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4/8/2021
SUMMA THEOLOGIAE: Man who is composed of a spiritual and a corporeal substance: and in the first place, concerning what belongs to…
Question 75. Man who is composed of a spiritual and a
corporeal substance: and in the first place, concerning what
belongs to the essence of the soul
1. Is the soul a body? (../summa/1075.htm#article1)
2. Is the human soul a subsistence? (../summa/1075.htm#article2)
3. Are the souls of brute animals subsistent? (../summa/1075.htm#article3)
4. Is the soul man, or is man composed of soul and body? (../summa/1075.htm#article4)
5. Is the soul composed of matter and form? (../summa/1075.htm#article5)
6. Is the soul incorruptible? (../summa/1075.htm#article6)
7. Is the soul of the same species as an angel? (../summa/1075.htm#article7)
Article 1. Whether the soul is a body?
Objection 1. It would seem that the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is a body. For the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is the
moving principle of the body. Nor does it move unless moved.
First, because seemingly nothing can move unless it is itself moved, since nothing gives what it has not; for instance,
what is not hot does not give heat.
Secondly, because if there be anything that moves and is not moved, it must be the cause (../cathen/03459a.htm) of
eternal (../cathen/05551b.htm), unchanging movement, as we find proved (../cathen/12454c.htm) Phys. viii, 6; and this
does not appear to be the case in the movement of an animal, which is caused (../cathen/03459a.htm) by the soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm). Therefore the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is a mover moved. But every mover moved is a body.
Therefore the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is a body.
Objection 2. Further, all knowledge (../cathen/08673a.htm) is caused (../cathen/03459a.htm) by means of a likeness.
But there can be no likeness of a body to an incorporeal thing. If, therefore, the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) were not a
body, it could not have knowledge (../cathen/08673a.htm) of corporeal things.
Objection 3. Further, between the mover and the moved there must be contact. But contact is only between bodies.
Since, therefore, the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) moves the body, it seems that the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) must
be a body.
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On the contrary, Augustine (../cathen/02084a.htm) says (De Trin. vi, 6) that the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) “is simple
in comparison with the body, inasmuch as it does not occupy space by its bulk.”
I answer that, To seek the nature (../cathen/10715a.htm) of the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm), we must premise that the
soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is defined as the first principle of life of those things which live: for we call living things
“animate,” [i.e. having a soul (../cathen/14153a.htm)], and those things which have no life, “inanimate.” Now life is
shown principally by two actions, knowledge (../cathen/08673a.htm) and movement. The philosophers
(../cathen/12025c.htm) of old, not being able to rise above their imagination (../cathen/07672a.htm), supposed that the
principle of these actions was something corporeal: for they asserted that only bodies were real things; and that what is
not corporeal is nothing: hence they maintained that the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is something corporeal. This
opinion can be proved (../cathen/12454c.htm) to be false (../cathen/05781a.htm) in many ways; but we shall make use
of only one proof (../cathen/12454c.htm), based on universal and certain principles, which shows clearly that the soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm) is not a body.
It is manifest that not every principle of vital action is a soul (../cathen/14153a.htm), for then the eye would be a soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm), as it is a principle of vision; and the same might be applied to the other instruments of the soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm): but it is the “first” principle of life, which we call the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm). Now, though a
body may be a principle of life, or to be a living thing, as the heart is a principle of life in an animal, yet nothing
corporeal can be the first principle of life. For it is clear that to be a principle of life, or to be a living thing, does not
belong to a body as such; since, if that were the case, every body would be a living thing, or a principle of life.
Therefore a body is competent to be a living thing or even a principle of life, as “such” a body. Now that it is actually
such a body, it owes to some principle which is called its act. Therefore the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm), which is the
first principle of life, is not a body, but the act of a body; thus heat, which is the principle of calefaction, is not a body, but
an act of a body.
Reply to Objection 1. As everything which is in motion must be moved by something else, a process which cannot be
prolonged indefinitely, we must allow that not every mover is moved. For, since to be moved is to pass from potentiality
(../cathen/01124a.htm) to actuality (../cathen/01124a.htm), the mover gives what it has to the thing moved, inasmuch as
it causes (../cathen/03459a.htm) it to be in act. But, as is shown in Phys. viii, 6, there is a mover which is altogether
immovable, and not moved either essentially (../cathen/05543b.htm), or accidentally (../cathen/01096c.htm); and such a
mover can cause (../cathen/03459a.htm) an invariable movement. There is, however, another kind of mover, which,
though not moved essentially (../cathen/05543b.htm), is moved accidentally (../cathen/01096c.htm); and for this reason
it does not cause (../cathen/03459a.htm) an invariable movement; such a mover, is the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm).
There is, again, another mover, which is moved essentially (../cathen/05543b.htm)—namely, the body. And because the
philosophers (../cathen/12025c.htm) of old believed (../cathen/02408b.htm) that nothing existed (../cathen/05543b.htm)
but bodies, they maintained that every mover is moved; and that the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is moved directly, and
is a body.
Reply to Objection 2. The likeness of a thing known (../cathen/08673a.htm) is not of necessity (../cathen/10733a.htm)
actually in the nature (../cathen/10715a.htm) of the knower; but given a thing which knows (../cathen/08673a.htm)
potentially (../cathen/01124a.htm), and afterwards knows (../cathen/08673a.htm) actually, the likeness of the thing
known (../cathen/08673a.htm) must be in the nature (../cathen/10715a.htm) of the knower, not actually, but only
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potentially (../cathen/01124a.htm); thus color is not actually in the pupil of the eye, but only potentially
(../cathen/01124a.htm). Hence it is necessary (../cathen/10733a.htm), not that the likeness of corporeal things should
be actually in the nature (../cathen/10715a.htm) of the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm), but that there be a potentiality
(../cathen/01124a.htm) in the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) for such a likeness. But the ancient philosophers
(../cathen/12025c.htm) omitted to distinguish between actuality (../cathen/01124a.htm) and potentiality
(../cathen/01124a.htm); and so they held that the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) must be a body in order to have
knowledge (../cathen/08673a.htm) of a body; and that it must be composed of the principles of which all bodies are
formed in order to know (../cathen/08673a.htm) all bodies.
Reply to Objection 3. There are two kinds of contact; of “quantity (../cathen/12591a.htm),” and of “power.” By the
former a body can be touched only by a body; by the latter a body can be touched by an incorporeal thing, which
moves that body.
Article 2. Whether the human soul is something subsistent?
Objection 1. It would seem that the human (../cathen/09580c.htm) soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is not something
subsistent. For that which subsists is said to be “this particular thing.” Now “this particular thing” is said not of the soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm), but of that which is composed of soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) and body. Therefore the soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm) is not something subsistent.
Objection 2. Further, everything subsistent operates. But the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) does not operate; for, as the
Philosopher (../cathen/01713a.htm) says (De Anima i, 4), “to say that the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) feels or
understands is like saying that the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) weaves or builds.” Therefore the soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm) is not subsistent.
Objection 3. Further, if the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) were subsistent, it would have some operation apart from the
body. But it has no operation apart from the body, not even that of understanding: for the act of understanding does not
take place without a phantasm, which cannot exist (../cathen/05543b.htm) apart from the body. Therefore the human
(../cathen/09580c.htm) soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is not something subsistent.
On the contrary, Augustine (../cathen/02084a.htm) says (De Trin. x, 7): “Who understands that the nature
(../cathen/10715a.htm) of the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is that of a substance (../cathen/14322c.htm) and not that of a
body, will see that those who maintain the corporeal nature (../cathen/10715a.htm) of the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm),
are led astray through associating with the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) those things without which they are unable to
think of any nature (../cathen/10715a.htm)—i.e. imaginary (../cathen/07672a.htm) pictures of corporeal things.”
Therefore the nature (../cathen/10715a.htm) of the human (../cathen/09580c.htm) intellect (../cathen/08066a.htm) is not
only incorporeal, but it is also a substance (../cathen/14322c.htm), that is, something subsistent.
I answer that, It must necessarily (../cathen/10733a.htm) be allowed that the principle of intellectual
(../cathen/08066a.htm) operation which we call the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm), is a principle both incorporeal and
subsistent. For it is clear that by means of the intellect (../cathen/08066a.htm) man (../cathen/09580c.htm) can have
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knowledge (../cathen/08673a.htm) of all corporeal things. Now whatever knows (../cathen/08673a.htm) certain things
cannot have any of them in its own nature (../cathen/10715a.htm); because that which is in it naturally
(../cathen/10715a.htm) would impede the knowledge (../cathen/08673a.htm) of anything else. Thus we observe that a
sick man’s (../cathen/09580c.htm) tongue being vitiated by a feverish and bitter humor, is insensible to anything sweet,
and everything seems bitter to it. Therefore, if the intellectual (../cathen/08066a.htm) principle contained the nature
(../cathen/10715a.htm) of a body it would be unable to know (../cathen/08673a.htm) all bodies. Now every body has its
own determinate nature (../cathen/10715a.htm). Therefore it is impossible for the intellectual (../cathen/08066a.htm)
principle to be a body. It is likewise impossible for it to understand by means of a bodily organ; since the determinate
nature (../cathen/10715a.htm) of that organ would impede knowledge (../cathen/08673a.htm) of all bodies; as when a
certain determinate color is not only in the pupil of the eye, but also in a glass vase, the liquid in the vase seems to be
of that same color.
Therefore the intellectual (../cathen/08066a.htm) principle which we call the mind (../cathen/10321a.htm) or the intellect
(../cathen/08066a.htm) has an operation per se apart from the body. Now only that which subsists can have an
operation “per se.” For nothing can operate but what is actual: for which reason we do not say that heat imparts heat,
but that what is hot gives heat. We must conclude, therefore, that the human (../cathen/09580c.htm) soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm), which is called the intellect (../cathen/08066a.htm) or the mind (../cathen/10321a.htm), is
something incorporeal and subsistent.
Reply to Objection 1. “This particular thing” can be taken in two senses.
Firstly, for anything subsistent; secondly, for that which subsists, and is complete in a specific nature
(../cathen/10715a.htm). The former sense excludes the inherence of an accident (../cathen/01096c.htm) or of a material
form; the latter excludes also the imperfection of the part, so that a hand can be called “this particular thing” in the first
sense, but not in the second. Therefore, as the human (../cathen/09580c.htm) soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is a part of
human (../cathen/09580c.htm) nature (../cathen/10715a.htm), it can indeed be called “this particular thing,” in the first
sense, as being something subsistent; but not in the second, for in this sense, what is composed of body and soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm) is said to be “this particular thing.”
Reply to Objection 2. Aristotle (../cathen/01713a.htm) wrote those words as expressing not his own opinion, but the
opinion of those who said that to understand is to be moved, as is clear from the context. Or we may reply that to
operate per se belongs to what exists (../cathen/05543b.htm) “per se.” But for a thing to exist (../cathen/05543b.htm)
“per se,” it suffices sometimes that it be not inherent, as an accident (../cathen/01096c.htm) or a material form; even
though it be part of something. Nevertheless, that is rightly said to subsist “per se,” which is neither inherent in the
above sense, nor part of anything else. In this sense, the eye or the hand cannot be said to subsist per se; nor can it for
that reason be said to operate “per se.” Hence the operation of the parts is through each part attributed to the whole.
For we say that man (../cathen/09580c.htm) sees with the eye, and feels with the hand, and not in the same sense as
when we say that what is hot gives heat by its heat; for heat, strictly speaking, does not give heat. We may therefore
say that the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) understands, as the eye sees; but it is more correct to say that man
(../cathen/09580c.htm) understands through the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm).
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Reply to Objection 3. The body is necessary (../cathen/10733a.htm) for the action of the intellect
(../cathen/08066a.htm), not as its origin of action, but on the part of the object; for the phantasm is to the intellect
(../cathen/08066a.htm) what color is to the sight. Neither does such a dependence on the body prove
(../cathen/12454c.htm) the intellect (../cathen/08066a.htm) to be non-subsistent; otherwise it would follow that an
animal is non-subsistent, since it requires external objects of the senses in order to perform its act of perception.
Article 3. Whether the souls of brute animals are subsistent?
Objection 1. It would seem that the souls (../cathen/14153a.htm) of brute animals are subsistent. For man
(../cathen/09580c.htm) is of the same ‘genus’ as other animals; and, as we have just shown (Article 2), the soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm) of man (../cathen/09580c.htm) is subsistent. Therefore the souls (../cathen/14153a.htm) of other
animals are subsistent.
Objection 2. Further, the relation of the sensitive faculty (../cathen/05749a.htm) to sensible objects is like the relation of
the intellectual (../cathen/08066a.htm) faculty (../cathen/05749a.htm) to intelligible objects. But the intellect
(../cathen/08066a.htm), apart from the body, apprehends intelligible objects. Therefore the sensitive faculty
(../cathen/05749a.htm), apart from the body, perceives sensible objects. Therefore, since the souls
(../cathen/14153a.htm) of brute animals are sensitive, it follows that they are subsistent; just as the human
(../cathen/09580c.htm) intellectual (../cathen/08066a.htm) soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is subsistent.
Objection 3. Further, the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) of brute animals moves the body. But the body is not a mover, but
is moved. Therefore the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) of brute animals has an operation apart from the body.
On the contrary, Is what is written in the book De Eccl. Dogm. xvi, xvii: “Man alone we believe (../cathen/02408b.htm)
to have a subsistent soul (../cathen/14153a.htm): whereas the souls (../cathen/14153a.htm) of animals are not
subsistent.”
I answer that, The ancient philosophers (../cathen/12025c.htm) made no distinction between sense and intellect
(../cathen/08066a.htm), and referred both a corporeal principle, as has been said (Article 1). Plato
(../cathen/12159a.htm), however, drew a distinction between intellect (../cathen/08066a.htm) and sense; yet he referred
both to an incorporeal principle, maintaining that sensing, just as understanding, belongs to the soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm) as such. From this it follows that even the souls (../cathen/14153a.htm) of brute animals are
subsistent. But Aristotle (../cathen/01713a.htm) held that of the operations of the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm),
understanding alone is performed without a corporeal organ. On the other hand, sensation and the consequent
operations of the sensitive soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) are evidently accompanied with change in the body; thus in the
act of vision, the pupil of the eye is affected by a reflection of color: and so with the other senses. Hence it is clear that
the sensitive soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) has no per se operation of its own, and that every operation of the sensitive
soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) belongs to the composite. Wherefore we conclude that as the souls (../cathen/14153a.htm)
of brute animals have no per se operations they are not subsistent. For the operation of anything follows the mode of its
being.
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Reply to Objection 1. Although man (../cathen/09580c.htm) is of the same “genus” as other animals, he is of a
different “species (../cathen/14210a.htm).” Specific difference is derived from the difference of form; nor does every
difference of form necessarily (../cathen/10733a.htm) imply a diversity of “genus.”
Reply to Objection 2. The relation of the sensitive faculty (../cathen/05749a.htm) to the sensible object is in one way
the same as that of the intellectual (../cathen/08066a.htm) faculty (../cathen/05749a.htm) to the intelligible object, in so
far as each is in potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm) to its object. But in another way their relations differ, inasmuch as
the impression of the object on the sense is accompanied with change in the body; so that excessive strength of the
sensible corrupts sense; a thing that never occurs in the case of the intellect (../cathen/08066a.htm). For an intellect
(../cathen/08066a.htm) that understands the highest of intelligible objects is more able afterwards to understand those
that are lower. If, however, in the process of intellectual (../cathen/08066a.htm) operation the body is weary, this result
is accidental (../cathen/01096c.htm), inasmuch as the intellect (../cathen/08066a.htm) requires the operation of the
sensitive powers in the production of the phantasms.
Reply to Objection 3. Motive power is of two kinds. One, the appetitive (../cathen/01656a.htm) power, commands
motion. The operation of this power in the sensitive soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is not apart from the body; for anger
(../cathen/01489a.htm), joy (../cathen/07131b.htm), and passions (../cathen/11534a.htm) of a like nature
(../cathen/10715a.htm) are accompanied by a change in the body. The other motive power is that which executes
motion in adapting the members for obeying the appetite (../cathen/01656a.htm); and the act of this power does not
consist in moving, but in being moved. Whence it is clear that to move is not an act of the sensitive soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm) without the body.
Article 4. Whether the soul is man?
Objection 1. It would seem that the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is man (../cathen/09580c.htm). For it is written (2
Corinthians 4:16 (../bible/2co004.htm#verse16)): “Though our outward man (../cathen/09580c.htm) is corrupted, yet the
inward man (../cathen/09580c.htm) is renewed day by day.” But that which is within man (../cathen/09580c.htm) is the
soul (../cathen/14153a.htm). Therefore the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is the inward man (../cathen/09580c.htm).
Objection 2. Further, the human (../cathen/09580c.htm) soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is a substance
(../cathen/14322c.htm). But it is not a universal substance (../cathen/14322c.htm). Therefore it is a particular substance
(../cathen/14322c.htm). Therefore it is a “hypostasis” or a person (../cathen/11726a.htm); and it can only be a human
(../cathen/09580c.htm) person (../cathen/11726a.htm). Therefore the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is man
(../cathen/09580c.htm); for a human (../cathen/09580c.htm) person (../cathen/11726a.htm) is a man.
On the contrary, Augustine (../cathen/02084a.htm) (De Civ. Dei xix, 3) commends Varro as holding “that man
(../cathen/09580c.htm) is not a mere soul (../cathen/14153a.htm), nor a mere body; but both soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm) and body.”
I answer that, The assertion “the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is man (../cathen/09580c.htm),” can be taken in two
senses.
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First, that man (../cathen/09580c.htm) is a soul (../cathen/14153a.htm); though this particular man
(../cathen/09580c.htm), Socrates (../cathen/14119a.htm), for instance, is not a soul (../cathen/14153a.htm), but
composed of soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) and body. I say this, forasmuch as some held that the form
(../cathen/06137b.htm) alone belongs to the species (../cathen/14210a.htm); while matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) is part
of the individual (../cathen/07762a.htm), and not the species (../cathen/14210a.htm). This cannot be true
(../cathen/15073a.htm); for to the nature (../cathen/10715a.htm) of the species (../cathen/14210a.htm) belongs what the
definition signifies; and in natural (../cathen/10715a.htm) things the definition does not signify the form only, but the form
and the matter (../cathen/10053b.htm). Hence in natural (../cathen/10715a.htm) things the matter
(../cathen/10053b.htm) is part of the species (../cathen/14210a.htm); not, indeed, signate matter
(../cathen/10053b.htm), which is the principle of individuality (../cathen/07762a.htm); but the common matter
(../cathen/10053b.htm). For as it belongs to the notion of this particular man (../cathen/09580c.htm) to be composed of
this soul (../cathen/14153a.htm), of this flesh, and of these bones; so it belongs to the notion of man
(../cathen/09580c.htm) to be composed of soul (../cathen/14153a.htm), flesh, and bones; for whatever belongs in
common to the substance (../cathen/14322c.htm) of all the individuals (../cathen/07762a.htm) contained under a given
species (../cathen/14210a.htm), must belong to the substance (../cathen/14322c.htm) of the species
(../cathen/14210a.htm).
It may also be understood in this sense, that this soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is this man (../cathen/09580c.htm); and
this could be held if it were supposed that the operation of the sensitive soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) were proper to it,
apart from the body; because in that case all the operations which are attributed to man (../cathen/09580c.htm) would
belong to the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) only; and whatever performs the operations proper to a thing, is that thing;
wherefore that which performs the operations of a man is man (../cathen/09580c.htm). But it has been shown above
(Article 3) that sensation is not the operation of the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) only. Since, then, sensation is an
operation of man (../cathen/09580c.htm), but not proper to him, it is clear that man (../cathen/09580c.htm) is not a soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm) only, but something composed of soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) and body. Plato
(../cathen/12159a.htm), through supposing that sensation was proper to the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm), could maintain
man (../cathen/09580c.htm) to be a soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) making use of the body.
Reply to Objection 1. According to the Philosopher (../cathen/01713a.htm) (Ethic. ix, 8), a thing seems to be chiefly
what is principle in it; thus what the governor of a state does, the state is said to do. In this way sometimes what is
principle in man (../cathen/09580c.htm) is said to be man (../cathen/09580c.htm); sometimes, indeed, the intellectual
(../cathen/08066a.htm) part which, in accordance with truth (../cathen/15073a.htm), is called the “inward” man
(../cathen/09580c.htm); and sometimes the sensitive part with the body is called man (../cathen/09580c.htm) in the
opinion of those whose observation does not go beyond the senses. And this is called the “outward” man
(../cathen/09580c.htm).
Reply to Objection 2. Not every particular substance (../cathen/14322c.htm) is a hypostasis or a person
(../cathen/11726a.htm), but that which has the complete nature (../cathen/10715a.htm) of its species
(../cathen/14210a.htm). Hence a hand, or a foot, is not called a hypostasis, or a person (../cathen/11726a.htm); nor,
likewise, is the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) alone so called, since it is a part of the human (../cathen/09580c.htm)
species (../cathen/14210a.htm).
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Article 5. Whether the soul is composed of matter and form?
Objection 1. It would seem that the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is composed of matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) and
form (../cathen/06137b.htm). For potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm) is opposed to actuality (../cathen/01124a.htm).
Now, whatsoever things are in actuality (../cathen/01124a.htm) participate of the First Act, which is God
(../cathen/06608a.htm); by participation of Whom, all things are good (../cathen/06636b.htm), are beings, and are living
things, as is clear from the teaching of Dionysius (../cathen/05013a.htm) (Div. Nom. v). Therefore whatsoever things are
in potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm) participate of the first potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm). But the first potentiality
(../cathen/01124a.htm) is primary matter (../cathen/10053b.htm). Therefore, since the human (../cathen/09580c.htm)
soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is, after a manner, in potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm); which appears from the fact that
sometimes a man is potentially (../cathen/01124a.htm) understanding; it seems that the human (../cathen/09580c.htm)
soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) must participate of primary matter (../cathen/10053b.htm), as part of itself.
Objection 2. Further, wherever the properties of matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) are found, there matter
(../cathen/10053b.htm) is. But the properties of matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) are found in the soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm)—namely, to be a subject, and to be changed, for it is a subject to science, and virtue
(../cathen/15472a.htm); and it changes from ignorance (../cathen/07648a.htm) to knowledge (../cathen/08673a.htm)
and from vice (../cathen/15403c.htm) to virtue (../cathen/15472a.htm). Therefore matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) is in the
soul (../cathen/14153a.htm).
Objection 3. Further, things which have no matter (../cathen/10053b.htm), have no cause (../cathen/03459a.htm) of
their existence (../cathen/05543b.htm), as the Philosopher (../cathen/01713a.htm) says Metaph. viii (Did. vii, 6). But the
soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) has a cause (../cathen/03459a.htm) of its existence (../cathen/05543b.htm), since it is
created (../cathen/04470a.htm) by God (../cathen/06608a.htm). Therefore the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) has matter
(../cathen/10053b.htm).
Objection 4. Further, what has no matter (../cathen/10053b.htm), and is a form only, is a pure act
(../cathen/01125b.htm), and is infinite (../cathen/08004a.htm). But this belongs to God (../cathen/06608a.htm) alone.
Therefore the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) has matter (../cathen/10053b.htm).
On the contrary, Augustine (../cathen/02084a.htm) (Gen. ad lit. vii, 7,8,9) proves that the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm)
was made neither of corporeal matter (../cathen/10053b.htm), nor of spiritual (../cathen/14220b.htm) matter
(../cathen/10053b.htm).
I answer that, The soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) has no matter (../cathen/10053b.htm). We may consider this question in
two ways.
First, from the notion of a soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) in general; for it belongs to the notion of a soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm) to be the form of a body. Now, either it is a form by virtue of itself, in its entirety, or by virtue of
some part of itself. If by virtue of itself in its entirety, then it is impossible that any part of it should be matter
(../cathen/10053b.htm), if by matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) we understand something purely potential
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SUMMA THEOLOGIAE: Man who is composed of a spiritual and a corporeal substance: and in the first place, concerning what belongs to…
(../cathen/01124a.htm): for a form, as such, is an act; and that which is purely potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm) cannot
be part of an act, since potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm) is repugnant to actuality (../cathen/01124a.htm) as being
opposite thereto. If, however, it be a form by virtue of a part of itself, then we call that part the soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm): and that matter (../cathen/10053b.htm), which it actualizes first, we call the “primary animate.”
Secondly, we may proceed from the specific notion of the human (../cathen/09580c.htm) soul (../cathen/14153a.htm)
inasmuch as it is intellectual (../cathen/08066a.htm). For it is clear that whatever is received into something is received
according to the condition (../cathen/04211a.htm) of the recipient. Now a thing is known (../cathen/08673a.htm) in as far
as its form (../cathen/06137b.htm) is in the knower. But the intellectual (../cathen/08066a.htm) soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm) knows (../cathen/08673a.htm) a thing in its nature (../cathen/10715a.htm) absolutely: for
instance, it knows (../cathen/08673a.htm) a stone absolutely as a stone; and therefore the form of a stone absolutely,
as to its proper formal idea (../cathen/07630a.htm), is in the intellectual (../cathen/08066a.htm) soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm). Therefore the intellectual (../cathen/08066a.htm) soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) itself is an
absolute form, and not something composed of matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) and form (../cathen/06137b.htm). For if
the intellectual (../cathen/08066a.htm) soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) were composed of matter (../cathen/10053b.htm)
and form (../cathen/06137b.htm), the forms of things would be received into it as individuals (../cathen/07762a.htm),
and so it would only know (../cathen/08673a.htm) the individual (../cathen/07762a.htm): just as it happens with the
sensitive powers which receive forms in a corporeal organ; since matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) is the principle by
which forms are individualized. It follows, therefore, that the intellectual (../cathen/08066a.htm) soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm), and every intellectual (../cathen/08066a.htm) substance (../cathen/14322c.htm) which has
knowledge (../cathen/08673a.htm) of forms absolutely, is exempt from composition of matter (../cathen/10053b.htm)
and form (../cathen/06137b.htm).
Reply to Objection 1. The First Act is the universal principle of all acts; because It is infinite (../cathen/08004a.htm),
virtually “precontaining all things,” as Dionysius (../cathen/05013a.htm) says (Div. Nom. v). Wherefore things participate
of It not as a part of themselves, but by diffusion of Its processions. Now as potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm) is
receptive of act, it must be proportionate to act. But the acts received which proceed from the First Infinite
(../cathen/08004a.htm) Act, and are participations thereof, are diverse, so that there cannot be one potentiality
(../cathen/01124a.htm) which receives all acts, as there is one act, from which all participated acts are derived; for then
the receptive potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm) would equal the active potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm) of the First
Act. Now the receptive potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm) in the intellectual (../cathen/08066a.htm) soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm) is other than the receptive potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm) of first matter
(../cathen/10053b.htm), as appears from the diversity of the things received by each. For primary matter
(../cathen/10053b.htm) receives individual (../cathen/07762a.htm) forms; whereas the intelligence
(../cathen/08066a.htm) receives absolute forms. Hence the existence (../cathen/05543b.htm) of such a potentiality
(../cathen/01124a.htm) in the intellectual (../cathen/08066a.htm) soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) does not prove
(../cathen/12454c.htm) that the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is composed of matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) and form
(../cathen/06137b.htm).
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SUMMA THEOLOGIAE: Man who is composed of a spiritual and a corporeal substance: and in the first place, concerning what belongs to…
Reply to Objection 2. To be a subject and to be changed belong to matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) by reason of its
being in potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm). As, therefore, the potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm) of the intelligence
(../cathen/08066a.htm) is one thing and the potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm) of primary matter (../cathen/10053b.htm)
another, so in each is there a different reason of subjection and change. For the intelligence (../cathen/08066a.htm) is
subject to knowledge (../cathen/08673a.htm), and is changed from ignorance (../cathen/07648a.htm) to knowledge
(../cathen/08673a.htm), by reason of its being in potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm) with regard to the intelligible species
(../cathen/14210a.htm).
Reply to Objection 3. The form causes (../cathen/03459a.htm) matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) to be, and so does the
agent; wherefore the agent causes (../cathen/03459a.htm) matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) to be, so far as it actualizes it
by transmuting it to the act of a form. A subsistent form, however, does not owe its existence (../cathen/05543b.htm) to
some formal principle, nor has it a cause (../cathen/03459a.htm) transmuting it from potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm)
to act. So after the words quoted above, the Philosopher (../cathen/01713a.htm) concludes, that in things composed of
matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) and form (../cathen/06137b.htm) “there is no other cause (../cathen/03459a.htm) but that
which moves from potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm) to act; while whatsoever things have no matter
(../cathen/10053b.htm) are simply beings at once.” [The Leonine edition has, “simpliciter sunt quod vere entia aliquid.”
The Parma edition of St. Thomas’s (../cathen/14663b.htm) Commentary on Aristotle has, “statim per se unum quiddam
est . . . et ens quiddam.”]
Reply to Objection 4. Everything participated is compared to the participator as its act. But whatever created
(../cathen/04470a.htm) form be supposed to subsist “per se,” must have existence (../cathen/05543b.htm) by
participation; for “even life,” or anything of that sort, “is a participator of existence (../cathen/05543b.htm),” as Dionysius
(../cathen/05013a.htm) says (Div. Nom. v). Now participated existence (../cathen/05543b.htm) is limited by the capacity
of the participator; so that God (../cathen/06608a.htm) alone, Who is His own existence (../cathen/05543b.htm), is pure
act (../cathen/01125b.htm) and infinite (../cathen/08004a.htm). But in intellectual (../cathen/08066a.htm) substances
(../cathen/14322c.htm) there is composition of actuality (../cathen/01124a.htm) and potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm),
not, indeed, of matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) and form (../cathen/06137b.htm), but of form and participated existence
(../cathen/05543b.htm). Wherefore some say that they are composed of that “whereby they are” and that “which they
are”; for existence (../cathen/05543b.htm) itself is that by which a thing is.
Article 6. Whether the human soul is incorruptible?
Objection 1. It would seem that the human (../cathen/09580c.htm) soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is corruptible. For those
things that have a like beginning and process seemingly have a like end. But the beginning, by generation, of men
(../cathen/09580c.htm) is like that of animals, for they are made from the earth. And the process of life is alike in both;
because “all things breathe alike, and man (../cathen/09580c.htm) hath nothing more than the beast,” as it is written
(Ecclesiastes 3:19 (../bible/ecc003.htm#verse19)). Therefore, as the same text concludes, “the death of man
(../cathen/09580c.htm) and beast is one, and the condition (../cathen/04211a.htm) of both is equal.” But the souls
(../cathen/14153a.htm) of brute animals are corruptible. Therefore, also, the human (../cathen/09580c.htm) soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm) is corruptible.
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SUMMA THEOLOGIAE: Man who is composed of a spiritual and a corporeal substance: and in the first place, concerning what belongs to…
Objection 2. Further, whatever is out of nothing can return to nothingness; because the end should correspond to the
beginning. But as it is written (Wisdom 2:2 (../bible/wis002.htm#verse2)), “We are born of nothing”; which is true
(../cathen/15073a.htm), not only of the body, but also of the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm). Therefore, as is concluded in
the same passage, “After this we shall be as if we had not been,” even as to our soul (../cathen/14153a.htm).
Objection 3. Further, nothing is without its own proper operation. But the operation proper to the soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm), which is to understand through a phantasm, cannot be without the body. For the soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm) understands nothing without a phantasm; and there is no phantasm without the body as the
Philosopher (../cathen/01713a.htm) says (De Anima i, 1). Therefore the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) cannot survive the
dissolution of the body.
On the contrary, Dionysius (../cathen/05013a.htm) says (Div. Nom. iv) that human (../cathen/09580c.htm) souls
(../cathen/14153a.htm) owe to Divine goodness (../cathen/06636b.htm) that they are “intellectual
(../cathen/08066a.htm),” and that they have “an incorruptible substantial (../cathen/14322c.htm) life.”
I answer that, We must assert that the intellectual (../cathen/08066a.htm) principle which we call the human
(../cathen/09580c.htm) soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is incorruptible. For a thing may be corrupted in two ways—”per se,”
and accidentally (../cathen/01096c.htm). Now it is impossible for any substance (../cathen/14322c.htm) to be generated
or corrupted accidentally (../cathen/01096c.htm), that is, by the generation or corruption of something else. For
generation and corruption belong to a thing, just as existence (../cathen/05543b.htm) belongs to it, which is acquired by
generation and lost by corruption. Therefore, whatever has existence (../cathen/05543b.htm) per se cannot be
generated or corrupted except per se; while things which do not subsist, such as accidents (../cathen/01096c.htm) and
material forms, acquire existence (../cathen/05543b.htm) or lose it through the generation or corruption of composite
things. Now it was shown above (Articles 2 and 3) that the souls (../cathen/14153a.htm) of brutes are not selfsubsistent, whereas the human (../cathen/09580c.htm) soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is; so that the souls
(../cathen/14153a.htm) of brutes are corrupted, when their bodies are corrupted; while the human
(../cathen/09580c.htm) soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) could not be corrupted unless it were corrupted “per se.” This,
indeed, is impossible, not only as regards the human (../cathen/09580c.htm) soul (../cathen/14153a.htm), but also as
regards anything subsistent that is a form alone. For it is clear that what belongs to a thing by virtue of itself is
inseparable from it; but existence (../cathen/05543b.htm) belongs to a form, which is an act, by virtue of itself.
Wherefore matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) acquires actual existence (../cathen/05543b.htm) as it acquires the form;
while it is corrupted so far as the form is separated from it. But it is impossible for a form to be separated from itself; and
therefore it is impossible for a subsistent form to cease to exist (../cathen/05543b.htm).
Granted even that the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is composed of matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) and form
(../cathen/06137b.htm), as some pretend, we should nevertheless have to maintain that it is incorruptible. For
corruption is found only where there is contrariety; since generation and corruption are from contraries and into
contraries. Wherefore the heavenly bodies, since they have no matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) subject to contrariety, are
incorruptible. Now there can be no contrariety in the intellectual (../cathen/08066a.htm) soul (../cathen/14153a.htm); for
it receives according to the manner of its existence (../cathen/05543b.htm), and those things which it receives are
without contrariety; for the notions even of contraries are not themselves contrary, since contraries belong to the same
knowledge (../cathen/08673a.htm). Therefore it is impossible for the intellectual (../cathen/08066a.htm) soul
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SUMMA THEOLOGIAE: Man who is composed of a spiritual and a corporeal substance: and in the first place, concerning what belongs to…
(../cathen/14153a.htm) to be corruptible. Moreover we may take a sign of this from the fact that everything naturally
(../cathen/10715a.htm) aspires to existence (../cathen/05543b.htm) after its own manner. Now, in things that have
knowledge (../cathen/08673a.htm), desire ensues upon knowledge (../cathen/08673a.htm). The senses indeed do not
know (../cathen/08673a.htm) existence (../cathen/05543b.htm), except under the conditions (../cathen/04211a.htm) of
“here” and “now,” whereas the intellect (../cathen/08066a.htm) apprehends existence (../cathen/05543b.htm) absolutely,
and for all time; so that everything that has an intellect (../cathen/08066a.htm) naturally (../cathen/10715a.htm) desires
always to exist (../cathen/05543b.htm). But a natural (../cathen/10715a.htm) desire cannot be in vain. Therefore every
intellectual (../cathen/08066a.htm) substance (../cathen/14322c.htm) is incorruptible.
Reply to Objection 1. Solomon reasons thus in the person (../cathen/11726a.htm) of the foolish, as expressed in the
words of Wisdom 2 (../bible/wis002.htm). Therefore the saying that man (../cathen/09580c.htm) and animals have a like
beginning in generation is true (../cathen/15073a.htm) of the body; for all animals alike are made of earth. But it is not
true (../cathen/15073a.htm) of the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm). For the souls (../cathen/14153a.htm) of brutes are
produced by some power of the body; whereas the human (../cathen/09580c.htm) soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is
produced by God (../cathen/06608a.htm). To signify this it is written as to other animals: “Let the earth bring forth the
living soul (../cathen/14153a.htm)” (Genesis 1:24 (../bible/gen001.htm#verse24)): while of man (../cathen/09580c.htm) it
is written (Genesis 2:7 (../bible/gen002.htm#verse7)) that “He breathed into his face the breath of life.” And so in
Ecclesiastes 12:7 (../bible/ecc012.htm#verse7) it is concluded: “(Before) the dust return into its earth from whence it
was; and the spirit return to God (../cathen/06608a.htm) Who gave it.” Again the process of life is alike as to the body,
concerning which it is written (Ecclesiastes 3:19 (../bible/ecc003.htm#verse19)): “All things breathe alike,” and (Wisdom
2:2 (../bible/wis002.htm#verse2)), “The breath in our nostrils is smoke.” But the process is not alike of the soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm); for man (../cathen/09580c.htm) is intelligent (../cathen/08066a.htm), whereas animals are not.
Hence it is false (../cathen/05781a.htm) to say: “Man has nothing more than beasts.” Thus death comes to both alike as
to the body, by not as to the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm).
Reply to Objection 2. As a thing can be created (../cathen/04470a.htm) by reason, not of a passive potentiality
(../cathen/01124a.htm), but only of the active potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm) of the Creator (../cathen/06608a.htm),
Who can produce something out of nothing, so when we say that a thing can be reduced to nothing, we do not imply in
the creature a potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm) to non-existence, but in the Creator (../cathen/06608a.htm) the power
of ceasing to sustain existence (../cathen/05543b.htm). But a thing is said to be corruptible because there is in it a
potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm) to non-existence.
Reply to Objection 3. To understand through a phantasm is the proper operation of the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) by
virtue of its union with the body. After separation from the body it will have another mode of understanding, similar to
other substances (../cathen/14322c.htm) separated from bodies, as will appear later on (I:89:1
(../summa/1089.htm#article1).
Article 7. Whether the soul is of the same species as an angel?
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SUMMA THEOLOGIAE: Man who is composed of a spiritual and a corporeal substance: and in the first place, concerning what belongs to…
Objection 1. It would seem that the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is of the same species (../cathen/14210a.htm) as an
angel (../cathen/01476d.htm). For each thing is ordained to its proper end by the nature (../cathen/10715a.htm) of its
species (../cathen/14210a.htm), whence is derived its inclination for that end. But the end of the soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm) is the same as that of an angel (../cathen/01476d.htm)—namely, eternal (../cathen/05551b.htm)
happiness (../cathen/07131b.htm). Therefore they are of the same species (../cathen/14210a.htm).
Objection 2. Further, the ultimate specific difference is the noblest, because it completes the nature
(../cathen/10715a.htm) of the species (../cathen/14210a.htm). But there is nothing nobler either in an angel
(../cathen/01476d.htm) or in the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) than their intellectual (../cathen/08066a.htm) nature
(../cathen/10715a.htm). Therefore the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) and the angel (../cathen/01476d.htm) agree in the
ultimate specific difference: therefore they belong to the same species (../cathen/14210a.htm).
Objection 3. Further, it seems that the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) does not differ from an angel (../cathen/01476d.htm)
except in its union with the body. But as the body is outside the essence (../cathen/05543b.htm) of the soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm), it seems that it does not belong to its species (../cathen/14210a.htm). Therefore the soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm) and angel (../cathen/01476d.htm) are of the same species (../cathen/14210a.htm).
On the contrary, Things which have different natural (../cathen/10715a.htm) operations are of different species
(../cathen/14210a.htm). But the natural (../cathen/10715a.htm) operations of the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) and of an
angel (../cathen/01476d.htm) are different; since, as Dionysius (../cathen/05013a.htm) says (Div. Nom. vii), “Angelic
minds have simple and blessed intelligence (../cathen/08066a.htm), not gathering their knowledge
(../cathen/08673a.htm) of Divine things from visible things.” Subsequently he says the contrary to this of the soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm). Therefore the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) and an angel (../cathen/01476d.htm) are not of the
same species (../cathen/14210a.htm).
I answer that, Origen (../cathen/11306b.htm) (Peri Archon iii, 5) held that human (../cathen/09580c.htm) souls
(../cathen/14153a.htm) and angels (../cathen/01476d.htm) are all of the same species (../cathen/14210a.htm); and this
because he supposed that in these substances (../cathen/14322c.htm) the difference of degree was accidental
(../cathen/01096c.htm), as resulting from their free-will (../cathen/06259a.htm): as we have seen above (I:47:2
(../summa/1047.htm#article2)). But this cannot be; for in incorporeal substances (../cathen/14220b.htm) there cannot be
diversity of number without diversity of species (../cathen/14210a.htm) and inequality of nature (../cathen/10715a.htm);
because, as they are not composed of matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) and form (../cathen/06137b.htm), but are
subsistent forms, it is clear that there is necessarily (../cathen/10733a.htm) among them a diversity of species
(../cathen/14210a.htm). For a separate form cannot be understood otherwise than as one of a single species
(../cathen/14210a.htm); thus, supposing a separate whiteness to exist (../cathen/05543b.htm), it could only be one;
forasmuch as one whiteness does not differ from another except as in this or that subject. But diversity of species
(../cathen/14210a.htm) is always accompanied with a diversity of nature (../cathen/10715a.htm); thus in species
(../cathen/14210a.htm) of colors one is more perfect than another; and the same applies to other species
(../cathen/14210a.htm), because differences which divide a “genus” are contrary to one another. Contraries, however,
are compared to one another as the perfect to the imperfect, since the “principle of contrariety is habit
(../cathen/07099b.htm), and privation thereof,” as is written Metaph. x (Did. ix, 4). The same would follow if the
aforesaid substances (../cathen/14322c.htm) were composed of matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) and form
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SUMMA THEOLOGIAE: Man who is composed of a spiritual and a corporeal substance: and in the first place, concerning what belongs to…
(../cathen/06137b.htm). For if the matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) of one be distinct from the matter
(../cathen/10053b.htm) of another, it follows that either the form is the principle of the distinction of matter
(../cathen/10053b.htm)—that is to say, that the matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) is distinct on account of its relation to
divers forms; and even then there would result a difference of species (../cathen/14210a.htm) and inequality of nature
(../cathen/10715a.htm): or else the matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) is the principle of the distinction of forms. But one
matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) cannot be distinct from another, except by a distinction of quantity
(../cathen/12591a.htm), which has no place in these incorporeal substances (../cathen/14220b.htm), such as an angel
(../cathen/01476d.htm) and the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm). So that it is not possible for the angel
(../cathen/01476d.htm) and the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) to be of the same species (../cathen/14210a.htm). How it is
that there can be many souls (../cathen/14153a.htm) of one species (../cathen/14210a.htm) will be explained later
(I:76:2 ad 1 (../summa/1076.htm#article2)).
Reply to Objection 1. This argument proceeds from the proximate and natural (../cathen/10715a.htm) end. Eternal
(../cathen/05551b.htm) happiness (../cathen/07131b.htm) is the ultimate and supernatural (../cathen/14336b.htm) end.
Reply to Objection 2. The ultimate specific difference is the noblest because it is the most determinate, in the same
way as actuality (../cathen/01124a.htm) is nobler than potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm). Thus, however, the
intellectual (../cathen/08066a.htm) faculty (../cathen/05749a.htm) is not the noblest, because it is indeterminate and
common to many degrees of intellectuality; as the sensible faculty (../cathen/05749a.htm) is common to many degrees
in the sensible nature (../cathen/10715a.htm). Hence, as all sensible things are not of one species
(../cathen/14210a.htm), so neither are all intellectual (../cathen/08066a.htm) things of one species
(../cathen/14210a.htm).
Reply to Objection 3. The body is not of the essence (../cathen/05543b.htm) of the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm); but
the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) by the nature (../cathen/10715a.htm) of its essence (../cathen/05543b.htm) can be
united to the body, so that, properly speaking, not the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) alone, but the “composite,” is the
species (../cathen/14210a.htm). And the very fact that the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) in a certain way requires the
body for its operation, proves that the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is endowed with a grade of intellectuality inferior to
that of an angel (../cathen/01476d.htm), who is not united to a body.
The Summa Theologiæ of St. Thomas Aquinas
Second and Revised Edition, 1920
Literally translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province
Online Edition Copyright © 2017 by Kevin Knight
Nihil Obstat. F. Innocentius Apap, O.P., S.T.M., Censor. Theol.
Imprimatur. Edus. Canonicus Surmont, Vicarius Generalis. Westmonasterii.
APPROBATIO ORDINIS
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Nihil Obstat. F. Raphael Moss, O.P., S.T.L. and F. Leo Moore, O.P., S.T.L.
Imprimatur. F. Beda Jarrett, O.P., S.T.L., A.M., Prior Provincialis Angliæ
MARIÆ IMMACULATÆ – SEDI SAPIENTIÆ
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SUMMA THEOLOGIAE: The existence of God (Prima Pars, Q. 2)
Question 2. The existence of God
1. Is the proposition “God exists” self-evident? (../summa/1002.htm#article1)
2. Is it demonstrable? (../summa/1002.htm#article2)
3. Does God exist? (../summa/1002.htm#article3)
Article 1. Whether the existence of God is self-evident?
Objection 1. It seems that the existence of God (../cathen/06608b.htm) is self-evident. Now those things are said to be
self-evident to us the knowledge (../cathen/08673a.htm) of which is naturally (../cathen/10715a.htm) implanted in us, as
we can see in regard to first principles. But as Damascene (../cathen/08459b.htm) says (De Fide Orth. i, 1,3), “the
knowledge (../cathen/08673a.htm) of God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is naturally (../cathen/10715a.htm) implanted in all.”
Therefore the existence of God (../cathen/06608b.htm) is self-evident.
Objection 2. Further, those things are said to be self-evident which are known (../cathen/08673a.htm) as soon as the
terms are known (../cathen/08673a.htm), which the Philosopher (../cathen/01713a.htm) (1 Poster. iii) says is true
(../cathen/15073a.htm) of the first principles of demonstration. Thus, when the nature (../cathen/10715a.htm) of a whole
and of a part is known (../cathen/08673a.htm), it is at once recognized that every whole is greater than its part. But as
soon as the signification of the word “God” is understood, it is at once seen that God (../cathen/06608a.htm) exists
(../cathen/06608b.htm). For by this word is signified that thing than which nothing greater can be conceived. But that
which exists (../cathen/05543b.htm) actually and mentally is greater than that which exists (../cathen/05543b.htm) only
mentally. Therefore, since as soon as the word “God” is understood it exists (../cathen/05543b.htm) mentally, it also
follows that it exists (../cathen/05543b.htm) actually. Therefore the proposition “God exists” (../cathen/06608b.htm) is
self-evident.
Objection 3. Further, the existence (../cathen/05543b.htm) of truth (../cathen/15073a.htm) is self-evident. For whoever
denies the existence (../cathen/05543b.htm) of truth (../cathen/15073a.htm) grants that truth (../cathen/15073a.htm)
does not exist (../cathen/05543b.htm): and, if truth (../cathen/15073a.htm) does not exist (../cathen/05543b.htm), then
the proposition “Truth (../cathen/15073a.htm) does not exist (../cathen/05543b.htm)” is true (../cathen/15073a.htm): and
if there is anything true (../cathen/15073a.htm), there must be truth (../cathen/15073a.htm). But God
(../cathen/06608a.htm) is truth (../cathen/15073a.htm) itself: “I am the way, the truth (../cathen/15073a.htm), and the
life” (John 14:6 (../bible/joh014.htm#verse6)) Therefore “God exists” (../cathen/06608b.htm) is self-evident.
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On the contrary, No one can mentally (../cathen/10321a.htm) admit the opposite of what is self-evident; as the
Philosopher (../cathen/01713a.htm) (Metaph. iv, lect. vi) states concerning the first principles of demonstration. But the
opposite of the proposition “God is” (../cathen/06608b.htm) can be mentally (../cathen/10321a.htm) admitted: “The fool
said in his heart, There is no God (../cathen/02040a.htm)” (Psalm 53:2 (../bible/psa053.htm#verse2)). Therefore, that
God exists (../cathen/06608b.htm) is not self-evident.
I answer that, A thing can be self-evident in either of two ways: on the one hand, self-evident in itself, though not to us;
on the other, self-evident in itself, and to us. A proposition is self-evident because the predicate is included in the
essence (../cathen/05543b.htm) of the subject, as “Man is an animal,” for animal is contained in the essence
(../cathen/05543b.htm) of man (../cathen/09580c.htm). If, therefore the essence (../cathen/05543b.htm) of the predicate
and subject be known (../cathen/08673a.htm) to all, the proposition will be self-evident to all; as is clear with regard to
the first principles of demonstration, the terms of which are common things that no one is ignorant
(../cathen/07648a.htm) of, such as being and non-being, whole and part, and such like. If, however, there are some to
whom the essence (../cathen/05543b.htm) of the predicate and subject is unknown, the proposition will be self-evident
in itself, but not to those who do not know (../cathen/08673a.htm) the meaning of the predicate and subject of the
proposition. Therefore, it happens, as Boethius (../cathen/02610b.htm) says (Hebdom., the title of which is: “Whether all
that is, is good”), “that there are some mental (../cathen/10321a.htm) concepts self-evident only to the learned, as that
incorporeal substances (../cathen/14220b.htm) are not in space (../cathen/14167a.htm).” Therefore I say that this
proposition, “God exists (../cathen/06608b.htm),” of itself is self-evident, for the predicate is the same as the subject,
because God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is His own existence (../cathen/06608b.htm) as will be hereafter shown (I:3:4
(../summa/1003.htm#article4)). Now because we do not know (../cathen/08673a.htm) the essence
(../cathen/05543b.htm) of God (../cathen/06608a.htm), the proposition is not self-evident to us; but needs to be
demonstrated by things that are more known (../cathen/08673a.htm) to us, though less known (../cathen/08673a.htm) in
their nature (../cathen/10715a.htm) — namely, by effects.
Reply to Objection 1. To know (../cathen/08673a.htm) that God exists (../cathen/06608b.htm) in a general and
confused way is implanted in us by nature (../cathen/10715a.htm), inasmuch as God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is man’s
(../cathen/09580c.htm) beatitude. For man (../cathen/09580c.htm) naturally (../cathen/10715a.htm) desires happiness
(../cathen/07131b.htm), and what is naturally (../cathen/10715a.htm) desired by man (../cathen/09580c.htm) must be
naturally (../cathen/10715a.htm) known (../cathen/08673a.htm) to him. This, however, is not to know
(../cathen/08673a.htm) absolutely that God exists (../cathen/06608b.htm); just as to know (../cathen/08673a.htm) that
someone is approaching is not the same as to know (../cathen/08673a.htm) that Peter is approaching, even though it is
Peter who is approaching; for many there are who imagine (../cathen/07672a.htm) that man’s (../cathen/09580c.htm)
perfect good (../cathen/06636b.htm) which is happiness (../cathen/07131b.htm), consists in riches
(../cathen/15571a.htm), and others in pleasures, and others in something else.
Reply to Objection 2. Perhaps not everyone who hears this word “God” understands it to signify something than which
nothing greater can be thought, seeing that some have believed God (../cathen/06608a.htm) to be a body. Yet, granted
that everyone understands that by this word “God” is signified something than which nothing greater can be thought,
nevertheless, it does not therefore follow that he understands that what the word signifies exists (../cathen/05543b.htm)
actually, but only that it exists (../cathen/05543b.htm) mentally (../cathen/10321a.htm). Nor can it be argued that it
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actually exists (../cathen/05543b.htm), unless it be admitted that there actually exists (../cathen/05543b.htm) something
than which nothing greater can be thought; and this precisely is not admitted by those who hold that God
(../cathen/06608a.htm) does not exist (../cathen/05543b.htm).
Reply to Objection 3. The existence (../cathen/05543b.htm) of truth (../cathen/15073a.htm) in general is self-evident
but the existence (../cathen/05543b.htm) of a Primal Truth is not self-evident to us.
Article 2. Whether it can be demonstrated that God exists?
Objection 1. It seems that the existence of God (../cathen/06608b.htm) cannot be demonstrated. For it is an article of
faith (../cathen/01755d.htm) that God exists (../cathen/06608b.htm). But what is of faith (../cathen/05752c.htm) cannot
be demonstrated, because a demonstration produces scientific knowledge (../cathen/08673a.htm); whereas faith
(../cathen/05752c.htm) is of the unseen (Hebrews 11:1 (../bible/heb011.htm#verse1)). Therefore it cannot be
demonstrated that God exists (../cathen/06608b.htm).
Objection 2. Further, the essence (../cathen/05543b.htm) is the middle term of demonstration. But we cannot know
(../cathen/08673a.htm) in what God’s (../cathen/06608a.htm) essence (../cathen/05543b.htm) consists, but solely in
what it does not consist; as Damascene (../cathen/08459b.htm) says (De Fide Orth. i, 4). Therefore we cannot
demonstrate that God exists (../cathen/06608b.htm).
Objection 3. Further, if the existence of God (../cathen/06608b.htm) were demonstrated, this could only be from His
effects. But His effects are not proportionate to Him, since He is infinite (../cathen/08004a.htm) and His effects are
finite; and between the finite and infinite (../cathen/08004a.htm) there is no proportion. Therefore, since a cause
(../cathen/03459a.htm) cannot be demonstrated by an effect not proportionate to it, it seems that the existence of God
(../cathen/06608b.htm) cannot be demonstrated.
On the contrary, The Apostle (../cathen/11567b.htm) says: “The invisible things of Him are clearly seen, being
understood by the things that are made (../cathen/04470a.htm)” (Romans 1:20 (../bible/rom001.htm#verse20)). But this
would not be unless the existence of God (../cathen/06608b.htm) could be demonstrated through the things that are
made (../cathen/04470a.htm); for the first thing we must know (../cathen/08673a.htm) of anything is whether it exists
(../cathen/05543b.htm).
I answer that, Demonstration can be made in two ways: One is through the cause (../cathen/03459a.htm), and is
called “a priori,” and this is to argue from what is prior absolutely. The other is through the effect, and is called a
demonstration “a posteriori”; this is to argue from what is prior relatively only to us. When an effect is better known
(../cathen/08673a.htm) to us than its cause (../cathen/03459a.htm), from the effect we proceed to the knowledge
(../cathen/08673a.htm) of the cause (../cathen/03459a.htm). And from every effect the existence (../cathen/05543b.htm)
of its proper cause (../cathen/03459a.htm) can be demonstrated, so long as its effects are better known
(../cathen/08673a.htm) to us; because since every effect depends upon its cause (../cathen/03459a.htm), if the effect
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exists (../cathen/05543b.htm), the cause (../cathen/03459a.htm) must pre-exist. Hence the existence of God
(../cathen/06608b.htm), in so far as it is not self-evident to us, can be demonstrated from those of His effects which are
known (../cathen/08673a.htm) to us.
Reply to Objection 1. The existence of God (../cathen/06608b.htm) and other like truths (../cathen/15073a.htm) about
God (../cathen/06608a.htm), which can be known (../cathen/08673a.htm) by natural (../cathen/10715a.htm) reason
(../cathen/12673b.htm), are not articles of faith (../cathen/01755d.htm), but are preambles to the articles
(../cathen/01755d.htm); for faith (../cathen/05752c.htm) presupposes natural (../cathen/10715a.htm) knowledge
(../cathen/08673a.htm), even as grace (../cathen/06689a.htm) presupposes nature (../cathen/10715a.htm), and
perfection supposes something that can be perfected. Nevertheless, there is nothing to prevent a man
(../cathen/09580c.htm), who cannot grasp a proof (../cathen/12454c.htm), accepting, as a matter of faith
(../cathen/05752c.htm), something which in itself is capable of being scientifically known (../cathen/08673a.htm) and
demonstrated.
Reply to Objection 2. When the existence (../cathen/05543b.htm) of a cause (../cathen/03459a.htm) is demonstrated
from an effect, this effect takes the place of the definition of the cause (../cathen/03459a.htm) in proof
(../cathen/12454c.htm) of the cause’s (../cathen/03459a.htm) existence (../cathen/05543b.htm). This is especially the
case in regard to God (../cathen/06608a.htm), because, in order to prove (../cathen/12454c.htm) the existence
(../cathen/05543b.htm) of anything, it is necessary (../cathen/10733a.htm) to accept as a middle term the meaning of
the word, and not its essence (../cathen/05543b.htm), for the question of its essence (../cathen/05543b.htm) follows on
the question of its existence (../cathen/05543b.htm). Now the names given to God (../cathen/06608a.htm) are derived
from His effects; consequently, in demonstrating the existence of God (../cathen/06608b.htm) from His effects, we may
take for the middle term the meaning of the word “God”.
Reply to Objection 3. From effects not proportionate to the cause (../cathen/03459a.htm) no perfect knowledge
(../cathen/08673a.htm) of that cause (../cathen/03459a.htm) can be obtained. Yet from every effect the existence
(../cathen/05543b.htm) of the cause (../cathen/03459a.htm) can be clearly demonstrated, and so we can demonstrate
the existence of God (../cathen/06608b.htm) from His effects; though from them we cannot perfectly know
(../cathen/08673a.htm) God (../cathen/06608a.htm) as He is in His essence (../cathen/05543b.htm).
Article 3. Whether God exists?
Objection 1. It seems that God (../cathen/06608a.htm) does not exist (../cathen/06608b.htm); because if one of two
contraries be infinite (../cathen/08004a.htm), the other would be altogether destroyed. But the word “God” means that
He is infinite (../cathen/08004a.htm) goodness (../cathen/06636b.htm). If, therefore, God existed
(../cathen/06608b.htm), there would be no evil (../cathen/05649a.htm) discoverable; but there is evil
(../cathen/05649a.htm) in the world. Therefore God (../cathen/06608a.htm) does not exist (../cathen/06608b.htm).
Objection 2. Further, it is superfluous to suppose that what can be accounted for by a few principles has been
produced by many. But it seems that everything we see in the world can be accounted for by other principles,
supposing God (../cathen/06608a.htm) did not exist (../cathen/06608b.htm). For all natural (../cathen/10715a.htm)
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things can be reduced to one principle which is nature (../cathen/10715a.htm); and all voluntary (../cathen/15506a.htm)
things can be reduced to one principle which is human (../cathen/09580c.htm) reason (../cathen/12673b.htm), or will
(../cathen/15624a.htm). Therefore there is no need to suppose God’s existence (../cathen/06608b.htm).
On the contrary, It is said in the person of God (../cathen/06608a.htm): “I am Who am.” (Exodus 3:14
(../bible/exo003.htm#verse14))
I answer that, The existence of God (../cathen/06608b.htm) can be proved (../cathen/12454c.htm) in five ways.
The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain (../cathen/03539b.htm), and evident to our
senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing
can be in motion except it is in potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm) to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing
moves inasmuch as it is in act (../cathen/01124a.htm). For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from
potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm) to actuality (../cathen/01124a.htm). But nothing can be reduced from potentiality
(../cathen/01124a.htm) to actuality (../cathen/01124a.htm), except by something in a state of actuality
(../cathen/01124a.htm). Thus that which is actually (../cathen/01124a.htm) hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially
(../cathen/01124a.htm) hot, to be actually (../cathen/01124a.htm) hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not
possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality (../cathen/01124a.htm) and potentiality
(../cathen/01124a.htm) in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually (../cathen/01124a.htm)
hot cannot simultaneously be potentially (../cathen/01124a.htm) hot; but it is simultaneously potentially
(../cathen/01124a.htm) cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be
both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by
another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another,
and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity (../cathen/08004a.htm), because then there would be no first
mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in
motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary
(../cathen/10733a.htm) to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God
(../cathen/06608a.htm).
The second way is from the nature (../cathen/10715a.htm) of the efficient cause (../cathen/03459a.htm). In the world of
sense we find there is an order of efficient causes (../cathen/03459a.htm). There is no case known
(../cathen/08673a.htm) (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause
(../cathen/03459a.htm) of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes
(../cathen/03459a.htm) it is not possible to go on to infinity (../cathen/08004a.htm), because in all efficient causes
(../cathen/03459a.htm) following in order, the first is the cause (../cathen/03459a.htm) of the intermediate cause
(../cathen/03459a.htm), and the intermediate is the cause (../cathen/03459a.htm) of the ultimate cause
(../cathen/03459a.htm), whether the intermediate cause (../cathen/03459a.htm) be several, or only one. Now to take
away the cause (../cathen/03459a.htm) is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause
(../cathen/03459a.htm) among efficient causes (../cathen/03459a.htm), there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate
cause (../cathen/03459a.htm). But if in efficient causes (../cathen/03459a.htm) it is possible to go on to infinity
(../cathen/08004a.htm), there will be no first efficient cause (../cathen/03459a.htm), neither will there be an ultimate
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effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes (../cathen/03459a.htm); all of which is plainly false (../cathen/05781a.htm).
Therefore it is necessary (../cathen/10733a.htm) to admit a first efficient cause (../cathen/03459a.htm), to which
everyone gives the name of God (../cathen/06608a.htm).
The third way is taken from possibility and necessity (../cathen/10733a.htm), and runs thus. We find in nature
(../cathen/10715a.htm) things that are possible to be and not to be, since they are found to be generated, and to
corrupt, and consequently, they are possible to be and not to be. But it is impossible for these always to exist, for that
which is possible not to be at some time is not. Therefore, if everything is possible not to be, then at one time there
could have been nothing in existence (../cathen/05543b.htm). Now if this were true (../cathen/15073a.htm), even now
there would be nothing in existence (../cathen/05543b.htm), because that which does not exist (../cathen/05543b.htm)
only begins to exist (../cathen/05543b.htm) by something already existing (../cathen/05543b.htm). Therefore, if at one
time nothing was in existence (../cathen/05543b.htm), it would have been impossible for anything to have begun to
exist (../cathen/05543b.htm); and thus even now nothing would be in existence (../cathen/05543b.htm) — which is
absurd. Therefore, not all beings are merely possible, but there must exist (../cathen/05543b.htm) something the
existence (../cathen/05543b.htm) of which is necessary (../cathen/10733a.htm). But every necessary
(../cathen/10733a.htm) thing either has its necessity (../cathen/10733a.htm) caused (../cathen/03459a.htm) by another,
or not. Now it is impossible to go on to infinity (../cathen/08004a.htm) in necessary (../cathen/10733a.htm) things which
have their necessity (../cathen/10733a.htm) caused (../cathen/03459a.htm) by another, as has been already proved
(../cathen/12454c.htm) in regard to efficient causes (../cathen/03459a.htm). Therefore we cannot but postulate the
existence (../cathen/05543b.htm) of some being having of itself its own necessity (../cathen/10733a.htm), and not
receiving it from another, but rather causing in others their necessity (../cathen/10733a.htm). This all men
(../cathen/09580c.htm) speak of as God (../cathen/06608a.htm).
The fourth way is taken from the gradation to be found in things. Among beings there are some more and some less
good (../cathen/06636b.htm), true (../cathen/15073a.htm), 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 (../cathen/15073a.htm) are greatest in being, as it is written in Metaph. ii. Now the maximum in any
genus is the cause (../cathen/03459a.htm) of all in that genus; as fire, which is the maximum heat, is the cause
(../cathen/03459a.htm) of all hot things. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause
(../cathen/03459a.htm) of their being, goodness (../cathen/06636b.htm), and every other perfection; and this we call
God (../cathen/06608a.htm).
The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack intelligence
(../cathen/08066a.htm), such as natural (../cathen/10715a.htm) 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 (../cathen/08066a.htm) cannot move
towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge (../cathen/08673a.htm) and intelligence
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(../cathen/08066a.htm); as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer. Therefore some intelligent (../cathen/08066a.htm)
being exists (../cathen/05543b.htm) by whom all natural (../cathen/10715a.htm) things are directed to their end; and this
being we call God (../cathen/06608a.htm).
Reply to Objection 1. As Augustine (../cathen/02084a.htm) says (Enchiridion xi): “Since God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is
the highest good (../cathen/06640a.htm), He would not allow any evil (../cathen/05649a.htm) to exist
(../cathen/05543b.htm) in His works, unless His omnipotence (../cathen/11251c.htm) and goodness
(../cathen/06636b.htm) were such as to bring good (../cathen/06636b.htm) even out of evil (../cathen/05649a.htm).” This
is part of the infinite (../cathen/08004a.htm) goodness (../cathen/06636b.htm) of God (../cathen/06608a.htm), that He
should allow evil (../cathen/05649a.htm) to exist (../cathen/05543b.htm), and out of it produce good
(../cathen/06636b.htm).
Reply to Objection 2. Since nature (../cathen/10715a.htm) works for a determinate end under the direction of a higher
agent, whatever is done by nature (../cathen/10715a.htm) must needs be traced back to God (../cathen/06608a.htm),
as to its first cause (../cathen/03459a.htm). So also whatever is done voluntarily must also be traced back to some
higher cause (../cathen/03459a.htm) other than human (../cathen/09580c.htm) reason (../cathen/12673b.htm) or will
(../cathen/15624a.htm), since these can change or fail; for all things that are changeable and capable of defect must be
traced back to an immovable and self-necessary first principle, as was shown in the body of the Article.
The Summa Theologiæ of St. Thomas Aquinas
Second and Revised Edition, 1920
Literally translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province
Online Edition Copyright © 2017 by Kevin Knight
Nihil Obstat. F. Innocentius Apap, O.P., S.T.M., Censor. Theol.
Imprimatur. Edus. Canonicus Surmont, Vicarius Generalis. Westmonasterii.
APPROBATIO ORDINIS
Nihil Obstat. F. Raphael Moss, O.P., S.T.L. and F. Leo Moore, O.P., S.T.L.
Imprimatur. F. Beda Jarrett, O.P., S.T.L., A.M., Prior Provincialis Angliæ
MARIÆ IMMACULATÆ – SEDI SAPIENTIÆ
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SUMMA THEOLOGIAE: The simplicity of God (Prima Pars, Q. 3)
Question 3. The simplicity of God
1. Is God a body? (../summa/1003.htm#article1)
2. Is He composed of matter and form? (../summa/1003.htm#article2)
3. Is there composition of quiddity, essence or nature, and subject in Him? (../summa/1003.htm#article3)
4. Is He composed of essence and existence? (../summa/1003.htm#article4)
5. Is He composed of genus and difference? (../summa/1003.htm#article5)
6. Is He composed of subject and accident? (../summa/1003.htm#article6)
7. Is He in any way composite, or wholly simple? (../summa/1003.htm#article7)
8. Does He enter into composition with other things? (../summa/1003.htm#article8)
Article 1. Whether God is a body?
Objection 1. It seems that God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is a body. For a body is that which has the three dimensions.
But Holy Scripture (../cathen/13635b.htm) attributes the three dimensions to God (../cathen/06608a.htm), for it is
written: “He is higher than Heaven (../cathen/07170a.htm), and what wilt thou do? He is deeper than Hell
(../cathen/07207a.htm), and how wilt thou know (../cathen/08673a.htm)? The measure of Him is longer than the earth
and broader than the sea” (Job 11:8-9 (../bible/job011.htm#verse8)). Therefore God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is a body.
Objection 2. Further, everything that has figure is a body, since figure is a quality (../cathen/12589c.htm) of quantity
(../cathen/12591a.htm). But God (../cathen/06608a.htm) seems to have figure, for it is written: “Let us make man
(../cathen/09580c.htm) to our image and likeness” (Genesis 1:26 (../bible/gen001.htm#verse26)). Now a figure is called
an image, according to the text: “Who being the brightness of His glory (../cathen/06585a.htm) and the figure,” i.e. the
image, “of His substance (../cathen/14322c.htm)” (Hebrews 1:3 (../bible/heb001.htm#verse3)). Therefore God
(../cathen/06608a.htm) is a body.
Objection 3. Further, whatever has corporeal parts is a body. Now Scripture (../cathen/13635b.htm) attributes corporeal
parts to God (../cathen/06608a.htm). “Hast thou an arm like God (../cathen/06608a.htm)?” (Job 40:4
(../bible/job040.htm#verse4)); and “The eyes of the Lord (../cathen/06608a.htm) are upon the just” (Psalm 33:16
(../bible/psa033.htm#verse16)); and “The right hand of the Lord (../cathen/06608a.htm) hath wrought strength” (Psalm
117:16 (../bible/psa117.htm#verse16)). Therefore God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is a body.
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Objection 4. Further, posture belongs only to bodies. But something which supposes posture is said of God
(../cathen/06608a.htm) in the Scriptures (../bible/index.html): “I saw the Lord (../cathen/06608a.htm) sitting” (Isaiah 6:1
(../bible/isa006.htm#verse1)), and “He standeth up to judge (../cathen/08549a.htm)” (Isaiah 3:13
(../bible/isa003.htm#verse13)). Therefore God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is a body.
Objection 5. Further, only bodies or things corporeal can be a local term “wherefrom” or “whereto.” But in the
Scriptures (../bible/index.html) God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is spoken of as a local term “whereto,” according to the
words, “Come ye to Him and be enlightened” (Psalm 33:6 (../bible/psa033.htm#verse6)), and as a term “wherefrom”:
“All they that depart from Thee shall be written in the earth” (Jeremiah 17:13 (../bible/jer017.htm#verse13)). Therefore
God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is a body.
On the contrary, It is written in the Gospel of St. John (../cathen/08438a.htm) (John 4:24
(../bible/joh004.htm#verse24)): “God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is a spirit (../cathen/14220b.htm).”
I answer that, It is absolutely true (../cathen/15073a.htm) that God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is not a body; and this can
be shown in three ways.
First, because no body is in motion unless it be put in motion, as is evident from induction. Now it has been already
proved (../cathen/12454c.htm) (I:2:3 (../summa/1002.htm#article3)), that God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is the First Mover,
and is Himself unmoved. Therefore it is clear that God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is not a body.
Secondly, because the first being must of necessity (../cathen/10733a.htm) be in act (../cathen/01124a.htm), and in no
way in potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm). For although in any single thing that passes from potentiality
(../cathen/01124a.htm) to actuality (../cathen/01124a.htm), the potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm) is prior in time
(../cathen/14726a.htm) to the actuality (../cathen/01124a.htm); nevertheless, absolutely speaking, actuality
(../cathen/01124a.htm) is prior to potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm); for whatever is in potentiality
(../cathen/01124a.htm) can be reduced into actuality (../cathen/01124a.htm) only by some being in actuality
(../cathen/01124a.htm). Now it has been already proved (../cathen/12454c.htm) that God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is the
First Being. It is therefore impossible that in God (../cathen/06608a.htm) there should be any potentiality
(../cathen/01124a.htm). But every body is in potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm) because the continuous, as such, is
divisible to infinity (../cathen/08004a.htm); it is therefore impossible that God (../cathen/06608a.htm) should be a body.
Thirdly, because God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is the most noble of beings. Now it is impossible for a body to be the most
noble of beings; for a body must be either animate or inanimate; and an animate body is manifestly nobler than any
inanimate body. But an animate body is not animate precisely as body; otherwise all bodies would be animate.
Therefore its animation depends upon some other thing, as our body depends for its animation on the soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm). Hence that by which a body becomes animated must be nobler than the body. Therefore it is
impossible that God (../cathen/06608a.htm) should be a body.
Reply to Objection 1. As we have said above (I:1:9 (../summa/1001.htm#article9)), Holy Writ (../bible/index.html) puts
before us spiritual (../cathen/14220b.htm) and divine (../cathen/06608a.htm) things under the comparison of corporeal
things. Hence, when it attributes to God (../cathen/06608a.htm) the three dimensions under the comparison of
corporeal quantity (../cathen/12591a.htm), it implies His virtual quantity (../cathen/12591a.htm); thus, by depth, it
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signifies His power of knowing (../cathen/08673a.htm) hidden things; by height, the transcendence of His excelling
power; by length, the duration of His existence (../cathen/05543b.htm); by breadth, His act of love
(../cathen/09397a.htm) for all. Or, as says Dionysius (../cathen/05013a.htm) (Div. Nom. ix), by the depth of God
(../cathen/06608a.htm) is meant the incomprehensibility of His essence (../cathen/05543b.htm); by length, the
procession of His all-pervading power; by breadth, His overspreading all things, inasmuch as all things lie under His
protection.
Reply to Objection 2. Man (../cathen/09580c.htm) is said to be after the image of God (../cathen/06608a.htm), not as
regards his body, but as regards that whereby he excels other animals. Hence, when it is said, “Let us make man
(../cathen/09580c.htm) to our image and likeness”, it is added, “And let him have dominion over the fishes of the sea”
(Genesis 1:26 (../bible/gen001.htm#verse26)). Now man (../cathen/09580c.htm) excels all animals by his reason
(../cathen/12673b.htm) and intelligence (../cathen/08066a.htm); hence it is according to his intelligence
(../cathen/08066a.htm) and reason (../cathen/12673b.htm), which are incorporeal, that man (../cathen/09580c.htm) is
said to be according to the image of God (../cathen/06608a.htm).
Reply to Objection 3. Corporeal parts are attributed to God (../cathen/06608a.htm) in Scripture (../cathen/13635b.htm)
on account of His actions, and this is owing to a certain parallel. For instance the act of the eye is to see; hence the eye
attributed to God (../cathen/06608a.htm) signifies His power of seeing intellectually (../cathen/08066a.htm), not
sensibly; and so on with the other parts.
Reply to Objection 4. Whatever pertains to posture, also, is only attributed to God (../cathen/06608a.htm) by some
sort of parallel. He is spoken of as sitting, on account of His unchangeableness and dominion; and as standing, on
account of His power of overcoming whatever withstands Him.
Reply to Objection 5. We draw near to God (../cathen/06608a.htm) by no corporeal steps, since He is everywhere, but
by the affections of our soul (../cathen/14153a.htm), and by the actions of that same soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) do we
withdraw from Him; thus, to draw near to or to withdraw signifies merely spiritual (../cathen/14220b.htm) actions based
on the metaphor of local motion.
Article 2. Whether God is composed of matter and form?
Objection 1. It seems that God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is composed of matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) and form
(../cathen/06137b.htm). For whatever has a soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is composed of matter (../cathen/10053b.htm)
and form (../cathen/06137b.htm); since the soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is the form (../cathen/06137b.htm) of the body.
But Scripture (../cathen/13635b.htm) attributes a soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) to God (../cathen/06608a.htm); for it is
mentioned in Hebrews (../cathen/07181a.htm) (Hebrews 10:38 (../bible/heb010.htm#verse38)), where God
(../cathen/06608a.htm) says: “But My just man (../cathen/09580c.htm) liveth by faith (../cathen/05752c.htm); but if he
withdraw himself, he shall not please My soul (../cathen/14153a.htm).” Therefore God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is
composed of matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) and form (../cathen/06137b.htm).
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Objection 2. Further, anger (../cathen/01489a.htm), joy (../cathen/07131b.htm) and the like are passions
(../cathen/11534a.htm) of the composite. But these are attributed to God (../cathen/06608a.htm) in Scripture
(../cathen/13635b.htm): “The Lord (../cathen/06608a.htm) was exceeding angry (../cathen/01489a.htm) with His people”
(Psalm 105:40 (../bible/psa105.htm#verse40)). Therefore God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is composed of matter
(../cathen/10053b.htm) and form (../cathen/06137b.htm).
Objection 3. Further, matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) is the principle of individualization. But God (../cathen/06608a.htm)
seems to be individual, for He cannot be predicated of many. Therefore He is composed of matter
(../cathen/10053b.htm) and form (../cathen/06137b.htm).
On the contrary, Whatever is composed of matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) and form (../cathen/06137b.htm) is a body;
for dimensive quantity (../cathen/12591a.htm) is the first property of matter (../cathen/10053b.htm). But God
(../cathen/06608a.htm) is not a body as proved (../cathen/12454c.htm) in the preceding Article
(../summa/1003.htm#article1); therefore He is not composed of matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) and form
(../cathen/06137b.htm).
I answer that, It is impossible that matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) should exist (../cathen/05543b.htm) in God
(../cathen/06608a.htm).
First, because matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) is in potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm). But we have shown (I:2:3
(../summa/1002.htm#article3)) that God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is pure act (../cathen/01125b.htm), without any
potentiality (../cathen/01124a.htm). Hence it is impossible that God (../cathen/06608a.htm) should be composed of
matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) and form (../cathen/06137b.htm).
Secondly, because everything composed of matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) and form (../cathen/06137b.htm) owes its
perfection and goodness (../cathen/06636b.htm) to its form (../cathen/06137b.htm); therefore its goodness
(../cathen/06636b.htm) is participated, inasmuch as matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) participates the form
(../cathen/06137b.htm). Now the first good (../cathen/06636b.htm) and the best—viz. God (../cathen/06608a.htm)—is
not a participated good (../cathen/06636b.htm), because the essential (../cathen/05543b.htm) good
(../cathen/06636b.htm) is prior to the participated good (../cathen/06636b.htm). Hence it is impossible that God
(../cathen/06608a.htm) should be composed of matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) and form (../cathen/06137b.htm).
Thirdly, because every agent acts by its form (../cathen/06137b.htm); hence the manner in which it has its form
(../cathen/06137b.htm) is the manner in which it is an agent. Therefore whatever is primarily and essentially
(../cathen/05543b.htm) an agent must be primarily and essentially (../cathen/05543b.htm) form (../cathen/06137b.htm).
Now God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is the first agent, since He is the first efficient cause (../cathen/03459a.htm). He is
therefore of His essence (../cathen/05543b.htm) a form (../cathen/06137b.htm); and not composed of matter
(../cathen/10053b.htm) and form (../cathen/06137b.htm).
Reply to Objection 1. A soul (../cathen/14153a.htm) is attributed to God (../cathen/06608a.htm) because His acts
resemble the acts of a soul (../cathen/14153a.htm); for, that we will (../cathen/15624a.htm) anything, is due to our soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm). Hence what is pleasing to His will (../cathen/15624a.htm) is said to be pleasing to His soul
(../cathen/14153a.htm).
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Reply to Objection 2. Anger (../cathen/01489a.htm) and the like are attributed to God (../cathen/06608a.htm) on
account of a similitude of effect. Thus, because to punish is properly the act (../cathen/01115a.htm) of an angry
(../cathen/01489a.htm) man (../cathen/09580c.htm), God’s (../cathen/06608a.htm) punishment is metaphorically spoken
of as His anger (../cathen/01489a.htm).
Reply to Objection 3. Forms (../cathen/06137b.htm) which can be received in matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) are
individualized by matter (../cathen/10053b.htm), which cannot be in another as in a subject since it is the first underlying
subject; although form (../cathen/06137b.htm) of itself, unless something else prevents it, can be received by many. But
that form (../cathen/06137b.htm) which cannot be received in matter (../cathen/10053b.htm), but is self-subsisting, is
individualized precisely because it cannot be received in a subject; and such a form (../cathen/06137b.htm) is God
(../cathen/06608a.htm). Hence it does not follow that matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) exists (../cathen/05543b.htm) in
God (../cathen/06608a.htm).
Article 3. Whether God is the same as His essence or nature?
Objection 1. It seems that God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is not the same as His essence (../cathen/05543b.htm) or
nature (../cathen/10715a.htm). For nothing can be in itself. But the substance (../cathen/14322c.htm) or nature
(../cathen/10715a.htm) of God (../cathen/06608a.htm)—i.e. the Godhead—is said to be in God (../cathen/06608a.htm).
Therefore it seems that God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is not the same as His essence (../cathen/05543b.htm) or nature
(../cathen/10715a.htm).
Objection 2. Further, the effect is assimilated to its cause (../cathen/03459a.htm); for every agent produces its like. But
in created (../cathen/04470a.htm) things the “suppositum” is not identical with its nature (../cathen/10715a.htm); for a
man is not the same as his humanity. Therefore God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is not the same as His Godhead.
On the contrary, It is said of God (../cathen/06608a.htm) that He is life (../cathen/09238c.htm) itself, and not only that
He is a living thing: “I am the way, the truth (../cathen/15073a.htm), and the life (../cathen/09238c.htm)” (John 14:6
(../bible/joh014.htm#verse6)). Now the relation between Godhead and God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is the same as the
relation between life (../cathen/09238c.htm) and a living thing. Therefore God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is His very
Godhead.
I answer that, God (../cathen/06608a.htm) is the same as His essence (../cathen/05543b.htm) or nature
(../cathen/10715a.htm). To understand this, it must be noted that in things composed of matter (../cathen/10053b.htm)
and form (../cathen/06137b.htm), the nature (../cathen/10715a.htm) or essence (../cathen/05543b.htm) must differ from
the “suppositum,” because the essence (../cathen/05543b.htm) or nature (../cathen/10715a.htm) connotes only what is
included in the definition of the species (../cathen/14210a.htm); as, humanity connotes all that is included in the
definition of man, for it is by this that man (../cathen/09580c.htm) is man (../cathen/09580c.htm), and it is this that
humanity signifies, that, namely, whereby man (../cathen/09580c.htm) is man (../cathen/09580c.htm). Now individual
matter (../cathen/10053b.htm), with all the individualizing accidents (../cathen/01096c.htm), is not included in the
definition of the species (../cathen/14210a.htm). For this particular flesh, these bones, this blackness or whiteness, etc.,
are not included in the definition of a man. Therefore this flesh, these bones, and the accidental (../cathen/01096c.htm)
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qualities (../cathen/12589c.htm) distinguishing this particular matter (../cathen/10053b.htm), are not included in
humanity; and yet they are included in the thing which is man. Hence the thing which is a man has something more in it
than has humanity. Consequently humanity and a man are not wholly identical; but humanity is taken to mean the
formal (../cathen/06137b.htm) part of a man, because the principles whereby a thing is defined are regarded as the
formal (../cathen/06137b.htm) constituent in regard to the individualizing matter (../cathen/10053b.htm). On the other
hand, in things not composed of matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) and form (../cathen/06137b.htm), in which
individualization is not due to individual matter (../cathen/10053b.htm)—that is to say, to “this” matter
(../cathen/10053b.htm)—the very forms (../cathen/06137b.htm) being individualized of themselves—it is necessary
(../cathen/10733a.htm) the forms (../cathen/06137b.htm) themselves should be subsisting “supposita.” Therefore
“suppositum” and nature (../cathen/10715a.htm) in them are identified. Since God (../cathen/06608a.htm) then is not
composed of matter (../cathen/10053b.htm) and form (../cathen/06137b.htm), He must be His own Godhead, His own
Life, and whatever else is thus predicated of Him.
Reply to Objection 1. We can speak of simple things only as though they were like the composite things from which
we derive our knowledge (../cathen/08673a.htm). Therefore in speaking of God (../cathen/06608a.htm), we use
concrete nouns to signify His subsistence, because with us only those things subsist which are composite; and we use
abstract nouns to signify His simplicity. In saying therefore that Godhead, or life, or the like are in God
(../cathen/06608a.htm), we indicate the composite way in which our intellect (../cathen/08066a.htm) understands, but
not that there is any composition in God (../cathen/06608a.htm).
Reply to Objection 2. The effects of God (../cathen/06608a.htm) do not imitate Him perfectly, but only as far as they
are able; and the imitation is here defective, precisely because what is simple and one, can only be represented by
divers things; consequently, composition is accidental (../cathen/01096c.htm) to them, and therefore, in them
“suppositum” is not the same as nature (../cathen/10715a.htm).
Article 4. Whether essence and existence are the same in God?
Objection 1. It seems that essence (../cathen/05543b.htm) and existence (../cathen/05543b.htm) are not the same in
God (../cathen/06608a.htm). For if it be so, then the divine being has nothing added to it. Now being to which no
addition is made is universal being which is predicated of all things. Therefore it follows that God
(../cathen/06608a.htm) is being in general which can be predicated of everything. But this is false
(../cathen/05781a.htm): “For men (../cathen/09580c.htm) gave the incommunicable name to stones and wood”
(Wisdom 14:21 (../bible/wis014.htm#verse21)). Therefore God’s (../cathen/06608a.htm) existence
(../cathen/05543b.htm) is not His essence (../cathen/05543b.htm).
Objection 2. Further, we can know (../cathen/08673a.htm) “whether” God exists (../cathen/06608b.htm) as said above
(I:2:2 (../summa/1002.htm#article2)); but we cannot know (../cathen/08673a.htm) “what” He is. Therefore God’s
(../cathen/06608a.htm) existence (../cathen/05543b.htm) is not the same as His essence (../cathen/05543b.htm)—that
is, as His quiddity or nature (../cathen/10715a.htm).
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On the contrary, Hilary (../cathen/07349b.htm) says (Trin. vii): “In God (../cathen/06608a.htm) existence
(../cathen/05543b.htm) is not an accidental (../cathen/01096c.htm) quality (../cathen/12589c.htm), but subsisting truth
(../cath…
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