Summary Against Modern Thought: Divine Assistance For Higher Reasoning Is Necessary

Summary Against Modern Thought: Divine Assistance For Higher Reasoning Is Necessary

Previous post.

Key quote: Man “is hindered by the weakness of his reason, which is easily drawn into error by which he is cut off from the right way of reaching his end.”


1 Since it is plain from earlier chapters that divine providence controls rational creatures in a different way from other things, because they differ from other things in the way that their own nature was established, it remains to be shown that, by virtue of the dignity of their end, a higher mode of governance is used by divine providence in their case.

2 Now, it is obvious that, according to what befits their nature, they achieve a higher participation in the end. In fact, since they have an intellectual nature, they are able by its operation to attain to intelligible truth, and this is not possible for other things that are devoid of understanding. And, of course, because they can reach intelligible truth by their natural operation, it is clear that divine provision is made for them in a different way than for other things.

Inasmuch as man is given understanding and reason, by which he can both discern and investigate the truth; as he is also given sensory powers, both internal and external, whereby he is helped to seek the truth; as he is also given the use of speech, by the functioning of which he is enabled to convey to another person the truth that he conceives in his mind—thus constituted, men may help themselves in the process of knowing the truth, just as they may in regard to the other needs of life for man is “a naturally social animal.”

3 But, beyond this, man’s ultimate end is fixed in a certain knowledge of truth which surpasses his natural capacity: that is, he may see the very First Truth in Itself, as we showed above. Now, this is not granted to lower creatures, that is, the possibility of their reaching an end which exceeds their natural capacity. So, the different mode of governance in regard to men and in regard to other, lower creatures must be noted as a result of this end. For, the things that are related to an end must be proportionate to that end. So, if man is ordered to an end which exceeds his natural capacity, some help must be divinely provided for him, in a supernatural way, by which he may tend toward his end.

Notes In other words, we are higher than animals, not mere animals differently equipped.

4 Again, a thing of an inferior nature cannot be brought to what is proper to a higher nature except by the power of that higher nature. For example, the moon, which does not shine by its own light, becomes luminous by the power and action of the sun, and water, which is not hot of itself, becomes hot by the power and action of fire. Now, to see the very First Truth in Itself so transcends the capacity of human nature that it is proper to God alone, as we showed above. Therefore, man needs divine help so that he may reach this end.

Notes The only way to glimpse infinity, or truths not deducible from other known truths, is by divine assistance.

5 Besides, each thing attains its ultimate end by its own operation. Now, operation gets its power from the operating principle; thus, by the action of the semen there is generated a being in a definite species, whose power preexists in the semen. Therefore, man is not able by his own operation to reach his ultimate end, which transcends the capacity of his natural powers, unless his operation acquires from divine power the efficacy to reach the aforesaid end.

6 Moreover, no instrument can achieve its ultimate perfection by the power of its own form, but only by the power of the principal agent, although by its own power it can provide a certain disposition to the ultimate perfection. Indeed, the cutting of the lumber results from the saw according to the essential character of its own form, but the form of the bench comes from the skilled mind which uses the tool. Likewise, the breaking down and consumption of food in the animal body is due to the heat of fire, but the generation of flesh, and controlled growth and similar actions, stem from the vegetative soul which uses the heat of fire as an instrument.

Now, all intellects and wills are subordinated as instruments under a principal agent to God, Who is the first intellect and will. So, their operations must have no efficacy in regard to the ultimate perfection which is the attainment of final happiness, except through the divine power. Therefore, a rational nature needs divine help to obtain the ultimate end.

7 Furthermore, there are many impediments presented to man in the attaining of his end. For he is hindered by the weakness of his reason, which is easily drawn into error by which he is cut off from the right way of reaching his end. He is also hindered by the passions of his sensory nature, and by the feelings whereby he is attracted to sensible and lower things; and the more he attaches himself to these, the farther he is removed from his ultimate end, for these things are below man, whereas man’s end is above him.

He is further hindered by frequent bodily illness from the carrying out of his virtuous activities whereby he may tend toward happiness. Therefore, man needs divine help, but he may fall completely short of the ultimate end as a result of these obstacles.

8 Hence, it is said, in John (6:44): “No man can come to Me, except the Father, Who hath sent Me, draw him,” and again: “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4).

9 By this we set aside the error of the Pelagians, who said that man could merit the glory of God by his free choice alone.


  1. Amateur Brain Surgeon

    God created man to be happy and man can only be happy if he attains unto salvation and sanctification and wins the reward of eternal life knowing God in Heaven and no one can do that who is not a Catholic.

  2. Amateur Brain Surgeon

    Dear Brigs. Readers may profit from reading about what Heaven and Hell will be like from the wonderful Father Walter Farrell’s “Companion to The Summa’ which was intended for men like ABS, low-brows striving to be raised to middle-brow status; i.e., those who have trouble understanding Aquinas;

  3. Amateur Brain Surgeon

    Heaven and Hell are described in Volume four, the last entry

  4. Joy

    Read the Gospels and take especial note of all the mistakes people made who encountered Jesus Christ.
    Don’t trust the middle man.

    Catholics have access to exactly the same information as everybody else.

    The word of God is ultimate truth and ultimate reality.

    If it’s eternally important it a loving God would make all things self evident on reading the Gospels of Jesus Christ who in the Christian faith is God incarnate, made man/flesh, (as in muscle or physical power “SARX”). Or just self evident in the heart if people follow the truth.

    Salvation is not about reward or ‘winning’ in any earthly, material sense.
    It isn’t a transaction or a commodity OR A GAME!

    God loves everybody. If that is true and people say they believe it? the rest follows. Or those claiming otherwise are dishonour God. God allows us our own thoughts and our own feelings, tyrannical forces do not, ie those who lead by threat of violence or threat of non redeemable consequences.

  5. L Ron Hubbard alias John B()


    Remember that our “scary friend” claimed three “sources” of which the Bible is third

    Do you know the history of the Bible with regard to the Catholic Church?

  6. Joy

    John B,
    I understood from childhood, that the Catholic denomination was the oldest.

    Tell me about it and I’ll tell you if I knew.

    As soon as the topic comes up, someone sectarian will often say, something akin to:
    “we stated it”
    “It belongs to us”
    “we get to say what’s true and what’s not”
    “we were there, or our contacts were, at least”

    …Said in, what is to me, faux reverential manner, for the topic in hand.

    I’m happy to hear from you anything which might’ve escaped my notice though. Kieth Ward speaks about the differences in Christianity quite a bit and with respect to ‘authenticity’ without descending into bitter talk. There is a factual, scholarly approach to be taken by those who genuinely want to seek truth. He also speaks about other religions as he says he’s tried many of them. It isn’t the knife edge which sectarians would have us believe.

    I wonder if God’s telling people to stand outside a shop and say the very word to me, that I spelled in my head while walking unaware of its presence, towards the shop? A bouncy word.

    THAT was yesterday. The only possible response is laughter.

    Another three strange coincidences occurred but they aren’t relevant. Good has a sense of humour. How can that be?

  7. John B()


    1 The Bible was only available in the Latin Vulgate until the 15th Century – Not available in the vernacular. So was not only the priest necessary for the Sacraments, he was also necessary for the “word” itself (at least for the unwashed). The Vulgate, by the way, is why it’s “The Prodigal Son”. Throughout the Middle Ages, some scriptures were translated into the vernacular.
    2. In the 16th century, some Reformers published Bibles with bits missing, faulty translation work, and subversive notes.
    3. The authorities tried to regulate which Bibles were acceptable in order to control erroneous teaching.
    4. I believe in response to the KJV, the New Testament was published at Reims in 1582 with a preface and explanatory notes, while the Old Testament was published at Douai (1609-10) through the efforts of Dr. Worthington, then superior of the seminary. The translation had been prepared before the appearance of the New Testament, but the publication was delayed … the religious adherence to the Latin text is the reason of the less elegant and idiomatic words and phrases found in the translation. The original Douai Version has undergone so many revisions that “scarcely any verse remains as it was originally published”. I don’t think the “Authorized Version” appeared until the late 19th Century. The Douai-Reims most closely resembles KJV (both I believe relied on the Vulgate as their basis for translation). Throughout the years, the Catholic Church encouraged Bible reading, but kept control of the interpretation of the Bible as part of the Church’s inspired authority to teach the truth and preserve the unity of the Church.

    I’ve heard more incideous accounts from other sources so am just providing Catholic sources.

    An odd personal note, my mother was quite surprised to have received a Bible from her “Turn-of-the-previous-Century” mother as a wedding gift.

  8. John B()

    Another three strange coincidences occurred but they aren’t relevant. Good has a sense of humour. How can that be?

    My wife is a strong believer in God’s sense of humor to the horror of some of her acquaintances (how else could one explain me?). We both have seen God’s hand in our lives.

    Not coincidences, but God-incidents.

    My wife has many questions of God, but expects him to duck into the cellar to inventory the wine.

  9. Amateur Brain Surgeon

    Dear John. You are wasting time trying to have a fruitful dialogue with Joy.

    Uncountable are those soi disant Christians claiming all they need is a bible to know the truth.

    Were that true they’d be Catholic

  10. L Ron Hubbard alias John B()


    Joy is a sister-in-Christ

    I love and appreciate my dialogues with her

  11. John B()

    Oh my!

    My last comment is playing cat and mouse with me. (now i see it – now i don’t)

    To reiterate : I enjoy my dialogues with Joy

  12. Amateur Brain Surgeon

    Dear John/ L. Ron

    Please accept the apology of ABS. The observation was intended to be truthful not harmful or insulting.

    ABS was thinking outside the strictures of ecumenism and so maybe that is why his rhetoric seems so rebarbative.

    In his defense, ABS insists that to be considered a Christian – one who follows Christ – it is necessary for the person claiming to be one that that person must be a member of His Church He established for that is the way He chose to teach all men authoritatively, administer the sacraments etc.

    Now, legion are those who insist they are Christian while refusing to be a member of the Church He established or refuse to submit to the authority He established. That is, it is not Christ who has the authority, it is the person making the claim and Christ must accept the claim or He is mean.

    Many men make the error of thinking that His Church is an institution of Christianity rather than the truth, The Catholic Church is Christianity existing in the world

    What Saint Paul taught The Ephesians has long since been abandoned …for building up the Body of Christ, until we all attain unto the unity of the faith…

    Now, one can claim be a member of the Body without being a member of the Body because..well, just because

  13. swordfishtrombone

    > The only way to glimpse infinity, or truths not deducible from other known truths, is by divine assistance.

    Or guesswork.

  14. John B()


    No apologies necessary – I’m a little embarrassed that you are under the impression that I’m Catholic in good standing. I’ve told this story elsewhere elsewhen:

    When I was a second or third grader in Parochial School, the sister was going around the class asking the children what they wanted to be when they grew up.

    I told her that I wanted to be a priest, but not just any priest, I wanted to be a priest that helped people understand the Bible.

    A Theologian? she asked

    Yeah, I guess I said

    Maybe she saw the pride in my face or heard the pride in my voice or felt that I was trying to impress her?
    She said oh no! You’re going to leave the faith.

    I tried to prove her wrong for a long time but by my twenties I was mostly out. I tried hard to give up God Himself by God wouldn’t have it.

    This is why in the past I’ve asked pointed questions about the Pope and whether people think the chair empty.
    I’m fairly knowledgeable about things Catholic and interested in things – The whole NO Catholic was a surprise and interesting to me especially as I was coming of age during Vatican II. And ecumenism was a deal during college when I occasionally found myself at a Newman center.

    But yes, ABS, you’re interjection into the conversation pretty much proved Joy’s point. Truth. No harm. No insult.

  15. Joy

    John B,
    I was aware in outline but like to hear details about where the translation controversies arise, so thank you. Regarding our “scary friend”, YOS has said similar regarding hierarchy of ‘sources’. I was shocked to begin with but nothing surprises me For me? If it’s their way or the highway, it’s the highway for me, every tune.
    personal revelation along with experience of my own and that of others is all important context to the way I understand, or not, the bible.
    They seem to keep leading me back. So the bible is a constant, to me, not the only source of wisdom and truth, or way of confirming it. The bible is not inerrant, I trust Kieth Ward’s simple proof on that. Any honest reader doesn’t really need telling.
    I think of the quote “no man will pluck them from my hand”, at times…
    What you said about God incidences is a better way of describing what happens. I did actually start to wonder at one point about myself. Checked with a trusted ex colleague who tells me what he thinks.
    My brother said, “your miracles are rubbish”, he meant it in a funny way but I knew what he meant. Not that he disbelieved me. He seems often to be part of the equation, too, lately, which is curious.
    On another note, I asked him about the empath to which he waxed about ‘deeana’? ;diana’? who is from North Weald where we’re from. Also, that she’s a mind reading psychologist, or something. Not really cricket, unfair on her patients, if you ask me.
    Regarding your wife’s idea about God darting into do a quick inventory, it struck a strange chord because there’s a frequently appearing ad which is strangely curious, regarding a certain wine cellar. Makes me think of Gangsters I also think media and advertising are monkeying with analytic information they receive on TV, not just on the internet.
    Last night, an unattended music box started to play the Godfather tune! It was in a separate room and I didn’t know of it’s existence. The lid was shut.

  16. Nate

    ABS, Orthodoxy has words for you about the ownership of tradition.

  17. Joy

    In his explanation of the reformation, Kieth Ward states that in 1440 AD first typed translation of the bible, three copies, began the process of the bible being available not just to priests.
    The topic of biblical interpretation, truth and infallibility is covered very succinctly and salient to the points raised above. Differences in the word ‘faith’ and what that means, to different Christians denominations.
    Kieth Ward also explains elsewhere that being a philosopher, he is interested in the ‘problems’ and discussing them. That people misunderstand what he or others are about.
    I now understand much better the attitudes of some of my fellow students from Ireland and how (and where geographically, Historically and biblically) much of the perpetual misinformation and trouble arises.
    I’m sure there’s not a lot you don’t know on this topic but just explaining where my level of understanding is, around about.
    In the Catholic tradition, you “See” what happens on the alter.
    In the Protestant Churches you “hear” what the preacher says, from the pulpit.
    To have Faith in Catholic terms means you accept ‘on faith’ the teachings of the authority of the church. Pretty difficult when so many radicals ‘hate’ the pope, with a passion put to use, such as one blogger who also links here occasionally.
    For a Lutherans, faith is personal commitment to Christ.
    That makes all catholics who dissent, Protestants in reality! Liberals, picking and choosing what they believe if it differs from the Papal authority.
    That’s why some people are so angry about it and why saying the Pope isn’t a real pope is the necessary get out clause for very dogmatic and unyielding individuals.
    “The Reformation Kieth Ward” brings up the video.
    minute 4:45 mentions the bible translations but there’s a lot of useful information through thte talk.

  18. L Ron Hubbard alias John B()

    Romans 14 seems apropos

    3 Let not the one … despise the [other] … let not the [other] … pass judgment on the one … for God has welcomed him. 4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

  19. John B()

    … and the very heart of ecumenism …

    Romans 14:19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

  20. Joy

    If only everybody understood the other a little more this kind of thing would be less inclined to happen.
    Problem is a discussion or debate cannot happen without information passing back and forth and if at every truth that information causes a hissy fit, literally, no progress in the pursuit of genuine peace can take place, only loaded silences.

    On a happier not, my Mum has just told me some more information which makes the music box make more sense to me, which is the one who cares about it. My favourite Uncle was my Godfather. He died in December just gone, hence my being in Yorkshire. He, according to my Mum has been ‘busy’ lately with one of his
    Grandchildren who hardly knew him. She was very ill with a high fever and had to be taken home from school.
    Covid negative but anyway was put to bed very poorly. In the morning her mother remarked, you seem better this morning. To which she said,
    “Yes, because Grandad came to see me”,

    He sat on the bed and told her she would feel better in the morning and not to worry or be frightened.
    Her mother thought it was the Grandfather who is still alive, but the child said indignantly,
    “NO, Uncle Brian” *who she hardly ever met.

    My Mu wasn’t going to tell me, but did so this morning when I told her what happened with the music box.
    One last thing, that the box played on Friday evening not Saturday, I wote my comment and nearly didn’t post it until the next day.
    …All resolved…

    Thank you for the appropriate bible quote. “peacemaking” where there is no battle, or when the battle is still raging is a tricky thing to try to do but I know it’s what you try to do most of the time.
    I understand that.

  21. John B()

    Brilliant story!

    When my wife and I lived in my Father’s last home before he died (rural Western Wisconsin), we’d put our daughter in her crib in the room which had been my parent’s room.
    My wife and I would go outside in the late evening looking at the stars or enjoying the late summer air.
    Through the open window of her room, we’d here our daughter laughing, giggling and “talking”.
    My wife and I would look at each other and nod in agreement that “grandpa” was there with her (my wife herself wishes she’d met met my father from all she gleaned from me and my family).

    As you’ll notice the ellipses of the text I included; they were of particular beliefs of the two, one who … and one who …, so I just replaced one of “the one”‘s with “other” … didn’t want to bog down in the belief, it worked well

    My old friend, Manny, from my Minnesota days used to say “the problem is always about ‘the other'”.
    He was raised Catholic on the Texas side of the Rio Grande. We shared stories about growing up Catholic.
    He was also someone I told my story about the nun who predicted my “Fall from Grace”. He laughed and said that ALL of the nuns would tell that to ALL the boys in an attempt to use “Reverse Psychology”. Whether or not that was true, I’m a rather literal person and reverse psychology wouldn’t be likely to work.

    See if you agree with my comment on yesterday’s “Summary”

  22. Joy

    John B
    That was a lovely story, what sweet memories, that got me thinking…

    Re the Nun? What a thing to say…least said, another day another discussion.
    Fall from Grace? I don’t think you have.

    I just hope heaven isn’t like Earth, more of the same, I don’t believe it is. I appreciate correction from people who know what they’re talking about. You have helped me quite a bit. JH said the same thing.

    Will consider the other post and see if I concur

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