Summary Against Modern Thought: The Goodness Of God

This may be proved in three ways. The first...
This may be proved in three ways. The first…
See the first post in this series for an explanation and guide of our tour of Summa Contra Gentiles. All posts are under the category SAMT.

Previous post.

We’ve had to switch translations because the first site is throwing errors (coincidentally using the same old server I did) and its owner has gone missing. This translation, estimable as it is, lacks the footnotes of the other. We’ll make do. I’m also changing my footnote style, which will be obvious. Since I was first sick and then came the hacking, it’s been a few weeks, so I recommend reviewing old chapters before continuing. With the blessing, this week’s chapters are particularly easy.

Chapter 40: That God is the good of every good

[1] From the foregoing it is also shown that God is “the good of every good.”

[2] For the goodness of each thing is its perfection, as we have said. But, since God is absolutely perfect, in His perfection He comprehends the perfections of all things, as has been shown. His goodness, therefore, comprehends every goodness. Thus, He is the good of every good.

[3] Moreover, that which is said to be of a certain sort by participation is said to be such only so far as it has a certain likeness to that which is said to be such by essence. Thus iron is said to be on fire in so far as it participates in a certain likeness of fire. But God is good through His essence, whereas all other things are good by participation, as has been shown. Nothing, then, will be called good except in so far as it has a certain likeness of the divine goodness. Hence, God is the good of every good.

[4] Since, furthermore, each thing is appetible because of the end, and since the nature of the good consists in its being appetible, each thing must be called good either because it is the end or because it is ordered to the end. It is the last end, then, from which all things receive the nature of good. As will be proved later on, this is God. God is, therefore, the good of every good.

Notes Don’t forget in [3] the previous result that no thing can reach perfection. Our running example was a circle. The idea of a perfect circle can be comprehended but no instantiation of one ever will be. And if simple geometric figures can’t make it, how can we? Not without grace and not during this life.

In [4] appetible, i.e. desirable; capable or worthy of being the object of desire. Each thing is worthy of desire because of its use, its end. And a thing is good when it is ordered towards its end, or, loosely, when it used in the way it was meant be used. This is the backbone of (the old) natural law.

Chapter 41: That God is the highest good

[1] From this conclusion we prove that God is the highest good.

[2] For the universal good stands higher than any particular good, just as “the good of the people is better than the good of an individual,” since the goodness and perfection of the whole stand higher than the goodness and perfection of the part. But the divine goodness is compared to all others as the universal good to a particular good, being, as we have shown, the good of every good. God is, therefore, the highest good.

[3] Furthermore, what is said essentially is said more truly than what is said by participation. But God is good essentially, while other things are good by participation, as we have shown. God is, therefore, the highest good.

[4] Again, “what is greatest in any genus is the cause of the rest in that genus,” for a cause ranks higher than an effect. But, as we have shown, it is from God that all things have the nature of good. God is, therefore, the highest good.

[5] Moreover, just as what is not mixed with black is more white, so what is not mixed with evil is more good. But God is most unmixed with evil, because evil can be in God neither in act nor in potency; and this belongs to God according to His nature, as we have shown. God is, therefore, the highest good.

Notes Pragmatism or utilitarianism do not flow from [2]. Rather, the good of the people comes from the good of individuals. Goodness begins at home. Fix yourself first. And this still requires a definition of good, which is given above (and previous posts). Everything else follows rather simply.

Like I said: an easy week! We appropriately pick up steam again next time. Review before then!


  1. As previously stated, the concept of a “Highest Good God” is in grave conflict with observed suffering by innocent people on this world. a.k.a the theodicy.

  2. Scotian

    “Thus iron is said to be on fire in so far as it participates in a certain likeness of fire.”

    I don’t understand this sentence. I suppose it might be a reference to the forge.

  3. JH

    “Dao” is the good of every good, but “Dao” is neither omnipotent nor all knowing.

  4. Hoi Pollo

    Is this site hacked?

  5. ad

    Hans, what would be good about being denied free will?

  6. Ad: noblesse oblige, power comes with responsibility. You can set your hamster free, but then you are held responsible if it is eaten by your neighbour’s cat.

  7. Georgy Mancz

    I wonder what makes people believe that the Supreme Good owes them anything. ‘The problem of evil’ begs this very question.
    Neither the Bible (see the book of Job) nor other sources of Catholic teaching state that God owes His creatures anything.
    Please note that Aquinas nowhere states that God is subject of obligations, that He is trying to perfect Himself in some way.
    We have obligations because we are not perfect by nature, we can grow in knowledge, virtue etc. We have in us potencies towards perfection.
    God, however, simply Is Good, that is, Perfect.
    Some people cannot help but anthropomorphise God.
    Reasonable people really should not.
    Classical theists should be, I believe, strong atheists when it comes to ‘a deity’ who owes creatures anything.
    One can say that God ‘owes’ that which God has already promised – but that’s hardly obligatory in the relevant sense.

    See this brilliant book on the subject:

  8. George, the Christian god is by definition an anthropomorphic God: the Father that is in Heaven, remember? Read the Creed.

  9. Georgy Mancz

    I do say the Creed regularly and so far am unaware of anthropomorphising teaching within.
    By your definition, perhaps. As a Catholic, I follow definitions of the Church.
    Also, it appears you got this wrong, since: “With this in mind, then, I fall on my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that Father from whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth takes its title” (Ep. 3:14-15). So it’s the other way around, it would seem.

  10. George, then I am afraid that most pious catholics are heretics, and the true catholic dogma is buddhist.

  11. Georgy Mancz

    You don’t have to be afraid at all: you do not appear to be an expert on Catholicism, Catholic piety and classical theism. So rejoice.
    Precisely is Buddhist about classical theism, a tradition to which, say, St. Athanasius belongs?

  12. Georgy Mancz

    *precisely WHAT is


  13. Georgy (apologies for misspelling earlier), the wonderful thing of Catholicism is that it is passed from parent to child, you if you think god is a buddhisst God, you are fre to believe so.

  14. Georgy Mancz

    Hans, surely you are trolling?..
    It’s actually quite funny, given that Catholicism is one of the few belief systems available where clarity – popular dissent and liberal obfuscation notwithstanding – can be given. Dogmas, definitions, you know?..
    (and, for what it’s worth, I’m a convert from atheism in a nominally Eastern Orthodox and very atheistic country, which makes your remark doubly funny)

    Again: what precisely is Buddhist about an omnipotent, omniscient, all-good, eternal and personal (or ‘suprapersonal’, if you restrict the use of the term ‘person’ to humans) Being?
    Equivocating your personal view of Christian dogma with what the Catholic Church taught and teaches is a very imprudent move.
    The God of the Bible and that of Church teaching is the God of classical theism (a book already recommended discusses this, but also provides further recommendations). Nothing Buddhist here that I can see.

  15. The buddist God does not judge and does not favor. He also does not interact.

  16. Georgy Mancz

    Well, in that case (though I’m pretty sure your ‘Buddhism God’ talk here is quite unorthodox vis-a-vis Buddhism, heh) you’ve been writing nonsense here, for the God of classical theism, also the God of the Bible and of Catholicism, the one against whom the ‘problem of evil’ is a rationally impotent question begging pseudoargument is not this ‘Buddhist God’.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *