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!

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.”