Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Goodness of God


1.  Having settled the main logical questions about the ordinary concept of goodness as applied to creatures, Thomas next speaks of the goodness of God, the relationship between God’s goodness and his essence, and the relationship between divine goodness and creaturely goodness.  This question builds in a fairly predictable way on what has been set down already in the question on the divine perfection, but is obviously important for later questions on divine providence, predestination, mercy, etc.

2.  The first article of this question asks whether it is fitting for God to be good, and it grows out of some of the conclusions reached in the previous question.  Thomas proposes two objections: first, that the ratio or measure of goodness consists in a thing’s mode, species and order (cf. Q.5 A.5), whereas God is not ordered to anything; second, that goodness is defined as “quod omnia appetunt”, what all things desire, whereas a thing is desired only to the extent that it is known, and many things do not know God.

3.  His Sed Contra is from Lamentations.

4.  The argument in the Corpus is straightforward: A thing is good to the extent that it is desirable, and everything desires its own perfection; but the form and perfection of an effect have a likeness to the agent cause, since everything acts to produce its own likeness (omne agens agit sibi simile), thus to whatever extent the effect is perfect, it has its perfection from its cause, which must therefore be at least as perfect and at least as good.  Therefore God, who is the cause of all things, must be more perfect than anything else, and thus more desirable, and thus best of all.

5.  He answers the first objection by noting that to have mode, species, and order belongs to creatures, and to created goodness.  God’s goodness does not have mode, species, or order, except virtually as the cause of these things in the goodness of creatures.

6.  The answer to the second objection is lovely and worth reflecting on at length: all things, by desiring their proper perfections, desire God himself, insofar as the perfections of all things are to some extent likenesses of the divine act of being (similitudines divini esse).  He then divides the extent of things’ desire for God: some desire him knowing him to some extent as he truly is, and these are rational creatures; others are capable of knowing goodness merely by sensible cognition (brute animals); others have an inner inclination without knowledge (natural substances below animals).


– It was established above that the integral parts of goodness are mode, species, and order; which do not apply to God.
– The good is what all things desire, but to desire requires knowledge, and not all things know God.

– Things are desirable on account of their perfection, and perfect on account of their cause.
– Thus whatever perfection or desirability is present in an effect must be present preeminently in its cause.

– The integral parts of created goodness are mode, species, and order.

– All things are inclined to their natural end, which is their perfection, but that perfection is perfect by virtue of its likeness to God, and so all things tend toward God, whether by knowledge properly speaking, or the intimation of sensible goods, or by a mere inclination without knowledge of any sort.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.