this particular man under the tree, although it does kill. The volcanic nisus prompts to an eruption, but not to the destruction of such and such a city that is built over the volcano."

I recently discussed the order of natural beings and causal finality in this post at FCA, and this section is an interesting textual sidelight. Insofar as art is aimed a diversity of ends, achievable by a range of means, it differs from nature per se, which is necessarily inclined to its own proper end. Thomas' point is that, given a "necessarily monocausal" entity, it will result in a single state of affairs. But the world is not characterized by a single state of affairs, but by formal distinctions, and therefore nature is not self-organized, but subject in its unified diversity to an intelligent guide, God. Thomas will discuss these points at length in II, 39–45, but you'll just have to wait a while till I get to it!

[5] Again, whatever God knows He knows most perfectly. For, as was shown above, there is all perfection in God as in the absolutely perfect being. … Since, then, by knowing His own essence God knows things in a universal way, He must also have a proper knowledge of things.

[6] Then, too, whoever knows a certain nature knows the essential accidents of that nature. The essential accidents of being as being are one and many, as is proved in Metaphysics IV [3]. If, then, by knowing His essence, God knows the nature of being in a universal way, it follows that He knows multitude. But multitude cannot be understood without distinction. Therefore, God knows things as they are distinct from one another.

Cf. I, 50, 9, below.

[7] Whoever, furthermore, perfectly knows a universal nature knows the mode in which that nature can be possessed. In the same way, he who knows whiteness knows that which receives it more and less. … If, then, by knowing Himself, God knows the universal nature of being, and this not imperfectly, … God must know all grades of beings. …

[8] Furthermore, he who knows something perfectly knows all that is in it. But God knows Himself perfectly. Therefore, He knows all that is in Him according to His active power. But all things, in their proper forms, are in Him according to His active power, since God is the principle of every being. Therefore, God has a proper knowledge of all things.

[9] Again, he who knows a certain nature knows whether that nature is communicable. He who did not know that the nature of animal is communicable to many would not know it perfectly. Now, the divine nature is communicable by likeness. God, therefore, knows in how many modes there can be something like His essence. But the diversities of forms arise from the fact that things imitate the divine essence diversely; and so the Philosopher has called a natural form “something divine.” Therefore, God has a knowledge of things in terms of their proper forms.

Cf. I, 50, 6 and I, 49, 3 with gloss, above. To know the fullness of being is to know every possible mode and instance of being. As God perfectly knows Himself qua Pure Being, He knows all things by virtue of their diversely properly likeness to Him qua co-be-ings.

The annotated edition has a note worthy of much consideration:
This is an important principle, often laid down as follows: -- God knows His own nature in all the various modes in which that nature can be copied outside Himself In knowing this, He knows the ideal order, every detail and all inter-relations of details in any possible universe. This is called the knowledge of simple understanding, inasmuch as it is the knowledge of all creatable creatures and their ongoings, antecedent to and apart from the creation and actual existence of any: this knowledge however dwells only in the ideal order of possibilities, and may therefore be called general and universal, though not abstract, inasmuch as it deals with types of individual things, but not with particular existences in rerum natura as actually existing, but only as potentialities. God further knows things outside Himself as they actually and individually exist, inasmuch as all things are of His causation and creation, and exist and act under His will and power. He knows them by insight of Himself, not as He is a mere nature, but as He is a nature willing to create on these particular lines. This knowledge of the universe as the universe actually is for all time, is called the knowledge of vision. For these two knowledges sec Chap. LXVI. The knowledge of simple understanding is not abstract, inasmuch as God knows, not only types of species, but types of different individuals possible in each species; and all these several types He knows, not by so many several ideas, but in the one act by which He knows Himself.

[10] Moreover, men and other knowing beings know things as distinct from one another in their multitude. If, then, God does not know things in their distinction, it follows that He is the most foolish being of all, as He must have been for those who held that God did not know strife, a thing known to all––an opinion that the Philosopher considers to be untenable in De anima I [5]and Metaphysics III [4].

Or the more recent "arguments" by atheists that God cannot be omniscient since, lacking hands, He cannot have the know-how to do a handstand, or, lacking hands, cannot know what it feels like to strangle someone, or, being Truth, cannot know the feeling of lying, and so on. Sigh.

[11] We likewise receive this teaching from the canonic Scriptures. For it is said in Genesis (1:31): “And God saw all things that He had made, and they were very good.” And in Hebrews (4:13): “Neither is there any creature invisible in His sight: but all things are naked and open to His eyes.”

Notice the link in Gen 1:31 between having been made––being––and being good. As truth is the known proper order of all things, the integrated goodness of "all things" in God's knowledge once more signals the convertibility of being, goodness, and truth.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

SCG, Book I, Chapter 45–48

[Formatting note: Instead of bolding and providing Latin for key phrases/points, I have decided to trim the contents down to the key points and put in bold phrases I want to study in Latin for myself.]


[1] From the fact that God is intelligent it follows that His act of understanding is His essence.

[2] To understand is the act of one understanding, residing in him, not proceeding to something outside as heating proceeds to the heated thing. For, by being understood, the intelligible suffers nothing; rather, the one understanding is perfected. Now, whatever is in God is the divine essence. God’s act of understanding, therefore, is His essence, it is the divine being, God Himself. …

[3] Furthermore, the act of understanding is to the intellect as being [esse] is to essence [essentia]. But, as we have proved, God’s being is His essence. Therefore, God’s understanding is His intellect. …

actus cognoscendi : intellectus :: esse : essentia –– No finite essence contains within itself the reason for its being: essentia is not identical with esse. No finite intellect contains within itself the reason for its own act of comprehension; all finite intellects depend on the "input" of their intelligible objects, whereas God's perfect intelligence is thus informed by the plenitude of His own infinitude.

[4] … [N]o perfection belongs to Him by participation but rather by essence. If, therefore, His consideration is not His essence, something will be nobler and more perfect than His essence. Thus, God will not be at the summit of perfection and goodness and hence will not be first.

[5] Moreover, to understand is the act of the one understanding. If, therefore, God in understanding is not His understanding, God must be related to it as potency to act. Thus, there will be potency and act in God, which is impossible, as we proved above.

[6] Then, too, every substance exists for the sake of its operation. If, then, the operation of God is other than the divine substance, the end of God will be something other than God. Thus, God will not be His goodness, since the good of each thing is its end.

Social unity is based on shared love, that is, a shared devotion to a common end. If we, then, love God for Himself, we are united with Him in love, since His own act of being is to know and love Himself as Himself. Moreover, since God knows each of us and all things in Himself, we quite literally find ourselves in Him––as we find all things in knowing and loving Him. God's love extends to all things in so far as they partake of His being which is His goodness which is the end of His knowledge. Hence "faith" is as mystifying and stultifying, ineffable and inedible to a rationalist: faith in God is faith in the willed unity of all things, which is not a tenet amenable to "rational proof."

[7] If, however, God’s understanding is His being, His understanding must be simple, eternal and unchangeable, existing only in act, and including all the perfections that have been proved of the divine being. Hence, God is not potentially understanding, nor does He begin to understand something anew, nor still does He have any change or composition in understanding.


… [2] The intelligible species is the formal principle of intellectual operation, just as the form of any agent is the principle of its own operation. Now, as we have shown, the divine intellectual operation is God’s essence. If, then, the divine intellect understood by an intelligible species other than the divine essence, something other would be added to the divine essence as principle and cause. …

The rational discourse of an intellect flows from its being actualized (or, in-formed) by an intelligible species; in the same way, the operations of a being flow from its being actualized by its proper form. The fewer steps an intellect needs to grasp the ramifications and interconnections of an intelligible, the simpler its act of intellection is, which itself is a sign of that thing's greater metaphysical simplicity (or, immanent power). Likewise, the fewer operations a being must perform to achieve an end, the simpler it is in itself. Insofar as God is utterly simple, He need perform only one operation by one act of understanding directed to one end: His own essence.

[3] Furthermore, the intellect becomes understanding in act through an intelligible species, just as the sense becomes sensing in act through a sensible species. The intelligible species is to the intellect, therefore, as act to potency. If, then, the divine intellect understood through some intelligible species other than itself, it would be in potency with respect to something. …

… [5] Again, the intelligible species is the likeness of something understood. If, then, there is in the divine intellect an intelligible species other than the divine essence, it will be the likeness of something understood. … It cannot be the likeness of the divine essence, because then the divine essence would not be intelligible through itself, but that species would make it intelligible. … Nor by another, for there would then be an agent prior to God. It is, therefore, impossible that there be in God an intelligible species other than His essence. …


… [2] … [T]he perfection of intellectual operation depends on two things. One is that the intelligible species be perfectly conformed to the thing understood. The second is that it be perfectly joined to the intellect, which is realized more fully according as the intellect has greater power in understanding. Now, the divine essence, which is the intelligible species by which the divine intellect understands, is absolutely identical with God and it is also absolutely identical with His intellect. Therefore, God understands Himself most perfectly.

[3] Furthermore, a material thing is made intelligible by being separated from matter and the conditions of matter. Therefore, that which is through its nature separate from all matter and material conditions is intelligible in its nature. … Therefore, since He is absolutely immaterial, and most one with Himself, He understands Himself perfectly.

… [5] Moreover, what is in something in an intelligible way is understood by it. The divine essence is in God in an intelligible way, for the natural being of God and His intelligible being are one and the same, since His being is His understanding. …

[6] … The operation of the intellect will be more perfect as the intelligible object is more perfect. But the most perfect intelligible object is the divine essence, since it is the most perfect and the first truth. The operation of the divine intellect is likewise the most noble, since, as we have shown, it is the divine being. Therefore, God understands Himself. …


… [2] That thing alone is primarily and essentially known by the intellect by whose species the intellect understands; for an operation is proportioned to the form that is the principle of the operation. But, as we have proved, that by which God understands is nothing other than His essence. Therefore, the primary and essential object of His intellect is nothing other than Himself.

[3] … [If God] understands something other than Himself as the primary and essential object of His understanding, His intellect must change from a consideration of Himself to the consideration of this something else. This something else is less noble than God. The divine intellect is thus changed for the worse, which is impossible.

[4] Moreover, the operations of the intellect are distinguished according to their objects. If, then, God understands Himself and something other than Himself as the principal object, He will have several intellectual operations. Therefore, either His essence will be divided into several parts, or He will have an intellectual operation that is not His substance. Both of these positions have been proved to be impossible. …

[5] Again, in so far as the intellect is different from its object, it is in potency to it. If, then, something other than Himself is God's primary and essential object, it will follow that He is in potency to something else. …

[6] The thing understood, likewise, is the perfection of the one understanding. For the intellect is perfect according as it understands in act, and this obtains through the fact that the intellect is one with what is understood. If, then, something other than Himself is primarily understood by God, something else will be His perfection, and more noble than He. This is impossible.

[7] Furthermore, the knowledge of the one understanding is comprised of many things understood. If, then, God knows many things as the principal and essential objects of His knowledge, it will follow that the knowledge of God is composed of many things. Thus, either the divine essence will be composite, or knowledge will be an accident in God. From what we have said, it is clear that both of these suppositions are impossible. …

Thursday, April 14, 2011

SCG, Book I, Chapter 44


… [2] … among movers and things moved we cannot proceed to infinity, but must reduce all movable things, as is demonstrable, to one first self-moving being. The self-moving being moves itself only by appetite and knowledge…. The moving part in the first self-moving being must he appetitive and apprehending.

Now, in a motion that takes place through appetite and apprehension, he who has the appetite and the apprehension is a moved mover, while the appetible and apprehended is the unmoved mover. … [God] must be related to the mover that is a part of the self-moving being as the appetible is to the one who has the appetite. Not, however, as something appetible by sensible appetite, since sensible appetite is not of that which is good absolutely but of this particular good, since the apprehension of the sense is likewise particular; whereas that which is good and appetible absolutely is prior to that which is good and appetible here and now.

The first mover, then, must be appetible as an object of intellect, and thus the mover that desires it must be intelligent. All the more, therefore, will the first appetible be intelligent, since the one desiring it is intelligent in act by being joined to it as an intelligible. Therefore, making the supposition that the first mover moves himself, as the philosophers intended, we must say that God is intelligent.

[3] … since every mover moves through a form at which it aims in moving, the form through which the first mover moves must be a universal form and a universal good. But a form does not have a universal mode except in the intellect [cf. para. 8 below]. Consequently, the first mover, God, must be intelligent.

[4] … all movers in the world are to the first mover, God, as instruments are related to a principal agent. Since, then, there are in the world many movers endowed with intelligence, it is impossible that the first mover move without an intellect. Therefore, God must be intelligent.

This is also akin to the argument discussed by Prof. Feser in this post, which I cited in chapter 43 as well. The transcendental conditions of being require that, for intellect to emerge in nature, intellect must somehow ground or antecede nature, which a quasi-Darwinian point well made by Fr. Oakes (cf. this post infra). This is also similar to Schopenhauer's fundamental point about "Wille in Natur", i.e., that the reason all levels of being and all interactions show an interconnected striving (and strife!), is due to the fact that "absoluter Wille" is the ontic basis of reality. Schopenhauer's thought, then, is a kind of Thomism without light.

[5] Again, a thing is intelligent because it is without matter. A sign of this is the fact that forms are made understood in act by abstraction from matter. And hence the intellect deals with universals and not singulars, for matter is the principle of individuation. … But we have shown that God is absolutely immaterial. God is, therefore, intelligent.

[6] Then, too, as was shown above, no perfection found in any genus of things is lacking to God. … But among the perfections; of things the greatest is that something be intelligent, for thereby it is in a manner all things, having within itself the perfections of all things. …

As the annotated edition notes: "The vastness of the stellar universe is in a manner the reach and amplitude of my mind, when I come to form some slight idea of it." Or as Cdl. Newman put it (The Idea of a University, part 2, article 8):

"There is but one thought greater than that of the universe, and that is the thought of its Maker. … He, though One, is a sort of world of worlds in Himself, giving birth in our minds to an indefinite number of distinct truths, each ineffably more mysterious than any thing that is found in this universe of space and time. Any one of His attributes, considered by itself, is the object of an inexhaustible science…. We are able to apprehend and receive each divine attribute in its elementary form, but still we are not able to accept them in their infinity, either in themselves or in union with each other. Yet we do not deny the first because it cannot be perfectly reconciled with the second, nor the second because it is in apparent contrariety with the first and the third. The case is the same in its degree with His creation material and moral. It is the highest wisdom to accept truth of whatever kind, wherever it is clearly ascertained to be such, though there be difficulty in adjusting it with other known truth."

[7] Again, that which tends determinately to some end either has set itself that end or the end has been set for it by another. Otherwise, it would tend no more to this end than to that. Now, natural things tend to determinate ends. They do not fulfill their natural needs by chance, since they would not do so always or for the most part, but rarely, which is the domain of chance. Since, then, things do not set for themselves an end, because they have no notion of what an end is, the end must be set for them by another, who is the author of nature. … But God could not set an end for nature unless He had understanding. …

As the annotated edition notes, "This is the Argument from Design, so valuable to the theologian in dealing with evolution. See Chap. XIII."

[8] Furthermore, everything imperfect derives from something perfect; for the perfect is naturally prior to the imperfect, as is act to potency. But the forms found in particular things are imperfect because they are there in a particular way and not according to the community of their natures. They must therefore be derived from some forms that are perfect and not particular. But such forms cannot exist unless by being understood, since no form is [act-ually] found in its universality except in the intellect [cf. para. 3 above]. Consequently, these forms must be intelligent, if they be subsistent; for only thus do they have operation. God, then, Who is the first subsistent act, from whom all other things are derived, must be intelligent.

The annotated edition remarks:

"Evolutionism says just the opposite. Is not the whole notion of development a process from the imperfect to the perfect? But the eternal question abides -- What begot the first germ, containing in itself the promise and potency of the vast development which we see? St Thomas asserts a priority of nature of the perfect to the imperfect, not a priority of time. God, though prior in duration, is not prior in time to the creature, as He is not in time at all: there is no time antecedent to creation. In the series of created causes, the imperfect is doubtless prior in time to the perfect. The first verses of Genesis assure us of that, as well as all sound study of evolution."

… [10] The truth of this faith was so strong among men that they named God from the act of understanding. For theos [θεος], which among the Greeks signifies God, comes from theaste [θεασθαι], which means to consider or to see.

The annotated has a lengthy note about Thomas' mention of perfect forms in this chapter, of which I shall only cite the following: "All that is absolutely necessary is the existence of a Supreme Being, who virtually contains in Himself all perfections which are represented in our minds by various abstract forms; a Being who is the Actuality of all ideal perfection (Chap. XXVIII)."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

SCG, Book I, Chapter 43


[1] ...infinity cannot be attributed to God on the ground of multitude. For we have shown that there is only one God and that no composition of parts or accidents is found in Him. Nor, again, according to continuous quantity can God be called infinite, since we have shown that He is incorporeal. ...

[2] We speak of spiritual magnitude with reference to two points: namely, power and the goodness or completeness of one’s own nature. ... from the fact that something is in act it is active, and hence the mode of the magnitude of its power is according to the mode in which it is completed in its act. Thus, it remains that spiritual beings are called great according to the mode of their completion. ...

[3] We must therefore show that God is infinite according to the mode of this sort of magnitude. The infinite here will not be taken in the sense of privation, as in the case of dimensive or numerical quantity. For this quantity is of a nature to have a limit, so that such things are called infinites according as there is removed from them the limits they have by nature.... But in God the infinite is understood only in a negative way, because there is no terminus or limit to His perfection: He is supremely perfect. It is thus that the infinite ought to be attributed to God.

[4] For everything that according to its nature is finite is determined to the nature of some genus. God, however, is not in any genus; His perfection, as was shown above, rather contains the perfections of all the genera. God is, therefore, infinite.

[5) Again, every act inhering in another is terminated by that in which it inheres, since what is in another is in it according to the mode of the receiver. Hence, an act that exists in nothing is terminated by nothing. Thus, if whiteness were self-existing, the perfection of whiteness in it would not be terminated so as not to have whatever can be had of the perfection of whiteness. But God is act in no way existing in another, for neither is He a form in matter, as we have proved, nor does His being inhere in some form or nature, since He is His own being, as was proved above. It remains, then, that God is infinite.

[6] Furthermore, in reality we find something that is potency alone, namely, prime matter, something that is act alone, namely, God, as was shown above, and something that is act and potency, namely, the rest of things. But, since potency is said relatively to act, it cannot exceed act either in a particular case or absolutely. Hence, since prime matter is infinite in its potentiality, it remains that God, Who is pure act, is infinite in His actuality.

... [8] Again, considered absolutely, being is infinite, since there are infinite [?] and infinite modes in which it can be participated. If, then, the being of some thing is finite, that being must be limited by something other that is somehow its cause. But there can be no cause of the divine being, for God is a necessary being through Himself. Therefore, His being is infinite, and so is He.

I don't understand the expression "there are infinite and infinite modes". Anyone?

[9] Then, too, what has a certain perfection is the more perfect as it participates in that perfection more fully. But there cannot be a mode of perfection, nor is one thinkable, by which a given perfection is possessed more fully than it is possessed by the being that is perfect through its essence and whose being is its goodness. In no way, therefore, is it possible to think of anything better or more perfect than God. Hence, God is infinite in goodness.

[10] Our intellect, furthermore, extends to the infinite in understanding; and a sign of this is that, given any finite quantity, our intellect can think of a greater one. But this ordination of the intellect would be in vain unless an infinite intelligible reality existed. There must, therefore, be some infinite intelligible reality, which must be the greatest of beings. This we call God. God is, therefore, infinite.

An interesting tie-in to this post by Edward Feser.

[11] Again, an effect cannot transcend its cause. But our intellect can be only from God, Who is the first cause of all things. Our intellect, therefore, cannot think of anything greater than God. If, then, it can think of something greater than every finite thing, it remains that God is not finite.

[12] There is also the argument that an infinite power cannot reside in a finite essence. For each thing acts through its form, which is either its essence or a part of the essence, whereas power is the name of a principle of action. But God does not have a finite active power. For He moves in an infinite time, which can be done only by an infinite power, as we have proved above. It remains, then, that God’s essence is infinite.

[13] This argument, however, is according to those who posit the eternity of the world. If we do not posit it, there is all the greater confirmation for the view that the power of God is infinite. For each agent is the more powerful in acting according as it reduces to act a potency more removed from act; just as a greater power is needed to heat water than air. But that which in no way exists is infinitely distant from act, nor is it in any way in potency. If, then, the world was made after previously not being at all, the power of its maker must be infinite.

[14] This argument holds in proving the infinity of the divine power even according to those who posit the eternity of the world. For they acknowledge that God is the cause of the substance of the world, though they consider this substance to be everlasting. They say that God is the cause of an everlasting world in the same way as a foot would have been the cause of an imprint if it had been pressed on sand from all eternity. If we adopt this position, according to our previous argumentation it still follows that the power of God is infinite. For, whether God produced things in time, as we hold, or from all eternity, according to them, nothing can be in reality that God did not produce; for God is the universal source of being. Thus, God produced the world without the supposition of any pre-existent matter or potency. Now, we must gather the proportion of an active power according to the proportion of a passive potency, for the greater the potency that preexists or is presupposed, by so much the greater active power will it be brought to actual fulfillment. It remains, therefore, that, since a finite power produces a given effect by presupposing the potency of matter, the power of God, which presupposes no potency, is infinite, not finite. Thus, so is His essence infinite [cf. para. 12 above].

... [17] The sayings of the most ancient philosophers are likewise a witness to this truth. They all posited an infinite first principle of things, as though compelled by truth itself.” ... But, since it was shown by the effort of later philosophers that there is no infinite body, given that there must be a first principle that is in some way infinite, we conclude that the infinite which is the first principle is neither a body nor a power in a body.

Monday, April 11, 2011

SCG I, 42

Chapter 42: THAT GOD IS ONE [Quod Deus unus est]

… [2] For it is not possible that there be two highest goods, since that which is said by superabundance is found in only one being. But God, as we have shown, is the highest good. God is, therefore, one.

[3] Again, it has been shown that God is absolutely perfect, lacking no perfection. If, then, there are many gods, there must be many such perfect beings. But this is impossible. For, if none of these perfect beings lacks some perfection…, nothing will be given in which to distinguish the perfect beings from one another. It is impossible, therefore, that there be many gods.

[4] Again, that which is accomplished adequately through one supposition is better done through one than through many. But the order of things is the best it can be, since the power of the first cause does not fail the potency in things for perfection. Now, all things are sufficiently fulfilled by a reduction to one first principle. There is, therefore, no need to posit many principles.

Whiffs of "Ockham's razor" decades before Ockham.

[5] Moreover, it is impossible that there be one continuous and regular motion from many movers. For, if they move together, none of them is a perfect mover, but all together rather take the place of one perfect mover. This is not befitting in the first mover, for the perfect is prior to the imperfect. If, however, they do not move together, each of them at times moves and at times does not. It follows from this that motion is neither continuous nor regular. … But, as the philosophers have proved, the first motion is one and continuous. Therefore, its first mover must be one.

[6] Furthermore, a corporeal substance is ordered to a spiritual substance as to its good. For there is in the spiritual substance a fuller goodness to which the corporeal substance seeks to liken itself, since whatever exists desires the best so far as this is possible. … outside the spiritual substance that is the end of the first motion, there is none that is not reduced to it. But this is what we understand by the name of God. Hence, there is only one God.

[7] Among all the things that are ordered to one another, furthermore, their order to one another is for the sake of their order to something one; just as the order of the parts of an army among themselves is for the sake of the order of the whole army to its general. For that some diverse things should be united by some relationship cannot come about from their own natures as diverse things, since on this basis they would rather be distinguished from one another. Nor can this unity come from diverse ordering causes, because they could not possibly intend one order in so far as among themselves they are diverse. Thus, either the order of many to one another is accidental, or we must reduce it to some one first ordering cause that orders all other things to the end it intends. Now, we find that all the parts of this world are ordered to one another according as some things help some other things. … Nor is this something accidental, since it takes place always or for the most part. Therefore, this whole world has only one ordering cause and governor. But there is no other world beyond this one. Hence, there is only one governor for all things, whom we call God.

This is parallel to the fifth way in ST I.2.3, which is, incidentally, my favorite way:

"We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end. Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God."

[8] Then, too, if there are two beings of which both are necessary beings, they must agree in the notion of the necessity of being. Hence, they must be distinguished by something added either to one of them only, or to both. This means that one or both of them must be composite. Now, as we have shown, no composite being is through itself a necessary being. It is impossible therefore that there be many beings of which each is a necessary being. Hence, neither can there be many gods.

[9] Furthermore, given two gods that are posited as agreeing in the necessity of being, either that in which they differ is in some way required for the completion of their necessity of being, or it is not. If it is not, then it is something accidental…. …unless that something else existed, this accident would not exist; and unless this accident existed, the aforesaid distinction would not exist. Therefore, unless that something else existed, these two supposed necessary beings would not be two but one. Therefore, the proper being of each depends on the other, and thus neither of them is through itself a necessary being.

[10] If, however, that in which they are distinguished is required to complete the necessity of their being, either this will be because it is included in the nature of this necessity of being, as animate is included in the definition of animal, or this will be because their necessity of being is specified by it, as animal is completed by rational. … A difference specifying a genus does not complete the nature of the genus, but rather through it the genus comes to be in act. For the nature of animal is complete before the addition of rational. Rather, the fact is that there cannot be an animal in act that is not rational or irrational. Thus, therefore, something completes the necessity of being as to being in act, and not as to the notion of the necessity of being. This is impossible on two counts. First, because the quiddity of a necessary being is its being, as was proved above. Second, because, were it true, the necessary being would acquire being through something else, which is impossible. …

[12] What is more, if there are two gods, either the name God is predicated of both univocally, or equivocally. … But if it be used univocally, it must be predicated of both according to one notion, which means that, in notion, there must be in both one nature. … If according to one, there will not be two gods, but only one, since there cannot be one being for two things that are substantially distinguished. If each has its own being, therefore in neither being will the quiddity be its being. Yet this must be posited in God….

[13] Again, nothing that belongs to this designated thing as such can belong to another, for the singularity of some thing belongs to none other than to that singular thing. But its necessity of being belongs to the necessary being so far as it is this designated being. Therefore, it cannot belong to another, and therefore there cannot be several beings of which each is a necessary being. …

[14] The proof of the minor. If the necessary being is not this designated being as a necessary being, the designation of its being is not necessary through itself but depends on another. But so far as each thing is in act it is distinct from all other things; this is to be this designated thing [hoc aliud res designata? So much for my stab at the Latin, which in fact is: quod est esse hoc signatum.]. Therefore, the necessary being depends on another to be in act; which is against the nature of the necessary being. Therefore, the necessary being must be necessary according as it is this designated being. …

[17] Then, too, the proper being of each thing is only one. But God is His being, as we have shown. There can, therefore, be only one God.

[18] Moreover, a thing has being in the manner it possesses unity. Hence, each thing struggles as much as it can against any division of itself, lest thereby it tend to nonbeing. But the divine nature has being most powerfully. There is therefore, in it the greatest unity, and hence no plurality is in any way distinguished within it.

Cf. SCG I.41.4

[19] Furthermore, we notice in each genus that multitude proceeds from some unity. This is why in every genus there is found a prime member that is the measure of all the things found in that genus. In whatever things, therefore, we find that there is an agreement in one respect, it is necessary that this depend upon one source. But all things agree in being. There must, therefore, be only one being that is the source of all things. This is God.

Cf. SCG I.39.7. It is also parallel to the fourth way in ST I.2.3:

"Among beings there are some more and some less good, true, noble and the like. But "more" and "less" are predicated of different things, according as they resemble in their different ways something which is the maximum, as a thing is said to be hotter according as it more nearly resembles that which is hottest; so that there is something which is truest, something best, something noblest and, consequently, something which is uttermost being; for those things that are greatest in truth are greatest in being, as it is written in Metaph. ii. Now the maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus; as fire, which is the maximum heat, is the cause of all hot things. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God."

[22] Now by this truth are refuted those Gentiles who accepted a multitude of gods. However, many of them said that there was one highest God, by whom all the others whom they named gods were according to them caused. For they attributed the name of divinity to all everlasting substances, and this especially because of their wisdom and felicity and the rulership of things. …

[23] Hence, it is mainly the Manicheans who seem opposed to this truth, in that they posit two first principles of which one is not the cause of the other.

[24] The Arians likewise attacked this truth by their errors, in confessing that the Father and the Son are not one but several gods; although the authority of Scripture forces me to believe that the Son is true God.

Monday, April 4, 2011

SCG I, 39–41

Chapter 39: THAT THERE CANNOT BE EVIL IN GOD [Quod in Deo non potest esse malum]

[1] From this [viz. the substantial goodness of God, cf. SCG I, 38] it is quite evident that there cannot be evil in God.

[2] For being and goodness, and all names that are predicated essentially [omnia quae per essentiam dicuntur], have nothing extraneous mixed with them, although that which is or good can have something besides being and goodness. For nothing prevents the subject of one perfection from being the subject of another, just as that which is a body can be white and sweet. Now, each nature is enclosed within the limits of its notion [unaquaeque autem natura suae rationis termino concluditur], so that it cannot include anything extraneous within itself [nihil extraneum intra se capere possit]. But, as we have proved, God is goodness, and not simply good [Deus autem est bonitas, non solum bonus]. There cannot, therefore, be any non-goodness in Him [Non potest igitur in eo esse aliquid non bonitas]. Thus, there cannot possibly be evil in God.

[3] Moreover, what is opposed to the essence of a given thing cannot befit that thing so long as its essence remains. Thus, irrationality or insensibility cannot befit man unless he ceases to be a man [sicut homini non potest convenire irrationalitas vel insensibilitas nisi homo esse desistat]. But the divine essence is goodness itself, as we have shown. Therefore, evil, which is the opposite of good, could have no place in God—unless He ceased to be God, which is impossible [Ergo malum, quod est bono oppositum, in eo locum habere non potest nisi esse desisteret. Quod est impossibile], since He is eternal, as we have shown.

[4] Furthermore, since God is His own being, nothing can be said of Him by participation [nihil participative de ipso dici potest], as is evident from the above argument. If, then, evil is said of God, it will not be said by participation, but essentially. But evil cannot be so said of anything as to be its essence, for it would lose its being [malum de nullo dici potest ut sit essentia alicuius: ei enim esse deficeret], which is a good, as we have shown. In evil, however, there can be nothing extraneous mixed with it, as neither in goodness. Evil, therefore, cannot be said of God.

[5] Again, evil is the opposite of good. But the nature of the good consists in perfection, which means that the nature of evil consists in imperfection [i.e. inverted, regressive teleology]. Now, in God, Who is universally perfect, as we have shown above, there cannot be defect or imperfection. Therefore, evil cannot be in God.

[6] Then, too, a thing is perfect according as it is in act. A thing will therefore be imperfect according as it falls short of act [imperfectum erit secundum quod est deficiens ab actu]. Hence, evil is either a privation or includes privation. But the subject of privation is potency, which cannot be in God. Neither, therefore, can evil.

Annotated: "Denied by Buddhists, and by other Asiatic-minded and dissatisfied persons, who will have it that being is thought, or will, and that thought, will, and all conscious effort is misery."

[7] If, moreover, the good is “that which is sought by all,” it follows that every nature flees evil as such [malum unaquaeque natura refugit inquantum huiusmodi]. Now, what is in a thing contrary to the motion of its natural appetite is violent and unnatural. Evil in each thing, consequently, is violent and unnatural, so far as it is an evil for that thing; although, among composite things, evil may he natural to a thing according to something within it. But God is not composite, nor, as we have shown, can there be anything violent or unnatural in Him. Evil, therefore, cannot be in God.

[8] Scripture likewise confirms this. For it is said in the canonic Epistle of John (I, 1:5): “God is light and in Him there is no darkness”; and in Job (34:10) it is written: “Far from God be wickedness; and iniquity from the Almighty.”

Chapter 40: THAT GOD IS THE GOOD OF EVERY GOOD [Quod Deus est omnis omni bonum]

[1] From the foregoing it is also shown that God is “the good of every good.”’

[2] For the goodness of each thing is its perfection, as we have said. But, since God is absolutely perfect, in His perfection He comprehends the perfections of all things [sua perfectione omnes rerum perfectiones comprehendit], as has been shown [cf. SCG I, 31?]. His goodness, therefore, comprehends every goodness. Thus, He is the good of every good.

[3] Moreover, that which is said to be of a certain sort by participation is said to be such only so far as it has a certain likeness to that which is said to be such by essence. Thus iron is said to be on fire in so far as it participates in a certain likeness of fire [inquantum quandam similitudinem ignis participat]. But God is good through His essence, whereas all other things are good by participation, as has been shown. Nothing, then, will be called good except in so far as it has a certain likeness of the divine goodness. Hence, God is the good of every good.

[4] Since, furthermore, each thing is appetible because of the end, and since the nature of the good consists in its being appetible, each thing must be called good either because it is the end or because it is ordered to the end [boni autem ratio consistat in hoc quod est appetibile: oportet quod unumquodque dicatur bonum vel quia est finis, vel quia ordinatur ad finem]. It is the last end, then, from which all things receive the nature of good [Finis igitur ultimus est a quo omnia rationem boni accipiunt]. As will be proved later on, this is God. God is, therefore, the good of every good [Est igitur Deus omnis boni bonum].

[5] Hence it is that God, promising to Moses a vision of Himself, says: “I will show you all good” (Exod. 33:19). And in Wisdom (7:11), it is said of the divine wisdom: “All good things come to me together with her.”

Chapter 41: THAT GOD IS THE HIGHEST GOOD [Quod Deus sit summum bonum]

[1] From this conclusion we prove that God is the highest good.

[2] For the universal good stands higher than any particular good, just as “the good of the people is better than the good of an individual,” since the goodness and perfection of the whole stand higher than the goodness and perfection of the part. But the divine goodness is compared to all others as the universal good to a particular good, being, as we have shown, the good of every good [omnis boni bonum]. God is, therefore, the highest good.

[3] Furthermore, what is said essentially is said more truly than what is said by participation. But God is good essentially, while other things are good by participation, as we have shown. God is, therefore, the highest good.

[4] Again, “what is greatest in any genus is the cause of the rest in that genus,” [Quod est maximum in unoquoque genere est causa aliorum quae sunt in illo genere] for a cause ranks higher than an effect [causa enim potior est effectu]. But, as we have shown, it is from God that all things have the nature of good. God is, therefore, the highest good.

This is a key passage for understanding the fourth way in the Summa theologica I, 2, 3, which in turn must be read in conjunction with SCG I, 38: each thing's good is the motor for its act of being, its formal perfection, and, as God is the highest good and cause of all beings' be-ing, so He is the perfection of every formal category of being, though He is not properly contained within any genus (cf. SCG I, 25–27).

[5] Moreover, just as what is not mixed with black is more white, so what is not mixed with evil is more good. But God is most unmixed with evil, because evil can be in God neither in act nor in potency; and this belongs to God according to His nature, as we have shown. God is, therefore, the highest good.

[6] Hence what is written in 1 Samuel (2:2): “There is none holy as the Lord is.”