According to Thomas Aquinas





General Editor

George F. McLean


The Deficient Cause of Moral Evil According to Thomas Aquinas / by Edward Cook.

p. cm. -- (Cultural heritage and contemporary change. Series

I, Culture and values ; vol. 14)

Includes bibliographical references and index.

1. Thomas, Aquinas, Saint, 1225?-1274--Contributions in doctrine of good and evil. 2. Good and evil--History of doctrines--Middle Ages, 600-1500. I. Cook, Edward. II. Title. III. Series.

BJ1406.C66 1995

231'.8'092--dc20 94-40760


ISBN l-56518-069-0

ISBN 1-56518-070-4 (pbk.)


S. Avineri, Israel J. Ladrière, Belgium

P. Balasubramaniam, India P. Laleye, Senegal

N. Bansoiu, Romania A. Lopez Quintas, Spain

M. Bedná, Czech Rep. A. Mac Intyre, USA

P. Bodunrin, Nigeria H. Nasr, USA/Iran

K. Bunchua, Thailand C. Ngwey, Zaire

C. Pan, Singapore J. Nyasani, Kenya

V. Cauchy, Canada Paulus Gregorios, India

M. Chatterjee, India O. Pegoraro, Brazil

Chen Junquan, Beijing T. Pichler, Slovakia

M. Dy, Philippines C. Ramirez, Costa Rica

I.T. Frolov, Russia P. Ricoeur, France

H.G. Gadamer, Germany M. Sastrapatedja, Indonesia

A. Gallo, Guatemala J. Scannone, Argentina

K. Gyekye, Ghana V. Shen, Taipei

P. Henrici, Italy W. Strozewski, Poland

T. Imamichi, Japan Tang Yijie, Beijing

A. Irala urgos, Paraguay J. Teran-Dutari, Ecuador

J. Kellerman, Hungary G. Tlaba, Lesotho

M. Kente, Tanzania Wang Miaoyang, Shanghai

J. Kromkowski, USA M. Zakzouk, Egypt


Kenneth L. Schmitz, University of Toronto

Richard Knowles, Duquesne University

Richard T. De George, University of Kansas


George F. McLean


Research Design & Synthesis: R. Graham

Moral Education: H. Johnson

Research & Programming: R. Badillo

Publication: Hu Yeping


It seems particularly appropriate that the study should be published at the same time as the English translation of Thomas' De Malo, a life long work of Jean and John Oesterle. Appreciation is expressed to Notre Dame University Press for permission to cite from St. Thomas Aquinas, On Evil, trans. by Jean Oesterle.

Thanks is owed to Dr. George F. McLean without whose help and encouragement the present work would never have been contemplated, let alone completed. Special thanks are extended also to Mrs. Bonnie Kennedy and Ms. Hu Yeping for their tireless work in the preparation and typesetting of this manuscript.





Chapter 1.

The Good as A Principle of Order 5

Chapter 2.

The Nature of Moral Evil 23

Chapter 3.

The Cause of Moral Evil 45

Chapter 4.

The Act of Counsel in the Practical Syllogism 73

Chapter 5.

Reason as the Active Principle

of Moral Specification 97

Chapter 6.

The Defectible Character

of Rational Appetition 121

Chapter 7.

The Will as the deficient Cause

of the Non-consideration

of the Rule of Morality 137






The problem or--in Gabriel Marcel's terms, the mystery--of evil constitutes a crucial philosophical juncture at this turn of the millennia.

This century has been described often as the most violent in the history of humankind. In these last 50 years we have attempted to restore equilibrium though a renewed sense of human dignity grounded in personal self-awareness and freedom. While this promised great human progress, now we find with dismay that this same self-awareness of persons and peoples itself can be a basis for reigniting inter-personal and inter-ethnic conflict.

If we are not to be bereft of hope and blunder into an ever deepening spiral of violence, we are then in desperate need of understanding the cause of evil, precisely as it emerges in and from the exercise of human freedom. Only such insight can enable us to understand how the new personal self-awareness can constitute a true emergence of humankind, rather than a new avenue leading into darkness. This was the task undertaken by Thomas Aquinas in his extended study, The Disputed Questions on Evil. It is the central concern of the present work by Edward Cook, The Deficient Cause of Moral Evil.

In our pluralist times, however, if such work is to contribute to overcoming evil, its usefulness must not be restricted to those who share Thomas particular faith commitment, but must be available to all who exercise human reason. Can the work of a medieval theologian serve not only all parts of a subsequently divided Christianity, but contribute as well to understanding the origins of conflict as they arise in, and between, the great cultures of our ever shrinking world?

In this regard it is important to note that in his work on evil, as throughout his writings, Thomas carefully adheres to his distinction between philosophy and theology: philosophy is carried out by the capacities of reason which pertain to humankind by its very nature as human, whereas theology is a work of reason only as illumined by revelation. Further, Thomas understands human reason as treating not only of man, but of God and his law. This makes possible an understanding of ethics which not only responds to human interests, but reflects the dignity of the human person as image of God.

Subsequently, some have reasoned on the basis of Scripture (especially Romans), that human nature was not only weakened, but corrupted by the Fall, and therefore that by its natural powers it cannot attain knowledge of God and divine law. As a result they propose various types of secular ethics based exclusively on sense knowledge or on formal human imperatives and omitting any knowledge of divine law. This theological restriction of human reason has two implications.

First, it creates insoluble problems for a pluralistic society; indeed it is what constitutes society as irreducibly plural. For having abandoned the natural capacity of reason in favor of theological positions based on differing readings of revelation, people no longer are able to reason together. Inevitably, they are forced either to impose their faith perspective on others, or to prescind from their comprehensive religious vision of the meaning and dignity of human life, as suggested by J. Rawls in his Political Liberalism. The result is the enigma of a theologically imposed secular ethics.

A second implication is a thorough inversion of tables in the history of philosophy. Thomas' strict adherence to the power of natural reason was capable of generating a proper philosophy in the medieval "Age of Faith". This included, as it had for Aristotle, a sense of divine life which endows human life with dignity and ethics with corresponding goals and authority. In contrast, the modern "Age of Reason" has been capable of generating only a theologically secularized ethics which sees human life in the lesser terms pragmatic compromise.

There is need to free philosophy from theological restrictions and to allow it once again, as it had in Thomas, to rise from humankind to its divine source, and then to return back to inspire and direct human action.

In this regard the overall thought of Aquinas is intriguingly disconcerting. Committed as he was to his faith and to its theological elaboration, he saw this not as implying an reduction in the powers of human reason, but rather as an evocation of their maximal development and elaboration. An all-wise and all-powerful creator is not a reason to limit human reason. Instead, it founds hope that human creatures possesses the power of knowing themselves and Him. Based on this knowledge, ethics can direct actions according to the goals of the creator; indeed, it stimulates the human person to take up this task of being an effective steward of one's social and natural environment.

What is more, recently developing attention to, and understanding of, cultures and their religious foundations makes possible today a new recognition of the multiple modes of reason as lived socially and ritually in the various cultures. This suggests the philosophical exploration by human reason of new avenues suggested by life in the multiple cultures. For example, research in moral education shows that the understanding of, and sensitivity to, justice is notably more developed in members of a family which holds justice in a place of honor, than in a family which does not. Similarly, a culture, in which evil is at the root of the very crucifixion of God, provides a context in which the philosophical effort to understand the cause of moral evil is unremitting and uncompromising. Likewise, in a culture where the inner life of God is seen as one of sharing wisdom and love, the philosophical search by human reason for ways to overcome evil does not stop at utilitarian compromise, but proceeds to altruism, love and even self-sacrifice.

This promises that the work of Thomas in developing a more adequate and properly philosophical understanding of the cause of moral evil can be complemented today by philosophies being brought to the light within many cultures as they undertake to work out more clearly their proper identity. By integrating formal logic from the Greeks Thomas' Christian culture added rigorous reasoning to deep insight. Other cultures bring their own philosophical contributions developed generally from their religious roots emphasizing mystical union with the One, the True and/or the Good, harmony in human relations, or the special importance of nature and/or of humankind. All are needed; all contribute from their distinctive patrimony.

Thomas' work makes a special contribution by, among other things, showing how this can be brought forward by properly philosophical reflection and is therefore open to all as an the exercise of human reason. By analyzing this contribution of Thomas Aquinas with great care and depth the present work by Edward Cook contributes profoundly to understanding the deficient cause of moral evil. It generates hope that in the third millennia of this era, through an emerging human consciousness and the philosophical collaboration of peoples, humankind can make true progress in reducing violence and overcoming evil.

George F. McLean


Evil becomes a `problem' philosophically and/or theologically when the world is seen as the creation of a superior being who is all-knowing, all-powerful and all-good. When one perceives the pervasiveness of evil around us, and at times even within us, such a view prompts one to ask, `why'. The popularity of the work of Harold S. Kushnor, Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? suggests the dilemma in which people find themselves as they ponder the apparent incongruity embedded in the above view. Even allowing for a certain unwarranted and naive arrogance on the part of such `good' people--who apparently have not seriously understood the stories of Job and the Galilean--it does seem that reconciling the picture of an all-knowing, all-powerful and good God with, say, the Holocaust demands a `leap of faith' not easily come by for a faithless generation.

For Thomas Aquinas this latter conviction may be presumed, based on his own deep spirituality. However, such an appeal to the conclusions of his Christian faith was not the answer he allowed himself in his difficult situation at the University of Paris in the thirteenth century. For he had been called upon by its Chancellor, Bishop Aimeric de Veire, to confront head-on the subversive effects of the Averroist Aristotelian, Siger of Brabant, the recognized master in the University's Faculty of Arts.

In a certain sense Aquinas was ill-prepared for this task. Although he had studied Aristotle with St. Albert the Great, what he had been taught about the ethical writings of the Stagirite is at best problematic. First of all, only fragments of Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics were circulating in the first half of the thirteenth century and their translation into Latin was only in an incipient stage. Moreover, commentaries on Aristotle's works used by the masters in the Faculty of Arts were viewed as tainted with Averroism by Thomas's peers in the Faculty of Theology. To compound the problem, it is almost certain that Aquinas did not know Greek; hence, he had to rely on translations made by others, principally by the Dominican, William of Moerbeke, Archbishop of Corinth.

All of this notwithstanding, Thomas had to get on with the arduous task assigned him. He had to reconcile a questionable Aristotle dressed in Arab garb with a Christian theology of creation, human freedom, immortality of the soul, and God. Quite often the pieces of the `picture' he had to work with simply did not fit. The creativity of his work stands precisely in its integration of these many pieces, creating thereby a new base line for Dante and other key figures of the Renaissance and for the modern age to follow.

For Thomas, reason, was not an abstract faculty operating on its own. Rather, it was substantially wedded to the senses and the will in the lives of human persons and their actions. To this corresponded a special sensitivity not merely to essences or possibilities, but to the actual exercise and unfolding of being, that is, to the existential order. In understanding the nature of evil as it plays itself out in the drama of human history, this existential awareness contrasts to that of another great medieval philosopher, Duns Scotus. Whereas Scotus' thought turned to a world of "what might have been" had man and woman not sinned, for Aquinas the existential fact is the "happy fault" of original sin. Throughout his philosophical investigations Thomas is ever cognizant of this reality of sin and redemption.

Nevertheless, he remains intent on not allowing this to intrude into processes of human intellection which constitute his philosophical reasoning. Divine revelation serves rather in a twofold manner: as a negative force it restrains one from embracing error, and as a positive force it acts as a stimulus or catalyst in suggesting new avenues for human exploration. In the matter of moral evil human reason has two specific functions: as regulator/ruler of human passions and habits, and as regulated/ruled by divine law ascertainable by human reason through reasoning based on a careful probing of the universe around and within us.

To understand Aquinas' ground breaking work on the perennial problematic of moral evil it is necessary to situate it within the context of his entire system. This makes it possible to see his thought as more than an apologetic "theodicy" in the sense of Leibniz. Rather, his deep grappling with the human situation in confronting evil. Required a crucial advance in metaphysics as a foundational contribution to ethics and eventually to social philosophy. Tracing Thomas' work on the cause of moral evil to its foundations is the purpose of this study.

The problem of evil has always arrested the attention of the greatest minds. For many it has proved an insurmountable obstacle to the acceptance of a purposeful universe, an Infinite Good, or a meaning for life. Often it proved to be a scandal leading the human mind into paths of agnosticism, nihilism and despair. Thomas recognized the stupendous "mystery of iniquity" infesting a fallen world and did not presume to explain away the problem thus created. Still his principles afford an explanation of the problem, and help render the mystery of evil intellectually bearable. He accomplished this by not treating the problem in isolation, but by viewing its mysterious and vexing character against the background of his metaphysics on goodness and finality. It is the good that provides a quasi-justification of evil. Aquinas never assigns a final cause as such to evil; evil always will be willed or permitted in terms of the good itself. Only thus can its undesirable and destructive character really be appreciated.

Such an approach to the problem and mystery of evil saves one from dangerous extremes. It keeps one from hypostatizing evil in any Manichaean sense. It prevents evil from rendering being and life an absurdity after the manner of much contemporary thought. Finally, it precludes any escape into unrealism by a denial of the concrete character of evil which would assign pain and evil to a purely mental realm, where as a figment of the imagination it could be talked or thought out of existence.

Instead, Thomas' integration of the nature and causality of evil into the more general framework of being and the good provides a realistic approach for his metaphysics of moral evil. This places evil in the context of a purposeful and intelligible universe, whose principle of integration and order is the good itself. It neither relegates evil to the world of makebelieve nor does it fashion it into a world of its own. Rather, it faces squarely its continuing threat to meaning, purpose and happiness in an otherwise intelligible universe, and assigns it its rightful place in the potency of being itself.

The purpose of the present work is to investigate Thomas' philosophy on the nature of moral evil, the most destructive of all evils, and to do so in terms of its ultimate cause in the will of the free creature. The direct or primary concern here is not with a psychological explanation of the will's causality of evil action, but rather to establish the metaphysical roots of moral evil, as evidenced in the defective will. The digressions into the ethical area are intended to be not ex professo treatments of ethical or moral problems, but necessary adjuncts to any thorough investigation of the will as a cause of moral evil. Hence the direct work of this study concerns the cause of moral evil in terms of the voluntary non-consideration of the rules of reason and divine law. This will require an investigation of the intellectual and volitional causes involved.

Finally, although it might be said that the tradition of classical, systematic and holistic analysis and/or commentary on the Thomistic corpus ended sometime in the mid-sixties of this century, valuable insights into certain specifics of his thought may be found in subsequent works. It has been deemed appropriate selectively to integrate some of these more recent studies into the bibliography where they promises to enrich the integral understanding of Thomas' synthesis.

Edward Cook



In order to appreciate the place which Aquinas sees for evil in a purposeful universe it is necessary to follow his more general treatment of the good as a transcendental perfection of being itself, correlative to natural appetite. This approach in regard to the good will afford a starting point for the discussion of the good as a principle of order, which in turn provides the context for an appreciation of the privative character of evil.


Aristotle had defined the transcendental as " . . . that which is common to the many" and which is "the most universal of all predicates."(1) It accompanies being at its every turn, and therefore is convertible with it. In the words of one author, it is that "which is above all species of being and yet goes through all kinds of being, extending as far as being itself."(2) Thomas is in substantial agreement with all of this and draws forth its implications in his classical treatment of the transcendentals in the Quaestiones disputatae de veritate (Disputed Questions on Truth).(3) Therein he points out that as demonstrative reasoning demands irreducible principles upon which it is based, so in our knowledge of being there must be certain concepts or notions to which all others can be reduced and which themselves are irreducible. These are applicable to all being. He then proceeds to educe the six traditional transcendental properties of being. Viewing being in itself he arrives at the transcendentals: being, thing, and the one. Considering being in relation to other realities he regards it both as divided from all other beings, affording the transcendentals something; and as suitable to other beings, affording the transcendentals `true' and `good'.

It is with these latter that primarily we are concerned. Thomas argues that the terms of such a relation must be universal enough to agree with all beings, that is, to have some transcendental relation to all beings. This can be so only in terms of a being which possesses powers by which all other beings can be related to it, which in fact is the soul itself. Following Aristotle, he points out that the intellectual soul in a sense can become all things.(4) The soul and its faculties being immaterial are able to receive the form of other beings and thereby become in an accidental way those other beings. This is effected cognitively through the reception of the intentional species and appetitively in the consequent complacency in the appetite, whereby the latter is rendered attuned to the apprehended suitable good and moved by a desire for its possession.

Thomas further develops the relation of the good to the appetite when he notes elsewhere:

The good denotes that towards which the appetite tends . . . according as desirer tends toward the thing desired. Thus the term of the appetite, namely good, is in the object desirable . . . the good exists in a thing so far as that thing is related to the appetite--and hence the aspect of goodness passes on from the desirable thing to the appetite, insofar as the appetite is called good if its object is good.(5)

Consequently, although the good and being are in reality identical, they do allow of a distinction in the order of intention. The good adds to the notion of being the formality of appetibility.(6) This formality necessarily implies the conceptual order. Thomas further insists that it is posterior in the mind to the notion of being itself. Such is the transcendental expression of the goodness of being as related to the appetite. It will be seen that, as desirable, being is good in relation to every natural appetite. But in its perfect character this is only as related to a rational appetite, for such an appetite can desire the perfection under the precise formality of the good as an end to be attained or a means thereto.

Should the statement that "the good is that toward which the appetite tends" be joined with it another, namely, that "every being is good, insofar as it is a being," it readily can be concluded that "every being is desirable," since every being insofar as it is in act or exists possesses perfection or goodness which other beings find desirable or perfective of their own being. Thus, we note a twofold aspect of goodness: on the one hand, a being is good in itself insofar as it possesses being, while on the other hand, to the same degree it is desirable by other beings. The second is founded upon the first, although it is the second that allows for the intentional distinction between being and good.

Thomas treats this twofold aspect of the good in the following way. He notes that a "thing is said to be good inasmuch as it is perfect in its esse and operari."(7) This necessarily follows upon his insistence on the convertibility of being and the good. Insofar as a thing is, to that degree it is good. Moreover, he goes on in another place to explain this goodness in beings by saying that the "goodness of a thing consists not only in its mere being, but in all things needed for its perfection."(8) In other words, he wishes to extend the perfection of a being beyond its mere essential constitution or substantial mode of being to the realm of its accidental perfection. He brings this out explicitly in the De Veritate (On Truth) where he distinguishes between the essential principles by which a thing is said to subsist and the accidental qualities, which he views as completing the being in its total perfection.(9)

As has been suggested, this complexus of perfection, as correlative with a thing's being, is the very foundation for its relation with an appetite as a desirable good. For Thomas "goodness presents the aspect of desirableness";(10) and it is this very desirability that gives the ontological perfection, be it substantial or accidental, the character of being good. In so relating a being's perfection to appetite, as a desirable good perfective of the being of the other at least on the finite level, Thomas lays the foundation for his metaphysics of an ordered universe. Therein one being is perfective of another and intended by the Ultimate Good who leads all things through their intrinsic desirability to himself, the Transcendent Good and, consequently, the supremely desirable being.

In such a universe every imperfect being seeks to perfect itself through an actualization of its potencies or capabilities. This very universal seeking for more being and consequently more perfection bespeaks created being's radical imperfection and contingency. It seeks perfection, but this can be accomplished only through the acquisition of new being. All contingent being then is ordered to other being for its total perfection. Imperfect in itself, contingent being must seek fulfillment in another. This appetite for more being, for more goodness and perfection, springs from its very nature as creature, and hence can be called a natural inclination implanted therein by its cause. It is, in fine, a directive toward an end rooted in its very being.(11)

Thus Thomas can write: "Since goodness is that which all things desire, and since this has the aspect of an end, it is clear that goodness implies the aspect of an end."(12) On the finite level such a formality presupposes a received form, which, as the Philosopher remarks, renders the being capable of producing a likeness to itself in operation and thus exhibiting the perfection of its being, which perfection becomes in turn the object of appetition for other beings.(13) When applied to the Infinite Good, it is important to note that God loves Himself as an end, but not as an end to be attained, but rather as an end possessed and to be enjoyed. Moreover, in exhibiting itself as an object to be attained by created beings the Infinite God in no wise orders them to Himself as means to an end, which would bring Him any added perfection or happiness, but orders them to Himself only as their last end, and in the case of intellectual creatures, as an end to be enjoyed.(14)

Finally, a thing can be said to tend toward that which is suitable to it according to its form and this, according to Thomas, pertains to "weight" and order.(15) Thus one notes a progressive association in his mind regarding the notions of form, inclination, and end with the notion of goodness considered in its appetible aspect. Moreover, each power of the form shares in this natural inclination to an object as an end, and thus, all being is seen as naturally tending toward self-perfection.(16) The formal understanding of good, therefore, in the philosophy of Thomas is derived from the relation of being to its proper goal. Everything desires good as it desires its own perfection and this by a natural appetite.(17) Such an interpretation of the goodness of being naturally gives way to a philosophy of natural appetency.


In his work on natural appetency G. Gustafson remarks that "Thomas' philosophy of natural appetency is his philosophy of the good."(18) It is this relation of appetency to the good, as the perfective end of being, which gives Thomistic philosophy its dynamic character of being in motion, a universe on the move toward its goal. It is against such a background that evil will be seen in its truly destructive character. Moreover, its accidental intelligibility by reason of its being rooted in being itself will become more evident. To understand this dynamism it is necessary to investigate at length Aquinas's notion of natural appetite, which directs each being ontologically toward a suitable good which alone can satisfy its natural potentialities.

Thomas notes that "all things in their own way are inclined by appetite toward good."(19) As has been observed above, the roots of this appetition on a finite level are to be found in the potential or imperfect character of being itself, wherein each finite being has so much perfection and no more, and yet is capable of more. In seeking to actualize their potencies beings find themselves naturally attracted to other beings in which they seek fulfillment. It is this seeking for more goodness that scholastics call "appetition." The word "appetite" is derived etymologically from the Latin words ad-petere--to seek after. Thomas remarks: "Appetere is nothing else than to seek something, as if to tend toward that to which it has been ordered."(20) This appetition, as has been shown, is in terms of acquiring some new perfection, some new form, either substantial or accidental. However, it presupposes some inclination which inclines it to its own good in its own way.(21)

Any consideration of appetition necessarily presupposes a corresponding appreciation of knowledge, since the former only follows upon some type of knowledge possessed of the subject to be sought. This knowledge can be either in the being itself formally as an apprehension, sensitive or intellectual, or it can be in the being virtually by reason of the natural form and its consequent inclinations. These latter are implanted therein by the author of the nature. As regards this type of knowledge, the formal apprehension of the good to be attained is had only by the intellect of the maker of the nature. But insofar as there is implanted in the non-cognitive being a form with natural inclinations, it can be said that such beings seek their perfections by their natural activities or appetitions. At any rate, it must be insisted that any appetition, as understood in Thomas' metaphysics, necessitates an intelligent direction; it implies and demands knowledge in the form either of natural inclination or of formal apprehension.

Although beings devoid of knowledge are limited in their appetition by the very determination of their natures, beings capable of knowledge, either sensitive or intellectual, can desire or incline towards beings beyond themselves, by which they can become in a sense another and find therein their completion and perfection. They are, so to speak, liberated from the limitations of their own beings to the degree that they can become another. Thomas analyzes the various types of appetition in light of the above when he writes:

Since every inclination results from a form, the natural appetite results from a form existing in the nature of things: while the sensitive appetite, as also the intellective or rational appetite, which we call will, follows from an apprehended form . . . so the animal or voluntary appetite tends to a good which is apprehended.(22)

Thus, it might be noted that the natural appetite is determined by nature to a particular object to be obtained in a particular way. It operates from necessity and without apprehending the good which it seeks. However, it must not be thought that there is no intelligence whatsoever operative here, since every agent acts for an end and demands therefore intelligent direction. In such cases the intelligent agent is not the being itself, but the cause of the being.

Sensitive appetite, on the other hand, tends toward some appetible object apprehended as a particular good, but it does so in a determined way. It is determined by this or that particular apprehended good, if the latter at any particular moment satisfies its present appetites or needs. In so acting the sensitive appetite, or more correctly the sensitive being through its sensitive appetite, seeks good without knowing it as good. Not having any universal norm of goodness with which to compare this particular good, it finds therein a necessary fulfillment of a particular desire. It is in no way free to reject the apprehended good if the latter corresponds to its present needs. Thus, the hungry beast cannot refuse the juicy prey which appears before it. As Thomas states it:

sense appetite does not lie under any necessity in regard to any particular thing before it is apprehended under the aspect of the pleasurable or the useful, but of necessity goes out to it once it is apprehended as pleasurable (for a brute animal is unable, while looking at something pleasurable, not to desire it).(23)

Finally there is the rational or voluntary appetite. This is rooted in the intellectual nature and seeks a particular good under the guidance of intellect, which knows the nature of the good itself. Thus, it is said to operate freely. Thomas says that such things are most perfectly inclined to the good as if inclined toward the universal good itself.(24) In this latter type of appetition no particular finite good can necessitate the appetite. In no lesser good than the universal good itself, which in fact is the divine goodness, can it find perfect satisfaction or complete fulfillment of its unlimited desire. Furthermore, it is this lack of determination to a particular good that affords reason a control over sensitive nature as well.(25) However, in emphasizing the lack of determination found in voluntary appetition one should not overlook the fact that it is fundamentally a natural appetite, a natural inclination to the good.

There is then a danger to be noted here. Using the term "natural appetite" might lead one to think that it refers only to creatures without knowledge. Nothing could be further from the truth as far as Thomas is concerned. For him every potency possesses a natural appetite for its proper object. " . . . to crave with natural appetite belongs to every power, for every power of the soul is a nature and naturally inclines to something."(26) It must be remembered, however, that this natural appetite inclines a being according to the mode of the particular nature, and thus, a rational being will operate under the direction of the intellect which perceives the nature of the good as such. Hence, it must be maintained that the necessity imposed by natural inclination or appetite is in no way opposed to self-determination.(27)

In summary one might say that the natural appetite is inclined toward its correlative good according to the various modes of being in which it is found, insofar as these have a particular type of knowledge of the end to be sought. In the case of natural beings devoid of formal knowledge they seek by necessity objects suitable to their natural inclinations, guided only by the inclinations implanted in them by their author. On the other hand, sensitive creatures, capable of apprehending particular forms, seek these goods with a certain spontaneity, insofar as they know the good they seek, but do not know it under the formality of a good. The reason for this is that they possess no universal notion of goodness since such a knowledge presupposes an immaterial faculty of apprehension, which by supposition these creatures do not possess. Finally, the rational creature seeks particular goods under the formality of goodness through a comparison of any particular good to be sought with its universal appreciation of goodness. Moreover, in this life, when not confronted with its proper and adequate object, goodness itself in the concrete, the will still can exercise its autonomy in choosing not to consider happiness at all or to refrain from action.

Thomas sometimes refers to this natural appetency by the word "love." Obviously, he is using the term in a broader sense than it is customary. In fact, he equates natural inclination, appetite, and love.(28) He describes the latter as "the name . . . given to the principle of movement towards the end loved."(29) He remarks that such natural love is always proper, since it has been implanted in the being by the Author of nature.(30) However, in identifying appetite and love Aquinas necessarily implies a relation of the appetite with the term of appetition, the object loved. One might ask then whence comes this love or complacency in the good sought. The answer lies in the fact that the appetible object produces a likeness in the appetite, which renders the appetite attuned, so to speak, to the apprehended good. The source of this mutual correlation is ultimately the object's goodness or perfection rooted in the being's existing form, which is found as a suitable good by the appetite. From this correspondence between appetite and object follows the motion towards the object, which is called desire.

However, the notion of love as understood by Thomas can be more exactly described as the first change produced in the appetizing subject, the principle of the movement toward the appetible good. Thus, the appetite finds its complacency in the good apprehended, and through this complacency there is realized a certain affective union between the subject and the object, which is to be understood as the mode of becoming proper to the appetitive faculty.

Having demonstrated that the good receives its primary intelligibility by reason of being related to an appetite as a desirable object to be attained, we are in a position to appreciate Thomas' notion of affective union, whereby the object loved is said to become one with the lover. For Aquinas this appetitive process is circular in nature. He writes: " . . . the appetible object moves the appetite, introducing itself, as it were, into its intention; while the appetite moves towards the realization of the appetible object, so that the movement ends where it began."(31) What Thomas refers to is the fact that there are two aspects to the notion of love. It is both the sense of the end's being attained and it is at the same time the effect of the end itself. As elicited by the appetite, on the one hand, love is the effect of the end, since it is by reason of the end that the will operates initially in seeking the good. On the other hand, the love of the end holds itself toward the appetible object as a "co-natural" subject. In the words of John of St. Thomas such a love "is received by the will as the weight of its own inclination being changed toward a complacency."(32) Thus love is seen as the "aptitude or proportion of the appetite to good,"(33) as "common to every nature to have some inclination,"(34) or as that which is "the principle of movement towards the end loved."(35) In all of this, love must be viewed in its dual aspect as a type of mutual suitability effected by the object in the appetite from which follows an inclination of the appetite toward the appetible good.

According to Thomas then it should be concluded that every agent acts by reason of love. Thus, we have added as a further precision to our understanding of natural appetency its aspect of love. John of St. Thomas in regard to the affective character of appetition writes: "For neither is finalizing goodness diffused really, that is, through a propagation of itself and the production of another, but through an affection of itself and an ordination toward the good itself."(36) Thus does the good diffuse itself by drawing other beings to itself and ultimately to goodness itself through the operation of love, causing them to find in the good the perfection of their natures and potencies.

One might further develop this notion in terms of the kind of activity consequent upon the suitability effected by the appetible object. Something can be said to tend toward its end by its own action in a twofold manner; first, man is said to tend thereto as "moving himself"; secondly, nonrational creatures are "moved by another" due to some natural inclination, and not by themselves, since they do not know the formality of the end. Therefore, Thomas concludes that irrational creatures "cannot ordain anything to an end, but can be ordained to an end only by another."(37) Thus, man, although naturally inclined toward the good as end, can direct himself thereto by the choice of particular means suitable to that end. This direction toward the end will be accomplished by man's free acts, which afford him a share in the intelligent ordering of all things toward the ultimate end, the universal good.

To complete his exposition of the notion of natural appetency, Thomas contrasts it with the question of violence in regard to the will. It would be well to consider this contrast briefly in view of future observations relative to free choice. To begin with, violence had been defined by Aristotle as that "of which the moving principle is outside, being a principle in which nothing is contributed by the person who is acting or feeling the passion."(38) This can happen in two ways; in one way in regard to a being's natural end, and in another way, relative to the mode of attaining its end.(39) Thomas, however, maintains that in neither way can things be said to suffer violence as regards their natural appetencies, since " . . . having within themselves some principle of their inclination in virtue of which that inclination is natural, so that in a way they go themselves and are not merely led to their due ends."(40) Things subject to violence are said to be led, in that they contributed nothing to the principle moving them, which then is wholly exterior to them. However, when it is a question of natural appetencies, through the latter beings, as it were, cooperate in directing themselves toward the end.(41) Thus, what a nature does by reason of a natural inclination, be this in terms of natural endowments or acquired (or in the case of the supernatural, infused) habits, cannot be said to be at variance with itself, and hence cannot suffer violence properly so-called.(42)


Since the concern of this study is the will's free choice of evil, it would be helpful to develop further the question of the natural inclination of voluntary appetite and its relation to human freedom. As has already been noted, the attainment of the end through natural appetition is found in creatures according to their various modes of being. Although the rational being can direct itself in its voluntary actions in the choice of means to its end, nevertheless, basically it is directed to the end through its form and consequent rational powers, which are to be considered natural appetites. This fundamental and radical direction to the end of the rational creature is to be understood in terms of the creature's ultimate end, which is grasped intellectually in the present state under the aspect of the good. Other particular ends are freely chosen as ends in themselves. However, they remain subordinated to the ultimate end in the sense that they are chosen, at least implicitly, under the formality of the good, which constitutes the radical and formal orientation of the rational will, as will or natural appetite.(43) The rational form and its consequent faculties are basically "natures," and as such are directed toward the ultimate good. Such a determination of the rational appetite, as nature, in no way opposes freedom.(44) In fact, it is by reason of this radical determination to the good that the human will is radically unconstrained. The reason for this is that the will, being determined to seek the good by its formal orientation as appetite, can thus exercise its free choice of the particular goods that are presented to it by the intellect as means to an end.(45)

Since Thomas considers identification with, and possession of, a being's ultimate end to be its highest perfection, this radical determination, whereby the end is initially attained can in no way militate against human freedom. All other appetition, as has been suggested above, becomes meaningful only in terms of this formal determination to the end, and only due to it do other beings become suitable objects of rational appetition as means thereto. Aquinas teaches this explicitly:

Just as there is an ordination of nature to the will, there is, moreover, a parallel ordination of the things which the will naturally wills to those in regard to which it is determined of itself and not by nature. Thus, just as nature is the foundation of will, similarly the object of natural appetite is the principle and foundation of the other objects of appetite.(46)

From the above quotation it is evident that not all necessitation is opposed to freedom, but only that which would concern things not properly a being's last end. Any necessitation in their regard would imply an absence of freedom subordinating the being to something less than its proper end. Therefore, as regards the necessity relative to the free will's ultimate end, Thomas refuses to view it as a type of violence forcing the will from without. He specifically states this: "Although the will wills the last end by a certain necessary inclination, it is nevertheless in no way to be granted that it is forced to will it."(47) The notion of coercion, as has been mentioned above, would involve the will's being forced against its own volition. This is obviously an impossible situation. The will always wills that which it wills, and does so freely, except, of course, in the case of an actual confrontation with the ultimate good itself. Even in this latter case, the will cannot be said to be forced to will this Good, since toward this end it is radically determined.

However, in its present state the will retains its freedom of exercise even in regard to goodness itself or happiness insofar as it need not consider them or put forth any act whatsoever. Moreover, since "coercion" refers to the order of exercise directly, in which order the formality of freedom is to be found, it must be in this order that the will is immune from coercion or force. This is obvious, if one would recall that Thomas insists that only God, the First Cause, can move the will efficiently, which point will be established later in this study. As one author summarizes it: "In spite of its necessary, natural inclination, the will always remains, even as a nature, a `potentia libera'. It is `libera voluntas' precisely because its necessary inclination is always immune from coaction from without."(48)

The specific application of the above matter as regards the question of the will's choice of moral evil will be seen in terms of the radical defectibility of the rational appetite through its non-identification with its ultimate end. It provides the basis for appreciating the precarious condition of human freedom in relation to the choice of suitable means or goods toward its ultimate end. More generally, it serves to emphasize the necessity for a proper subordination of means to end inasmuch as the basis of freedom lies in the formal determination of the rational appetite to the universal good.(49)

To gain an even deeper insight into this most fundamental relation of necessity and freedom one might consider briefly freedom as it is verified in the divine. God wills His own goodness as a quasi-end.(50) Of course, such a willing of Himself, as end, is from necessity. It is necessary, however, to understand this word properly in such a context. It at first suggests constraint, whereas we know that in God there is only spontaneity.(51) One must recall that in Thomas' mind such necessitation is not at variance with liberty. In fact, it is only in the being which is identified completely with itself as end that there can be perfect freedom, subsistent freedom. Thus it contrasts to finite being, which is not completely identified with its end and which, therefore, must seek that end through a choice of means suitable to its end.(52) Such terms as necessity and freedom must be employed with great caution, especially when referring them to God in whom they are most perfectly verified. It is said that God wills Himself by necessity and wills creatures freely. Necessity here, however, is not contrasted with freedom or liberty in its essential meaning, but only as regards its secondary manifestation as freedom of choice. Even this latter when applied to God, in whom it certainly exists, must be purified of any of its limited characteristics as found in creatures.(53)

In contingent beings, freedom of choice as regards the means to an end bespeaks their imperfection. Not yet in possession of their end, they must employ other creatures in its pursuit. Such a dependence on other beings can in no way be applicable to the notion of choice in God. His free choice is exercised in quite a different way from that of created choosing, and yet in it one finds the essential elements of free choice. Since God's love is causative, in freely choosing to create finite beings He directs them to Himself, not as means to attain anything for Himself, as a creature necessarily would do, but for their own benefit and perfection. Thomas notes this when he remarks: "The divine goodness is not an end of the kind which is produced by the means to the end, but rather one by which the things which are directed to it are produced and perfected."(54) In so willing creatures He wills them according to their contingent nature, since the will tends towards objects as they exist in themselves. Thus, toward the necessary being the will is drawn by necessity, whereas it wills contingent beings freely. In other words, the contingency of God's will act is not rooted in any potential element in itself, but rather in the contingent character of the object willed. This is an ultimate precision in the notion of free choice as related to the end and should afford one with a means to appreciate better the relation of natural appetency to freedom of choice in the rational creature.(55)

The notion of natural appetency in the metaphysics of Thomas provides, therefore, a deeper understanding of the voluntary appetite, which will be pivotal in the further development of this study. By means of this doctrine any elements in the consideration of human freedom which would be mere limitations of freedom and not essential to the notion itself have been sifted out and prescinded from. Moreover, it furnishes the necessary background against which one can understand better the defectible character of human freedom as rooted in the imperfect realization of free choice found in the created will. This precise point is a further prerequisite for understanding the bases for the will's defection in evil.

It is this element of defectibility, the possibility of a creature's choosing improper means to a self-established end, that above all else will indicate the imperfect nature of created freedom. If ontological separation of the creature from its end implies its radical imperfection, and if the necessity of seeking that end through the help of other creatures used as means further bespeaks its contingency, what must be said of the fact that created freedom is inherently defectible, that is, that it can and in some cases does defect from the end toward which it is naturally inclined. Thomas in fact insists that it is impossible for the creature to have natural impeccability or indefectibility, and the reason given is "its being made out of nothing."(56) In other words, since a creature's being is not necessary and is not identified with its end, its freedom is likewise contingent and defectible. In this is rooted created freedom's radical contingency, manifest in its ability to posit an evil end, although under the aspect of a good, and to choose totally improper means thereto. As we shall see in a later chapter, the primary task incumbent upon the created will is to render the actualization of this radical defectibility less probable to occur and thereby gain a "liberty of autonomy" even in this present life.(57)


Thus far it has been shown how Thomas' teleological approach to the universe is expressed in terms of the natural appetites for the good as found in all beings. In this way, each individual being has been considered as realizing its total goodness, that is, its individual perfection through the appetition of further being, either in terms of conserving its own being or form, or through the acquisition of new form. Moreover, this appetition for more being and more goodness has been related to the attainment of the being's end, and in the thought of Thomas the two have been identified: "Inasmuch as one being by reason of its act of existing is such as to perfect and complete another, it stands to that other as an end. And hence it is that all who rightly define good put in its notion something about its status as an end."(58) Now one must consider an even more important aspect of finality in the philosophy of Aquinas, which looks beyond the individual perfection of beings to the relation of all such appetition to the totality of being, the universe itself. It is precisely here that the notion of appetition implies a philosophy of natural law. If beings, through their individual appetitions toward their own particular ends, are to act in an orderly fashion and in concert with one another, there must be law to govern them according to the diversity of their natures. Thus, the present section considers this universal order as it is achieved through law.

As has always been the teaching of Christian philosophy, beings exist primarily to manifest the goodness of God by sharing and participating in varying degrees in His goodness. In this way, they objectively reflect the infinite perfection. However, it must be noted here that Thomas does not see this reflection primarily in terms of the individual being's goodness, but rather by reason of the order of the whole universe. It is this total finality wherein each individual part contributes through its own perfection to the perfection of the whole that affords the most perfect reflection of the divine. For this reason, Thomas never considers individual beings in an isolated state, since only together as a totality do beings constitute an adequate representation of divine goodness.(59) In fact, according to Aquinas: "among all the things that are ordered to one another their order to one another is for the sake of their order to something one."(60) Thus, the good of the individual is willed in view of the good of the whole as more consonant with God's infinite perfection. Thomas remarks in the Summa Contra Gentiles:

It was His prerogative, therefore, to induce His likeness into created things most perfectly, to a degree consonant with the nature of created being. But created things cannot attain to a perfect likeness to God according to only one species of creature . . . the presence of multiplicity and variety among created things was therefore necessary.(61)

Although this fundamental order is effected through being in first act, that is, in terms of their very natures and natural power, Thomas further insists that the order of creation is evidenced in their second act, namely, their operations. He remarks that it is not enough that they exist, but by their actions they should contribute to the order of the universe.(62) As has been seen, this community of action is effected through the dynamism of natural appetite in pursuit of its own good.

Creatures are so inclined that it can be said that they are more strongly inclined thereto than to themselves.(63) They love their particular good on account of the common good of the whole universe, which is God. In fact the simple complacency of any creature is first inclined toward the sovereign good, and by consequence toward its own good.(64) Although a part is said to love the good of the whole as something suitable to itself, still it does this not by referring the good to itself, but by referring itself to the good of the whole.(65) However, for a perfectly ordered universe it is necessary that rational appetition be present as the perfect likeness of God's own ordering of things to their end.(66) Following Thomas' thought it is to be noted that the attainment of the ultimate end of the universe can be had in two ways: first, by what might be called the way of assimilation, that is, by the mere reflection of the divine perfection through the goodness found in beings' first and second acts; secondly, by way of attaining to the divine goodness itself, which attainment obviously is possible only to rational or intellectual creatures. Only they can attain God through their operations of knowledge and love.(67) It is through their free activity that such beings attain beatitude, and in so doing glorify in the most perfect way the divine goodness.(68)

So lofty is this dignity enjoyed by rational creation in the actual attainment of the end that Thomas makes it the very principle of the good of the universe.(69) In other words, for him everything in the universe is ordered to the rational nature and has its place in the divine plan accordingly. John Wright remarks in this regard:

The good of the universe is a good of order . . . and the principle of an order is that which determines the inherent structure and intelligibility. Hence, the rational nature, as the proper subject of beatitude, is what determines the divine plan of the universe.(70)

The reader might object that there appears to be some contradiction between the previous assertion that the primary end of creation is the order of the entire universe, and the present notion that the intellectual creature is the principle and center of this order as the primary concern of divine providence. This indeed has proved a formidable difficulty in the interpretation of Thomas. However, before maintaining a striking inconsistency in his thought, let us see if he can preserve and unite both aspects of the problem.(71)

The happiness, as such, of the rational creature is subordinate to the universal order, since the latter alone, according to the mind of Thomas, adequately manifests the Divine Goodness. However, that beatitude, considered precisely as the union of the rational creature with its Divine End through knowledge and love, transcends even the universal order in both dignity and value. Thus, as relating to God, the person transcends every created good, but in this very act of transcendence it establishes in the highest way possible the total order of creation and formally refers it to its ultimate end.(72) An analogy might be drawn in terms of the body. Vision admittedly is the noblest sense and as such can be said to transcend the body itself. However, in the context of the body as being the most perfect reflection of unity and order, the eye is subordinate in character; yet it is through this very subordination of this noblest of senses that the body is rendered so completely manifestive of this unity.

Thus, Thomas views the universe as ordered, integrating each particular into the pattern of the finished masterpiece. He comments that nature is "the plan of a divine artist, introduced into things, whereby they move to a determined end."(73) There is no question of strife here. In the very effort to attain their particular ends all strive to attain God. The result is a marvelous unity, and thus in the words of one writer: "The universe becomes possessed of one aim, one activity, one order."(74)

If one considers the rational creature in the above context, that is, as directing itself toward its end by a choice of means and yet as radically defectible in this choice, one can easily see the role played by law in the metaphysics of order. For, if free defectible creatures are to attain their end, there must be some guiding principle or norm which directs their actions along proper lines and which is not a necessitating rule. Thomas insists that free choice must be made only of means toward the end which observe the due order to that end. He remarks that "it belongs to the perfection of its liberty for the free-will to be able to choose between opposite things, keeping the order of the end in view; but it comes of the defect of liberty for it to choose anything by turning away from the order of the end."(75) In other words, not just any human action attains the determined end and thus leads the rational being to its perfection, but only that which is properly directed thereto. However, with so many things in life militating against this preservation of ordered activity, it becomes absolutely necessary that there be some obvious rule in pursuing this goal. Such a rule or norm is what is meant by law. The liberty to choose means towards happiness is thus inseparable from the dictates of law in any teleological approach to human activity.

As we noted above, Thomas places the intrinsic cause of universal order in the natural appetite of all being for its proper and determined end. At times, however, Aquinas treats of this natural appetite and the uniformity of activity effected by it in terms of law, speaking of the law of nature even in reference to the irrational world.(76) Such an application of the notion of law can only be by way of analogy since, strictly speaking, law concerns the human sphere alone,(77) although it is paralleled in the natural order by what is usually called the physical law. The genuine law of nature, nevertheless, is the moral law which by natural reason is dictated. It is in the reason that God places the responsibility for interpreting this law and for directing human action accordingly toward its ultimate end. Ethicians refer to this "law of nature" as the "proximate norm of morality."

Thomas in his classical definition of the natural law as "the rational creature's participation in the eternal law,"(78) sees it as natural law, insofar as it is promulgated to man through his rational nature. Since a law consists of ideas and judgments, the natural law is obtained through the use of reason in drawing conclusions about human nature. The human person is equipped by nature with a specific faculty, namely, human reason, for forming such judgments and for guiding his free acts to their proper and ultimate end. One can reflect on him- or herself as regards the various needs of one's own nature and the suitability of specific deeds to these needs. One can, in other words, compare one's conduct with one's nature and understand the conformity or non-conformity between them.

The very nature of law demands that it be promulgated through reason, since law is an ordinance of reason. However, the natural law is manifest to reason not by any external sign, but simply by a rationally conducted examination of human nature with all its parts and relations. Such an examination by reason must regard the whole man. Thus, if an action is suitable to one aspect of human nature but harmful to another, that action is not simply and without qualification good for one. Human nature must be taken here with all its parts, essential and integral, and with all its relations to the divine, society, and the goods of the earth which serve him. This hierarchy is to be understood according to the intrinsic worth and excellence of the two chief parts of man and of these three orders of relation.(79)

To know what man must do then to attain his end it is essential that one know what man is, that is, his nature, potencies, and natural inclinations. However, as can be seen from the above the complexity of his nature often renders this function of reason quite difficult. Such a hierarchical evaluation of faculties and objects is theoretically valid. In theory it can be said that God has effected this subordination of appetencies in the human composite; in man's very constitution as primordially willed by God he participates by nature in the eternal law.(80) In fact Aquinas agrees with Aristotle that we are naturally adapted to be recipients of virtue.(81) However, whatever human nature might have been in a state of natural integrity, a lack of ordination is found in it now, a truth which experience daily confirms. Natural appetites do not always function according their proper subordinations. Form is not always in control of matter, and although natural appetency, as an habitual inclination to proper ends and acts, constitutes the natural law in first act, in practical application it demands a careful and mature exercise of reason.(82)

Thomas employs various terms to bring out this function of reason. He refers to law as a "rule,"(83) a "dictate of reason,"(84) as something "directive of actions to their end."(85) He considers rational creatures as participating in a very special way in the working out of divine providence, providing for themselves and for other beings through their self-direction toward their end according to the norm of reason and law.(86) Therefore, in the present context law can be understood as that intended by God "to direct man toward his end in choosing the right means."(87) Since reason is the first principle of human acts, it is considered to be their rule; for, in each category of being, the rule is always assumed to be the first principle, that is, a norm regulative of the various functions, operations, relations of the being. On the other hand, we have noted that the rule of human acts is nothing other than law itself and hence, law can be found in reason and the latter ought to follow it.(88)

It is in the Summa Theologica that Thomas discusses the rule or measure of action. There he notes that the law as rule can be in a subject in two ways: first, as in one ruling or measuring and thus God is the rule of all being, the eternal law; secondly, as in something ruled or measured and thus do all participate in this eternal law insofar as from its impression they have inclinations toward their proper acts and ends. However, as already has been noted, he insists that the participation is properly found only in rational creatures since only they who perceive the law can freely regulate their actions according to it.(89)

The precepts of the natural law are to the practical reason what the first principles of reason are to the speculative reason, and in this sense they can be called habitual.(90) Just so the idea of being is the first notion to fall under the working of the speculative reason, as the idea of the good is that which first directs human action. Thus, the first principle of practical reason is founded upon the formality of the good, which is an aspect of being itself and can thus be said to be connatural to the will as such. The principle can be formulated in the following manner: the good is that which all beings desire. Thus, the first precept of the natural law will be: it is necessary to seek the good and to avoid evil.

It follows that, since the good has the formality of an end, and evil the contrary formality, all things which man naturally seeks are perceived as good by reason, and consequently are to be done, whereas all things perceived as contrary are to be avoided. As will be demonstrated in a later chapter, this pertains to the order of final causality or in the case of exercise to the order of efficient causality in regard to the end. In this order the will must always seek the good, if it wills at all. It is not here that sin will occur, but only in the choice of means thereto or to a mistaken end. This pertains to the order of formal causality insofar as the judgment specifies a particular good as a suitable good to be sought in view of an end to be attained.

Such an approach to the natural law implies the role of reason as the rule of human action and highlights the unreasonable character of moral evil. The mere fact that persons can judge some apparent good as really good for those here and now and as something to be sought apart from all considerations of their ultimate end indicates the depraved nature which grounds such a choice. The metaphysics of this unnatural choice resolves itself into a relation of the object of human volition to an unsuitable end. In other words, an act is not considered morally good just because it proceeds from a human agent. It must be ordered to an object consonant with natural reason. If it is not, it is to that degree defective, lacking the perfection of being which it ought to have as a moral act, namely, a due species, measure, and end. One author summarizes it thus: "That action is in accordance with reason which is ordered to the proper end because every good or evil action arises from a presupposed conformity or defect in being or in the operative powers."(91)

It might be asked further whether such a rule or measure dictating the means to be chosen for the attainment of the end does not in some way limit the freedom of man. In answer it should be noted that there is a certain "freedom of autonomy" possible to man even in this life, but never in any perfect degree, since he remains separated from his end and dependent upon creatures as means therto. However, in this life some realization of this freedom is possible by becoming, as it were, a law unto oneself. This is accomplished through the repeated choice of true means to one's end, and thus effecting a sort of second nature.(92)

Contrasted with this true liberty whereby rational creatures directs their actions to their proper end according to the rule of reason and law is that state of subservience imposed upon those who make repeated acts of evil choice. These too can be said to acquire a "second nature," but it is not one of autonomy.(93) It is rather a state of servility wherein the rational creature is turned from his last end in his inordinate seeking of lower nature by means of unregulated action. Thus, the rational fulfillment of law in terms of regulated action must always be judged a perfection of personality insofar as it manifests the rational being's chief contribution to the order of the universe; it must never be thought of as an unwarranted restriction on the exercise of freedom. "The obligation of a precept is not opposed to liberty, except in one whose mind is averted from that which is prescribed . . . but the precept of love cannot be fulfilled save of one's own will."(94)

In conclusion, law is thus seen as ensuring liberty for it is concerned with the maintenance of the harmony of order. Without the latter, liberty would be haphazard and purposeless. The function of liberty in choosing proper means to the attainment of the ultimate goal parallels closely the essential function of law which serves as a norm or rule directing reason to its end. Hence, one can easily perceive the intimate relations existing among order, liberty, and law, as having their principle or fundamental directive in the good, which renders them aspects of a dynamic universe. With such a background the inquiry into the nature of evil, and specifically moral evil, should be more meaningful.



The preceding chapter has attempted to detail the notion of the good as a principle of order. The chief reason for such an approach was the desire to avoid the error of attempting to define the nature and to probe the mystery of evil without having first set forth a metaphysics of the good. This is not the method of Aquinas who wrote in the Summa Contra Gentiles: "It is the peculiar nature of evil to be unintelligible except in terms of its opposite."(95) For him it is only the good that gives meaning to evil in an ordered universe; without this correlative, the mystery of evil becomes indeed a contradiction. Thus, the previous insights into the good, both as the perfection possessed at a particular instant by a being on its journey towards its ultimate good and as perfective of other beings, manifests the teleological character of being and of the universe itself. By so relating the good to end in terms of perfection the foundations have been laid for a metaphysical inquiry into the nature of evil, specifically of moral evil, insofar as it is destructive of this finality of being.


In all his writings on the question of evil Thomas consistently begins his treatment with the inquiry as to whether or not evil can be considered a "nature" or a thing of any kind.(96) The importance of this question cannot be underestimated, and certainly its answer cannot be passed over in any cursory manner. What Aquinas is probing is whether evil is some kind of hypostasis, a being contrary to the good, whose ultimate source might be some supreme evil. Or, on the contrary, is evil a mere nothing, a negation, in the order of reality? Is it a figment of man's imagination? Is it a mere being of reason with only a foundation in reality, which allows the mind to fashion some mental construct? If it were such, men and women would, in a sense, be the dupes of their own crude inventions, and thus the manifold sufferings of life and the perversity of man would be so many chimeras. On the other hand, by positing evil as an actual being, a cause would be demanded to account for it; following Thomas' usual reasoning, such would necessitate the existence of some supreme cause of evil. Thomas adopts neither of these solutions, but finds a middle ground which salvages the reality of evil without asserting its positive existence. His answer to this fundamental and primary question as regards the nature of evil is categorical: "It cannot be that evil signifies being, or any form or nature."(97)

Thomas' arguments to support his contention that evil is not a "something," nor a form utilize the basic principles of his metaphysics, namely, that every being is good insofar as it is appetible by another being; every being acts to the degree that it is in act; every being acts for an end; and every being seeks the good. These various arguments might be reduced to three general categories, as found in the De Malo,(98) along with a few supplementary notions in other works. The first of these arguments deals with evil in regard to its cause. A cause acts only insofar as it is in act, which by convertibility is to say insofar as it is good. It thus produces an effect similar to itself, that is, another good. Evil cannot be said to exist, since it could have no cause, otherwise, it would not be evil but good. Thomas states this argument in the following manner:

Whatever is among the things that are must have its origin from the first and universal good. But what originates from the first and universal good cannot be other than a particular good, just as what originates from the first and universal cause of being is a particular being. Everything then that is numbered among the things that are must be a particular good. Hence it cannot according as it is a particular being be opposed to good.(99)

A second argument is offered in terms of the end or appetible character of all being. Insofar as such being has a natural inclination or appetite for a suitable good and as all beings seek the good, there is no place in existence for any being which is by nature evil. Thomas argues in the following fashion:

Whatever is numbered among the things that are has an inclination and desire for something befitting itself. But whatever has the nature of desirable has the nature of good. Therefore whatever is numbered among the things that are has an affinity with some good.(100)

Hence, evil cannot be something in the nature of things since by definition it has no suitability with the good, but rather is opposed to it. In fact, Thomas adds in this regard that if evil were some thing, it would seek nothing, and would in turn be sought by nothing, and consequently would have no action or motion, since every being moves for an end, which would necessarily be a suitable good.(101)

Finally, Thomas' third major argument for the non-existence of evil as a nature concerns the very nature of being itself. He argues from the fact that the very notion of being is correlative with the notion of the good. In his own words the argument runs as follows:

Being itself especially has the nature of desirable; hence we see that each thing naturally desires to preserve its being, and not only flees from things destructive of its being but resists them with all its might; so accordingly, being itself, inasmuch as it is desirable, is good. Therefore evil, which is universally opposed to good, must be opposed also to being itself. But what is opposed to being cannot be something.(102)

Besides these basic arguments one finds others in the writing of Thomas which corroborate the thesis that evil as such is not a nature. These latter arguments seem to make explicit what was already implied in the more general presentation. In the Summa Contra Gentes(103) Thomas shows that evil cannot be an agent since a thing acts only insofar as it is existing and is perfect, whereas evil by definition is a privation of due being and perfection. Such non-activity argues to the non-being of evil. This same reasoning is employed in his Commentary on the Divine Names(104) where he argues that it belongs to the good to produce and to save beings, whereas it is proper to evil to corrupt and to destroy them. From this it follows, according to Thomas, that only the good can cause existent things and evil is not the cause of any existing thing, which implies that no evil exists, since the good produces only good.

Another approach to the non-actuality of evil is presented by Thomas in terms of the division of all being into potency and act. Act is a good; in fact, a thing is perfect to the degree that it is in act. Moreover, potency is also a good, insofar as it tends toward act. It is proportionate to act and is not contrary to it, as is evil. Moreover, it can be said that potency belongs to the genus of act, unlike evil which belongs to any genus only accidentally. Thus, Aquinas concludes that every being, both actual and potential, is good, and hence, evil which is by definition opposed to the good, is neither an actual nor a potential being.(105)

The Summa Contra Gentes also asserts the non-being of evil in terms of the nature of form.(106) Thomas argues that whatever possesses an essence is either a form or has a form. In fact, every being is placed in its proper genus by reason of such a form. However, form has the essential character of being good, inasmuch as it is the principle of act, and a thing is in act only insofar as it exists. Moreover, the end toward which a being's action tends must also share in this same goodness, as does the very action by which the being tends toward its end and by which the being is perfected. Thus, Thomas concludes that everything which has a form must be said to be a good and not an evil.

A final argument offered by Aquinas is based on a consideration of the natural character of all that pertains to being. He says that every essence belongs to some definite genus in nature, either as a substance, insofar as it is the very nature of the being, or as an accident, inasmuch as it is caused by the principles of the subject. As such accidents also are said to be natural to the being. However, evil in itself cannot be natural to anything, since it is by definition a privation of what is natural and what is due to a being. He concludes that whatever is present in a thing naturally is good, and what is present therein as a privation is called evil. Evil, therefore, is neither to be considered a nature, nor something, nor a form.(107)


Evil on the contrary signifies a certain absence, and a being is said to be evil to the degree that it neither exists nor is good.(108) In fact, since being, insofar as it is, is good, evil can be considered the removal of both, i.e., of both existence and goodness. Thomas, however, is quick to note that this absence is not a mere negation of being or of goodness. Apart from the unreasonable consequences which would result from such a view discussed above, it would likewise follow that all except the Infinite would be evil, insofar as all finite being lacks being and goodness in an infinite degree. Rather, the absence referred to by Aquinas is the defect of good "which one is born to have and should have."(109)

He arrives at this precision by distinguishing three types of non-being: simple negation, which exists in no way whatsoever; matter as prime matter, which is a pure passive potency, and in itself is no way in act; and finally, privation, which is said to exist in some subject wherein the privation is found.(110) Simple negation obviously cannot be considered as evil for any particular being. Nor can prime matter be considered evil, since it too has the formality of good, insofar as it is in potency to act. In the words of Thomas: "every subject insofar as it is in potency to some perfection, even prime matter, from the very fact that is in potency, has the formality of the good."(111)

Privation, on the other hand, is an absence of form naturally due to a being and without which the being is less perfect. As Thomas says: "privation means the absence of what something ought to have; in which sense, privation implies an imperfection."(112) It is in this precise formality of the absence of a due good that Thomas Aquinas will ground the reality of evil, and yet at the same time safeguard it from being understood as an actual being. Through this notion of privation evil is seen to be a negation existing in a subject as a privation of form due to that subject, and, although it does not assert anything positively, it implies or determines the subject in which it inheres. Thomas summarizes this in the following manner:

Evil is not some existing thing which by its own essence is evil, nor again is evil a thing totally non-existent; but evil is a thing which is partly good, and by that part it exists, and it is called evil because it falls short of (or lacks) some being.(113)


Having followed the lead of Aquinas in founding the formality of evil in the notion of privation, it is important to appreciate more fully his philosophy of privation. There are two kinds of privations according to Thomas: pure privation, that is, one which removes the whole perfection in question, for example, blindness and death; and partial privation, which is often referred to as a "privation in via or in fieri," since it places obstacles to the actualization of the power of some being, while leaving some of the perfection in tact, for instance, nearsightedness or illness.(114)

These privations stand as contraries to the forms which they oppose. When the one is present, the other is necessarily absent. Therefore, Thomas concludes that they share the same subject, since the latter is in potency to both its perfective forms and their contrary privations. He identifies this common subject as the "being in potency."(115) However, such a potency is only a relative one, that is, one rooted or subjected in actual being and not an absolute potency, which is a good ordered to some further act.(116) Thus, the potency referred to is not to be identified with prime matter. Moreover, the prerequisite subject, that is the being in potency, is good, and therefore Thomas concludes that evil is in the good as in a subject.(117)

Soemthing further to be noted concerning the subject of the privation is that its presence in the being in potency is not to be confused with accidental being, which is a definite kind of being in its own right. The latter perfects the subject in which it inheres in an accidental way, whereas privation implies imperfection in the subject in which it resides. Moreover, the subject of an accident, which is also the being in potency, is said to cause the being of the accident, whereas evil as such has no cause properly so-called.(118)

In regard to privation, which constitutes the key to an understanding of Thomas' position on the nature of evil and which has been seen to reside in the being in potency, there are three prerequisites according to Aquinas. These latter correspond to the three modes of goodness found in every finite being: substantial, accidental, and potential. They are respectively: the subject, the contrary habit, and the aptitude of the subject for the reception of habit.(119) The first of these, namely, the subject of the privation, has already been discussed in the above paragraphs and has been identified with the being in potency, which stands as a potential subject to both good and evil. It must be noted, however, in this connection that the good of the subject as such cannot be diminished or destroyed by any evil infesting it. This follows necessarily from the fact that the form cannot suffer any diminution or change without ceasing to be itself. Any privation that would alter the goodness of the substantial subject would violate the very principle of identity whereby the being is itself and not another.

Regarding the contrary habits, however, the distinction between the pure and partial privations must be recalled. Evil can and does diminish qualitatively its contrary habit with the result that the being is totally or partially deprived of some due perfection. Finally, it is the position of Aquinas that the aptitude or dispositions of the subject, which stand between the subject and its action as potencies of the being, can neither be wholly destroyed nor infinitely diminished as regards their relation to their subject. However, insofar as they are related to action, they can be diminished by the addition or intensification of the contrary dispositions which weaken or impede the potentiality of the subject for action.(120)

From the above it is obvious that Thomas has grounded his philosophy of evil in the potential being or the potential good, as depriving that being of some due perfection. In this way he salvages the reality of evil without, however, designating it as some existing thing. Possibly the best explanation of this dual character of evil in the thought of Thomas is afforded by Cajetan and will serve as a helpful summary of Aquinas's notion of evil as a privation rather than a mere negation, a reality although not an actuality.

In his Commentarium in Summam Theologicam(121) Cajetan distinguishes between a formality that might be said to place something in things and one that might be regarded as "removing something therefrom, namely, a due good from the being as in the case of evil." He characterizes this latter type of reality as a privation, which is "the formal removal of a thing,"(122) and offers it as an explanation of the type of reality proper to evil. He argues that it is not in things as a being of some sort, but as a corruption of the being in actu exercito. It is the absence of the good which formally constitutes evil not by positively placing something in the being, but rather by removing something formally from the same. Therefore, evil is found in things formally as evil insofar as the absence of the good is experienced by the being, whereas it is in the mind through its act of composition and division. He concludes that evil exists as a being only in the mind, but it does formally exist also in reality as a remotion of due perfection and being.(123)

Thus, evil is not viewed by Thomas as some existing nature, but as a concrete deprivation of a due perfection in some being. Its total formality consists in its privative character, in other words, not in the mere fact that it is the absence of some being or goodness, but rather in the fact that the absence is conspicuous, since the absent perfection ought to be in the being. It is then this character of being due that constitutes the very formality of evil as a privation. As an example of this, one might inquire into the difference between the hole that is found encircled by the gold band of a diamond ring and that which might be found in the middle of a Rembrandt painting. Materially, both are absences and as such are mere negations of being. However, formally there is a great difference between the two in that one is considered an evil and one is not. What formally constitutes the hole in the Rembrandt as evil for this masterpiece is that it has deprived a being of its due perfection. It is, in the words of Cajetan, a "formal removing" of a due perfection; it is precisely this aspect of the absent good that renders evil something more than mere non-being. As one author put it well: "has definite malevolent ties with reality, it is the absence that is conspicuous."(124)


It must be pointed out that the concern of this study with divisions of evil is primarily in terms of placing moral evil in its proper perspective relative to the other types of evil. In order to accomplish this it has been thought necessary to detail two presentations of the matter afforded us by Aquinas. The first taken from his earlier writings treats of every type of evil and offers a comprehensive and somewhat involved division. The other centers upon evil as found in beings of an intellectual nature and therefore pertains more directly to the matter of the present study. The schema to be followed then will be a presentation of the divisions of evil in general with special emphasis on the place of moral evil along with a more detailed analysis of evil as found in the intellectual nature.

In his Commentary on the Sentences, Thomas divides evil into two major categories: absolute and relative.(125) The former considers evil in itself as the "very privation of a perfection." Aquinas admits that some call this "evil abstractly taken," that is, the very formality of evil as such. Two types of privation are possible in this regard: one type is a privation of a necessary perfection and, as such, is evil to all beings within a given category. For instance, a hand or a foot in the case of animals. A second type is a privation of some secondary perfection, for example, the science of geometry. Obviously, this latter privation is evil only to one who ought to have such a habit. The second major division, that is, accidental or relative evil, concerns evil as concretely realized in some subject and applies in turn both to the subject of a particular privation and to that which causes such a privation in another. As regards the subject of the privation, Thomas says that this subject can refer to four different categories of being: action, habit, passion, and substance.

Action is said to be the subject of evil, that is, a relative evil, if it be deprived of a due end and due circumstances. Moral evil will fall into this category of evil as evil action, although the term is applicable to any type of action which defects from its due end, for example, the stroke of a painter on a canvas. With regard to moral evil, such action is defective insofar as its end and circumstances are related to the moral order, that is, to reason and law as rules of human action. This matter, of course, will be discussed at length in the fifth chapter of the study. It need only be noted at present that Thomas had perceived the relation of evil action to the other types of evil in the earliest of his philosophical writings and even then had pointed out that such evil action "shall have the formality of fault" when found in an intellectual nature.

According to Thomas, habit is an extenuation of evil action in that it is effected through the repetition of such actions. Repeated evil actions cause tendencies or inclinations toward evil in the powers, which occasion both frequent and easily performed acts devoid of due end and due circumstances. When found in the intellectual nature, they too share in the "formality of fault." Passion, on the other hand, is considered a subject of evil insofar as "something is corrupted in the patient." Thomas identifies this as the "evil of punishment" in the intellectual creature and merely as a "defect of nature" in the creature "not capable of fault or punishment." Finally, the substance itself is said to be the subject of evil in the sense that all accidental imperfections or privations are reducible to the subject. Thomas puts it in the following manner:

No accident can be the subject of anything, which is said (of the being) privatively or positively, except by reason of the substance, which is its subject; therefore, it must be, that the subject of this privation, which is as such evil, be ultimately understood as the substance, according to which a man is said to be evil.(126)

It must be noted, however, that it is not the substance or form of the being itself which is subject to evil, but rather some accident of the being. This will be explained presently when brief consideration is given to the further notions of the goodness of being and its correlative corruptions.

Finally, under the division of relative evil is found the subdivision of that which causes evil in another. Such a division is quite extrinsic to an appreciation of the nature of evil itself, but does afford a completion of the various ways by which something can be designated as evil. Certainly, that which inflicts evil on other beings is called evil, even in ordinary speech, and hence, it must be assigned a place within the general framework of evil. It, in turn, is subdivided into two aspects by Thomas, namely, as it regards matter or agent. The former is said to be an accidental evil, in that it is "indisposed to receive the power of the agent," for example, the malformed animal. As regards the second type of causal evil, Thomas says that the evil can be effected by an agent which has an immediate or "conjoined" relation to the other being insofar as it is contrary to the very perfection of the being, for example, fire as contrary to ice.

On the other hand, the agent may not be "conjoined" to the other being thus acted upon, but merely impedes, in an indirect way, the influence of the perfecting cause as, for instance, when clouds impede the light of the sun. If one were to consider this latter effect as evil for animals or plants, the clouds themselves would have only an indirectly evil character about them, insofar as they deprived life on earth of the sunlight.

Thomas further relates these two types of efficient causes of evil to the intellectual order by maintaining that the evil effected by a "conjoined" agent is called "punishment of the sense" in beings capable of fault and punishment, while that effected by the "non-conjoined" agent is called "punishment of loss" in beings capable of punishment. The reason offered for "punishment of loss" is that, although the evil is not sensed by reason of the withdrawal of a perfection, still it is sensed in another way, that is, by reason of some other evil effect.

In the above analysis by Thomas evil has been seen as absolute, which is an abstraction affording us the very formality of evil, and as relative, which is evil as concretized in a particular subject. As regards the latter, evil immediately affects the potencies, actions, and habits of the being, all of which are reducible to the being in potency. It is this being in potency that has already been identified as the subject of evil. Finally, there is relative evil seen as the cause of evil in another, viewed either materially or efficiently. Thomas concludes by relating each of these to one another: "the first is evil absolutely, the second is ordered to the first, and the third is ordered to the second."(127) In other words, the cause of evil is ordered to the subject in which the privation as such is realized. As Aquinas writes:

The order is such that that which is absolute is spoken of first, and all others by relation to it. . . . Accidental evil, which is the subject of evil and which is called evil by reason of the fact that it has a privation, which is absolute evil, constitutes the second grade. . . . In the third grade is . . . accidental as a cause inducing evil. . . . This does not necessarily have in itself a privation, but causes some other thing to have a privation.(128)

Although in the above considerations Thomas indicated the application of his divisions of evil to the area of intellectual nature, still in this division he did not limit his thought to its domain. In a parallel treatment of the divisions of evil, however, in the De Malo Aquinas does divide the subject of evil as it relates to the rational or intellectual nature.(129) He remarks:

A rational or intellectual nature in comparison with other creatures is related in a special way to good and evil because every other creature is naturally ordered to some particular good, but only an intellectual nature, by means of the intellect, grasps the universal nature of good and is moved to good universally by the appetite of the will.(130)

He concludes that the evil of the rational creature is divided by the special division in terms of fault and punishment.

Unlike the former division, which founded its divisions of evil according to the abstract and concrete aspects of the subject, this division contrasts evil with its contrary good, as found "in the agent" and "in the deficient act." Such a consideration of being takes into account both its first and second act, that is, the total actuality of the being, and affords a simple and all embracing basis for distinguishing the various kinds of evil as pertinent to the rational nature. Through his emphasis on the "action" of being as the expression of its being and goodness, Thomas highlights that subject of evil, spoken of in the previous section. It is there that the fullest realization of evil is to be found, namely, evil action as it proceeds from a deficient will.

Moreover, Thomas proceeds to contrast in three ways the two types of evils proper to the rational nature, evil of fault and punishment. First, fault is found in evil action, whereas punishment is evil inflicted by the agent. He further observes in this regard:

These two evils are ordered differently in natural operations and in voluntary operations. For in natural operations the evil of the action follows from the evil of the effective cause, for example limping follows from a crippled leg; but in voluntary operations the reverse is true, the evil of the agent, i.e., punishment, divine providence regulating fault by punishment, follows from the evil of the action, i.e., the fault.(131)

In other words, it is the natural defect in the agent that gives rise to the evil action as regards natural beings, whereas the contrary is true insofar as voluntary beings are concerned. The evil proceeding from the agent in the form of punishment is due to the culpably evil action, which does not proceed from any natural defect in the agent, but rather from its voluntary non-action, as will be seen in the following chapter on the causality involved in voluntarily evil action.

The second difference between these two types of evil proper to the intellectual being is due to the fact that fault is according to the will whereas punishment is always against the will, at least insofar as the patient is concerned. Finally, there is a third difference, namely, that fault is in the agent, whereas punishment is in the patient. Thomas quotes Saint Augustine in this regard: "He calls fault the evil we do, but punishment the evil we suffer."(132)

It must be noted that the above divisions of evil as found in the Commentary on the Sentences and the Disputed Questions are in perfect harmony, but the latter attempts to integrate the whole question of the evil of nature into the more relevant perspective of evil as it is found in beings of an intellectual nature. In the latter, evil was, in a sense, not intended by Divine Providence, and hence evil of nature is viewed as a punishment consequent upon the commission of evil action by the free agent. Thomas summarizes his more restricted consideration of evil as affecting the intellectual creature in the following words:

A person is blamed and rendered culpable inasmuch as he voluntarily does a disordered act. . . . And thus every evil of the rational creature is contained under either fault or punishment.(133)

Closely associated with the above classifications of evil are two further considerations presented by Aquinas. One division centers around evil as a privation of the good of being as regards mode, species, and order, while the second division contrasts evil with the good of nature, natural inclination, and virtue. Both of these divisions can be correlated with the various subjects of evil as presented in the Commentary on the Sentences.(134)

Since Thomas frequently defines evil as a deprivation of mode, species, and order, it would be well to consider these terms briefly. By species he means obviously the form of the being, either substantial or accidental.(135) This formal cause of the being's goodness involves both its form and its potencies. It corresponds to the substantial and potential aspects spoken of above, and consequently to the subject and respective potencies of evil, as outlined in Thomas' first major division of evil. Mode signifies the determination of the principles of the being. He calls this the "commensuration" of the being, that is, those things required by the form as necessary consequents and as ordered to activity. Such constitute both the material and efficient principles of the being. They exist and operate according to the "measure" of the form.(136) Finally, order is the being's natural inclination to its end or to action leading thereto. Thomas notes in this regard that it is by reason of a being's form that it is ordered to, and tends toward, another.(137)

Both the mode and order referred to in this consideration of a being's goodness, and contrariwise the evil which might deprive a being of its due mode and order, parallel the earlier divisions of the accidental perfections according to a being and the actions flowing therefrom. These latter actions necessarily will be measured by the material around which its operations center as well as by the limitations of the active powers of the agent operating. What has been said above concerning these particular aspects of a being as a subject of evil might be applied here.(138)

Paralleling this consideration of the good of being consisting in species, mode, and order, is Thomas' treatment of the good of nature, of natural inclination, and of virtue, and of their respective corruptions or evils. He writes that the good of man consists in the very principles of nature, from which nature is constituted, as well as in the properties caused from these principles, namely, the powers of the soul.(139) Secondly, its good consists in the inclination to virtue resulting from man's nature.(140) Finally, there is the good of virtue itself.(141) Evil will necessarily involve a diminution or even destruction of certain of these goods.

Aquinas maintains that the good of nature itself cannot be diminished or destroyed by evil.(142) This corresponds to his denial that the species in which good essentially consists, or the substance itself with its radical potencies, can be corrupted by evil: although the good of natural inclination can be diminished, it cannot be destroyed by evil. This impossibility of total corruption by evil results from the fact that the natural inclinations of a being are rooted in its very nature. Thus, Thomas concludes in this regard: "From the very fact that a thing becomes inclined to one of two contraries, its inclination to the other contrary must needs be diminished."(143)

As regards the good of virtue itself, Aquinas obviously would say that it can be both diminished and even entirely destroyed by evil, which is its contrary. In a parallel passage in the Summa Theologica he summarizes the entire matter in the following words:

Evil cannot wholly consume good. To prove this we must consider that good is threefold. One kind of good is wholly destroyed by evil, and this is the good opposed to the evil. . . . Another kind of good is neither wholly destroyed nor diminished by evil, and that is the good which is the subject of evil. . . . And there is also a kind of good which is diminished by evil, but is not wholly taken away; and this good is the aptitude of a subject to some actuality.(144)


Having discussed the nature and division of evil in general we are now in position to appreciate the exact nature and malice of moral evil as viewed from a teleological metaphysics. In the remaining pages of this chapter the nature of moral evil, or what Thomas calls "evil of fault," will be explained and in so doing the way for the consideration of the causality involved therein will have been immediately paved.

Aquinas begins to define the precise nature of moral evil by distinguishing evil, sin, and fault.(145) First, the difference between these three notions and that of defect or simple negation should be recalled.(146) This notion of mere defect or simple negation has been adequately treated in the first section of this chapter; here there need be noted only the importance of this in relation to further consideration of the defective causality involved in a morally evil act. Secondly, he proceeds to redefine evil as a particular negation of a requisite perfection in a subject, the absence of a good due to a particular object. Finally, sin in general is the absence of a due good or due proportion in action. The latter more precisely is seen to fall in its achieving its due end by reason of the absence of species, mode, and order.

Since the term "sin" includes any inordinate action, it may refer to works of nature. Thus one can speak of a "sin of nature," for example, a deformed animal, which results from a deviation from the rule or measure of natural things, namely, their natural inclinations as proceeding according to measure from their form. There is also the "sin" proper to works of art wherein the rule or measure is the intention of the maker or artist; thus, a poorly effected statue is a "sin of art." Finally, "sin" is applied in its most common signification to the actions of moral agents wherein the rule is the reason of the rational being and deviations from that rule in act are called moral evils. It would be well to quote Aquinas's summary of this matter in view of its relevance to a more exhaustive consideration of sin as action unregulated by its proper rule.

It is therefore intrinsically (per se) of the nature of fault, whether in nature or in art or in morals, that it is opposed to a rule of action. But since a rule of action establishes a mean between too much and too little, it is necessary that one rule forbid and another prescribe.(147)

Moreover, although sin connotes in an action both deviation from a rule and measure and departure from its proper end, it can be said that Thomas recognizes that "it is more of the nature of sin to pass over the rule of action than ever to fall short of the end of the act."(148) He thereby lays the foundation for his later consideration of the exact nature of moral evil, which will be an action with a defect of the non-consideration of the rule of reason.

It might be objected that the deficient action of the artist or craftsman should be considered a voluntary action and, therefore, a sin of moral action. However, we must distinguish such an action insofar as it deviates from the intention of the maker as an artist and insofar as it would deviate from the rule of reason and law. In the first instance it is a sin of art, whereas that same action viewed according to the dictates of reason and law might be morally evil as well. It is only insofar as an action is voluntary, that is, one proceeding from an intrinsic principle with knowledge of the end, which means the relation between a free act and its ultimate end according to the measure of human nature, that an action can be said to be a moral evil. Such a consideration brings out the relative character of such an act. Thomas gives this peculiar type of action, the name of "fault" (culpa). Thus moral evil, fault, and sin as voluntary action all mean the same thing in general, although each connotes a particular aspect of evil.(149) In the study they will be used indiscriminately, as with Thomas who remarked in passing: "In such like actions (human actions), evil, sin, and guilt are one and the same thing."(150)

A few final remarks must be made with regard to the notion of sin insofar as it pertains to a natural ethics, that is, inasmuch as the action is to be used in a philosophical approach to the problem of moral evil. Thomas remarks that "the theologian considers sin chiefly as an offense against God, while the moral philosopher (considers sin) as something contrary to reason."(151) Obviously, it is in this latter manner that sin will be treated in the present study, and more precisely from the aspect of an action performed without consideration of its rule or measure. The divine law, insofar as this philosophical study is concerned, is proximately reflected in the practical reason of the rational being, that is, in its conscience interpreting human nature in its essential and integral parts and ontological relationships in view of its ultimate end.

Thus, the expression "the divine law" is to be understood as the eternal law guiding reason through the work of natural reason and what is called "the natural law." In no sense does it refer in the present study to the supernaturally revealed positive law, except insofar as the latter is known also by reason. It is not a matter of denying the existence of such a law, but of prescinding from its consideration. In so doing one not only remains true to his philosophical method of inquiry, which is, namely, by the light of reason alone, but indirectly vindicates the rational basis for the supernatural law by establishing the natural law from reason unaided by faith. Theologically, the question as to whether man can commit a sin purely against reason in the present economy and not against the supernatural order would be answered in the negative.(152)

The chief purpose of the following considerations concerning the nature of moral evil is to determine that precise formality in the sinful act which has the will as its deficient cause. As shall presently be seen, that precise formality will be the privation infecting human action, insofar as this action is morally deprived of its due order and end. However, this privation cannot be considered in a totally abstract way; it must be seen as concretized in the voluntary act. In the words of Cajetan cited above, it must be seen as a "formal removal" of that perfection which the act ought to have, insofar as it proceeds from a voluntary principle with a knowledge of the end. Moreover, it must be viewed concretely in its physical context of a will tending toward some particular good, and yet not regulated by the rule of reason and law in its appetition. Finally, the ultimate root of the privative character of the act must be provided by law, so that the privation concretely realized in the act itself will be seen as the result of nonaction in the first moment of the will's causality.

In order to accomplish the above, the following points might be respectively considered: the formal and material elements in every sinful action; the specification of the human act as an evil act; the moral specification of the human act in terms of the rule of reason and law; and, finally, the specific consideration of the aversive and conversive elements in every sin. Each of these aspects of the morally evil action contributes to a richer understanding of the nature of moral evil in the synthesis of Thomas and prepares the way for an application of his metaphysics of causality to the same.

The first two of the above considerations, namely, the formal and material elements in the sinful act and its specification involve what has proved to be a very moot question,(153) usually referred to as the question of the "formal constituent of a sin of commission."(154) However, for the purpose of the present investigation it seems best to isolate these two related, but distinct, elements and to consider each separately. One pressing reason for this is that much of the controversy and confusion that reigns in this matter is due to the identification and confusion of these elements. Even James Maloney in his very fine work referred to above seems to contrast at times the opinions of various authors as though in a particular instance they were discussing the same thing, when in reality it seems that one is speaking about the first of the two notions, namely, the formal and material elements of a sin, while the other is speaking about the second, that is, the specification of the sin. There results the impression that even Thomas had at one time identified the formal constituent of a sin as the privation in the sinful action, and at another time had held it to be the object toward which the will tended in its sinful appetition. As will be seen, however, Aquinas never confused these two aspects of the question of moral evil and found a place for both in defining the precise character of sinful action. The two elements of the formality constituting sin and the specification of sinful action, therefore, will be treated respectively in this study.

Thomas set forth these two aspects of the question of the formality constituting sinful action in the following terms: "Every sin, from the very fact that it is an evil consists in the corrupting or privation of some good: while insofar as it is voluntary it consists in the desire of some apparent good."(155) There is then obviously a distinction between the privative and voluntary character of the sinful action. The former consists in a privation of good, while the latter in an appetition of some particular end. The one looks to a lack of being and goodness, while the other, insofar as it is being in second act, to a specific degree of each. It might be stated that sin can be regarded as both evil action, wherein sin formally consists in the privation of due order of the act to its end, and as evil action, that is, as a voluntary act that is evil due to its contrariety to the good.

The first of these two aspects of the sinful action, namely, the evil character of the action, regards the privation or corruption as the formal element in the sinful act; the converse element, that is, the appetition of a mutable good, regards privation as the material element in that sin.(156) In other words, when one considers sin from the aspect of its being an evil, it is obviously necessary to understand the privation of the due good as that element in the action which renders it specifically an evil action. It is the emphasis on the evil nature of the act that moves Aquinas to designate the privation and corruption as that which constitutes it formally as an evil. This has been the teaching of Thomas throughout his exposition of the nature and divisions of evil in general. In this regard Aquinas follows the lead of Augustine, whom he approvingly quotes in the following words:

Augustine includes two things in the definition of sin; one, pertaining to the substance of a human act, and which is the matter, so to speak, of sin, when he says word, deed, or desire; the other, pertaining to the nature of evil, which is the form, as it were, of sin, when he says, contrary to the eternal law."(157)

Thomas brings out this important distinction between the human act considered in itself and the formality of evil as found in that act. Each of these constitutes an essential aspect of the sinful act, but each must be viewed distinctly if one is to appreciate the various statements of Aquinas. In the De Malo he notes: "In sin it is necessary to consider not only the deformity itself but also the act underlying the deformity"(158) It is this deformity, however, that one must consider if one is to inquire regarding the formality which constitutes an act as evil. The privation in this instance is the formal element in sin according to Thomas. The substance of the human act itself stands as the material in which the deformity is found. By depriving the human act of its due "mode, species, and order" the privation formally constitutes that action as sinful, that is, as an evil action.(159)

On the other hand, it is not enough to consider the mere formality which constitutes the "evil" of sinful action, since, in the words of Thomas, sin is not merely deformity but is also an act. He writes: The nature of fault and moral evil is completed according as the act of the will accedes to it, and thus the evil of fault is found in a complete manner in the act of the will.(160) In fact, as was seen in the consideration of evil as a privation, it is in the very subject, wherein evil inheres, that the "formal removal" is effected. Without this concrete realization of the privation in a subject, which subject is being and goodness, the privation becomes a mere abstract notion. Thus, in order to have a completed appreciation of sin it is necessary to consider the voluntary aspect of the sinful act, which involves the issue of the formal specification of sin as an evil action.

Thomas defines sin as nothing other than an evil human act and goes on to remark that it is considered a human act from the fact that it is voluntary.(161) As voluntary, the sinful action can be an elicited act or one commanded by the will, but in either case as a human action it proceeds from a "deliberated will."(162) It is an act of desire on the part of the will for a particular good following upon the deliberation of reason. That which constitutes the sinful action to be a particular species of act will be the same reality, then, that renders any act, as an act, specific and distinct in itself. Its voluntary character will never give way to its privative character in determining the particular species of action that it is, although the privation involved in such action will be an essential element in constituting a sin, as already has been explained above. Privation, as such, however, could never establish a basis for the specification of act or the distinction among various types of actions.

Thus, besides the privative aspect of a sinful action which formally constitutes the act as evil, there is a positive aspect. This latter looks to the conversion of the will toward a particular good. L. Billot explains it well when he writes:

Moral evil is said to be something positive, not indeed in regard to that which formally causes the formality of evil, for this is privation. Nor even insofar as the subject holds itself merely materially to the privation, because in this way every evil, both in moral matters and in natural things, posits something positive. But, it is positive insofar as it is that with which the privation is combined, namely, insofar as it is a free choice of a particular good, which has privation of the order of justice so conjoined (to it) that it exists as being of the formality of this privation.(163)

In this a further step has been taken in the understanding of the precise formality of the sinful action. As Billot points out, one is not treating merely of the former distinction between formal and material elements in a sin, as was the case in regard to its formally evil character. Rather it is a question of the concrete realization of that formality in the evil action as tending toward a good contrary to the rule of reason and divine law. This views the sinful action precisely as an action deprived of due order and end, an act that actually departs from its rule.

One finds the same observation in Thomas in the De Malo wherein he distinguishes a "pure" privation from a "non-pure" one.(164) The former privation leaves nothing of its contrary remaining, for example, darkness totally removes light, while the latter type of privation leaves something of its contrary. He notes that this is true in evil matters, which are the concern of the present study. Aquinas further characterizes the pure privation as corruptive of the very being wherein the contrary is completely removed. That which is positive in the remaining subject is not of the formality of privation, nor with regard to such privations does it matter from whatever cause or in whatever way they might come about.

As regards the non-pure privation, Thomas further describes it as a privation that is becoming and is on the way to corruption. It is what has been spoken of in the previous section as actual privation, which Cajetan called the "formal removal" of the due perfection; in the preceding text Billot describes this as the positive element in the privative conversion. It is not merely a privation, but includes the note of contrariety, since it retains something of the opposite habit, namely, the tendency of the act to its object. In the sin of commission, therefore, there remains something positive in the very privative aspect of the sinful action, namely, the order of reason. This latter, Thomas affirms, is not completely destroyed. For example, if one eats when one ought not to eat, he or she still might be eating where he or she ought to. In other words, the act always retains some order to reason or it would not be done at all. Aquinas concludes: "Evil, if it is complete, becomes unbearable and destroys even itself."(165)

This brings us to the further consideration of the reality from which the sinful action receives its species. Thomas develops his teaching concerning the specification of sin along the following lines as found in the Summa Theologica.(166) He argues that in a sin two things are present: the voluntary act and its deordination. The latter is the recession of the will from the law of God and from reason according to which human action should be regulated. This withdrawal from the rule of human action pertains only accidentally to the wrongdoer, insofar as his will is directed not to the recession as such but rather to the particular good which he seeks. Thus, it is the actual turning toward a particular good that pertains directly to the evildoer. If this were not true, Thomas says, the will would be seeking evil as such, which is contrary to its natural inclination to the good.

However, the argument continues, each thing is said to attain its species according to that which relates to it essentially and not that which is only accidental to it. In fact, this latter is considered outside the formality of species altogether. Therefore, Aquinas concludes that sins are to be distinguished according to their voluntary character, rather than on the basis of the deordination existing in the act. Moreover, this deordination pertains to the species of the sinful act only as a consequence following upon the will's turning toward a particular good. This is not to be considered a specific difference in regard to the sinful action.

Thus, like any other action, the sinful act receives its species from the object toward which it tends. However, it is obvious that, in the case of human action, this cannot be a matter of the merely physical act, which from the viewpoint of the evil character of the act is the subject wherein the privation resides. It is necessarily the "moral object" of the act, that is, the physical object or particular physical good toward which the appetite tends in its relation to reason and law. In the words of Vermeersch it is "whatever is proposed to the will by the intellect" or "what is presented to be embraced or shunned."(167) Such an object includes both the "proximate end" and the "remote end" of the act, namely, both the physical object as such and the circumstances surrounding it, as each of these is related to the faculty proper to man, his reason. In the words of Thomas, it is "the object as it is compared to reason."(168) This relation to reason renders the object a moral object, which follows from the fact that it is the object of a voluntary appetition or deliberate will act.

One finds this teaching about the moral specification of the sinful action in the De Malo,(169) wherein Thomas says that "acts are good or evil insofar as they fall under due or undue matter." Now the matter of the act, as such, is the physical good toward which the will tends, whereas the notion of due and undue has reference to the relation of the particular object, considered both proximately and remotely, to reason.(170) The important thing in this regard is to recognize Thomas' insistence that it is the object as related to the faculty or principle of reason that determines the species of the act, morally considered. He had stated this general principle when he wrote in the body of the article:

Since an act receives its species from the object, the act compared to one active principle will be specified according to one formality of the object, whereas compared to another it will not be so specified.(171)

For instance, to know color and to know sound are diverse acts if referred to the senses, but are not diverse if referred to the intellect, since the latter comprehends all things under the common formalities of being, truth, and goodness. Therefore, if certain objects of human acts have differences according to something directly pertaining to reason, they will be specifically different acts. This is due to their being acts of reason. On the other hand, they will not be specifically distinct acts insofar as they are the acts of some other power. The example offered by Aquinas deals with sexual intercourse. If such be had with a woman who is one's wife or with one who is not, there is no specific difference, insofar as these acts are related to the generative or concupiscible powers. But there is a specific difference when these acts are compared to reason: the one is adultery and the other is not.(172) Therefore, the object which specifies the moral action is not merely the object considered in itself and with its accompanying physical circumstances, but rather it is that object, both proximately and remotely considered, in its relation to reason. This entire question will be developed in the fifth chapter of the study when the rules of reason and divine law are explicitly treated.

The above distinction of objects has been aptly summarized by F. Merkelbach under three headings: the formal proximate object, namely, the moral object specifying the act as good or evil; the material object, which is the object physically considered toward which the will tends; and the formal ultimate object, which is the perfect good.(173) This latter object, as such, is beyond the scope of the point under consideration, but is implied in the notions of recession from the end and departure from the rule of divine law.

One might conclude these considerations of the aversive or privative aspect and the conversive, or positive, aspect of the sinful act with the summary afforded by the Salmanticenses.(174) These commentators on Thomas find in every sin four elements, each of which has been treated explicitly or implicitly above: a) the conversion to a mutable good as it is in itself, which has been identified above as the physical object and its physical circumstances; b) the conversion to the same object as opposed to reason, the principle proper to man, which object has been called the moral object, insofar as it ought to be regulated by its twofold rule of reason and divine law; c) the contrary aversion, which is the turning away from the ultimate as implied in the will's turning toward a mutable good without the direction of its rule; and d) he privative aversion, which is the actual aversion of the will from its ultimate end.

Thomas incorporates these various elements in his description of sinful action when he writes in the Summa Theologica: "The intention of the sinner is not directed to the point of straying from the path of reason; rather is it directed to tend to some appetible good whence it derives its species."(175) In the third article of the same question he states: "From the very fact that man turns unduly to some mutable good, it follows that he turns away from the immutable Good, which aversion completes the nature of evil."(176)

As a final consideration in this chapter, it would be well to apply the doctrine of Thomas on evil in general and specifically, moral evil, to the order of the universe. It has been mentioned more than once that in investigating the metaphysics of evil as related to the human will, one must constantly keep before one's eyes the correlative doctrine of Aquinas on the ultimate purpose of creation, especially as regards the rational creature. Only in this light can moral evil be seen as the one thing that has no place in an ordered universe.

If the good is the principle of order in the universe, that which is opposed to the good must be said to be the principle of disorder. However, in a corruptible universe perfection requires an inequality among creatures, if that finite universe is to mirror in any adequate way the divine perfection.(177) Hence, there results a gradation of defectible beings(178) which at times actually will defect.(179) As has already been noted, this is particularly evident in the realm of physical evil or evil of nature, wherein one nature, good in itself, effects evil on another by its action.(180) However, Thomas remarks that in such a case only a particular order is upset.(181) Therefore, in this matter our judgment must be directed toward the universal good, and this particular evil must not be viewed in any absolute sense.(182)

Aquinas observes that evil in general is of less frequent occurrence than is the good, since physical evil is confined to generable and corruptible being, which is only a small part of the universe. In each species, moveover, defects are the exception rather than the rule. However, he notes with an almost embarrassed attitude, that only in man does evil seem to predominate. Though the good of man is not of the sensual, but the rational order, yet more men follow the former than the latter.(183) This is due to many factors which shall be studied in detail in the following pages from the viewpoint of their ultimate causes.

Contrary to physical evil, moral evil in itself does totally exclude the order of the universe relative to divine goodness.(184) The reason for the latter, as we have seen, is that sin alone turns the creature away from the ultimate end. In fact, by turning to a mutable good contrary to the rule of reason and law the creature sets himself up as a quasi-ultimate end of his own action. Sin, however, does not lie completely outside divine governance.(185) By the infinite wisdom good can be drawn even from moral evil, although the latter is not accidentally willed for this purpose.(186)

As was noted previously, special consideration must be given to any evil befalling a rational creature. The reason for this is that the ultimate happiness and perfection of that creature is the "raison d'être" of the universal order as reflective of divine goodness and wisdom. In such a realm even the evil of nature takes on the special significance of punishment to indicate its undue character and its being a result of previous fault. In all this the peculiar character of moral evil is highlighted which demandes a further investigation of this question in terms of its causality.



To follow the lead of Aquinas in his study of the question of evil, one should next consider the origin of evil. Thomas writes in his Commentary on the Divine Names: "The order of the questions is apparent: first, what evil is must be inquired into and afterwards, whence evil has arisen."(187) Aquinas then proceeds to propose a dilemma regarding its origin in terms of whether God is its cause or whether it has another cause apart from the universal causality of the First Cause. If the first alternative were correct, Goodness itself would then be the cause as evil, which seems a kind of oxymoron. On the other hand, if it exists apart from His causality, the fundamental principles of metaphysics seem violated. At any rate, in posing such a dilemma Aquinas wishes to point to the unique type of causality responsible for the existence of evil. In the previous chapter it was shown that, concretely considered, evil enjoyed a certain reality, and as such must be accounted for in terms of a cause. However, inasmuch as evil is a privation existing in a particular good, this cause will have to explain both the privation and its subject. It will have to establish both the positive aspect of the being which suffers the evil and the defective character of the evil itself.

In order to highlight this twofold aspect in the question of the causality of evil it has been thought necessary to preface its explicit treatment with a brief consideration of Thomas' doctrine on causality in general. In so doing the positive aspect of causality will be foremost, insofar as it is seen as transcendentally related to being itself. Each of the four causes, and especially the efficient cause, will be considered precisely as contributors and modifiers of being. Against such a background the defective character of evil will be manifest and its proper causality can be better appreciated.


One might begin this consideration of the notion of cause as related to being by noting the advancement made by Thomas over the thought of Aristotle as regards the distinction between a principle and a cause. It is precisely viewing causality as an influx of being that enabled Aquinas to distinguish these two notions. Aristotle had regarded the notions of principle and cause as hardly distinguishable. In one place he writes: "The causes and the principles then (of the material body) are three,"(188) and in still another place, "causes are spoken of in an equal number of senses; for all causes are beginnings."(189) In the first of these quotations causes are explicitly equated with principles, while in the second the Stagirite fails to add, as Thomas will not fail to do, that not all principles are causes. Aristotle merely understands principle in a broader sense than he does cause, without, however, pointing out that precise formality which distinguishes the two. In fact, he proceeds to parallel the various meanings of principle with that of cause, but always in terms of essence and change.(190)

Thomas, on the other hand, is quick to note in his commentary on this section of Aristotle's Metaphysics the need for a distinction between the two notions. He comments in this regard:

For something is a principle which is not a cause. . . . This name principle imports a certain order; but this name cause imports a certain influx into the being of the thing caused.(191)

What distinguishes the two notions is the positive contribution on the part of the cause to the being caused, whereas in his Commentary on the Sentences Aquinas explicitly says that the principle has no influence on the being (esse) of the principatum.(192) He makes this same distinction in terms of being and becoming in the Commentary on the Physics where he defines causes as things "on which some things depend according to their being or becoming."(193) In all of this Thomas is insisting on the positive character of causality, insofar as it is a communication or modification of being.

Along the same lines he corrects Aristotle's apparent inconsistency in regarding privation as a type of cause or principle of being. Aristotle had written: "The causes and the principles, then, are three, two being the pair of contraries of which one is definition and form and the other is privation, and the third being the matter."(194) Aquinas, on the other hand, in his correction notes that privations can be considered as constituents of being only accidentally, insofar as the matter to which they are annexed is a constituent of material being.(195) The reason for this correction is not difficult to discover. Again, Thomas sees cause as correlative with being: only that which is, and to the degree that it is, can cause anything. He writes: "Nothing can be a cause except inasmuch as it is a being,"(196) and "Something is not a cause through the fact that it is deficient, but through the fact that it is being."(197) By isolating this formality of cause as an influx of being into the caused reality Thomas succeeded not only in avoiding the certain lack of preciseness found in Aristotle, but has furnished himself with the tool that will enable him to appreciate the specific contribution of each of the four causes to reality.

A third and final precision is accomplished by Thomas by centering his metaphysics on being insofar as it is or exists, namely, according to the distinction between predicamental and transcendental reality. At first Aquinas seems to have accepted his notion of cause from the Greek philosophers, especially from Aristotle, with a certain characteristic docility. However, through a more penetrating study of the texts, one soon finds that, without rejecting any of the classifications and definitions proposed by the Stagirite in terms of causality, he does not incorporate them without reservation into his metaphysics.

As noted above, without contradicting he takes exception to Aristotle both in regard to the notion of principle in contradistinction to cause and in regard to privation in contrast to being. Each of these precisions was effected through a concentration on the act of existing as the ultimate source of cause. In Aristotle, the classification of the causes itself emphasizes his essentialistic approach to the subject. It limits the question of the causes to the categories, to the realm of the predicamental. It does this by relating causes to change, and not to being as such. This is true even with regard to his treatment of the material and formal causes which directly concern essence. In contrast, Thomas manages to see them in terms of "esse," insofar as it is through them that the being receives its act of existence.

However, when one considers the most existential or transcendental of the causes, namely, the efficient cause, the essentialism of the Stagirite becomes even more evident. He defines efficient causality in terms of "moving cause," and thereby, reads into the very definition limitations found in its realizations in finite being.(198) This same essentialistic approach is found in his entire treatment of causality precisely because Aristotle had taken for granted the being of finite reality and concentrated solely upon their essences and correlative changes.

Aquinas, on the other hand, due to his appreciating the act of being to be the "act of all acts," and the "perfection of all perfections," defines causality in terms of its relation to being. He writes: "The name Cause imports a certain influx into the being of the thing caused."(199) It is not just an influx into the changing elements of the being's essence, but in some way it is related to the effect's being as existence, either as an actual conferring of being itself or as a modification of the same. Thus, for Thomas causality is an aspect of being itself, accompanying being wherever it is to be found in terms of second act as related to first act. The latter is attained by observing the effect of the being's operation, but in the mind of Aquinas that operation is the best interpreter and expression of the being itself.(200)

The importance of all this as related to the present investigation is to emphasize the positive character of causality in order to be in a better position to appreciate the deficient causality involved in evil. But such an appreciation is possible only in terms of relating causality to being, and in this instance, of detailing the distinction between predicamental and transcendental causality by means of this existential emphasis. It is this emphasis that allowed Thomas to limit the causality of finite causes to the order of modifying being or conferring a new type of being, while he saw the causality proper to God (efficient and final) as a communication of being itself. He writes in the De Potentia:

All the created causes communicate in one effect, which is being, although every one of them has its proper effect, and this distinguishes it from the others. . . . These causes agree in that they all similarly cause being, but they differ in that fire causes fire and the builder causes a house. There must therefore be a cause higher than all the causes, a cause because of which they themselves cause being, and of which being is the proper effect. This cause is God.(201)

The "proper effect" in the above citation is in the case of finite causes a new type or form of existence, while the "proper effect" assigned to the Infinite Cause is being itself. No creature can cause being as such, but only a modification of being. No creature can call into existence another in the totality of its being, only that being which enjoys being as such by nature can do so. As Thomas' thought matured in this matter, he denied to finite being even the instrumental share in this creative operation which he had admitted earlier in his career.(202) Thus, Thomas distinguished predicamental or finite efficiency from transcendental efficiency as such, which was accomplished only by centering his metaphysics on the most ultimate of acts, existence itself.

Among the more eminent authorities on this question, Cornelio Fabro stands out as possibly the most articulate and erudite. In his masterful work, Participation et Causalité, he maintains that the solution to the problem of distinguishing predicamental from transcendental causality, as accomplished by Thomas, is partly to be found in the natural causality proposed by Aristotle and partly in the intensive notion of "to be," as expounded by Aquinas.(203) It can be solved only in terms of the appreciation of the composition of essence and existence, wherein finite being is seen as depending totally on the Infinite in the order of existence. This insight and emphasis enabled Thomas to advance beyond the thought of Aristotle and to set forth the transcendental character of causality in terms of the "communication of being," either in terms of modifying existing being or of effecting being as such in its total reality. To quote but one contemporary Thomist:

Thus the doctrine of causality in Thomas is a truly metaphysical one, concerned ultimately with being simply as existing, abstracted from change, and not merely with a strictly physical doctrine considering only the changes in the essence of beings whose existence is assumed (as in Aristotle). Nothing emphasizes more the contrast between the essentialism of Aristotle's metaphysics and the existentialism of Thomas than their respective treatments of the doctrine of causality.(204)


In the previous chapter it was established that evil as such was neither a nature nor a thing of any kind, but a privation which is a type of non-being. However, it was pointed out that this non-being was not a mere negation, but rather a positive absence of due being and required goodness in the subject to which it was annexed. It was specifically identified as a "formal removal" of being and goodness. Should one consider this peculiar type of existence in relation to Thomas' doctrine on causality, as expounded in the previous pages, it would appear at first to imply the following. Since cause is an influx of being into the thing caused and since evil is an absence of being, it would seem that evil as such would have no cause nor could it be a cause in the ordinary manner of causality. However, such a conclusion would be only partially correct and would not adequately represent the thought of Aquinas.

Thomas discusses this problem of the relation of causality and privation in his Commentary on the Divine Names.(205) There he agrees with Dionysius that it is true that evil, insofar as it is evil, causes neither substance nor generation, but only evil and the corruption of existing things. Moreover, to the objection that evil must be a cause for it is from the corruption of one thing that the generation of another takes place, he answers that corruption does not beget generation but only corrupts; evil produces only in an evil manner. In other words, Thomas insists that, insofar as a thing is evil, it can cause only evil or privation; yet, in a sense, this is to effect nothing. However, its non-being is only one side of the character of evil. One must remember that it is not a mere negation but a privation, and as a privation, it demands something to effect it in reality. Thomas salvages this aspect of evil's causality in the following words:

Evil according to itself is corruptive, but generative only accidentally, namely, on account of the good. Furthermore, it follows that evil is neither existing nor effective of existing things, except accidentally, namely on account of the good annexed to it.(206)

This same distinction is brought out by Thomas in the De Malo when discussing the relation of evil as a privation to causality.(207) There he distinguishes evil taken in an abstract sense, namely, evil itself, from evil taken in a relative sense as a good corruptive of another. The former aspect of evil gives rise to a formal type of corruption, as blindness is said to corrupt sight. This, according to Aquinas, is effected "not by acting but by not acting." In other words, evil as such is said to corrupt the contrary good through a defect of active power. Relative evil, on the other hand, corrupts actively according to its active power. An example of this would be fire corrupting the form of water. Thomas succinctly summarizes this twofold causality of evil when he writes:

To corrupt after the manner of a formal cause is not to move or to act but to be corrupt; but to corrupt actively is to move and to act, in such a way however that whatever is there of action or motion pertains to the power of good, but what is there of defect pertains to evil.(208)

Again, it must be insisted that Aquinas is claiming that evil as privation cannot be a cause, since by definition privation is non-being while causality is an influx of being. The two are mutually exclusive. However, as a privation rooted in the good, evil can be said to cause corruption, insofar as it accidentally effects evil through the motion and action of the good.

As regards Thomas' development of this notion in the Commentary on the Divine Names, which has been discussed above, a final observation is to be made. He mentions there that what has been said about evil as a privation causing only corruption is true both in the natural and moral orders. He offers the example of fire generating fire and corrupting in turn the air. In such a case the form of fire, which pertains to the good, is annexed to the privation of the form of air, which pertains to evil. He then remarks that "the fire generates fire not from the fact that it lacks the form of air, but from the fact that it has the form of fire."(209)

On the other hand, it corrupts the form of air only because the privation of such a form is joined to the advent of the form of fire. Thus, it is not the privation as such that is the effect of the form of fire, rather privation occurs only as an effect accidental to the advent of the good. The same is true in the moral order as illustrated by Aquinas in terms of adultery. The latter, he argues, corrupts virtue insofar as it lacks due order, which lack pertains to evil. However, insofar as it is a delectable good, it delights and effects many good things, all of which pertain to the formality of good. Again, it is moral evil as a privation that causes privation, but insofar as it is rooted in the good it effects other good things. Thomas sums up his thought in this regard in the following way:

Whence when it is said that evil does not generate insofar as it is evil, but insofar as it is good, it is not a distinction according to reason only, namely, as if one thing according to one formality was good and according to another evil. But it is one according to the thing, namely, according to the fact that one and the same thing, insofar as it has being, is good, but insofar as it is deprived of due perfection, it is evil.(210)

Again, one notes the insistence of Aquinas on the relation between causality and being and contrariwise on the relation between privation and its noneffective character. It is due only to its being rooted in the good that privation can be said to cause in any way whatsoever. It does so in an accidental manner insofar as the good effects further goodness and perfection, although being defective it in turn effects being with defect in an accidental manner. Therefore, privation as such neither is the resultant of the causality of being nor is it effective of the same. Its total relation to causality is through the good to which it is conjoined and in which it is subjected. Thomas thus concludes:

If evil is not simply speaking a power, it follows that evil itself . . . (should it be taken for the essence of evil) . . . is neither an existing thing, nor a good, nor does it effect generation, nor is it effective of existing things and of good things; but the thing which is evil, insofar as it has something of good, is the existing thing and is productive of generation and effective of good things.(211)


Such a line of argument necessarily brings one to the conclusion that the good must be the cause of evil. This is the repeated teaching of Thomas and enables him to account for the existence of evil without compromising his metaphysics of causality as being the influx of being.(212) He writes: "Good is the cause of evil in that way in which evil can have a cause."(213) Underlying this assertion of the good being the cause of evil are certain basic Thomistic principles, which should be noted from the start and which both highlight the existential aspect of his theory of causality and demonstrate the deficient character of evil itself. The first of these principles is that "every being is good," in other words, the transcendental convertibility of being and goodness. Secondly, "every agent acts insofar as it is in act." That is to say, to the degree that an agent exists it will be capable of communicating being. Thirdly, "every agent acts on account of the good." This principle is a correlative and a consequent of the above principles in that every agent seeks being in his action, which being is appetible insofar as it enjoys the formality of the good. Finally, "every agent in its action produces that similar to itself," namely, being and goodness.

The most direct statement made by Thomas concerning the good as the cause of evil is to found in the Summa Theologica.(214) He argues there that evil must have some cause, since it in some way exists, namely, insofar as it is the defect of a good which a particular being ought to have and which is natural to it. Now such a deficiency of natural disposition can be accounted for only in terms of some cause. However, to be a cause pertains only to the good, insofar as nothing can be a cause except that it be a being, and every being is itself good. The good then must be said to be the cause of evil. This is the most basic argument that runs through all of Thomas' other considerations of this matter. It reduces the whole question of the causality of evil to its ontological roots in being and the good. It faces squarely the reality of evil as a formal removal of being and goodness without compromising its character as non-being and deficient good. It affords the principles for explaining the causality of evil.

With this basic line of argument in mind one can proceed to analyze the other arguments of Thomas, among which is that found in the De Potentia.(215) There Aquinas, when discussing the various theories about the principle of creation in terms of the diversities found among creatures, offers three proofs to show that there can be only one principle of all contraries, even of good and evil. First, he argues that in diverse things, wherein there is found something in common, it is necessary to reduce this diversity to a common principle or cause. Now all contraries communicate in some thing, either in species or genus or at least in being; otherwise, they would not be contraries. Assuming being to be the most common thing shared by all beings, even contrary beings, Thomas concludes that there must be a common principle of all, which is the cause of being. He then recalls that being, insofar as it is such, is good; hence, the good ultimately is the cause of all things, even of evil.

Secondly, he maintains that every agent acts insofar as it is in act and consequently insofar as it is perfect. But evil as such is not in act, since a thing is said to be evil insofar as it is deprived of its proper and due actuality. On the other hand, that which is in act is good. Therefore, nothing acts insofar as it is evil, but insofar as it is good.

Finally, Thomas argues from the order in nature: if diverse beings were not to be reduced to one common principle, they would enter into an order only accidentally. However, from experience one notes that all things, corruptible and incorruptible, spiritual and corporeal, perfect and imperfect, concur into one order. Therefore, appeal must be made to some one principle in order to reduce all to order and unity, both of which are properties of the good.

The same argument from the contrariety of beings is used by Aquinas in the Summa Contra Gentes with a slightly different emphasis.(216) There he points out that a contrariety of agents would not account for the distinction found in things; this is especially true concerning good and evil. It is, however, impossible that there should be a first principle of evil. As things that exist by reason of another must be referred to another existent that exists of itself, it follows that there would have to be some first active principle of evil itself. However, when one qualifies an existent by the words "of itself," one means "by essence"; and thus there would have to exist an essence that was not good. This, of course, is impossible, since everything that is, is necessarily good, which is proved from the fact that everything loves its own being and desires to preserve it. However, as only the good is desired by all things, evil is not the active principle of evil; rather the good is its active cause.

As a final source for the doctrine of Thomas on the good as the cause of evil, one might turn to the De Malo where he argues from both efficient and final causality.(217) The first argument deals with the intention of the agent. Anything which has an essential cause must be intended by that cause directly, and that which proceeds from the agent beyond this intention cannot have an essential or direct cause. Evil, however, as such, cannot be intended directly, since it has been proved that an appetite seeks only the good directly. It can neither be willed nor desired for itself, but is only indirectly or accidentally intended by the agent. Hence, it finds its cause in the intention of the good.

The second argument states that every effect which has a direct cause bears a likeness to that cause, since every agent acts insofar as it is in act. But act in turn pertains to its degree of being, which in turn is convertible with the good. Hence, evil as such does not bear a likeness to any agent, insofar as the latter is agent. Therefore, its cause must be the good as an accidental cause of evil. Finally, every essential cause has a definite and determined order to its effect, and by definition, that which is done according to order is not evil. On the contrary, it is evil that is defined as a privation of order.

From the above arguments one readily can see that Thomas analyzes the doctrine of the good as cause of evil from every possible aspect. He argues from the nature of efficient and final causality, from the nature of evil itself, and from the order in the universe. He is forced to the conclusion that evil must be caused in some way, which is evident from the very presence of evil in the universe.(218) Here he specifies the precise type of cause as an accidental one. It is evident, he remarks, that evil is not natural to a being, insofar as it is destructive of its natural goodness. However, that which is in another in an unnatural way must have a cause which is accidental to the being, and this is the good. The good alone can cause anything directly, insofar as it is actuality. As active principle, it will cause being which is convertible with the good; therefore, it must cause evil only accidentally. Even if evil itself be said to cause evil, it must be understood in this same way, namely, as a defective good; it directly causes good, but this good is defective due to its cause's deficiency. Thomas states this succinctly: "Good causes insofar as it is good and is defective insofar as it is evil."(219)

Aquinas concludes that the good causes evil in a twofold manner, namely, accidentally and deficiently. This is true both in the natural and moral orders, although there is an essential difference between the two as regards deficient power. This difference will be discussed later in this chapter under the heading of deficient causality.


Having identified the good as the cause of evil, Thomas proceeds in the Summa Theologica to demonstrate how evil is specifically related to the four causes.(220) It would be well, then, to state first Aquinas's teaching regarding the relation of the four causes to evil; secondly, to discuss the precise influence of the material, formal, and final causes on being and their specific relation to the "being" of evil; and finally, to treat at length the contribution to being through the action of the efficient cause and its accidental causality in the case of evil. This will provide the necessary background for the final consideration of this chapter concerning the nature of deficient causality.

In the above quotation from the Summa Theologica Thomas first relates the good to the species of causes by remarking that agent, form, and end all imply a certain perfection, which pertains to the formality of the good itself. Even matter, insofar as it is in potency to the good, possesses the formality of good. As such then, each must be considered as a possible cause of evil; or better, the good should be considered as a possible cause of evil after the manner of an efficient, final, formal, and material cause. He writes in this regard:

That good is the cause of evil by way of the material cause was shown above. For it was shown that good is the subject of evil. But evil has no formal cause, rather is it a privation of form; likewise, neither has it a final cause, but rather is it a privation of order to the proper end; since not only the end has the nature of good, but also the useful, which is ordered to the end. Evil, however, has a cause by way of an agent, not directly, but accidentally.(221)

In order to appreciate better the reasoning behind Aquinas's delineation of the four causes and their respective relations to evil, it would be well to detail briefly the various contributions of the material, formal, and final causes to being and thus see the intrinsic reasoning which led Thomas to maintain that only the material cause among these three could be considered as cause of evil. The efficient cause as related to evil will be treated separately due to its particular relevance to this study. In so doing, the intent is to emphasize Thomas' insistence on the positive character of causality in terms of the causes' contribution to being. It is this formality that allows him to determine their relation to evil, which as a privation is caused only accidentally by the good and deficiently by evil.

Thomas writes in regard to the material cause: "It is that from which something comes about and is that which `exists-in'."(222) By so defining the material cause Thomas designates it as the subject from which something comes to be in a different way. Moreover, it is that which "exists-in," as distinguished from the formal cause through which matter is said to exist and through which it is known. The material cause then exercises a twofold causality or contribution to the becoming or being of a thing: as regards the substance, it is the subject from which the latter comes; as regards the form itself, it is the recipient and sustainer of its actuality, since the form cannot naturally exist apart from the matter. With this understanding of the material cause, Thomas can say that the good is the material cause of evil, insofar as "the good is the subject of evil."

Since every being seeks its own perfection, the activity of the good, which is the subject of evil, is directed primarily to the maintenance and increase of the good of a being; in fact, it would be repugnant for the good as subject to be primarily a privation of its total perfection or actuality. If this were the case, and evil were said to be the recipient of the direct influx of the subject's principles, it would follow that privation would be natural to the good. It would no longer be an evil, which is by definition the absence of what is natural or due to the particular being. Thus, it is only by reason of the good of the subject that evil can be said to exist or to be subjected in the being. Moreover, it must be recalled in this regard that evil does not corrupt the subject as such, but only its inclinations and the habits contrary to the evil in question.

In this way the good, or what we have previously called "being in potency," is the material cause of evil. It acts as the subject in which the evil resides, not however, in any natural way as does an accident, but as a privation depriving the being of its due perfection. Thomas summarizes it thus:

Evil does not have a subject as though through itself as does an accident, but as a privation of perfection; and therefore, it is not necessary that it be caused through itself from the principles of the subject; but it suffices only that there be required an aptitude or oughtness in the subject.(223)

This question of the exact nature of the good as the subject of evil deserves further consideration. When it is said that being in potency or the good is the material cause or subject of evil, it is not meant that the non-being, which is the privation, is present in the very good that is contrary to it; otherwise, this would involve a contradiction, since the same being would be simultaneously and in the same respect both good and evil. Rather, the privation resides in the total subject and not in the particular contrary as such. As Thomas remarks:

Other kinds of opposition belong to some definite genus, whereas good and evil are common to all genera. Every being as such is good and every privation as such is evil . . . but the subject of a privation need not be white or sweet or endowed with sight, because none of these predicates belongs to being as such. Thus, black is not white, nor blindness in the person who sees; but evil is in good, just as blindness in the sense that it is the subject of sight.(224)

Thus, evil is said to be in the very being insofar as it is in potency to the good to which this evil is contrary; but not in any contradictory sense, as though the contrary good itself were the subject, for instance, as though blindness were present in sight instead of in the defective faculty. In the moral order, then, this privation will not be had in the virtuous act itself, but in the moral act in which it will be found as in its subject deprived of its due species and order.

To return to a point already mentioned, namely, the fact that evil is not said to corrupt the good completely in the sense that the subject of the good would cease to exit, (225) Thomas remarks:

The good is diminished by evil more as a result of the addition of its contrary (insofar as the potency is impeded by a contrary act from being able to proceed to the actuality of the form) than by the subtraction of some of its goodness.(226)

In the natural order such a diminution cannot go on indefinitely, according to Aquinas, since all natural forms and powers are limited; however, in the moral order it can be said to do so, since here it concerns not the powers themselves or the forms but the acts of these powers, whose number is without limit. In fact, Thomas keenly remarks that the more the will tends toward unworthy ends, the greater is its difficulty in returning to a proper and worthy end. He concludes by noting that the good of natural aptitude can be infinitely decreased by moral evil, although it will never be totally destroyed; rather, it will always accompany the nature that endures.(227) In the De Malo he says much the same when he writes: "the good which is a composite of subject and perfection is seriously damaged by evil, inasmuch as the perfection is removed and the subject remains"(228)

The formal intrinsic cause is a correlative and complement of the material cause and is compared to the latter as act to potency. It has a twofold contribution to being: one in regard to the being "in fieri" and the other in regard to the material cause itself. It is said to be the cause of the latter insofar as the matter exists only through the form; on the other hand, it causes the being "in fieri" by specifying the matter to be a determined form of being. Another point stressed by Thomas on the question of the material and formal causes is the simultaneous and mutual causality of the two. This is one of the many instances found in the philosophy of Aristotle and Thomas wherein causes of different genera are causes of one another. In the present instance, it is the matter determining form by limiting it and individualizing it, while at the same time form determines matter, also limiting and specifying it. Each in its own order, as potency and act, simultaneously effect the one composite being.

With these observations in mind it should be noted that the good does not cause evil after the manner of a formal cause. Form connotes a specific actuality or perfection whereas evil by definition is the absence of actuality and perfection. Form is a positive entity and as such, would be a being and thus a good. Such was the force of the remark by Aquinas quoted earlier in this chapter: "that which is in act is good, since according to this, it has perfection and being in which consists the formality of the good."(229) Thomas is even more explicit on the relation of formal causality to the good in the Summa Contra Gentes, where he writes: "Now a form, as such, has the essential character of goodness, because a form is a principle of action."(230) Thus, once again Thomas rules out the possibility of the good being the formal cause of evil, since the latter would then possess actuality and goodness, both contrary to its very definition.

As regards final causality, its common definition is: "That for the sake of which something is done, or that on account of which an agent operates."(231) In such a definition the final cause always has about it the aspect of the good, either real or apparent, and therefore bespeaks a relation of appetite or natural inclination to the good. Without a determined end there would be no action, since every agent would thus be indifferent to act. The influence then of the final cause on being is precisely that of being desired or sought by the efficient cause.(232)

This motion of the final cause is not a physical motion, like that of the efficient cause, but a moral or metaphorical one.(233) In this latter case the appetition is considered as the change occurring in the appetitive faculty, which appetition proceeds from the attracting good.(234) This influx of being, although not physical but metaphorical, is none the less real and actual; in fact, it is so real that without it, as has been said, there would be no physical motion on the part of the agent. Thomas goes so far as to say that it pertains in a certain way to the genus of efficient cause in that it is has the formality of motion by moving the efficient cause to act.(235)

In still another place Aquinas states that it is the very reason why the efficient cause is a cause at all.(236) Through it the efficient cause is brought into perfect actuality insofar as it is reduced into act by the moral action of the final cause attracting it. To quote Thomas: "The efficient cause is prior to the end, since from the efficient cause comes a motion toward the end; but the end is prior to the efficient cause, since the action of the latter is not completed except through the end."(237) In summary, the mutual causality involved in the relation of efficient and final causes implies that no potentially efficient cause would determine itself to act, nor be determined, unless influenced by a final cause orienting it to an end, which is seen as appetible or good. Moreover, the good, which is the end of every action, could never be called a final cause nor exercise its causality unless it were related to the appetite of a being capable of tending in its direction. All of which implies the positive contribution of the final cause to the being effected through the action of the efficient cause.

None of the above is conceivably applicable to the question of the good as a cause of evil after the manner of a final cause. Evil, as non-being, is the very absence of good and order, which are involved in the causality of an end. Evil, as such, could never attract an appetite to seek it for its own sake, since the appetite seeks only the good. Moreover, evil is said never to be intended purely for its own sake, but only as an apparent good. According to Thomas this can happen in two ways: first, if the evil is completely unexpected and unforseen by the agent, in which case it is said to be beyond the intention of the agent; secondly, if evil is foreseen and known to be concomitant to some good result which is directly and primarily willed. Such an evil is said to be beside the intention of the agent. In the latter case the desire for the resultant good must be greater than the desire for the good which is lost, and greater than the fear of the consequent evil.(238) This type of intention will be quite evident in moral actions, since man possesses many natural appetites, each faculty having its own proper object. Hence, reason is called upon to subordinate each to the total good of man and the divine law. The failure to do so in act is moral evil.

Evil, therefore, must be said to imply some type of order to an end. What Thomas denies in regard to evil is order to a due end. Evil is the privation of this type of order. In the moral area, for instance, it must be said that in sinful action what is willed is the relative good, that is, a good in relation to one particular aspect of man's nature. However, such a good is simply evil, if one consider human nature in its totality. Thus, man's will is ordered to the good in the object, for instance, in adultery, to the pleasurable aspect of the action and not to the evil itself. This is either beyond or beside the agent's intention. In other words, evil cannot be said to be an end in the sense of an appetible good directly and simply, but only accidentally, as explained above. What pertains to evil directly is the absence of order to a due end; and hence, the good cannot be considered a cause of evil after the manner of a final cause.

Thus far it has been shown that Thomas rejects the good as both formal and final cause of evil. He has done so by reason of his insistence that the notion of cause implies a positive influence on the very being of the thing caused and that both formal and final causes exercise this influence through formalities which are the very contraries of evil. In other words, both form, implying specification and determination of nature, and end, implying appetibility, are contrary to privation, which is defined as the "privation of form" and the "privation of order to a due end." On the other hand, Thomas has admitted that the good is the material cause of evil insofar as the being in potency can be said to be the subject of the privation, that is, to lack one of its due perfections. Even here, it must be recalled that Thomas insists that such a privation flows from the principles of the subject only accidentally, but not naturally, as one would say of an accident itself.

There remains but to consider the good as a cause of evil through the manner of an efficient cause. The latter has been taken out of the traditional order of causes and has been reserved for later treatment in order to highlight its importance for the present study, and to be able to move directly from its positive consideration into the area of deficient causality, which is fundamental to this investigation.

It is in the notion of efficient causality that Thomas evidences the greatest advancements in thought over that of Aristotle. He accomplishes this in two important ways: first, by establishing the precise formality that defines the efficient cause as an agent; and second, by distinguishing and reconciling the relation of the primary and secondary causes. In the first instance Aquinas manages to thwart the attempts by the Islamic philosophers who denied all finite causality; in the second instance, he lays the basis for a demonstration of the possibility of, and the necessity for, divine creation.

Thomas defines the causality of efficient cause in two ways: first, "production expresses the causality of the efficient cause,"(239) and secondly, "the influence of an efficient cause is to act."(240) Aquinas had taken the term "action" from the metaphysics of Aristotle; but there it had a purely physical character accounting for the motion in the universe and the changes in finite reality. It was never employed by the Stagirite to account for the very existence of these changing beings; always for him it was a question of motion and change. Indeed, Aristotle had placed it among the ten categories as an accidental actualization of his categorized substance. His very definition of efficient causality bears this out: "Efficient cause is that cause which is the first beginning of change or of rest."(241)

As a commentator on Aristotle, Thomas often used this inadequate definition, but recognized its limitations and appreciated its provisional character in his own sweeping metaphysics of efficiency, which would embrace even the action of the Infinite, namely, creation. Thus, he never assigned to the agent cause as such what was only to be found in its finite manifestations as exercised by participated being. He set himself the task of isolating that precise formality which renders a cause an efficient cause as such.

With regard to finite efficiency certain elements are always prerequisites. First, the efficient cause as related to its effect is a source of becoming or change. Second, as related to a subject acted upon, the efficient cause presupposes such a subject; and therefore, its action involves motion and passion. Third, as regards the agent itself, it is presupposed that the latter is in second act, which state of operation necessitated a transition for such an agent from a potentially active state to an actually active one; in other words, there is required actualization of an active potency. Aristotle had read all these obvious limitations into the very notion of efficient causality; but Thomas never did. He did not do so because he was conscious of an action which was neither motion nor change: the action of the Infinite Being.

Thus, Aquinas eliminated from the definition of efficient cause the need for a subject upon which the agent would act, as well as any becoming or motion, strictly so-called.(242) He also recognized that there could be an efficient action wherein there had been no previous actualization of an active power, that is, in the case of an agent which was already totally in act, which is true of the "Ipsum Esse Subsistens." Therefore, Thomas maintained that the only remaining element necessary to verify the notion of efficient action was the emanation or emergence of the effect from the agent. This emanation must be viewed precisely as coming forth from the agent designating the latter as its cause or the source of its new being. Such a notion is truly transcendentally analogous,(243) and can be defined as an emanation or emergence of being through action. It becomes the most perfect index of the actuality of the being exercising it, and thus is a verification of Thomas' constantly repeated principle, which is fundamental to the present study, namely, "a being acts insofar as it is."

One final point might be observed in regard to Thomas' notion of instrumental causality, which is a question of secondary causality. He writes: "All lower efficient causes must be referred to higher ones, as instrumental to principal agents."(244) Such an understanding of instrumental causality takes into account the instrumental cause considered strictly and in its broader connotations. Strictly speaking, instrumental causality occurs when an efficient cause is elevated and applied by a principal agent in order to produce a more perfect effect than that proper to the instrumental cause itself. In fact, where the action of the principal cause is not modified by the instrument, one does not have strict instrumentality. Moreover, in such a case the action of the instrument, insofar as it is an instrument, is not separated from that of the principal cause. Thus, only one and the same effect proceeds from their combined action. Therefore, Thomas can remark:

It is also apparent that the same effect is not attributed to a natural cause and to divine power in such a way that it is partly done by God, and partly by the natural agent; rather, it is wholly done by both, according to a different way, just as the same effect is wholly attributed to the instrument and also wholly to the principal agent.(245)

In a broader sense, however, the instrumental cause is understood to be any cause subordinated to another on which it depends and by which it is moved.(246) Obviously, this subordination must be in terms of action or operation. Such a notion will be of special import in the present study wherein rational volition will bear the imprint both of the primary causality of the First Cause and of the secondary cause. In fact, it will be in terms of the latter that the radical deficiency in the morally evil act will be interpreted. Moreover, Thomas applies this same doctrine: the relation of primary and secondary cause and the need for the subordination of the latter to the former, to the entire question of moral evil. He does this in terms of the will as a secondary cause subordinated to the primary causality of the reason in moral matters. In both these respects this teaching has special relevance to the present study.


Thomas states the relation of the efficient cause to evil in these words: "Evil, however, has a cause by way of an agent, not directly, but accidentally."(247) He then proceeds to develop in this passage the divisions of such accidental efficiency in terms of evil in action and evil in effect. The former looks to evil on the part of the agent, while the latter concerns evil in the thing itself. Evil on the part of the agent results from a deficiency in the principles of action, either on the side of its primary or instrumental cause. This is what Aquinas will refer to as deficient causality: a primary concern for the present study.

On the other hand, there is evil as caused in the thing itself or in the effect produced by the agent's action. This can be considered as arising from three sources: first, it can result from the weakness of the agent, which is reducible to evil in action or deficient causality on the part of the principal or instrumental agent; second, it can come from a defect in the matter which is the recipient of the agent's action; finally, it can be due to the agent's power itself insofar as it effects a formal change in the being on account of the natural instability of matter with respect to form. This is a question of the privation of one form necessarily accompanying the generation of another: it is called by Thomas a "fatal deficiency" inasmuch as this kind of being ceases to be. However, it is a quasi-natural deficiency, and as such is attributed to the power of the agent rather than to its defect of power.

These last three types of efficient causality on the part of the effect or thing produced, with the exception of that arising from the weakness of the agent, are what Thomas understands to be accidental causality as such. This is an evil resulting in things due to the active power of the agent, but apart from its direct action and direct intention. Deficient causality, on the other hand, is limited by Aquinas to evil in action insofar as the evil thus effected or caused is the result of the defective power of the agent.

A more comprehensive explanation of these same types of efficient causality is had in the Summa Contra Gentes along with a lengthy comparison of accidental and deficient causality in the natural and voluntary orders.(248) Firstly concerning the natural order, if the evil is caused on the part of the agent, it will be due to a defect in the agent's power, the consequence of which is the defective action or the defective effect. Thomas aptly remarks that "this is why we say that `evil has no efficient, but only a deficient cause,'"(249) for evil does not result from an agent insofar as he is agent, but from him only insofar as he does not act. The same is true, according to Aquinas, if the evil arises from a defect in the instrument employed by the primary agent. Aquinas then notes that it is accidental to the agent to suffer some defect in his power of action, since one is not agent because of this defect of power, but because of the power itself. It must be concluded, therefore, that evil is caused by a natural agent by reason of its action only in an accidental or deficient manner.

On the part of the effect, or the evil in the thing itself, this is caused by the good of the natural agent by virtue of the matter or the form of the thing in question. The former is due to the indisposition of the matter which, since it does not adequately receive the action of the agent, results in a defect in the product. The latter comes from the privation of one form by the necessary and concomitant advent of a new form. Both of these divisions agree with those in the previous explanation by Thomas.

However, in this context he notes also that the deficiency on the part of the matter and the resulting evil in the effect cannot be attributed to a defect in the agent, which "fails to convert poorly disposed matter into perfect act."(250) He argues in this regard that there is a determinate power of each natural agent according to its specific nature, and failure to go beyond this power will not be a deficiency in the power of the agent. His concluding remark in this regard is of special import for the present study: "Such deficiency is found only when it falls short of the measure of power naturally due to it."(251) Moreover, it should be recalled from the previous explanation of this matter in the Summa Theologica that Thomas attributes the evil in the effect on the part of formal change to the power and perfection of the agent, rather than to any deficiency on the latter's part.

Thus far, Thomas has been applying these divisions of efficient causality to the question of natural evil. Next he turns his attention to the moral or voluntary order, following through with the same divisions in its regard. First, it should be noted that in moral matters evil is observed only in action and not in any effect produced. As Thomas puts it: "Moral evil is not considered in relation to the matter and form of the effect, but only as a resultant from the agent."(252) A simple illustration will demonstrate the truth of this observation. The matter and form of the effect would be the physical constituents of the thing produced by the action; for example, if a man wrongfully damaged a neighbor's property, the evil in the effect would be the damaged item. As such, it has nothing to do with the voluntary action insofar as moral or voluntary evil is concerned; the latter is found only in the will act itself. As it is the will which is the proximate cause of any moral act, it alone will be "the root and source of moral wrongdoing."(253)

It must next be recalled that Thomas insists that any defect in action redounds to a previous defect in the agent. In the case of moral evil, it presupposes a defect in the will preceding the moral fault or moral evil itself. The precise nature of this defect and its ultimate ontological significance will be treated at length in the following chapters as the very heart of the present investigation. At this point it need only be noted that such evil involves deficient causality on the part of the will.

Here Thomas proceeds to point out an essential difference between deficient causality in the natural and moral orders. As seen above, the defective character of evil in action in the natural order, although due to a defect of power in the agent, was nevertheless ultimately attributable to some good which is the cause of the defect only accidentally insofar as it causes some good. However in the moral order, the very defect is said to be caused by the agent or the will, insofar as the latter is a deficient cause and not by reason of any active power in an accidental manner. Thus, although the will be the accidental cause of the evil in action resulting from its willing a good contrary to reason and law, it is also and primarily the cause of the very defect which gives rise to the privation of moral species and order in the evil act. Moreover, as will be seen, the will is the voluntary cause of such a defect.

Thomas underlines this important difference by the following examples found in the De Malo.(254) Evil in action in the natural order is exemplified by the birth of a monstrosity in nature. The cause of this evil is undoubtedly the deficient power in the seed, which effected the embryo, etc. However, Thomas notes that, if it is asked what is the cause of the defect which is the evil in the seed, and hence in the offspring, it is necessary to proceed to a good which causes accidentally; in other words, it is necessary to proceed to an accidental cause of the defect which caused the defect in the seed accidentally in causing the seed, which is a good. In this regard Thomas writes:

The cause of this defect in the seed is some altering principle which induces a quality contrary to the quality required for the good disposition of the seed; and the more perfect the power of this altering principle the more will it induce this contrary quality and consequently the ensuing defect of the seed; hence the evil of the seed is not caused by a good inasmuch as it is deficient, but by a good inasmuch as it is perfect (and is caused incidentally)(255)

Such is not the case however in voluntary evil, as will be evident from the example used by Aquinas to exemplify this unique type of evil in action. He first remarks that natural evil and voluntary evil are very similar in certain ways, but not in all. Next, he offers the example of a pleasurable physical good, sexual intercourse, which moves the will of the adulterer. If the latter's will were to receive the impression of this pleasurable object, as do his senses, from a certain necessity, then evil in voluntary and natural matters would be exactly the same.

This, however, is not the case, since the will always retains the power to receive or accept the impression or not to receive it, as it so chooses. Thus, it is not the fact that the will is moved in a particular way, even accidentally, that causes the defect in the will, which gives rise to the evil action when the will chooses a good contrary to reason and law. What causes the defect in the will is the will itself, which was not necessarily, but freely moved by the delectable good; in other words, it voluntarily accepted or received the impression from the senses as presented by the intellect.

Another way of looking at this is to consider the relation of the intellect to the will in its presentation of its object. In the case of a delectable good moving a sense the two are determined in their relation to one another. In other words, the former necessarily moves the latter; whereas in the case of an object presented by the intellect to the will, there is no such determination since by definition the intelligible object is of an abstract nature, thus allowing the will to choose voluntarily or in an undetermined manner. Its very indefiniteness as abstract object is the source and/or root of the will's freedom to choose.

These notions will be basic to the remainder of this investigation; but here it need only be noted that the will is the deficient cause of the very defect which gives rise to the evil in action. It is not its accidental cause, as though moved to a relative good which happens to be simply evil. Thomas expresses it thus:

Consequently the cause of the evil which occurs from the acceptance is not the seductive pleasure itself, but rather the will. Indeed the will is the cause of evil in each of the forementioned ways, namely, both incidentally (per accidens) and inasmuch as it is a deficient good(256)

This brings up the final point in regard to evil in action in voluntary matters; namely, that the will is the accidental cause of the evil as well as the deficient cause explained above. It is its accidental cause insofar as the will in act wills a relative good, that is, a physical good which is a good in one respect to the person, but not in respect to him as a total personality. In so willing the person wills, what is called by Thomas, evil simply speaking, that is, an evil for the whole man. This is to relate the physical good to the moral order by reason of the fact that it has become the object of an intellectual apprehension and a rational volition.

Moreover, this privation of moral species and order in action is due ultimately to the defect presupposed in the will before the action takes place, as explained above. This defect, as will be seen, is the non-subordination of the will to the reason; its result in act is the willing of a good contrary to the dictates of reason and divine law. Finally, this defect is presupposed in the will before the deficient election.(257) Unlike the defect found in the deficient cause in the natural order, this defect in the will lies within the power of the will to remedy. Hence, its cause is the deficient will itself as a deficient power, and not as an accidental good.(258)

One last problem confronts Aquinas in respect to his analysis of evil in action both in the natural and moral orders. He has maintained that the defect in the will is voluntary and is to be accounted for by reason of the will as a deficient cause. This is in sharp contrast to such defects in the natural order which are considered to be natural or fortuitous.(259) In the moral order, however, Thomas argues that the cause of the defect is neither natural nor from chance, but voluntary, that is, the will itself is its cause as a deficient good.(260) He says that, if the defect were from nature in voluntary matters, the will would cause evil in action every time it acted. On the other hand, if the defect pre-existing in the will were from mere chance or accident, there would be no moral fault when the will proceeded to act with this defect, since it would be premeditated and it (the defect) would be beyond the control of reason.(261) Thus Aquinas salvages his principle that a defect in action is reducible to a defect in the principle of action, and yet can allow this defect to be found in the will, not as a natural defect or one caused by chance, but as one that is voluntary, that is, caused by the will itself as its deficient cause.


In order to complete the treatment of deficient causality as related to evil, it seems proper to situate such causality in perspective as regards the primary causality of the Infinite Being. This will serve two purposes: it will aid in further appreciation of the precise role of the deficient cause in moral evil, and at the same time it will provide background for a subsequent consideration of the place therein of the Primary Cause.

One of the unique features in Thomistic philosophy is its insistence on the primary causality of the First Being in the order of both existence and action. Such causality necessarily involves even the free actions of rational creatures.(262) However, a special problem presents itself when such causality is applied to evil, and more specifically, to moral evil. As has been said, Thomas poses this difficulty in general terms in his Commentary on the Divine Names.(263) The philosophical dilemma is that either the First Cause is the cause of evil, which is philosophically repugnant, or its cause is to be sought in something apart from the universality of the First Cause, which is equally untenable.

From previous considerations it has been shown that deficiency in the effect or in reality is had in two ways, namely, in the matter or in the form. The former considers the matter as unable to receive the action of the cause, while the latter regards the action of one contrary form on another, in which action the one form is said to be reduced to the potency of matter while the other formis educed therefrom. In any case, neither of such deficiencies is attributed to the agent insofar as the agent is deficient; rather, it is attributed to the active power of the agent. Thus, the deficiency results from the agent as an accidental cause, which causes directly only the good to which an evil is accidentally attached either for the subject itself or for another.

It has been noted also that it is not necessary that such a cause or agent remedy the defective matter, since failure to go beyond the natural powers of natural agents does not indicate a deficiency in power in the cause. Nor in the case of evil resulting from the action of the contrary form is there required a cessation of action on the part of the cause, for otherwise the natural order would be subverted. This follows from Thomas' general principle that in the natural order, which by nature is corruptible, it is only right that at some time there be defection or corruption. Since this principle will be of some consequence in the following considerations, it seems advisable to develop the point further.

(However, before doing so a word of caution is suggested vis-à-vis the responsibility for correcting such natural deficiencies as in the case of genetic engineering. Provided other ethical principles are not violated, if a fetus is found to have a genetic defect, for example, why should persons not be held responsible to correct this defect, mutatis mutandis? To argue that the natural order would be subverted by this seems a bit extreme, although the limits of such `manipulation' should always be strictly defined by those concerned medically, legally, and interpersonally. Considering Thomas' unusual penchant and facility in adapting philosophical principles to problems confronting his age, it is not at all fanciful to address his principles to problems resulting from modern technology. In light of his profound analysis of instrumental causality, it would seem that a role in working through such challenges is ethically demanded, rather than being an interference.)

Thomas states the principle thus: "What is able to fail does fail at times."(264) This arises in the metaphysics of Aquinas from his understanding of the perfection of the universe and the contingent nature of the causes therein. Such perfection, according to Thomas, demands defectability or corruptibility on the part of some creatures. He writes: "The perfection of the universe requires both grades of goodness," namely, goods that "cannot fall from goodness" or incorruptible beings and goods that "can fall from goodness" or corruptible things.(265) Moreover, he goes on to assert that "it does not pertain to divine goodness, entirely to exclude from things their power of falling from the good; but evil is the consequence of this power, because what is able to so fall does fall at times."(266)

It is this latter point that is of special interest here. His argument for its necessity rests upon his connecting the above doctrine with the contingent nature of the causes involved in a defectible universe. However, it should be noted that this `necessity' is from nature and does not, therefore, imply a moral responsibility on rational beings always to permit such defection and/or corruption. It is our contention that at times it is quite the opposite: rational beings under certain circumstances have an ethical responsibility to prevent such occurrences.

If secondary causes of a contingent nature are allowed to operate according to their own modality, then it is necessary in Thomas' thinking that some of these do in fact defect or fail. Their very contrariety and incompatibility one with the other results in the necessary clash and failure of some. He writes in this regard:

It would be contrary to the rational character of the divine regime to refuse permission for created things to act according to the mode of their nature. Now, as a result of this fact that creatures do act in this way, corruption and evil result in things; due to the contrariety and incompatibility present in things, one may be a source of corruption for another.(267)

It is to be noted that the power to fail or corrupt is intrinsic to the beings themselves, although the actual and necessary corruption or the consequent evil is due to the interaction of causes, one of which is a "source of corruption for another." Thus, the form of water is naturally "corruptible" in regard to fire; however, it will actually corrupt only when brought into contact with the form of fire or some similar contrary or incompatible form. Such contact will actually come about by the mere fortuitous or chance meeting of such causes. This is the very meaning of things occurring by chance that they fail "in regard to an end that is intended." Moreover, "it would be contrary to the meaning of providence, and to the perfection of things, if there were no chance events."(268)

Such is the doctrine found also in the Commentarium Ferrariensis in this regard. It reads:

From the fact that creatures so act according to the mode of their proper nature, it follows that (there will be) evil and corruption in things, on account of the contrariety and repugnance existing in them.(269)

To return to the matter of the deficient cause, it is to be repeated that as regards neither type of deficiency cited above regarding evil in an effect is there any question of defective action springing from a cause insofar as that cause is deficient; thus the causality of the First Cause is not at issue here. However, it is now necessary to consider more closely defective action precisely as it results from the agent as deficient cause. Thomas remarks: "Evil which consists in defect of action, or that which is caused by defect of the agent, is not reduced to God as to its cause."(270) He develops his thought further in the same article by distinguishing what there is in evil as regards the reality of being and perfection and what is therein as privation or defect. He writes:

The effect of the deficient secondary cause is reduced to the first non-deficient cause as regards what it has of being and perfection, but not as regards what it has of defect. . . . And, likewise, whatever there is of being and action in a bad action, is reduced to God as the cause; whereas whatever defect is in it is not caused by God, but by the deficient secondary cause.(271)

Such a line of reasoning follows from the more general principles on efficient causality as developed in the preceding sections. Every being acts insofar as it is in act. Its proper effect will resemble the actuality of its cause. Thus, action and perfection are from Pure Act and Transcendent Perfection whereas deficiency in action is from an instrument, defective in nature. Although natural evil in effect was attributable to God as intended accidentally for the good of nature, defective action, insofar as it is defective (which means insofar as it is non-being), is rooted in the defective secondary cause alone.

Specifically as regards moral evil Thomas remarks that "the act of sin is both a being and an act; and in both respects it is from God. . . . Therefore God is the cause of every action, insofar as it is an action."(272) However, as has been noted in the previous chapter, sin is an action accompanied by some defect; such a defect, according to Aquinas, proceeds from the created or secondary cause, namely, the free will, inasmuch as the latter defects from the order of the first agent, God.(273) In such defection there is no need for a first action from the universal cause of all being and action, since there is present only a privation subjected in the moral action which, considered positively, is the tendency of the will toward the relative good. The First Cause acts only in regard to the entitative and operative aspect of the action, and not in regard to the defective aspect. This latter springs only from the creature through its not endowing the act with the order which ought to be there. Employing the distinction then between sin and the act of sin Thomas notes: "God is the cause of the act of sin: and yet He is not the cause of sin, because He does not cause the act to have a defect."(274)

Regarding the defect itself the First Cause merely omits to remedy the defect found in the creature; this is done not by acting but "according as it withdraws from God".(275) Thomas draws the analogy of one who would not give a hand to someone falling, which person would be said to cause the fall, but only in a negative way. He immediately adds that God "does this from a just judgment that he does not give to some help, lest they not fall."(276) This, however, does not concern us in this study, since it is strictly a theological problem: the problem of divine predestination. Here it is necessary only to point out the metaphysical basis for the defective character of moral evil in terms of the respective involvements of the primary and secondary causes, not to probe the mysterious matter of God's "just judgments" in the order of grace.

Obviously, if one limits one's consideration to the problem of preventing and/or impeding evil on a human level, its moral aspects become a bit clearer, but not totally so. Using Thomas' own example of "lending a helping hand" the rational and/or ethical person would under certain, if not most, circumstances be morally obliged to do so. Even here, however, `just judgment' requires consideration of other moral and physical circumstances such as whether in so doing one is abetting a crime or whether one is physically capable of doing so without endangering his own life. As in all moral matters prudence is a much needed virtue, and the imposition of ethical obligations vis-à-vis preventing evil is often problematic.

Thomas refuses, moreover, to admit that in not remedying the defect of the secondary agent the permissive will on the part of the First Cause, in not remedying the defect of the secondary agent is against the providence which is proper to the governor of the universe. Since it does not pertain to the divine goodness to exclude the ability of the created being to defect, which power springs from the very contingency of their being, he employs the principle previously explained that "evil is the consequence of this power, since, what is able to fall, does at time fall" if left to itself.(277) In fact, Aquinas says that the total suppression of such defectibility would be a greater defect or evil than the particular defections in question.(278) He, therefore, concludes that it is not the concern of divine providence to safeguard all beings from evil, but to see to it that the evil which arises is ordained to some good.(279)

Concerning human beings specifically, Thomas distinguishes between man in the state of integral nature as established at creation and man in the state of corrupt nature.(280) In the former state "man had nothing inciting him to evil, although the good of his nature did not suffice for the attainment of glory".(281) Moreover, in such a state he does not require grace to avoid sin. In the state of corrupted nature, on the other hand, man does have in himself inclinations impelling him to evil; therefore, "he needs the help of grace not to fall."(282) It is in this state that divine grace prevents whatever evils the human will does not commit.(283) Furthermore, aversion is said to be proper and natural to the will in the state of corrupt nature, whereas it is not such in the state in which human nature was established.(284)

The importance of these observations concerning fallen human nature, or what one might call concretely existing humanity, cannot be overemphasized, if the defectible character of the will as analyzed in the thought of Thomas is to be properly understood. Man is considered in his present existential state as naturally inclined toward evil. This inclination, if not impeded by divine help, may impel the individual into moral fault. It is to this radical defectibility, aggravated by a weakened nature, that he will appeal in the question of the causality of the will in the case of moral evil.

Possibly nowhere in the historical confrontation between reason and faith is the finiteness of man and the infinity of God's wisdom more strikingly illustrated. This is the problem found in the case of Job as he wrestled with his tempters; it is at the heart of Paul's Epistle to the Romans. In a certain sense it brought about Martin Luther's break with the Roman authorities and proved the inspiration of the latter's attempt to address the problem at the Council of Trent. Throughout the ages people have asked "why" as they attempt to reconcile their trust in a kind and merciful God with the evil things that befall them: "why," some complained, "do bad things happen to good people." Even on a human level the question can be turned around: "why do good people allow bad things to happen."




The previous considerations have concluded to two very important principles in the matter of the causality of moral evil: first, the privative character of evil itself, and, specifically, of moral evil as a privation of mode, species, and order in human action; and second, the fact that every such defect in action presupposes a corresponding defect in its principle as its deficient cause. In other words, it has been established that it is the privation itself formally corrupting the human act that renders the act evil. However, insofar as the act involves a moral deficiency, the principles of that deficiency must be sought in the moral principles of human action, namely, the intellect and will. In summary, it was a defect in ordering that caused the human action to be evil, while it was a procession from the proper faculties of man, the intellect and will, that specifies the defect to be human or moral. Thomas describes this two fold aspect of sin in the following manner: "The will lacking the direction of the rule of reason and the divine law, and intent on some mutable good, causes the act of sin directly, and the inordinateness of the act indirectly and beside the intention."(285)

This description of the evolution of an evil act introduces us to the specific elements which must be considered in the remaining chapters of this study. They involve both the intellectual and volitional aspects of sinful action, namely, reason and divine law enlightening reason as directive of will in its activity and will itself as subject to such direction. Thus, moral evil is to be understood as unregulated human action, willing without direction by its rule. Such unregulated action can be referred to in terms of the non-consideration of the rule of reason and divine law; as such, it involves both the intellectual and the volitional in terms of aversion from the due end in the appetition. However, it is to be noted that the more radical cause of this non-consideration is to be looked for on the part of the will's defection, although the formal element of defective ordering is found in the reason itself.

The above mentioned elements involved in the non-consideration of the rule of reason and divine law are concerned, moreover, with the actual choice of some good contrary to reason. One might refer to this as the `second moment' of rational volition, that is, as the actual tending of the will toward some mutable good while lacking the direction of the rule of reason and divine law.(286) Although this non-consideration of the will's twofold rule and its corresponding appetition are integral to an understanding of the will's defection in good, still it is merely a psychological consideration of the question, and as such, is not of primary concern in the present study.

It is rather the ultimate source of this psychological stage of evil volition that is its primary interest. It is not on the psychological level that such a source of evil action must be sought, but on the metaphysical level in terms of the ultimate deficiency on the part of the will in its not moving the intellect to function as rule. Such non-action or deficient action might be referred to as the `first moment' of rational volition constituting the primary defect in the human faculties, which defect is presupposed to any actual commission of evil.

It is this presupposed defect in the will, insofar as the will by non-action or deficient causality is the ultimate source of wrongdoing, that lies at the heart of the present investigation. Such a defect raises a serious difficulty as regards the metaphysical basis of moral evil. In order to pinpoint the goal or purpose of the considerations to be treated in the following chapters it would be well to summarize this difficulty from the outset. It might be stated thus: Is not such a defect, presupposed in the voluntary principle of human action, incompatible with the very culpability inherent in moral evil? The answer to this question has been anticipated to some degree in the preceding chapter's consideration of the voluntary, although non-culpable, character of this defect; its complete exposition and its metaphysical implications, however, must wait until the final chapters of our investigation. In this present summary it will suffice to state that the presupposed defect must be a voluntary one and not one arising from nature or chance; and moreover, it must not be a culpable defect lest sin be considered the cause of sin and an infinite regression be established in the explanation of the source of moral evil.

The solution to the problem will have to resolve itself into a consideration of the non-action of the will with respect to its twofold rule--reason and divine law. This non-action will have to be distinguished insofar as the `two moments' of rational volition are concerned, namely, the will as it relates to the rule of reason and divine law before and at the moment of election of a particular good contrary to these respective rules. Before the election the voluntary non-consideration of the rules will be a mere defect by non-action; whereas at the moment of election this defect will take on the character of a privation, depriving the act of its due mode, species, and order. This distinction between defect and privation is found throughout Thomistic philosophy: a defect being a mere absence of a good while a privation is the absence of a due good, that is, one that ought to be present in the being, knowledge, or action.

From the above it becomes obvious that a preliminary study of the intellectual component of moral evil in terms of the rule of reason should be carried out if its volitional counterpart is to be appreciated. This inquiry into the intellectual aspect falls naturally into two parts, namely, a psychological treatment of the intellect's role in the gradual specification of the object of rational volition, especially in terms of the acts of deliberation and judgment, and an explicit consideration of reason as the rule of human volition. Both of these will be treated in the next two chapters.

Specifically, in this chapter the intellect's contribution to the causality of moral evil will be explored. In order to accomplish this it is necessary to consider the mutual acts of intellect and will involved in the production of a moral act, and especially the mutual causality of the two faculties in the orders of specification and exercise respectively. Finally, the specific acts of deliberation and judgment will be analyzed insofar as these are the proper acts of reason as rule of human conduct.


As a first step toward an appreciation of the intellect's contribution in effecting moral evil through its non-functioning as the rule of human act, it is necessary to consider briefly the various mutual acts of intellect and will which are involved to some degree in every human act. The emphasis in this latter expression is on the word `human', for not every act that proceeds from a person's will is strictly human, but some may be merely what is called an `act of man.' In order to have a truly human act it is necessary that the act proceed from the will with a knowledge of the end; thus, it must be a fully conscious act, that is, an act with both knowledge and volition. The complete human act is seen as coming from the will under the direction of the intellect. In all this, however, it should be noted that there is no question of separating in reality the mutual relations of intellect and will in human action; it is merely a matter of distinguishing their mutual acts in two distinct orders of causality.

It must be emphasized that such distinctions and the explicit consideration of the two faculties do not in any way constitute an hypostatization of these faculties. Without falling into a kind of excessive personalism, it must be insisted that the act of free choice is an act of the human person using one's faculties as the instruments whereby one strives to attain in reality the known goods which are found attractive; in other words, the person acts as a total and/or integral human being. Thomas was quite aware of this, as is evident from the following: "Properly speaking, it is not a power which knows or intends, but the person (suppositum) through a power."(287) The operations of the intellect and will, though immediately flowing from a particular power, are attributable to the whole person in virtue of the axiom "actions pertain to the person (suppositum)." Both the intellect and will, as well as all other human faculties, are principles by which human actions are performed; the reality of their operations is rooted in the substance wherein they inhere. The person is always the principle which acts--the only responsible agent--using one's faculties to operate as a human individual.

The important conclusion pertinent to the present investigation is that since human actions look to the good of, and proceed from, the whole individual it will be that whole person as a rational creature that will determine the moral character of a particular act. Thomas notes this when he writes:

For the intellect understands, not for itself alone, but for all the powers; and the will wills not only for itself, but for all the powers, too. Wherefore man, insofar as he is endowed with intellect and will, commands the act of the will for himself.(288)

With the above observations clearly in mind, it remains to outline briefly the mutual acts of intellect and will which make up the mechanism of human volition and which will enter into the question of the progressive specification of the object of volition. The Scholastics, following Thomas, list twelve acts involved in human action.(289) Six are acts of the intellect and six are acts of the will. Before describing them in more detail we might list them as follows.

a1. In the order of intention regarding the end itself: there is simple apprehension of the good on the part of the intellect and simple volition of the apprehended good on the part of the will.

a2. In the same order there is a second act of intellection which is a type of judgment about the possibility and suitability of attaining the good proposed to the will. This elicits a corresponding will-act called intention of the good thus apprehended.

b1. In the order of election regarding the means to the end: there is on the part of the intellect an act of counsel which in turn moves the will to elicit a general consent.

b2. Then follows the intellective act called the practical judgment which is referred to as the last practical judgment; it calls upon the will to make an efficacious election of a particular means thus determined by the practical judgment.

c1. Finally, in the order of execution regarding the means to the end: there is on the part of the intellect the act of command of the practical reason followed by a volitional act called the active use of the faculties.

c2. Two further acts result in the executive powers themselves, namely, passive use or the acts of the executive powers themselves, and enjoyment or fruition, which is the resting of the will in the possession of the desired end.

The first acts of intellect and will are indeliberate and spontaneous. Having initially entered the realm of human knowledge through the avenue of the senses the object is apprehended by the intellect through its abstractive and reflective processes familiar to the student of Aristotle and Thomas. Such acts of the intellect consider the object respectively as essence and this individual being. As such, the object has not yet become one suitable for presentation to the will, which occurs only when the object is apprehended under the formality of the good or appetible and is found suitable for the individual considered in his concrete circumstances.

It is then that the will, following upon this act of simple apprehension of the good by the intellect, suffers a change in itself by which it is rendered attuned, so to speak, to the object apprehended, which has been presented as here and now suitable for the individual. In turn the will is said to be complacent in the good or to approve the good by a simple will-to-end analogously called `an act of love'. The good, therefore, as apprehended as suitable causes in the appetitive power a certain inclination, aptitude, or connaturality with itself: it renders the appetite like itself.(290) Thomas comments in this regard: "the motion of the will toward an end absolutely" is called "simple volition."(291) This act of the will is nothing else "than an inclination proceeding from the interior principle of knowledge,"(292) and is "consequent on the form understood."(293) This latter form, insofar as it is grasped by the intellect under the formality of the good, is the "object of the will, which is the universal good."(294) This good now known as suitable for this individual produces, according to Aquinas, a double effect in the will. He writes: "The appetible object gives the appetite, first, a certain adaptation to itself, which consists in complacency in the object; and from this follows movement towards the appetible object."(295)

The next two indeliberate and spontaneous acts of the intellect and will proceed in the following manner. If the good with which the appetite has been rendered connatural or suitable is not yet possessed, it causes in the appetite another movement called `desire' or `intention of the good.' Such a movement follows upon the apprehension on the part of the intellect wherein the latter sees this good or end as procurable by means yet to be considered. Thus, when the will adheres to an unqualified good (and every end shares in the formality of goodness possessed completely by the final end itself) which is known to be actually attainable, the will is said to intend that known good, not as an object of knowledge, but as that object exists in itself.

Thomas describes these latter two acts of intellect and will when he says: "the movement of the will to the end as acquired by the means is called intention."(296) This differs from simple will-to-end insofar as the latter tends toward the end absolutely, whereas intention expresses a reference to an end inasmuch as the end is that to which the means are referred; in fact, in the act of intention one wills both end and means.(297) It differs, moreover, from simple volition in that, although both presuppose an act of the intellect, in the act of intention something of reason is said to be present insofar as it presupposes "the act whereby the reason orders something to an end."(298) The latter has been accomplished by the intellect through its apprehension of the availability of the end by certain means, which are yet undetermined. Thus, intention "is, however, an act of the will, not absolutely, but in subordination to reason."(299)

Under the impulse of the intention of the will the intellect now begins its search to gain physical possession of the end desired: it is here that one enters upon that area of human volition centering around means-to-end. Since one is here dealing with the acquisition of a particular concrete object, existing in the real world of being and not only of intention, the following acts of intellect will be those of the practical intellect and the acts of the will be those of reasoned volition. The first act of the intellect is called `deliberation' or `counsel'. Other names assigned to it in the writings of Thomas are: practical syllogism, comparison, and inquisition. Although an explicit treatment of this act and its corresponding volitional acts must be postponed until later in the chapter, a brief description seems in order here since it is around this act that the intellectual aspect of the non-consideration of the rule of morality is focused. Counsel always precedes election (and consent); Thomas' reason for this lies in the uncertainty involved in the choice of particular goods. Since actions concern singular contingents, which due to their changeable nature are uncertain, reason will not issue a judgment in their regard without a previous inquisition. He concludes: "Wherefore the reason must of necessity institute an inquiry before deciding on the objects of choice; and this inquiry is called counsel."(300) It is an inquiry into the relative usefulness and availability of possible means; moreover, it concerns only the individual himself in terms of what he will do and not what another might do.

Following upon the act of counsel the will elicits an act of consent, which, according to Thomas, is "an application of the appetitive movement to something as to be done."(301) It is in fact an application of the will's action to that which has been judged useful by counsel; and since counsel concerns itself only with means to the end, so in turn does consent.

Immediately there follows upon this consent the final practical judgment of the intellect concerning which means are to be chosen. This final opinion or judgment of the intellect as to the best of possible means issues immediately from the very consent of the will to the means in general. It pertains to the superior reason insofar as it follows the determination of counsel, that is, insofar as it belongs to superior reason to judge about all things.(302) Aquinas, however, remarks that this does not imply that the superior reason always moves toward action according to eternal principles, but only that, if it should fail to do so, it still has such principles before it.(303)

Election, according to Thomas, "is materially an act of the will, but formally an act of the reason"(304). In other words, the term `election' or `choice' expresses something that belongs to both the cognitive and the appetative orders, although it is fundamentally an act of volition. Due to this ordering of one faculty to another the act in its totality cannot be said to proceed exclusively from either of these faculties.

In the act of choice itself, the operation of the intellect which determines the possible means in its counsel and specifies the best among them in its last practical judgment, and the operation of the will which tends to these means, are related and ordered to one another. Thus, one might say that choice is materially an act of the will, because the proper object of choice is that which is ordered to the end; while formally it is an act of the intellect, inasmuch as it entails an intellectual comparison and/or preference of one means over another. It is precisely in this respect, namely the preference of one means over another, that Thomas maintains that election adds something to mere consent. In the process of counsel many things might seem attractive as being conducive to the attainment of the end, consent being given to each of them; however, he concludes that "after approving of many, we have given our preference to one by choosing it."(305) If only one thing, however, is found attractive by the intellect in its inquisition into the possible means, Thomas concludes that consent and election then do not really differ, but differ by only a distinction of reason.(306)

For the purpose of this study it will not be necessary to delineate any further the remaining acts of intellect and will, which pertain to the execution of the free choice of reasoned will. Moral evil will attain its essential character in terms of the acts already discussed above, specifically in the acts of counsel (last practical judgment) and choice (consent). The actual execution of these final decisions and elections will indeed complete the act of sin, but will not alter it substantially.

We have defined the problem of evil in terms of its ultimate deficiency, namely, the voluntary non-consideration of the rule of reason and divine law. Further we have determined the precise acts of intellect and will wherein this radical deficiency finds concrete expression in the realm of human action. Hence, we are now in position to investigate at length the particular contribution of the intellect as regards moral evil insofar as it is the rule of such action. This contribution can be addressed generally in terms of the specific causality exercised by the intellect in its presentation of the known good to the will. This "known good," as has been said, undergoes a series of determinations on the part of the intellect inasmuch as it gradually relates this good to the end intended by the will. As shall be seen, this determination will enter the moral sphere when this known good is related to reason in its role as rule of human action.

Specifically, the intellect's contribution here is in terms of its being the cause of the freedom of exercise and of specification on the part of the will. As such, this will involve a consideration of the following: the mutual causality of the intellect and will in the orders of exercise and specification; an appreciation of the "known good" in the successive stages of its presentation to the will by the intellect as its proper good; and the latter in terms of dispositive causality, deliberation, and moral specification by reason as rule of human action, along with the ignorance presupposed in every actual non-consideration of this rule. The last three of these progressive aspects of moral specification, namely, the object in its relation to reason and the divine law, will be treated separately in the next chapter together with its negative aspect in terms of "ignorance of evil election."



Although the intellect and will are specifically different faculties, this does not prevent them from exercising a mutual or reciprocal influence in the production of a free act. In beings endowed with knowledge appetition follows some kind of consciousness of the good. Insofar as this knowledge is of a sensible or intellectual nature, there is a distinction respectively between sensible and rational appetition. In humans the will is the faculty of tending toward an object intellectually apprehended as good. Hence, in their case the operation of intellect is a prerequisite condition for willing. If this be absent or partially limited in its operation it affects proportionately the moral character of the action. Furthermore, since the power by which man wills and chooses is not a cognitive power, it cannot be attracted by an object unless the object first be presented as good by that power which renders it intelligible. Hence, not being a knowing faculty the will is not the principle by which one can judge about the goodness of an object; one must depend on the intellect for knowledge of its appetibility and suitability. Without this apprehension of the object as an appetible and suitable good, the will would remain without a sufficient reason for acting in one way or another. Thus, from the point of view of causality, the intellect moves the will in the order of specification as a final or formal cause. And the will, insofar as it applies the intellect to determine its object, moves the intellect in the order of exercise as an efficient cause.

It would be well then to consider this mutual causality further as it is evidenced in the mechanism of free choice. Whether this free choice be a simple movement of the will consequent upon a simple apprehension of the good or a composite movement of the will in its election or consent as consequent to a deliberative process on the part of the intellect, one must distinguish these two orders of exercise and specification. In the case of a composite movement of the will its volition is directed by the intellect to a particular good as concretely possessing qualities attractive or suitable to this particular will in these particular circumstances. In fact, it is a matter of narrowing down the will's free choice to an ever more specified object, rendering the latter `tailored made' vis-à-vis a choice suitable to this particular person's total being as a composite and unique individual. In this sense the intellect does indeed exercise causality over the will; however, it does not thereby necessitate the will, which is naturally necessitated to seek the good only in general.

This ultimate specification by the intellect may be said to indirectly to necessitate the will. But even in this case, the necessitation of the will springs from its own radical determination to the good, which implies Thomas' distinction between will as nature and will as reason.(307) As regards the former the will is naturally determined to the ultimate end, that is, to goodness, beatitude, happiness, etc. It is on account of this radical and primary determination, which formally constitutes will as will, that anything is willed at all. One would not seek any particular good unless one's will were determined to seek the good as such. Only this radical determination allows the will to reduce itself in a particular instance from a state of potency to act. Moreover, any other good presented to the will as an end will move the appetite spontaneously in its direction. This implies that there may be many ends in human volition, mediate as well as immediate, each sharing in the formality of goodness, which is the proper object of will as will.(308) However, as regards other things, the will remains free to choose; this is what Thomas has called will as reason. Such things are presented to the will by the intellect as means toward the end. As such they are subjected to the deliberative process of reason. He writes:

Whereas any other particular goods, insofar as they are lacking in some good, can be regarded as non-goods: and from this point of view, they can be set aside or approved by the will, which can tend to one and the same thing from various points of view.(309)

This freedom of choice is rooted in two things. First, it is rooted in the object itself insofar as it is a deficient good and not identified with the universal good, which alone would necessitate the will in its choice. Second, it is rooted in the intellect inasmuch as it possesses an immaterial grasp of the formality of goodness itself with which it can compare every other good and thus perceive its defective character. The above deficiency is to be understood as the intellect's grasp of any particular good which is found to be good and suitable under one aspect, but is found wanting under another. Such deficiency might even be a moral one insofar as reason sees a particular good as pleasing to the sense, but as contrary to the rule of reason and divine law. Thus, will as reasoned will retains an indifference as to specification and exercise, at least to the extent that the object presented by the intellect is not the universal good, nor does the intellect in its presentation of the particular good exhaust, so to speak, every aspect of its apprehension of the good as such. However limited, the will always enjoys freedom in both respects.

It is necessary to note, moreover, that the causality in the act of free choice on the part of the intellect is not merely final causality, since this would be merely a `will-end' relationship and as such would call forth a spontaneous and indeliberate movement of the appetite. Although such a relationship does exist between the intellect and will in these indeliberate and necessary appetitions and is one of specification, still it does not suffice as regards free election wherein deliberation and judgment are presupposed. Thus, it would be well to contrast the two. In order that the process of appetition be started at all there must be this first complacency in, and tendency toward, a particular good apprehended and presented by the intellect. As St. Augustine remarks: "Unless something appear which delights and invites, the will can in no way be moved. But that such appear is not in the power of man."(310) This necessity then arises from the necessary appetition of the ultimate end or the good in general: it is the very appetition of ultimate end applied in a diverse manner.

However, as has been noted above, free choice demands a further causality. The indeliberate movement of the will toward a good finds its cause in the connatural character of the good with the appetite as apprehended by the intellect. But once deliberation takes place and the good is seen as only a partial good, no such necessary appetition follows. Therefore, there must be an added factor, or cause, which accounts for the choice of this good rather than that: choices are not causeless. There is no willing without a motive.

It is then a question of needing a sufficient reason that will move the will in the order of specification (final and formal causality) to choose a particular good, since the will's appetition for the good is blind and has not within it the power to decide which good is the best here and now. The latter is an act of reason, although it is moved thereto by the will according to its present dispositions, and its imprint is to be found in the act of free choice. This reason is sufficient but never necessitating, unless it be identified with the good in general. Even here, as we have seen, Thomas insists that this does not necessitate the will in the order of exercise wherein its freedom formally lies.

The reason for this phenomenon of a sufficient but non-necessitating reason lies in three things: the finite nature of the particular goods presented to the will by the intellect in this life; the immaterial notion of goodness itself as possessed by the human intellect; and the infinite, so to speak, capacity of the will for the good as such. In its deliberation, and consequently in its judgment, the intellect which possesses a notion of the formality of the good can compare any particular good to the universal good and thus see it as a partial good, that is, as having defective or even evil aspects. Particular goods are seen in most instances as partial means toward a desired end. The motive which is finally accepted by the will and which determines it to choose this good is sufficient only relatively, that is, as related to the will itself at this particular moment; but it is not absolutely sufficient, since the range of the will is universal and as wide as being itself.

Thomas discusses this further causal influence by the intellect over the will in the following way. He distinguishes simple volition, that is, appetition following upon the apprehension of a suitable good, from consent, which regards those things pertaining to the end. He notes that the latter presupposes the determination of counsel.(311) This previous determination is in the order of formal causality, regarding not directly the end but the ordering of means to the end. Intrinsically it is a discursive movement--a deliberation or an `ordered' movement. Nevertheless it is not so ordered by its nature, since the deliberation deals with singular and contingent matters in relation to the necessary or universal.(312)

The root of the will's freedom is the intellect's ability to perceive this contingency. Moreover, perceiving this contingency the intellect still remains in a state of indifference. In order to come to its final judgment from which election will follow, the intellect must also be determined by the will. Its radical indifference must be overcome not by itself, but by the influence brought to bear by the will. This mutual causality of will and intellect is seen most fully in the acts of judgment and election and/or choice. The latter has two parts, according to Thomas: a material aspect which is the will and a formal aspect which is the reason. This satisfies the necessity of making each human action intellectual inasmuch it is a judgment and voluntary inasmuch as it is willed. As willed, the intellect is rescued, so to speak, from its inherent indetermination in practical matters. Having thus analyzed the mutual causality involved in the interplay of intellect and will in the production of a free action, it now is necessary to treat more thoroughly the precise contribution of the intellect itself. This lies in specifying the object to be presented to the will for its approval and choice, which specification is progressive. It begins with the mere specification of the object as a good here-and-now suitable for this individual as an end to be attained. It then moves into the further specification of the object as the most apt means to be chosen by the will in so doing. Finally, it specifies the object as regards its relation to reason and divine law--the norms of human action; thus, the will is presented with a morally specified object.

Such a gradual process of specification resolves itself, so far as this study is concerned, into the question of the direction by the intellect of the will as it proceeds to act. When such direction is lacking or defective, one arrives at the intellectual prerequisite for moral evil. The latter will be discussed in the next chapter in terms of the ignorance presupposed in every evil election vis-à-vis the ultimate moral specification of the object by reason acting as norm or rule of human action. Presently, the first two stages in the specification of this object will be dealt with. This proceeds from the less determined and non-deliberate stage of the object as a known suitable end to its more determined and deliberate stage as the most apt means to be chosen in the attainment of this end.



In the De Malo Thomas sets forth two requisites for an object to move the will in the order of specification (final and formal causality): it must be `known' and it must be `suitable'.(313) Insofar as the object must be known, he insists that only as apprehended by the intellect does the object move the will and this as `end'.(314) No matter how many objects are about us affecting our physical and sensitive being, they will not move our wills to seek them as ends unless the intellect finds in them the `formality of the good', that is, the very essence of the good as such. This object of the intellect in reference to the will(315) abstracts from the existence of the good and perceives only its formal character as good. This is in contrast to the object of the will which Thomas in the same article states to be "the appetible good" itself, that is, the good as existing in actu exercito.

The will then comes into contact with its object insofar as the intellect is able to apprehend the formality of the good in a particular object, presenting it to the will under this formality. The object thus known is presented to the will in terms of desire and ultimate action--the seeking of the real object as perfective of the person knowing and willing. It is this that renders the dynamic reason as ordered to appetite, concerned not merely with the speculatively true, but with the good as contained in the true. On the other hand, the will is thus made an intellectual appetition insofar as it is concerned not merely with the good, but with a good understood and reasoned. Thomas summarizes his position when he remarks: "The good itself insofar as it is a certain apprehensible form is contained under the true as if a certain true thing; and the true itself insofar as it is the end of the intellectual operation is contained under the good as a certain particular good."(316)

From this analysis of the intellectual character of the good as presented to the will and the appetitive character of the true as found therein, one can more easily appreciate Thomas' tendency to view all action in terms of end to be attained, that is, the known good presented to the will. He writes in the De Veritate:

But it (the end) is in the agent by way of an intention, for the end is prior in intention but posterior in being. Thus the end pre-exists in the mover in a proper sense intellectually. . . . Hence the intellect moves the will in the way in which an end is said to move--by conceiving beforehand the reason for acting and proposing it to the will.(317)

It will be in view of this known good presented as an end to the will that the will moves itself to will those things which pertain to the attainment of that end.(318) In such volition the will moves the intellect to its acts and thus is said to have dominion over its choice from the very first stage of appetition.

In the simple apprehension of the good, however, it is not sufficient, according to Aquinas, that the object be merely `known'; it must also be `suitable' if it is to move the will to act.(319) It becomes obvious that many objects apprehended by an individual (`known goods') fail to attract him. There is required also a connatural selection, which Thomas identifies as a further determination of the act of the will on the part of the object, and hence on the part of the intellect. He writes:

Just as the imagination of a form without estimation of fitness or harmfulness does not move the sensitive appetite; so neither does the apprehension of the true without the aspect of goodness and desirability. Hence, it is not the speculative intellect that moves, but the practical intellect.(320)

Consequently, the initial apprehension of the good as suitable is a spontaneous, unreasoned, indeliberative one similar to the appetition which follows upon it. It will depend on the existential condition of the person at that particular time and under those particular circumstances. Thomas, quoting Aristotle, frequently remarks that "as each one is, so does an end appear to him."(321)

The present study is concerned with this natural suitability precisely in its relation to the practical intellect referred to by Thomas. It will center upon the deliberations and elections proper to the realm of morality. In this same passage Thomas notes that such a required suitability is not to be taken only in a universal sense, but "it is required that what is apprehended as good and befitting be apprehended as good and befitting in particular and not merely in general".(322) The reason given by Aquinas is that these deliberations and elections concerning the suitable deal with particular matters.

So far reaching is this requisite on the part of the object that Thomas goes on to admit here that an object which is seen by the intellect as suitable in all respects will necessitate the will in the order of finality or specification. Such an object would be identified by the person through his intellect with the universal good--beatitude. It does not, however, necessitate the will in the order of exercise since the person by means of intellect can still consider or not consider the object; in other words, he is always free to think or not think about happiness as such. On the other hand, if the good is not found to be good in all respects (which is the case of all finite goods), it will not move the will from any necessity, even in the order of specification.

The question naturally arises as to what specifically influences the will to determine itself in the order of exercise to move the intellect to specify one rather than another object as the `good-here-and-now' to be chosen. The answer lies, according to Thomas, in three possible sources of determination.(323) First, insofar as one particular aspect of an object outweighs those of another, in which case reason is said to prevail. One might imagine a cool deliberative evaluation of the various merits of several possible means of attaining a desired end, for example, which kind of car to purchase. Such `cool' deliberation usually will concern something not involving the person too intimately; otherwise, an objective weighing of possibilities becomes quite problematic.

Second, there is the possible consideration of one circumstance without taking notice of others, either in other objects (cars) or in the same object (safety). Thomas notes that this happens most often when some occasion arising from within or without the subject causes him to think about this particular matter or circumstance (in our example, having just read in the newspaper of an accident involving the car one is thinking of buying).

Third, and for the present study, the most important source of determination mentioned by Thomas for the influential character of a particular good in moving the will to choose it in preference to another, is each person's disposition. In this regard he again cites Aristotle regarding the evaluation of the end in terms of the subject's disposition, adding that the will of an irate individual and that of a calm person are moved differently in that the same good is not suitable to both. Carrying through with our example, a person deciding which type of car to purchase should not do so when he or she is in a state of anger due to some recent mishap.

The importance of this third mode of determining the will to choose this good rather than another cannot be overemphasized in our present investigation. For a person disposed by habit and passion will view things according to his present condition and/or situation; for one chooses particular goods as most suitable to oneself at the present moment. Thomas insists that such a dispositive influence over the whole person through habit and passion in no way does violence to the freedom of the election. He writes:

If then the disposition by which a thing seems good and befitting to a person is natural and not subject to the will, the will chooses it naturally and necessarily, as all men naturally desire to be, to live, and to know. But if the disposition be such as is not natural but subject to the will, as when someone is so disposed by habit or passion that something seems either good or bad to him under this particular aspect, the will is not moved of necessity because it has the power to remove this disposition so that the thing does not seem so to him; for example, when a man calms his wrath so as not to judge something in anger.(324)

Since Thomas, when discussing the judgment about a particular good, utilizes this notion about the disposition of the subject as the chief reason why certain objects appear suitable and others do not, it seems best to develop this point further. From the above considerations it is obvious that he recognizes the act of free choice, along with the preceding deliberation and judgment, as existential matters. For the question of suitability concerns objects in the concrete and must be decided by the practical intellect as to whether this apprehended object is a good-for-me here and now. This means its suitability to my present existential state with all its natural, acquired, and circumstantial endowments, including at any given moment the habits and passions influencing and modifying the individual. In other words, the total "I" in all its ineffable individuality will be the determinant in the last analysis of the suitability of any given object in the order of specification; it will do this as dispositive cause vis-à-vis the inclination(s) of the will. Thus, in any moral judgment, which is the primary concern of this study, the disposition of the subject in its most intangible depths will account for the decision and election finally made. Here Thomas makes the rectitude of the intellect depend upon that of will because of the existential character of each moral judgment as an act of the practical, not the speculative, intellect.(325)

It might be said that here Thomas anticipates what later would be emphasized by Duns Scotus as `haeceitas', the `thisness' in each individual thing that renders one unique and singular. Along with his `principle of individuation' Aquinas provides us with a rich and challenging philosophy of human personality, possibly unparalleled in the history of human thought, at least until our own times. It foreshadows, for example, Gerard Manley Hopkins' `inscape' wherein each individual thing, even the leaf on the bough, bespeaks an ineffability beyond human discourse. That human choice is rooted in this absolute uniqueness of the individual affords some insight into the mystery of human freedom, namely, that although the person in his election of a specified object is not conscious of the least details behind such choice, still the will in its exercise moves freely to choose that which is most suitable to the person here and now. It cannot be said to be coerced in so choosing since the object of its election is that which is `tailored made,' as has been said, to the person in his ineffable individuality. Only the First Cause in Thomas' philosophy is capable of knowing the utmost depths of each created thing, a matter which reaches far beyond the confines of any human analysis. What is equally interesting here is that Aquinas brings us, so to speak, to the very threshold of this mystery without crossing over into the realm which for him is divine revelation.

In the Summa Theologica, writing along the same lines, but in a more detailed manner, he distinguishes in man a twofold quality: the natural and the supervenient.(326) The former concerns either the intellective aspect of the person or his body and the powers therein. According to this natural disposition the individual naturally seeks the ultimate end--happiness or the good in general. His bodily dispositions must be subjected to the control of reason if the acts proceeding from him are to be considered truly human. In this regard Thomas remarks:

And such as a man is by virtue of a corporeal quality, such also does his end seem to him, because from such a disposition a man is inclined to choose or reject something. But these inclinations are subject to the judgment of reason.(327)

The supervenient qualities, on the other hand, are the habits and passions according to which someone is inclined toward one thing rather than another. Again, these inclinations are subject to reason " . . . as it is in our power either to acquire them, whether by causing them or disposing ourselves to them, or to reject them."(328) It is to be noted how Thomas considers individuals in them total existentiality, and how the inclination to judge in one way or another is subject to reason insofar as one responsibly acquires such dispositions and can rid oneself of them. Moreover, the fact remains that, here and now, without considering how a person has come to be as he is, his disposition, both natural and acquired, is a basic determinant of his judgment regarding a particular object.

This same doctrine is set forth by Aquinas in his analysis of the causes of the will's mutability.(329) The reason for the latter is to be found in the mutable nature in which free will is subjected, and not in the nature of free will itself, which matter will be dealt with in the next chapter. Presently, it need only be said that such a change in the will may arise from either an intrinsic or extrinsic cause. The former can involve reason, as when some new knowledge is acquired, which, so to speak, changes the perspective as far as reason is concerned. Or it involves the appetite, as when one is disposed through passion or habit to tend toward this rather than that as suitable object.(330)

Thomas relates alteration of judgment more directly to a person's appetition of his end and the means thereto as found in his Compendium of Theology. He writes:

The fact that one man places his happiness in this particular good while another places it in that good, is not characteristic of either of these men so far as he is a man, since in such estimates and desires men exhibit great differences. By this I mean each man's acquired passions and habits; and so if a man's condition were to undergo change, some other good would appeal to him as most desirable. . . . Man's desire and his judgment as to what constitutes the last end are subject to change.(331)

Although a person formally seeks the good as his proper object of appetition, still materially he can place his happiness, and consequently the means thereto, in any particular object. His judgment inclined by passion and habit may see even the most base things as most apt to be chosen here and now to satisfy his appetites. Therefore, it is reasonable that Thomas considers the dispositions of the subject, whether they concern the physical organism or the emotional makeup of the individual, to be of primary interest in the determination of the suitability of any particular good. Such determinants of suitability ares involved in the specification by the intellect of any particular object seen as the good here and now to be chosen by the will. When applied to the question of moral evil, it becomes obvious that they will cause a person to consider what he knows to be theoretically evil as a good to be preferred. Thus such determinants enter into the realm of moral specification of the object as it relates to reason and divine law.

It might be asked finally what precisely in the thinking of Thomas allows reason to rise above passion and habit since the latter admittedly incline the will to this or that good. He discovers the answer in the composite nature of man according to which things can be diversely related. This is true especially concerning man's intellectual nature wherein when compared to the universal good no particular good can be considered entirely good. He writes: " . . . since man is variously disposed according to the various parts of the soul, a thing appears to him otherwise according to his reason, than it does according to a passion."(332) Only if passion or habit completely took away the use of reason, as in the case of an insane person, would free will be totally destroyed. As long as there is any use of reason for carrying out deliberations about the contingent and relative character of particular goods, the will remains proportionately free.

Such passion or habit disposing one to judge this or that good in a particular way does not violate free will provided it is within the person's power to change his dispositions. Whether one does or does not do so is not particularly relevant; it suffices for the existence of liberty that the person can acquire or rid oneself of the passions and habits which dispose one to choose in this or that way. Thomas puts this as succinctly as possible when he remarks that man is said to be free according as he is able to do this or that particular thing, not according as he is able to act in a particular way. In evidence of this he offers the example of virtuous action, saying that a man who does not have a particular virtue cannot act virtuously; yet, he is still free insofar as he can acquire that virtue.(333) This distinction is similar to the traditional one regarding freedom "in a composite sense and in a divided sense"(334): the fundamental distinction between `actuality' and `potency'. This distinction will be of capital importance to the final stage in our investigation, namely, deciding the respective causalities involved in the will's non-consideration of its proper rule--reason and divine law.

The above analysis provided by Thomas as to the dispositive causality found in the specification of an object serves to illustrate what precisely is meant by the "known and suitable good," both on the indeliberate and deliberate levels of voluntary action. On the former level there is no question of a moral specification or evaluation since by definition no deliberation is involved. However, the same dispositive causality operates when one considers the specification of the object as a moral object, that is, insofar as it is related to reason and divine law. As has been shown, as regards indeliberate volition the specification of the object is in the order of final causality alone, whereas deliberate volition or free choice involves a judgment specifying the object both in the orders of finality and formality. Only the latter, however, satisfies the demands of the composite act wherein the contingent character of the operable is seen in relation to the necessary character of the good.


One is now in a position to consider the second stage in the specification of the object in terms of the intellectual acts of deliberation and judgment. Both may be treated together insofar as Thomas considers the final practical judgment of the intellect to be the conclusion of the operative syllogism or the deliberative process of the intellect. Two things need to be discussed on the part of the intellect insofar as it relates to the will's choice or election, namely, the acts of deliberation and judgment. Such acts provide for the will the object specified as the most apt or suitable means to be chosen by this person in the attainment of his desired end.

There are two kinds of deliberation or judgment, namely, speculative and practical. Since the concern of our thesis is with reason as rule of human action, only the practical aspect of judgment will be treated. This practical judgment necessarily involves a utilization of the universal principles known by the speculative intellect in its process of comparing the contingent and concrete good with the universal principles which should govern human action.

The speculative and practical intellects, however, are not different faculties, but the same faculty concerned with different objects and ends; the former orders its object to the consideration of truth alone while the latter orders its objects to operation or action. In both cases, however, the object of the intellect is the true, not the good. As Thomas puts it in the De Veritate: "The object of the practical intellect is not the good, but the true relative to action."(335)

Aquinas begins his treatment of the judgmental act by distinguishing different types of judgment.(336) There are certain beings which act without judgment, that is, without any previous knowledge except that rooted in the finality of their natures. Then there are other beings which act by a type of judgment, but not by free judgment, for example, that found in brutes. They judge the a particular good is the good to be obtained here and now for them according to their determined appetites. According to Thomas, they do so by a certain natural estimation.(337) This is not free since there is no deliberation or comparison in the matter, but only the force of natural instinct or natural estimation. One might say, they desire connaturally in terms of natural endowment, acquired behaviors, and learned experience. In man, however, as in all intellectual beings there is found judgment, not from natural instinct, but from a certain comparison by reason. Because of this man acts by a "free judgment capable of being inclined toward diverse things."(338)

This "comparison" or deliberative process, whereby the particular operable is viewed in relation to a universal norm by the practical intellect, is described by Thomas in various ways.(339) It concerns things "to be done" and involves a "certain syllogism, whose conclusion is a judgment or an election or an operation."(340) Moreover, its imprint is found in the election insofar as the election is a "prejudged appetition."(341) Due to this Thomas is able to equate in this instance the judgment and the election. He also connects it with the act of prudence insofar as it is an ordination of means to an end. Thus, the election itself becomes a type of prudential act,(342) which is comparable in a sense to the estimative power in brutes since even on the sensitive level, due to reason's influence, man has a certain comparative judgment in regard to individual intentions. On the intellectual level, however, the comparison is proper only to the rational being, who judges the fitness and propriety of the singular and contingent in relation to the universal.(343) In such an instance it is identified with counsel or deliberation, which precedes the final judgment and election; in fact, the final judgment is said to flow from it as a conclusion from premises.(344)

Thomas, moreover, maintains that this inquisition is necessarily concerned with means to the end and not with the end itself(345); the latter is already determined and presupposed to all deliberation.(346) It is this previous willing of the end which allows us to say that the will is present in the counsel as both the matter and the motive of the deliberation.(347) The end acts in relation to the deliberation much the same as a principle does in a demonstration. Under its influence the particular deliberations concerning that which ought to be done are carried out.

Moreover, that which acts as end or principle in one demonstration may become a particular operable in another, and so on. The inquiry then pertains properly to singular contingencies about which there is always an uncertainty. Only the will can make up for this uncertainty by causing the singular good to be accepted by the intellect as the "best" for it here and now. Nor need this `best' be seen as appetible in itself, but only as "useful toward action."(348)

Finally, the various elements involved in this inquisition as it proceeds to a conclusion are, according to Thomas, the data received from the senses, for example, "this is bread," and those principles of both speculative and practical knowledge known universally, for instance, "man cannot live without being nourished by a suitable food." Thomas writes: "The terminus is that which is immediately in our power. . . . And as the end has the nature of a principle, so that which is done on account of the end has the nature of a conclusion."(349)

With the above in mind regarding the practical judgment we can proceed to detail the various kinds of judgments proper to the practical intellect. Such judgements by definition are ordained to human actions and are distinguished among themselves according to their remoteness or proximity to operation. The more remote, called `speculative-practical' judgments, are of two kinds: (a) universal principles of conduct, such as, good must be done and evil must be avoided; and (b) particular judgments by which it is asserted that under specified conditions a certain act should be done or avoided due to its connection with a universal principle. The most proximate to action are the `practico-practical' judgments which assert that `I must perform, or desist from, this act here and now.'(350) Obviously the chief concern of this investigation is with the latter division of judgment, namely, the `practico-practical'. For the reason, acting in its role as rule of human action, is obligated to specify the object morally in the practico-practical judgement, at least implicitly, by relating the particular good to human nature and the divine law.

It has already been shown earlier in this chapter how the intellect and will are related mutually in an act of free choice. It should be recalled that the act of free choice is concerned with what is judged here and now, concretely, to be good for this individual. However, it must be kept in mind that the intellect as such can determine what is good only abstractly, its proper object being the universal unless moved by the will to compare the latter with an object in particulari. In other words, the intellect cannot be practical of itself; it can be so only in partnership with the will whose basic tendency is toward an individual thing as it exist in concreto. As Thomas remarks: "The intelligible form does not designate a principle of action, according as it is only in the one knowing, unless there be joined to it an inclination to the effect, which (inclination) is through the will."(351)

The last practical judgment is, therefore, elicited by the intellect under the command of the will, representing the cognitive aspect of the act of free choice. So intimate is its role in the evolution of the latter that Aristotle hesitated to ascribe free choice definitively either to the cognitive or to the appetitive power.(352) As has been said, choice resides formally in the will, but it does result from a concurrence of the intellectual and volitional powers through a mutual causality in the orders of specification and exercise respectively. The culmination of this mutual causality is realized in the act of self-determination wherein freedom is terminated cognitively by the practico-practical judgment, and appetitively by the spontaneous choice of the will.(353)

In this regard it should be noted that the truth of this practical judgment does not consist, as does that of speculative judgment, in a conformity of mind to thing, which is a relationship of thing as measure and intellect measured. Rather, the practical intellect is related to its object as a measure to the thing measured because its aim is action by which the mind imposes its own order on being and things. The truth of the practical judgment consequently consists in a conformity, not to things as they are, but to what they ought to be in accordance with the rule of right reason.(354) Since the practical judgment is commanded by the will, its truth is found in an agreement of the intellect with right desire, that is, with the will properly disposed by possession of the moral virtues.(355)

Regarding the last observation it may be said that the judgment will be `right' insofar as the inclinations or desires of the appetite are right, that is, in accord with reason abstractly considered as nature. In other words, the rectitude of reason in practical matters depends entirely upon the rectitude of desire.(356) Actually the practical reason will never be at variance with the present existential condition of the appetite; it will never specify a particular good as good for the individual here and now to be chosen unless this good conforms to the deepest and ineffable inclinations of the appetite.(357) For this reason the will ultimately elects freely the motive by which it would be determined. The will intervenes to determine the assent to motives which have an intellectual basis but whose preponderant force is rather volitional and emotional.(358) Whether, however, this determination is `right' depends on whether the person's appetitive inclinations conform to right reason, that is, to reason acting in its capacity of rule of human action.

The final practical judgment is derived from a practical syllogism consisting of a universal major premise and a particular minor.(359) The major premise is a general moral principle having its source in `synderesis'--a speculative-practical judgment. The intellect perfected by the virtue of prudence applies the universal principle to a particular instance expressed in the minor premise and deduces thereby the means to be employed here and now to achieve the moral end held forth in the major premise.(360) The practico-practical judgment is the conclusion of the practical syllogism which, as such, may not be present to consciousness, but which does represent logically the reasoning that precedes the judgment. Introducing the term `virtue' warrants a certain caveat, since most often the term is used in a moral sense; applied to the intellectual virtues, however, no moral implication as such is intended. A person may possess, for example, the virtue of prudence in a marked degree and still be vicious and use his intellect to attain the most outrageous ends by the most despicable means. Again, the morality is found in the individual's actions as they are freely chosen by the will in its final election, and only indirectly as judged so in the final practico-practical judgment of the intellect.


Further examination of the practical syllogism is suggested insofar as it is through this that the moral specification of the object will come about. Thomas follows Aristotle in detailing this syllogism and discusses it in several places.(361) The description in the De Malo seems the cleareat(362) He begins by noting that in any act of sin or virtue, since it is effected according to an election which presupposes a certain inquiry on the part of reason, there must be a certain syllogistic deduction wherein reasoning will be tempered by the disposition of the individual. For example, an intemperate and temperate person will reason differently in any given instance. He then proceeds to illustrate the three propositions used by each in reasoning to a final judgment: the temperate person reasons that no act of fornication is to be committed and, since this is such an act, it should not be committed. Such an individual "is moved only according to the judgment of reason."(363) The intemperate person, on the other hand, totally following concupiscence, reasons that every pleasure should be enjoyed and, since this is pleasurable, it should be enjoyed. Thomas concludes: "the temperate man is moved only according to the judgment of reason" whereas "the intemperate man yields entirely to the movement of concupiscence."(364) There is, according to him, a fourth proposition in each case: "No sin is to be committed" and "everything pleasurable is to be pursued."(365) Each has, so to speak, this other proposition haunting it and tempting one to follow reason or sense respectively. The continent person draws his conclusion under the influence of the first universal, while the incontinent under the second. In the latter's case Thomas notes that "although he may know universally, nevertheless he does not know in particular because he adopts the premise not in keeping with reason but in keeping with concupiscence."(366)

In the Summa Theologica Aquinas observes that such a syllogism may be multiple insofar as an end in one can become a means to an end in another, thus falling under the election itself.(367) Thus, health is seen as an end for the doctor, but since the health of the body is ordered to the good of the soul, the doctor may freely choose to elect health or sickness for the patient in view of this hierarchy of values. This is often the case in moral matters wherein the good of a particular sensitive appetite should be subordinated to the higher good of reason if the action is to be morally good, that is, consonant with the rule of reason as it is guided by divine law.





Continuing in the analysis of the progressive specification of the object of the will, it is now possible to relate the above deliberative and syllogistic process terminating in the practico-practical judgment in the area of morality. The object was first apprehended as a physical and/or sensuous good satisfying the appetite of a particular faculty or contrariwise as a physical and/or sensuous evil threatening the good of appetite. It will become apparent that this progressive specification renders this a moral object specified according to its moral dimensions or circumstances. In so doing the practico-practical judgment, spoken of in the previous chapter, is brought under the influence of the universal norms of morality. This is done insofar as the contemplated action is related to man as a rational being, which is effected by reason itself acting in its capacity as rule of human action. It will, however, consider reason as enlightened by the eternal law insofar as the latter directs human action to natural happiness or beatitude. The following points must be considered in this chapter: the twofold rule governing human action reason as the specific rule of human action and the intellectual evil presupposed in every instance of the non-consideration of the rule of reason and divine law.


In various places in Thomas' writings one finds the assertion that human action has a twofold rule to govern it in its operations, namely, reason and divine law.(368) The basis for such a twofold rule is found in the fact that man is a creature composed of a twofold nature. Since there are both lower and higher faculties in man, there is a definite order to be had among these faculties "based on the fact that what is less primary is subordinated to what is more primary."(369) The higher aspect of human nature is to be regulated by the higher rule, namely, the divine or eternal law, while its lower nature is to be regulated by reason. As shall be seen, in both instances it is reason that is the active principle by which all human action is so regulated; however, insofar as reason itself is regulated by the eternal law, a twofold rule is attributed to human action.

Thomas remarks that, just as every effect depends upon and is subordinate to the First Cause, so reason stands in a twofold relationship to human action.(370) As effect to cause, it is subordinated to the eternal law, of which reason is a mere participation or reflection: reason is the light of the divine law found in human reason. On the other hand, as cause to effect, reason is the guide or rule of both voluntary and sensitive appetition. These latter are subordinated to reason insofar as they receive their truly human character, inasmuch as they are directed to a due end by the rule or light of reason, enlightened by divine law.

This dual relation of reason to divine law and to its subordinate appetites is discussed by Aquinas in terms of the `superior' and `inferior' reason in man. Distinguishing them as two aspects of the same faculty, he insists that there are not really two reasons but a twofold relationship of reason.(371) This relationship is based upon the fact that there are natures above and below man insofar as man is a rational being: above man, there are the angelic and divine natures, and below him the non-rational beings. As such, these diverse natures differ from human nature insofar as the latter's actions proceed from reason and will. In contrast, for the angelic nature its manner of intellection is intuition and for irrational beings their manner of knowing is determined purely on the sensitive level. In the case of angelic knowledge the relationship of their willing/acting to the divine and human natures is not one entailing species. The angel cannot misintuit its own simple nature and itself as an object of self-love, but only insofar as it can will the latter without considering the divine as its ultimate end and/or good. In regard to human nature, it is assumed that the angel as higher being in no way is necessitated to consult such. In the case of man, however, these natures are to be so considered. According to Thomas, in terms of reason's diverse relations to these higher and lower natures it takes on diverse functions.

In respect to the superior natures reason may contemplate the eternal truths found therein or garner from them directives as regard the regulation of human action. The first is a type of speculative science, while the latter looks to the practical order of operation, providing the principles associated with the speculative-practical judgment. As such, this deliberation is not directly related to the inferior reason; it merely provides the speculative-practical principles to be used in future considerations.(372) It is by reason of this relation of reason to the superior natures, specifically, the Divine, that reason is called by Thomas "superior reason." This is by reason of this second function of receiving from the eternal verities directives pertinent to its own operations as rule of human action; whereby it is seen as regulated by the divine law.

In respect to lower natures, reason may turn to them through a consideration of their natures and activities or by considering them in view of disposing them in their operations. The first of these considerations, as noted, gives rise to a type of speculative knowledge, whereas the second looks to the practical order of operation, issuing in speculative-practical judgments about the suitability of such things as they relate to human action. In attempting to understand better Thomas' thinking here we might say that in the first instance, namely, speculative knowledge, the garnering of insights into the sensible and/or sensuous aspect of human nature as evidenced in lower animals might prove beneficial for man's learning more about his own sensible/sensuous nature, whereas in regard to the speculative-practical judgment any practical benefit to be had from observing the activities of lower animals appears less obvious. However, one should not rule out the possibility of profiting therefrom given the abuse of nature now recognized by environmentalists and the researches done by those, for example, studying the behaviors of dolphins, elephants, and many other lower species.

In the Summa Theologica one finds the most synthetic treatment of the two aspects of reason as they relate to the deliberative or syllogistic process so essential to an understanding of reason's role as rule of moral action.(373) The first observation pertinent to this matter regards the relation of the two reasons in respect to our human knowledge: this constitutes their primary basis for the distinction. Thomas remarks: "Now these two--namely, eternal and temporal--are related to our knowledge in this way, that one of them is the means of knowing the other."(374) Looked at in terms of that mode of knowledge called by Thomas "invention," it is through temporal things that we come to a knowledge of eternal matters; however, viewed from the aspect of knowledge through judgment, he notes " . . . while by way of judgment, from eternal things already known, we judge of temporal things, and according to laws of things eternal we dispose of temporal things."(375) This then is the relation of superior to inferior reason. Man's judgment concerning particular things is influenced by his knowledge of eternal truths, and the latter aid in disposing his judgment about temporal matters. In other words, the superior reason through its `counseling' or consideration of the divine law--that is, the eternal truths as they provide `rules of action'--is regulated by the divine law and is informed with the speculative-practical principles required in human judgments. It provides the universal norms of human conduct.

In another article Thomas further describes the nature of this `deliberative process' as it relates to the superior and inferior reasons. "It (higher reason) does not regard the objects of the lower powers, except insofar as it consults the eternal law about them, and so it does not regard them save by way of deliberation."(376) The basic intuitions from which this deliberation proceeds are had by reason of the simple contemplation of the divine truths, just as in speculative reasonings there is an intuition or comprehension of natures which act as the principles for the formation of the propositions and the syllogizing.(377) Thus, it is in the practical syllogism that the superior reason plays such an important role. The initial contemplations of the eternal truths are the basic elements which enter into the formation of the speculative-practical judgments or of the universal norms of morality. These, in turn, provide the major premise in the practical syllogism which constitutes the framework of the final specification of the object presented to the will in the last practical judgment.

Before drawing a final conclusion regarding the relation of the superior reason to the practical judgment, it should be noted that Thomas considers the proper object of inferior reason to be the singular pleasures (`delectabilia') of the lower appetites.(378) He speaks of its act as being a type of `inferior judgment' or a judgment that centers around the `preambulum' to the human act.(379) In other words, when reason merely regards temporal and mutable realities, uninformed by the principles and deliberations drawn from divine law, it stands only at the threshold of truly human action and finds itself dealing with temporal matters on an extremely limited level. This is why Aquinas concludes that the consent of the will to act is rooted in the superior reason and not in the inferior reason.(380)

Basic to this conclusion is the relation of the superior reason to the last practical judgment, about which he notes: "Now we must observe that in every case brought up for judgment, the final sentence belongs to the supreme court."(381) This may be seen in terms of speculative matters by the fact that the last conclusion about any proposition is given through a resolution to first principles. So in practical matters the last conclusion or the final practical judgment pertains ultimately to the superior reason, that is, to reason as informed by the divine law. It would be well to quote Thomas in his synthesis of this doctrine in terms of the two rules governing human action:

But it is evident that human acts can be regulated by the rule of human reason, which rule is derived from created things that man knows naturally; and further still, from the rule of the Divine law, the higher rule, it follows that the ultimate sentence, whereby the judgment is finally pronounced, belongs to the higher reason which is intent on the eternal types.(382)

It seems quite evident that Thomas draws heavily from St. Augustine in his understanding of `superior reason'--a reason enlightened by divine illumination. As with the latter, Thomas' "higher reason . . . intent on the eternal types" is not to be construed as entering upon the `supernatural', as might be implied in his contrasting it with the "rule of human reason . . . derived from created things that man knows naturally." Again, it reflects his `Christian' philosophy which provides for truths knowable in themselves, but which require divine illumination to understand their deeper significance. Nor does this preclude man's knowing certain `divine' matters by reason alone, according to a more comprehensive understanding of Aquinas's thought, such as the `existence of a First Cause' or in the moral order that `good should be sought and evil avoided.'

This becomes more evident if one considers the final conclusion drawn by Thomas in this matter: one of particular interest to the present investigation, namely, the relation of the two reasons specifically to the question of moral evil. A complete treatment of the latter must await our later analysis of the specific question of ignorance involved in such sinful action. He writes:

Therefore the consent to an action belongs properly to the higher reason, while the preliminary judgment which is about the deliberation belongs to the lower reason, which delivers judgment in a lower court: although the higher reason can also judge of the delectation, since whatever is subject to the judgment of the lower court, is subject also to the judgment of the higher court, but not conversely.(383)

As applied to the appetites, sin is said to be in the lower reason insofar as the movement of the appetite follows upon its inferior judgment a judgment enlightened only by human considerations rooted in the senses. Thus, a man tempted to steal will consider this act as contrary to the moral virtue of justice insofar as such an act is contrary to the good of the species; however, such an act as considered by the higher reason as contrary to divine law would find its sin in the superior reason. Still, in both cases there is a judgment and, therefore, an act proper to reason, although on two different levels of deliberation. Thus, sin is said to be the result of either process, if after the moral specification of the inferior or superior reasons, the act is performed contrary to their respective rules, namely, reason and divine law. As long as there is that "deception in the proper deliberation" of either reason, there is sin, although of diverse gravity by reason of difference in the type and depth of the knowledge involved.

According to Thomas, since the consent to the act is found in the terminating character of the final judgment, it is there that the full notion of sin is verified insofar as sin is a privation of species, mode, and measure. The privation of species pertains to the area of `delectation' wherein the good is only an apparent or relative one, but not a good for man absolutely. In the case of the mode and measure the deprivation pertains to the defect of the action in regard to its higher rule, that is, the divine law which should inform reason. Perhaps one way of helping to clarify this distinction would be to reserve the term `sin' for acts performed contrary to the divine law and `moral evil' for those contrary to reason alone; whatever its merits, however, this more restrictive use of the terms is found neither in Thomas nor in our present investigation.

As has been noted, since the final judgment always pertains to superior reason which judges "about all things," the consent to the act given by the superior reason in this final judgment always involves a grave sin ex genere suo if the object in question be contrary to the divine law. Regarding a human act, there will always be in the consent a privation of mode and measure in terms of the non-consideration of a truly rational good. This twofold deprivation follows from the fact that "in man there is a twofold apprehension to be directed by a superior rule." Sensitive knowledge must be directed by reason and the knowledge of reason by wisdom or the divine law.(384)

Therefore, Thomas concludes evil may be in man's appetite in a twofold way: in one way when sensitive apprehension is not regulated according to reason, for example, seeking an object harmful to one's physical well being; and in another, when human reason is not directed according to divine law, for example, coveting another's wife. The former involves a deprivation of species wherein an evil object is sought, whereas the latter entails a deprivation of mode and order, that is, the seeking of a suitable good but in an inordinate way.(385) From these considerations two things follow: one is that sin is present in action insofar as that action relates to reason; the other is that the proper act of reason is deliberation and as such is involved in sin in terms of a kind of deception that occurs. These two notions will be basic in the next two sections of this chapter, namely, as regards reason as the specific rule of human action and the ignorance involved in a sinful choice.(386)


In the De Malo Thomas develops his theory of the moral specification of human action.(387) He begins by observing that, although the good imports a certain perfection, the good of one thing is not necessarily the good of another; for example, the good of an animal is not necessarily the good of a man. As a specific example of this principle, he offers an illustration in terms of sexual intercourse. Considered as a physical action this is a good of nature; but, when related to various beings or to the various faculties of these beings, it takes on new aspects as regard good and evil. For an animal it is in a sense an absolute good insofar as it perfectly conforms to the highest part of its nature, which is specifically a sensitive one: it is the specific act devised to prolong the species and hence an absolute good for the species. If it should become a particular instance a physical evil for this or that individual animal, it still would be essentially an absolute good, although an accidental evil by reason of a particular circumstance, for example, the physical condition of the brute.

The case is otherwise with man; for him sexual intercourse may be said to be at most only a relative good insofar as it is a good satisfying a lower faculty of human nature. This faculty is sensitive, although man is specifically rational. It may, therefore, be considered only a relative good to the degree that it is regulated by man's higher faculty of reason enlightened by the divine law. It will be left to reason to judge the relative value of this particular good in terms of the circumstances surrounding the action, and especially in relation to reason's ordering it by proper intention to a due end.

Thomas continues his analysis of the relative character of actions according as they proceed from certain principles by noting that, if one considers an act merely as an act, its goodness consists in its being a certain emanation in respect to a certain power of an agent. Thus, according to the diversity of agents, there will be a diversity of acts as regards good and evil. Among natural things the good act is that which is suitable to the nature of the agent. Essentially no other consideration need be made. This is true even of human action in regard to human agency, that is, the good and evil character of human actions will be determined in terms of their suitability to man as man. In this way an act, if it is to be considered morally or humanly, should be compared to man insofar as it is suitable to him as a rational being. However, a certain difference should be noted: the term of reference in the case of the rational being is not a static relationship. It refers to man's highest principle or faculty, namely, reason, which must actively consider the nature, circumstances, and order of the action. It must actively judge this particular object or good in reference to human nature considered in manifold relationships to self, others, society, and the divine order. Thomas offers an excellent analysis of this active consideration on the part of reason in the article cited above from the De Malo:

Since an act receives its species from its object, the act compared to one active principle will be specified according to a formality of the object, according to which formality it will not be specified compared to another active principle. . . . If then we consider the objects of human acts that have differences according to something essentially (per se) pertaining to reason, the acts will be different in species according as they are acts pertaining reason, although they are not different species according as they are acts of some other power: for example, to know one's own wife [i.e., sexually] and to know a wife not one's own are acts having objects differing according to something pertaining to reason: for "one's own" and "not one's own" are determined according to the rule of reason, which differences however are accidental if they are referred to the generative power or even to the concupiscible power.(388)

It is obvious from the above quotation that reason is the principle which actively perceives and formulates the distinction between `mine' and `thine'; and it is in reference to this distinction that the object takes on a new moral specification. It is then not sufficient merely to refer this object to man as a rational being without at the same time considering that same `rationality' as an active principle which will, through its rational processes, determine the particular moral species of the object and present that object thus specified to the will: this is what is meant by the reason as the rule of human action. In this same article, however, Thomas also notes that reason is not left to itself in this process of moral judgment; rather it is "reason informed by divine law, either naturally or by teaching or by infusion."(389) Thus, he presents us with the twofold rule of human action, namely, reason and the divine law and their mutual relationship.

A more precise definition of Thomas' notion of the reason as a rule of human action and its relation to the eternal law might prove helpful. He gives various senses to the term `reason' in his writings. At one time he uses it in the sense of the faculty or power itself.(390) In another instance he understands reason as the operation of that faculty, the rational act proceeding from the power.(391) A third use is had in its being the dictate of the faculty concerning a particular contemplated act in relation to its moral circumstances.(392) As has been explained in the previous chapter, this dictate of reason is the product of practical reason, involving a type of syllogistic reasoning wherein the end acts as the principle(s) of the demonstration and the particular good in question as the minor premise. The conclusion of such is the last practical judgment.

In light of what has been mentioned above, these principles may come from three sources: nature, divine revelation, or infusion. Neither of the latter two concerns us in our investigation; however, the first stands in need of some clarification. `Reason' as rule of human action is informed by learned principles, intuitions, and conclusions drawn from experience, some of which are connaturally enlightened by divine law in contradistinction to those learned from revelation or infusion. The difference here, for our purposes, is critical since only those which, at least potentially, are cognizable by human reason are susceptible of direct attention. For Thomas, however, divine revelation stands as an external context which urges philosophers to test out by natural reason a number of avenues which otherwise might not have occured to them to investigate. For example left to itself on the speculative level reason might never have investigated the possibility that `the world was not created in time': a truth which even Aristotle never understood. On the practical or moral level Thomas exemplifies this relationship through marital relations being between "I" and "thou", in contrast to mere sexual relations with others: left to itself reason might theoretically have been able to infer this `moral circumstance', but on the practical and/or actual level never become aware of it.


In the previous chapter this syllogistic process was described in terms of the intellectual framework into which the moral specification of objects is woven. Now, it is necessary to apply this framework specifically to the question of morality as it relates to the rule of reason and divine law. In this regard it should be noted that the reason in its syllogistic demonstration about the particular suitability of an object is able to consider or not to consider the rule of morality. In other words, it is able to come to a practico-practical judgment about a particular good without referring that good to the moral law, that is, without regulating the action by reason informed by the universal norms of morality as its proper rule. This omission of consideration, however, will be seen to involve a certain ignorance as well as culpability. At present, it need only be observed that reason is obliged to consider these universal norms before it proceeds to its final judgment, relating a particular good presented to the will for election to these universal norms.

Specifically, this means that reason acting in its role as rule of human action is obliged to order the actions of the appetitive faculties to a due end, which end acts as the principle in the syllogistic process and is embodied in its major premise. Whether this end is good depends upon whether it has been drawn by superior reason from the universal norms of morality enlightened by divine law. If such is the case, then the action proceeds under the twofold rule. This amounts to reason being informed by the virtue of prudence in its consideration of the universal knowledge required to act with moral rectitude. If, on the other hand, instead of these universal norms being used in forming the major of the syllogism the reason is informed with considerations drawn by inferior reason only from the sensible and delectable order, then the action proceeding therewith will not be duly regulated. This means that such action will be morally evil insofar as the object sought after will not be a morally specified one, which is due to the non-consideration of the rule of human action. Much of the moral specification is implicit and unconscious in any particular ratiocination as regards a specified good here and now to be chosen as best by this individual. Thus, it seems appropriate to work out in explicit detail the syllogistic process by which a final practical judgment concerning the moral dimensions is attained.

There are really two practical syllogisms, as has been said, one issuing in a speculative-practical judgment and the other in a practico-practical judgment. An example of the first would be: "Stealing is forbidden by divine law. This act which attracts me is an act of stealing. Therefore, this act which attracts me is forbidden by divine law." The conclusion of this speculative-practical syllogism expresses the rule of reason as attained by the contemplation of divine law through the superior reason. In turn in its role as active rule superior reason should regulate the motions of the appetitive faculties; thus, in the above syllogism there is a consideration of a universal norm or law and a particular act subsumed under that law. It remains, however, a speculative-practical syllogism, that is, speculative insofar as it concludes to a purely speculative judgment about the morality of an act, but practical insofar as it looks to action or operation. Such reasoning constitutes the material studied in ethical theory.

As an example of the second type of practical syllogism, which is of primary concern in this investigation, one might consider the following: "Stealing is forbidden by divine law. This act which attracts me is stealing and would cause me to deviate from what I love best, namely, the rule of reason. Therefore, I shall not do it." Or, on the contrary: "Stealing is forbidden by divine law. This act which attracts me is stealing, and I make it to be what I love bethomas Therefore, I shall do it." The conclusions expressed in these two syllogisms are both practico-practical judgments explicitly specifying the act to be preferred by an individual as morally good or evil respectively. Since the will necessarily follows the last practical judgment of the intellect, the ensuing action in the first example is regulated by reason as informed by the principles of divine law, whereas the action following from the second is not so regulated. What exactly does regulate it and what type of ignorance and/or deception is therein implied will be discussed in the following section. Here it need only be said that in the first instance there is a consideration of the rule of reason, whereas in the second there is a voluntary non-consideration of same.

It is then in regard to this practico-practical judgment that Thomas understands reason to be the rule of human action, insofar as it is an enunciation through a dictate of practical reason of what is to be done or avoided in a particular situation. That conclusion is arrived at through an active consideration of the object, taken in its concrete circumstances and compared with the universal norms of morality known through the speculative-practical reason enlightened by divine law. Reason, therefore, is the rule or measure of human acts, and specifically, of the appetitive motions of man.(393) These motions, being by definition non-cognitive, demand reason to measure and guide them to their due end. In themselves these motions are neither good nor evil, both of which will depend on whether these motions are or are not regulated by reason.(394) Reason accomplishes this task through the moral virtues which inform the particular faculties, if such virtues actually be present: "The good of moral virtue consists in conformity with the rule of reason."(395)

In this capacity of rule of human action, reason is viewed by Thomas as a type of law which participates in divine law.(396) Now law is a dictate of reason promulgated by a competent authority. Insofar as it is a dictate, it is a judgment. The eternal or divine law is the divine nature viewed as regulating through specific enunciations the good order of things. Its imprint is found in nature in terms of the physical laws governing things. For Aquinas, however, this is not properly law strictly understood, but only in an analogous sense.(397) Law strictly considered must be a dictate of reason or intelligence promulgating what is to be done or avoided; as such, it is an active or dynamic act of reason. Man as nature certainly is a reflection of divine law in the broader sense, as is all physical nature; on the other hand, man as rational being participates in a more real or stricter sense in this eternal law through a similar rational enunciation by his own reason of what is right or wrong.

The article in the Summa Theologica on reason as the rule and measure of human acts shows how Thomas understands its character as a type of law in the strict sense.(398) Therein he asserts that reason is such a rule insofar as it orders human acts toward their due end; and it pertains essentially to reason to enact such ordering. From this Aquinas concludes that law itself is "something pertaining to reason," which incorporates such in its very definition as a function of reason. It cannot then be doubted that reason as a kind of law dictating to humans their obligations in any set of particular circumstances is a definite proof that reason performs its ruling function as an active principle which regulates the appetitions of human faculties, both sensitive and voluntary. Reason then becomes the first principle of human acts. Here Thomas uses the term `human' in its formal sense as opposed to merely `acts of man'. If, moreover, it is true that the first principle of all activity in man as a natural being is nature, the first manifestation by which properly human activity differs from the activity of man as nature is to be found in such action as an act of reason. Thomas summarizes this by saying: "Reason is the first principle of all human acts; and whatever other principles of human acts may be found, they obey reason somewhat, but in various ways."(399)

It can be concluded, therefore, that reason is the first principle of human action insofar as all actions are human only to the extent that they come under the aegis of reason. As formal principle of human action, it is the active principle to which all objects and circumstances surrounding such objects must be referred in order to determine their moral species. Finally, it is the proper principle of the human act, since it is the proper faculty of man as rational being.

It is a much mooted point whether Thomas' notion of reason as the standard of moral specification is to be understood in terms of the substantial form in man or of reason itself as an active principle specifying the moral act. As can be inferred from the all that has been said thus far, the author has adopted the latter opinion in this controversy, deeming it an essential element in the existential understanding of Aquinas's approach to being and causality. It might be well, however, to summarize these two apparently opposing views in order to appreciate the true role of reason in regulating human actions.

Some have held that reason is a term used by Thomas to signify rationality, which is the specific form of man; and thus, it is human nature objectively and statically considered that constitutes the standard in moral matters.(400) To do otherwise would, according to them, render morality a somewhat relative matter without any objective foundation. The other school of thought maintains that reason in this context is to be understood as man's form dynamically considered in its operation through man's highest and proper faculty, namely, reason.(401) As has previously been explained, it operates in a syllogistic fashion, albeit unconsciously, in drawing its moral conclusions. In so doing, it is not left to itself but is enlightened by divine law, especially natural or positive law. If neither of the these be obvious to the reason in its deliberations, it can fall back, so to speak, on a careful reflection on human nature, deducing therefrom further conclusions about human actions.

Accepting Elter and Lehu as classical representatives of these two views the following points may be garnered from perusing their published writings.(402) Both agree that reason is the proximate rule of human acts.(403) Also they agree that nature "nude sumpta" is not the rule, but only the foundation of the moral rule.(404) They disagree, however, on the following two points: Elter maintains that the rule of reason needs an anterior rule to rectify it formally, this rule being nature, which rule he calls "complete spectata."(405) Lehu, on the other hand, categorically denies these two assumptions, maintaining that reason at the moment it acts as rule of human volition is by that very fact constituted the rule and measure of the entire moral order. He denies, moreover, the existence of such a concept of nature, that is, "complete spectata," in Thomas' philosophy. He writes:

One might tell me perhaps that, considered from the point of view of content, both nature `complete spectata' of P. Elter and right reason such as we have exposed it do not differ extremely. This is possible. But then, the more reason for not abandoning the terminology of S. Thomas, `regula rationis'; for not giving preference to a formula that he has expressly reproved, `the rule of nature' . . . an expression which places under the word of nature a crowd of things which are not nature, nature `complete spectata'.(406)

Fundamentally, it boils down to Thomas' dynamic existentialism as opposed to a static essentialism. For him, even the nature of the First Cause, although the objective foundation of the divine law, is not the proximate source of the First Cause action. As regards the moral law, its nature as such does not dictate the moral order but grounds it, so to speak, as the basis for promulgating the divine law in its intellectual `fiat.'


Since the non-consideration of the rule of reason and divine law involves some type of deception according to Thomas,(407) it seems necessary to conclude this chapter on the rule of morality with an analysis of the intellectual deficiency found in evil action, that is, in every moral action not specified according to the principles of superior reason. In so doing an attempt will be made to correlate the above material on the syllogistic process in the moral specification of an object with the ignorance, which Thomas says is found in every sinful act. This consideration will lead us into the final and most important feature regarding moral evil, namely, the deficient causality implied in every evil election infected by this ignorance or deception.

First, a review of the various types of ignorance should be made, isolating that specific type which pertains to the deception involved in morally evil or sinful action. Thomas discusses this matter insofar as ignorance causes or does not cause involuntary action as it relates to the following underlying principle: ignorance causes an act to be involuntary to the degree that it deprives the agent of knowledge needed for the voluntary positing of human action.(408) It should, however, be noted that not every type of ignorance deprives a person of such knowledge. On the basis of the contribution ignorance makes to the involuntary character of human action, it breaks down into three types: concomitant, antecedent, and consequent.

Specifically, concomitant ignorance concerns some matter which is being effected but which action the ignorance does not cause; that is, the action would have been done regardless of this lack of knowledge of its being contrary to law or inopportune in view of the surrounding circumstances. Such ignorance in no way renders the act involuntary, although it may be said to cause a kind of `non-voluntary' action insofar as one cannot will what he does not know. Antecedent ignorance, on the other hand, is the cause of the voluntary act itself insofar as the action would never have been posited had the matter concerning which there is ignorance been known. Such ignorance presupposes that the agent in no way is obliged to know, or at least conscious of his obligation to know, the fact or law pertinent to the action. Neither of these types of ignorance furnishes one with the specific type involved in evil election, since neither type is itself strictly voluntary.

It is consequent ignorance, a voluntary type of ignorance, which is involved in evil choice, for this ignorance presupposes an act of the will as direct or indirect cause. Thomas distinguishes these two types of consequent ignorance in terms of the two kinds of voluntary action wherein they are found. An act may be directly voluntary when the consequent ignorance itself is directly willed; in other words, the agent wills to be ignorant of a particular fact or law connected with the action. In the case of indirect volition, however, what is willed directly is foreseen as the cause of something else. The ignorance with regard to this consequent is not the direct object of the will; rather a particular good is willed without caring to know the facts surrounding the action or the laws governing it. In essence it is evil choice effected by omission, which is voluntary insofar as the agent fails to ascertain such matters as he can or ought to know; as such, it may proceed from passion or habit, on the one hand, or from sheer negligence.

It is this latter type of consequent ignorance that Aquinas employs in his analysis of the ignorance involved in every immoral or sinful act. He writes:

In another way is one's ignorance said to be voluntary because someone can and ought to know: for thus not to act and not to will is said to be voluntary. . . . Therefore in this way ignorance is said to be either when anyone actually does not consider what he can and ought to consider, which is the ignorance of evil election, proceeding either from passion or from habit; or when anyone does not take pains to acquire knowledge which he ought to have; and according to this way of ignorance of the universals of law, which one is held to know, is called voluntary, proceeding, as it were, from negligence.(409)

In so doing Thomas has isolated that specific type of ignorance found in the syllogistic process as it relates to moral specification, distinguishing again the ignorance of universal laws vis-à-vis superior reason from the ignorance of the particular moral nature of an object sought by the will. The former is the result of the non-consideration of the rule of divine law while the latter is results from the actual non-consideration of the rule of reason insofar as reason is not informed by the proper universal norms at the time it proceeds to regulate the motions of the appetitive faculties. In the human act these two aspects of non-consideration coalesce in terms of reason in its role as `regulans', that is, as rule or measure of the appetites and in its role as `regulata' or ruled by divine law.

The difference between these two types of indirect ignorance is that the ignorance of evil election involves a non-consideration of those things which ought to be considered at the very moment of the person's willing whereas the other type proceeds from some previous negligence in not seeking the truth about universal norms which ought to be known in view of future action. This previous negligence becomes evil or sinful in cause immediately insofar as such knowledge will be required to regulate human action. In the case of ignorance in evil election there is not required, as such, an ignorance of the universal norms of morality, although Thomas does admit the possibility of false judgment in the concrete resulting from an ignorance of these norms.(410) It usually results, however, from the disposition of the subject as modified by passion or habit. In this light the particular relative good, which is simply evil in terms of the universal norms of morality, is seen by the subject as absolutely good here and now. As will be shown, Aquinas insists that another universal judgment has been substituted as major premise for the proper one drawn from a contemplation of divine law; this substitute has been drawn from a consideration of the merely sensible and pleasurable order by inferior reason.

Thomas further develops his notion of ignorance of evil election when he remarks in the Summa Theologica that such ignorance does not result from a lack of knowledge of what one ought to know, but rather of what one ought to do.(411) In other words, the person might have an abundance of speculative-practical knowledge about the morality of acts. But when it comes to view the particular object before him, he fails to apply his universal knowledge to this concrete case, although knowing all the while that his particular judgment should be regulated by such knowledge. It is simply a matter of knowing what is right or what one ought to do and not having the will, so to speak, to do it: the age-old story of the spirit being willing but the flesh weak. Viewed from the standpoint of the syllogistic process Aquinas says that such universal knowledge does not become the principle of any act unless it be applied to the particular object in question. In other words, unless the speculative-practical conclusion of the first syllogism presented above be incorporated as major premise into the second syllogism issuing in a practico-practical judgment it is not reflected in one's action.(412)

In order better to appreciate Thomas' thought regarding the ignorance of evil election it would be helpful to consider his analysis of this so-called `substitute-syllogism,' which is found in his Commentary on the Ethics.(413) He remarks therein that, if anyone wishes to consider the cause wherefore an incontinent person acts outside the aegis of right reason, it is necessary to observe that the syllogistic process employed in such instances involves a twofold judgment: one on the speculative level, the other on the practical. The former regards the universal truth about moral actions whereas the latter looks only to the particular. What actually happens is that another end has been substituted for the end proper to man as a rational being; inferior reason has taken over the regulation of human action without being informed by the truths drawn from divine law.

As an example, he cites the case of the incontinent person, noting that, if he sees pleasure as his end, any particular pleasure that arouses his passion will be seen as a good to be sought here and now. Only the conviction that what has been dictated by the superior reason is the absolute best in his regard will save him from evil election when a particular good presents itself, for example, when the person is confronted with a sweet of some sort, to use Thomas' illustration. He concludes that "it is necessary that he who can taste will taste immediately, unless there be something prohibiting" him from taking the sweet.(414) This `something' is the conviction drawn from divine law that sweet things should not be indulged in inordinately, that is, in a certain set of circumstances which, it should be said, are presupposed in the example. He writes:

On the part of the reason there is proposed a universal prohibiting drinking sweet things inordinately, for example, nothing sweet is to be drunk beyond an hour. But on the part of the concupiscence there is posited that every sweet thing is pleasurable, which is sought directly by the concupiscence. Since concupiscence binds the reason in the concrete, it (reason) does not subsume under the universal reason that . . . this is beyond the hour, but it is subsumed under the universal of concupiscence that this is sweet. So follows the conclusion of the operation.(415)

Three things should be noted from the above: the need to restrain action on the part of universal reason, if concupiscence is not to rule a person's appetitions; the binding force on the part of concupiscence, if such a rule is not present; and the utilization by the sensuous person of another universal proposition drawn from concupiscence. As regards the first two observations, Thomas goes on to remark that concupiscence gains the upper hand over reason, which is, as it were, bound in its operation, when concupiscence is so vehement as to do away with reason's inclination to resist the onslaughts of lower nature. As a result, the person "acts incontinently against reason and the universal judgment."(416) In fact, Thomas concludes that he who does not possess the habit of this universal knowledge or has it bound by passion cannot actually know the truth concerning a particular object on the sensible level. In other words, if reason has not been informed by the norms of divine law, or if passion binds the reason in its application of such, the individual will be moved to choose the particular good as unregulated by its proper rule: reason informed by divine law.

Thomas applies to habit what he has said about passion in a more limited sense:

Just as a passion present in the irascible or concupiscible power is the cause of choice inasmuch as it fetters the reason for the moment, so a habit established in these powers is the cause of choice inasmuch as it fetters the reason, not now after the manner of a transient passion but after the manner of an immanent form.(417)

The words `existing in these powers' are especially noteworthy since in this way Thomas limits his parallel of passion and habits to evil habits in the concupiscible and irascible appetites. The only real difference between habits of this sort and passions insofar as they affect reason in its judgment is in terms of the temporal aspect. This is, passion is a transient and momentary binding of reason, while evil habits in these appetites are permanent qualities, and as such bind reason in a lasting manner in relation to lower nature and its pleasurable objects.

Such a consideration of habit and its effects on reason is much more restrictive than the effects resulting from evil habit as it resides in the will itself, which Thomas identifies with malice as rendering the will ill-disposed to the end itself.(418) This distinction will be of great import insofar as habit is related to the particular type of ignorance involved in a sin from habit or malice, in contrast to a sin from passion or habit taken in its more restricted sense in terms of the sensitive appetites.

Aquinas explains the type of ignorance effected by the passions or habits rooted in the latter appetites as compared with habit or malice in the will itself in the Summa Theologica.(419) He remarks that " . . . man's appetite seeking an evil presupposes some corruption in the principles from which the activity proceeds, namely, the intellect, will, the sense appetites and even the bodily organism. Sin, as such, is present only to the degree that the action proceeds from a corruption of the intellect and will themselves as the moral faculties in man, or indirectly from a corruption of the sensitive appetites or bodily organism as these influence reason and will. If inordinate movements follow from the sensitive appetites or bodily organism without the deliberation of reason, there is, strictly speaking, no sin; however, insofar as sin proceeds from these under this deliberation there is a sin of delectation and even of consent. The superior reason has failed to regulate the inferior reason in its rule of human appetition.

According to Aquinas, each of these specific corruptions and corresponding evil appetitions demand a particular type of ignorance in that each deprives the subject of knowledge in a specific way. A corruption on the part of the intellect excludes that type of knowledge by which someone knows simply that such and such is evil, and the evil action following upon such corruption is commonly referred to by Thomas as a "sin from ignorance." A defect on the part of sense appetite, on the other hand, excludes the knowledge by which a person knows that this particular object here and now is evil, in which case the evil action is called a "sin from passion or infirmity." Finally, on the part of the will as it is turned toward evil as a connatural good there is an ignorance which excludes the knowledge by which someone knows that this evil should not be sustained in view of the attainment of that good. Evil proceeding from this type of ignorance is called a "sin from malice or habit."

Specifically, in the case of a `sin from passion' the will is well disposed toward the good as such, that is, toward the end. But due to the vehemence of passion at a particular moment reason mistakes this absolute evil as the good here and now suitable to the present dispositions and inclinations of the subject. In the case of a sin from habit or malice, however, the will is evilly disposed even toward the end itself, and since the end is the principle of willing, such an inclination toward an evil end as experienced by the malicious will corrupts in turn those things viewed as means to the end.(420) Here there is no mistaking an absolute evil for a good; rather, there is question of what the good itself is in relation to this corrupt will. Thomas describes this type of evil election thus: "a man wishes knowingly a spiritual evil, which is evil simply, whereby he is deprived of a spiritual good, in order to possess a temporal good: whereby he is said to sin through a certain malice or on purpose, because he chooses evil knowingly."(421)

In such a sin there is no direct mistaking the evil character of the particular good to be obtained; rather, due to the evil propensity or inclination of the will itself it is sought in spite of such particular knowledge. There is, however, an indirect mistaking of the nature of the particular resulting from a mistake about the end itself. For this reason Thomas further characterizes the different types of evildoers, namely, the one from passion as "one electing sins" and the one from habit as "one who sins from election."(422) In the case of the sin from passion, passion itself is the first principle moving the will to choose evil through the particular misevaluation of the reason, whereas, in the case of sin from habit, the election is the principle of the sin since the will is turned toward an evil before the oncoming of this particular evil object.

As applied to the evildoer who sins from evil habits residing in his sensitive appetites, that is, habit taken in a sense equivalent to passion, the same type of false estimation occurs as would happen if mere passion were involved. Specifically, the universal proposition of the inferior reason is substituted for the universal proposition of the superior reason, and the particular good, which is an absolute evil in respect to man as such, is seen as a good here and now to be elected. There is, however, the above mentioned temporal difference in the two deliberations inasmuch as the evil habit being a permanent quality disposes the sensitive appetites to react against reason in a permanent fashion in regard to anything correspondingly pleasurable on the sense level. For example, one whose concupiscible appetite is infected with the habit of incontinence will view sensual objects always as goods to be chosen here and now unless that habit be removed by the will or unless some other determining factor intervene. This other factor could be the universal norm which has not been maliciously laid aside, but only substituted for by a universal drawn from sense. As will be the case with evil habit or malice, there is no ill disposition toward the ultimate end itself, but a mere substitution of ends. However, in both actions arising from passion and habit in the restricted sense, there is a false estimation of the absolutely evil character of this particular good. As such, this false judgment is peculiar to human sin in involving a strict an `ignorance of evil election.'

Here, there is a difference as regards the erroneous practical judgment resulting from the syllogistic reasoning of the passionate person and that proceeding from the individual modified by evil habit residing in the sense appetites. The former person is said to mistakes the particular good as an absolute good by subsuming momentarily the minor premise under the universal drawn from the concupiscible or lower reason, whereas the latter person is continually disposed to do this. In other words, both mistake the nature of the particular good. However, the person sinning from habit residing in his will errs concerning the universal norm itself insofar as he is ill-disposed toward the ultimate end, even averted from it. The precise nature of such `ignorance' will be discussed later. Here it is merely contrasted with the ignorance involved in sins springing from habit in its more restricted sense, as explained above.

The difference between the two types of ignorance might be better appreciated if one consider the utilization of the syllogism by the sensuous person, as described by Thomas in his Commentary on the Ethics.(423) Therein he argues that the syllogism used by the incontinent or sensuous person involves four propositions. They are specifically: on the part of reason, a universal prohibiting inordinate sense appetition; on the part of concupiscence, a universal declaring the pleasurable character of the sensible, which pleasures it orders to be sought absolutely. Both of these propositions pertain to the speculative-practical premise (the major) of the practical syllogism and, as such, are held simultaneously by the incontinent/sensuous individual.

The second set of propositions deal with the minor premise. Aquinas describes them respectively as the proposition about the particular good, which is in the case of the incontinent person subsumed under the universal premise drawn from the senses by the inferior reason, and the proposition which follows as a conclusion from the premises, namely, that "this sensuous or pleasurable good is the good for me here and now."

In contrast to the above, the person sinning from habit or malice does not `simultaneously' hold both universal propositions. Rather, he rejects the one drawn from a contemplation of divine law and thereby renders his will ill-disposed toward the ultimate end itself. He turns away from the only good which will prohibit him from following the universal premise drawn from the sense by the inferior reason, and in so doing is considered `malicious.' Before analyzing this type of ignorance certain observations of Thomas on the functions of the superior and inferior reason should be noted.

In the Summa Contra Gentes he applies this doctrine of misapprehension or ignorance to the question of the inferior and superior reason, precising the intellectual counterpart of the defect presupposed in sinful action. This is a type of malicious will insofar as the latter tends of itself to a relative evil--an evil under these conditions--having removed that which prohibits such an evil appetition, namely, the restraint of divine law. It is necessary to correlate these two questions in the light of this synthesis.(424) He argues that since reason may apprehend many goods and a multiplicity of ends, there is demanded on the part of reason a presentation to the will of a proper good, if the action proceeding from the will is to be a fitting one. On the other hand, if the object presented to the will is one of mere sense apprehension unregulated by the rule of reason or some good not properly ordered to man's ultimate end, there will result evil election. In other words, this is a case of lower reason's not being regulated by superior reason. Thomas describes these two misapprehensions thus:

A defect of ordering to reason and to a proper end precedes a fault of action in the will; in regard to reason, in the case of the will inclining, on the occasion of a sudden sense apprehension, toward a good that is on the level of sensory pleasure; and in regard to a proper end, in the case when reason encounters in its deliberation some good which is not, at this time and under these conditions, really good, and yet the will inclines toward it, as if it were a proper good.(425)

Specifically, the `defect of ordering to reason' is the lack of the inferior reason's direction of the lower appetition whereas the `defect of ordering . . . to a proper end' concerns superior reason's failure to direct inferior reason in terms of its ultimate good. As regards the former, there is a mistaking of an apparent good for a real good or a good absolutely considered in terms of man as a rational creature. In the case of the latter, there is no such mistaking or misrepresentation of the object; in fact, the object is a real and absolute good, but sought under inappropriate conditions. The defect on the part of inferior reason involves a privation of species in a moral sense insofar as the object is related to reason, whereas that on the part of the superior reason involves a privation of measure and order. In other words, inferior reason chooses an inordinate good and superior reason seeks a good inordinately.

In terms of the syllogistic process, evil action resulting from ignorance as such, that is, from an ignorance of the universal norm or some fact subsumed under that norm in its major premise deprives one of the knowledge by which he knows that this action is evil. In contrast, evil action resulting from passion or equivalent habit regards the minor premise or the particular included under the universal. This deprives the individual of knowledge by which he knows this object here and now before him is absolutely evil. Finally, evil action resulting from habit or malice regards the major premise directly in the sense that a universal premise from inferior reason has been substituted for the universal proposition provided by superior reason, depriving one of knowledge whereby he or she knows that this object ought to be sustained to attain this good.

Thomas' synthesis identifies the specific type of sin proceeding from an evil or malicious will wherein there has been effected a mere "removal" of some prohibiting factor which would have restrained the subject from evil action.(426) It involves only a non-consideration of those things which ought to have been considered, namely, as known by divine law. In this final type of sinful apprehension one is deprived of the very universal norm or rule that ought to regulate his seeking proper goods. This, however, is not a mere ignorance of such a norm, but its voluntary removal through voluntary non-consideration.

The justification for this last precision regarding ignorance and/or defect in sinful action as proceeding from a malicious will (a mere defect of knowledge and not a strict ignorance) is found in various places in Aquinas. In his Summa Contra Gentes, for example, when discussing the nature of sin in a separated substance he notes that such a sin involves no strict misapprehension in terms of the true moral nature of the object sought, but only a non-consideration of those things which ought to be considered.(427) He argues that, since the nature of separated substances is simple, unlike man's composite nature, there can only be one reason in that being. In contrast, there is no question of the angel, for instance, having to intuit lower natures which are to be regulated by it in its proper actions. Hence, its sin cannot involve an error, strictly speaking, that is a false estimation of the moral character of a particular good. Rather, according to Aquinas, it must consist "in not considering the higher good to which its proper good should have been directed,"(428) the proper good being the nature itself of the separated substance.

The reason assigned for this inordinate appetition is that the angelic will is vehemently drawn toward its own good insofar as it seeks its own good inordinately by not utilizing the necessary means to attain it. Here we have a privation of measure and mode but not of species, that is, there is no question of error about the nature of the good in general or in particular, but only an unregulated appetition. Still, there must be some type of error in such a judgment in that both principles must be corrupted in a proportionate degree.(429) Every sin presupposes some defect in judgment, as has been shown, either in terms of universal or particular knowledge. The angelic intellect cannot be said to lack knowledge of divine law insofar as this is presupposed by reason of its simple intelligence knowing its own value. The angelic intellect, moreover, cannot be thought to have ignorance about its own simple and immaterial nature, which it intuits directly without species. Nor can it have a particular object of choice apart from the good of its whole nature, since it cannot be subject to passion. Therefore, its `error' must be sought in some type of defect in the intellect or judgment, namely, a non-consideration of those things which it ought to have considered as regulating its proper appetition.

This specific intellectual defect, as has been noted, is a privation of mode and measure, that is, the fallen angel sought a good suitable to itself; but, it sought it inordinately and immoderately, not seeking it by means of divine grace but by means of its own power. This manner of acting exceeds its condition as creature, as will be shown in the next chapter, insofar as every creature is subject to the divine rule in its activity. For the intellectual creature this is by ordering and measuring its activity according to the dictates of superior reason. Thomas goes on to describe the said defect of ordering as an aversion.(430) It is a sin centered upon the end insofar as the will turned itself away from that end by seeking its proper good without its direction or in a manner beyond its condition as created will. In conclusion, Thomas writes: "It is not necessary to stipulate such a defect of the intellect in the first sin of the fallen angel that he judged something falsely, . . . but rather in his failure to understand his rule and his order."(431) Obviously, Aquinas has entered upon matters found also in sacred Scriptures and treated magnificently in Milton's Paradise Lost. The work just cited by James Collins, The Thomistic Philosophy of Angels, analyzing the properly philosophical character of this reasoning is an outstanding example of metaphysical writing which illumines as well human self-understanding. Thus our own purpose in examining this area of Thomas' thought is to contrast it with the evil peculiar to the human condition wherein two aspects of intellect, and consequently two rules, are involved, entailing a certain weakness of intellect inapplicable to separated substance.

Although this type of intellectual defect is proper to the angelic sin, Thomas maintains in the Summa Theologica that it is presupposed in every sin.(432) Therein he asserts that sin may be found in the will in two ways: in one way, insofar as someone elects an evil object in which case sin proceeds from a strict error or ignorance; and in another way, inasmuch as a good is chosen but without due measure or rule. This latter type of evil appetition does not demand a strict type of ignorance, but only an absence of consideration in regard to those things which should regulate a created will's appetition. Hence, two types of defects may found in evil choice, namely, the defect of contrariety found only in a sin from passion and called strictly "the ignorance of evil election" and the defect of mere negation, which is presupposed in every sin as a mere defect of non-consideration of the higher rule.

One final remark might be made concerning an objection raised by Jacques Maritain regarding a conclusion drawn by Cardinal Cajetan in this matter. The latter commentator considers the defect of negation described above to be an ignorance, strictly so-called. He writes:

It must be said simply that the will determines the intellect to judge that one of the opposites is to be done, but diversely in goods and in evils. For, when neither of the opposites has the nature of moral evil, the will itself alone bends the judgment whither it will; but to one of the opposites which is morally evil, the will itself bends the judgment, but not unless some other defect of intellect occurs in the bending, at least a non-consideration of all that should be considered, which suffices that every evil person is ignorant, as was said concerning the sin in the angel.(433)

Cardinal Cajetan is commenting here on a passage from the Summa Theologica which explicitly refers to human appetition, since Aquinas is dealing with the relation between superior reason and passion. Therefore, the phrase `non-consideration of all that should be considered' should not be applied indiscriminately to angelic and human appetition. In the context of this passage wherein a distinction is made between universal and particular knowledge, the appetition proceeds from a non-consideration of those things that ought to be considered, which would place this particular object in its proper perspective in regard to the universal knowledge possessed by the superior reason in man. Such non-consideration involves concretely a false estimation of a particular object, which is a defect of contrariety or of knowledge in concreto. As regards the angelic sin, the context is entirely different. Therefore, it demands a further precision, as shown above, in terms of a defect of mere negation, which is not strictly a case of ignorance.

M. Maritain seems perfectly justified in his objection to this indiscriminate application of this type of ignorance to the question of the angelic sin. He argues that the latter's sin involves a voluntary non-consideration of its rule, which is undoubtedly a defect or negation, but which is not a privation or ignorance.(434)

It has been thought useful to point out this disagreement between these two eminent students of Thomas due to its relevance vis-à-vis the following chapters wherein it will be shown that this voluntary non-consideration of the rule of divine law presupposed in every evil and/or sin has as its ultimate ontological source a defect in the will. In order to accomplish this, it will be necessary to lay the ontological basis for this voluntary, although non-culpable, defect in the will itself. This conclusion will constitute the subject-matter of the final chapter. Before proceeding, however, one further point might be made concerning the distinction between angelic and human non-consideration of divine law. In the case of the separated substance its proper knowledge is intuition whereby the divine law as its rule of action is known directly without ratiocination, as is the case with human beings. The latter's knowledge of divine law as known by superior reason is either inferred from contemplating created things or given it by divine revelation. Since the latter does not concern this investigation, it easily may be seen how vastly different the two intellects, angelic and human, operate vis-á-vis their respective wills, and how fundamentally different is the nature of sinful/evil action proceeding from each.




Thomas' teleological approach to reality is nowhere more evident than in his insistence on the principle that ". . . all human actions must be for an end."(435) This principle has been discussed in detail in the first chapter of our investigation in terms of the doctrine of natural appetite as related to the good as a principle of order. It remains in this chapter to isolate that specific type of purposeful activity, namely, rational action, determining the ontological bases for its not attaining its ultimate end, in other words, to lay the metaphysical foundations for the radical defectibility of created action.


To situate this work it will suffice to relate various levels of appetition discussed in chapter one to different types of love found in the intelligent creature as these regard seeking the latter's ultimate end. The first level of love of the ultimate end might be called an ontological love rooted in the nature of the creature. Such love, although it seeks itself or its own good, at the same time seeks its ultimate end; as Thomas maintains the creature seeking its proper good, which is natural to itself, may be said to love the ultimate end with an implicit natural love. Such appetition, in fact, involves a love of the ultimate end to a greater degree than it does a love of the being itself, just as a part naturally loves the whole more than itself. He describes this first level of love wherein the ultimate end is sought implicitly as the common good of all being:

Consequently, since God is the universal good, and under this good both man and angel and all creatures are comprised, because every creature in regard to its entire being naturally belongs to God, it follows that from natural love angel and man alike love God before themselves and with a greater love. Otherwise, if either of them loved self more than God, it would follow that natural love would be perverse.(436)

The alternative suggested here by Aquinas is impossible, since it would have to be a love implanted in the creature by its author. Moreover, this ontological love presupposes only a knowledge of the end sought commensurate with the nature of each being. If the being is incapable of knowledge, the finality rooted in its nature by the First Cause will suffice to justify its being called an ontological love of the ultimate end. If, on the other hand, the being is capable of knowledge, its ontological love tends toward the supreme Whole more than itself instinctively or by a spontaneous elan, and not because it knows the latter. It is due solely to the fact that it loves necessarily whatever is its good of nature, allowing it to be called an `ontological love-of-nature.'(437)

This type of primary appetition on the part of the intellectual being is not a free appetition, since it is necessarily implicated in every appetition of any good; the only dominance had by the intellectual being over it is its not willing any good whatsoever. As soon as it does will, however, it necessarily seeks the good as an end. This does not mean that the appetition of the particular good is not free, but the appetition of the ultimate end, the common good of all being, is not freely sought. Such appetition admits a further distinction insofar as it is realized in a simple or composite intellectual being, that is, an angel or human being. This distinction reverts to a previous observation in regard to the proper goods of these respective natures: the angelic nature being simple possesses only a single good of nature, namely, itself or its own good, whereas human nature being composite possesses many goods of nature. Thus, in this primary appetition the angel loves the ultimate end as the common good of all being with an ontological love-of-nature by a natural love of self in the first instant of its existence. Man, on the other hand, seeks the ultimate good implicitly in such appetition by loving any particular good, which good is one of many goods proper to its composite nature.

The next level of tendency in seeking the ultimate good is by an act of free option or free choice.(438) Such appetition is proper only to the intellectual being. Besides the natural inclination which necessarily impels the intellectual being to love the supreme Good more than itself, there exists in him a natural inclination to love the ultimate end with an elicited love of free choice. However, this natural inclination or disposition is not a determining one, meaning it does not take away the free character of the election. Through it the intellectual creature is inclined to love God not only as the common good of all, but also insofar as the latter is infinitely separated from all else in the inaccessibility of its own nature. As a Christian philosopher Thomas notes this distinction with regard to the difference of love found in all creatures as they seek the universal good and that found in those creatures who enjoy the beatific vision. He notes: since God's substance as such and as the common good are one and the same reality, all who see his essence directly love it by the same movement of love both insofar as it is distinct from other things and according as it is the common good.(439) This same passage applies this knowledge and love to the intellectual being in general with the following difference. Whereas the blessed in heaven, who see the divine essence in this way, cannot not love it, in contrast the intellectual being who sees it not directly, but only through some particular effects which may be contrary to the being's will, can refuse to love God by a love of free option. In other words, it is necessary for the intellectual creature as separated from its ultimate end, and thereby not beholding the divine essence itself, to choose to attain that separated end by its moral actions. In so doing, it does not strive for that end as the common good of all being, as it does when its naturally determined inclinations seek its own good; but it strives toward that end as something to be attained distinct from all else as the source of its beatitude. As an intellectual being separated from its ultimate end, it must choose freely that end by means of its free choice of actions consonant with and suitable to that end. In other words, it must act in a morally good way, subordinating its appetitions to the rule of the ultimate end. Conversely by this same reasoning, the intellectual being is physically free to choose other goods, which may be at variance with its supreme good. In the case of a purely intellectual creature such a choice will always concern a real good, namely, its own nature; but still it would be chosen inordinately. In the case of man, however, other goods than his own good might be sought which are not real goods when considered absolutely in regard to human nature as such.


The next step taken by Thomas in his analysis of the metaphysical roots of moral evil in the free activity of the intellectual being is to note that for rational beings activity as such is not sufficient in attaining the end. Since the natural agent's activity is determined through its natural inclinations, it cannot, except through some chance happening, fail to attain its end. However, the free choice proper to the intellectual being implies the possibility of a voluntary aversion from its ultimate end. Just as in its activity the natural agent demands regulation and direction by the ultimate end, which direction is effected through its natural inclinations, so the rational agent in its moral activity must be directed by that same rule of action, although according to its free nature. Aquinas remarks that "each thing achieves its ultimate end through its own action which must be directed to the end by Him who gives things the principles through which they act."(440)

It is in this capacity of director of all things through their actions toward Himself as ultimate end that Thomas refers to God as the "Ruler of all beings, who is ruled by none other."(441) He rules those beings devoid of knowledge through their natures and intellectual beings through their knowledge. The latter are at once ruled in their actions by the divine rule and are "rulers of themselves,"(442) insofar as they submit themselves freely to the direction of the supreme rule. Thomas writes: "If these beings submit to the divine rule in their own ruling, then by virtue of the divine rule they are admitted to the achievement of their ultimate end."(443) What is demanded, then, of the intellectual being is that he bridge the gap that exists between himself and the separated good, his ultimate end, doing so through a free submission of his actions to the divine rule. In the case of man there is also a question of submitting his lower appetitions to will through reason; but even this must be informed by the dictates of the divine rule.

If the ultimate root of moral evil in the intellectual being is to be exposed, it is this very defectibility in action, that is, the ability to fail to submit one's action to its proper rule, which needs to be investigated. In so doing one must first eliminate various possible explanations of the cause of defectibility in rational beings, thus arriving at the ultimate ontological root of such defection. In his Compendium of Theology Thomas discusses the manner in which beings are said to attain to goodness in action and considers in turn the precise root of their possible defection. He writes:

The goodness of a creature may also be regarded otherwise than the creature's subsistence in its nature; for the perfection of its goodness is realized in its destiny to its end. And since creatures are to attain their end through their activity, we have still to inquire how creatures may be lacking in goodness from the point of view of their actions, whereby they are destined to attain their end.(444)

In his inquiry into the manner whereby beings can defect in attaining their end through their actions, Aquinas formulates the general principle that any being whose nature can admit of a defect can defect in its action. Thus, by nature incorruptible beings, such as heavenly bodies, cannot defect in their activities when tending toward their ends. The same is true of incorporeal substances, for instance, the angels whose natural power of exercising their proper activity always remains intact; in other words, an angel's natural power of loving itself as a true good is ever present, even in the case of fallen angels. In lower bodies, however, many defects in natural activity may be found as resulting from the corruptions and defects incidental to their natures, for example, the sterility of plants and the birth of monstrosities. Man, of course, insofar as his physical activities are concerned, falls under this type of corruptibility. Since such corruptions are not subject to the control of will, they do not enter directly into the sphere of moral evil.

"There are certain actions," continues Thomas, "whose principle is not nature but will."(445) It is precisely such action which is our concern. He argues that voluntary action is related to the good as natural action is related to the form by which a thing acts. In other words, just as the form specifies the action of a natural being, that is, one devoid of reason, so the apprehended good specifies the action of an intellectual being. Consequently, just as corruptions may take place in the natural activity only of that being whose form is defectible, so voluntary actions may be deficient only in that being whose will can deflect from its proper end. In conclusion Thomas says: "If the will cannot deflect from its proper end, deficiency in voluntary action cannot occur."(446)

Is there, then, any being whose will in not capable naturally of turning away from its end toward an undue end? Only that being wherein the good willed is identical with the being willing can such be realized: "if the nature of the being that wills is the ultimate end of its will, no deficiency in voluntary action can arise."(447) Such a being is God alone; only his action is naturally indefectible, that is, impeccable insofar as the end of its volition is identical with the principle of will. All other beings are defectible or peccable, precisely because the good which they strive to attain as their ultimate ends is an external good--ends distinct from their wills. Such beings may defect in action by resting content with a good connatural to them. Such defection occurs when the created will remains fixed on its own good and does not push on to the supreme good.

Thomas has pinpointed the ultimate ontological basis for evil action, placing it in the separation of the finite being from its ultimate end. In other words, due to the non-identification of its principle of appetition and its end, it must attain that end by its striving toward it. In the case of the finite being that very striving, due to its not being determined to one mode of activity but open to many as means toward that end, is liable to defect. Such liability lies within the mystery of human freedom, although it is not essential to freedom as such.(448) Thomas is very clear about this: such liability does not belong to it as will or power of activity, but only insofar as it is found in a finite being. He writes: "The ability of the will to be directed to evil does not come from the fact of its being from God, but from that of its being made out of nothing."(449)

In other words, the ultimate root of defectibility in a finite will is to be found in its harboring within itself a certain negation or defect: a nothingness of being, which is proper to it as finite being. This finiteness manifests its potential character as a being from nothing, grounding, so to speak, a chasm that exists between the being and its act. As a result the being is not identified ontologically with its ultimate end. One is tempted here to recognize in Aquinas's thought an anticipation of an important twentieth century philosophy, namely, the being and nothingness expounded by Jean Paul Sartre. For him, it is this fissure in being that constitutes its radical ontological/phenomenological `bad faith' in its striving to become `God' by attempting to render its `en soi' and `pour soi' identical.

As mentioned, Thomas insists that this defectibility is rooted in the being's potential nature and not in its active power insofar as the latter does not have within itself the sufficient and immutable principles of its action.(450) It might be queried whether every finite being has this natural defectibility; in other words, does physical nature as well as human nature admit of this same flexibility vis-à-vis evil. Surprisingly, Aquinas says `no', since physical nature does indeed have within itself in a determined manner the "sufficient and immutable principles of its action." Its necessary inclinations bring it to its ultimate end inasmuch as the actions following from these inclinations are determined to one mode of action. He says this in his De Veritate when discussing the possibility of a created will's being naturally confirmed in good(451): natural confirmation in good is impossible in regard to a free creature whose end is not identified with its being or action and whose nature is not determined to one mode of action. Physical nature, he argues, is determined to a particular good, but intellectual nature is ordered to the good simply; just as the object of the intellect is the universally true, so that of the will is absolutely good. It is due to its radical tendency toward the universal, rather than a particular, that rational nature does not have determined actions, and thus holds itself indifferent to any one or more material actions as such.

On the other hand, if any finite being is ordered to a particular good by a natural determination, its action is naturally indefectible as regards that determined mode of activity, although its power to effect the same might be impeded by reason of some defect in the power or by some chance external cause. Only that intellectual nature, in whom there is present immutably and naturally the very formality of the universal and perfect good, is such as to be naturally indefectible in act: this being is infinite nature alone. Consequently, these two precisions in terms of non-determined activity, on the one hand, and non-identified activity, on the other, allow Thomas to arrive at the ultimate source of moral defection. This is an intellectual nature which is neither naturally determined in regard to its mode of action insofar as it is an intellectual being, nor identified in act with the perfect good or end insofar as it is finite.

Something further might be said about this important contrast between the identified activity of the infinite being and the unidentified activity of the finite intellectual being in terms of the fundamental distinction in both Aristotle and Thomas between potency and act. As found in his De Veritate, Thomas explicitly contrasts the two in this regard:

For God alone is pure act, admitting no admixture of any potentiality, and thus is pure and absolute goodness. But any creature is a particular good, since it has in its very nature the admixture of potentiality, which belongs to it because it is made out of nothing . . . it is impossible for this natural impeccability to be in a creature because of its being made out of nothing.(452)

Obviously, Aquinas is writing here of an intellectual being, since the question of `impeccability' or `peccability' does not concern irrational beings; hence, although the latter ontologically are composed of potency and act, this fact does not render their actions either peccable or impeccable. Thomas, however, as regards the intellectual creature understands this ontological composition as its most profound differential vis-à-vis the utter simplicity of the infinite being, which simplicity is the transcendental basis for its impeccability. It is this radical potentiality that causes the finite being's actions to be distinct from its nature, thus rendering these actions capable of sharing in the very nothingness of its finite nature. Its being is composed of potency and act insofar as its existence is a received act vis-à-vis its essence. Further, since `operari sequitur esse', finite action is then ontologically defective.



Before applying this ultimate source of defectibility of the intellectual being as regards its volition, a more careful analysis of the relation of the potential to defectibility is called for. According to Thomas, defectibility must be reduced to the order of potential being insofar as it is the subject of the privation, which is evil, concluding that any `evil' capable of befalling or springing from a being must be understood ultimately in terms of the potential character of that being. He maintains in his Commentary on the Metaphysics of Aristotle that it is one and the same thing to say that a being is in potency as to say that it exists as potentially related to the contraries, good and evil. This must be true, since "always in contraries one stands as deficient, which pertains to evil."(453) In the existential order as applied to a finite being the most radical of these potencies is the fact that it is `ex nihilo'--its essence stands in relation to its act of existence as potency to act. Hence, its most radical defectibility in this order is its ability to be reduced to that same nothingness through annihilation on the part of the cause of its being. It is to this precise potentiality that Thomas reduces all others in the order of `second act,' that is, of action.(454)

As regards the order of action insofar as it proceeds from potencies rooted in essence, it should be noted that nature as such, both material and immaterial, is indefectible.(455) The potencies rooted in nature also share in this immutability; thus, intellect and will are indefectible insofar as they share in the substantiality of the being itself. On the other hand, insofar as they are reduced to act, which act is distinct from the powers and the being in question, these powers are said to be able to defect in their actions. Such actions are directed to an end distinct from the being whose actions they are. This multiple chasm existing between the being and its powers, the powers and their actions, and the actions and their end, forms the ontological roots of defective action.

Specifically, one should distinguish in Thomas' philosophy between corruptible and incorruptible reality, relating defectibility to each. Incorriptible beings, which Thomas calls "eternal beings," are by definition indefectible; there cannot, therefore, be found "in them any evil, nor sin, nor any corruption."(456) The reason offered for denying defection in these beings is that there is potency in them; in this Thomas follows Aristotle's doctrine on heavenly bodies. (This is of no direct concern in our investigation except to note the reason assigned for such). As regards corruptible creatures one must distinguish the question of defectibility between the non-rational and rational beings: the actions of the former insofar as their principles are rooted in matter are defective and their actions may be impeded by some extrinsic force from attaining their proper end.

This does not contradict, however, what has been said previously about the distinction between physical and moral actions.(457) This distinction looked to these same actions as being the necessary resultants of the natural inclinations or instincts in these beings. In no way does this imply that these principles, as rooted in corruptible matter, could not become defective nor that their actions could not be impeded from attaining their due end by some chance interference of other causes. On the other hand, the actions of rational beings are defective in a much more profound sense, since as free actions they must be directed toward their proper end by intelligent ordering, not in an arbitrary manner, but according to the rules of action proper to them as free agents. At this point in our argument, only the ontological basis for these rules as related to the potential character of their free agency is of immediate concern.

In his Summa Theologica Thomas points out the distinction required here to appreciate the different areas of action involved in this matter.(458) When answering an objection relative to the fact that angels, being subsistent forms, allow of no potency in their being and therefore cannot be said to be subject to evil of fault, he distinguishes between "potency in relation to nature" and "potency according to the intellective part" of their being. It is true that there can be no question in an angel of the first type of potency insofar as being subsistent form it possesses its being without the possibility of defect.(459)

In regard, however, to the second type of potency it should be said that the angel insofar as it is an intellectual being can in act turn to this or that object, or better, can turn to a particular object in this or that manner.(460) Thus, one cannot conclude from their principles of operation being immutable that the activities proceeding from such cannot be defective. As Thomas observes in the De Veritate, it is not a question of mere operations proceeding from immutable principles, but rather of "right" operation proceeding therefrom, which in the case of a being whose power of activity is not identified with its being implies a subjection to a higher rule.(461) It is in this way that even the angelic nature admits of evil, precisely insofar as its intellectual powers, namely, intellect and will, can proceed to act in a defective manner.

The explanation of this defective manner of acting, ontologically speaking, must be postponed at present, except to note that it is the being's power of acting not being identified with its being that accounts for the necessity of a higher rule according to which it must subject its actions. The same, of course, applies to human beings insofar as they are rational. In their case, however, there is a dual regulation, since their lower appetitions are subject to reason as they proceed to act.

As applied specifically to the nature of free will, the question of the defectibility of finite action is discussed by Aquinas in his Summa Contra Gentes in terms of an "openness to opposites."(462) At the time he is answering an objection which argues that God could not be said to be free from the very fact that "every power that is disposed to opposites is in a manner in potency, since `to opposites' is a species of the contingent possible." In other words, from the objection it would seem that the ability to choose one of two indeterminate objects or modes of action, which has been shown to be characteristic and distinctive of the intellectual nature, would imply a potential element in the will and thus would immediately infer the distinction between will and its action. Before proceeding to confront this apparent dilemma it should be pointed out that it is correctly supposed in the objection that all admit that in God his act is identified with his substance and that in him there is no shadow of potentiality.

Thomas answers with a distinction: "To be open to opposites," he writes, "belongs to a certain power in a twofold manner: in one way, from the side of itself; in another way, from the side of the object."(463) The reason for the first manner of being open to opposites is that the being has not yet attained its perfection, which is necessarily true of every finite being in the state of pure nature. There, its appetition implies an imperfection, that is, a certain lack which the being is striving to overcome by the acquisition of further perfection. Since the finite being must, by its very nature as separated from its ultimate perfection or good, strive to attain this perfection through its actions, and since the action proper to a rational being is to move itself toward its end, it follows that the openness found in a finite will toward the means to be chosen does indeed imply an imperfection, a potentiality on the part of the power itself. It implies both a dependence on other finite beings, which is itself an imperfection, and a certain arbitrariness not of independence and transcendence, but of instability and mutability insofar as the will is able to turn toward both good and evil. Such a power is, according to Thomas, a good only after a manner, precisely because it holds itself equally to both.(464)

The other type of openness, that on the side of the object, need in no way imply potentiality or mutability on the part of the power but only infers that the perfect operation of the power depends on neither of the possible choices. This bespeaks the independence of the power over the object or actions in question, manifesting its dominance over those same objects. It does not imply the necessity of choosing either alternative or, in the case of the infinite being, any alternative. It is this latter type of openness that characterizes infinite power insofar as its will is said to be open to all other opposites other than its own nature, since "its end depends on none of these other things, although it itself is most perfectly united to its last end."(465) In our investigation, it is the first type of openness to opposites that is paramount, forcing us to conclude with Thomas that it "redounds to the imperfection of the power, and potentiality is shown to be in it."(466)

As a Christian philosopher Thomas was attempting to reconcile Aristotle et al with divine revelation in opposition to such Latin Averroists as Siger of Brabant at the University of Paris. Thus, Aquinas was forced to confront such dilemmas as the `openness to opposites' as related to infinite will. Our own investigation is not constrained to tackle a mystery so far beyond human comprehension. For our limited purposes certain ancillary observations will suffice in order to bring the matter into clearer focus for a present day reader without having to fit it into the overall Thomistic framework.

First, one should recall that human freedom like being itself is participated vis-à-vis infinite causality. The fact that it is open to choose good or evil is essential to its being free; but even if this openness is seen as a kind of defect, it should not be read into the transcendental notion of freedom itself as found in the First Cause. Moreover, the latter's causality is an effective causality like its correlative notion, transcendental love. Unlike human love (what he calls `inventive love') which is drawn to things by reason of their apparent goodness, divine love effects goodness in things and in turn loves them for goodness conferred. Thus, infinite action effects finite being which by inherent necessity is defective in varying degrees as regards nature, power, and end. As previously noted, only the latter defect pertains to beings of a higher realm, such as incorruptible beings; but this again is of no direct interest in discussing human freedom in terms of moral evil. In the case of effecting physical evil infinite causality, as has been shown, causes only being and any defect therein is natural and necessary in the finite order of things.

Morality, it should be noted, is essentially a relationship between human action and the rules of reason and divine law: morally correct action conforms to these rules while immoral action/evil does not. None of this pertains, however, to infinite action, which by reason of the fact that it is one with its being both as regards its nature and end, does not allow us to picture it as standing in potency, as it were, in choosing this or that object. This fact highlights the contingent nature of such beings and in no way diminishes the absolute freedom of necessary being. Although the effect of the First Causes's free volition occurs in time and is perceived by us as a series of disparate acts vis-à-vis the objects thus effected, reason tells us that infinite volition is both eternal and totally simple. Beyond these limits, human understanding need not attempt to transgress.

From the above considerations concerning the ontological bases for the natural defectibility of finite will one can appreciate better the next step taken by Aquinas in asserting that "it is impossible for any creature to be capable of adhering to God with an unchangeable will by its own nature, because, being from nothing, it is changeable."(467) Only that being may be said to be indefectible in whom there is no potentiality, specifically, no potentiality between its being and its act. Only that action which is identified with the end can be said to be naturally inflexible toward evil. Finite being as separated from its last end, its ultimate good, must strive to attain it through action. This action, however, can defect in its operation due to its openness toward the means to be chosen. The ultimate and immutable principles of action are, as Thomas has noted, outside finite being. The ultimate principle of responsible action is the infinite being, which for the created will is "an external good" to be attained by free action in choosing suitable means thereto. Nor is this striving toward its attainment a haphazard series of actions, but actions regulated by the divine rule itself. It now remains to consider the metaphysics of this subordination of finite action to the divine rule.



Thus far it has been made clear that if finite will is to be `right' in its appetition of proper good(s), it must be subject to the eternal rule by which its actions are to be regulated. This is the ultimate source of the rectitude of moral action, which in a moral senses bridges the gap that threatens to engulf finite action in its own nothingness and to precipitate it headlong into the abyss of non-being and sin.(468) It now remains to consider the ontological separation of finite action from its ultimate end in terms of the specific rules to which it is ontologically subject by reason of its being finite. In his Commentary on the Divine Names Thomas states that everything which naturally is subject to something will have its good in the fact that it is subject in action, as in being, to that higher being.(469) Now every finite will is naturally subject to the supreme good; therefore, the good of both the angelic and human wills is to be found in their actions being regulated by the divine will.

In explaining these basic principles reaching down to the roots of evil action Aquinas often makes use of an apt analogy, namely, the artisan and his artifact. If the hand of the artist were thought of as the rule whereby the proper shavings and cuttings were to be made in the wood, it might be said that it would be impossible for that artist to err in the production of his artifact. The reason given is that in this the active power of the artist would itself be the rule of action. As identified with the rule, it could not defect from it, but naturally would tend toward right action. On the other hand, as is the case with finite actions, if the movements of the artist's hand were subject to some higher rule, namely, the plan or preconception in the artist's mind, the resulting artifact could allow for defect insofar as the artist's hand was subject to a higher rule from which it could depart in action.

Applied to voluntary action, the analogy implies the following: if voluntary action should spring from a being whose end is itself, or even from that being whose action is one with its being, then that action is not subject to any higher rule; consequently, it cannot defect. In other words, its action is always morally good. In the case of finite beings, this type of action is impossible, since their actions are subject to a higher end by the fact that their being is not identified with the ultimate end but must seek that end through ordered activity. The most radical subordination is that of the finite vis-à-vis divine law; in humans, however, there is also the subordination of lower appetition to the principle of reason.

In retrospect, this analogy and its metaphysical implications brings out what was said above concerning infinite volition vis-à-vis openness to opposites. Like the supposed artist whose very hand is the rule of his action whereby making any defective action and/or artifact by supposition impossible, the divine artisan being subject to no higher rule must be said to be incapable of defective action.

As discussed previously, the aversion of the will from the ultimate end, or higher rule, exhibits the formality of sin more completely than does the conversion of the will to a mutable good.(470) Moreover, this latter aspect is peculiar to human sin insofar as the human agent is able to misrepresent the object through a type of consequent ignorance. As such, this aspect of sinful action is not proper to sin in its more generic sense, which is understood as turning away from the ultimate end. For these reasons it seems advisable to investigate further this more radical insubordination of appetite to its higher rule, postponing detailed consideration of the conversive element in human sin when the motive or reason for non-consideration of the rule of reason is discussed.

Thomas analyzes this radical form of insubordination in finite appetition characteristic of every sin in both the De Malo and the Summa Contra Gentes;(471) however, it seems best, for our purposes, to discuss them together. In the former work Aquinas asks whether the sin of the fallen angels was from nature or from will.(472) Following his argument one finds that a thing may be said to be naturally evil in a twofold manner: in one way, insofar as its very nature or a proper accident of its nature is evil; in another way, insofar as it is naturally inclined thereto, as men are naturally inclined to be irate and passionate. An angel cannot be said to be naturally evil in either of these two ways: as regards its nature, even after its sin the fallen angel remains perfect in its nature; and secondly, being by nature a simple being it cannot be inclined naturally toward goods not proper to itself. Therefore, by elimination, the angel must be evil due to will and not to nature.

To understand this more fully we look to the second of the works cited wherein Thomas takes up the difficulty resulting from this conclusion.(473) This conclusion, he writes, seems impossible because the angel's nature being wholly intellectual, that is simple, cannot suffer any misapprehension concerning the objects of its choice. By a further process of elimination, however, he shows that there cannot be any question of finding any solution to this dilemma by appealing to the various grades of being. In other words, the indefectibility of the celestial bodies cannot explain away the problem, since angels are by definition simple intelligences without bodies. Nor can an appeal be made to the indefectible character of the actions of brutes, since angels being intellectual operate in a free manner and not from nature. Finally, the composite nature of man can offer little help in explaining the difficulty for the very reason that it is composite and to that extent open to a variety of proper goods. Its defectibility properly springs from its ability to choose a relative good in preference to the absolute goods of its nature, and thus err concerning the particular objects of its choice. Another reason given is that the angelic intellect not proceeding by a process of reason can err, as in man, in composing and dividing apprehensions which are contradictory in reality.

Aquinas, therefore, is forced to seek the presupposed defect in some other source, which would account for its insubordination to the higher rule. It should be noted that each of these sources of indefectibility or defectibility are in the order of efficient causality, specifically, that celestial beings are indefectible because their actions proceed by way of efficient causality from principles rooted in nature itself. The same cannot be said of brutes, although their resulting actions should be viewed precisely as the resultants of inclination apart from the fact that these inclinations are actually subjected in a material and corruptible body. Finally, human defection results ultimately from the efficient principle of will, which proceeds to act without the direction of reason as its rule.

By reason of this insight concerning the connection between defective action and the order of efficient causality in beings other than immaterial substances, Thomas proposes as the basis of his solution to this question the principle that just as there is an order in agent causes, so also there is one in final causes.(474) It may be said, therefore, that a secondary end depends on a principal end, just as a secondary agent depends on a principal agent. And just as evil may result when this insubordination of agents is disregarded, for example, the human will insubordinate to reason, so when a secondary end is not included under the order of the principal end, evil results.

Thomas concludes from this that the insubordination to rule involved in human sin, precisely as human, is due to insubordination of efficient causes, while that in involved in angelic sin is due solely to an insubordination of final causes. The former is based on the fact that the will should efficiently direct the appetitions of the lower appetites by subordinating itself to reason in its actions; on the other hand, the latter insubordination occurs when an angelic will does not consider the end in its action, which action is efficiently directed toward a proper good. In other words, it does not subordinate its own good as an end to the higher or ultimate good as its ultimate end. The will of the angel thus defects finalistically in its appetition and not efficiently. It is in this order of final causality that the angelic will is viewed as defectible by Aquinas; thus, the aforementioned difficulty is resolved. It is this type of sin on the part of the angel which he understands to be sin by willing `inordinately.'

The significance of this analysis as applied to evil action in the human sphere is that angelic sin is a much more serious matter than the failures of humans. The former's sin consists in choosing its own being as an end in itself, which is the highest type of pride. Human action, however, errs on two levels, namely, by reason of an intellect clouded by passion or by departing from divine law, which it has with varying degrees of difficulty inferred from its contemplation of its own nature and the surrounding universe. In other words, human sin does not imply a subordination in the order of final causality or end, in the sense that the sinner would be said to strive toward his own nature as his ultimate end. Rather, the object(s) chosen are mutable things apart from one's own nature, not as ends in themselves but as means to one's highest end, happiness. (This, of course, leaves aside the question of revealed divine law insofar as clarifies and/or extends the natural law.)

Next, we might examine more closely this insubordination of ends, which is proper to angelic sin as an aversion from the ultimate end and consequent to every human conversion to a mutable good. It is to be observed that every will naturally wills what is the proper good for the volitional agent, namely, perfect being itself; it cannot do otherwise. Therefore, in the case of a volitional agent whose proper good is the ultimate end no sin can occur, since this ultimate end is by definition not included under the order of another end. As regards a volitional agent whose proper good must be included under the order of another good, sin may occur in that will. Although there is present in every voluntary agent a natural inclination to seek its own perfection, that natural inclination is not so implanted therein as to order its perfection to another end in such a way as to make it impossible for that creature to defect in attaining the higher end. The reason is that the higher end or good is proper not to that nature, but to a higher nature. It is then left to the agent's choice to order its own proper perfection to a higher end. In fact, this is the difference, according to Thomas, between those agents possessing will and those devoid of it; the former order themselves and their actions to the end and are said to be free in their choices.

Aquinas has returned through this gradual analysis of the ontological basis for sin as sin to the area of natural love and free option mentioned above wherein he expounded the basic metaphysical suppositions underlying these loves. The separate substance, in naturally seeking its own perfection and by loving through natural inclination its own good, cannot naturally, that is, without divine assistance, order its own good to the higher good, since the latter is naturally above it. To recall a former distinction, in seeking its own perfection it can and does naturally love the ultimate end as the common good of all being, but not as distinct from all else after the manner of natural inclination. This would be to tend thereto insofar as the ultimate end is unique and distinct in its own being. Under this aspect the ultimate end is the proper good only in regard to its own appetition.

The angelic sin consists, therefore, in the angel's seeking its own good by a natural inclination without ordering it to the higher good or end precisely as a distinct and unique being apart from all creation. Such is the privation of mode and order: a privation of mode insofar as the separated substance seeks its ultimate good through its own natural means; and a privation of order insofar as it did not subject its love of self to a freely elicited love of the higher good. As Thomas says: "The error in the understanding of the separated substance (was in) not considering the higher good to which its proper good should have been directed."(475)

Aquinas describes this sinful action in a slightly different way when he remarks that the angel "desired only one good, that is, its own";(476) in other words, it did not will by an act of free option its ultimate end, God, as a distinct and unique good in itself. In contrast to this, human sin is due to the fact that man desires lower goods at odds with the order of reason, but not directly by a kind of refusal and/or rebellion in not submitting himself to the ultimate end. His evil action comes about as a consequence of another type of privation, namely, a privation of species. There is not then in human sin the same malice as that in the sin of the fallen angel; because of this angelic sin is described as a sin of pride whereas that of man as one of passion.

A final observation in this regard is that Thomas views it as a type of non-consideration of the mean of virtue.(477) This is not to be understood, as in human sin, as an appetition by excess or defect; rather, it is to be seen as meaning that the angel by not subjecting himself to the order of his superior rule gives himself more importance than is proper, while giving God less than is his due: "to whom all should be subject as to the orderer of the primary rule."(478) In his usually succinct manner Aquinas sums up the matter thus: "The mean was not abandoned due to an excess of passion, but simply due to an inequity under justice, which is concerned with actions."(479) The reason for having gone into such depth concerning angelic transgression is that through contrasting it with human evil, the latter may be understood more fully both as to its nature and culpability.

We may now move with Thomas into that final source in the physical order of all sinful action, namely, the will, seeking therein the ultimate explanation of the non-consideration of the rules of reason and divine law.





Although the non-consideration of the rule of reason and divine law is formally a matter of intellectual non-specification, still it has for its efficient, or better deficient, cause the will itself. According to Thomas, "the root and source of moral wrong-doing is to be sought in the act of the will."(480) Insofar as the intellectual non-consideration is rooted in the will, to that extent it is a voluntary non-consideration--a question of moral evil. It is essential then to analyze this most fundamental of all causes of sin, exposing thereby the ultimate defect presupposed in the principle of every defective action.

First, it should be recalled that the will is related to sin in various ways.(481) It is the direct cause of the physical act of sin, its material cause, and accidentally the cause of the deordination subjected in the sinful action as such. This accidental causality is due to the fact that the will, although it directly and primarily wills only the good physically considered or the material of the sinful action, still indirectly and secondarily it intends the very deformity inherent in the act; otherwise, there would be no question of strict culpability.(482) The will, moreover, is a deficient cause of sin in not remedying the defect in the principle of its action, whose ontological basis is the non-identification of finite action with its proper rule.

It is this last type of causality, namely, the deficient causality of the will that constitutes the central problem of our entire investigation insofar as it is at the same time inherent in the will as finite cause and yet voluntary as it proceeds to choose a particular course of action. In other words, it is asked: what precisely is the nature of the defect of will presupposed in every sinful action; how is this defect voluntary; and finally, how is its voluntary character reconciled with the fact that this defect cannot itself be sinful without setting up an infinite regress in the search for an ultimate cause of sinful action. These questions constitute the greater portion of this last section of our investigation; but there will follow a brief consideration of the motive or reason accounting for the actual non-consideration of the rules of reason and divine law, although the latter concerns the psychological aspect of sinful volition.



The inquiry into the nature of the defect presupposed in every sinful action might begin with a quotation from Thomas from his De Malo, as synthesizing the problem at hand.

The defect which is presupposed in the will before sin is neither a fault nor a punishment, but a pure negation; but it takes on the nature of fault from the fact that with such a negation it applies itself to a work(483)

Thomas leads us here onto the ontological level of sinful action insofar as he considers the will in a state of non-action, which non-action has about it the formality of a negation or defect. It is for this reason that many authors distinguish in the will act as it relates to sinful action `two moments': the first moment which is on the ontological level wherein the will is defective, but not yet sinful or culpable; and the second moment which is on the psychological level insofar as some type of will act is demanded if the voluntary defect is to become a culpable one.

Aquinas deals with the nature of this defect in numerous places in his corpus, always in terms of its being a mere absence or deficiency in the will and never a privation. Considered as the first ontological moment of voluntary non-consideration, this defect is not, as every privation must be, an absence of due good, but only an absence of another good. If such a defect were to be considered a privation of due good in the moral order, it would already be a type of sin, and consequently would be culpable; this would be tantamount to saying that the cause of sinful action was sin itself. If such were the case, Thomas says this sinful condition itself would demand an explanation and so on ad infinitum.(484)

This ultimate deficiency, however, on the part of the will is the source of the privation or corruption to be found in the sinful act, which is effected in the second moment of voluntary non-consideration as the will proceeds to action without its due direction. In the latter case, the deficiency becomes a privation of species, mode, and due order in human sin, whereas in angelic sin is only a privation of mode and due order since the object of its volition is simply good. The ultimate reason or cause of this privative appetition is to be found in the fact that, even before producing an evil action, the will already in some way has within itself the root of its defection by reason of the potentiality inherent in its finite nature: a being composite by nature. In the case of the angel, its potentiality is found in its being separated from its ultimate end. As Thomas says, the very flexibility of the will toward evil arises from the fact that the being is `ex nihilo.'(485) Such nothingness is so characteristic of finite will that it provides its unique contribution to the disorder in sinful action; in other words, the negation or defect as such found in the first ontological moment of voluntary non-consideration has as its only proper effect in sinful action a negation. Due to the fact that the act should be ordered to a proper end this takes on the formality of a privation.

This somewhat subtle distinction between mere defect in the first moment of non-consideration and privation in the second moment provides the basis for Thomas' solution to one of the knottiest problems in his philosophy of moral evil.(486) He formulates the problem by first contrasting evil in the natural and moral orders, noting that, although in the natural order evil seems to stem from some defect of power in the agent, such is not possible in the moral order. If this were the case, the presupposed defect of power would seem either to remove completely all trace of moral fault in the consequent action or at least diminish it. In other words, if one of the powers themselves of voluntary operation, specifically the will, were defective in its very being, the voluntary agent could not very well be held responsible for the evil action that proceeded therefrom. For example, if the intellect were radically defective, the defective knowledge and judgments proceeding from it would not be attributed to the person as a responsible agent: a type of ignorance incompatible with moral responsibility as would be found in mentally insane.

Thus, the ignorance implied in every sin is always a type of consequent ignorance; it is not an antecedent ignorance for that would do away with culpability. As a consequence, it follows a will act and thereby is voluntary. The same, however, cannot be said of the will as such, even though it would seem to be more applicable to this principle of moral action, according to the principle that defective action stems from a defective principle. The question then remains how this defect is voluntary, for such it must be if one is to avoid a type of natural necessitation to evil. Moreover, if it is considered voluntary, the defect then would seem to become culpable and thus there would be an endless series of sins as causes of sin.

In order to demonstrate that moral fault, the effect of the second moment of voluntary non-consideration, can have its basis in a mere defect or negation, Thomas examines in turn the four principles from which voluntary action proceeds: the thing apprehended or the object; the judgment of moral specification; the executive powers ordered or directed by the will itself; and the will as the ultimate source of all voluntary action.

The object, or thing apprehended, cannot be thought of as effecting moral fault in that its action is purely in the physical order and moves the passive faculties of apprehension precisely as their proper object. As such, no moral consideration is implied since the latter is present only through its relation to reason, which must judge its moral suitability as an end to be attained or a useful means thereto. Secondly, any defect in the apprehensive power itself, namely, the intellect, is without moral fault. If it were present, either it would completely destroy moral culpability, as with invincible ignorance, or would lessen it, as with vincible ignorance unless affected. Thirdly, the acts of the executive powers already presuppose a distinction of moral good or evil insofar as external acts do not pertain to the moral order unless they are voluntary, that is, unless they proceed from the will with knowledge of the end. In fact, the external act would have no relation to moral evil whatsoever if its defective character was realized only because of some defect that had no reference to will, for example, if some emotional or organic disturbance thwarted the execution of the will's right intention.

By elimination, then, Thomas concludes that the will itself must be the ultimate source of moral evil insofar as it is the formal principle of voluntary action. He remarks: "Moral fault is found primarily and principally in the act of the will only, and thus it is reasonable to say . . . that an act is moral because it is voluntary. . . . The root and source of moral wrongdoing is to be sought in the act of the will."(487) If this were not so, one would have to conclude that the source assigned to moral evil in terms of the above mentioned sources either would not have any essential relation to moral evil, or would constitute a principle of diminution of the voluntary or moral character of the act. Or finally in the case of the external realization of the interior act it would presuppose a moral distinction, thus not constituting an essential act of moral evil.(488)

It is precisely at this point that the aforementioned dilemma becomes most serious, forcing Aquinas to seek a defect in the will at once voluntary and non-culpable. Such a defect, however, seems to contradict the very notion of culpability or even of morality itself insofar as such a defect must either be natural or voluntary; and in either case culpability would seem to be absent. If the defect were natural, then responsibility for the ensuing act would be attributed to nature and not to will; if, on the other hand, it were voluntary, that same defect would be a privation of moral goodness, a type of sinful action. In spite of this apparent contradiction, Thomas maintains that the defect must be voluntary, yet not at the time culpable.

In order to appreciate his distinction one should recall his consideration of the will as the accidental and deficient cause of evil. In this regard, when discussing the good as the accidental cause of evil, he distinguishes evil in action and evil in effect.(489) It is only the former type of evil that is involved in the natural order or the order of effect, but only as it relates to the moral order of intellect and will. An example of this would be a person committing a sin of adultery whose entire evil is found not in its effect, that is, its natural result as an act of sexual intercourse, but in its character of moral action as related to human reason, the principle in man which judges the moral value of an object in relation to rational nature. With this in mind one may proceed to discuss Thomas' analysis regarding the nature of the defect in the will which constitutes the ultimate source of moral evil. He remarks that evil caused in action is such due to a defect of the principles of action. Specifically as regards human activity, these principles are two: the reason and the will. A defect in reason, however, without a corresponding defect of will would tend only to destroy or diminish moral fault. Thus, the defect ultimately responsible for evil action must be in the will itself. In the same article his answer to the third objection insists on the non-privative character of such a defect:

Evil has a deficient cause in voluntary things otherwise than in natural things . . . in voluntary things the defect of the action comes from the will actually deficient, inasmuch as it does not actually subject itself to its proper rule. This defect, however, is not a fault, but fault follows upon it from the fact that the will acts with this defect.(490)

Moreover, in contrasting these two types of evil, evil in action and evil in effect, Thomas makes it clear that in the case of a natural agent the pre-existing defect found in the principles giving rise to the effect is already an evil: "Hence evil never follows in the effect, unless some other evil pre-exists in the agent or in the matter."(491) However, in voluntary matters the presupposed deficiency is a mere defect, not an evil. In other words, it is not as such a privation of good, which the being or will ought to have. This defect is natural to the finite will insofar as it is a finite being: something proper to the finite will in its very nothingness as not identified with its last end. It bespeaks a fissure pervading its nature and should be overcome, if the will is to proceed according to right reason.

Still, it is not in itself a privation, nor a fault, nor a culpable defect, although it is indeed a voluntary one, meaning that it pertains to the will as such before it proceeds to act. Specifically, it is a voluntary non-subjection of the will to the rule, its ultimate end. Thomas herein distinguishes the two moments of the will mentioned above: the will as `created' will, that is, deficient cause, and will as `active principle,' namely, efficient cause under the primary motion of the first cause. The latter effects a real privation in the goodness of the act, which renders it morally evil; the former involves no act at all on the will's part, but a mere negation of action. In the De Malo Thomas notes: that "the will is the cause of sin inasmuch as it is deficient; but he compares that defect to silence or darkness because that defect is solely a negation."(492)

There is a difference between these two types of causality in the natural and moral orders. In the case of the natural order, the distinction is easily recognized. For example, regarding evil in action as in the case of the corruption of the form of water with the oncoming form of fire. Here, the cause of the evil is the active power of the fire corrupting the form of water, and thus returning it to the potency of matter. Such an evil is in no way attributed to any deficiency of power in either the primary or secondary causes, but only to the efficient power. Moreover, this evil is not related to the cause as the latter's proper effect, which in this case is the form of fire, caused accidentally by this proper effect. An evil in nature, on the other hand, as the proper effect of some cause is attributable to the deficient power of that cause since a defect in a proper likeness in nature presupposes a privation or evil in the active principle of the cause.

The example offered here by Thomas is the familiar one of the production of a monstrosity from deficient seed. Even in this case, however, the ultimate cause of the evil in the deficient principle is an accidental good, since such an evil is the improper effect of some action which is itself good. According to Aquinas, if the cause of the defect itself is sought, that is, of the evil of the deficient seed, one must conclude to some good which accidentally causes the evil, not to some ultimate deficient evil.

In the moral order there is a major difference which infers the ultimate causality to be a deficient one, or a defect of the active principle. The will insofar as it has dominion over its acts, and may thereby reject or accept the impulses of the lower appetites, is the cause of its evil action in both of the above ways, namely, both as accidental and deficient cause. Since in moral matters there is question only of evil in action, the ultimate source of the privation in any human act is the defect in the will and not, as in the natural order, a good. Will as good is the proximate principle of the evil or privation in the human action insofar as its tending toward a mutable good is deprived of due order to the end, and thus is said to cause evil accidentally. The ultimate source, however, of the moral evil is a mere defect in the will insofar as it does not freely choose to consider the rule whereby it should be regulated.

In other words, as an accidental efficient cause the will causes the privation, which is evil simply speaking, by tending toward some good which is contrary to reason in the case of human sin or sought inordinately in the case of every type of sin. It is ultimately a deficient cause, however, insofar as in the will there is presupposed some defect before the deficient election. The metaphysical basis for this defect, as shown, is the will and its action being separated from its higher end.(493) As applied specifically to evil choice, this presents us with the two moments of the will's volition or causality, both as deficient and accidental cause of evil. It is the voluntary but deficient cause of the presupposed defect in that it freely chooses, by not acting, not to remedy the ontological defect of its separation from its ultimate end by a voluntary subordination of its act to the higher rule. It is the voluntary accidental cause of the privation, which is the realization of the presupposed defect in act, by acting, that is, by tending toward a good without the regulation demanded of finite actions.

For the above reasons Thomas considers the defect to be the ultimate source of the privation which corrupts the moral act. This is contrary to the ultimate source of corruption in the natural order in that the latter has a good for its accidental cause and not a defect. Thus, as previously demonstrated, natural evil has an accidental good as its ultimate cause, whereas moral evil has a deficiency as its ultimate explanation. The former springs from the active power of the natural agent, while the latter comes from the defect of power in the voluntary agent. As Thomas puts it:

Some good is the cause of evil inasmuch as it is deficient; yet not only is good the cause of evil in this way, but even in a certain manner good inasmuch as it is not deficient is accidentally the cause of evil. But in voluntary actions the cause of evil, i.e., sin, is the defective will, but that defect, according as it is presupposed to sin, does not have the nature either of fault or punishment . . . . Nor do we need to seek a further cause of such a defect; hence there is no need to admit an infinite regression.(494)

In claiming that this defect is a mere negation or nothingness of being Thomas has implied that the defect becomes voluntary through a type of non-action on the will's part, otherwise the defect would be a privation due to the will's proceeding to act without proper subordination and direction. Such non-action requires only the finite will as its ultimate source in that, left to itself, the will cannot effect anything except a type of `non-being.' This `non-being' is ontologically grounded on the radical separation of the finite being from its ultimate end; morally it is realized through non-action in the first moment of the will's non-consideration. It is precisely this non-being that becomes in the second moment the privation corrupting the moral act.

In view of the non-active character of this deficiency Aquinas may, therefore, insist that one does not have to seek any further than the freedom of the will itself to account for the voluntary nature of the defect. Since liberty by definition involves the ability to act or not act, its non-action is as voluntary as its action: in either case the will is the responsible principle. Consequently, its non-action concerning the consideration of its ultimate rule, although a deficiency in itself, is nonetheless voluntary insofar as remains in the power of will to consider or not consider it. This strategic move enables Thomas to maintain that a mere defect of ordering is at the root of moral evil. This is voluntary but inculpable in its first moment of the will's causality; it is voluntary but culpable in its second moment when it proceeds to act without due consideration. The precise reason for this transition from mere defect to culpable privation is due to the fact that, although the will has no obligation to remedy this defect before acting, still in proceeding to act it renders the defect culpable. In other words, theoretically it could remain indefinitely in a state of non-action without incurring moral fault. Once, however, it proceeds to act, its consequent action will be deprived of a due perfection--a privation of due order. In summary Thomas writes:

This defect of ordering is voluntary, for to will or not to will lies within the power of the will itself. And it is also within its (the will's) power for reason to make an actual consideration or to abstain . . . or further to consider this or that alternative. Yet, such a defect of ordering is not a moral evil, for, if reason considers nothing, or considers any good whatever, that is still not a sin until the will inclines to an unsuitable end.(495)


Although the question of the voluntary nature of the above defect has at times been treated incidentally throughout our investigation, its importance warrants a broader analysis in the philosophy of Thomas. Moreover, it paves the way for discussing its correlative aspect, the culpable character when it passes over into the second moment of will.

According to Aquinas there are two aspects of voluntary `action' as related to the act of counsel, which concerns things that ought to be considered before a person acts: there is direct and indirect volition.(496) The former is realized when the will acts as efficient cause or agent of the act produced; the latter occurs when the will is the deficient principle of non-action. The directly voluntary is to the will's second moment as the indirectly voluntary is to its first moment. A fuller discussion of direct volition will be carried out in the final section of this chapter in connection with the motive or reason of voluntary non-consideration in the second moment of volition.

Here, the indirectly voluntary will be dealt with. In this regard Thomas notes: "The term voluntary is applied not only to that on which the act of the will is brought to bear, but also to that which we have the power to do or not to do."(497) It is to be noted that nothing in this statement implies obligation to act, but only the possibility of action. Thus, it is this notion of mere possibility that furnishes us with the important distinction for applying this aspect of the voluntary to the defect of non-action rooted in the will before it proceeds to act. By excluding any question of obligation or suitability of circumstance, the distinction necessarily excludes any notion of culpability. The will through its ontological non-identification with its ultimate end or higher good is not, as such, the cause of the ontological defect rooted in its being. Nevertheless, it becomes the voluntary principle of this defect through non-consideration of the rule to which it is by nature subordinate. In other words, although the will by nature is not actually subordinated to its higher rule due to its non-identification with the same, it becomes the voluntary cause of the non-subordination insofar as it does not act to consider this rule. In the case of humans this rule is both the rules of reason and divine law.

One might look to Thomas' Commentary on the Ethics of Aristotle to find a more specific application of the above to the question of `counsel,' as it pertains to the non-consideration of the rules of reason and divine law.(498) Herein he reduces non-action regarding the principles of human action to the basic question as to whether or not these principles are in a person's power. Since election, counsel and the like are the principles of human acts, they are by that very fact subject to the will and their use or non-use is thereby voluntary. To consider or not to consider--the act of counsel--in the first moment of volition regards the rules which should regulate one's action. In the second moment this act of council is the rule which should regulate all lower appetites which are under the dominion of the will and as such voluntary. If this were not so, voluntary action would be by nature necessitated in regard to the order of exercise, thereby destroying freedom at its very source. Thomas writes:

For if not to act were not in our power, it would be impossible that we not act; therefore, it would be necessary for us to act, and thus to act would not be from us, but would be from necessity.(499)

It is then by emphasizing the fact that such acts of counsel, deliberation, etc., are under the power of the will to effect them or not that Thomas establishes the voluntary character of the defect of non-action, specifically, the non-consideration of the rule in the first moment of volition. In doing this he insisted that such a defect, although voluntary, is not in itself culpable or sinful. It has not yet passed over into the order of privation, which it assumes in the second moment of voluntary non-consideration of both rules, namely, reason and divine law.


Aquinas specifically applies the notion of the voluntary and the act of counsel to the order of reason and divine law in yet another article of the De Malo wherein he explains the basis for isolating the precise formality distinguishing the merely voluntary from the non-consideration of the rule of morality. Therein he says that what exactly is required to constitute a sin as a sin, and what is thus required to constitute the cause of sin. The former distinction, as has been shown, is the non-conformity to or recession from the rule or measure to which an act should be subjected in the natural, artistic and moral orders. From this distinction it may be concluded that, simply speaking by considering sin as sin, it is possible that there be a type of sin, namely, non-action in relation to an affirmative precept or rule, which requires no action to constitute it. In other words, there is the possibility of a mere sin of omission, a voluntary non-action which in view of particular circumstances ought to have been performed.

Within the broader framework of Thomas' philosophy it might be said that man is in a sense naturally prone to evil insofar as his being is separated from its ultimate end, his knowledge is fallible in deducing precepts from the natural and/or divine law, and his passions are capable of clouding, and even at times overcoming, his reason. This is a corollary of the more general principle cited throughout this investigation, namely, that fallible beings will at times fail. Nor is this inherent fallibility, which Aquinas at this point recognizes as "simply speaking the possibility of a mere sin of omission," to be understood as a kind of weakness on the part of the first cause to remedy: this is not a perfect world and imperfections, even in the moral order, will at times occur. The question of remedying all such imperfections is not only metaphysically impossible, but in the long run not desirable. It would be like the old conundrum of whether `God can make a square circle' or a kind of comic travesty like Voltaire's caricature of Leibniz's perfect world. In any event, Thomas has brought us to the threshold of the mystery of evil without attempting to cross over into humanly unnavigable waters.

If the latter of the two distinctions explained above, namely, the cause of sin, it need be said that some act is required even in the case of a sin of omission. In other words, if anyone does not do what he ought to do or does not consider what he ought to consider, there is required some cause to account for this omission. This cause must be an intrinsic one, if the omission is to have the formality of sin, for otherwise, the omission would not be said to proceed from a responsible agent. In view of these distinctions Aquinas concludes that "for an omission to be a sin the omission must be caused by a voluntary act."(500)

As mentioned above, this is the crux of the problem in relation to the voluntary character of the non-consideration of the rule, that is, the voluntary defect presupposed in every sin, whether it is to be related to a sin of omission or commission. Thomas, however, does not leave us without some recourse in facing this thorny dilemma: he distinguishes between something being directly or indirectly voluntary. The directly voluntary is an act of the will which tends toward some appetible good by the direct intention of the agent, while the indirectly or accidentally voluntary is a type of non-action and as such is beyond the intention of the agent.

As applied to a sin of omission, which is the formality pertinent to voluntary non-consideration of the rule presupposed in every sin, the directly voluntary act is not directed to the omission as such, since the object of the will is good and not a privation. It is directed rather to something positive with a foreknowledge of the consequent omission incurred by such an act. The example offered by Thomas in this passage is that of a person willing to play a game, although he foresees that due to this he will miss church when he ought be in attendance. As regards the indirectly or accidentally voluntary, there is not required, simply speaking, an advertence to what one is held to do or to consider; in other words, it is not required that the consequent omission be foreseen. The example given here by Aquinas is that of a person so occupied with some particular endeavor that it does not come to his mind that he ought to be doing such and such. Thomas concludes: "It makes no difference in regard to this whether the voluntary act, which is directly or indirectly the cause of the omission, is simultaneous with the omission itself or even precedes it."(501) In the usual parameters of ethical responsibility such inadvertence is culpable only if the person ought to have foreseen or attended to the omission. This would be the case in treating a patient for a doctor who ought to have realized that by not giving a particular medication the patient surely would not survive. In the case of the non-consideration of the rules of reason and divine law this inadvertence entails such culpability, even in the first moment of volition.

This last remark by Thomas indicates that there are two possible situations with regard to voluntary non-consideration or non-action relevant to the sin of omission. One involves a non-consideration or non-action as simultaneously realized in the sin of commission itself, sin or culpable omission on the psychological level; there the privation caused by the omission is consequent to the conversion to the good on the part of the appetite. The other is on the ontological level and regards a voluntary non-consideration preceding the actual sinful omission. In this instance the non-action, although voluntary, is not as such culpable, since it is to be found in the first moment of the will prior to any actual tendency toward a good without due direction by its rule. As will be shown, it becomes culpable only if the omission, that is, non-action, ought not to have been allowed.

In the answer to a second objection in this same article Thomas distinguishes these two moments of voluntary non-action or omission in terms of `power' and `act'. He writes:

A thing is said to be voluntary not only because it falls under the act of the will, but also because it falls under the power of the will. For in this way even the very not-willing is called voluntary because the will has the power to will and not to will, and likewise to do and not to do.(502)

In other words, the area of mere possibility in the order of exercise as a source of voluntariness from the area of actuality in the order of specification. The latter type always presupposes action, which if unregulated is culpably evil, whereas the former presupposes only voluntary non-action or omission, prescinding for whether it is culpable or not. This voluntariness, namely, that concerning only the voluntary character of omission as related to moral evil, is found in the first or ontological moment of non-consideration of the rules. This is inherent and natural to the human condition. In contrast, the other type of voluntariness concerning actual omission as related to moral evil pertains to the second moment of non-consideration. Here the will proceeds to act by tending toward a particular good without the direction of its rule. It is in this arena that responsible and/or culpable human action occurs.

Thomas thus has distinguished the question of the culpable nature of the sin of omission from the causality involved in omission itself. In so doing, he has provided himself with a means for resolving the problem of the voluntary, although non-culpable, omission presupposed in every sin. Viewed abstractly, an omission is rooted in the power of the will and may be accounted for in terms of the non-use of that power. This, however, does not imply whether the non-use is culpable or not. That will depend on whether the use, or, in the case of moral evil, the consideration of the rule, is demanded at this precise moment. If it were, then the omission passes over into the second moment of non-consideration on the psychological level, and as such is culpable. If not, then the omission is still regarded in relation to the first moment of non-consideration on the ontological level. and as such is only voluntary in character.

Insofar as the obligation is concerned, it should here be recalled that Thomas insists that the rational creature has an obligation to remedy this defect, which is rooted in its action as unidentified with its last end, only when it proceeds to act. Theoretically, a fallible being might remain indefinitely in a state of non-action, but practically being moves to action as a kind of transcendental necessity: action is a transcendental aspect of being. In other words, a fallible intellectual being theoretically is indifferent to good or evil. Practically speaking, however, in its action it carries with it its inherent defectibility, and thus it often chooses as end or means mutable objects in conflict with the rule of reason and divine law.

Thomas brings out the non-culpable character of omission considered in itself in this same article: "The fault may be caused by some act, which sometimes is a fault, as when sin is the cause of sin, but sometimes is not a fault."(503) In saying this he maintains that the ultimate source of sinful action need not be sought in terms of a culpable cause or fault, but only in terms of a voluntary cause. This voluntary cause might be the mere non-action of the power of the will to do or not to do, to consider or not to consider that which it can. This last word "can" affords the key to the solution of the problem, since, if the "can" becomes an "ought," the omission is culpable and passes over to the area of the second moment of non-consideration.

In employing this key we see that voluntary non-consideration of the moral law is by definition an omission of act or consideration. Whether it is merely voluntary or culpable depends upon the divisions and distinctions afforded by Thomas, which make room for a type of omission which has as its cause a voluntary non-action, prescinding from culpability as such. And finally, by relating the question of the sin of omission to the area of positive or affirmative precept, he finds a type of voluntary omission which is not culpable, since it is not at that moment voluntary. This is based upon the principle that affirmative precepts are always binding, but not in every instance.(504) Viewed from another aspect, the question remains as to what formality brings about the transition from first to second moment of non-consideration.

It has been repeatedly noted that Aquinas insists on the distinction between mere defect of will and privation in act in order to demonstrate that in the first moment the defect is voluntary but inculpable. He has done this, it seems, to safeguard his philosophy of moral evil from possible contradictions and errors. We shall consider two such possibilities. Firstly, there is the fact that, unless he did take pains in making these distinctions, sin would be the ultimate root of sin, which root would have to be accounted for in terms of a positive cause, since sin is not a mere negation but a privative act. Secondly, there is the fact that this would render the will radically vicious infecting all its appetitions.

Still, it might be asked in what precise manner does the merely defective non-consideration become sinful, that is, privative non-consideration. Although the distinction between first and second moments is a starting point in answering this question, the precise cause of the transition from one to another has not been fully explored. Psychologically considered, the question was answered when the positive character of sinful action was explicated, insofar as sin is no mere negation or defect, but a privation of due goodness resulting from inordinate appetition. Ontologically considered, the transition occurred when the will proceeded to act without subordinating itself to its proper rule(s). But what effects this transition?

Let us suppose that a person here and now in the first moment of non-consideration has no obligation to act; hence, his non-consideration is merely a defect and not a privation or culpable defect. In this moment it might be said, he is not obligated to consider the rule of reason any more than the sculptor is obliged always to have the chisel in his hand or the painter a brush. The `obligation' to do so in order to prevent his artifact from being defective occurs precisely when he decides to execute his design. So with a person in regard to moral action; there is question of a static moment when the circumstances do not warrant a decision to act or not to act. Now let it be supposed that such circumstances are present and are so recognized by the person that he finds himself in a concrete and dynamic situation demanding an immediate consideration of the rules to which his forthcoming action or non-action is subject. Thomas provides a classic example:

But we must take note that the cause of what follows from want of action is not always the agent as not acting; but only then when the agent can and ought to act. For if the helmsman were unable to steer the ship or if the ship's helm be not entrusted to him, the sinking of the ship would not be set down to him, although it might be due to his absences from the helm.(505)

From the above the following might be inferred: first, there is here a matter of the second moment of voluntary non-consideration. If this were not the case, this passage would contradict what has been explained about Aquinas' insistence on the voluntary but non-culpable character of non-action in the first moment of non-consideration. Second, the reason given for this is the `concrete and dynamic' situation wherein the captain finds himself. In other words, the circumstances have warranted an actual consideration of the rules of reason and divine law. Third, a further stipulation has been added to that of voluntary in terms of the `oughtness' of the envisioned action in contradistinction to the mere possibility implicit in the voluntary first moment. This `oughtness' will render the non-action of the deficient cause not merely defective, but privative non-action. It is then the relation of this non-action on the part of the will to the concrete circumstances appreciated by the agent that brings about the transition from the first to the second moments when the agent decides not to act or not to consider, although the circumstances demand it. At that moment his will proceeds to act (an act of omission) without the direction of its rule.

In the texts cited thus far from the Summa Contra Gentes and the De Malo Thomas has judged the non-consideration of the rules of reason and divine law to become sinful and culpable at the moment when the agent disposes himself to act positively, that is, when he in some way decides to act or not act in a given situation.(506) If the action contemplated is merely optional, then the non-consideration becomes culpable only at the moment of an actual election of the evil. In such a case, it is not necessary to act, but if one acts, he must do so according to the dictates of these rules. It is at that precise moment that the consideration becomes obligation. If, however, the action contemplated is seen as obligatory in the sense that the person so situated, as is the captain in the example, recognizes that this particular action comes under the dictates of universal law or that his lower appetition must be subordinated to reason, then the consideration of these rules become in a sense obligatory at that very moment.

The reason for this is that in the case of the concrete circumstances demanding immediate action, there is a type of election previous to the envisioned election of the good itself in terms of the act of omission to consider these rules. That election occurs at the moment when the person decides in spite of his knowledge of the obligation not to act; in other words, the election is what ethicians call strictly a `sin of omission.' Thus, the problem of the culpable character of the voluntary non-consideration or non-action in regard to the rule of morality must be explained within the context of Thomas' teaching on the sin of omission. In the previous section the latter was considered only in terms of its providing a basis for the voluntary cause of non-consideration; now it must be dealt with in terms of the culpable character of such non-consideration or non-action.

In the Summa Theologica Aquinas discusses whether there can be a sin without any act whatsoever.(507) His answer distinguishes between the sin of omission looked at in its essential notion and that looked at in the concrete. If one were to consider only the formality constituting it, namely, the essential note of not acting, then it would follow that it could be said that a sin of omission need not involve any act either interior or exterior, but only a voluntary and inculpable cause. As an example of this, Thomas envisions a person who is obliged to be at church at a certain hour, but who does not think about going or not going at all. Subjectively considered in terms of the concrete situation there is no sin involved since he does not even think of his obligation. However, abstractly considered, it is a sin of omission, that is, it is the non-doing of something one ought to do.

But this is the point at issue, and provides Aquinas with bases for making a necessary distinction in such sins. As explained above, it distinguishes the type of culpability preceding an actual election of evil, or in this example, the physical non-action of not going to church. His argument runs as follows. If the sin of omission be taken with regard to the causes and occasions of the omission, that is, if the sin be considered in its concrete circumstances, then it is necessary to conclude that in every sin of omission there is involved some act, at least an interior act on the part of the agent who proceeds to act without due consideration of those things which he ought to consider. In such circumstances he does have an obligation to remedy this defect, that is, to remove such a cause or occasion.

As applied to the question of the voluntary non-consideration of the moral law, it may be said that as soon as the circumstances are recognized by the agent the obligation to consider the moral law occurs. For otherwise the non-consideration or non-action in the first moment becomes a privation in his decision not to consider the same. It is culpable insofar as the person in this concrete situation both is able and ought to do so. The act in such non-consideration is an act of omission; in other words, as Thomas says, it is a sin of omission in that "this not-willing and not-acting is imputed to, as though proceeding from, the will."(508)

He applies this doctrine of sin by omission specifically to non-consideration of the moral law in the Summa Theologica(509) where he states that just as it is voluntary not to will and not to act, "cum tempus fuerit," so it is also "not to consider."(510) The obligation to consider the moral law is always binding, but not at every moment, which is true of every affirmative precept: in ethical terms "semper sed non ad semper." Aquinas discusses this in his De Malo remarking that, although one is always obliged to honor his parents, still the actual obligation is realized only "tempore debito."(511) So it is concerning the moral law when it dictates in a positive manner. In the case of "due time" regarding the consideration of moral law, this would be the second moment of volition, that is, when the will, in spite of the urgency of circumstances as presented to it by reason, proceeds to act without such consideration.

Hence, there is a twofold aspect to sinful action, namely, the will through a sin of omission failing to do that which it can and ought to do, and the will proceeding to act without such direction. The first of these aspects implies the privation of due order as such while the second the sinful conversion to a mutable good; the one is a sin of omission, the other that of commission respectively. It might be concluded that the precise formality rendering a mere defect a privation, that is, effecting the transition from the first to the second moment of non-consideration is found in this sinful omission whereby the will fails in a concrete situation to do that which it can and ought to do.



As has been consistently maintained, Thomas insists that the voluntary non-consideration of the moral law does not force us to look beyond free will itself to explain its being the voluntary cause of moral evil insofar as it indirectly wills not to act and/or not to consider its proper rules. In abstracto this is inculpable, but in concreto it is sinful. Thus, in order to explain non-consideration or non-action resulting from indirect volition it is not necessary to establish any direct causal influence involving a communication of being or a modification thereof. This is true in both the first and second moments of voluntary non-consideration, if one should prescind from the material concrete act wherein the latter is subjected. In other words, as non-consideration, the non-subordination of the will to proper rule is the same in both instances, although in the second moment the mere negation or defect becomes a privation due to the fact that this act ought to be regulated by its proper rule. However, even this privation as a privation does not require a positive influx of being on the part of its cause, but only a voluntary non-action or non-consideration. Hence, its culpable nature comes from the fact that it is a `formal removal' of due perfection which the act ought to have. This has been explained previously as a precision afforded by Cajetan when explaining the positive character of sin.(512)

One might still inquire as to what exactly psychologically moves the will to consider or not consider its proper rules; in other words, why does the will choose an objectively sinful course of action or an object prohibited by the precepts of moral law. First of all, the consideration or non-consideration is not an explicit judgment distinct from the evaluative practical judgment concerning the object to be chosen here and now by the will. This was discussed at length in terms of the practical syllogism involved in such non-consideration. As such, this question concerning the motive or reason for the actual consideration or non-consideration resolves around the psychology of free choice in terms of a motive sufficient to move the will from a state of potency to act in regard to the concrete object to be chosen. Here our investigation centers on two causalities involved in free election, namely, the orders of exercise and specification, which is to say, efficient and formal causality and their relations to the two moments of voluntary non-consideration. Presupposing that one is dealing here with the actual consideration or non-consideration, it concerns only the second moment of volition and only the privative character as rendering a moral act culpable in its appetition of a particular good.

When Thomas says that liberty is the sufficient cause of the non-consideration of the rule of morality and that one need not seek a further cause of this free act, he is speaking of non-consideration as such in the order of efficient causality, or in the case of moral evil what has been designated the order of deficient causality. It is to be recalled that in this order of efficient or deficient causality the will, according to Aquinas, can be determined only by itself. Neither the intellect, nor the sense, nor any exterior cause except the first cause, can move the will to act or not act.(513) As regards, the efficient movement of the will there is required a primary influx of being on the part of the first cause to reduce the will initially from a state of potency to act. But this initial and ongoing causality may be viewed as the general and/or ordinary influx of being from the first to all secondary causes in the universe of created activity; it is not the instrumental causality regarded in more specific secondary action. Also such an ongoing influence in no way destroys the freedom of moral action, rather it is a necessary prerequisite for that freedom. For deficient causality on the part of the will as regards moral evil, there is not required even this positive influx from the primary cause, since there is no `action' on the part of the will, but only non-action or non-consideration.

In the order of specification the emphasis shifts to the intellect as moving the will in choosing a particular good through the intellect's specifying the most suitable object to be chosen here and now. This specification, as has been said, is arrived at only in terms of the disposition of the whole individual. Thus, the will may be said to move the intellect to specify the object most suitable to the present dispositions of the subject of which the will is the principal faculty of appetition. It is in this order of specification that the question of why the will does or does not actually consider its proper rules will be decided in terms of motive for its action or non-action. This is due to the fact that the intellect in specifying a particular object as the good here and now to be chosen is obliged to consider the rules of reason and divine law.

Thomas explicates these mutual orders of causality in respect to the actual consideration or non-consideration of the rule of morality in his De Malo. There he argues that just as in other things there must be some first principle of proper acts, so there must be such a principle in rational beings.(514) In them this active or moving principle is twofold, namely, intellect and will. The first principles in nature and in humans are similar insofar as in both orders the active principle is the form, which is always the principle of action, and from it follow natural inclinations toward their respective proper objects. Still in terms of the mode of this natural or consequent inclination there is a difference. In the natural order these inclinations are necessary and determined to particular actions. They always center on some particular good which must be sought if conformable to the appetition of the natural being at the moment of sensible apprehension. In contrast, in the moral order the form in question is intellectual; hence its consequent inclination as found in the rational appetite is not necessitated or determined. The reason for this lies in the fact that the intellect apprehends its object in an immaterial way, thus enabling it to compare the object to its immaterial notion of goodness itself. Thereby it sees both desirable and undesirable aspects in the object. In this way the will in conjunction with the immaterial intellect is never necessitated by any one particular good. Thomas says that the immaterial form is one "under which many can be comprehended. Hence since acts are concerned with singulars, among which there is none that is equal to the potentiality of the universal, the inclination of the will remains indeterminately related to many."(515)

His next point regarding these mutual causalities is that the potencies in question are moved in two different orders: the order of exercise, which looks to the subject, and the order of specification, which looks to the object. In the natural order the specification of a power by its object is rooted in the necessity of its form insofar as this form being material is limited to a particular sensible array of proper objects, for example, food, sex, pleasure and the like. Therefore, the exercise of act in the natural order also is necessitated. As soon as this particular sensible object is sensibly known as satisfying the dispositions of this natural being, it necessarily is sought. In other words, although the non-intellectual agent acts for an end, its first principle of motion is a material form determined in its inclinations. Thus, its exercise of act is determined by the end proposed by the necessitating cause.

In the moral order, however, this is not the case. There the object of the intellect, which is apprehended immaterially, is the first principle of the motion of the will in the order of formal causality, insofar as it specifies a particular good as the most suitable good here and now to be chosen. However, due to its immaterial apprehension any number of aspects of such objects may be considered. Such a presentation of objects is not necessitated by a determined form or determined inclinations. They are specified as goods to be chosen only under the influence of the immaterial apprehension of goodness by the intellect. Consequently, the appetition of the will is equally non-necessitated; it is free as regards the order of exercise or act insofar as the rational power is left free to act or not act.

If, therefore, one should consider the motions of the powers of the soul on the part of the object specifying the act, the first principle of motion is from the intellect. It is in this way that the apprehended good is said to move the will itself. If one consider, however, the motion of the powers of the soul as regards the exercise of act, the first principle of motion is the will itself. For only the power which looks to the end can move the power concerned with the means thereto. It is thus that the will is said to move itself in terms of the end desired, and the intellect in terms of determining the means and all the lower powers in the execution of choice.

As applied to the question of the consideration or non-consideration of the rule of morality, it may be concluded that the will can move the intellect to consider the latter in its act of practical judgment insofar as it moves it to choose an object which is in accord with the universal principles of morality possessed by the intellect. Such pertains to the order of exercise insofar as the will can moves the intellect to take counsel or not of those things which it ought to consider. The will, however, moves the intellect to consider only those things which correspond to its present inclinations; in this way right reason is said to depend upon right appetite. Consequently, the intellect considers or specifies as the good to be chosen only that good which the will wills it to specify. In the order of exercise, therefore, it may be seen that the will freely moves the intellect to consider or not consider the rule of morality, that is, to specify as the good to be chosen an object in conformity with the moral law or one not so conformed.

Since the will is not always willing to move the intellect to counsel, it is necessary that the will itself be moved to this by some external principle. This is the primary cause in the philosophy of Aquinas, who writes:

what first moves the will and the intellect is something above the will and the intellect, namely God, Who since He moves all things according to the nature of the movable things, . . . also moves the will according to its condition, i.e., its nature, not as of necessity but as indeterminately relating to many.(516)

Thomas considers, therefore, the ultimate cause of the actual consideration of the rule of morality in the order of exercise to be the first cause. In other words, if the will is to move the intellect to consider those things which it ought to consider, namely, the rules of reason and divine law, in its specification of a particular good to be chosen by the will, this motion must proceed initially from the first cause. However, such primary influence is not needed in regard to the non-consideration of these rules, since that is a matter of non-action, voluntary in the will's first moment and culpable in its second moment as it proceeds to act without due consideration. This non-action or non-consideration, as has been said, is in both instances traceable to the defect of the will and not to its action as such. Therefore, as non-action or non-consideration, it requires no causal influence from the primary cause. The finite will alone is its ultimate causal explanation.

The question as to why the will does not actually consider these rules narrows itself down to a matter pertaining to the order of specification and not to that of exercise. In other words, the actual non-consideration of such is explained only in terms of the motive for the will's direct volition. Here three things should be kept in mind: first, the defect found in the second moment of appetition is a voluntary culpable privation since it is rooted in an act. This act ought to be good according to species, mode, and order, but here is deprived of this. Second, the species of an evil act is determined not by this privation, but by a positive tendency of the will toward a particular good which one way or another is contrary to its proper rules. As such it is the conversive element in the act and the material element; it looks to the good sought and not to the privation of order in the appetition. The latter is the aversive element or the formal element in the evil act. This is never sought as such, but is willed only indirectly as a consequence of directly voluntary volition. Third, this tendency toward the good, insofar as it is act, demands an active cause. But the privation rooted in and consequent to this appetition, not being act but the absence of due perfection, does not demand any causality apart from the deficient will. If it is asked what precisely causes the actual non-consideration of the rule of morality, the answer must be found in why the will positively moves toward a particular good; this pertains to the order of specification. It is a question "of the motion of the will on the part of the object determining" the appetition in the order of formal causality. In this same article Thomas assigns three sources to account for the motive power of the object or for the motion of the will on the part of the object.(517) The first is the predominance of one thing's perceived value over another. This is an object moving the will according to reason insofar as it presupposes a reasonable and objective evaluation of the object proposed. Although such reasoning might involve invincible ignorance, the appetition would still be in terms of right disposition with a proper end. The second source of moral specification is the fact that reason often considers only one particular circumstance or at times none at all. This frequently happens due to some occasion within or without the subject which momentarily turns his attention to a particular aspect apart from a consideration of others. Still, the will remains the voluntary cause of this non-consideration insofar as it is within its power to consider these other particulars and/or circumstances. The third source of moral specification is by far the most important and far reaching and concerns the disposition of the subject willing. What has been said about the first and second sources does not in any way exclude the subject, but the latter as such is not their main focus. Since the disposition of the willing subject previously has been analyzed at length, it will be discussed now only as a primary source helping to explain why a person chooses one object over another even though he knows it to be contrary to the rule of reason and divine law.

Such dispositions cannot be said to necessitate the will in its choice of a particular good as is the case in irrational appetition, since the principle of action in rational beings involve the two orders of nature and reason. As stated, a particular good in the rational order finds no necessary counterpart in its principles of action which would necessitate human appetition, as would be the case for the natural instincts in the irrational kingdom. As immaterially apprehended, the sensible object is dematerialized and made apt for comparison with the notion of goodness as such. In this way these apprehensions correspond adequately to no particular dispositions, especially that of the will itself, which through reason is open to goodness itself. Commenting on the power of the will over such dispositions Thomas writes:

If then the disposition by which a thing seems good and befitting to a person is natural and not subject to the will, the will chooses it naturally and necessarily . . . . But if the disposition be such as is not natural but subject to the will, as when someone is so disposed by habit or passion that something seems either good or bad to him under this particular aspect, the will is not moved of necessity.(518)

He concludes his remarks by assigning why this is true to reason, on the one hand, but leaving it within the power of the will to remove such dispositions: "The will . . . has the power to remove this disposition so that the thing does not seem so to him."(519) This latter ability to remove the disposition is in the order of exercise while that of reason's judging it to be desirable is in the order of specification. In other words, Aquinas is not alleging that while constituted in this disposition a person will choose something contrary to his disposition, but only that he can do so insofar as he can remove the disposition itself.

When this source of moral specification is related to the matter of the actual non-consideration of the rule of morality, one is dealing with the choice of a good considered in a composite sense. That is, if the factors for the choice are present or presupposed, the choice of this good will be made. Although the will retains its power to alter such factors, it does not actually do so because its dispositions are otherwise at the moment or, in the case of ingrained habits continually.

Although at first glance this proneness to will what is most suitable to the subject's dispositions might appear as a kind of determination similar to the inclinations of irrational beings, upon careful analysis this is seen not to be the case. First, unlike the latter inclinations, a person's dispositions have been, for the most part, freely acquired. Others, such as those determined by one's genes, mix, so to speak, into the whole complex of human emotions, habits, desires, physical characteristics, etc., prior to and concomitant with a person's willing any particular end or means.

Secondly, what would be the alternative, if free choice were considered as though it took place apart from, or even contrary to, such dispositions? If this were the case, a person's free choices would be arbitrary and totally unpredictable; moreover, such choices would be totally out of character, and as such, irrational. Any psychological attempt to explain human behavior without espousing a kind of behaviorism must come down on the side of Thomas' analysis of the human condition. On the part of the individual willing, self-analysis is certainly a tricky business; hence, it is beyond human knowledge to fathom the depths even of one's own being. In Aquinas' psychology contextualized within the framework of his metaphysics, human freedom remains a mystery whose only proviso is the ineffable knowledge of the first cause.

It is not necessary, therefore, to conclude from anything previously stated that the will, or rather the human person through his will, must always choose the particular good corresponding to its concrete present conditions, or that one could not act against such dispositions. It is always within one's power to throw another log on the fire, so to speak, thus changing the complex of his personality. But in this mutual intermingling of the rational, emotional, etc., with the person's will, it may be said that unless another factor is placed in the mix, he will not choose a particular object contrary to his present situation. Metaphysically, this demonstrates the difference along with the mutuality of the two orders in question: the order of specification and the order of exercise. To argue otherwise would involve an illicit transition from the one order to the other, that is, from what the will is moved by reason to choose based on its dispositions, to what the will is capable of doing concerning its removing or altering such dispositions. In other words, it confuses the will considered in a composite sense with the will considered in a divided sense.

This distinction affords another basis for interpreting Thomas' complex thought wherein he maintains that the will `will' act according to its present dispositions, but that at the same time it `could' act otherwise in the order of exercise, either by not choosing to act or by removing/altering the dispositions.(520) Such a change of disposition may take place at any moment by reevaluating the object in terms of the first two sources of moral specification cited by Thomas. In this regard he comments on the distinction between the actual or factual choice of a particular good as corresponding to the subject's present disposition and his power to remove/alter such dispositions:

The will is not moved from necessity because it is able to remove this disposition, so that something does not appear thus to it, as when someone quiets the ire in himself, so that he does not judge something as an ireful man (would).(521)

In light of the above Aquinas concludes his analysis of these two orders of causality, noting that the will may be said to be necessitated on the part of the object or in the order of specification. This is due to a particular object's actually being seen through the practical judgment of the intellect as corresponding totally or adequately to the subject's present condition. On the other hand, the will can never be said to be necessitated in the order of exercise, since it always retains the power to act or not to act, to consider or not consider any particular good at all. It is then in this latter order that the question of voluntary non-consideration is ultimately resolved, and not in the order of specification. The latter accounts for the positive action of the will insofar as it chooses suitable and commensurate objects. In the moral order this entails the consideration or non-consideration of the rules of morality.

In the order of exercise, then, we find the formality of freedom when the will in a divided sense is viewed as able to act or not act, to consider or not consider. It is in this order that Thomas would argue that only the causality of the first cause accounts for the reduction of the will's potency for acting according to the rule of morality. The will itself, as finite and separated from its ultimate end, is sufficient explanation for its non-consideration, but as such this non-consideration is a mere defect. Only when it actually moves to act, that is, when this defect becomes a privation, does the need to consider primary causality come into play. This, however, is in the order of exercise without direct appeal to the order of specification regarding which particular object will be chosen. The source of that choice lies hidden in the deep recesses of the individual human psyche.



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Ad Simpl. 82

Angelic sin 119

Angels 118, 124, 128, 133, 195

Aversive 37, 42, 157, 37

Being 7

Blanche 15

Cause i, ii, v, vii, viii, ix, 2, 3, 7, 9, 14, 19, 23-25, 27, 30-33, 37, 40, 45, 46, 46-61, 61-70, 73, 74, 80, 82, 87, 88, 89, 97, 101, 106, 109-111, 113, 121, 124, 126, 127, 130, 137, 138, 140-147, 149-157, 159, 160

Circumstance 86, 102, 105, 145, 157

Collins 118, 195

Command 76, 93

Commission 33, 37, 40, 74, 147, 152, 197

Concupiscence 95

Consent 76, 78, 79, 81, 83, 100, 101, 102, 113

Conversive 37

Counsel v, 73, 76, 78, 79, 83, 91, 92, 144-146, 156

Culpability 74

Daly 13

De anima 194, 5

De Causis 58

De Coursey 29

De Finance 15

De Koninck 18

De Malo 24

De Potentia 48

De Princip. Naturae 58

De Sylvestris 58

De Veritate 6

De Virt. in Comm. 27

De Virtutibus 1

Defect 16, 19, 22, 26, 30, 32, 35, 36, 43, 50-52, 62, 63, 63, 64, 65, 65-70, 73, 74, 101, 114, 116-120, 124, 125, 126, 128, 128, 130-133, 135-145, 147-149, 150, 152, 153, 156, 157, 160

Defective 3, 21, 30, 35, 45, 51, 54, 56, 62, 63, 66, 68, 69, 73, 82, 83, 84, 127-130, 132, 134, 137-140, 143, 149, 150

Denziger 36

Deprivation of mode 33

Deprivation of species 102

Dispositions 28

Divine grace 70

Divine law 3

Divine will 132, 202

Due end 12

Due good 26, 28, 35, 38, 74, 138

Due order 19

Due perfection 28

Efficiency 48

Election 65

Elter 108

End 131, 6

Ethic 12

Evaluation 20, 86, 90, 157

Evans 22

Evil passim.

Existential 2, 47, 51, 70, 85, 87, 94, 108, 127, 198, 202

Fabro 48

Faith vii, viii, 36, 71, 125, 194, 200

Fall vii, 21, 30, 35, 41, 67, 69, 70, 108

First cause 14, 45, 61, 66, 68-70, 88, 97, 101, 109, 121, 130, 141, 146, 154, 156, 159, 160

First moment 37

Form 5, 7-9, 11, 13, 16, 20, 23-26, 28, 30, 32, 33, 35, 38, 46, 48, 50, 54-57, 59, 62, 63, 66-68, 77, 85, 93, 108, 113, 124, 125, 128, 133, 142, 154, 155

Formal 7

Formal cause 33, 50, 54, 55, 57, 80

Formality 6

Free option 121

Free will 13

Freedom 90, 13

Garrigou-Lagrange 60

Gen. et Corrup. 57

God vii, viii, 7, 14, 15, 17-21, 36, 40, 45, 48, 61, 68, 69, 71, 121-123, 125-126, 129, 131, 136, 146, 156, 194-197, 200-201

Gustafson 8

Habits 13

Hart 46

Hayen 70

Hopkins 88

Human action viii, 19, 21, 30, 37, 39-41, 73-76, 79, 80, 83, 84, 91, 93, 94, 97, 98, 100, 102, 102-107, 109, 111, 112, 131, 134, 142, 145, 148

Ignorance 80

Inferior reason 98-101, 105, 111-113, 115-117

Inferior' reason 98

Intellection 2, 76, 80, 98

Intuition 98, 99, 120

Invincible ignorance 140, 157

John of St. Thomas 11, 12

Judgment 21, 43, 69, 70, 75, 76, 78, 79, 82, 83, 87-95, 97-100, 100, 101, 102, 104-107, 111-113, 115, 118, 119, 139, 153, 156, 160

Judgments 19

Law 3

Legrand 197

Lehu 108

Lib. de Div. Nomin. 12

Lottin 13

Love 11, 130

Loves 7

Malice 35

Maloney 37, 197, 37

Maritain 119

Mehl 70

Merkelbach 42

Meterol 7

Moral circumstances 104

Moral evil i, ii, v, vii, viii, ix, 2, 3, 14, 21-23, 29, 30, 35-37, 39, 43-45, 50, 56, 58, 61, 63, 63, 66, 69, 71, 73, 74, 75, 79, 84, 89, 101, 109, 119, 123, 124, 130, 137, 139-144, 148, 149, 153, 154

Moral law 19

Motive 82

Natural appetency 8, 11-13, 15, 20, 196

Natural appetite 5, 6, 8-10, 13, 14, 17, 19, 121, 202

Natural law 16

Naturally 3

Negation 23

Non-action 32, 74, 138, 143-154, 156

Non-consideration of divine law 120

Nothingness 125

O'Connor 198, 202, 14

Obligation 22

Omission 105

Openness 129-132

Order passim.

Order of exercise 6, 14, 17, 17, 18, 19, 21-23, 38, 40, 43, 45, 48, 59, 66, 69, 76, 80, 82-84, 86, 87, 90, 98, 103, 107, 127, 131, 133-136, 140, 145, 146, 148, 154-156, 157-160, 197, 199, 14

Order of specification 80

Oughtness 55

Passion 12

Perfection 5-9, 11-13, 15-17, 19, 21-23, 25-29, 31, 35, 37, 40, 43, 44, 47, 51, 54, 55, 57, 63, 67-69, 102, 124, 129, 135, 144, 153, 157

Pesch 57

Philosophy vii, viii, ix, 2, 7, 30, 36, 66, 67, 118, 198, 202, 203

Phys 18

Practical v, 20, 21, 36, 73, 76, 78, 79, 83, 85, 87, 91-94, 97-100, 104-106, 111, 112, 115, 116, 153, 156, 160, 202

Practical syllogism 73

Primary cause 66, 154, 156

Principle v

Privation 25-28, 29-31, 33, 37, 37-41, 45-47, 49-51, 53-56, 58, 59, 62, 64, 65, 68, 69, 73, 74, 101, 102, 117, 118, 120, 127, 135, 136, 138-145, 147, 149, 150, 152, 153, 157, 160

Proper end 14

Psychological level 74

Radical determination 13

Radical indifference 83

Renard 20

Right 20, 27, 67, 93, 94, 107, 108, 111, 129, 131, 132, 140, 141, 156, 157, 196, 199

Rule v, 19-22, 35-37, 40, 42-43, 73-75, 78-80, 82, 84, 90-91, 93-95, 97113, 116-120, 123, 124, 129, 131-134, 136-137, 141-143, 145-151, 153, 154, 156-158, 160, 201

Rule of morality 137

Rzadkiewicz 8

Salmanticenses 42

Second moment 73

Sent 15

Simon 94

Sin 21

Sinful action 138, 37

Smith 7

Specification v, 37-41, 59, 75, 76, 80-84, 86, 87, 89-94, 97, 100-102, 104-105, 108-110, 137, 139, 148, 153, 154-160

Speculative 21

Speculative-practical 92, 94, 98, 99, 105, 106, 111, 115

Stang 20

Suitable 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13-15, 17, 20-21, 24, 77, 80-92, 102, 103, 114, 118, 123, 131, 154, 155, 158, 160

Summa Contra Gentiles 23

Summam Theologicam 28

Superior reason 78, 79, 98-100, 100-102, 105, 106, 109, 110, 112, 113, 115-120, 136, 195

Syllogism v

Sylvius 37

Theol 15

Theology vii, 89, 124, 196, 198-200

Thomas Aquinas passim.

Transcendental 5, 6, 46-48, 51, 127, 130, 149

Ultimate end 3, 7, 12-15, 17-19, 21-23, 36, 37, 42-44, 47, 48, 63, 74, 79, 81, 82, 84, 88, 98, 100, 115-117, 120-127, 129, 131, 132, 134-143, 145, 146, 149, 156, 160

Vermeersch 41, 37

Violence vii, ix, 12-14, 87, 12

Virtue 12, 20, 33, 34, 34, 50, 62, 70, 75, 88, 90, 94, 101, 105, 107, 123, 136

Voluntary 3, 9, 10, 13, 15, 32, 36-41, 62, 63, 64-66, 74, 79, 83, 90, 97, 106, 107, 109, 110, 117, 120, 123-125, 132, 135, 137-141, 143-153, 156, 157, 160

Ward 22

Will v, 1-3, 5, 6, 8-16, 19, 21-22, 26, 28-30, 32-46, 51, 53-56, 58-71, 73-90, 90-98, 100, 101-106, 109-127, 129-160, 195, 202-203

Will as reason 81

Will as will 81

Wright 17-18, 199




Today there is urgent need to attend to the nature and dignity of the person, to the quality of human life, to the purpose and goal of the physical transformation of our environment, and to the relation of all this to the development of social and political life. This, in turn, requires philosophic clarification of the base upon which freedom is exercised, that is, of the values which provide stability and guidance to one's decisions.

Such studies must be able to reach deeply into the cultures of one's nationand of other parts of the world by which they can be strengthened and enrichedin order to uncover the roots of the dignity of persons and of the societies built upon their relations one with another. They must be able to identify the conceptual forms in terms of which modern industrial and technological developments are structured and how these impact human self-understanding. Above all, they must be able to bring these elements together in the creative understanding essential for setting our goals and determining our modes of interaction. ln the present complex circumstances this is a condition for growing together with trust and justice, honest dedication and mutual concern.

The Council for Studies in Values and Philosophy (RVP) is a group of scholars who share the above concerns and are interested in the application thereto of existing capabilities in the field of philosophy and other disciplines. Its work is to identify areas in which study is needed, the intellectual resources which can be brought to bear thereupon, and the financial resources required. In bringing these together its goal is scientific discovery and publication which contributes to the promotion of human kind in our times.

In sum, our times present both the need and the opportunity for deeper and ever more progressive understanding of the person and of the foundations of social life. The development of such understanding is the goal of the RVP.


A set of related research efforts is currently in process; some were developed initially by the RVP and others now are being carried forward by it, either solely or conjointly.

1. Cultural Heritage and Contemporary Change: Philosophical Foundations for Social Life. Sets of focused and mutually coordinated continuing seminars in university centers, each preparing a volume as part of an integrated philosophic search for self-understanding differentiated by continent. This work focuses upon evolving a more adequate understanding of the person in society and looks to the cultural heritage of each for the resources to respond to the challenges of its own specific contemporary transformation.

2. Seminars on Culture and Contemporary Issues. This series of 10 week cross-cultural and inter-disciplinary seminars is being coordinated by the RVP in Washington.

3. Joint-Colloquia with Institutes of Philosophy of the National Academies of Science, university philosophy departments, and societies, which have been underway since 1976 in Eastern Europe and, since 1987 in China, concern the person in contemporary society.

4. Foundations of Moral Education and Character Development. A study in values and education which unites philosophers, psychologists, social scientists and scholars in education in the elaboration of ways of enriching the moral content of education and character development.

The personnel for these projects consists of established scholars willing to contribute their time and research as part of their professional commitment to life in our society. The Council directly sponsors some projects and seeks support for projects sponsored by other organizations. For resources to implement this work the Council, as a non-profit organization incorporated in the District of Colombia, looks to various private foundations, public programs, and enterprises.



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1. Meta., X, 2, 1053 b 19-21.

2. Hans Meyer, The Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, trans. F. Eckhart (London: B. Herder Book Co., 1944), p. 3.

3. De Ver., q. 1, a. 1.

4. 4. De Anima, III, 8, 431 b 21.

5. S.T., I, q. 16, a. 1.

6. Cf., Ibid.. Q. 5.

7. Comm. In De Hebdomadibus, b. 4.

8. S. C. G., III, c. 20, 8.

9. De Ver., q. 21, a. 5.

10. S. T., I, q. 5, a. 1.

11. Enid Smith, The Goodness of Being in Thomistic Philosophy and Its Contemporary Significance (Washington, D. C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1947), p. 47.

12. S. T. I, q. 5, a. 4.

13. In IV Meterol., a. 3, 380a, 12-15.

14. Ibid.

15. S. T., I, q. 5, a. 5.

16. Ibid., 80, a. 1.

17. Arnold L. Rzadkiewicz, The Philosophical Basis of Human Liberty (Washington, D. C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1949), pp. 47-48.

18. Gusta J. Gustafson, The Theory of Natural Appetency in the Philosophy of Thomas (Washington, D. C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1944), p. 49.

19. 19. S. T. , I, q. 59, a. 1.

20. De Ver., q. 22, a.1; S. T., I-II, q. 8, a. 1.

21. S. T., I, q. 80, a, 1; ibid., q. 88, a. 4.

22. S. T., I-II, q. 8, a. 1.

23. De Ver., q. 25, a. 1.

24. S. T., I, q. 59, a. 1.

25. Ibid. I-II, q. 17, a. 7.

26. De Ver., q. 25, a. 2, ad 8.

27. Ibid., q. 27, a. 5.

28. S.T., I, q. 60, a. 1.

29. Ibid., I-II, a. 26, a. 1.

30. Ibid., I, q. 60, a. 1.

31. Ibid., I-II, q. 26, a. 2.

32. Joannes a S. Thomas, Cursus Philosophicus, ed. B. Reiser (2 vols.: Taurini; Marietti, 1937), Philosophia Naturalis I, q. XIII, a. 2, ad. 1.

33. S.T., I-II, q. 25, a. 2. Thomas also refers to this as a "connaturality toward the good", ibid., q. 23, a. 4.

34. Ibid., I, q. 60, a. 1.

35. Ibid., I-II, q. 26, a. 1; In Lib. de Div. Nomin., q. 6, a. 1: "The object moving the will is an apprehended suitable good; whence if something good is proposed which is apprehended under the formality of the good, but not under the formality of the suitable, it will not move the will."

36. Joannes a s. Thoma, op. cit., p. 278.

37. S.T., I-II, q. 1, a. 2.

38. Nich. Ethic., III, 1. 1, n. 1110 a 242.

39. S.T., II-II, q. 175, a. 1.

40. De Ver., q. 22, a. 1.

41. Ibid.

42. S.T., I-II, q. 72, a. 2: "To anyone having a habit, that is lovable which is suitable to it according to its own habit; because it becomes to it in a certain way connatural, according to which custom and habit turn into nature." By these words Thomas affirms his position that habits are "quasi" or "second" natures to beings.

43. Odon Lottin, Principes de Morale, (2 vols., Louvain, Abbaye de Mont Cesar, 1946), I, p. 90.

44. Jeanne Joseph Daly, The Metaphysical Foundation of Free Will as a Transcendental Aspect of the Act of Existence in the Philosophy of Thomas (Washington, D.C., The Catholic University of America Press, 1958), p. 110.

45. Rzadkiewciz, op. cit., p. 51.

46. De Ver., q. 22, a. 5.

47. Ibid.

48. William R. O'Connor, The Eternal Quest (New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1947), pp. 121-122.

49. O'Connor, op. cit., p. 124: "We are inclined to give the primacy to the freely elicited act of the will and to regard its natural tendency as somewhat secondary. This is not the view of Thomas. For him the principal velle is not the freely elicited act, but the tendency of the will as nature toward its natural end . . . the perfect act in this case is subordinated to the imperfect act, as the means are subordinated to the end." De Ver., q. 23, a. 4.

50. De Ver., q. 23, a. 1, ad 3.

51. F.A. Blanche, "La Liberte Divine," Revue de Philosophie, XXXIV (1927), 237-38.

52. Joseph de Finance, Existence et Liberté (Paris: Emmanuel Vitte, 1955), pp. 98-99.

53. S.T., I, q. 19, a. 10.

54. De Ver., q. 23, a. 4; cf. De Pot., q. 3, a. 15, ad 14; In I Sent., d. 10, q. 1 a. 2; In De Div. Nomin., c. 4, 1. 9.

55. Daly, op. cit., pp. 194-195; cf. S.T., I, q. 19, a. 5; Joannes a S. Thoma, Cursus Theologicus Thomisticus, 3 Vols. (Paris: Desclée, 1931), In I Sum. Theol., q. 19, disp. 24, a. 5 and a. 4. One finds here a brilliant analysis of the above problem. He writes: "There occurs here a great deception on the part of our imagination, which it is necessary to purge when we treat of the liberty of the divine volition, and (it is necessary) to accept it (divine liberty) in an inverse manner to created liberty: since neither the free act of God is specified by the object, as in us, nor is it contingent or able to defect on the part of the subject in which it is, because He is pure act, nor does it proceed from a potency; and still it is supremely free as related to created objects, because it is supremely independent of them and supremely rendering them dependent on itself . . . for the termination (of the creature) is not determining God passively, but (He) is determining creatures themselves actively, whereby they are objects of His volition."

56. De Ver., q. 24, a. 7; S.T., I, q. 63, a. 1; De Malo, q. 1, a. 3.

57. Daly, op. cit., p. 177. Some authors call the radical freedom enjoyed by the rational creature a "freedom of autonomy." It can be characterized as a quality which describes the will in its unwavering adherence to its last end - an independence of any other thing but itself, and, of course, its end, which perfects it in goodness. This will be treated at length in a later chapter.

58. De Ver., q. 21, a. 1; S.T., I-II, q. 102, a. 1.

59. John H. Wright, The Order of the Universe in the Theology of Thomas (Romae: Pont. Universitas Gregoriana, 1957), p. 6; In III Sent. d. 1, q. 1, a. 3, ad 1.

60. S.C.G., I, c. 42:7.

61. Ibid., II, c. 45: 2; cf. Joseph Legrand, L'Universe et L'Homme dans la Philosophie de Thomas, 2 vols. (Bruxelles: L'Edition Universelle, 1946), I, p. 276.

62. S.C.G., II, c. 46:4.

63. S.T., I, q. 60, a. 5.

64. In III Sent., d. 29, q. 1, a. 3. This will be treated at length when the nature of free choice is considered.

65. S.T., II-II, q. 26, a. 3, ad. 2.

66. S.C.G., II, c. 46:4.

67. In IV Sent., d. 49, q. 19, a. 2.

68. S.C.G., III, c. 111.

69. De Caritate, a. 7, ad. 5.

70. Wright, op. cit., p. 116.

71. Ibid., p. 213. For articles relating to this controversy: Charles de Koninck, De la Primauté du Bien Commun contre les Personnalistes (Quebec: Editions de L'Universite Laval, 1943); I. Th. Eschman, "In Defense of Jacques Maritain," The Modern Schoolman, XXII (May, 1945), 183-208; Charles de Koninck, "In Defense of Thomas: A Reply to Eschman's Attack on the Primacy of the Common Good," Laval Theologique et Philosophique, I (1945), pp. 9-109.

72. Wright, op. cit., p. 124.

73. In Phys., II, 14, n. 268.

74. Joseph Marling, The Order of Nature in the Philosophy of Thomas (Washington: D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1934), p. 71. S.T., I-II, q. 109, a. 3; In De Div. Nom., X, 1; In I Sent., d. 39, q. 2, a. 1.

75. S.T., I, q. 62, a. 8, ad 3. It should be noted that only a being which is its own end is its own norm or rule of action and thus can in no way defect from that end. Since evil, as we shall later see, consists in proceeding to act without applying the rule which measures the act's goodness, such a being's will can never be turned to evil. Daly, op. cit., p. 195; De Ver., q. 24, a. 3.

76. Marling, op. cit., p. 181; S.T., I-II, q. 5, a. 6.

77. S.C.G., III, c. 114.

78. S.T., I-II, q. 91, a. 2.

79. Austin Fagothey, Right and Reason (2nd ed.; St. Louis: C.V. Mosby Co., 1959), pp. 135-137.

80. In IV Sent., d. 33, q. 1, a. 1; S.T., I-II, q. 91, a. 2.

81. In II Ethic., circa princ., 1. 1, n. 249.

82. Henri Renard, "Introduction to the Philosophy of the Existential Moral Act," The New Scholasticism (April, 1954), pp. 146 and 153.

83. S.T., I-II, q. 90, a. 1.

84. Ibid., q. 92, a. 1.

85. Ibid., q. 93, a. 3.

86. S.T., I-II, q. 91, a. 3; ibid., ed. 3.

87. André Stang, La Notion de la loi dans S. Thomas (Paris: Editions et Publications Contemporaines, 1926), p. 11.

88. Ibid., p. 13. This matter will be treated at length in chapter five. At present the reader is referred to an excellent work regarding the rational element in law in Thomas as contrasted with the voluntaristic explanations of the same. Thomas E. Davitt, The Nature of Law (St. Louis: Herder Book Co., 1951), especially pp. 146 ff.

89. S.T., I-II, q. 91, a. 2.

90. Stang, op. cit., p. 39; S.T., I-II, q. 94, a. 1.

91. Rzadkiewoiz, op. cit., p. 56.

92. Joseph W. Evans and Leo B. Ward, Social and Political Philosophy of Jacques Maritain (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1955), p. 17.

93. De Ver., q. 24, a. 10, ad 5 & ad 14.

94. S.T., II-II, q. 44, a. 1, ad 2.

95. Summa Contra Gentiles, I, c. 71:16.

96. S.T., I, q. 48, a. 1; De Malo, q. 1, a. 1; S.C.G., III, c. 7; In De Div. Nomin., c. 4, 1. 14; Comp. Theol., c. 115; In II Sent., d. 34, q. 1, a. 11.

97. S.T., q. 48, a. 1.

98. De Malo, q. 1, a. 1.

99. Ibid.

100. Ibid.

101. Ibid.

102. Ibid.

103. S.C.G., III, c. 7:4.

104. Comm. in De Div. Nomin., c. IV, 1. XIV, no. 475.

105. S.C.G., III, c. 7:8.

106. Ibid., c. 7.

107. Ibid.

108. S.T., I, q. 48, a. 1.

109. S.C.G., III, c. 6:1.

110. Comm. in XII Meta., 1. II, n. 2437.

111. De Malo, q. 1, a. 2.

112. S.T., I, q. 33, a. 4, ad 2; Ibid., q. 48, a. 1, ad 1; q. 14, a. 10.

113. Comm. in De Div. Nomin., c. IV, 1, 14, n. 480.

114. De Malo, q. 1, a. 1, ad 2; S.T., I-II, q. 18, a. 8, ad 1.

115. S.T., I, q. 48, a. 3.

116. De Malo, q. 1, a. 2.

117. S.T., I, q. 48, a. 3.

118. De Virt. in Comm., q. 1, a. 3; S.T., I, q. 77, a. 6, ad 2.

119. In II Sent., d. 34, q. 1, a. 5.

120. Ibid.

121. Thomas de Vio, Cajetan, Comm. in Summam Theologicam, I, q. 48, a. 2., Opera Omnia S. Thomae, ed. Leonina, vol. IV, p. 493.

122. Ibid.

123. De Malo, q. 1, a. 1, and 2 wherein Thomas distinguishes between evil as a privation, which is not something in reality, and as a being of reason, which is a something, namely, something understood. Also In II Sent., d. 34, q. 1, a. 1.

124. Mary Edwin De Coursey, The Theory of Evil in the Metaphysics of Thomas (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1948), p. 34.

125. In II Sent., d. 34, q. 1, a. 2.

126. Ibid.

127. Ibid.

128. Ibid.

129. De Malo., q. 1, a. 4.

130. Ibid.

131. Ibid.

132. Ibid.

133. Ibid.

134. Ibid.

135. S.T., I-II, q. 85, a. 4.

136. Ibid., I, q. 5, a. 1.

137. Ibid., I-II, q. 85, a. 4. Here Thomas applies this doctrine specifically to moral evil; however, with proper application, it refers to evil in general.

138. Ibid., pp. 40-41 above.

139. S.T., I-II, q. 85, a. 1; Ibid., I, q. 77, a. 1 & ad 5.

140. Ibid.

141. Ibid. In this reference Aquinas is treating of virtue as the "gift of original justice" and evil as its contrary deprivation. However, on the natural level such a gift corresponds to the good of virtue, as Thomas points out in the Summa Theologica, I-II, q. 85, a. 4.

142. Ibid.

143. Ibid.

144. Ibid., I, q. 48, a. 4.

145. De Malo, q. 2, a. 2; q. 3, a. 1; Comp. Theol., c. 120; In De Div. Nomin. c. IV, 1. 22.

146. S.T., I, q. 48, a. 5, ad 1; De Malo, q. 1, a. 4, ad 10.

147. De Malo, q. 2, a. 1.

148. Ibid.

149. Ibid., a. 2.

150. S.T., I-II, q. 21, a. 2; Comp. Theol., c. 120; De Malo, q. 2, a. 2.

151. Ibid., q. 71, a. 6, ad 5.

152. Henricus Denziger, Enchiridion Symbolorum, ed. Carolus Rahner (31 ed.; Barcinone: Herder, 1957), D.B. 1290.

153. James R. Maloney, The Formal Constituent of a Sin of Commission (Somerset, Ohio; Rosary Press, 1947), pp. 23-30. Suarez, Lessius, Sylvius, Contenson, and others hold that the essence of sin is in the privation of due rectitude, whereas the principal commentators of Thomas, namely, Capreolus, Cajetan, the Salmanticenses, and many modern Thomists, for example, Billot and Vermeersch, maintain that it is something positive connoting a privation. Aloysius J. Welsh, The Scholastic Teaching Concerning the Specific Distinction of Sins (Washington, D.C., The Catholic University Press, 1942), pp. 42-44.

154. In the present study the discussion is limited to a sin of commission, since according to Thomas a sin of omission requires some act or commission beforehand. His reason for this is that if anyone does not do that which he ought to do, it is necessary that there be some cause of this omission, which in turn, is an act of the will. S.T., I-II, q. 72, a. 6; ibid., q. 71, a. 5.

155. S.T., II-II, q. 118, a. 6.

156. Ibid.

157. Ibid., I-II, q. 118, a. 5.

158. De Malo, q. 2, a. 2.

159. Ibid., a. 3.

160. Ibid.

161. S. T., q. 71, a. 6.

162. Ibid., q. 1, a. 1.

163. Ludovicus Billot, De Personali et Originali Peccato (ed. 5, Romae: Universitas Gregoriana, 1924), p.17.

164. De Malo, q. 2, a. 9; ibid., q. 1, a. 1, ad1; Cajetan, Comm. in S. T., I-II, q. 18, a. 5, n. 2; John of Thomas, Cursus Theologicus, De Ultimo Fine Hominis, disp. 9, art. 2, n. 26.

165. Ibid.

166. S. T., I-II, q. 72, a. 1.

167. A. Vermeersch, Theologiae Moralis, Principia, Responsa, Consilia, 4 vols. (Turin; Marietta, 1934), vol. I, n. 112; Welsh, op. cit., p. 30.

168. De Malo, q. 2, a. 4, ad 5.

169. Ibid.

170. Cajetan, Comm. in S. T., I-II, q. 72, a. 9.

171. De Malo, q. 2, a. 4.

172. Sylvius, Comment. in S. Th., I-II, q. 72 (Venice, 1726).

173. Merkelbach, Moral. Theol., vol. I, n. 17.

174. Salmanticenses, Cursus Theologicus, Tractatus XIII, De Vitiis et Peccatis, disp. 6, dubium 4, sec. l, nn. 53-6.

175. S. T., I-II, q. 73, a. l.

176. Ibid., a. 3, ad 2.

177. Ibid., I. q. 47, a. 1; q. 44, a. 4.

178. Ibid., q. 48, a. 2; S. C. G., III, c. 71.

179. Comp. Theol., c. 142.

180. S. T., I, q. 49, a. 1.

181. De Pot., q. 6, a. 1, ad 8.

182. Ibid.

183. S. T., I, q. 49, a. 3, ad 5.

184. De Pot., q. 6, a. l, ad 8.

185. Ibid., q. 103, a. 8, ad 1.

186. S. T., I-II, q. 79, a. 4, ad 1; In Rom., VIII, 1, 6.

187. Comm. in De Div. Nomin., c. IV, 1. 13, n. 467.

188. Meta. XII, 2, 1069 b, 33ff.

189. Ibid., V. 1, 1013 a, 17. Thomas recognizes that the Greeks used the `causes' and `principles' indiscriminately. S. T., I, q. 33, a. 1, ad 1.

190. Chas. A. Hart, Thomistic Metaphysics: An Inquiry into the Act of Existing (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall), pp. 177-178.

191. I V Meta., 1, n. 751.

192. In I Sent., 29, 1, 1.

193. In I Phys., 1, n. 5.

194. Meta., XII, 2, 1069 b, 33ff.

195. In XII Meta., 4, n. 2470. In this text Thomas uses the word `element' instead of `cause'. Such a term is the more properly Aristotelian one to describe the intrinsic constituent or cause of a material substance.

196. S. T., I, q. 49, a. 1; S. C. G., III, c. 10:3.

197. S. C. G., III, c. 14. 4; ibid., II, c. 21:9.

198. Meta., IV, 2, 1013 a, 29.

199. In V Meta., I, n. 751.

200. In IX Meta., 8, n. 1861.

201. De Pot., q. 7, a. 2.

202. In IV Sent., d. 5, q. 1, a. 3, ad 4. This latter gives his earlier views on the subject. For his later and more mature views see: De Pot., q. 3, a. 4, and S. T., I, q. 45, a. 5.

203. Cornelio Fabro, Participation et Causalité (Paris: Beatrice-Nauwelaerts, 1961) p. 363-364. For a treatment of the `intensive notion' of `to be', Fabro, La nozione metafisica de partecipazione (Torino: Societa Editrice Internazionale, 1950), p. 192.

204. Charles A. Hart, op. cit., p. 246.

205. Comm. in Div. Nomin., c. IV, l. XVI, ns. 492-497.

206. Ibid., n. 492.

207. De Malo, q. 1, a. 1, ad 8.

208. Ibid., ad 9.

209. Comm. in Div. Nomin., loc. cit., n. 492.

210. Ibid., n. 495.

211. Ibid., n. 497.

212. S. T., I, q. 49, a. 1; Ibid., I-II, q. 75, a. 1.; II Sent., d. 34, a. 3; S. C. G., II, c. 41; Ibid., III, cc. 10 & 13; De Pot., q. 3, a. 6; Comm. in Div. Nomin., c. IV, 1, 22.

213. De Malo, q. 1, a. 3.

214. S. T., I, q. 49, a. 1.

215. De Pot., q. 3, a. 6.

216. S. C. G., II, c. 41:5.

217. De Malo, q. 1, a. 3.

218. Ibid.

219. Ibid.

220. S. T., I, q. 49, a. 1.

221. Ibid.

222. In V Meta., 2, n. 763: "id ex quo fit aliquid, et est ei `inexistens', idest intus existens."

223. In II Sent., d. 34, q. 1, a. 4, ad 5.

224. Comp. Theol., c. 118.

225. Ibid., p. 49.

226. S. C. G., III, c. 12:5.

227. Ibid., 7.

228. De Malo, q. 1, a. 2.

229. De Pot., q. 3, a. 6.

230. S. C. G., III, c. 7; 7.

231. In I Meta., 4, 70-1.

232. De Ver., q. 22, a. 2.

233. In I Gen. et Corrup., 20.

234. Tilmann Pesch, Institutiones Philosophiae Naturalis (Fribourg: Herder, 1880).

235. In I De Causis, I, 1, 39.

236. De Princip. Naturae, Opuscula Oninia, ed. Johannes Parrier (Paris: P. Lethiellaux, 1949), p. 11.

237. Ibid., p. 12.

238. Franciscus de Sylvestris, Comm. in II Contra Gent., c. 41, Opera S. Thomae, v. XIII, p. 364; S. T., I, q. 19, a. 9.

239. In I De Causis, 1. 1.

240. De Ver., q. 22, a. 2.

241. Meta., V, 1, 1013 a, 29.

242. S. T., I, q. 45, a. 3.

243. Garrigou-Lagrange, op. cit., I, p. 219; also cf. Arthur V. Vogel, "Efficient Causality and the Categories", Modern Schoolman, XXXII (March, 1955), pp. 252-253.

244. S. C. G., II, c. 21:5.

245. Ibid., III, c. 70:8.

246. Ibid., II, c. 21:5; also De Ver., q. 24, a. 1 ad 5 where Thomas considers all beings, even free beings, as instruments of the First Cause. J.S. Albertson, `Instrumental Causality in Thomas', New Scholasticism, XXVIII (October 1954), 409-436.

247. S. T., I, q. 49, a. 1.

248. S. C. G., III, c. 10:7-11.

249. Ibid., 7; St. Augustine, De Civitate Dei, XII, 7 (PL, 41, col. 355).

250. Ibid., c. 10:8.

251. Ibid.

252. Ibid., 11.

253. Ibid., III, c. 10:12-13. Here Thomas arrives at the will as the source of moral evil through a process of elimination. This will be treated at length in our final chapter. Here one need only summarize his thinking. He says that there are four principles in moral actions arranged in a definite order: the executive power, the will, the judgment, and thing apprehended. The executive power presupposes the distinction between moral good and moral evil, since external acts of this kind do not belong to the moral order unless they are voluntary. It would have nothing to do with moral evil if the external act were defective by virtue of a defect having no reference to the will. So too the act whereby a thing moves the apprehensive power and the act of the latter. Thus, moral fault is found primarily and principally in the act of the will.

254. De Malo, q. 1, a. 3.

255. Ibid.

256. Ibid.

257. Ibid.

258. Ibid.

259. Ibid. As has been indicated, in the natural order it is not necessary for the natural agent to remedy this defect, since it does not fall short of the measure of power naturally due to it. S. C. G., III, c. 10:8. In the moral order such defective operation is indeed beside the intention of the agent insofar as it is defective, since the will cannot directly will evil; however, it is culpable insofar as it is in the power of the moral agent to remedy the defect presupposed in the will before it proceeded into action.

260. S. C. G., III, 6:26:2-6.

261. Ibid., 10:10:44.

262. De Ver. , q. 22, a. 8.

263. Comm. in De Div. Nomin., c. IV, 1, 13, n. 467.

264. S. C. G., III, c. 71:2.

265. Ibid., 3.

266. Ibid.

267. Ibid.

268. Ibid., c. 74:3.

269. Op. cit., p. 2ll.

270. S. T., I, q. 49, a. 2.

271. Ibid., ad 2; S. C. G., III, 71:13.

272. Ibid., I-II, q. 79, a. 2; ibid., I, 105, a. 5.

273. Ibid., I-II, 79, a. 1, ad 3.

274. Ibid., a. 2.

275. De Malo, q. 3, a. 1, ad 4; ibid., ad 6.

276. Ibid.

277. In the present context we need only allude to the theological teaching that all men receive sufficient grace from God to save their souls. The philosophical counterpart of this is, according to Jacques Maritain, "shatterable impulse". Existence and the Existent (New York: Pantheon Books, Inc., 1948), pp. 92-105, fts. 9-13. For a critique of this view, J.H. Nicholas, "La permission du pêche", Revue Thomiste, LX (1960), p. 199.

278. S. C. G., III, 71:3.

279. Comp. Theol., c. 142; S. C. G., III, 71:4.

280. In order to justify the introduction of the notion of `corrupt nature' into a purely philosophical treatise one must in some way subscribe to what has been called a `Christian Philosophy' or Christian metaphysics. As a minimum, such an understanding of the relation between Christian dogma and metaphysics demands that the Christian philosopher recognize the dignity of reason, as lying within its power to establish contact between all orders and to belong to all of them. It is not a matter of making revealed truths principles from which to argue or proofs from which to refute in philosophy; but rather, it is a question of recognizing the validity of such conclusions of the theological disciplines and at least allowing them to act as guides and beacons in the philosophical inquiry. This especially pertains to the nature of God and man. André Hayen, La Communication de L'Etre d'après Thomas D'Aquin, 2 vols. (Paris Louvain: Desclee de Brouwer, 1957), v. II, pp. 247-248; Roger Mehl, La Condition du Philosophie Chretien (Paris: Delachaux et Niestle, 1947), pp. 196-198; Maurice Nédoncelle, Is There a Christian Philosophy?, trans. Illtyd Trethowan (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1960), pp. 100ff.

281. De Malo, q. 3, a. 1, ad 9.

282. Ibid.

283. Ibid.

284. Ibid., ad 16.

285. S. T., I-II, q. 75, a. 1.

286. It is to be noted that this is the perspective of Thomas in the description of moral evil given in the first quotation of this chapter.

287. De Ver., q. 22, a. 13, ad 17.

288. S. T., I-II, q. 17, a. 5, ad 2.

289. Ibid., qq. 8-17.

290. John of St. Thomas, op. cit., Phil. Natural, I, q. 13, a. 2, ad 1 wherein he writes: "Love is both the cause and the effect of the end. . . . As actively elicited by the appetite it is the effect of the end. . . . But the love of the end as it holds itself passively to the appetible object, insofar as it is rendered connatural to it . . . is the causality of the end and the reason of the appetition." Ibid., ad 2 and ad 3.

291. De Ver., q. 22, a. 14.

292. S. T., I-II, q. 6, a. 4.

293. Ibid., I, q. 87, a. 4.

294. Ibid., q. 105, a. 4.

295. Ibid., I-II, q. 26. a. 2.

296. Ibid., q. 12, a. 4, ad 3.

297. Ibid., corp.

298. Ibid., a. 1, ad 3.

299. De Ver., q. 22, a, 13.

300. S. T., I-II, q. 14, a. 1.

301. Ibid., q. 15, a. 2.

302. Ibid., a. 4.

303. Ibid., ad 3.

304. Ibid., q. 13, a. 1.

305. Ibid., q. 15, a. 3, ad 3.

306. Ibid.

307. In III Sent., d. 17, q. 1, a. 1, quaestiuncula solutio 3, ad 1.

308. S. T., I-II, q. 13, a. 3; ibid., q. 14, a. 2.

309. Ibid., q. 10, a. 2.

310. Ad Simpl., I, 2, n. 21; PL 40, 126-27.

311. S. T., I-II, q. 15, a. 3.

312. Ibid., q. 14, a. 3.

313. De Malo, q. 6, un. art.

314. S. T., I, q. 82, a. 4.

315. Ibid., a. 3.

316. De Malo, q. 6, un. art.

317. De Ver., q. 22, a. 12.

318. S. T., I-II, q. 9, a. 3.

319. De Malo, q. 6, art. un.

320. S. T., I-II, q. 9, a. 1, ad 2; ibid., I, q. 79, a. 11 and ad 1.

321. De Malo, q. 6, un. art.

322. Ibid.

323. Ibid.

324. Ibid.

325. Jacques Maritain, op. cit., p. 50-51.

326. S. T., I, q. 83, a. 1, ad 5. It is to be noted that quality here is understood as a permanent, although accidental, habit which disposes a faculty to act in a uniform manner with a certain facility, be this for good or evil.

327. Ibid.

328. Ibid.

329. De Malo, q. 6, a. 6.

330. Ibid.

331. Comp. Theol., I, c. 174.

332. S. T., I-II, q. 10, a. 3, ad 2.

333. De Ver., q. 24, a. 1, ad 2.

334. John of St. Thomas, op. cit., Phil. Nat. IV, q. 12, a. 3. He remarks that "the definition of liberty does not say that, when all requisites (for the free choice) are posited, free will will not act, but that it can not-act in that no requisites can take away that power. " His point is that because free choice actually is made in one way only, its power to choose another good remains.

335. De Ver., q. 22, a. 10, ad 4; Jacques Maritain, The Degrees of Knowledge, trans. Gerald B. Phelan (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1959), pp. 456-64.

336. S. T., I, q. 83, a. 1.

337. Ibid.

338. Ibid.

339. Thomas uses various names or words to designate this act: `conferre', De Ver., q. 22, a. 15; `praeferre': ibid. ; `ordinatio': ibid., 13; `consilium': S. T., I, q. 83, a. 3, ad 3; `inquisitio': ibid., I-II, q. 14, a. 1; `discretio': De Ver., q. 23, a. 1, ad 4.

340. S. T., I-II, q. 76, a. 1.

341. De Ver., q. 22, a. 15, ad 4.

342. Ibid., a. 14, ad 3.

343. S. T., I, q. 78, a. 4.

344. De Ver., q. 15, a. 3.

345. S. T., I-II, q. 14, a. 2.

346. Ibid., ad 1.

347. Ibid.

348. Ibid., a. 3.

349. Ibid., a. 6.

350. Jacques Maritain, The Degrees of Knowledge, appendix vii, pp. 456-64.

351. S. T., I, q. 14, a. 8. In particular judgments the intellect also needs on the cognitive side the assistance of the `cogitative power' or the particular reason for its knowledge of singulars.

352. Nich. Ethic., Bk. IV, c. 2, 1139b4; In VI Ethic., 1. 2, n. 1137; S. T., I, q. 83, a. 3.

353. De Ver., q. 24, a. 1; S. T., q. 83, a. 1.

354. De Virtutibus in Communi, a. 13.

355. S. T., I-II, q. 57, a. 5, ad 3; In VI Ethic., 1. 2, n. 1130.

356. Cfs., Yves R. Simon, "Introduction to the Study of Practical Wisdom", The New Scholasticism, XXXV (January, 1961), pp. 1-40, especially, pp. 15-7; Nich. Ethic., VI, 2, 1139a27; In VI Ethic., 2, n. 1130; Cajetan, In S. T., I-II, q. 57, a. 5, ad 3.

357. De Malo, q. 6, un. art.

358. Maritain, Existence and the Existent, previously cited, pp. 50-4, especially n. 3 wherein he states: "In the second (the practico-practical) syllogism it is the existential disposition of the subject in the free affirmation of his unique self which decides the question."

359. S. T., II-II, q. 49, a. 2, ad 1.

360. Ibid., I-II, q. 57, a. 4.

361. S. T., I-II, q. 76, a. 1; ibid., q. 77, a. 2, ad 4; In VII Ethic., 1. 3, n. 1345-6; De Malo, q. 3, a. 9, ad 7.

362. De Malo, q. 3, a. 9, ad 7.

363. Ibid.

364. Ibid.

365. Ibid.

366. Ibid.

367. S. T., I-II, q. 13, a. 3.

368. Ibid., q. 71, a. 6; ibid., II-II, q. 17, a. 1; ibid., I-II, q. 74, a. 7.

369. S. C. G., III, c. 108:6.

370. S. T., I-II, q. 19, a. 9.

371. De Ver., q. 15, a. 2; S. T., I, q. 79, a. 9; In II Sent., d. 24, q. 2, a. 2.

372. S. T., I-II, q. 74, a. 10.

373. Ibid., I, q. 79, a. 9; ibid., I-II, q. 74, a. 10.

374. Ibid. Herein Thomas utilizes the terminology of St. Augustine in describing the two functions of reason in terms of their proper and improper objects. These terms are `conspiciens' and `consulens' and provide the basis for understanding the nature of the acts involved. Especially is consulens an important term implying the deliberative process involved in informing reason with universal principles of morality.

375. Ibid.

376. Ibid., I-II, q. 74, a. 10.

377. Ibid., ad 2.

378. Ibid., a. 7.

379. Ibid.

380. Ibid. Thomas seems to identify the `consent' with the `final judgment' De Ver., q. 15, a. 4: "This final judgment is the consent to the act." This is explained by Aquinas in terms of "will tending toward that which is judged by reason." S. T., I-II, q. 74, a. 7, ad 1.

381. Ibid.

382. Ibid. It is to be noted that this last practical judgment pertains to the superior reason inasmuch as the latter should be employed in every human act. Man should, that is, he can and ought to, inform his intellect with the universal norms of morality drawn from a consideration of the divine law. These norms should direct his actions toward their proper end. If they be lacking, his actions will not be `regulated' actions.

383. De Ver., q. 15, a. 4.

384. De Malo, q. 16, a. 2.

385. Ibid., ad 4; ibid., q. 2, a. 1. Thomas remarks: "In sin two things must be recognized: scil., a recession from a rule or measure and a recession from the end."

386. It is to be noted here that reason is considered as the rule or measure of human action as including both aspects of the one faculty, namely, the superior reason as regulated and directed by the divine law and the inferior reason as regulating the actions of the appetites subordinate to it, namely, the rational and sensitive appetites. It is, in other words, informed reason that functions as the rule of human action. These conclusions should be obvious from the above analysis of the relation between the two reason.

387. De Malo, q. 2. a. 4.

388. Ibid.

389. Ibid.

390. S. T., I-II, q. 56, a. 2, ad 3: "Prudence is really in reason as in a subject."

391. Ibid., q. 66, a. 1.

392. De Virtutibus in Communi, a. 13; Leonard Lehu, La Raison Règle de la Moralité d'âpres Thomas (Paris: Gabalda, 1930), p. 7, n. 1.

393. S. T., I-II, q. 64, a. 1; q. 90, a. 1.

394. Ibid., q. 24, a. 1.

395. Ibid., q. 64, a. 1.

396. Ibid., q. 21, a. 1.

397. Ibid., p. 18 above.

398. S. T., I-II, q. 90, a. 1.

399. Ibid., q. 58, a. 2.

400. For example, Victor Cathrein, "Quo sensu sec. Thomas ratio sit regula bonitatis voluntatis?" Gregorianum, XII (1931), 447-465.

401. For example, L. Lehu, "A propos de la règle de la moralité," Revue des Sciences Philosophiques et Theologiques, XVII (1929), pp. 449-66.

402. E. Elter, "Norma Honestatis ad mentem divi Thomae," Gregor., VIII (1927), pp. 337-57; Victor Cathrein, loc. cit.; L. Lehu, loc. cit.

403. Elter, ibid., p. 343; Lehu, ibid., p. 217.

404. Elter, ibid., p. 347; Lehu, ibid., p. 218.

405. Elter and Lehu, ibid.

406. Lehu, ibid., p. 239.

407. De Malo, q. 3, a. 9, ad 4.

408. S. T., I-II, q. 6, a. 8.

409. Ibid.

410. De Malo, q. 3, a. 9, ad 4.

411. S. T., I-II, q. 13, a. 1, ad 3.

412. De Malo, q. 3, a. 9, ad 7.

413. In VII Ethic., 1, 3, ns. 1345-53.

414. Ibid.

415. Ibid., n. 1347.

416. Ibid., n. 1348.

417. De Malo, q. 3, a. 12, ad 12.

418. Ibid., q. 3, a. 12; ibid., a. 13; S. T., I-II, q. 78, a. 2.

419. S.T., I-II, q. 78, a. 4.

420. Ibid.

421. Ibid., a. 1; De Malo, q. 2, a. 8, ad 4; ibid., q. 3, a. 12 & ad 11; ibid., q. 3, a. 13; S. T., I-II, q. 78, a. 4, ad 3.

422. Ibid., a. 4, ad 3.

423. In VII Ethic., 1. 3, n. 1347; De Malo, q. 3, a. 9, ad 12.

424. S. C. G., III, c. 10:16-7.

425. Ibid.

426. De Malo, q. 3, a. 14, ad 7; S. T., I-II, q. 78, a. 3.

427. S. C. G., III, c. 108; 3 & c. 109:10.

428. Ibid.

429. Ibid., c. 110:2.

430. De Malo, q. 16, a. 2, ad 4.

431. Ibid. For a detailed study of Thomas' philosophy of angels as substances separated from matter (separated substances) see James D. Collins, The Thomistic Philosophy of Angels (Washington: The Catholic University of America, 1947).

432. S. T., I, q. 63, a. 1, ad 4.

433. Thomas de Vio Card. Cajetan, Commentaria in Sum. Theol. S. Thomae Aquinatis, Leonine ed., vols., IV-XII (Romae: R. Garroni, 1896-1906), In I-II, q. 77, a. 2, n. IV.

434. Maritain, op. cit., p. 62.

435. S. T., I-II, q. 1, a. 2.

436. Ibid., I. q. 60, a. 5.

437. Maritain, The Sin of the Angel, trans. Wm. L. Rossner (Westminster, Maryland: Newman, 1959), p. 23. He remarks in regard to the above distinctions: "This is a particular case of the law of `hyperfinality', according to which every creature tends to its proper end by virtue of its love for the supreme end: for the inclination of the created agent toward its proper end and its inclination toward God are one and the same inclination; and therefore it goes - under the aspect of the intensity of exercise - first to God (with a priority of nature) and afterwards to the end proper to the agent; however, under the aspect of the specification of the object, it goes first to the end proper to the created agent, and then on beyond to God." Ibid., n. 19.

438. It should be noted here that there is another level of tendency between the mere natural appetition and free choice, namely, sense appetition wherein the object to be sought is first apprehended and even in a sense judged as regards suitable means to be used for its attainment. However, since such appetition is ultimately determined `ad unum' by reason of the natural instinct of the brute, for the present purpose it might be subsumed under natural appetency. For a justification of the subsuming of the second level of ontological under the first level, explained above in Thomas, S. T., I-II, q. 12, a. 5.

439. S. T., I, q. 60, a. 5, ad 5.

440. S. C. G. III, c. 1:2.

441. Ibid., 3.

442. Ibid., 4.

443. Ibid.

444. Comp. of Theol., I, c. 112.

445. Ibid.

446. Ibid.

447. Ibid.

448. De Ver., q. 22, a. 6.

449. Ibid., ad 3.

450. Ibid., q. 24, a. 7, ad 3.

451. Ibid., q. 24. a. 7.

452. Ibid.

453. In XX Meta., 1, 10, n. 1883.

454. De Malo, q. 16, a. 5.

455. S. T., I, q. 63, a. 1, ad 1; De Ver., q. 24, a. 7, ad 8.

456. In IX Meta., 1. 10, n. 1887. Thomas, however, notes in this passage that this incorruptibility of the heavenly bodies should be understood under the precise formality of their being eternal and incorruptible and that under other respects they can suffer corruption. S. T., I, q. 75, a. 6. This same incorruptibility extends, according to Aquinas, to the natural action of such beings; but, it is necessary to point out that this is due to two things: one is the fact that these actions proceed from an incorruptible nature, that is, one not rooted in corruptible matter unlike the actions of material beings; and secondly, the fact that these actions are necessary and not free actions. Both of these types of actions, that is, those proceeding from corruptible matter and those from created free will, are corruptible but for different reasons, namely, that the former, though necessary, are rooted in a corruptible principle - matter - while the latter, though free, are subject to the regulation of higher extrinsic principles from which they can defect. Ibid., q. 63, a. 1, ad 2.

457. Ibid., p. 91 above.

458. S. T., I, q. 63, a. 1, ad 1.

459. Ibid., q. 50, a. 5. There is in the angel no matter subject to contrariety which would allow for such a potency; in other words, there is no pure subjective potency in the nature of the angel. Ibid., q. 75, a. 6.

460. Ibid., q. 59, a. 3.

461. De Ver., q. 24, a. 7, ad 8.

462. S. C. G., I, c. 82:6; S. T., I, q. 9, a. 3, ad 4.

463. Ibid.

464. In IX Meta., 1. 10, n. 1884.

465. S. C. G., I, c. 82:6.

466. Ibid.

467. De Ver., q. 24, a. 1, ad 16.

468. This higher rectitude presupposes that of the lower appetite as regulated by reason according to the good of the whole nature considered in all its parts and relations.

469. Comm. in de Div. Nomin., c. IV, 1. 19, ns. 537-39.

470. De Malo, q. 2, a. 1.

471. Ibid., q. 16, a. 2; S. C. G., III, cs. 108-10.

472. Ibid.

473. S. C. G., III, c. 108:1.

474. Ibid., c. 109:5.

475. Ibid., 110:2.

476. Ibid., 3.

477. Ibid., 4.

478. Ibid.

479. Ibid.

480. S. C. G., III, c. 10:13.

481. S. T., I-II, q. 79, a. 2.

482. De Malo, q. 3, a. 2, ad 1.

483. Ibid., q. 1, a. 3, ad 13.

484. S. C. G., III, c. 10:14.

485. De Ver., q. 22, a. 6, ad 3.

486. S. C. G., III, c. 10:11-7; Maritain, Existence and the Existent, p. 90.

487. Ibid., c. 10:13.

488. Ibid.

489. S. T., I, q. 49, a. 1, ad 3.

490. Ibid.

491. Ibid.

492. De Malo, q. 1, a. 3; ibid., ad 13.

493. Ibid., pp. 178-80 above.

494. Ibid., q. 1, a. 3, ad 6.

495. S. C. G., III, c. 10:17.

496. S. T., I-II, q. 6, a. 3.

497. Ibid., q. 7l, a. 5, ad 2; De Malo, q. 2, a. 1, ad 2; cf. In II Sent., d. 35, q. 1, a. 3.

498. In III Ethic., I, 11, ns. 496-506.

499. Ibid., n. 502.

500. De Malo, q. 2, a. 1.

501. Ibid.

502. Ibid.

503. Ibid., ad 2, ad 4 & ad 9.

504. Ibid.

505. Ibid., ad 11.

506. S. T., I-II, q. 6, a. 3.

507. S. C. G., III, c. 10; De Malo, q. 1, a. 3, ad 13.

508. S. T., I-II, q. 6, a. 3; De Malo, q. 2, a. 1, ad 4.

509. Ibid.

510. Ibid., ad 3.

511. Ibid.

512. De Malo, q. 2, a. 1, ad 11.

513. Ibid., p. 37 above.

514. S. T., I-II, q. 9, articuli 1-6.

515. De Malo, q. 6, un. art.

516. Ibid.

517. Ibid.

518. Ibid.

519. Ibid.

520. R. Garrigou-Lagrange, Dieu, son existence et sa nature (6 ed.; Paris: Beauschene, 1939), II, pp. 626-31.

521. De Malo, q. 6, un. art.