Summa Contra Gentiles
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Summa Contra Gentiles

Book One: God

St. Thomas Aquinas, Anton C. Pegis

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eBook - ePub

Summa Contra Gentiles

Book One: God

St. Thomas Aquinas, Anton C. Pegis

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Información del libro

Book One of the Summa Contra Gentiles series studies God's existence, nature, and substance, his perfect actuality, the autonomy of his knowledge, the independence of his will, the perfection of his life, and the generosity of his love.

The Summa Contra Gentiles is not merely the only complete summary of Christian doctrine that St. Thomas has written, but also a creative and even revolutionary work of Christian apologetics composed at the precise moment when Christian thought needed to be intellectually creative in order to master and assimilate the intelligence and wisdom of the Greeks and the Arabs. In the Summa Aquinas works to save and purify the thought of the Greeks and the Arabs in the higher light of Christian Revelation, confident that all that had been rational in the ancient philosophers and their followers would become more rational within Christianity.

Book 2 of the Summa deals with Creation; Book 3, Providence; and Book 4, Salvation.

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Chapter 1.
THE OFFICE OF THE WISE MAN
My mouth shall meditate truth, and my lips shall hate impiety” (Prov. 8:7).
[1] The usage of the multitude, which according to the Philosopher is to be followed in giving names to things,1 has commonly held that they are to be called wise who order things rightly and govern them well. Hence, among other things that men have conceived about the wise man, the Philosopher includes the notion that “it belongs to the wise man to order.”2 Now, the rule of government and order for all things directed to an end must be taken from the end. For, since the end of each thing is its good, a thing is then best disposed when it is fittingly ordered to its end. And so we see among the arts that one functions as the governor and the ruler of another because it controls its end. Thus, the art of medicine rules and orders the art of the chemist because health, with which medicine is concerned, is the end of all the medications prepared by the art of the chemist. A similar situation obtains in the art of ship navigation in relation to shipbuilding, and in the military art with respect to the equestrian art and the equipment of war. The arts that rule other arts are called architectonic, as being the ruling arts. That is why the artisans devoted to these arts, who are called master artisans, appropriate to themselves the name of wise men. But, since these artisans are concerned, in each case, with the ends of certain particular things, they do not reach to the universal end of all things. They are therefore said to be wise with respect to this or that thing; in which sense it is said that “as a wise architect, I have laid the foundation” (I Cor. 3:10). The name of the absolutely wise man, however, is reserved for him whose consideration is directed to the end of the universe, which is also the origin of the universe. That is why, according to the Philosopher, it belongs to the wise man to consider the highest causes.3
[2] Now, the end of each thing is that which is intended by its first author or mover. But the first author and mover of the universe is an intellect, as will be later shown.4 The ultimate end of the universe must, therefore, be the good of an intellect. This good is truth. Truth must consequently be the ultimate end of the whole universe, and the consideration of the wise man aims principally at truth. So it is that, according to His own statement, divine Wisdom testifies that He has assumed flesh and come into the world in order to make the truth known: “For this was I born, and for this came I into the world, that I should give testimony to the truth” (John 18:37). The Philosopher himself establishes that first philosophy is the science of truth, not of any truth, but of that truth which is the origin of all truth, namely, which belongs to the first principle whereby all things are. The truth belonging to such a principle is, clearly, the source of all truth; for things have the same disposition in truth as in being.5
[3] It belongs to one and the same science, however, both to pursue one of two contraries and to oppose the other. Medicine, for example, seeks to effect health and to eliminate illness. Hence, just as it belongs to the wise man to meditate especially on the truth belonging to the first principle and to teach it to others, so it belongs to him to refute the opposing falsehood.
[4] Appropriately, therefore, is the twofold office of the wise man shown from the mouth of Wisdom in our opening words: to meditate and speak forth of the divine truth, which is truth in person (Wisdom touches on this in the words my mouth shall meditate truth), and to refute the opposing error (which Wisdom touches on in the words and my lips shall hate impiety). By impiety is here meant falsehood against the divine truth. This falsehood is contrary to religion, which is likewise named piety. Hence, the falsehood contrary to it is called impiety.6
1.  Aristotle, Topics, II, 1 (102a 30).
2.  Aristotle, Metaphysics, I, 2 (982a 18).
3.  Aristotle, Metaphysics, I, 1 (981b 28).
4.  See below, ch. 44; also SCG, II, ch. 24
5.  Aristotle, Metaphysics, Iα, 1 (993b 30).
6.  In the present chapter, I have changed wickedness in the Douay text to impiety, since this is demanded by the sense.
Chapter 2.
THE AUTHOR’S INTENTION IN THE PRESENT WORK
[1] Among all human pursuits, the pursuit of wisdom is more perfect, more noble, more useful, and more full of joy.
It is more perfect because, in so far as a man gives himself to the pursuit of wisdom, so far does he even now have some share in true beatitude. And so a wise man has said: “Blessed is the man that shall continue in wisdom” (Ecclus. 14:22).
It is more noble because through this pursuit man especially approaches to a likeness to God Who “made all things in wisdom” (Ps. 103:24). And since likeness is the cause of love, the pursuit of wisdom especially joins man to God in friendship. That is why it is said of wisdom that “she is an infinite treasure to men! which they that use become the friends of God” (Wis. 7:14).
It is more useful because through wisdom we arrive at the kingdom of immortality. For “the desire of wisdom bringeth to the everlasting kingdom” (Wis. 6:21).
It is more full of joy because “her conversation hath no bitterness, nor her company any tediousness, but joy and gladness” (Wis. 7:16).
[2] And so, in the name of the divine Mercy, I have the confidence to embark upon the work of a wise man, even though this may surpass my powers, and I have set myself the task of making known, as far as my limited powers will allow, the truth that the Catholic faith professes, and of setting aside the errors that are opposed to it. To use the words of Hilary: “I am aware that I owe this to God as the chief duty of my life, that my every word and sense may speak of Him.”1
[3] To proceed against individual errors, however, is a difficult business, and this for two reasons. In the first place, it is difficult because the sacrilegious remarks of individual men who have erred are not so well known to us so that we may use what they say as the basis of proceeding to a refutation of their errors. This is, indeed, the method that the ancient Doctors of the Church used in the refutation of the errors of the Gentiles. For they could know the positions taken by the Gentiles since they themselves had been Gentiles, or at least had lived among the Gentiles and had been instructed in their teaching. In the second place, it is difficult because some of them, such as the Mohammedans and the pagans, do not agree with us in accepting the authority of any Scripture, by which they may be convinced of their error. Thus, against the Jews we are able to argue by means of the Old Testament, while against heretics we are able to argue by means of the New Testament. But the Mohammedans and the pagans accept neither the one nor the other. We must, therefore, have recourse to the natural reason, to which all men are forced to give their assent. However, it is true, in divine matters the natural reason has its failings.
[4] Now, while we are investigating some given truth, we shall also show what errors are set aside by it; and we shall likewise show how the truth that we come to know by demonstration is in accord with the Christian religion.
1.  St. Hilary, De Trinitate, I, 37 (PL, 10, 48).
Chapter 3.
ON THE WAY IN WHICH DIVINE TRUTH IS TO BE MADE KNOWN
[1] The way of making truth known is not always the same, and, as the Philosopher has very well said, “it belongs to an educated man to seek such certitude in each thing as the nature of that thing allows.”1 The remark is also introduced by Boethius.2 But, since such is the case, we must first show what way is open to us in order that we may make known the truth which is our object.
[2] There is a twofold mode of truth in what we profess about God. Some truths about God exceed all the ability of the human reason. Such is the truth that God is triune. But there are some truths which the natural reason also is able to reach. Such are that God exists, that He is one, and the like. In fact, such truths about God have been proved demonstratively by the philosophers, guided by the light of the natural reason.
[3] That there are certain truths about God that totally surpass man’s ability appears with the greatest evidence. Since, indeed, the principle of all knowledge that the reason perceives about some thing is the understanding of the very substance of that being (for according to Aristotle “what a thing is” is the principle of demonstration),3 it is necessary that the way in which we understand the substance of a thing determines the way in which we know what belongs to it. Hence, if the human intellect comprehends the substance of some thing, for example, that of a stone or of a triangle, no intelligible characteristic belonging to that thing surpasses the grasp of the human reason. But this does not happen to us in the case of God. For the human intellect is not able to reach a comprehension of the divine substance through its natural power. For, according to its manner of knowing in the present life, the intellect depends on the sense for the origin of knowledge; and so those things that do not fall under the senses cannot be grasped by the human intellect except in so far as the knowledge of them is gathered from sensible things. Now, sensible things cannot lead the human intellect to the point of seeing in them the nature of the divine substance; for sensible things are effects that fall short of the power of their cause. Yet, beginning with sensible things, our intellect is led to the point of knowing about God that He exists, and other such characteristics that must be attributed to the First Principle. There are, consequently, some intelligible truths about God that are open to the human reason; but there are others that absolutely surpass its power.
[4] We may easily see the same point from the gradation of intellects. Consider the case of two persons of whom one has a more penetrating grasp of a thing by his intellect than does the other. He who has the superior intellect understands many things that the other cannot grasp at all. Such is the case with a very simple person who cannot at all grasp the subtle speculations of philosophy. But the intellect of an angel surpasses the human intellect much more than the intellect of the greatest philosopher surpasses the intellect of the most uncultivated simple person; for the distance between the best philosopher and a simple person is contained within the limits of the human species, which the angelic intellect surpasses. For the angel knows God on the basis of a more noble effect than does man; and this by as much as the substance of an angel, through which the angel in his natural knowledge is led to the knowledge of God, is nobler than sensible things and even than the soul itself, through which the human intellect mounts to the knowledge of God. The divine intellect surpasses the angelic intellect much more than the angelic surpasses the human. For the divine intellect is in its capacity equal to its substance, and therefore it understands fully what it is, including all its intelligible attributes. But by his natural knowledge the angel does not know what God is, since the substance itself of the angel, through which he is led to the knowledge of God, is an effect that is not equal to the power of its cause. Hence, the angel is not able, by means of his natural knowledge, to grasp all the things that God understands in Himself; nor is the human reason sufficient to grasp all the things that the angel understands through his own natural power. Just as, therefore, it would be the height of folly for a simple person to assert that what a philosopher proposes is false on the ground that he himself cannot understand it, so (and even more so) it is the acme of stupidity for a man to suspect as false what is divinely revealed through the ministry of the angels simply because it cannot be investigated by reason.
[5] The same thing, moreover, appears quite clearly from the defect that we experience every day in our knowledge of things. We do not know a great many of the properties of sensible things, and in most cases we are not able to discover fully the natures of those properties that we apprehend by the sense. Much more is it the case, therefore, that the human reason is not equal to the task of investigating all the intelligible characteristics of that most excellent substance.
[6] The remark of Aristotle likewise agrees with this conclusion. He says that “our intellect is related to the prime beings, which are most evident in their nature, as the eye of an owl is related to the sun.”4
[7] Sacred Scripture also gives testimony to this truth. We read in Job: “Peradventure thou wilt comprehend the steps of God, and wilt find out the Almighty perfectly?” (11:7). And again: “Behold, God is great, exceeding our knowledge” (Job 36:26). And St. Paul: “We know in part” (I Cor. 13:9).
[8] We should not, therefore, immediately reject as false, following the opinion of the Manicheans and many unbelievers, everything that is said about God even though it cannot be investigated by reason.
1.  Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, I, 3 (1094b 24).
2.  Boethius, De Trinitate, II (PL, 64, col. 1250).
3.  Aristotle, Posterior Analytics, II, 3 (90b 31).
4.  Aristotle, Metaphysics, Iα, 1 (993b 9).
Chapter 4.
THAT THE TRUTH ABOUT GOD TO WHICH THE NATURAL REASON REACHES IS FITTINGLY PROPOSED TO MEN FOR BELIEF
[1] Since, therefore, there exists a twofold truth concerning the divine being, one to which the inquiry of the reason can reach, the other which surpasses the whole ability of the human reason, it is fitting that both of these truths be proposed to man divinely for belief. This point must first be shown concerning the truth that is open to the inquiry of the reason; otherwise, it might perhaps seem to someone that, since such a truth can be known by the reason, it was uselessly given to men through a supernatural inspiration as an object of belief.
[2] Yet, if this truth were left solely as a matter of inquiry for the human reason, three awkward consequences would follow.
[3] The first is that few men would possess the knowledge of God. For there are...

Índice

  1. Cover
  2. Title Page
  3. Copyright
  4. Dedication
  5. Contents
  6. General Introduction
  7. Summa Contra Gentiles, Book One: God
  8. Bibliography
  9. 1. The office of the wise man
  10. 2. The author’s intention in the present work
  11. 3. On the way in which divine truth is to be made known
  12. 4. That the truth about God to which the natural reason reaches is fittingly proposed to men for belief
  13. 5. That the truths the human reason is not able to investigate are fittingly proposed to men for belief
  14. 6. That to give assent to the truths of faith is not foolishness even though they are above reason
  15. 7. That the truth of reason is not opposed to the truth of the Christian faith
  16. 8. How the human reason is related to the truth of faith
  17. 9. The order and manner of procedure in the present work
  18. 10. The opinion of those who say that the existence of God, being self-evident, cannot be demonstrated
  19. 11. A refutation of the abovementioned opinion and a solution of the arguments
  20. 12. The opinion of those who say that the existence of God cannot be demonstrated but is held by faith alone
  21. 13. Arguments in proof of the existence of God
  22. 14. That to know God we must use the way of remotion
  23. 15. That God is eternal
  24. 16. That there is no passive potency in God
  25. 17. That there is no matter in God
  26. 18. That there is no composition in God
  27. 19. That in God there is nothing violent or unnatural
  28. 20. That God is not a body
  29. 21. That God is His essence
  30. 22. That in God being and essence are the same
  31. 23. That no accident is found in God
  32. 24. That the divine being cannot be determined by the addition of some substantial difference
  33. 25. That God is not in some genus
  34. 26. That God is not the formal being of all things
  35. 27. That God is not the form of any body
  36. 28. On the divine perfection
  37. 29. On the likeness of creatures to God
  38. 30. The names that can be predicated of God
  39. 31. That the divine perfection and the plurality of divine names are not opposed to the divine simplicity
  40. 32. That nothing is predicated univocally of God and other things
  41. 33. That not all names are said of God and creatures in a purely equivocal way
  42. 34. That names said of God and creatures are said analogically
  43. 35. That many names said of God are not synonyms
  44. 36. How our intellect forms a proposition about God
  45. 37. That God is good
  46. 38. That God is goodness itself
  47. 39. That there cannot be evil in God
  48. 40. That God is the good of every good
  49. 41. That God is the highest good
  50. 42. That God is one
  51. 43. That God is infinite
  52. 44. That God is intelligent
  53. 45. That God’s act of understanding is His essence
  54. 46. That God understands through nothing other than through His essence
  55. 47. That God understands Himself perfectly
  56. 48. That primarily and essentially God knows only Himself
  57. 49. That God understands things other than Himself
  58. 50. That God has a proper knowledge of all things
  59. 51-52. Arguments inquiring how a multitude of intellectual objects is in the divine intellect
  60. 53. The solution of the above difficulty
  61. 54. How the divine essence, being one and simple, is the proper likeness of all intelligible objects
  62. 55. That God understands all things together
  63. 56. That God’s knowledge is not habitual
  64. 57. That God’s knowledge is not discursive
  65. 58. That God does not understand by composing and dividing
  66. 59. That the truth of enunciables is not excluded from God
  67. 60. That God is truth
  68. 61. That God is the purest truth
  69. 62. That the divine truth is the first and highest truth
  70. 63. The arguments of those who wish to take away the knowledge of singulars from God
  71. 64. The order of what is to be said on the divine knowledge
  72. 65. That God knows singulars
  73. 66. That God knows the things that are not
  74. 67. That God knows future contingent singulars
  75. 68. That God knows the motions of the will
  76. 69. That God knows infinite things
  77. 70. That God knows lowly things
  78. 71. That God knows evils
  79. 72. That God has will
  80. 73. That the will of God is His essence
  81. 74. That the principal object of the divine will is the divine essence
  82. 75. That in willing Himself God also wills other things
  83. 76. That God wills Himself and other things by one act of will
  84. 77. That the multitude of the objects of the will is not opposed to the divine simplicity
  85. 78. That the divine will extends to singular goods
  86. 79. That God wills even the things that are not yet
  87. 80. That His own being and His own goodness God wills necessarily
  88. 81. That God does not will other things in a necessary way
  89. 82. Arguments leading to awkward consequences if God does not necessarily will things other than Himself
  90. 83. That God wills something other than Himself with the necessity of supposition
  91. 84. That the will of God is not of what is in itself impossible
  92. 85. That the divine will does not remove contingency from things, nor does it impose absolute necessity on them
  93. 86. That a reason can be assigned to the divine will
  94. 87. That nothing can be the cause of the divine will
  95. 88. That in God there is free choice
  96. 89. That in God there are not the passions of the appetites
  97. 90. That in God there are delight and joy, but they are not opposed to the divine perfection
  98. 91. That in God there is love
  99. 92. How virtues may be held to be in God
  100. 93. That in God there are the moral virtues that deal with actions
  101. 94. That in God there are contemplative virtues
  102. 95. That God cannot will evil
  103. 96. That God hates nothing, and the hatred of no thing befits Him
  104. 97. That God is living
  105. 98. That God is His life
  106. 99. That the life of God is everlasting
  107. 100. That God is blessed
  108. 101. That God is His blessedness
  109. 102. That the perfect and unique blessedness of God excels every other blessedness
  110. Subject Index
  111. Index of Proper Names