Question Two: God’s Knowledge
Is there knowledge in God?
Does God know or understand Himself?
Does God know things other than Himself?
Does God have proper and determinate knowledge of things?
Does God know singular things?
Does the human intellect know singulars?
Does God know the singular as now existing or not existing?
Does God know non-beings, and things which are not, have not been, and will not be?
Does God know infinites?
Can God make infinites?
Is knowledge predicated of God and man purely equivocally?
Does God know singular future contingents?
Does God’s knowledge change?
Is God’s knowledge the cause of things?
Does God have knowledge of evil things?
This question treats of knowledge,
and in the first article we ask:
Is there knowledge in God?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 14, 1; I Sent., 35, 1; C.G. I, 44; XII Metaph., lect. 8, n. 2542 seq.; lect. 11, n. 2600 seq.; Comp. Theol., I, cc. 28-3 2.]
It seems not, for
1. That which is had by an addition to another cannot be found in a most simple being, and God is most simple. Therefore, since knowledge is had by an addition to the essence—for life adds something to the act of existence and knowledge adds something to life—it seems that knowledge is not in God.
2. The answer was given that knowledge does not add anything to God’s essence, since knowledge merely indicates a perfection God has that is not indicated by essence.—On the contrary, perfection is the name of a thing. But in God, essence and knowledge are absolutely one thing. The same perfection, therefore, is indicated by both words, essence and knowledge.
3. No noun can be used of God which does not signify the entire divine perfection; for if it does not signify His entire perfection, it signifies nothing about Him, since parts are not found in God and cannot be attributed to Him. Now, knowledge does not represent His entire perfection, for God “is above all names which name Him,” as is stated in The Causes. Therefore, knowledge cannot be attributed to Him.
4. Moreover, science is the habit of conclusions, and understanding, the habit of principles—as is clear from what the Philosopher says. But God does not know anything as a conclusion: for this would mean that His intellect would proceed from premises to conclusions, though, as Dionysius has shown, this is not true even for the angels. Hence, science is not in God.
5. Whatever is known scientifically is known through something more known. For God, however, there is not anything more known or less known. Therefore, scientific knowledge cannot be in God.
6. Algazel says that knowledge is an impression of the known in the intellect of the knower. But an impression is entirely alien to God, for it implies receptivity and composition. Therefore, knowledge cannot be attributed to God.
7. Nothing implying imperfection can be attributed to God. But knowledge implies imperfection, for it is regarded as a habit or first act—the operation of considering being regarded as second act, as is stated in The Soul. But a first act is imperfect with respect to the second since it is in potency to the second. Therefore, knowledge cannot be in God.
8. The answer was that there is only actual knowledge in God.—On the contrary, God’s knowledge is the cause of things. Therefore, if knowledge is attributed to God, it existed eternally in Him; and if only actual knowledge is in God, He produced things from all eternity. This is false.
9. Whenever there is anything which corresponds to the concept we have of the word knowledge, of it we know not only that it is but also what it is, for knowledge is a distinct reality. But, as Damascene says,” we cannot know what God is, but only that He is. Therefore, in God there is nothing corresponding to our concept expressed by knowledge. Knowledge, therefore, does not exist in God.
10. Augustine states that God is not accessible to the intellect since He eludes every form. But knowledge is a form which the intellect conceives. Hence, God also eludes this form, and so there cannot be knowledge in God.
11. To understand is more simple and of greater dignity than to know. But as stated in The Causes, when we say that God understands or is an intelligence, we are not naming Him with a proper noun but “with the name of His first effect.” Much less, then, can we use knowledge of God.
12. Quality implies a greater composition than quantity does, for quality inheres in a substance by means of quantity. We do not attribute anything of the genus of quantity to God because of His simplicity, for everything quantified has parts. Hence, since knowledge is in the genus of quality, it cannot be attributed to God.
To the Contrary
11. The Epistle to the Romans (11:33) says: “O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God!”
2. According to Anselm, we must attribute to God everything which in each thing it is better absolutely to have than not to have. Since knowledge is a perfection of this kind, it must be attributed to God.
3. Only three things are required for knowledge: an active power in the knower by which he judges about things, a thing known, and the union of both. But in God there is the most active power possible and an essence that is most knowable; consequently, there is a union of both. God, therefore, knows in the highest degree. Our proof of the minor premise is drawn from the fact mentioned in The Intelligences, namely: “The first substance is light.” But light has active power most of all, as is shown from its diffusion and multiplication. It is, besides, highly knowable and, because of this, also makes other things known. Therefore, the first substance, God, has an active power to know and is Himself also knowable.
All attribute knowledge to God, but in different ways. Some, not being able by their own intellectual power to go beyond the man er of created knowledge, have believed that knowledge is in God like some sort of disposition added to His essence, as is the case with us. This is quite absurd and erroneous. For, if it were true, God would not be absolutely simple. There would be in Him a composition of substance and accident, and, further, God would not be His own act of existence; for, as Boethius says: “What exists can share in something else, but existence itself in no way shares in anything else.” If God shared in knowledge as if it were a state added to His essence, He would not be His own act of existence, and, thus, He would have His origin from another who would be the cause of His existence. In short, He would not be God.
For this reason others have asserted that, when we attribute knowledge or something of the same sort to God, we postulate nothing positive in Him but merely designate Him as the cause of knowledge in created things. In other words, God is said to be a knower merely because He communicates knowledge to creatures. Although a partial reason for the truth of the proposition “God is a knower” may be that He causes truth (and Origen and Augustine seem to say this), it is not the whole truth for two reasons. First, by the same reasoning we should have to predicate of God whatever He causes in creatures, and so we should have to say that He moves since He causes motion in things. This, of course, cannot be said. Second, those attributes which are predicated of both causes and effects are not said to be in the causes because of the effects. Rather, they are said to be in the effects because they are found in the causes. For example, because fire is hot, it induces heat into the air. The converse is not true. Similarly, because the nature of God is to have knowledge, He communicates knowledge to us, and not the other way about.
Still others have said that knowledge and the like are attributed to God in a certain proportionate likeness, as anger, mercy, and similar passions are attributed to Him. For God is said to be angry in so far as He does something similar to what an angry man does, for He punishes. In us, this is the effect of anger. Properly speaking, of course, the passion of anger cannot be in God. In the same way, they say, God is said to be a knower because His effects resemble those of a knowing agent. For example, the works of one who has scientific knowledge proceed from determined principles to determined ends, and so do the divinely originated works of nature—as is clear from the Physics. But, according to this view, knowledge is attributed merely metaphorically to God, as are anger and other like things—an opinion contrary to the words of Dionysius”I and other saints.
Consequently, one must give another answer and say that, when knowledge is attributed to God, it signifies something which is in Him. The same is true of life, essence, and the like. These attributes do not differ as regards the reality which is signified, but only in our manner of understanding them. For God’s essence, life, knowledge, and whatever else of this sort that may be predicated of Him are all the same; but in understanding essence, life, and so forth in His regard, our intellect has different concepts for each. This does not mean that these concepts are false; for our intellectual conceptions are true inasmuch as they actually represent the thing known by a certain process of assimilation. Otherwise they would be false, that is, if they corresponded to nothing.
Our intellect, however, cannot represent God in the same way that it represents creatures; for, when it knows a creature, it conceives a certain form which is the likeness of the thing according to its entire perfection; and in this manner defines the things understood. But since God infinitely exceeds the power of our intellect, any form we conceive cannot completely represent the divine essence, but merely has, in some small measure, an imitation of it. Similarly, extra-mental realities imitate it somewhat, but imperfectly. Hence, all different things imitate God in different ways; and, according to different forms, they represent the one simple form of God, since in His form are found perfectly united all the perfections that arc found, distinct and multiple, among creatures. This is like the properties of numbers, which all, in a certain sense, pre-exist in unity, and like all the individual authorities of royal officials, which are all united in the authority of the king. If there were anything that could perfectly represent God, that thing would be unique, for it would represent Him in one way and according to one form. For this reason, there is in God only one Son, who is the perfect image of the Father.
Accordingly, our intellect represents the divine perfection by means of different conceptions, for each one of them is imperfect. If one were perfect, it would be the only one, just as there is only one Word in the divine intellect. There are, therefore, many conceptions in our intellect that represent the divine essence, and the divine intellect corresponds to each one of these as a thing corresponds to an imperfect image of itself. Thus, even though we have several intellectual conceptions about one thing, they are all true. Moreover, since names do not signify things without the mediation of the intellect, as is pointed out in Interpretation,” the intellect applies several names to one thing according to the different ways in which it understands it, or (what comes to the same thing) according to different formal aspects. To all of these, however, there corresponds something in reality.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Knowledge is not had by an addition to being, except in so far as our intellect grasps someone’s knowledge and essence as distinct; for addition presupposes distinction. In God, knowledge and essence are not really distinct, as is clear from our discussion. They are merely conceived in this way. Therefore, knowledge is not in God by an addition to His essence, except according to our way of understanding.
2. One cannot correctly say that knowledge in God signifies a perfection other than His essence. It is merely signified as though it were another perfection, since our intellect applies to Him the names referred to from the different concepts we have of Him.
3. Since names represent concepts, a name signifies the totality of a thing in direct proportion to the intellect’s understanding of it. Our intellect can understand the whole of God, but not wholly. With God, one must know the whole or nothing at all, since in Him there is no question of part and whole. I say “not wholly,” however, since the intellect does not know Him perfectly in so far as He is knowable by His very nature. Thus, our knowledge is like that of a man who knows with probability the conclusion, “The diameter is asymmetric to the side,” merely because all men assert it. He does not know this conclusion wholly, since he does not arrive at the perfect manner of knowing with which it is capable of being grasped. Yet he knows the entire conclusion and is ignorant of no part of it. So, too, the names which are applied to God signify the whole God, but not wholly.
4. What is in God without imperfection is found with some defect in creatures. Hence, if we attribute to God something found in creatures, we must entirely remove everything that smacks of imperfection so that only what is perfect will remain; for it is only according to its perfection that a creature imitates God. I point out, therefore, that our scientific knowledge contains both some perfection and some imperfection. Its certitude pertains to its perfection, for what is known scientifically is known with certainty. To its imperfection belongs its progression from principles to the conclusions contained in that science; for this progression happens only because the intellect, in knowing the premises, knows the conclusions only potentially. If it actually knew the conclusions, there would be no need of it to go further, since motion is simply the passage from potency to act. Knowledge is said to be in God, therefore, because of its certitude about things known, but not because of the progression mentioned above, for, as Dionysius says, this is not found even in angels.
5. If we take into consideration the manner proper to God as a knower, there is nothing more known or less known in God, because He sees all with the same intuition. If we consider the condition of the things known, however, He knows some to be more knowable in themselves and some less knowable; for example, of all the things He knows, the most knowable is His own essence, through which He knows everything—not by a progression, however, since by seeing His essence He simultaneously sees all things. If this order of things known in the divine cognition is considered, the notion of science can also be verified in God, for He knows all things principally in their Cause.
6. That statement of Algazel is to be understood of our knowledge, which is acquired by the impression upon our souls of the likenesses of things. The opposite is true of God’s cognition, for it is from His intellect that forms flow into creatures. Our knowledge is the impressing of things in our souls; but the forms of things are the impressing of the divine knowledge in things.
7. The knowledge posited of God is not like a habit but rather like an act, since He always actually knows all things.
8. Effects proceed from acting causes according to the condition of the causes. Hence, every effect which proceeds by reason of kno4ledge follows the determination of that knowledge, which limits its conditions. Therefore, the things which have God’s knowledge as their cause proceed only when it has been determined by God that they shall proceed. Consequently, it is not necessary that things actually exist from eternity, even though God’s knowledge is actual from all eternity.
9. The intellect is said to know what a thing is when it defines that thing, that is, when it conceives some form of the thing which corresponds to it in all respects. From our previous discussion, it is clear that whatever our intellect conceives of God falls short of being a representation of Him. Consequently, the quiddity of God Himself remains forever hidden from us. The most we can know of God during our present life is that He transcends everything that we can conceive of Him—as is clear from Dionysius.
10. God is said to elude every form of our intellect, not because there is no form of our intellect that can represent Him at all, but because there is no form that can represent Him perfectly.
11. As is said in the Metaphysics: “An intelligible character signified by a noun is a definition. Hence, the name of a thing is proper if its meaning is its definition. Now, since no intelligible character signified by a name defines God Himself, no name we apply to God is proper to Him. It is proper rather to the creature defined by the character signified by the name. These names, though the names of creatures, are attributed to God, however, in so far as a likeness of Him is found in some way in creatures.
17. The knowledge attributed to God is not a quality. Furthermore, a quality that follows upon quantity is a bodily quality—not a spiritual quality, as knowledge is.
In the second article we ask:
Does God know or understand himself?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 14, 2; C.G., 1, 47; X11 Metaph., lect. 8, n. z544; lect. 11, n. 2600 seq.; De causis, lect. 13 (P. 21:736b seq.); Comp. Theol., I, c. 30; III Sent., 27, 1, 4, sol.]
It seems that He does not, for
1. A knower is related to the thing known because of his knowledge. Now, as Boethius says: “The essence accounts for the divine unity, and the relations account for the multiplicity of the Trinity of Persons.”’ In God, therefore, the thing known must be personally distinct from the knower. Furthermore, the distinction of Persons in God will not permit a reciprocal predication—the Father is not said to have generated Himself because He generated the Son. Consequently, we cannot grant that God knows Himself.
2. In The Causes we read: “Everyone knowing his own essence returns to it by a complete return. But God does not return to His essence, since He never leaves it; and there cannot be a return if there has been no departure. God, therefore, does not know His own essence and does not know Himself.
3. Knowledge is an assimilation of a knower to a thing known. But nothing is similar to itself, for, as Hilary says: “likeness is not referred to oneself. Hence, God does not know Himself.
4. Scientific knowledge is only about universals. But God is not a universal, for every universal is bad by abstraction. There can be no abstraction from God, however, since He is perfectly simple. Hence, God does not know Himself.
5. If God knew Himself scientifically, He would understand Himself, since understanding is more simple than scientific knowledge and, for this reason, is the more to be attributed to God. But God does not understand Himself; hence, He does not know Himself scientifically. Proof of the minor premise: Augustine says: “Whatever understands itself comprehends itself. However, only finite being can be comprehended, as Augustine clearly shows in the same passage. Therefore, God does not understand Himself.
6. Augustine argues as follows: “Our intellect does not wish to be infinite (although it is able so to wish), since it desires to know itself.” Hence, what wishes to know itself does not wish to be infinite. But God wishes to be infinite, since He is infinite; for, if He were something He did not wish to be, He would not be supremely happy. Consequently, He does not wish to be known to Himself and, hence, does not know Himself.
7. The answer was given that, although God is simply infinite and wills to be such, He is not, however, infinite but finite to Himself, and so does not will that He be infinite.—On the contrary, as is pointed out in the Physics, something is said to be infinite if it is untraversable, finite if it is traversable. But, as is proved in the Physics, the infinite cannot be traversed by means of either a finite or another infinite being. Therefore, although God is infinite, He cannot be finite to Himself.
8. What is a good to God is simply good. Therefore, what is finite to God is simply finite. But God is not simply finite. Hence, He is not finite to Himself.
9. God knows Himself only in so far as He enters into a relation with Himself. Therefore, if He were finite to Himself, He would know Himself in a finite manner; but, since He is infinite, He would be knowing Himself other than He is and, consequently, have false knowledge of Himself.
10. Of those who know God, one knows Him more than another, according as hils manner of cognition surpasses that of the other. But God knows Himself infinitely more than any one else knows Him. Hence, His manner of knowing is infinite, He knows Himself infinitely, and is not finite to Himself.
11. St. Augustine proves that one Person cannot understand a thing more than another can. He argues as follows: “Whoever knows a thing otherwise than as it is, is deceived, and anyone who is deceived about a thing does not understand it. Hence, whoever understands anything otherwise than as it is does not understand it; for nothing can be understood in any other way than as it is.” Since a thing exists in one manner, it is known in one manner by all. Hence, no one understands a thing more than another does. Therefore, if God were to understand Himself, He would not understand Himself more than others understand Him. Thus, in some respect a creature would be equal to his Creator; this, however, would be absurd.
To the Contrary
Dionysius declares: “By knowing itself, the divine wisdom knows all else.” Hence, God knows Himself especially.
When it is said that a being knows itself, it is implicitly said to be both the knower and the known. Hence, in order to consider what kind of knowledge God has of Himself, we have to see what kind of a nature it is that can be both knower and known.
Note, therefore, that a thing is perfect in two ways. First, it is perfect with respect to the perfection of its act of existence, which belongs to it according to its own species. But, since the specific act of existence of one thing is distinct from the specific act of existence of another, in every created thing of this kind, the perfection falls short of absolute perfection to the extent that that perfection is found in other species. Consequently, the perfection of each individual thing considered in itself is imperfect, being a part of the perfection of the entire universe, which arises from the sum total of the perfections of all individual things.
In order that there might be some remedy for this imperfection, another kind of perfection is to be found in created things. It consists in this, that the perfection belonging to one thing is found in another. This is the perfection of a knower in so far as he knows; for something is known by a knower by reason of the fact that the thing known is, in some fashion, in the possession of the knower. Hence, it is said in The Soul that the soul is, “in some manner, all things,” since its nature is such that it can know all things. In this way it is possible for the perfection of the entire universe to exist in one thing. The ultimate perfection which the soul can attain, therefore, is, according to the philosophers, to have delineated in it the entire order and causes of the universe. This they held to be the ultimate end of man. We, however, hold that it consists in the vision of God; for, as Gregory says: “What is there that they do not see who see Him who sees all things?” Moreover, the perfection of one thing cannot be in another according to the determined act of existence which it has in the thing itself. Hence, if we wish to consider it in so far as it can be in another, we must consider it apart from those things which determine it by their very nature. Now, since forms and perfections of things are made determinate by matter, a thing is knowable in so far as it is separated from matter For this reason, the subject in which these perfections are received must be immaterial; for, if it were material, the perfection would be received in it according to a determinate act of existence. It would, accordingly, not be in the intellect in a state in which it is knowable, that is, in the way in which the perfection of one thing can be in another.
Hence, those ancient philosophers erred who asserted that like is known by like, meaning by this that the soul, which knows all things, is materially constituted of all things: its earth knows the earth, its water knows water, and so forth. They thought that the perfection of the thing known had the same determined act of existence in the knower as it had in its own nature. But the form of the thing known is not received in this way in the knower. As the Commentator remarks, forms are not received in the possible intellect in the same way in which they are received in first matter, for a thing must be received by a knowing intellect in an immaterial way.
For this reason, we observe, a nature capable of knowing is found in things in proportion to their degree of immateriality. Plants and things inferior to plants can receive nothing in an immaterial way. Accordingly, they are entirely lacking in the power of knowing, as is clear from The Soul. A sense, however, can receive species without matter although still under the conditions of matter; but the intellect receives its species entirely purified of such conditions.
There is likewise a hierarchy among knowable things; for, as the Commentator says, material things are intelligible only because we make them intelligible; they are merely potentially intelligible and are made actually intelligible by the light of the agent intellect, just as colors are made actually visible by the light of the sun. But immaterial things are intelligible in themselves. Hence, although less known to us, they are better known in the order of nature.
Since God, being entirely free of all potentiality, is at the extreme of separation from matter, it follows that He is most knowing and most knowable. It follows, too, that the knowability of His nature is directly proportioned to the act of existence which it exercises. Finally, because God is by reason of the fact that He possesses His own nature, it follows that God knows to the extent that He possesses His nature as one most knowing. For this reason Avicenna says: “He Himself knows and apprehends Himself because His own quiddity, being completely stripped (that is, of matter), is that of a thing perfectly identified with Himself.”
Answers to Difficulties
1. In God, the Trinity of Persons gets its plurality from the real relations in Him, namely, the relations of origin. When one says “God knows Himself,” the relation connoted is not a real relation but a rational relation, for, whenever a thing is referred to itself, the relation is not real but merely rational. A real relation demands two terms.
2. The dictum stating that one who knows himself returns to his essence is metaphorical. For, as shown in the Physics, there is no motion in intellection, and hence, properly speaking, no departure or return. Intellection is said to be a progression or movement to the extent that in it one passes from one thing known to another. In us, this takes place by a sort of discourse; and so, when the soul knows itself, there is a departure from the soul and a return to it. For the act, going out from the soul, first terminates in the object. Then one reflects upon the act, and finally upon the power and the essence, in so far as acts are known from their object, and powers by their acts. In divine cognition, however, there is, as was pointed out above, no progression from the known to the unknown. Nevertheless, from the point of view of the thing known, one can find a certain cycle in God’s knowledge; for in knowing His own essence He beholds all other things, and in these things He sees a likeness of His own essence. Hence, in some way He may be said to return to His own essence—not, however, in the sense that He knows His essence only from other things, as is the case with our soul.
Note, however, that in The Causes the return to one’s own essence is called the very subsistence of a thing in itself; for non-subsistent forms are, as it were, poured out upon something other than themselves, and are not in possession of themselves. But subsistent forms reach out to other things, perfecting them and influencing them—in such a way, however, that they still retain their immanence and self-possession. In this way, God returns to His essence in the highest degree, for He provides for all, and, because of this providence, in a sense He goes forth and out into all things, although in Himself He remains unmoved and uncontaminated by anything else.
3. A likeness which is a real relation demands a distinction of things. If it is merely a conceptual relation, a distinction of reason between the things which are similar is sufficient.
4. A universal is intelligible in direct proportion to its separation from matter. Hence, those things which have not been separated from matter by an act of our intellect but are, in themselves, free from all matter, are most knowable. Consequently, God is most knowable, even though He is not a universal.
5. God knows, understands, and comprehends Himself, although, absolutely speaking, He is infinite. He is not infinite privatively—as a quantity is infinite, having part after part ad infinitum. If such an infinite had to be known according to the formal character of its infinity, one could never comprehend it; one could never come to its end, for it does not have an end. But God is said to be negatively infinite since His essence is not limited by anything. Now, every form received in a subject is limited according to the capacity of the subject; but since the divine act of existence is not received in a subject, for He is His own act of existence, His act of existence is infinite and, for that very reason, His essence is said to be infinite.
The knowing power of every created intellect is finite, since it is received in some subject. Consequently, our intellect cannot come to know God as clearly as He is capable of being known. Accordingly, our intellect cannot comprehend Him, for it cannot attain that fullness of knowledge which is the meaning of comprehend, as was mentioned above. But the divine essence and its knowing power possess the same infinity, and God’s knowledge is just as powerful as His essence is great. Consequently, He attains a perfect knowledge of Himself and is thus said to have comprehensive knowledge—not because such comprehension imposes some limits on the thing known, but rather because the knowledge is perfect and there is nothing lacking to it.
6. Since our intellect is finite in its nature, it cannot comprehend or perfectly understand anything infinite. Augustine’s reasoning proceeded on the assumption of this limited nature. The nature of the divine intellect, however, is different; so the argument does not follow.
7. If the word God, properly speaking, is given its full meaning, He is finite neither to Himself nor to others. He is said to be finite to Himself merely because He knows Himself as a finite intellect knows a finite thing; for, just as a finite intellect can attain a complete knowledge of a finite thing, so the divine intellect can have a complete knowledge of God Himself. But that characteristic of the infinite by which its end can never be reached is proper to a privative infinite. But this is entirely beside the point.
8. In regard to those perfections which involve quantity, if anything in reference to God has a certain attribute, the consequence is that it has that attribute absolutely. Thus, whatever is great in reference to God is, as a consequence, simply great. But in regard to those terms which involve imperfection, the same thing does not follow. If, for instance, something is small in comparison with God, it is not necessarily, as a consequence, small absolutely. All things are, indeed, nothing in comparison with God, yet they are not absolutely nothing. What is good in the sight of God, therefore, is good absolutely; but it does not follow that what is finite for God is finite absolutely, because finite involves imperfection, but good expresses a perfection. In either case, however, anything which is found in the divine judgment to have a certain Attribute has that attribute absolutely.
9. The statement, “God knows Himself limitedly,” can be understood in two ways. In the first way, limitedly is applied to the thing known, so that God would know Himself to be limited. In this sense the statement is incorrect, for then God’s knowledge would be false. In the second way, limitedly is applied to the knower. Then, two interpretations are possible. Either limitedly means perfectly, so that the knower is said to know limitedly whose knowledge attains its end and, in this sense, God actually does know Himself “limitedly”; or limitedly pertains to the efficacy of cognition—and in this sense God knows Himself, not limitedly, but infinitely, for the extent of the power of His cognition is the infinite itself. However, from the fact that He is finite to himself in the manner described, one cannot conclude that His knowledge of Himself is limited, except in the sense in which this was said to be true.
10. That argument is based on the word infinite being taken as referring to the efficacy of knowledge. Consequently, it is clear that God does not know Himself finitely.
11. The statement that one person can understand more than another may be taken in two ways. In the first, the word more refers primarily to the thing known. In this sense, no one of those who understand understands more than another of the thing understood, provided that it is understood; for whoever attributes more or less to the thing known than is in the nature of the thing is in error and does not, properly speaking, understand. But the word more can also be taken as referring to the manner in which one knows. In this sense, one understands more than another because he understands more clearly—as an angel understands more clearly than a man, and God more than an angel, because of a greater power of understanding. We must similarly distinguish another phrase assumed in this proof, that is, “to know a thing other than as it is.” For, if the word other refers primarily to the thing known, then no one who understands knows a thing other than it is; for this would be to understand it to be in some other way than it is. If the word otber, however, refers to the manner by which one knows, then everyone who understands a material thing knows it other than it is, because a thing having a material act of existence is understood only in an immaterial way.
In the third article we ask:
does God know things other than himself?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 14, 5; I Sent., 35, 2; C.G., I, 48-49; X11 Metaph., lect. 11, nn. 2614-16; De causis, lects. 10, 13 (P. 21:736b seq.; 741a); Comp. Theol., I, cc. 132-35.]
It seems that He does not, for
1. The known is a perfection of the knower. But nothing distinct from God Himself can be His perfection; otherwise, something would be more noble than He is. Therefore, He can know nothing distinct from Himself.
2. But it was said that in so far as a thing or creature is known by God, it is one with Him.—On the contrary, a creature is one with God only inasmuch as it is in Him. Hence, if God knows a creature only as it is one with Him, He will know it only as it is in Him, and not as it is in its own nature.
3. If the divine intellect knows a creature, it knows it either through its essence or through something extrinsic. If it knows it through some extrinsic medium, then, since every medium of knowing is a perfection of the knower, because it is his form as knower (as is evident of the species of a stone in the pupil of the eye), it would follow that something extrinsic to God would be one of His perfections. But this is absurd. On the other hand, if He knows a creature through His own essence, since His essence is something distinct from the creature, it will follow that from knowing one thing He will know another. Now, every intellect that knows one thing from another is one which discourses and reasons. Consequently, there is discursive thought in the divine intellect, and, therefore, imperfection. But this is absurd.
4. The medium through which a thing is known ought to be proportionate to that which is known through it. But the divine essence is not proportionate to a creature since it infinitely surpasses it, and there is no proportion between the infinite and the finite. Therefore, by knowing His own essence, God cannot know a creature.
5. The Philosopher’ proves that God knows only Himself. Now, only means “not with something else.” Therefore, He does not know things other than Himself.
6. If God knows things other than Himself, since He knows Him. self, He knows either Himself and other things also under the same formal aspect or Himself under one formal aspect and other things under another. If He knows both under the same formal aspect, then, since He knows Himself through His own essence, it follows that He knows other things through their essence. But this is impossible. However, if He knows one under one formal aspect and the other under another, then, since the knowledge of the knower is specified by the formal aspect under which the thing is known, there would be multiplicity and diversity in the divine cognition; but this is repugnant to the divine simplicity. Therefore, God does not know a creature in any way whatsoever.
7. A creature is farther removed from God than the person of the Father is from the nature of the Godhead. But God does not know that He is God in the same act that He knows that He is the Father, for, when it is said that He knows He is the Father, the notion of Father is included, which is not included in the statement, “He knows that He is God.” Much more is it true, then, that, if God knows a creature, He will know Himself under a different formality than that under which He will know the creature. This, however, would be absurd, as is proved above in the sixth difficulty.
8. The principles of being and of knowing are the same. But, as Augustine says, the Father is not the Father by the same principle that He is God. Therefore, the Father does not know that He is the Father by the same principle that He knows He is God, and much more so the Father does not know Himself and a creature by the same principle—if He does know any creatures.
9. Knowledge is an assimilation of the knower to the thing known. But the least possible likeness exists between God and a creature. Therefore, God has the least possible knowledge, or none at all, of creatures.
10. Whatever God knows He beholds. But, as Augustine says: “God does not behold anything outside Himself.” Therefore, He does not know anything outside Himself.
11. A creature is compared to God as a point to a line. Hence, Trismegistus says— “God is an intelligible sphere, whose center is every, where, and whose circumference is nowhere”. and by its center, as Alanus explains, he means a creature. Now, a line loses none of its quantity if a point is taken from it. Hence, the divine perfection loses none of its perfection if knowledge of a creature is taken from it. But whatever is in God pertains to His perfection, since nothing is in Him as an accident. Consequently, He does not have any knowledge of creatures.
12. Whatever God knows He knows from eternity, since His knowledge does not vary. Now, whatever He knows is a being, for knowledge is only of being. Hence, whatever He knows existed from eternity. But no creature existed from eternity. Consequently, He knows no creature.
13. Whatever is perfected by something else has a passive potency in regard to that thing, because perfection is, as it were, a form of that which is perfected. But God does not have any passive potency in Himself, for this is a principle of change, which is far removed from God. Therefore, God is not perfected by anything other than Himself. Now, the perfection of a knower depends on the object of his knowledge, for his perfection consists in his actual knowing; and this is only something that can be known. Therefore, God does not know anything other than Himself.
14. As is said in the Metaphysics, “The mover is prior by nature to what is moved. But, as is said in the same place, just as the object of sense moves the sense, so the object of the intellect moves the intellect. Therefore, if God were to know something other than Himself, it would follow that something were prior to Him. But this is absurd.
15. Whatever is known causes some delight in the knower. Hence, it is said in the Metaphysics: “All men naturally desire knowledge. An indication of this is the delight of the senses...”—as some books have this passage. If, therefore, God knew something other than Himself, that something would be a cause of delight in Him. But this is absurd.
16. Nothing is known except through the nature of being. But a creature possesses more non-existence than existence, as is evident from Ambrose and from the sayings of many saints. Hence, a creature is more known than known to God.
17. Nothing is apprehended unless it has the character of truth, just as nothing is desired unless it has the character of goodness. But in Scripture visible creatures are compared to lies, as is evident in Sirach (34:2): “The man that giveth heed to lying visions is like to him that catcheth at a shadow and followeth after the wind.” Therefore, creatures are more unknown than known.
18. However, it was noted that a creature is said to be a non-being only in comparison with God.—On the contrary, a creature is known by God only in so far as it is compared with Him. Therefore, if a creature, as compared with God, is a lie and a non-being, then it is unknowable and cannot be known by God in any way whatsoever.
19. Nothing is in the intellect that was not previously in sense. But in God there is no sensitive cognition, because this is material. Therefore, He does not know created things, since they were not previously in His sense.
2o. Things are known most thoroughly by a knowledge of their causes, especially of those that are the cause of the thing’s act of existence. But of the four causes, the efficient and final are the causes of a thing’s becoming. Form and matter, however, are causes of a thing’s existence because they enter into the thing’s constitution. God, however, is only the efficient and final cause of things; hence, what He knows about creatures is very little.
To the Contrary
1. The Epistle to the Hebrews (4:13) says: “All things are naked and open to his eyes...”
2. When one of two related things is known, the other is known. Ilut a principle and that which arises from the principle are said to be related. Therefore, since God is the principle of things through His essence, by knowing His essence He knows creatures.
3. God is omnipotent. For the same reasons, He should be said to be omniscient. Hence, He knows not only delightful but also useful things.
4. Anaxagoras affirmed the existence of an intellect that was unmixed so that it could know all things; and for this he is praised by the Philosopher. But the divine intellect is unmixed and pure in the highest possible degree. Therefore, God knows all things in the highest possible degree, not only Himself but things other than Himself.
5. The more simple a substance is, the more it can comprehend a number of forms. Now, God is the most simple substance there is. Hence, He can comprehend the forms of all things, and consequently He knows all things, not merely Himself.
6. A cause always contains the perfection of its effect in a higher degree. But God is the cause of knowing for all who know; for He is the “light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world” (John 1:9). Therefore, He knows creatures in the highest possible degree.
71. Augustine proves that nothing is loved unless it is known. But God “loveth all things that are “ (Wisdom 11:25). Hence, He knows all things.
8. The Psalmist asks rhetorically: “He that formed the eye, doth he not consider?” (Psalms 93:9), implying the answer “Yes.” Consequently, God Himself, who has made all things, considers and knows all things.
9. The following is also found in the Psalms (32:15): “He who hath made the hearts of every one of them: who understandeth all their works.” Now, the person referred to is God, the maker of hearts. Therefore, He knows the works of men, and thus things other than Himself.
10. The same conclusion must be drawn from what is said elsewhere in the Psalms (135:5): “Who made the heavens in understanding”; for, as the Psalmist says, He knew the heavens which He created.
11. When a cause, especially a formal cause, is known, the effect is known. Now, God is the formal exemplary cause of creatures. Therefore, since He knows Himself, He also knows creatures.
Undoubtedly, it must be granted that God knows not only Himself but also all other things. This can be proved in the following manner. Whatever naturally tends toward another must have this tendency from someone directing it toward its end; otherwise, it would tend toward it merely by chance. Now, in the things of nature we find a natural appetite by which each and every thing tends toward its end. Hence, we must affirm the existence of some intellect above natural things, which has ordained natural things to their end and implanted in them a natural appetite or inclination. But a thing cannot be ordained to any end unless the thing itself is known, together with the end to which it is ordained. Hence, there must be a knowledge of natural things in the divine intellect from which the origin and the order of nature come. The Psalmist suggests this proof when he says: “He that formed the eye, doth he not consider?” (Psalms 93:9); for, as Rabbi Moses points out, it is as if the Psalmist had said: “Does He not consider the nature of the eye—who has made it to be proportioned to its end, which is its act of seeing?”“ But now we must further consider the manner by which He knows creatures.
It should be understood, therefore, that, since every agent acts to the extent that it is in act, that which is effected by the agent must in some way exist in the agent. This is the reason why every agent causes something similar to itself. Now, whatever is in another is in it according to the manner of the recipient. Hence, if the active principle is material, the effect is in it somehow materially, because it is, as it were, in a material power. If the active principle is immaterial, however, its effect will also be in it immaterially.
Now, as we have said earlier, a thing is known by another in so far as it is received immaterially by that other. Consequently, active material principles do not know their effects, because these latter do not exist in them in a manner in which they could be known; but in immaterial active principles the effects are present in a manner in which they are knowable, since they are there immaterially. Therefore, every immaterial active principle knows its own effect. This is why it is said in The Causes: “An intelligence knows what is below it in so far as it is its cause.” Therefore, since God is the immaterial active principle of things, it follows that in Him there is knowledge of things.
Answers to Difficulties
1. The known is a perfection of the knower, not by its substance (for the thing is outside the knower), but rather by the likeness by which it is known; for a perfection exists in the perfected—and the likeness of the stone, not the stone, exists in the soul. Now, the likeness of the thing known exists in the intellect in two ways: sometimes as something other than the knower himself, at other times as the very essence of the knower. For example, our intellect, by knowing itself, knows other intellects in so far as it is itself a likeness of other intellects; but the likeness of a stone in the intellect is not the very essence of intellect; in fact, this likeness is received somewhat as a form is received in matter. Now, this form, which is other than the intellect, is sometimes the cause of the thing whose likeness it is. We have an evident example of this in the practical intellect, whose form is the cause of the thing done. But sometimes this form is the effect of the thing, as is clearly the case with our speculative intellect when it receives its knowledge from things.
Therefore, whenever an intellect knows a thing through a likeness which is not the essence of the knower, then the intellect is perfected by something other than itself; but if that likeness should happen to he the cause of the tiling, in that case the intellect will be perfected only by the likeness, and not at all by the thing whose likeness it is. For example, a house is not the perfection of the artistic conception, but rather the contrary. On the other hand, if the likeness is caused by the thing, then the perfection of the intellect will be, as it were, the thing in an active sense, but its likeness in a formal sense. However, when the likeness of the thing known is the very essence of the knower, the intellect is not perfected by something other than itselfexcept, perhaps, actively, as would be the case if its essence were produced by another. But because the knowledge of the divine intellect is not caused by things and neither the likeness by which it knows the thing nor its own essence is caused by another, it by no means follows from the fact that God knows things other than Himself that His intellect is perfected by something else.
2. God does not know other things only inasmuch as they exist in Him, if inasmuch as refers to His knowledge from the point of view of the thing known, because, in regard to things, He knows not only the act of being which they have inasmuch as they are one with Him, but also the act of being which they have outside of Him, and by which they are distinguished from Him. However, if inasmuch as specifies His knowledge from the point of view of the knower, then it is true that God knows things only inasmuch as they are in Him; for He knows them from their likeness, which is identical in reality with Himself.
3. The manner in which God knows creatures is by their existence within Himself. An effect existing in any efficient cause whatsoever is not other than that cause if there is question of a thing which is a cause in itself. For example, a house existing in the conception of the artist is not other than that conception itself; for an effect is in an active principle simply inasmuch as the active principle produces an effect similar to itself, and this active principle is the very thing by which the artist acts. Consequently, if some active principle acts only through its form, its effect is in it in so far as it has that form, and its effect will not exist in the principle as something distinct from its form. Similarly, since God acts through His essence, His effect is not in Him as something distinct from His essence; but it is entirely one with it. Therefore, His knowledge of an effect is not distinct from His own essence.
Nevertheless, from the fact that He knows His effect by knowing His own essence, it does not follow that there is any discursive reasoning in His intellect; for an intellect is said to reason from one thing to another only if it apprehends each by distinct apprehensions. Thus, the human intellect apprehends a cause and an effect by distinct acts; and since it knows an effect through its cause, it is said to reason from the cause to the effect. When, however, the knowing power is directed by the same act to the medium by which it knows and to the thing known, then there is no discursive process in knowing. For example, when sight knows a stone by means of the species of stone in this sense, or when it knows by means of a mirror a thing reflected in the mirror, it is not said to reason discursively; for to be directed to the likeness of a thing is the same as to be directed to the thing which is known through this likeness. It is in this manner that God knows His effects through His essence—just as a thing is known through its likeness. Therefore, with one cognition He knows Himself and other things. Dionysius agrees when he speaks as follows: “God does not have a proper knowledge of Himself and another general knowledge that comprehends all existing things.” Consequently, there is no discourse in God’s intellect.
4. A thing is said to be proportionate to another in two ways. In one way, a proportion is noted between the two things. For example, we say that four is proportioned to two since its proportion to two is double. In the second way, they are proportioned as by a proportionality. For example, we say that six and eight are proportionate because, just as six is the double of three, so eight is the double of four; for proportionality is a similarity of proportions. Now, since in every proportion a relation is noted between those things that are said to be proportioned because of some definite excess of one over the other, it is impossible for any infinite to be proportionate to a finite by way of proportion. When, however, things are said to be proportionate by way of proportionality, their relation to each other is not considered. All that is considered is the similarity of the relation of two things to two other things. Thus, nothing prevents an infinite from being proportionate to an infinite; for, just as a particular finite is equal to a certain finite, so an infinite is equal to another infinite. In this way, there should be a medium that is proportionate to that which is known by the medium. Consequently, just as the medium is related to the act of demonstrating, so that which is known through the medium is related to the act of being demonstrated. Thus, nothing prevents the divine essence from being the medium by which a creature is known.
5. A thing is understood intellectually in two ways. First, it is understood in itself, as happens when the regard of the beholder is shaped directly by the thing itself, which is understood or known. Second, a thing is seen in something else; and, when this latter is known, it itself is known. God, therefore, knows only Himself in Himself; but He does not know other things in themselves except by knowing His own essence. This is what the Philosopher meant when he said that God knows only Himself; and the following statement of Dionysius is quite in agreement: “God knows things that come to be, not by a knowledge of such things, but by His knowledge of Himself.”
6. If the formal aspect under which knowledge occurs is considered here from the point of view of the knower, then God knows Himself and other things under the same formal aspect; for the knower, the act of knowing, and the medium of knowing are all the same. But, if we consider the formal aspect from the point of view of the thing known, then He does not know Himself and other things under the same formal aspect; for the relation of Himself and of other things to the medium by which He knows is not the same; for He is the same as that medium by His essence, while other things are “the same” as the medium merely because of their resemblance to it. Therefore, He knows Himself through His essence, but other things through a likeness. However, that which is His essence and that which is the likeness of other things is the same reality.
7. If we consider the knower, it is entirely true that God knows that He is God and that He is the Father by the same act of knowing. But He does not know both by the same act of knowing if we consider that which is known; for He knows that He is God by the Godhead, and that He is the Father by His paternity. This latter, according to our manner of understanding, is not the same as the Godhead, although they are one in reality.
8. If we consider only the thing known, that which is the principle of its existence is also the principle of its being known, because a thing is knowable by means of its principles. But if we consider the knower, then that by which a thing is known is a likeness of the thing or of its principles. This likeness is not a principle of the existence of the thing, except in practical knowledge.
9. There are two ways of considering the mutual likeness between two things. First, we can consider them inasmuch as they agree in a common nature. Such a likeness between the knower and the known is not required; indeed, we sometimes see that the smaller the likeness, the sharper the cognition. For example, there is less resemblance between the intellectual likeness of a stone and the stone than there is between the sense likeness and the stone, for the intellectual likeness is farther removed from matter; yet the intellect knows more profoundly than sense.
Secondly, the likeness between two things can be considered from the point of view of representation. Such a likeness of the knower to the thing known is necessary. Therefore, although there is the least possible likeness between a creature and God in regard to agreement in nature, there is, on the other hand, the greatest possible likeness between them inasmuch as the divine essence most clearly represents the creature. Consequently, the divine intellect knows a thing most perfectly.
10. The statement that God beholds nothing outside Himself should be taken as referring to that in which God beholds, not to that which He beholds; for that in which He beholds all things is Himself.
11. Although a line loses none of its quantity if an actual point is taken from it, if we take from a line its essential property of terminating in a point, the very substance of the line perishes. The same principle is also true of God; for, while nothing will be detracted from God if a creature of His is supposed as not existing, His perfection will be destroyed if His power of producing a creature is taken from Him. For He knows things, not only inasmuch as they actually exist, but also inasmuch as they are within His power.
12. Although knowledge has only being for its object, it is not necessary that what is known should be a real being at the time in which it is known; for, just as we know things that are distant in place, we also know things distant in time, as is evident from our knowledge of things past. Hence, it is not inconsistent to affirm a knowledge of God that is about things that are not eternal.
13. The word perfection, if taken strictly, cannot be used of God, for nothing is perfected unless it is made. Perfection, however, is used more negatively of God than positively. Hence, He is said to be perfect because nothing at all is lacking to Him, not because there is something in Him which was in potency to perfection and is perfected by something else which is its act. Consequently, there is no passive potency in God.
14. What is understood or sensed moves the sense or intellect only if the sense knowledge or intellectual knowledge is received from things. Divine cognition is not of this kind; hence, the argument does not follow.
15. According to the Philosopher, the delight of the intellect arises from its agreeable operation. Hence, he says: “God delights in one simple operation.” Therefore, the object of the intellect is the cause of intellectual delight in so far as it is the cause of an intellectual operation; and it is this in so far as it produces its likeness in the intellect, so that by it the activity of the intellect may be informed. Hence, it is clear that the thing which is understood causes delight in the intellect only when the intellect’s knowledge is received from things. This is not true of the divine intellect.
16. The term to be, taken simply and absolutely, is understood only of the divine existence. This is also true of the good; and for this reason it is said in Luke (18:19): “None is good but God alone.” Hence, the more closely a creature approaches God, the more it possesses of the act of existence; the further it is from Him, the more it possesses of non-existence. But, since a creature approaches God only in so far as it participates in a finite act of existence, yet its distance from God is always infinite, it is said to have more non-existence than existence. However, since the act of existing which it has is from God, it is known by God.
17, In line with the preceding answer, a visible creature possesses truth only in so far as it approaches the first truth. As Avicenna says, it possesses falsity in so far as it falls short of it.
18. A thing is compared to God in two ways: first, according to a common measurement, and then a creature, when compared with God, is found to be almost nothing at all; second, according to its dependence upon God, from whom it receives its act of existing. In this latter way, it is compared with God only with respect to its act of existing, and in this way, also, it cad be known by God.
19. That axiom is to be understood as applying only to our intellect, which receives its knowledge from things. For a thing is led by gradual steps from its own material conditions to the immateriality of the intellect through the mediation of the immateriality of sense. Consequently, whatever is in our intellect must have previously been in the senses. This, however, does not take place in the divine intellect.
20. It is true, as Avicenna says, that a natural agent is a cause only of becoming. This is evident from the fact that, when such a cause ceases to exist, a thing does not cease to be, but merely ceases to become. But since the divine agent imparts the act of existence to things, He is the cause of their existence, although He does not enter into their constitution. Yet He has a certain resemblance to the essential principles which enter into the constitution of a thing, and for this reason He knows not only the becoming of a thing, but also its act of existing and its essential principles.
In the fourth article we ask:
Does God have proper and determinate knowledge of things?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 14, 6; I Sent., 3 5, 3; C.G., I, 50; De pot., 6, 1, c.; De causis, lectio 10 (P. 21:737a); Comp. Theol., I, cc. 132-35.]
It seems that He does not, for
1. As Boethius says, the object of cognition is “universal as long as it is understood, singular as long as it is sensed.”’ Now, since there is no sensitive knowledge in God, but only intellectual knowledge, God has only universal knowledge of things.
2. If God knows creatures, He knows them either by many or by one species. If He knows them by many, His knowledge as it is in the knower will be multiplied, because that by which one knows is in the knower. If He knows creatures by one species, and it is impossible to have proper and distinct knowledge of many things by means of one species, it would seem that God does not have proper knowledge of things.
3. God is the cause of things in so far as He imparts the act of existing to them—just as fire is the cause of warm things from the fact that it pours heat into them. Now, if fire could know itself, by knowing its own heat, it would know other things only in so far as they are warm. Consequently, by knowing His own essence, God knows other things only inasmuch as they are beings. That, however, is not proper knowledge of things, but a most universal knowledge of things. Therefore, God does not have proper knowledge of things.
4. Proper knowledge of a thing can be had only through a species which comprises nothing more or nothing less than is in the thing itself. For, just as the color green would be imperfectly known by means of a species that fell short of it,—for example, the species of black—so also would green be imperfectly known by a species that went beyond it—for example, the species of white. For in white, the nature of color is found to exist most perfectly; therefore, whiteness, as is said in the Metaphysics, is the measure of all colors. Now, in the measure in which God surpasses a creature, in that measure the creature falls short of God. Therefore, since the divine essence can in no way be known properly and completely by means of a creature, neither can a creature be known properly by means of the divine essence. God, however, knows creatures only through His essence. Therefore, He does not have proper knowledge of them.
5. Any medium that causes proper knowledge of a thing can be used as the middle term of a demonstration whose conclusion will be that thing. The divine essence, however, does not stand in such a relation to a creature; otherwise, creatures would exist whenever the divine essence existed. Consequently, by knowing creatures through His essence, God does not have proper knowledge of things.
6. If God knows a creature, He knows it either in its own nature or in an idea. If He knows it in its own nature, then the proper nature of a creature is the means by which God knows a creature. But the medium of knowing is a perfection of the knower; hence, the-nature of a creature would be a perfection of the divine intellect. This, of course, is absurd. On the other hand, if God knows a creature in an idea, since the idea is more removed from a thing than are the essentials or accidentals of the thing, God’s knowledge of a thing will be less than that knowledge which is had through its essentials or accidentals. But all proper knowledge of a thing is had through its essential constituents or accidents, because, as is said in The Soul: “Even accidents contribute in a great part to our knowledge of what a things. Consequently, God does not have proper knowledge of things.
7. Proper knowledge of any particular thing cannot be had through a universal medium. For example, we cannot have proper knowledge of man by means of “animal.” But the divine essence is the most universal medium possible, since it is the universal medium for knowing all things. Therefore, God cannot have proper knowledge of creatures by means of His essence.
8. The type of knowledge is determined by its medium of knowing. Therefore, proper knowledge can be had only through a proper medium. The divine essence, however, cannot be the proper medium of knowing a particular creature, because, if it were proper to that one, it would not be the medium of knowing anything else; for what belongs to this creature and to that is common to both and not proper to either. Therefore, God does not have proper knowledge of creatures by knowing through His own essence.
9. Dionysius says that God knows “material things immaterially and many things as united,” or, in other words, distinct things indistinctly. Now, since this is the kind of knowledge by which God knows things, He has merely indistinct knowledge of things, and therefore He does not properly know this or that.
To the Contrary
1. No one can distinguish between things if he does not have proper knowledge of them. But God has that kind of knowledge of creatures which distinguishes between them; for He knows that this creature is not that creature. Otherwise, He could not give each creature according to its own capacity or reward each person according to his merits by passing a just judgment upon men’s actions. Therefore, God has proper knowledge of things.
2. Nothing imperfect should be attributed to God. But that kind of knowledge by which something is known in merely a general way and not in particular is imperfect knowledge, for it lacks something. Therefore, divine knowledge of things is not merely general but also particular.
3. God, who is most happy, would be most stupid if it were true that He does not know what we know about things. The Philosopher regards such a position as inconsistent.
From the fact that God ordains a thing to its end one can prove that God has proper knowledge of things; for a thing can be ordained to its proper end only through knowledge of its proper nature, according to which it has a determinate relation to that end. How this is possible we must consider as follows.
By knowing a cause, we know the effect only inasmuch as the effect follows from the cause. Therefore, if there is some universal cause whose action is not determined to any effect except through the intermediate action of some particular cause, from the knowledge of such a common cause we will not have proper knowledge of the effect but merely a general knowledge of it. For example, the action of the sun is determined to the production of this plant through the intermediate action of a germinating force which is either in the ground or in the seed. Consequently, if the sun could know itself, it would not have a proper knowledge of this plant but only a general knowledge, unless it also knew the proper causes of the plant. Therefore, in order to have proper and perfect knowledge of any effect, the knower must have assembled in himself complete knowledge of the proper and common causes. This is also what the Philosopher says: “We are said to know a thing when we know its first causes and its first principles down to its elements,” that is, down to its proximate causes, as the Commentator explains.
Now, we say that something is known to God inasmuch as He is its cause through His essence. In this way a thing is in Him and can be known by Him. Therefore, since He is the cause of all proper and common causes, through His essence He knows all proper and common causes; for there is in a thing, determining its common nature, nothing of which God is not the cause. Consequently, the reason for His knowledge of the common nature of things is the very same as the reason for His knowledge of the proper nature and proper causes of each individual thing. Dionysius gives the same explanation when he writes: “If according to one cause God gives being to all existing things, then He knows all things according to that same cause”“—and further on: “For the cause of all, knowing itself, would be idle somewhere if it did not know those things that are from it and whose cause it is.” Idle here means to fall short of causing something that is found in a thing; and it would follow that God would be idle in this sense were He ignorant of any of the realities that exist in a thing.
Thus, it is clear from what has been said that all the examples induced to show that God knows all things in Himself are faulty—like that of the point, which, if it could know itself, would (according to the example) know lines, and that of light, which, by knowing itself, would know colors. For not everything in a line can be reduced to a point as to its cause, nor can everything in color be reduced to light. Consequently, if a point knew itself, it would know the line only in a general way; and light would know color similarly. This is not the case with divine knowledge, as is clear from what has been said in the preceding article.
Answers to Difficulties
1. That statement of Boethius should be understood as referring to our intellect, not to the divine intellect, which can know singulars, as will be explained later.” However, even though our intellect does not know singulars, it has proper knowledge of things by knowing them according to their distinctive specific characters. Consequently, even if the divine intellect did not know singulars, it could nevertheless have proper knowledge of things.
2. God knows all things by one principle, for that principle has the intelligible character of many. This principle is His essence, which is the likeness of all things; and since His essence is the proper intelligible character of each and every thing, He has proper knowledge of all things. How one thing can be both the proper and the common intelligible character of many things may be explained as follows.
The divine essence is the intelligible character of a thing inasmuch as that thing imitates the divine essence. No created thing, however, fully imitates the divine essence. For, if so, there would be only one such imitation, and the divine essence considered in that way would be the proper intelligible character of only one being, just as there is only one image of the Father which perfectly imitates Him, and that is the Son. However, since a created thing imperfectly imitates the divine essence, it happens that different things imitate it in different ways; yet every one of them has been produced according to a likeness of the divine essence. Thus, whatever is proper to each finds in the divine essence that which it imitates. In this respect, the divine essence is the likeness of a thing, even in regard to what is proper to it. Similarly, it is the proper intelligible character of that thing, and, for the same reason, the proper character of another thing, and also of all other things. Therefore, it is the common character of all things in so far as it is the one thing which all things imitate; but it is the proper character of this or that thing inasmuch as things imitate it in different ways. In this way the divine essence causes proper knowledge of each and every thing, for it is the proper intelligible character of all.
3. Fire is not the cause of warm things with respect to everything found in them, as is the case with the divine essence, as we have pointed out.* Hence, there is no parallel.
4. Whiteness surpasses green with respect to one of the two things that belong to the nature of color, namely, light, which is, as it were, the formal element in the composition of color. In this respect, whiteness is the measure of all colors. But there is something else in colors which is, as it were, their material element, namely, the determination of the transparent medium. In this respect, whiteness is not the measure of colors; and thus it is clear that everything contained in the other colors does not exist in the species of whiteness. Consequently, proper knowledge of any of the other colors cannot be had through the species of whiteness. This is not the case with the divine essence. Moreover, in the divine essence, other things exist as in their cause; but other colors do not exist in whiteness as in their cause. Hence, there is no parallel.
5. Demonstration is a type of argumentation accomplished by a discursive process of the intellect. The divine intellect, which is not discursive, does not know its effects through its essence as if by demonstration, even though it has more certain knowledge of things by means of its essence than one who demonstrates has by means of his demonstration. Besides, if anyone could comprehend God’s essence, through it he would know the nature of each individual thing with greater certainty than a conclusion is known by means of demonstration. Nevertheless, it does not follow from the fact that God’s essence is eternal that His effects are eternal; for His effects are not in His essence in such a way that they should always exist in themselves but merely that they should exist at some time, whenever the divine wisdom has determined.
6. God knows things in their proper nature if that restriction refers to His knowledge from the point of view of the thing known. However, if we are speaking of His knowledge on the part of the knower, then God knows things in an idea, that is, through an idea which is the likeness of all things existing in reality, both accidental and essential, although the idea itself is neither an accident nor the-essence of the thing. In the same manner, our intellectual likeness of a thing is neither essential nor accidental to the thing itself, but it nevertheless is a likeness of the thing’s essence or accident.
7. The divine essence is a universal medium as though it were a universal cause. The relation of a universal cause to the production of knowledge is quite different from that of a universal form. For in a universal form the effect is, as it were, in material potency, somewhat as differences are in a genus after the analogy of forms in matter, as Porphyry says. However, effects are in a cause in an active potency, just as a house exists in the mind of the architect in active potency. Now, since everything is known in so far as it is in act, and not in so far as it is in potency, the fact that the differences specifying a genus are in it potentially does not suffice for proper knowledge of a species through the generic form. But since what is proper to a thing exists in some active cause, it is sufficient to know that thing through that cause. Consequently, a house is not known by means of its wood and stones as it is known by means of the form of it which is in the architect. Since the proper conditions of each and every thing, are in God as in its active cause, even though His essence is a universal medium, it can give proper knowledge of all things.
8. The divine essence is both a common and a proper medium, but not in the same respect, as has been said.
9. When it is said that “God knows distinct things indistinctly,” the statement is true if indistinctly qualifies the knowing from the point of view of the knower; for with one cognition God knows all things. This is how Dionysius understands the statement. On the other hand, if it qualifies the knowing in regard to what is known, the statement is false; for God knows the distinction of one thing from another, and also that by which one thing is distinguished from another. Therefore, He has proper knowledge of each and every thing.
In the fifth article we ask:
Does God know singular things?
[Parallel readings: De ver., 19, 2; S.T., I, 14, 11; 89,4; I Sent., 36, 1, 1; II Sent., 3, 3, 3; C.G., I, cc. 50, 63,65; Q.D. de anima, aa. 5, 20; Comp. Theol., I, cc. 132-35; Perih., lect. 14, n. 16 seq.; De subst. sep., cc. 11-12 (Perr. 1:nn. 68-76).]
It seems that He does not, for
1. Our intellect does not know singulars because it is separated from matter. But the divine intellect is much more separated from matter than ours. Hence, it does not know singulars.
2. It was noted, however, that our intellect does not know singulars, not only because it is separated from matter, but also because it abstracts its knowledge from things.—On the contrary, our intellect cannot receive anything from things without the mediation of sense or imagination. Consequently, sense and imagination receive from singular things before our intellect does, yet singulars are known through sense and imagination. Hence, the fact that the intellect receives from things is no reason why it should not know singulars.
3. It was said, however, that from things the intellect receives a form that is entirely purified; but this is not the case with sense and imagination.—On the contrary, it is not by reason of the purifying of the form considered as a starting point that our intellect does not know singulars. Indeed, from this point of view the intellect ought to know singulars all the more, for the assimilative character of intellection comes from the fact that it has received something from reality. It remains, therefore, that what prevents knowledge of singulars is the purifying of the form considered as an end-result, which is the purity that the form has in the intellect. Now, that purity of the form is had only because of the freedom of the intellect from matter; and that is the only reason why our intellect does not know singulars, namely, be cause it is separated from matter. Thus, our point that God does not know singulars is proved.
4. If God knows some singulars, He should know all; for the argument for one is the same as the argument for all. But He does not know all singulars. Therefore, He knows none. The proof of the minor premise is as follows: “Many things,” as Augustine says, meaning despicable things, “it is better not to know than to know.”’ But many singulars are worthless. Since everything which is better should always be attributed to God, it seems that He does not know all singulars.
5. All knowledge takes place through an assimilation of the knower with what is known. But there is no assimilation between singulars and God, for singulars are changeable and material, and have many other qualities of this sort, whose complete contraries are in God. Therefore, God does not know singulars.
6. Whatever God knows, He knows perfectly. But perfect knowledge is not had of a thing unless it is known in the same way as it exists. Now, since God does not know a singular in the same way as it exists, for a singular is material, and God knows immaterially, it seems that God cannot know the singular perfectly, and consequently does not know it at all.
7. But it was said that while perfect knowledge demands that the knower know the thing just as it is, this refers only to what is known, not to the operation of the knower.—On the contrary, knowledge arises from the application of the thing known to the knower. Therefore, the mode of what is known and the mode of the knower should be the same. Thus, the distinction given seems to be invalid.
8. According to the Philosopher, if one wishes to find something, he must previously have some knowledge of it. What he has through some common form is not sufficient, unless that form is contracted by something. For example, one could not well look for a slave he has lost unless he had previously had some knowledge of the slave, otherwise he would not recognize him even when he found him; nor would it be enough to know that the slave was a man, because this would not mark him off from others. He must, instead, have some knowledge particularized by the points that are proper to the slave. Consequently, if God is to know any singular, the common form by which He knows, His essence, must be contracted by something. But since there is nothing in Him by which it can be contracted, it seems that He does not know singulars.
9. It was said, however, that that species through which God knows is common in such a way that it nevertheless is proper to each and every thing.—On the contrary, proper and common are opposed to each other. Therefore, it is impossible that the same reality be both a proper and a common form.
10. The operation of sight is not determined to any one colored thing because of light, which is the medium of sight; it is determined rather by the object, the colored thing itself. But in God’s knowledge, His essence is the medium by which He knows things; for His essence is, as it were, a medium of knowledge, and, as Dionysius says, like a light by which all things are known. Consequently, His knowledge is in no way determined to any singular; thus, He does not know singulars.
11. Since knowledge is a quality, it is a form whose variations change the subject. But knowledge is changed as its objects are changed; for example, if I know that you are sitting, I lose that knowledge when you get up. Hence, the knower is changed when what he knows changes. But God cannot be changed in any way whatsoever. Therefore, He cannot know singulars, which are subject to change.
12. No one can know a singular unless he knows that by which a singular is constituted. But that which makes a singular to be such is matter. God, however, does not know matter. Hence, He does not know singulars. The proof of the minor is as follows: There are, as Boethius and the Commentator say, certain things which are difficult for us to know because of a defect in us—for example, the very things which are most knowable in themselves, immaterial substances. On the other hand, there are other things which are not known because of some defect in them—for example, those that have very little existence, such as motion, time, vacuums, and the like. Now, first matter has a very limited act of existence. Hence, God does not know matter since it is of itself unknowable.
13. But it was said that although matter cannot be known by our intellect, it can be known by the divine intellect.—On the contrary, our intellect knows a thing by means of a likeness received from the thing, but the divine intellect knows it by means of a likeness that is the cause of the thing. Now, a greater conformity is needed between a thing and a likeness which causes that thing than is needed between [that thing and] some other likeness. Therefore, since the deficiency of matter is the reason why our intellects cannot get a likeness sufficient for the knowledge of matter, much more will it be the reason why the divine intellect cannot get a likeness sufficient for the knowledge of matter.
14. According to Algazel, God knows Himself because the three things required for knowledge are found in Him: an intelligent substance separated from matter, an intelligible thing separated from matter, and the union of both. From this it follows that nothing is known unless it is separated from matter. Now, a singular as such cannot be separated from matter. Hence, it cannot be understood.
15. Knowledge is an intermediary between the knower and the object; and the more knowledge moves away from the knower, the more imperfect it is. Now, whenever knowledge is directed to something outside the knower, it rushes out, as it were, to something external. But, since divine knowledge is most perfect, it does not seem that it should be about singulars, which are outside of God.
16. The act of knowledge essentially depends upon the knowing power, but just as essentially upon the thing known. But it is out of place to say that an act of divine knowledge, which is God’s essence, essentially depends on something outside of itself. Hence, it is inadmissible to say that He knows singulars, which are outside of Him.
17. Whatever is known is known according to the manner in which it is in the knower, as Boethius says. But things exist in God immaterially and, hence, without the concretion of matter and material conditions. Therefore, He does not know those things which depend upon matter, such as singulars.
To the Contrary
1. We read in the first Epistle to the Corinthians (13:12): “But then I shall know even as I am known.” Now, the Apostle who was speaking was a singular. Therefore, singulars are known by God.
21. As is clear from what was said earlier,” things are known by God in so far as He is their cause. But since He is the cause of singulars, He must know them.
3. It is impossible to know the nature of an instrument without knowing the purpose for which the instrument is ordained. Now, senses are certain powers ordained as instruments to knowledge of singular things. If God did not know singulars, He would also be ignorant of the nature of the senses, and, as a consequence, of the nature of the human intellect, whose object is the forms in the imagination. This, however, is absurd.
4. God’s wisdom is equal to His power. Therefore, whatever falls under His power falls under His knowledge. Now, His power extends itself to the production of singulars. Consequently, His knowledge extends itself to a knowledge of the same.
5. As was said above, God’s knowledge of things is proper and distinct. But this could not be true if He did not know the factors which distinguish one thing from another. He knows, therefore, the singular conditions of each and every thing, by which one thing is distinguished from another; consequently, He knows singulars in their singularity.
There have been many errors in connection with this problem. Some, as the Commentator mentions, have simply denied that God knows singulars, except, perhaps, in general. These persons wish to confine the nature of the divine intellect within the limits of our own. But this error can be destroyed by the reasoning used by the Philosopher against Empedocles; for if—as would follow from what Empedocles had said—God were ignorant of that which others knew, God would be most stupid, although He Himself is most happy and, for this reason, most wise. The same thing would be true if it were asserted that God did not know the singulars which all of us know.
Therefore, others, such as Avicenna and his followers, have said that God knows every singular, but universally, as it were, in knowing all the universal causes from which a singular is produced. An astronomer, for example, knowing all the motions of the heavens and the distances between the celestial bodies, would know every eclipse that will occur even for the next hundred years, yet he would not know any one eclipse as a distinct singular so as to have evidential knowledge that it actually exists or not—which a country bumpkin has when he sees an eclipse. It is in this manner, they say, that God knows singulars: He does not, as it were, see them in their singular nature but through knowledge of universal causes. But neither can this opinion stand; for from universal causes there follow only universal forms, unless something intervenes through which these forms are individuated. But from a number of universal forms gathered together—no matter how great this number may be—no singular can be constituted, because the collection of these forms can still be understood to be in many. Therefore, if one were to know an eclipse by means of universal causes in the manner described above, he would know, not a singular, but only a universal. For a universal cause has as proportionate to it a universal effect, and a particular cause, a particular effect. Hence, there would still remain the inadmissible consequence mentioned earlier, that God should be ignorant of singulars.
Therefore, we must simply admit that God knows all singulars, not only in their universal causes, but also each in its proper and singular nature. As proof of this, note that the divine knowledge which God has of things can be compared to the knowledge of an artist, since He is the cause of all things as art is the cause of all works of art. Now, an artist knows a product of his art by means of the form which he has in himself and upon which he models his product. However, he produces his work only with respect to its form—nature has prepared the matter for the works of art. Accordingly, by means of his art, an artist knows his works only under the aspect of the form. Now, every form is of itself universal; and, consequently, by means of his art, a builder knows, indeed, house in general, but not this house or that house, unless he acquires other knowledge of it through his senses. But if the artistic form produced matter as it produces form, then by its means the artist would know his work both under the aspect of its form and under that of its matter. Consequently, since matter is the principle of individuation, he would know it not only in its universal nature but also inasmuch as it is a definite singular. Therefore, since divine art produces not only the form but also the matter, it contains not only the likeness of form but also that of matter. Consequently, God knows things in regard to both their matter and their form; and, therefore, He knows not only universals but also singulars.
But a difficulty still remains. Since everything that is in something is in it according to the manner of that in which it is, and thus the likeness of a thing can be in God only immaterially, how is it that our intellect, because it receives the forms of things in an immaterial way, does not know singulars, yet God knows them?
The reason for this will be clear if we consider the difference between the relation to the thing had by its likeness in our intellect and that had by its likeness in the divine intellect. For the likeness in our intellect is received from a thing in so far as the thing acts upon our intellect by previously acting upon our senses. Now, matter, because of the feebleness of its existence (for it is being only potentially), cannot be a principle of action; hence, a thing which acts upon our soul acts only through its form; consequently, the likeness of a thing which is impressed upon our sense and purified by several stages until it reaches the intellect is a likeness only of the form.
On the other hand, the likeness of things in the divine intellect is one which causes things; for, whether a thing has a vigorous or a feeble share in the act of being, it has this from God alone; and because each thing participates in an act of existence given by God, the likeness of each is found in Him. Consequently, the immaterial likeness in God is a likeness, not only of the form, but also of the matter. Now, in order that a thing be known, its likeness must be in the knower, though it need not be in him in the same manner as it is in reality. Hence, our intellect does not know singulars, because the knowledge of these depends upon matter, and the likeness of matter is not in our intellect. It is not because a likeness of the singular is in our intellect in an immaterial way. The divine intellect, however, can know singulars, since it possesses a likeness of matter, although in an immaterial way.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Besides being separated from matter, our intellect receives its knowledge from things. Consequently, because it does not receive forms materially and, because matter can have no likeness, our intellect does not know singulars. The case is otherwise with the divine intellect, as has been said.
2. Sense and imagination are powers attached to bodily organs. Conscquently, likenesses of things are received in them in a material manner, that is, with material conditions, although without matter. For this reason, they know singulars. The case is otherwise with the intellect. Hence, the argument does not follow.
3. Because of the terminus of the purifying process, it happens that the form is received immaterially; but this alone does not explain why the singular is not known. It is rather because of the very beginning of this process that the likeness of matter is not received into the intellect, but only that of the form. Hence, the argument does not follow.
4. All knowledge, taken in itself, belongs to the class of good things; but it may happen accidentally that the knowledge of certain despicable things is bad, either because it is the occasion of some base action (and for this reason certain knowledge is forbidden) or because some individual might be kept from better things because of certain knowledge; consequently, what is good in itself may harm certain people. This, however, cannot happen to God.
5. For knowledge a likeness of conformity in nature is not required, but only a representative likeness. For example, we are reminded of a certain man merely by a golden statue of him. This argument, however, proceeds on the assumption that knowledge requires a likeness consisting in conformity in nature.
6. The perfection of knowledge consists in knowing the thing to be as it is, not in having the same mode of existence as the thing known in the knower—as we have said repeatedly above.
7. That application of the known to the knower, which causes knowledge, should not be understood by way of identity but rather by way of representation. Therefore, it is not necessary that the mode of the knower and of what is known be the same.
8. That argument would hold if the likeness by which God knows were common in such a way that it could not be proper to each individual thing. That the contrary is true we have shown earlier.
9. The same thing in the same aspect cannot be both common and proper. But how the divine essence, through which God knows all things, is a common likeness of all, yet a proper likeness of each, has been explained above.
10. There are two mediums for physical sight. First, there is the medium under which it knows. This is light, which does not determine sight to any particular object. Second, there is the medium by which it knows, namely, the likeness of the thing known. By this medium, sight is determined to a special object. In divine knowledge, however, the divine essence takes the place of both. Hence, it can cause proper knowledge of individual things.
11. Divine knowledge is in no way changed by a change in the objects of its knowledge. Our knowledge varies when the objects change because it knows with separate conceptions things present, past, and future. Consequently, when Socrates is not sitting, the cognition had of him when he was sitting becomes false. God, however, sees things as present, past, or future in a single intuition. Therefore, no matter how a thing may change, the truth in His intellect remains the same.
12. Those things which possess a defective act of existence fall short of knowability for our intellect for the very reason that they fall short, of the ability to act. But this does not affect the divine intellect, which, as we have said, does not receive its knowledge from things.
13. In the divine intellect, which is the cause of matter, there can exist a likeness of matter which, as it were, leaves its impression upon, the matter. In our intellect, however, a likeness cannot exist that is capable of making us know matter. This is clear from what has been said.
14. Although a singular as such cannot be separated from matter, it can be known by means of a likeness separated from matter, namely, the likeness of matter itself. Consequently, even if it be separated from matter physically, it is not separated from matter representatively.
15. An act of divine knowledge is not something other than God’s essence, for in God intellect and intellectual operation are one and the same, because His action is His essence. His knowledge, therefore, cannot be said to pass outside of Him simply because He knows something other than Himself. Moreover, no action of a cognitive power can be said to pass outside in the way in which acts of physical powers do, which go from the agent into the patient. For knowledge does not mean something flowing from the knower to a thing known, as happens in physical actions. It means, rather, the existence of the thing known in the knower.
16. An act of divine knowledge has no dependence upon the thing known; for the relation implied in divine knowledge does not involve dependence of the knowledge upon the things known, but, rather, the dependence of the thing known upon the knowledge. The opposite is true of us, for the relation implied by the word knowledge when used of us is one that indicates a dependence of our knowledge upon its object. Moreover, the relation of an act of knowledge to its object is not the same as its relation to the power of knowing; for it is supported in its act of existence by the knowing power, not by its object, because the act is in the power but not in the object.
17. A thing is known because it is represented in the knower, not because it exists in him; for the likeness existing in a knowing power is a principle by which a thing is known, not under the aspect of the act of being it has in the knowing power, but under the aspect of the relation it has to the thing known. Consequently, a thing is not known according to the mode of existence which the likeness of the thing has in the knower, but rather according to the manner in which the likeness existing in the intellect represents the thing. Therefore, although the likeness in the divine intellect has an immaterial act of existence, nevertheless, since it is a likeness of matter, it is also a principle of knowing material things and, therefore, singulars.
In the sixth article we ask:
Does the human intellect know singulars?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 86, 1; II Sent., 3, 3, 3, ad 1; IV Sent., 50,1, 3; C.G., I, 65; III De anima, lect. 8, n. 710 seq.; Q.D. De anima, aa. 5, 20; Quodl., VII, 1, 3; Quodl., XII, 8, 11; De prin. individ. (Perr. 1:nn. 1-4).]
It seems that it does, for
1. The human intellect knows by abstracting the form from matter. Now, the abstraction of a form from matter does not destroy its particularity, for mathematics, which abstracts from matter, considers particular lines. Consequently, the fact that our intellect is immaterial does not prevent it from knowing singulars.
2. Singulars are not distinct according to their participation in a common nature, for the fact that many men participate in the species of man makes them one man. Therefore, if our intellect knows only universals, it does not know one singular as distinct from another. Consequently, our intellect would not direct us to those objects of operations in regard to which we are guided by choice; for choice presupposes the distinction of one thing from another.
3. But it was said that our intellect knows singulars inasmuch as it applies the universal form to some particulars.—On the contrary, our intellect cannot apply one thing to another unless it already knows each. Consequently, knowledge of the singular precedes the application of the universal to the singular. Therefore, the above-mentioned application cannot be the reason why our intellect knows the singular.
4. According to Boethius, whatever a lower power can do a higher power can do. Now, as he says in the same place, the intellect is superior to imagination and the imagination is superior to sense. Therefore, since sense knows the singular, our intellect should also know it.
To the Contrary
Boethius says: “What is sensed is singular, what is understood is universal.”
All action is determined by the condition of the form of the agent, the principle of action, just as the process of heating is measured by the amount of heat. Now, the likeness of the thing known, by which the knowing power is informed, is the principle of actual knowledge, just as heat is of heating. Hence, all cognition is necessarily determined by the limitations of the form in the knower. Consequently, since the likeness of a thing existing in our intellect is received as separated from matter and all the conditions of matter, which are the principles of individuation, it follows that our intellect, of itself, does not know singulars but only universals. For every form as such is universal, unless it happens to be a subsistent form, which, from the very fact of its being subsistent, is incommunicable.
It happens, however, that our intellect knows the singular indirectly. For, as the Philosopher says, phantasms are related to our intellect as sensible objects are related to sense and as colors outside the soul are related to sight. Therefore, just as the species in the sense is abstracted from things themselves and by its means the cognition of the sense is extended to the sensible things themselves, so also our intellect abstracts the species from the phantasms, and, by means of this species, its cognition is extended, in a certain sense, to the phantasms.
There is, however, this difference: The likeness in sense is abstracted from the thing as from an object of knowledge, and, consequently, the thing itself is directly known by means of this likeness. The likeness in the intellect, however, is not abstracted from the phantasm as from an object of knowledge but as from a medium of knowledge after the manner in which our sense receives the likeness of a thing which is in a mirror; it is directed to it not as to a thing but rather as to a likeness of a thing. Consequently, from the species which it receives, our intellect is not applied directly to knowing the phantasm but rather the thing whose phantasm is presented. Nevertheless, by a certain reflection our intellect also returns to a knowledge of the phantasm itself when it considers the nature of its act, the nature of the species by which it knows, and, finally, the nature of that from which it has abstracted the species, namely, the phantasm. It is like the case of sight, which is brought through a likeness received from a mirror directly to a knowledge of the thing reflected, but by a sort of reflection to the image itself in the mirror. Therefore, inasmuch as our intellect, through the likeness which it receives from the phantasm, turns back upon the phantasm from which it abstracts the species, the phantasm being a particular likeness, our intellect gets some kind of knowledge of the singular because of its dynamic union with the imagination.
Answers to Difficulties
1. There are two kinds of matter from which abstraction is made: intelligible matter and sensible matter—as is clear from the Metaphysics. I call that matter intelligible which is considered in the nature of a continuum, and sensible, that which is physical matter. Each, however, can be taken in two ways: as designated and as not designated. I call matter designated if it is considered together with the determination of its dimensions, that is, with these or those dimensions. I call it not designated, however, if it is considered without the determination of its dimensions. In this connection, it must be noted that designated matter is the principle of individuation, from which every intellect abstracts inasmuch as it is said to abstract from the here and now. The intellect of the natural Philosopher, however, does not abstract from non-designated sensible matter; for it considers man, flesh, and bone, in whose definitions non-designated sensible matter is included. The intellect of the mathematician, however, abstracts entirely from sensible matter, though not from non-designated intelligible matter. Hence, it is clear that abstraction, which is common to all intellects, makes a form universal.
2. According to the Philosopher, in us the intellect is not the only motive principle. The imagination is also such, and, by its means, the universal knowledge of the intellect is applied to some particular thing to be done. For this reason, the intellect is, as it were, a remote mover, but particular reason and the imagination are proximate movers.
3. Man has prior knowledge of singulars through imagination and sense. Consequently, he can apply his universal intellectual knowledge to a particular; for, properly speaking, it is neither the intellect nor the sense that knows, but man that knows through both—as is clear from The Soul.
4. What a lower power can do a higher power can do; not in the same, but in a more noble, way. Consequently, the intellect knows the same thing that sense knows, but in a more noble, because a more immaterial, way. Hence, it does not follow that the intellect knows the singular if the senses know it.
In the seventh article we ask:
Does God know the singulars now existing or not existing?
This inquiry is occasioned by the position of Avicenna mentioned above. We wish to inquire whether God knows propositions, especially about singulars.
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 14, 14; I Sent., 38, 3; 41, 5; C.G., I, cc. 58-59.]
It seems that He does not, for
1. The divine intellect always remains in the same state; but a singular, inasmuch as now it exists and now it does not exist, has different states. Consequently, the divine intellect does not know whether or not a singular now exists.
2. Those powers of the soul which are indifferent to a thing’s presence or absence—as, for example, the imagination—do not know whether or not a thing exists; this is known only by those powers, such as sense, which do not know absent things as though they were present. Now, the divine intellect is disposed in the same way to things present or absent. Consequently, it does not know whether things exist now or not; it knows merely their natures.
3. According to the Philosopher, the composition signified when a thing is said to be or not to be is not in things but only in the intellect. Now, there can be no composition in the divine intellect. Therefore, God does not know whether or not a thing exists.
4. In the Gospel according to St. John (1:3-4) we read: “What was made, in Him was life. Now, in his explanation of this passage, Augustine says that created things are in God in the way in which a trunk is in the mind of the one who makes it. By means of the mental likeness of the trunk, however, a carpenter does not know whether the trunk exists or not. Consequently, neither does God know whether or not a singular now exists.
5. The more noble knowledge is, the more it resembles God’s knowledge. But the knowledge of an intellect comprehending the definitions of things is more noble than sense knowledge; for, when the intellect defines, it penetrates to the interior of a thing, but sense deals with externals. When the intellect defines, however, it does not know whether a thing exists or not, but simply the nature of the thing. Sense, however, does have such knowledge. It seems, therefore, that that type of knowledge by which only the nature of a thing is known, but not whether a thing exists or not, should be attributed to God.
6. God knows each and every thing by means of the idea He has of it. Now, that idea is indifferent to the existence or the non—existence of the thing. Otherwise, God could not know the future by means of it. God, therefore, does not know whether or not a thing exists.
To the Contrary
1. The more perfect knowledge is, the more conditions it grasps in its object. Now, divine knowledge is most perfect; consequently, it knows a thing according to all its conditions. Therefore, God knows whether or not a thing exists.
2. As we have said above,5 God has a proper and distinct knowledge of things. Now, He would not know things distinctly unless He could distinguish an existing thing from one which does not exist. Therefore, He knows if a thing does or does not exist.
The relation of the universal essence of any species to the essential properties of that species is the same as that of a singular essence to all the proper accidents of that singular, that is, all the accidents found in the singular; for, in so far as they are individuated by the singular, they are made proper to it. Now, by knowing the essence of a species, the intellect comprehends all the essential properties of that species; for, as the Philosopher says, the definition is the principle of any demonstration that concludes to the proper accidents of a subject Therefore, once the proper essence of any singular were known, all the accidents of that singular would also be known. Our intellect, however, cannot know the essence of a singular, because it abstracts from designated matter, which pertains to the essence of a singular and would be placed in its definition if the singular had one. The divine intellect, however, can comprehend not only the universal essence of a species, but, since it can apprehend matter, it can also comprehend the singular essence of each and every thing. Therefore, it knows all accidents, those common to the entire species or genus, as well as those proper to each individual. Among these latter is time, in which every concrete reality is found and according to which a thing is said to exist now or not. Consequently, God knows whether or not each and every thing exists; and He knows all other propositions that can be formed about universals or individuals.
In this respect, however, the divine intellect differs from ours. In order to know a subject and an accident and to know different accidents, our intellect forms separate concepts, and, consequently, passes from knowledie of a substance to knowledge of one of its accident. Again,— in order to know the inherence of one of its accidents, it joins one species with the other, and, in a certain manner, unites them. In this way, the intellect forms propositions in itself. But by one reality, namely, its own essence, the divine intellect knows all substances and all accidents. Consequently, it neither passes from substance to accident nor joins one with the other; but instead of the joining of species which takes place in our intellect, there is, in the divine intellect, complete unity; because of this, God, without complexity, knows what is complex, just as He knows many things simply and with unity, and material things immaterially.
Answers to Difficulties
1. By means of one and the same reality, the divine intellect knows all the conditions in a thing that are subject to change; so, while remaining in one and the same state, it knows all the states of things, no matter how they change.
2. The likeness in the imagination is a likeness merely of the thing; it is not a likeness by which one can know the time in which a thing exists. This limitation is not found in the divine intellect, so the cases are not parallel.
3. In place of the composition found in our intellect, there is, instead, a unity in the divine intellect. This composition, however, is a kind of imitation of unity, and for this reason it is said to be a union. Thus, it is clear that God knows enunciable truths by not composing more truly than an intellect that does compose and divide.
4. The trunk in the mind of its maker is not a likeness of everything which can belong to it. Consequently, a craftsman’s knowledge and God’s are not similar.
5. He who knows a definition knows potentially the truths demonstrable by the definition. But in the divine intellect, actually to be does not differ from to be able to be. Consequently, from the fact that it knows the essences of things, it immediately comprehends all the accidents that follow upon them.
6. That idea in the divine mind is related to a thing in the same way, no matter what its condition is, for it is a likeness of the thing according to all its states. Consequently, through it the divine mind knows that thing in any condition whatever.
In the eighth article we ask:
Does God know non-beings and things which are not, have not been, and will not be?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 14, 9; I Sent., 38, 4; III Sent., 14, 2, sol. 2.; C.G., I, 66.]
It seems that He does not have such knowledge, for
1. Dionysius says that cognition is had only of existing things. But that which neither is nor will be nor has been does not exist in any way. Hence, God cannot have knowledge of such a thing.
2. All cognition takes place through an assimilation of the knower to the thing known. But the divine intellect cannot be assimilated to a non-being. Hence, it cannot know a non-being.
3. God’s knowledge of things is through ideas. But there is no idea of a non-being. Hence, God does not know a non-being.
4. Whatever God knows is in His Word. But, as Anselm says: “There is no word for that which neither is, was, nor will be.” Hence, God does not know non-beings.
5. God knows only the true. But the true and being are interchangeable. Hence, God does not know things that do not exist.
To the Contrary
According to the Epistle to the Romans (4:17): “He calls things that are not as though they were.” But God would not call non-beings beings unless He knew them. Therefore, He knows non-beings.
God’s knowledge of created things may be compared to that which an artist has of his artistic products and which is their cause. Hence, the relation of God’s knowledge to things known is the opposite of the relation of our knowledge to them. Our knowledge is received from things, and, by its nature, comes after them. But the Creator’s knowledge of creatures, and the artist’s of his products, by its very nature, precedes the things known. Now, when what is antecedent is removed, what is subsequent is likewise removed; but the opposite is not true. Hence, our knowledge of natural things cannot be had unless these thin~s previously exist; but the actual existence or non-existence of a thing is a matter of indifference to the intellect of God or that of an artist.
We must remark, however, that an artist has two kinds of knowledge about something that can be made: speculative and practical. He has speculative or theoretical knowledge when he knows the intimate nature of a work but does not have the intention of applying the principles to the production of the work. His knowledge is practical, properly speaking, when by his intention he ordains the principles of the work to operation as an end. In this way, as Avicenna says, medicine is divided into theoretical and practical.
It is clear that the practical knowledge of an artist follows his speculative knowledge, since it is made practical by applying the speculative to a work. But when the practical is absent, the speculative remains. Evidently, then, an artist can have knowledge of some work which he sometimes sets about making and sometimes does not, as when he thinks up the form of some piece of handicraft which he does not intend to make. Moreover, the artist does not always regard this work which he does not take steps to make as something within his power; for sometimes he visualizes a type of device entirely beyond his power of making. He regards it rather in the light of his own purposes, that is, he sees that he could attain such and such an end by means of such and such a device. For, as the Philosopher says, in the order of things to be done, ends are as principles are in the order of things to be studied; hence, as conclusions are known in their principles, products of art are known in the light of their purposes.
It is clear, therefore, that God can know some non-beings. Of some He has, as it were, practical knowledge-that is, of those which are, have been, or will be; and these come forth from His knowledge as He decides. Of those which neither have been, are, nor will be-which He has decreed never to make-He has a kind of speculative knowledge. And although one can say that He sees these things as within His power, since there is nothing He cannot do, it is more appropriate to say that He sees them in His goodness, the end of all that is made by Him; for He sees that there are many other ways of communicating His goodness, besides those He has already communicated to existing things, having existence, past, present, or future, because all created things cannot equal His goodness, no matter how much they seem to participate in it.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Things which neither have been, are, nor will be, exist in some way in God’s power as in an active principle, or in His goodness as in a final cause.
2. Knowledge received from things known consists in a passive assimilation by which the knower is assimilated to objects of knowledge previously existing. But knowledge which is the cause of things known consists in an active assimilation by which the knower assimilates the thing known to himself. Since God can assimilate to Himself that which has not yet been assimilated to Him, He can also have knowledge of non-being.
3. If, according to common usage, idea is taken as meaning the form of practical knowledge, then there is an idea only of those things which have been, are, or will be. If it be taken as also meaning the form of speculative knowledge, then there can also be an idea of other things-those things which neither are, have been, nor will be.
4. The Word designates the operative power of the Father by which all His operations take place. Hence, the Word is extended only to those things to which the divine operation is extended. Consequently, we read in the Psalms (32:9): “He spoke and they were made.” For, although the Word knows other beings, it is not the word of other beings.
5. Things which neither have been, are, nor will be possess truth in so far as they possess existence, namely, in so far as they are in their active principle or final cause. As such, they are also known by God.
In the ninth article we ask:
Does god know infinites?
[Parallel readings: De ver., 20, 4, ad 1; S.T., I, 14,12; III, 10, 3; I Sent., 39, 1, 1; C.G., I, 69; Quodl., III, 2, 3; Comp. Theol., I, c. 133.]
It seems that He does not, for
1. Augustine says: “Whatever is known is made finite by the comprehension of the knower.” But the infinite cannot be made finite. Therefore, the infinite is unknown to God.
2. But it was said that God knows infinite things by His knowledge of simple intelligence, not by His knowledge of vision.—On the contrary, all perfect knowledge comprehends and consequently limits that which it knows. But God’s knowledge of simple intelligence is as perfect as His knowledge of vision; so, just as He does not know infinites by His knowledge of vision, neither does He know them by His knowledge of simple intelligence.
3. Whatever God knows He knows through His intellect. But intellectual cognition is called vision. Therefore, whatever He knows He knows by His knowledge of vision. But through His knowledge of vision He does not know infinites. Hence, He does not know infinites in any manner.
4. The natures of all the things known by God are in God, and are in Him actually. If, therefore, infinites were known by God, infinite natures would be in Him actually; but this is impossible.
5. Whatever God knows He knows perfectly. But nothing is known perfectly unless the knowledge of the knower penetrates to the heart of the thing. Therefore, whatever God knows, in some sense He pass through. But an infinite cannot in any way be passed through either by a finite or by an infinite being. Therefore, God does not know infinites in any way whatsoever.
6. Whoever sees something limits that thing by the very fact that he can see it. But whatever God knows He sees. Therefore, what is infinite cannot be known by Him.
7. If God knows infinite things, then His knowledge is infinite. But this cannot be, for whatever is infinite is imperfect, as is proved in the Physics. Consequently, God does not know infinite things.
8. Whatever is repugnant to the definition of an infinite can by no means be attributed to an infinite. But to be known is repugnant to the definition of an infinite; for “it is characteristic of an infinite,” as is said in the Physics, “that whatever quantity one takes from it, there always remains more to be taken.” However, that which is known must be taken or received by the knower; and a thing is not known fully if something of it remains beyond the knower. Consequently, it is clearly repugnant to the definition of an infinite that it be fully known by someone. Therefore, since whatever God knows He knows fully, He does not know infinite things.
9. God’s knowledge is the measure of the thing He knows. But there cannot be any measure for an infinite. Hence, an infinite does not come within His knowledge.
10. Measuring is simply ascertaining the quantity of what is measured. Therefore, if God knew an infinite, and thus knew its quantity, He would measure it. But this is impossible, because an infinite, by its very nature, is immeasurable. Hence, God does not know an infinite.
To the Contrary
1. As Augustine says: “Although there is no number for an infinite number, yet an infinite is not incomprehensible to Him whose knowledge has no number.”
2.Since God makes nothing that is unknown to Him, He can know whatever He can make. But, since He can make infinite things, He can know them.
3. In order to understand something, immateriality is required in the one who understands, in the thing understood, and in the conjunction of the two. But, since the divine intellect is infinitely more immaterial than any created intellect, it is infinitely more capable of understanding. Now, a created intellect can know what is potentially infinite. Therefore, the divine intellect can know what is actually infinite.
4. God knows whatever is, will be, or has been. But, if the duration world were infinite, then generation would never end, and there would be an infinite number of singular things. This, moreover, would be possible for God. Therefore, it is not impossible for Him to know infinites.
5. As the Commentator says, “All proportions and forms which are potentially in first matter exist actually in the first mover.” Augustine agrees when he says that there are seminal principles of things in first matter, but that the causal principles are in God. Now, in first matter there are, potentially, an infinite number of forms, because its passive potency is infinite. Therefore, in God, the first mover, there are actual infinites. But God knows whatever is in Him actually. Hence, God knows infinites.
6. In arguing against the Academics, who denied that anything was true, Augustine shows that there is not merely a multitude of true things but even an infinite multitude of them, resulting from a kind intellectual reduplication or from the reduplication of a sentence. For example, if I tell the truth, it is true that I tell the truth, and it is true that I say that I tell the truth, and so on to infinity. But God knows all true things. Hence, He knows infinites.
7. Whatever is in God is God. Therefore, God’s knowledge is God Himself. But God is infinite, because He cannot be comprehended. Therefore, His knowledge is infinite, and He has knowledge of infinites.
As Augustine says, some, wishing to conceive of the divine intellect in terms of our own intellects, have said that God cannot know infinites, just as we cannot know them; and since they asserted both that God knows singulars and that the world is eternal, it followed that there would be a cycle of numerically the same things in different ages—an opinion which is utterly absurd.
It must accordingly be said that God knows infinites, as can be shown from the reasons given above. For, since He knows not only things which have been, are, or will be, but also all those which could participate in His goodness—and the number of these is infinite since His goodness is infinite—it follows that He knows infinites. How this takes place must now be considered.
Note, therefore, that cognition extends itself to many or to few things according to the force of the means of knowing. For example, a likeness received in the sense of sight has the same determinations as the particular conditions of the thing. Hence, it leads us to the knowledge of only one thing. But a likeness received in the intellect is freed from particular conditions; and since it is more elevated, it leads us to the knowledge of a number of things. Indeed, because one universal form, by its very nature, is such that it can be participated in by an infinite number of singulars, the intellect can in some way be said to know infinites. However, since that intellectual likeness does not lead to knowledge of a singular according to its distinctive features but only under the aspect of a common nature, our intellect, through the species which it has within it, knows infinites only potentially. But the medium by which God knows, namely, His own essence, is a likeness of the infinites capable of imitating that essence. It is a likeness not only of that which is common to them, but also of those features by which they are distinguished from one another, as is clear from what was said earlier. Hence, the divine cognition has the power to know infinites.
The manner in which God knows actual infinites must now be considered. There is no reason why something cannot be infinite in one respect and finite in another. For example, a body can be infinite in length but finite in width. The same can be true of forms. For example, let us suppose some infinite body that is white. The extensive quantity of the whiteness (in so far as whiteness can be said to have quantity accidentally) will be infinite; but its intensive or essential quantity will nevertheless be finite. The same is true of any other form of an infinite body; for every form received in matter is limited according to the nature of the recipient and so does not have infinite intensity. It is possible neither to know nor to traverse an infinite. Both are repugnant to the idea of infinite. Nevertheless, if something were to be moved across an infinite, not in the direction of its infinity, it could be traversed. For example, what is infinite in length but finite in width could be traversed across its width but not along its length. Similarly, if an infinite were known in the respect in which it is infinite, it could by no means be known perfectly; but, if it were known in a respect which is not that of the infinite, it could be perfectly known. For, since “the character of infinity fits quantity,” as the Philosopher says, and quantity of its very nature has an order of parts, an infinite would be known by way of its infinity if it were known part by part.
If our intellect had to know a white body in this manner, it would never be able to know either it or its whiteness perfectly. If, however, it knew the nature of whiteness or of corporeity which is found in an infinite body, then it would know the infinite perfectly with respect to all its parts— not, however, according to its infinity. Thus it is possible for our intellect in some manner to know an infinite continuum perfectly; but it cannot know an infinite number of things taken one by one, since it cannot know many things by means of one species. Hence, if our intellect has to consider a number of things, it has to know them one after another. Consequently, it knows discontinuous quantity only through continuous quantity. Therefore, if it were to know a multitude that is actually infinite, our intellect would be knowing an infinite according to its infinity, but that is impossible.
The divine intellect, however, knows all things through one species, Hence, simultaneously and with one intuition, God has knowledge of all things. Consequently, He does not know a multitude according to the order of its parts, and He can know an infinite multitude, but not according to its infinity; for, if He were to know it according to its infinity so that He would be grasping part after part of the multitude, He would never come to its end and never know it perfectly. I simply concede, therefore, that God actually knows infinites absolutely. These infinites, however, are not equal to His intellect in the way in which He Himself as known equals His intellect; for the essences of created infinites are, as it were, intensively finite as whiteness is in an infinite body. God’s essence, however, is infinite in all respects; and because of this all infinites are finite to Him and can be comprehended by Him.
Answers to Difficulties
1. A thing is said to be made finite by a knower in the sense that it is known to such an extent that it does not exceed the intellect of the knower; in other words, some part of it does not remain outside the knower’s intellect. In this way, the thing known stands as something finite to the intellect. There is no reason why this cannot happen to an infinite which is known in a way other than according to its infinity.
2. Knowledge of simple intelligence and that of vision imply no difference on the part of the knower but only on the part of the things known. Knowledge of vision is said to be in God because of its resemblance to bodily sight which looks upon things outside of itself. Hence, God is said to know by His knowledge of vision only those things that are outside of Him, whether they are present, past, or future. But, as was proved above, God knows by His knowledge of simple intelligence things that neither are, will be, nor ever have been. There is no other way by which God knows these and those things.
Hence, the fact that God does not see infinites is not due to His knowledge of vision but rather to the non-existence of the things that would be the objects of His knowledge of vision. For if it were held that these were infinite, either actually or successively, no doubt God would know them by His knowledge of vision.
3. Properly speaking, sight is a bodily sense. Hence, if the word vision is transferred to immaterial cognition, its use will be merely metaphorical. In metaphors, however, there is a different basis of truth according to the different points of likeness found in things. Hence, nothing prevents our sometimes calling all divine knowledge vision and at other times reserving the name to that which is about things present, past, and future.
4. By His essence God Himself is a likeness of all things and a proper likeness of each one of them. Hence, there cannot be said to be many intelligible characters of things in God except in regard to His various relations to various creatures. These relations, however, are merely rational relations. Moreover, as Avicenna says, there is no reason why rational relations cannot be multiplied to infinity.
5. Passing through implies a motion from one thing to another. Since God knows all the parts of an infinite, continuous or discontinuous, not by a progression of His thought, but in one simple intuition, He therefore knows an infinite perfectly. He does not, however, pass through an infinite in understanding it.
6. See the reply to the first difficulty.
7. This argument is based on what is infinite in a privative sense-a type of infinity peculiar to quantity. Whatever is spoken of privatively is imperfect. The argument does not touch what is infinite in the negative sense in which God is said to be infinite. It is more perfect for a thing not to be limited at all.
8. The argument proves that an infinite cannot be known according to its infinity; for whatever part of its infinity you take, no matter how big it is, something further will always remain to be taken. God, however, does not know an infinite by passing from part to part.
9. That which is infinite in quantity has a finite act of existence, as has been said. Accordingly, God’s knowledge can be the m6asure of an infinite.
10. The nature of measuring consists in this, that from it certainty results about the determinate quantity of a thing. God, however, does not know an infinite in such a way that He knows its determinate quantity, for an infinite does not have determinate quantity. Hence, it is not repugnant to the nature of an infinite that God should know it.
In the tenth article we ask a question which arose incidentally:
Can God make infinites?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 25, 2, ad 2; I Sent., 43, 1, 3; C.G., I, 43; De pot., 1, 2; VIII Phys., lect. 23, n. 9; III Phys., lect. 8, n. 9; XII Metaph., lect. 8, nn. 2549-5; Comp. Theol., I, c. 19.]
It seems that He can, for
1. Natures existing in the divine mind are productive of things, and one does not impede another by its action. Since there are infinite natures in the divine mind, infinite effects could follow from them~ were the divine power to carry them into execution.
2. The power of the Creator infinitely surpasses that of a creature. But a creature can produce infinites successively. Therefore, God can produce infinites simultaneously.
3. A power is useless if it is not put into act; it is especially useless if it cannot be put into act. But God’s power extends to infinites. Hence, such a power would be useless if He could not actually make infinites.
Difficulties to the Contrary
1. Seneca’s opinion is to the contrary: “An idea is an exemplar off things coming into being naturally.” But, since there cannot be infinite things naturally, it would seem that they cannot come to be; for what cannot be cannot come to be. Therefore, there will be no idea of infinites in God. But God cannot make anything except through an idea. Therefore, He cannot make infinites.
2. When God is said to create a thing, nothing new on the part of the Creator is affirmed but only on the part of the creature. Hence, it seems the same to say that God creates things as to say that things come forth into being from God. For the same reason, therefore, to say that God can create things is to say that things are able to come forth from God into being. But infinite things cannot come to be, for no creature has the capacity for infinite act. Hence, even God cannot make actual infinites.
The infinite can be distinguished in two ways. In one way, it is distinguished by means of potency and act. A potential infinite is that which consists in an endless succession. For example, we find potential infinity in generation, in time, and in the division of a continuum; for, when one member is given, another always follows. An example of an actual infinite, however, would be a line which we would assume to have no termini.
In the second way, an essential infinite is distinguished from an accidental infinite. This distinction is explained as follows: “The character of the infinite,” as mentioned above, “belongs to quantity.” Now, quantity is predicated first of all of discrete quantity rather than of continuous quantity. Hence, in order to see what is infinite essentially and what is infinite accidentally, we must consider that a multitude is sometimes required essentially and sometimes merely accidentally. Essentially a multitude is required in ordered causes and effects where one has an essential dependence upon another. For example, the soul sets in motion the natural heat by which nerves and muscles are moved, which, in turn, move the hands, which move a stick by which a stone is moved. In this series, each of the later members essentially depends upon every one that precedes. But an accidental multitude is found when all the members of the multitude are posited, as it were, in place of one; and their mutual relation is such that it is a matter of indifference whether they be one or many, or more or fewer. For example, if a builder makes a house in whose construction he wears out many saws successively, a multitude of saws is required for the erection of the house only accidentally, that is, because one saw cannot last forever. It does not matter to the house how many saws are used; hence, one saw does not have that dependence upon another which we find when a multitude is required essentially.
There are many different opinions about the infinite. Some ancient philosophers posited actual infinites, both essential and accidental, thinking that an infinite would necessarily be a result of what they posited as a beginning. For this reason, they also posited an infinite process of causes. The Philosopher refutes this position, however.
Others, following Aristotle, conceded that an essential infinite cannot be found either in act or in potency, because it is impossible for a thing to depend essentially upon an infinite number of things; for, if this were true, then its own act of existence would never be formally constituted. But they posited an accidental infinite, both in potency and in act. Algazel holds: “There are an infinite number of human souls separated from bodies”—something which he thought followed from his view that the world is eternal. He saw no difficulty since they have no mutual dependence, and so in their multiplicity they constituted merely an accidental infinity.
Others asserted that there cannot be an actual infinite, either essential or accidental. They admitted a potential infinite, which, as is taught in the Physics,” consists in succession; and this is the position of the Commentator. But for either of two reasons it can happen that an actual infinite cannot exist: either because to be in act is contradictory to the infinite by the very fact that it is infinite; or because of some extrinsic reason—as being lifted up is repugnant to a lead triangle, not because it is a triangle, but because it is lead.
But if an actual infinite is not contradictory to the infinite as such and can exist, as I hold, or if it cannot exist merely because of some impediment extrinsic to the notion of an infinite, then I say that God can make an actual infinite. If, however, actual existence is repugnafit to the very notion of an infinite, then God cannot make one, just as, for example, He cannot make a man be an irrational animal. This would mean that two contradictories would coincide in one act of existence. However, whether or not it is intrinsically repugnant for an actual infinite to exist must be discussed elsewhere, since this question arose only incidentally. Answers, however, must be given to the difficulties on both sides.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Natures in the divine mind are not reproduced in a creature the way in which they are in God, but in the way which the nature of a creature allows. Hence, although they themselves are immaterial, from them are brought forth things with a material act of existence. If, therefore, as the Philosopher says, it is of the essence of an infinite to exist, not actually and simultaneously, but merely successively, then the infinite natures in the divine mind cannot all be produced in creatures simultaneously but only successively. So, it does not follow that there are actual infinites.
2. The power of a creature is said to be wanting in two ways. First, it can be wanting because of a lack of strength. In this respect, it is correct to argue that what a creature cannot do God can do. Second, it can be wanting because that which is said to be impossible for a creature to do contains in itself some intrinsic repugnance. In this respect, it is possible neither for a creature nor for God-as, for instance, that contradictories should exist simultaneously, and that an infinite actually exist falls into this class, if to exist actually is repugnant to the nature of an infinite.
3. As is said in the Physics, a being is useless if it does not attain the end for which it exists. Hence, a power is not said to be had in vain simply because it is not put into act, but only because its effect or the very act, being distinct from the power itself, is the end for which the power exists. However, no effect of the divine power is its end, nor is its act distinct from it. Hence, the argument does not follow.
Answers to Contrary Difficulties
1. Although the members of infinites may not naturally be able to exist simultaneously, they may, however, come into being. For the essence of an infinite does not consist in simultaneous existence; but it is like things which are in a state of becoming, such as a day or a contest, as is said in the Physics. Nor does it follow that God is able to make only things which come into being naturally. It is true that according to the meaning given previously an idea was taken as applying to practical knowledge, which is an idea for this reason that it is determined by the divine will to an act. However, by His will God is able to make many things other than those which He has determined to exist now, in the past, or in the future.
2. Although in creation there is nothing new except in reference to the creature, the word creation implies not only this newness but also something on the part of God; for it signifies a divine action, which is His essence, and connotes an effect in a creature, which is the reception of being from God. So, it does not follow that it is the same to say that God can create something as to say that something can be created by Him. Otherwise, before there was a creature, nothing could be created unless the potency of a creature first existed. This would be positing eternal matter. Therefore, although the potency of a creature does not extend to the existence of actual infinites, this does not exclude ability on the part of God to make actual infinites.
In the eleventh article we ask:
Is knowledge predicated of God and men purely equivocally?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 13, 5; 14, 1; I Sent., prol., a. 2, ad 2; 1, 2, 3; 19, 59 2, ad i; 35t i, aa. 1, 4; C.G., I, cc- 32-34, 44; XII Metaph., lect. 8, n. 2541 seq.; De div. nom., 1, lect. 3 (P. 15:271a); De pot., 7, 7; Comp. Theol., I, cc. 27-28.]
It seems that it is, for
1. Wherever there exists a common ground for univocal or analogical statement, there exists a certain likeness. But there can be no likeness between a creature and God. Therefore, there cannot be anything common to both either univocally or analogically. Consequently,’if knowledge is predicated of God and of us, it will be merely an equivocal predication. Proof of the minor: In Isaiah (40:18) we read: “To whom then have you likened God? “—as if to say: “He can resemble no one.”
2. Wherever a likeness exists, some comparison is possible. But no comparison between God and creature is possible, since a creature is finite and God is infinite. Therefore, no likeness can exist between them, and the original difficulty stands.
3. Whenever a comparison is possible, there must be some form possessed to a gre;tter and a lesser degree or equally by several things. But this cannot be said of God and a creature, for then something would be-more simple than God. Therefore, no comparison between God and a creature is possible, nor is any likeness or community possible apart from that of equivocation.
4. There is a greater distance between things which bear no resemblance than between those which do resemble each other. But there is an infinite distance between God and a creature; indeed, no greater distance is possible. Therefore, there is no likeness between them; thus, the original difficulty returns.
5. A greater distance lies between a creature and God than lies between a created being and non-being; for a created being surpasses non-being only by reason of the amount of its entity, which is not infinite. But, as is said in the Metaphysics: “There is nothing common to being and non-being except by equivocation, which happens, for example, when that which we call man is called non-man by others.” Hence, there cannot be anything common to God and a creature except by a pure equivocation.
6. All analogates are such that either one is placed in the definition of another—as substance is placed in the definition of accident, and act, in the definition of potency—or the same thing is placed in the definition of both—as the health of an animal is placed in the definition of healthy, which is predicated of urine and food since one is the sign of this health and the other conserves it. But God and creatures are not related in this manner: one is not placed in the definition of the other, nor is something identical placed in the definition of each, even on the supposition that God could be defined. Therefore, it seems that nothing can be predicated analogously of God and creatures. As a consequence, any term predicated of both of them is used only equivocally.
7. Substance and accident differ more than do two species of substances. But when the same word is used to signify two species of substances according to formal character proper to each, the predication is merely equivocal. This happens, for example, when the word dog is applied to the dog-star, a barking dog, and the dog-fish. It would be a far more equivocal predication if one word were applied to a substance and an accident. Now, our knowledge is an accident and that of Gdd, a substance. Therefore, the word knowledge is predicated equivocally of God’s and of ours.
8. Our knowledge is merely an image of the divine knowledge. But the name of a thing cannot be applied to its image except by equivocation. Hence, animal, according to the Philosopher, is predicated equivocally of a real animal and of one in a picture. Therefore, the word knowledge is likewise predicated only equivocally of God’s knowledge and ours.
To the Contrary
1. The Philosopher says that that is perfect, absolutely speaking, in which the perfections of all genera are found. As the Commentator remarks on this passage, such a being is God. But the perfections of other genera could not be said to be found in Him unless there were some resemblance between His perfection and the perfections of other genera. Hence, a creature resembles God in some way. Knowledge, therefore, and whatever else is predicated of God and creatures is not a pure equivocation.
2. Genesis (1:2 6) says: “Let us make man to our image and likencss.” Therefore, some likeness exists between God and creature. We conclude as before.
It is impossible to say that something is predicated univocally of a creature and God because in all univocal predication the nature signified by the name is common to those of whom the univocal predication is made. Hence, from the point of view of the nature signified by the predicate, the subjects of the univocal. predication are equal, even though from the point of view of its real existence one may take precedence over another. For example, all numbers are equal from the point of view of the nature of number, even though, by the nature of things, one number is naturally prior to another. No matter how much a creature imitates God, however, a point cannot be reached where something would belong to it for the same reason it belongs to God. For things which have the same formal characters but are in separate subjects are common to the same subjects in regard to substance or quiddity but distinct in regard to the act of being. But whatever is in God is His own act of being; and just as His essence is the same as His act of being, so is His knowledge the same as His act of being a knower. Hence, since the act of existence proper to one thing cannot be communicated to another, it is impossible that a creature ever attain to the possession of something in the same manner in which God has it, just as it is impossible for it to attain the same act of being as that which God has. The same is true of us. If man and to exist as man did not differ in Socrates, man could not be predicated univocally of him and Plato, whose acts of existing are distinct.
Nevertheless, it cannot be said that whatever is predicated of God and creatures is an equivocal predication; for, unless there were at least some real agreement between creatures and God, His essence would not be the likeness of creatures, and so He could not know them by knowing His essence. Similarly, we would not be able to attain any knowledge of God from creatures, nor from among the names devised for creatures could we apply one to Him more than another; for in equivocal predication it makes no difference what name is used, since the word does not signify any real agreement.
Consequently, it must be said that knowledge is predicated neither entirely univocally nor yet purely equivocally of God’s knowledge and ours. Instead, it is predicated analogously, or, in other words, according to a proportion. Since an agreement according to proportion can happen in two ways, two kinds of community can be noted in analogy. There is a certain agreement between things having a proportion to each other from the fact that they have a determinate distance between each other or some other relation to each other, like the proportion which the number two has to unity in as far as it is the double of unity. Again, the agreement is occasionally noted not between two things which have a proportion between them, but rather between two related proportions—for example, six has something in common with four because six is two times three, just as four is two times two. The first type of agreement is one of proportion; the second, of proportionality.
We find something predicated analogously of two realities according to the first type of agreement when one of them has a relation to the other, as when being is predicated of substance and accident because of the relation which accident has to substance, or as when healthy is predicated of urine and animal because urine has some relation to the health of an animal. Sometimes, however, a thing is predicated analogously according to the second type of agreement, as when sight is predicated of bodily sight and of the intellect because understanding is in the mind as sight is in the eye.
In those terms predicated according to the first type of analogy, there must be some definite relation between the things having something in common analogously. Consequently, nothing can be predicated analogously of God and creature according to this type of analogy; for no creature has such a relation to God that it could determine the divine perfection. But in the other type of analogy, no definite relation is involved between the things which have something in common analogously, so there is no reason why some name cannot be predicated analogously of God and creature in this manner.
But this can happen in two ways. Sometimes the name implies something belonging to the thing primarily designated which cannot be common to God and creature even in the manner described above. This would be true, for example, of anything predicated of God metaphorically, as when God is called lion, sun, and the like, because their definition includes matter which cannot be attributed to God. At other times, however, a term predicated of God and creature implies nothing in its principal meaning which would prevent our finding between a creature and God an agreement of the type described above. To this kind belong all attributes which include no defect nor depend on matter for their act of existence, for example, being, the good, and similar things.
Answers to Difficulties
1. As Dionysius says,” God can in no way be said to be similar to creatures, but creatures can be said to be similar to Him in some sense. For what is made in imitation of something, if it imitates it perfectly, can be said to be like it absolutely. The opposite, however, is not true; for a man is not said to be similar to his image but vice versa. However, if the imitation is imperfect, then it is said to be both like and unlike that which it imitates: like, in so far as it resembles it; unlike, in so far as it falls short of a perfect representation. It is for this reason that Holy Scripture denies that creatures are similar to God in every respect. It does, however, sometimes grant that creatures are similar to God, and sometimes deny this. It grants the similarity when it says that man is made in the likeness of God, but denies it when it says: “O God, who is like to thee?” (Psalms 70:19).
2. The Philosopher” distinguishes two kinds of likenesses. One is found between things in different genera, and is taken according to proportion or proportionality; that is, one thing is related to another as a third thing is related to a fourth, as Aristotle himself says in the same place. The second kind of likeness is found existing between things in the same genus, as when the same thing is found in distinct subjects. Now, likeness of the first kind does not demand a comparison based on a definite relationship as does that of the second kind. Consequently, the possibility of the first type of likeness existing between God and creature should not be excluded.
3. That difficulty arises from the second type of likeness; and we grant that this type does not exist between creature and God.
4. A likeness that is found because two things share something in common or because one has such a determinate relation to the other that from one the other can be grasped by the intellect—such a likeness diminishes distance. A likeness according to an agreement of proportion does not; for such a likeness is also found between things far or little distant. Indeed, there is no greater likeness of proportionality between two to one and six to three than there is between two to one and one hundred to fifty. Consequently, the infinite distance between a creature and God does not take away the likeness mentioned above.”
5. There is some agreement between being and non-being according to analogy, for non-being itself is called being analogously, as is made clear in the Metaphysics. Consequently, the distance lying between a creature and God cannot prevent a common ground for analogical statement.
6. That argument is valid in regard to community of analogy taken according to a definite relation of one thing to another. In that case, one thing must be put in the definition of the other as substance is put in the definition of accident or as one thing is put into the definition of two other things because both are predicated with reference to it, as substance is put into the definition of quantity and quality.
7. Although two species of substance have more in common than accident and substance have, it is possible that the same word is not applied to the two different species by reason of any consideration of something common between them. In that case, the word will be merely equivocal. But it is possible for a word common to substance and accident to be used because of a consideration of what they have in common. In such a case the word will not be equivocal but analogous.
8. The word animal is used not to signify the external form which a picture imitates when it depicts a real animal, but to signify its internal nature, in which it is not imitated. Hence, animal is used equivocally of the real animal and of the one painted. But the word knowledge is suitable to both creature and Creator in the respect in which the creature imitates the Creator. Consequently, knowledge is not predicated of the two altogether equivocally.
In the twelfth article we ask:
Does God know singular future contingents?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 14, 13; 86,4; I Sent., 3 8, 1, 5; C.G., I, 67; De rationibus fidei, c. 10 (P. 16:96a); Quodl., X1, 3, 3; De malo, 16, 7; I Perih., lect. 14, n. 16 seq.; Comp. Theol., I, cc. 132-33.]
It seems that He does not, for
1. Nothing but the true can be known, as is said in the Posterior Analytics. But, as said in Interpretation, there is no definite truth in singular future contingents. Hence, God does not have knowledge of individual and contingent futures.
2. That from which the impossible would follow is impossible. But if God knew a singular future contingent, the impossible would follow, namely, that God’s knowledge would be wrong. Hence, it is impossible for Him to know a singular future contingent. Proof of the minor follows. Let us suppose that God knows some singular future contingent event, such as that Socrates is sitting. Now, either it is possible that Socrates is not sitting or it is not possible. If it is not possible, then it is impossible for Socrates not to sit. Hence, for Socrates to sit is necessary, although what was granted was contingent. On the other hand, if it be possible not to sit, and granted he does not, nothing inconsistent follows from this. It would follow, however, that the knowledge of God is erroneous, and hence it would not be impossible for His knowledge to be false.
3. It was said, however, that the contingent, as it is in God, is necessary.—On the contrary, what is in itself contingent is not necessary with respect to God, except in the way in which it is in God. But inasmuch as it is in Him, it is not distinct from Him. If, therefore, it is known by God only as necessary, He will not know it in the way it exists distinct from Himself.
4. According to the Philosopher, when the major of a syllogism expresses necessity and the minor expresses inherence, a conchision expressing necessity follows. But the following is true: Whatever is known by God must necessarily be. For, if what God knew as existing did not exist, His knowledge would be false. Therefore, if something is known by God to exist, it necessarily exists. But no contingent must necessarily be. Therefore, no contingent is known by God.
5. It was said, however, that when it is said that whatever is known by God must necessarily be, the necessity implied is not with reference to the creature but to God alone.—On the contrary, when it is said that whatever is known by God must necessarily be, the necessity is attributed to the thing for which the subject of the statement stands. Now, the subject of the statement is that which is known by God, not God Himself as knowing. Therefore, the necessity implied in this statement refers only to the thing known.
6. The more certain our knowledge is, the less it has to do with contingents; for science is only about necessary truths, since it is more certain than opinion, which may be about contingent things. Now, God’s knowledge is most certain; hence, it can be about necessary matters only.
7. If the antecedent of any true conditional proposition is absolutely necessary, the consequent will be absolutely necessary. But the following conditional is true. If something is known by God, it will exist. Since this antecedent, “This is known by God,” is absolutely necessary, the consequent will be absolutely necessary. Hence, whatever is known by God must necessarily exist. That this, namely, “This is known by God,” is absolutely necessary was proved as follows. This is something said about the past. But whatever is said about the past, if true, is necessary; for, since it has been, it cannot not have been. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary.
8. Whatever is eternal is necessary. Now, all that God has known He has known from eternity. Therefore, that He has known is absolutely necessary.
9. Everything is related to the true as it is related to the act of ex, istence. But future contingents do not have any act of existence; therefore, neither do they have truth. Hence, there can be no certain knowledge of them.
10. According to the Philosopher, whoever does not understand one determined thing understands nothing. But if a future contingent is open to its being or not being, it is by no means determined either in itself or in its cause. Therefore, there can, by no means, be any knowledge of it at all.
11. Hugh of St. Victor says: “God, who has all things in Himself, knows nothing outside Himself.” Now, whatever is contingent is outside of Him, for in Him there is no potentiality. Hence, He does not know future contingents at all.
12. Something contingent cannot be known through a medium that is necessary; for, if the medium is necessary, the conclusion will be necessary. Now, God knows all things through a medium, His own essence. Hence, since this medium is necessary, it seems that He cannot know anything contingent.
To the Contrary
1. The Psalms (32:15) speak as follows: “He who hath made the hearts of every one of them; who understandeth all their works.” But the works of men are contingent since they depend on free choice. Therefore, God knows future contingents.
2. Whatever is necessary is known by God. Now, every contingent is necessary inasmuch as it is related to divine cognition, as Boethius says.— Therefore, every contingent is known by God.
31. Augustine says: “God knows changeable things in an unchangeable manner. But if a thing is contingent, it is changeable; for a contingent is said to be that which can either be or not be. Hence, God knows contingents in an unchangeable manner.
4. God knows things in so far as He is their cause. But God is the cause not only of necessary but also of contingent things. Therefore, He knows both necessary and contingent things.
5. God knows all things to the extent that the model of all things is in Him. But the divine model for the contingent and the necessary can be immutable, just as it is an immaterial model for the material and a simple model for the composite. Hence, it seems that just as God knows what is composite and material, although He Himself is immaterial and simple, so also He can know contingents, although contingency has no place in Him.
6. To know is to understand the cause of a thing. Now, God knows the causes of all contingents; for He knows Himself, the cause of all things. Hence, He knows contingents.
On this question there have been several erroneous opinions. Some, wishing to pronounce upon divine knowledge from the viewpoint of our own way of knowing, have said that God does not know future contingents. This opinion cannot stand, for it would eliminate providence over human affairs, which are contingent. Consequently, others have said that God has knowledge of all futures, but that all take place necessarily, otherwise His knowledge of them would be subject to error. But neither can this opinion stand, for it would destroy free choice and there would be no need to ask advice. Moreover, it would be unjust to punish or to give rewards in proportion to merit when everything takes place necessarily.
Hence, it must be said that God knows all futures; nevertheless, this does not prevent things from taking place contingently. As evidence of this, it should be noted that we have certain powers and cognitive habits in which there can never be falsity; for example, sense, science, and the understanding of principles. On the other hand, we have others in which there can be falsity; for example, imagination, opinion, and judgment. Now, falsity occurs in a cognitive act because something is not in reality as it is apprehended. Hence, if there is any knowing power such that there is never any falsity in it, then the thing to be known by it never falls short of what the knower apprehends about it.
Now, what is necessary cannot be prevented from happening even before it happens, in view of the fact that its causes are unchangeably ordained to its production. Hence, by means of habits that are always true, what is necessary can be known even when it will happen in the future, just as we know a coming eclipse or the rising of the sun by means of true science. But a contingent can be impeded before it is brought into being; for at that stage it exists only in its causes, which may be prevented from producing their effect. After a contingent has been brought into existence, however, it can no longer be prevented. Hence, such a power or habit can make about a present contingent a judgment in which falsity is never found, as sense does when it judges that Socrates is sitting when he sits.
From this it is clear that a contingent can be known as future by no cognition that excludes all falsity and the possibility of falsity; and since there is no falsity or possibility of falsity in the divine knowledge, it would be impossible for God to have knowledge of future contingents if He knew them as future. Now, something is known as future when an order of past and future stands between the event and the knowledge. This order, however, cannot be found between the divine knowledge and any contingent thing whatsoever; but the relation of the divine knowledge to anything whatsoever is like that of present to present. This may be understood by the following example.
If someone were to see many people walking successively down a road during a given period of time, in each part of that time he would see as present some of those who walk past, so that in the whole period of his watching he would see as present all of those who walked past him. Yet he would not simultaneously see them all as present, because the time of his seeing is not completely simultaneous. However, if all his seeing could exist at once, he would simultaneously see all the passers-by as present, even though they themselves would not all pass as simultaneously present. Therefore, since the vision of divine knowledge is measured by eternity, which is all simultaneous and yet includes the whole of time without being absent from any part of it, it follows that God sees whatever happens in time, not as future, but as present. For what is seen by God is, indeed, future to some other thing which it follows in time; to the divine vision, however, which is not in time but outside time, it is not future but present. Therefore, we see what is future as future because it is future with respect to our seeing, since our seeing is itself measured by time; but to the divine vision, which is outside of time, there is no future. For example, what one would see who is within the ranks of passers-by and sees only those who are in line ahead of him is quite different from what he would see were he outside their ranks and saw all of them simultaneously. Therefore, the fact that our sense of sight is never deceived when it sees contingents when they are present does not prevent the contingents themselves from happening contingently. In like manner, God infallibly knows all the contingents, whether they are present, past, or future to us; for they are not future to Him, but He knows that they are when they are; and the fact of His knowing them does not prevent them from happening contingently.
The difficulty in this matter arises from the fact that we can describe the divine knowledge only after the manner of our own, at the same time pointing out the temporal differences. For example, if we were to describe God’s knowledge as it is, we should have to say that God knows that this is, rather than that it will be; for to Him every thing is present and nothing is future. For this reason, Boethius says10 that His knowledge of future things “is more properly called providence than foresight,” since He sees them all, as it were, from a great distance, in the mirror of eternity. However, it might also be called foresight because of its relation to other things in whose regard what He knows is future.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Although a contingent is not determined as long as it is, future, yet, as soon as it is produced in the realm of nature, it has a determinate truth. It is in this way that the gaze of divine knowledge is brought upon it.
2. As was said, a contingent is referred to divine knowledge according to its act of existence in the realm of nature. Moreover, from the moment that it is, it cannot not be when it is; for, “what is must be when it is,” as is said in Interpretation. It does not follow, however, that it is necessary without any qualification or that God’s knowledge is defective—just as my sense of sight is not deceived when I see that Socrates is sitting, although this fact is contingent.
3. A contingent is said to be necessary in so far as God knows it, because He knows it, not as something already present. Nevertheless, no necessity arises from the fact that it is going to be, so that one could say that it comes about necessarily; for event applies to something which is to be, because what already is cannot eventuate. But that it has happened is true, and this is necessary.
4. The necessity referred to in the statement, “Whatever is known by God is necessary,” can concern either the manner of speaking or the thing spoken about. If the necessity is applied to the manner of speaking, then the proposition is composite and true. its meaning will be as follows: It is necessary that whatever is known by God exists, since it is not possible that God would know something to be and it would not be. If the necessity is applied to the thing spoken about. then the proposition is divided and false. Its meaning will be as follows: What is known by God must necessarily exist. But, as is clear from what has been said, things do not happen necessarily simply because God knows them.
One might object that this distinction is valid only in regard to forms, such as whiteness and blackness, which can succeed one another in a subject, but that since it is impossible for something once known by God later not to be known by Him, this distinction does not apply here. However, we reply that, although God’s knowledge does not change but always remains the same, the condition according to which a thing is referred to His knowledge does not always remain the same with respect to that knowledge. For a thing is related to God’s knowledge as it is in its own present existence, yet present existence does not always belong to it. Hence, we can consider the thing either together with its condition of being present or without it, and, consequently, we can consider it either in the manner in which it is referred to God’s knowledge or in some other manner. In this way, the afore-mentioned distinction is valid.
5. If this proposition concerns the thing, then it is true that necessity is applied to the thing itself which is known by God; but if it concerns the manner of speaking, then the necessity is not applied to the thing but to the relation of His knowledge to the thing known.
6. Neither our science nor God’s knowledge can be about future contingents. This would be even more true if He knew them as future. He knows them, however, as present to Himself and future to others. Therefore, the objection does not stand.
7. There have been many opinions about this. Some say that the antecedent, “This is known by God,” is contingent because, although it refers to something in the past, it nevertheless implies a relation to the future, and therefore is not necessary. For example, when it is said, “This was going to happen,” the was does not mark the event as necessary, since what was going to happen could have failed to do so; for, as is said in Generation and Corruption: “He who is about to walk, will not walk.” This argument, however, is invalid; for when one says, “This is future” or “This was future,” one designates the ordination of the causes of that thing to its production. Now, although it is possible that the causes ordained to a certain effect can be impeded in such a way that the effect will not follow from them, it is not possible to prevent their having been at some time ordained to produce this effect. Hence, even if that which is future should be able not to happen in the future, it will never be able at any time not to have been a future.
For this reason, others say that this antecedent is contingent since it is composed of a necessary and a contingent; for God’s knowledge is necessary, but what is known by Him is contingent, and each of these is included in the antecedent mentioned in the difficulty. For example, the following are contingent: “Socrates is a white man,” or “Socrates is an animal and he runs.” However, this argument, too, is invalid, for the truth of a proposition is not affected by the necessity and contingency of that which is affirmed materially in a proposition. The truth of a proposition is determined only by the principal composition. Hence, the same character of necessity and contingency is found in each of the following: “I think that man is an animal” and “I think that Socrates is running.” Consequently, since the principal act signified in the antecedent, “God knows Socrates is running,” is necessary, no matter how contingent the thing may be which is affirmed materially, this still does not prevent the afore-mentioned antecedent from being necessary.
Hence, others simply concede that the antecedent is necessary. Yet, they add, from the fact that an antecedent is absolutely necessary, it need not follow that the consequent is absolutely necessary, unless the antecedent is the proximate cause of the consequent. If it is the remote cause, the necessity of the effect can be impeded by the contingency of the proximate cause. For example, even though the sun is a necessary cause, the flowering of a tree, its effect, is contingent; for its proximate cause, the tree’s germinating power, is not cont1ant. This argument, however, does not seem to be sufficient; for it is not due to the nature of the cause and effect that a necessary consequence follows from a necessary antecedent, but rather to the relation that the corisequent has to its antecedent. For the contrary of the conseqiqent can by no means stand with the antecedent. And this would happen if a contingent consequent followed from a necessary antecedent. This relationship must be found in any true conditional, whether the antecedent is the effect, the proximate cause, or the remote cause. Moreover, if this relationship is not found in the conditional, the proposition is not true at all. Therefore, this conditional is also false: “If the sun moves, the tree will flower.”
Hence, the difficulty must be solved differently: the antecedent is necessary without any qualification, and the consequent is absolute necessary in the way in which it follows from the antecedent. For what is attributed to a thing in itself is quite different from what is attributed to a thing in so far as it is known. What is attributed to it in itself belongs to it according to its own manner; but what is attributed to a thing or follows upon it in so far as it is known is according to the manner of the knower. Hence, if, in the antecedent, something is signified which pertains to knowledge, the consequent must be taken according to the manner of the knower, not according to the manner of the thing known. For example, were I to say, “If I understand something, that thing is without matter,” what is understood need be immaterial only in so far as it is understood. Similarly, when I say, “If God knows something, it will be,” the consequent should not be taken according to the mode of being of the thing in itself but according to the mode of the knower. For, although a thing in itself is future, it is present according to the mode of the knower. Consequently, we should rather say, “If God knows something, it is,” than say, “it will be.” We must, therefore, judge in the same way the proposition, “If God knows something, it will be,” and this one, “If I see Socrates running, Socrates is running”; for both are necessary as long as the action is going on.
8. [There is no solution given for the eighth difficulty.]
9. Although a contingent does not exercise an act of existence as long as it is a future, as soon as it is present it has both existence and truth, and in this condition stands under the divine vision. God, however, also knows the relation of one thing to another, and in this way He knows that a thing is future in regard to another thing. Consequently, there is no difficulty in affirming that God knows something as future which will not take place, inasmuch as He knows that certain causes are inclined toward a certain effect which will not be produced. But when we talk in this way we are not speaking of that knowledge of the future by which God sees things in their causes, but of that by which He sees a thing in itself. In this latter type of knowledge a thing is known as present.
10. The future, in so far as it is known by God, is present; hence, it is determined to one or the other member of a contradiction. But as long as it is future it remains open to either.
11. It is true that God knows nothing outside Himself, if the word outside refers to that by which He knows. However, God does something outside Himself if this refers to what He knows. This point was discussed above.
12. There are two types of mediums for knowledge. One, the medium of demonstration, must be proportionate to the conclusion, so that, when it has been posited, its conclusion is posited. God is not such a medium for the knowledge of contingents. The other medium of knowledge is that which is a likeness of the thing known; and the divine essence is a medium of this sort. However, it is not equated with anything, even though it is a proper medium for singulars, as was said above.
In the thirteenth article we ask:
Does God’s knowledge change?
[Parallel readings: De ver., 1, 5, ad 11; 1, 7; S.T., I, 14, 15; I Sent., 38,1, aa.2-3; 39, 1, aa.1-2; 41, a. 5; C.G., I, cc. 58-59.]
It seems that it does, for
1. Knowledge is an assimilation of the knower to the thing known. Now, God’s knowledge is perfect. Hence, He will be perfectly assimilated to the things He knows. However, the things God knows change. Therefore, His knowledge changes.
2. Any knowledge which is open to error can change. Now, God’s knowledge is open to error since it is about contingent things, which are able not to be. Should they not be, then His knowledge is erroneous and, consequently, can change.
3. Our knowledge, which is had by receiving from things, follows the mode of the knower. Therefore, God’s knowledge, which takes place by reason of the fact that He confers something upon things, follows the mode of the things known. But things which God knows can change. Therefore, His knowledge can change.
4. When one of two terms in a relation is taken away, the remaining one is also taken away. Hence, when one term changes, the other also. changes. Now, what God knows changes. Hence, His knowledge of things changes.
5. Any knowledge that can be increased or diminished is subject to change. But God’s knowledge can be increased or diminished. Therefore.—Proof of the minor is as follows: If a knower at times knows more things, at other times fewer, his knowledge changes. Therefore, a knower who can know more or fewer things than he now knows possesses knowledge subject to change. Now, God can know more than He knows: He knows that there are, or were, or will be things made by Him; however, He could make more which He is never going to make. Consequently, He could know more things than He does. Similarly, He can know fewer than He does, since He could do away with a part of what He is going to make. Therefore, His knowledge can be increased and diminished.
6. The answer was given that even though more or fewer things could fall under God’s knowledge, His knowledge itself could not change.—On the contrary, just as the possibles are subject to divine power, so are knowable things subject to divine knowledge. Now, if God could make more than He could previously, His power would be increased; and it would be diminished if He could make fewer. For the same reason, if He could know more than He knew previously, His knowledge would be increased.
7. At one time God knew that Christ would be born. Now, however, He does not know that Christ will be born but that He has been born. Therefore, God knows something which He previously did not know, and He has known something which now He does not know. Hence, His knowledge is changed.
8. A manner of knowing, as well as an object of knowledge, is required for knowledge. Now, if the manner in which God knows were changed, His knowledge would be changed. For the same reason, therefore, when the objects of God’s knowledge change, His knowledge will be changed.
9. There is said to be a knowledge of approval in God by which He knows only good people. However, God could approve those whom He has not approved. Hence, He could know what He previously did not know; so, it seems that His knowledge is changeable.
10. just as God’s knowledge is God Himself, so God’s power is God Himself. But we say that by the power of God things are brought into being through a change. For the same reason, therefore, things are known by God’s knowledge through a change, without any detriment to the divine perfection.
11. Any knowledge changes if it goes from one thing to another. But God’s knowledge is of this kind because He knows things through His essence. Hence, His knowledge changes.
To the Contrary
1. The Epistle of St. James (1:17) says of God: “With Whom there is no change...”
2. Whatever is moved is reduced to the first unmovable being. But the first cause of all things that change is God’s knowledge, just as art is the cause of products. Hence, God’s knowledge cannot change.
3. As is said in The Soul, motion is the act of an imperfect thing. But in divine knowledge there is no imperfection. Hence, it cannot change.
Since knowledge is intermediate between the knower and the known, it can vary in two ways: first, on the part of the knower; second, on the part of the thing known. On the part of the knower, we can consider three things: his knowledge, his act, and the manner of his act. According to these three, changes can take place in knowledge on the part of the knower.
On the part of knowledge itself, a change takes place when knowledge which was not had previously is newly acquired or when knowledge of what was known previously is lost. Accordingly, we can speak of a generation or corruption, or of an increase or decrease, in knowledge. Such a change, however, cannot take place in God’s knowledge, since, as we have shown, its object is not only beings but also non-beings, and there cannot be anything beyond being and non-being because between affirmation and negation there is no middle ground.
It is true that in a certain respect the objects of God’s kriowledge are only things existing in the present, Past, or future, namely, in so far as His knowledge is ordained to the work which His will carries out. However, even if He would know something by this kind of knowledge that He did not know previously, there would be no change in His knowledge, because on its part it pertains equally to beings and non-beings. If there were any change in God, it would be in His will, which would be determining His knowledge to something to which it had not previously determined it.
This, however, could not cause any change in His will, either; for to produce its act freely belongs to the nature of the will, because, of its very nature, the will is equally able to go out to either of two opposites. For example, it can will or not will to make or not to make a thing. However, the will cannot make itself simultaneously will and not will; nor can the divine will, which is immutable, first wish something and later not wish the same thing at the same time, because then God’s will would be circumscribed by time and would not be entirely simultaneous. If we are speaking of absolute necessity, therefore, it is not necessary for Him to wish what He wishes. Therefore, absolutely speaking, it is possible for Him not to wish it. On the other hand, if we are speaking of the necessity following a supposition, then it is necessary that He wish it if He wishes or has wished it. On this supposition, then, namely, if He wishes or has wished, it is not possible for Him not to wish.
Now, since a change requires two terms, it always views the final term in its relation to the first. Consequently, only this would follow, that it would be possible for His will to change if it were possible for Him not to wish what He wishes, if He had previously wished. It is clear, therefore, that no change is affirmed of His knowledge or will by the fact that more or fewer things could be known by God through this kind of knowledge; for to say that He is able to know more means simply that He can by His will determine His knowledge to make more things.
On the part of the act, there are three ways a change takes place in knowledge. The first occurs when knowledge actually considers what it previously did not consider. For example, we say that a person changes who passes from habit to act. Now, this kind of change cannot be found in God’s knowledge, because He does not know habitually but only actually, since in Him there is no potentiality such as there is in a habit. Change is found in a second way in the act of knowing when it considers now one thing, now another. But neither can this be found in God’s knowledge, since He sees all through the one species of His essence, and consequently looks upon all things in the same intuition. A third kind of change occurs when, in his contemplation, a person passes from one thing to another. But this, too, cannot be found in God, for discursive reasoning is a passage between two members, and there is no discursive reasoning in knowledge that sees two things if it sees both in one intuition. This is what actually takes place in the divine knowledge, since God sees all things by one intuition.
From the point of view of the manner of knowing, there can also be changes in knowledge by reason of the fact that one can now know something more clearly and perfectly than he did before. This can arise from two sources. First, it can arise from a difference in the medium by which the cognition takes place. For example, one may first know something through a probable middle term, and later through a middle term that is necessary. This, however, cannot take place in God because His essence, which for Him is the medium of knowing, never changes. Secondly, it can come from the intellectual power which causes a man of greater acumen to know something more penetratingly, even through the same medium, than another man does. This, too, however, cannot take place in God, since the power by which He knows is His own essence, and this does not change. Hence, it remains that God’s knowledge does not change in any way whatsoever from the point of view of the knower.
But from the point of view of the thing known, knowledge can also change in its truth and falsity, because, if a thing is changed while the judgment of it remains the same, the judgment which was previously true is now false. This, however, cannot take place in God either, since the intuition of God’s cognition is directed to a thing as it is in its presentness, that is, in so far as it has already received this rather than that determination; and in this respect it can change no more. Even if that thing should receive another state, that state will again fall under the divine vision in the same way; hence, God’s knowledge changes in no way whatsoever.
Answers to Difficulties
1. The assimilation of the knower to the thing known does not take place through a conformity of nature but through a representation. So, it is not necessary for the knowledge of changing things to change.
2. Although the thing known by God may be other than it is if considered in itself, it falls under God’s cognition inasmuch—as it cannot be other than it is, as we have already shown.
3. All knowledge, whether had by receiving from things or by an impression upon the things themselves, takes place according to t e manner of the knower, since both take place in so far as a likeness of the thing known is in the knower. Moreover, what exists in someone is in him according to the manner of him in whom it exists.
4. That to which God’s knowledge is related is changeless in so far as it falls under His knowledge. Therefore, His knowledge does not change, either, with respect to its truth, which could be changed by a change of the afore-mentioned relation.
5. When it is said, “God can know what He does not know,” one can understand this in two ways—even if we are speaking of His knowledge of vision. First, we can understand it in its composite sense, that is, on the supposition that God has not known what He is said to be able to know. In this sense it is false; for the following two things cannot be true simultaneously, namely, that God should have been ignorant of something, and later know that thing. The proposition can also be taken in a divided sense. In this sense, no supposition or condition of His power is included, and in this sense it is true, as is clear from our discussion.
Although it may, in some sense, be conceded that God can know what He did not know previously, we cannot concede in any sense that He can know more than He knows; for, since the word more implies a comparison to what has previously existed, it is always understood in a composite sense. For the same reason, we can in no way concede that God’s knowledge can be increased or diminished.
6. We concede the sixth argument.
7. As we said previously, God knows propositions without joining and separating. Just as God knows many different things in the same manner, both when they exist and when they do not, so does He know in the same manner different propositions, both when they are true and when they are false, because He knows each to be true at the time when it is true. For example, He knows this proposition, “Socrates is running,” to be true when it is true; similarly, this proposition, “Socrates will run,” and so forth. Hence, although it is not true now that Socrates is running but that he has run, nevertheless, God knows each because He simultaneously intuits each time when each proposition is true. If He knew a proposition by forming it in Himself, however, then He would know a proposition only when it is true, as happens in us. Then His knowledge would change.
8. The manner of knowing is in the knower himself. The thing known, however, is not in the knower according to its own nature. Therefore, a variation in the manner of knowing would make knowledge vary, but changes in the things known would not.
9. The answer to this is already clear.
10. This act of power terminates outside the agent in the thing as it is in its own nature—in which the thing has a changeable act of being. So, if we consider the thing produced, we must concede that it is given its act of existence by means of a change. But knowledge concerns things in so far as they are, in some way, in the knower. So, since the knower is unchanging, He knows things in an unchanging manner.
11. Although God knows other things through His essence, He does not pass from one thing to another; for in the same intuition He knows both His essence and other things.
In the fourteenth article we ask:
Is God’s knowledge the cause of things?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 14, 8; I Sent., 38, 1, 1.]
It seems not, for
1. Origen says: “A thing will be, not because God knows that it will be, but, because it will be, it is known by God before it exists.”’ Consequently, it seems that things are the cause of His knowledge rather than conversely.
2. Given the cause, the effect follows. But God’s knowledge has been from eternity. Therefore, if His knowledge is the cause of things, it seems that things have existed from eternity. But this is heretical.
3. A necessary effect follows a necessary cause. Hence, even demonstrations, which are made through a necessary cause, have necessary conclusions. But God’s knowledge is necessary since it is eternal. Therefore, all things which are known by God would be necessary. But this is absurd.
4. If God’s knowledge is the cause of things, then it will be related to things in the way in which things are related to our knowledge. But things determine the type of knowledge we have; for instance, of necessary things we have necessary knowledge. Therefore, if God’s knowledge were the cause of things, it would impose the mode of necessity on all things. But this is false.
5. A first cause has a more powerful influence upon an effect than a second. But, if God’s knowledge is the cause of things, it will be a first cause; and, since necessity follows in the effects of necessary secondary causes, much more will necessity in things follow from God’s knowledge. Thus, the original difficulty stands.
6. Knowledge has a more essential relation to things to which it stands as their cause than to things to which it stands as their effect; for a cause leaves its impression upon an effect, but an effect does not leave its impression upon the cause. Now, our knowledge, which is related to things as their effect, requires necessity in the things known if it is to be necessary itself. Therefore, if God’s knowledge were the cause of things, much more would it demand necessity in the things it knows. Consequently, God would not know contingent beings, and, this is contrary to what was said previously.
To the Contrary
1. Augustine says: “Not because they are does God know all creatures, spiritual and corporeal, but they are because He knows them.” Therefore, God’s knowledge is the cause of created things.
2. God’s knowledge is, in a sense, the art of the things that are to be created; hence Augustine says: “The Word is an artistic conception filled with the intelligible characters of living things.” But art is the cause of artistic products. Therefore, God’s knowledge is the cause of created things.
3. The opinion of Anaxagoras,” approved by the Philosopher, seems to support this view; for he asserted that the first principle of things was an intellect, which moved and distinguished all things.
An effect cannot be more simple than its cause. Consequently, whatever things in which one nature is found must be reduced to some one thing which is the first subject of that nature, as all hot things are reduced to one and the first hot thing, namely, fire, which, as is said in the Metaphysics, is the cause of heat in others. Now, since every resemblance involves an agreement of forms, whatever things are alike are so related that either one is the cause of the other or both are caused by one cause. Moreover, in all knowledge there is an assimilation of the knower to the known. Hence, either the knowledge is the cause of the thing known, or the thing known is the cause of the knowledge, or both are caused by one cause. It cannot be said, however, that what is known by God is the cause of His knowledge; for things are temporal and His knowledge is eternal, and what is temporal cannot be the cause of anything eternal. Similarly, it cannot be said that both are caused by one cause, because there can be nothing caused in God, seeing that He is whatever He has. Hence, there is left only one possibility: His knowledge is the cause of things. Conversely, our knowledge is caused by things inasmuch as we receive it from things. Angels’ knowledge, however, is not caused by things and is not the cause of things, but both the things which the angels know and their knowledge are from one cause; for in the same way that God communicates universal forms to things, making them subsist, He communicates likenesses of things to the minds of angels so that the angels can know them.
It should be observed, however, that knowledge as knowledge does not denote an active cause, no more than does a form as a form. Action consists, as it were, in the procession of something from the agent; but a form as a form has its act of existence by perfecting that in which it is, and by resting in that thing. Consequently, a form is not a principle of acting, except through the mediation of a power. In some cases, it is true, the form itself is the power, but not by reason of being a form. In other cases, the power is other than the substantial form of the thing. For example, the actions of bodies do not take place without the mediation of certain of their qualities. Similarly, knowledge denotes that there is something in the knower, not that something has been caused by the knower. Hence, an effect never arises from knowledge except through the mediation of the will, which, of its very nature, implies a certain influence upon what is willed. For action never proceeds from a substance without the mediation of a power, although in the case of some substances, such as God, will is identical with knowledge. In other substances, namely, all creatures, this is not the case. Similarly, effects proceed from God, the first cause of all things, through the mediation of secondary causes.
Hence, between His knowledge (the cause of the thing) and the thing caused there is found a twofold medium: one on the part of God, namely, the divine will; another on the part of things themselves in regard to certain effects, namely, the medium of secondary causes through whose mediation things proceed from God’s knowledge. Moreover, every effect follows not only the condition of the first cause but also that of the intermediate cause. Hence, the things known by God proceed from His knowledge as conditioned by His will and as conditioned by secondary causes. Consequently, it is not necessary that these things follow the manner of His knowledge in all respects.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Origen’s meaning is that God’s knowledge is not a cause so necessitating the thing known that from the very fact that something is known by God it must necessarily take place. Moreover, his phrase “Because it is to be, it is known by God...” gives the reason for concluding that God knows it, not the cause of the divine knowledge.
2. Since things proceed from knowledge through the mediation of the will, it is not necessary for them to come into being whenever there is knowledge of them, but only when the will determines that they should.
3. An effect follows the necessity of its proximate cause, which can also be a means of demonstrating the effect. An effect need not follow the necessity of the first cause, since an effect can be impeded, if it is contingent, by reason of a secondary cause. This is seen in the effects produced by the motion of the celestial bodies through the mediation of inferior forces on objects subject to generation and corruption. Even though the motion of the heavens remains always the same, these effects are contingent because the natural forces are defective.
4. A thing is the proximate cause of our knowledge. Hence, it imposes its own mode upon our knowledge. But, since God is a first cause, there is no parallel. Or we may say that our knowledge of necessary things is necessary, not by reason of the fact that things known cause our knowledge, but because of the conformity of the power to the things known, which is required for knowledge. Although the first cause influences an effect more powerfully than a secondary cause does, the effect does not take place without the operation of the secondary cause. Hence, if it is possible for the secondary cause to fail in its operation, it is possible for the effect not to take place, even though the first cause itself cannot fail. The possibility of the effect’s not taking place would be much greater if the first cause itself could fail. Therefore, since both causes are required for the existence of an effect, a failure of either cause will result in a failure of the effect. Hence, if contingency is affirmed of either cause, the effect will be contingent. But, if only one of the causes is necessary, the effect will not be necessary, since both causes are required for the existence of the effect. But, because a secondary cause cannot be necessary if the first cause is contingent, one can say that the necessity of an effect follows the necessity of the second cause.
6. Our reply here is the same as our reply to the fourth difficulty.
In the fifteenth and final article we ask:
Does God have knowledge of evil things?
[Parallel readings: De ver., 3, 4; S.T., I, 14, 10; 18, 4, ad 4; I Sent., 36, 1, 2; C.G., I, 71; Quodl., XI, 2, 2.]
It seems that He does not, for
1. All knowledge either causes the thing known, is itself caused by it, or at least proceeds from one and the same cause. But God’s knowledge is not the cause of evil things, evil things do not cause it, nor does some other thing cause both His knowledge and evil things. Therefore, God does not know evil things.
2. As is said in the Metaphysics, every being is related to truth in the same way as it is related to existence. But evil, as Dionysius and Augustine say, is not a being; therefore, it is not something true. Now, nothing is known unless it is true. Hence, evil cannot be known by God.
3. The Commentator says that an intellect that is always in act does not know a privation at all. But God’s intellect is in act in the highest possible degree. Hence, it knows no privations. But, as Augustine says: “Evil is the privation of good.” Therefore, God does not know evil. 4. Whatever is known is known either through its likeness or through its contrary. Now, evil is not like the divine essence through which God knows all things; nor is evil its contrary, for evil cannot harm it—and a thing is said to be evil because it is harmful. Therefore, God does not know evil things.
5. That which cannot be learned cannot be known. But, as Augustine says: “Evil cannot be learned through instruction, for only good things can be learned.” Therefore, evil cannot be known, and so is not known by God.
6. Whoever knows grammar is grammatical. Therefore, whoever knows evil things is evil. But God is not evil. Hence, He does not know evil.
To the Contrary
1. No one avenges what he does not know. But God is the avenger of evil; therefore, He has knowledge of evil things.
2. There is no good which God lacks. But the knowledge of evil things is good, for by it evils are avoided. Therefore, God knows evil things.
According to the Philosopher, whoever does not understand a thing which is one does not understand anything at all. A thing is one, however, by being undivided in itself and distinct from others. Hence, whoever knows a thing must know its distinction from other things. But the first basis of distinction lies in affirmation and negation. Therefore, whoever kno’ws an affirmation must know its negation. Now, since privation is nothing but a negation having a subject (as is said in the Metaphysics”), and since “one of two contraries is always a privation” (as is said both in the Metaphysics and Physics)—from the very fact that a thing is known, its privation and its contrary are known. Accordingly, since God has a proper knowledge of all His effects, knowing each one of them as it is, distinct in its own nature, He must know all the opposed negations and opposed privations, as well as all the contrarieties found in things. Consequently, since evil is the privation of good, by knowing any good at all and the measure of any thing whatsoever, He knows every evil thing.
Answers to Difficulties
1. That proposition is true about knowledge had from a thing through its likeness. But evil is not known to God by its likeness, but through the likeness of its opposite. Consequently, it does not follow that God is the cause of evil things because He knows them. It follows, rather, that He is the cause of the good to which the evil is opposed.
2. From the fact that non-being is opposed to being, it is said in some way to be being, as is clear from the Metaphysics. As a consequence, from the fact that evil is opposed to good, it has the character of something knowable and of the true.
3. It was the opinion of the Commentator that by knowing His essence God does not know individual effects in a determined way, that is, as they are distinct in their own proper nature, but that He knows only the nature of being which is found in all of them. Since evil is not opposed to universal but to particular being, it follows from this that God would not know evil. But this position is false, as is evident from what has been said. Hence, what follows from this position is also false, namely, that God does not know privations and evil things. For, according to the Commentator, a privation is known by an intellect only by the absence of a form from the intellect—a condition that cannot exist in an intellect which is always in act. But this is not necessary; for, from the very fact that a thing is known, its privation is known. Hence, both thing and privation are known through the presence of a form in the intellect.
4. The opposition of one thing to another can be taken in two ways: first, in general, as when we say that evil is opposed to good, and in this sense, evil is opposed to God; second, in particular, as when we say that this white thing is opposed to this black thing, and in this sense an evil is opposed only to that good which can be taken away by this evil and to which it would be harmful. In this second way evil is not opposed to God. Augustine accordingly says: “Vice is opposed to God in the way in which evil is opposed to good.” But, to the nature which it vitiates, vice is opposed not merely as evil to good but also as something harmful to that nature.
5. In so far as evil is known, it is a good; for to know evil is a good. Thus, it is true that whatever can be learned is a good—not that it is good in itself, but that it is good only in so far as it is known.
6. Grammar is known by possessing the art of grammar. But evil is not known by possessing it. Hence, no analogy can be drawn.