Summary Against Modern Thought: On God’s Happiness

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 start Book Two today. Only three books to go! We have so far learned that God necessarily exists, and from that we deduced some limited properties about God. We now move on to what God does.

Chapter 1 Connection of the foregoing with the sequel (alternate translation)

[1] IT is impossible to know a thing perfectly unless we know its operation: since from the mode and species of its operation we gauge the measure and quality of its power, while the power of a thing shows forth its nature: because a thing has naturally an aptitude for work according as it actually has such and such a nature.

Notes This, and ancillary arguments, should be how science is introduced. Science is the search for essence, for natures, for the proper understanding of powers and capabilities. Raw equations, i.e. the mathematization of science, has it place, but equations do not contain maps of natures and powers. Equations can be determinative but not causative. Thomas is after true understanding of the nature of our subject, and not just in making predictions. The nature here are the works of God, since we pushed about as far as raw philosophy absent direct revelation

[2] Now the operation of a thing is twofold, as the Philosopher teaches (9 Metaph.); one that abides in the very worker and is a perfection of the worker himself, such as to sense, to understand, and to will; and another that passes into an outward thing, and is a perfection of the thing made that results from it, such as to heat, to cut, and to build.

Notes If you’re just joining us, or have forgotten, “the” philosopher is Aristotle.

[3] Now both of the aforesaid operations are competent to God: the former, in that He understands, wills, rejoices, and loves; the latter, in that He brings forth things into being, preserves them, and rules them. Since, however, the former operation is a perfection of the operator, while the latter is a perfection of the thing made, and since the agent is naturally prior to the thing made and is the cause thereof, it follows that the first of the aforesaid operations is the reason of the second, and naturally precedes it, as a cause precedes its effect. This is, in fact, clearly seen in human affairs: for the thought and will of the craftsman is the origin and reason of the work of building.

[4] Accordingly the first of the aforesaid operations, as a simple perfection of the operator, claims for itself the name of operation, or again of action: while the second, as being a perfection of the thing made, takes the name of work, wherefore those things which a craftsman brings into being by an action of this kind are said to be his handiwork.

[5] Of the former operation of God we have already spoken in the foregoing Book, where we treated of the divine knowledge and will. Wherefore in order to complete our treatise of the divine truth, it remains for us to treat of the latter operation, whereby, to wit, things are made and governed by God.

[6] We may gather this order from the words quoted above. For first he speaks of meditation on the first kind of operation, when he says: I meditated on all Thy operations, so that we refer operation to the divine intelligence and will. Then he refers to meditation on God’s works when he says, and I meditated on the works of Thy hands, so that by the works of His hands we understand heaven and earth, and all that is brought into being by God, as the handiwork produced by a craftsman.

Notes Nothing at all disagreeable in any of these entries; neither in Chapter 2. The real meat starts next week.

Chapter 1 Connection of the foregoing with the sequel (alternate translation)

[1] THIS meditation on the divine works is indeed necessary in order to build up man’s faith in God.

[2] First, because through meditating on His works we are able somewhat to admire and consider the divine wisdom. For things made by art are indications of the art itself, since they are made in likeness to the art…

[3] Secondly, this consideration leads us to admire the sublime power of God, and consequently begets in men’s hearts a reverence for God. For we must needs conclude that the power of the maker transcends the things made…

[4] Thirdly, this consideration inflames the souls of men to the love of the divine goodness. For whatever goodness and perfection is generally apportioned among various creatures, is all united together in Him universally, as in the source of all goodness, as we proved in the First Book. Wherefore if the goodness, beauty, and sweetness of creatures are so alluring to the minds of men, the fountainhead of the goodness of God Himself, in comparison with the rivulets of goodness which we find in creatures, will draw the entranced minds of men wholly to itself…

[5] Fourthly, this consideration bestows on man a certain likeness to the divine perfection. For it was shown in the First Book that God, by knowing Himself, beholds all other things in Himself. Since then the Christian faith teaches man chiefly about God, and makes him to know creatures by the light of divine revelation, there results in man a certain likeness to the divine wisdom…

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