St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, Book III. Of Providence

Thus, evil is caused accidentally on the part of the agent in so far as the agent is defective in its power. [9] Moreover, that which results from the action of an agent, but apart from the intention of the agent, is said to happen by chance or by luck. But we observe that what happens in the workings of nature is either always, or mostly, for the better.

  • Now, operation gets its power from the operating principle; thus, by the action of the semen there is generated a being in a definite species, whose power preexists in the semen.
  • And since the life of man requires not only corporeal but, even more, spiritual goods, it is also necessary for some men to devote their time to spiritual things, for the betterment of others; and these must be freed from concern over temporal matters.
  • For, this act of understanding which the intellect understands pertains to some object.
  • [10] Moreover, we should note that just as natural inclination tends toward things which happen in most cases, so also positive law depends on what happens in most cases.

So, it is impossible for celestial bodies to act directly on the intellect. Therefore, they cannot be the direct cause of things that pertain to understanding. [3] Besides, an intellectual potency that is nearer to the principle is always capable of ruling an intellectual power that is more removed from the principle. Therefore, since some intellectual substances are nearer the first principle, namely God, as was shown in Book Two [95], they will be capable of ruling others. [6] Moreover, in human affairs the lower overseers, through their own efforts, plan the order for those things whose direction has been given them by the chief executive. Of course, they do not get this ability from the man who is in charge, or even its use.

Holocaust beginnings, Operation Tannenberg and other Nazi atrocities

Now, man’s ultimate felicity does not lie in acts of the moral virtues, nor, then, in the act of prudence. [4] Moreover, a thing that one can use both for good and for evil cannot be man’s highest good, for that is better which no one can use in a bad way. Now, one can use power well or badly, “for rational powers are capable of contrary effects.” Therefore, man’s highest good does not consist in human power.

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Of course, it does not consist in any corporeal goods but in the union of the soul with divine things by way of understanding, as we showed above, both according to the view of faith and according to the opinions of the philosophers. This is apparent, indeed, from the fact that one man is not sufficient unto himself if he lives alone, because nature provides but few things that are sufficient for man. Instead, it gives him reason whereby he may make ready all the things needed for life, such as food, clothing, and the like; one man is not sufficient to do all these things. But the order of providence does not take away from a thing what is natural to it, but provides for each thing in accord with its nature, as is evident from what we have said. Therefore, man is not so ordered by the order of providence that his social life is taken away. Now, it would be removed if our acts of choice arose from impressions due to the celestial bodies, as do the natural instincts of other animals.

Chapter 2. How Every Agent Acts for an End

But to prohibit universally the intending of the good for the individual on the part of created things is not the function of the providence of Him Who is the cause of every good thing. For, in that way, many goods would be taken away from the whole of things. Therefore, it is not the function of divine providence totally to exclude evil from things. [20] Moreover, if to act is the result of a being which is in act, it is inappropriate for a more perfect act to be deprived of action.

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Indeed, forms and accidents cannot come into being from matter, since they do not have matter as one of their parts. Hence, if they are made, they must be made from nothing, and this is to be created. And because creation is an act of God alone, as we showed in Book Two [21], it would seem to follow that God alone produces both substantial and accidental forms in nature. [10] Nor is His simplicity something like that of a point, which is the terminus of a continuous line and thus has a definite position on this line, with the consequence that one point is impossible unless it A at one, indivisible place. In fact, God is indivisible, in the sense of existing entirely outside the genus of continuous things. And so, He is not determined in regard to place, either large or small, by any necessity of His essence requiring Him to be in a certain place, for Ile has been from eternity prior to all place.

Chapter 84. That the Celestial Bodies Make No Impression on Our Intellects

But man is aroused to love someone in a special way because of some special good which pre-exists in the person loved. Therefore, wherever there is found a special love of God for man, there must consequently be found some special good conferred on man by God. Hence, since in accord with the preceding explanation sanctifying grace marks a special love of God for man, it must be that a special goodness and perfection is marked, as The Legal Nature Of The Irrevocable Commercial Letter Of Credit On Jstor being present in man, by this term. [17] Now, by their examples they incite others to virtue, for it develops that those who profit by their examples become less attached to riches when they observe other people completely abandoning their wealth for the sake of perfection in life. But the less a man loves riches, and the more intent on virtue he is, the more readily, also, does he distribute his wealth for the needs of others.

  • But if it does not terminate in a product, then the inclination of the agent tends toward the action itself.
  • Now, man is superior in the order of nature, at least in regard to all lower bodies, to the extent that be has a more perfect form.
  • Consequently, Avicenna favored the notion that it is much more likely that the cognitive functions of separate substances, which he regarded as the souls or movers of the spheres, result in certain effects in lower bodies, without the action of any corporeal agent.
  • So, it is impossible for them to see the divine essence itself by this kind of knowledge.
  • Now, we showed above that God, at the first establishment of things, brought all things immediately into being by creation.

Then, too, because of the impulsion of the passions, through which prudent judgment is vitiated, they require not merely instruction but correction. Now, a woman alone is not adequate to this task; rather, this demands the work of a husband, in whom reason is more developed for giving instruction and strength is more available for giving punishment. Therefore, in the human species, it is not enough, as in the case of birds, to devote a small amount of time to bringing up offspring, for a long period of life is required. Hence, since among all animals it is necessary for male and female to remain together as long as the work of the father is needed by the offspring, it is natural to the human being for the man to establish a lasting association with a designated woman, over no short period of time. Therefore, matrimony is natural for man, and promiscuous performance of the sexual act, outside matrimony, is contrary to man’s good.

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Virtue is, in fact, good in itself, and so to depart from virtue is an evil in itself. But to pass over a boundary line set up by a judge is not essentially evil, but accidentally so—to the extent, that is, that it is prohibited. For instance, it does not follow that, if a white man is musical, then a whiter man will be more musical, but it does follow that, if a white thing is a distinctive object of sight, a whiter thing is a more distinctive object for sight.

Now, it is not possible for the knowledge of faith to be false and empty, as is evident from what we have said in the opening Book [I, 7]. Yet, if it were false and empty, felicity could not consist in such knowledge. [7] In fact, all other human operations seem to be ordered to this one, as to an end. For, there is needed for the perfection of contemplation a soundness of body, to which all the products of art that are necessary for life are directed. Also required are freedom from the disturbances of the passions—this is achieved through the moral virtues and prudence—and freedom from external disorders, to which the whole program of government in civil life is directed.

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