The Undergraduate Center

Spring 1998 Triton College
PHL103 Ethics Dr. John Wager
Ethics Reading Assignment

1. Excerpts from: Summa Contra Gentiles of Saint Thomas Aquinas

translated by Joseph Rickaby, S.J., M.A. Lond, B.Sc. Oxon.,

Book III: God the End of Creatures

3.03 That every Agent acts to some Good

That to which an agent definitely tends must be suited to it: for it would not tend to the thing except for some suitability to itself. But what is suitable to a thing is good for it. Therefore every agent acts to some good.

6. An intellectual agent acts for an end by determining its own end. A physical agent, though acting for an end, does not determine its own end, having no idea of an end, but moves in the direction of an end determined for it by another. Now an intellectual agent does not fix for itself an end except under some aspect of good: for a term of intellect is a motive only under an aspect of good, which is the object of will. Therefore a physical agent also does not move or act to any end except inasmuch as it is good. Such an agent has its end determined by some natural appetite or tendency.

3.27 That the Happiness of Man does not consist in Bodily Pleasures

ACCORDING to the order of nature, pleasure is for the sake of activity, and not the other way about. If therefore certain activities are not the final end, the pleasures ensuing upon these activities are neither the final end nor accessories of the final end. But certainly the activities on which bodily pleasures follow are not the final end: for they are directed to other obvious ends, the preservation of the body and the begetting of offspring. Therefore the aforesaid pleasures are not the final end, nor accessories of the final end, and happiness is not to be placed in them.

3. Happiness is a good proper to man: dumb animals cannot be called happy except by an abuse of language. But bodily pleasures are common to man and brute: happiness therefore cannot consist in them.

4. The final end of a thing is noblest and best of all that appertains to the thing. But bodily delights do not appertain to a man in respect of what is noblest in him.

7. In all things that are said to be 'ordinarily' (per se), 'more' follows upon 'more,' if 'absolutely' goes with 'absolutely.' If then bodily pleasures were good in themselves, to take them to the utmost would be the best way of taking them. But this is manifestly false: for excessive use of such things is accounted a vice, injures the body, and bars further enjoyments of the same sort.

8. If human happiness consisted in bodily pleasures, it would be a more praiseworthy act of virtue to take such pleasures than to abstain from them. But this is manifestly false, for it is the special praise of the act of temperance to abstain from such pleasures.

3.30 That Man's Happiness does not consist in Riches

RICHES are not desired except for the sake of something else: for of themselves they do no good, but only as we use them. But the highest good is desired for its own sake, and not for the sake of something else.

2. The possession or preservation of those things cannot be the highest good, which benefit man most in being parted with. But such is the use of riches, to spend.

3. The act of liberality and munificence, the virtues that deal with money, is more praiseworthy, in that money is parted with, than that money is got. Man's happiness therefore does not consist in the possession of riches.

4. That in the gaining of which man's chief good lies must be some thing better than man. But man is better than his riches, which are things ordained to his use.

5. The highest good of man is not subject to fortune: for fortuitous events happen without effort of reason, whereas man must gain his proper end by reason. But fortune has great place in the gaining of riches.

3.31 That Happiness does not consist in Worldly Power

MAN is called good inasmuch as he attains to the sovereign good. But inasmuch as he has power he is not called either good or evil: for he is not good who can do good things, nor is a man evil of being able to do evil things. Therefore the highest good does not consist in being powerful.

3. All power is over another (ad alterum). But the highest good is not over another.

3.34 That the Final Happiness Man does not consist in Acts of the Moral Virtues

HUMAN happiness, if it is final, is not referable to any further end. But all moral acts are referable to something further: thus acts of fortitude in war are directed to securing victory and peace: acts of justice to the preservation of peace amongst men by every one remaining in quiet possession of his own.

2. Moral virtues aim at the observance of the golden mean in passions and in the disposal of external things. But the moderation of the passions or of external things cannot possibly bethe final end of human life, since these very passions and external things are referable to something else.

3. Man is man by the possession of reason; and therefore happiness, his proper good, must regard what is proper to reason. But that is more proper to reason which reason has in itself than what it does in another. Since then the good of moral virtue is something which reason establishes in things other than itself, moral virtue cannot be the best thing in man, which is happiness.

3.37 That the Final Happiness of Man consists in the Contemplation of God

IF then the final happiness of man does not consist in those exterior advantages which are called goods of fortune, nor in goods of the body, nor in goods of the soul in its sentient part, nor in the intellectual part in respect of the moral virtues, nor in the virtues of the practical intellect, called art and prudence, it remains that the final happiness of man consists in the contemplation of truth. This act alone in man is proper to him, and is in no way shared by any other being in this world. This is sought for its own sake, and is directed to no other end beyond itself. By this act man is united in likeness with pure spirits, and even comes to know them in a certain way. For this act also man is more self-sufficient, having less need of external things. Likewise to this act all other human activities seem to be directed as to their end. For to the perfection of contemplation there is requisite health of body; and all artificial necessaries of life are means to health. Another requisite is rest from the disturbing forces of passion: that is attained by means of the moral virtues and prudence. Likewise rest from exterior troubles, which is the whole aim of civil life and government. Thus, if we look at things rightly, we may see that all human occupations seem to be ministerial to the service of the contemplators of truth.

Now it is impossible for human happiness to consist in that contemplation which is by intuition of first principles, -- a very imperfect study of things, as being the most general, and not amounting to more than a potential knowledge: it is in fact not the end but the beginning of human study: it is supplied to us by nature, and not by any close investigation of truth. Nor can happiness consist in the sciences, the object-matter of which is the meanest things, whereas happiness should be an activity of intellect dealing with the noblest objects of intelligence. Therefore the conclusion remains that the final happiness of man consists in contemplation guided by wisdom to the study of the things of God. Thus we have reached by way of induction the same conclusion that was formerly established by deductive reasoning, that the final happiness of man does not consist in anything short of the contemplation of God.

3.48 That the Final Happiness of Man is not in this Life

IF then human happiness does not consist in the knowledge of God whereby He is commonly known by all or most men according to some vague estimate, nor again in the knowledge ofGod whereby He is known demonstratively in speculative science, nor in the knowledge of God whereby He is known by faith, as has been shown above (Chapp. XXXVIII-XL); if again it is impossible in this life to arrive at a higher knowledge of God so as to know Him in His essence, or to understand other pure spirits, and thereby attain to a nearer knowledge of God (Chapp. XLI-XLVI); and still final happiness must be placed in some knowledge of God (Ch. XXXVII); it follows that it is impossible for the final happiness of man to be in this life.

2. The last end of man bounds his natural desire, so that, when that is reached, nothing further is sought: for if there is still a tendency to something else, the end of rest is not yet gained. But that cannot be in this life: for the more one understands, the more is the desire of understanding. natural to all men, increased.

3. When one gains happiness, he gains also stability and rest. All have this idea of happiness, that it involves stability as a necessary condition: hence the philosopher says that we do not take man for a chameleon. But in this life there is no stability: for however happy a man be called, sicknesses and misfortunes may always happen to debar him from that activity, whatever it is, wherein happiness consists.

4. It seems unfitting and irrational that the period of development should be great and the period of duration small: for it would follow that nature for the greater part of its time went without its final perfection. Hence we see that animals that live for a short time take a short time in arriving at maturity. But if human happiness consists in perfect activity according to perfect virtue, whether intellectual or moral, such happiness cannot accrue to man till after a long lapse of time; and this is especially apparent in speculative activity, in which the happiness of man is ultimately placed. For scarcely in extreme age can a man arrive [at] a perfect view of scientific truth;and then for the most part there is little of human life left.

5. That is the perfect good of happiness, which is absolutely free from admixture of evil, as that is perfect whiteness, which is absolutely unmingled with black. But it is impossible for man in the state of this life to be altogether free from evils, -- not to say bodily evils, as hunger, thirst, cold and heat, but even from evils of the soul. There is no man living who is not at times disturbed by inordinate passions, who does not at times overstep the mean in which virtue consists, or fall short of it, who is not in some things deceived, or ignorant of what he wishes to know, or driven to weak surmises on points where he would like absolute certainty.

6. Man naturally shrinks from death, and is sad at tbe thought of it.Yet man must die, and therefore cannot be perfectly happy while here he lives.

7. Happiness consists, not in habit, but in activity: for habits are for the sake of acts. But it is impossible in this life to do any act continually.

8. The more a thing is desired and loved, the greater grief and sadness does its loss bring. But if final happiness be in this world, it will certainly be lost, at least by death; and it is uncertain whether it will last till death, since to any man there may possibly happen in this life diseases totally debarring him from any virtuous activity, such as insanity. Such happiness therefore must always have a natural pendent of sadness.

3.52 That no Created Substance can of its natural power arrive to see God as He essentially is

THE property of a higher nature cannot be attained by a lower nature except by the action of that higher nature to which it properly belongs. But to see God by the divine essence is the property of the divine nature: for it is proper to every agent to act by its own proper form. Therefore no subsistent intelligence can see God by the divine essence except through the action of God bringing it about.

. . . .

Hence it is said: The grace of God is life everlasting (Rom. vi, 23). For we have shown that the happiness of man consists in the vision of God, which is called life everlasting, whereunto we are led solely by the grace of God, because such vision exceeds the faculty of every creature, and it is impossible to attain it except by an endowment from God. And the Lord says: I will manifest myself to him (John xiv, 21).

3.63 How in that Final Happiness every Desire of Man is fulfilled

FROM what has been said it evidently appears that in that final happiness which comes of the vision of God every human desire is fulfilled, according to the text: Who filleth thy desire with good things (Ps. cii, 5). And every human endeavour there finds its final good: as may be seen by discussing the several heads. -- I. As man is an intelligent being, there is in him a desire of investigating truth, which desire men follow out in the pursuit of a contemplative life. And this will manifestly be fulfilled in that vision, since by the sight of the first and highest truth all things that man naturally desires to know will become known to him (Chap. L).

2. There is also a desire which a man has in keeping with his rational faculty of managing and disposing of inferior things: which desire men prosecute in the pursuit of an active and civil life. And the chief scope and purpose of this desire is the laying out of man's whole life according to reason, which means living virtuously.This desire will then be altogether fulfilled when reason shall be in the height of its vigour, being enlightened by divine light that it may not fall away from what is right.

3. Upon civil life there follow certain goods which a man needs for his social and political activities. Thus there is honour and high estate, the inordinate desire of which makes men intriguingand ambitious. But that vision elevates men to the supreme height of honour, uniting them with God; and therefore, as God is the king of ages (1 Tim. i, 17), so the Blessed united with Him are said to reign: They shall reign with Christ (Apoc. xx, 6).

4. Another object of desire following upon civil life is celebrity of fame, by inordinate desire of which men are said to be covetous of vain glory. By that divine vision the blessed become celebrated, not before men, who may deceive and be deceived, but in the most true knowledge of God and of all their companions in bliss. And therefore that happiness is very frequently termed 'glory' in Holy Scripture, as in Ps. cxliv, 5: The saints shall exult in glory.

5. There is also another thing desirable in civil society, namely, riches, by inordinate craving and love for which men become illiberal and unjust. But in that blissful state there is sufficiency of all good things, inasmuch as the Blessed enjoy Him who comprises the perfection of them: wherefore it is said: All good things came to me with her (Wisdom vii, 11); and, Glory and wealth is in this house</i> (Ps. cxi, 3).

6. There is also a third desire in man, common to him with other animals, the desire of pleasurable enjoyments, which men pursue in the life of pleasure, and thereby become intemperate and incontinent.But in the happiness of the sight of God there is perfect delight, all the more perfect than the pleasure of sense, which brute animals also can enjoy, as intellect is higher than sense; all the more perfect as (quanto) the good in which we shall take delight is greater than any sensible good, and comes more home to us, and is more continually delightful; all the more perfect again as the delight is more pure and free from all admixture of sadness or harassing solicitude; and of this it is said: They shall be inebriated by the plenty of thy house, and thou wilt make them drink of the torrent of thy pleasure (Ps. xxxv, 9).

7. There is also a natural desire common to all things, in that they all desire self-preservation, so far as possible; by the immoderation of which desire men are rendered timid and spare themselves too much from labours. This desire also shall be perfectly fulfilled when the Blessed attain to perfect everlasting duration, secure from all hurt, according to the text: They shall not hunger nor thirst any more, neither shall the sun fall upon them, nor any heat (Isa. xlix, 10; Apoc. vii, 16).

Thus it appears that by the vision of God subsistent intelligences gain true happiness, in which every desire is wholly laid to rest, and in which there is abundant sufficiency of all good things, which Aristotle considers a requisite of happiness. Nothing in this life is so like this final and perfect happiness as the life of them who contemplate truth so far as possible. For the contemplation of truth begins in this life, but will be consummated in the life to come, whereas the life of action and the political life do not transcend the bounds of this present.

. . . .

Book I: Of God As He Is In Himself

1.95 That God cannot will Evil

2. The will cannot will evil except by some error coming to be in the reason, at least in the matter of the particular choice there and then made. For as the object of the will is good, apprehended as such, the will cannot tend to evil unless evil be somehow proposed to it as good; and that cannot be without error. But in the divine cognition there can be no error (Chap. LXI).

4. Evil cannot befall the will except by its being turned away from its end. But the divine will cannot be turned away from its end, being unable to will except by willing itself (Chap. LXXV). It cannot therefore will evil; and thus free will in it is naturally established in good. This is the meaning of the texts: God is faithful and without iniquity (Deut. xxxii, 4); Thine eyes are clean, O Lord, and thou canst not look upon iniquity (Hab. i, 13).

1.96 That God hates nothing

AS love is to good, so is hatred to evil; we wish good to them whom we love, and evil to them whom we hate. If then the will of God cannot be inclined to evil, as has been shown (Chap. XCV), it is impossible for Him to hate anything.

2. The will of God tends to things other than Himself inasmuch as, by willing and loving His own being and goodness, He wishes it to be diffused as far as is possible by communication of His likeness. This then is what God wills in beings other than Himself, that there be in them the likeness of His goodness. Therefore God wills the good of everything, and hates nothing.

4. What is found naturally in all active causes, must be found especially in the Prime Agent. But all agents in their own way love the effects which they themselves produce, as parents their children, poets their own poems, craftsmen their works. Much more therefore is God removed from hating anything, seeing that He is cause of all.

Hence it is said: Thou lovest all things that are, and hatest nothing of the things that Thou hast made (Wisd. xi, 25).

Some things however God is said, to hate figuratively (similitudinarie), and that in two ways. The first way is this, that God, in loving things and willing their good to be, wills their evil not to be: hence He is said to have hatred of evils, for the things we wish not to be we are said to hate. So it is said: Think no evil in your hearts every one of you against his friend, and love no lying oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the Lord (Zach. viii, 17). But none of these things are effects of creation: they are not as subsistent things, to which hatred or love properly attaches. The other way is by God's wishing some greater good, which cannot be without the privation of a lesser good; and thus He is said to hate, whereas it is more properly love. Thus inasmuch as He wills the good of justice, or of the order of the universe, which cannot be without the punishment or perishing of some, He is said to hate those beings whose punishment or perishing He wills, according to the text, Esau I have hated (Malach. i, 3); and, Thou hatest all who work Iniquity, thou wilt destroy all wbo utter falsehood: the man of blood and deceit the Lord shall abominate (Ps. v, 7).

2. Excerpts from: Summa Theologica by St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)
Translated by the Fathers of the English Dominican Province.
Copyright (c) 1947 Benzinger Brothers Inc.

First Part of the Second part Question 62 Article 1

Whether there are any theological virtues?

Objection 1. It would seem that there are not any theological virtues. For according to Phys. vii, text. 17, "virtue is the disposition of a perfect thing to that which is best: and by perfect, I mean that which is disposed according to nature." But that which is Divine is above man's nature. Therefore the theological virtues are not virtues of a man.

. . . .

On the contrary, The precepts of the Law are about acts of virtue. Now the Divine Law contains precepts about the acts of faith, hope, and charity: for it is written (Sirach 2:8, seqq.): "Ye that fear the Lord believe Him," and again, "hope in Him," and again, "love Him." Therefore faith, hope, and charity are virtues directing us to God. Therefore they are theological virtues.

I answer that, Man is perfected by virtue, for those actions whereby he is directed to happiness, as was explained above (5, 7). Now man's happiness is twofold, as was also stated above (5, 5). One is proportionate to human nature, a happiness, to wit, which man can obtain by means of his natural principles. The other is a happiness surpassing man's nature, and which man can obtain by the power of God alone, by a kind of participation of the Godhead, about which it is written (2 Pt. 1:4) that by Christ we are made "partakers of the Divine nature." And because such happiness surpasses the capacity of human nature, man's natural principles which enable him to act well according to his capacity, do not suffice to direct man to this same happiness. Hence it is necessary for man to receive from God some additional principles, whereby he may be directed to supernatural happiness, even as he is directed to his connatural end, by means of his natural principles, albeit not without Divine assistance. Such like principles are called "theological virtues": first, because their object is God, inasmuch as they direct us aright to God: secondly, because they are infused in us by God alone: thirdly, because these virtues are not made known to us, save by Divine revelation, contained in Holy Writ.

Reply to Objection 1. A certain nature may be ascribed to a certain thing in two ways. First, essentially: and thus these theological virtues surpass the nature of man. Secondly, by participation, as kindled wood partakes of the nature of fire: and thus, after a fashion, man becomes a partaker of the Divine Nature, as stated above: so that these virtues are proportionate to man in respect of the Nature of which he is made a partaker.

. . . .

First Part of the Second Part Question 62 Article 3

Whether faith, hope, and charity are fittingly reckoned as theological virtues?

Objection 1. It would seem that faith, hope, and charity are not fittingly reckoned as three theological virtues. For the theological virtues are in relation to Divine happiness, what the natural inclination is in relation to the connatural end. Now among the virtues directed to the connatural end there is but one natural virtue, viz. the understanding of principles. Therefore there should be but one theological virtue.

. . . .

On the contrary, The Apostle says (1 Cor. 13:13): "Now there remain faith, hope, charity, these three."

I answer that, As stated above (1), the theological virtues direct man to supernatural happiness in the same way as by the natural inclination man is directed to his connatural end. Now the latter happens in respect of two things. First, in respect of the reason or intellect, in so far as it contains the first universal principles which are known to us by the natural light of the intellect, and which are reason's starting-point, both in speculative and in practical matters. Secondly, through the rectitude of the will which tends naturally to good as defined by reason.

But these two fall short of the order of supernatural happiness, according to 1 Cor. 2:9: "The eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him." Consequently in respect of both the above things man needed to receive in addition something supernatural to direct him to a supernatural end. First, as regards the intellect, man receives certain supernatural principles, which are held by means of a Divine light: these are the articles of faith, about which is faith. Secondly, the will is directed to this end, both as to that end as something attainable--and this pertains to hope--and as to a certain spiritual union, whereby the will is, so to speak, transformed into that end--and this belongs to charity. For the appetite of a thing is moved and tends towards its connatural end naturally; and this movement is due to a certain conformity of the thing with its end.

Reply to Objection 1. The intellect requires intelligible species whereby to understand: consequently there is need of a natural habit in addition to the power. But the very nature of the will suffices for it to be directed naturally to the end, both as to the intention of the end and as to its conformity with the end. But the nature of the power is insufficient in either of these respects, for the will to be directed to things that are above its nature. Consequently there was need for an additional supernatural habit in both respects.

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