Question Eight: The Knowledge of Angels
Do the angels see God through His essence?
Do the intellects of beatified angels and men comprehend the divine essence?
Can an angel by means of his own natural powers attain the vision of God through His essence?
Does an angel, seeing God through His essence, know all things?
Is the vision of things in the Word had through likenesses of them existing in the angelic intellects?
Does an angel know himself?
Does one angel know another?
Does an angel know material things through forms or by knowing his own essence?
Are the forms by which angels know material things innate or received from things?
Do higher angels know by forms more universal than those by which lower angels know?
Do angels know singulars?
Do angels know the future?
Can angels know the heart’s secrets?
Can angels know many things at the same time?
Is angels’ knowledge of things discursive?
Should morning knowledge be distinguished from evening knowledge in angels?
Is an angel’s knowledge adequately divided into morning and evening knowledge?
This question treats the knowledge of angels.
In the first article we ask:
Do the angels see God through his essence?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 12, 1; 12, 4, ad 3; 56, 3; 62, 1; I-II, 3, 8; 5, 1; II Sent., 4, 1, 1; 23, 2, 1; IV Sent., 49, 2, 1; C.G., III, cc. 41,49,51,54,57; Quodl., X, 8, 17; In Math., c. 5 (P. 10:53a); Comp. Theol., I, c. 104; II, cc. 9-10; In Evang. Johannis, c. 1, lect. 11 (P. 10:312a); Q.D. De anima, 17, ad 10; In I Tim., c. 6, lect. 3 (P.13:6 1 8b).]
It seems not, for
1. We read in the Gospel according to St. John (1:18): “No man hath seen God at any time.” Commenting on this, Chrysostom writes: “Not even the heavenly essences themselves, I mean the cherubim and seraphim, were able to see God as He is.”’ But whoever sees God through His essence sees Him as He is. Angels, therefore, do not see God through His essence.
2. Commenting on that verse in Exodus (33:11), “And the Lord spoke to Moses face to face,” the Gloss reads: “No man, no angel has ever seen the essence of God as it is.” Consequently, our conclusion is the same as before.
3. According to Augustine,3 one desires a thing only if one does not have it. But in the first Epistle of St. Peter (1:12), we read that “the angels desire to look upon God.” Therefore, they do not see God through His essence.
4. Commenting on the first chapter of John, Chrysostom says: “Neither prophets, angels, nor archangels were able to see that which is God. 114 Since that which is God is God’s essence, our conclusion is the same as before.
5. Whatever is seen by the intellect is seen through a form. Consequently, if the intellect of an angel were to see the divine essence, it would have to see it through some form. Now, it could not see it through the divine essence itself, because the form by which the intellect understands makes the intellect to be in act and, consequently, is the act of the intellect. Hence, the divine essence and the intellect would be made one. But this cannot be said of the divine essence, which cannot become the constitutive part of anything. Therefore, when an angel knows God, he sees Him through the medium of some other form, and, consequently, does not see Him through His essence.
6. The intellect must be proportionate to the intelligible since the intelligible is a perfection of the one who understands. But there can be no proportion between the divine essence and an angelic intellect, for they are separated by an infinite distance, and there is no proportion between such widely separated things. Consequently, an angel cannot see God through His essence.
7. One thing can be made like another only in so far as it has received likeness of that other into itself. But by knowing God, an angelic intellect ismade like God, for all knowledge takes place through assimilation. Consequently, an angel must know God through a likeness, and not through His essence.
8. Whoever knows a thing through its essence knows what that thing is. Now, as is clear from the writings of Dionysius and Damascene, one cannot know what God is, but only what He is not. No created intellect, therefore, can see God through His essence.
9. As Dionysius says, darkness is said to be in God because of the superabundance of His brightness and because He is hidden from all lights and concealed from all knowledge. Now, God’s brightness exceeds not only our intellect but also the angelic intellect. Consequently, the brightness of the divine essence is hidden from the knowledge of angels.
10. Dionysius argues as follows: All cognition is about existing things. God, however, does not exist but is above existence. Therefore, He cannot be known except by transcendent knowledge, which is divine knowledge.
i 1. Dionysius says: “If a person seeing God understood what he saw, he did not see God but only one of the things belonging to Him.” Therefore, no created intellect can see God through His essence.
12. The stronger sight is, the more it can see something at a distance. Consequently, what is infinitely distant cannot be seen except by a sight that has infinite power. Now, the divine essence stands at an infinite distance from any created intellect. Therefore, since no created intellect has unlimited power, no created intellect can see God through His essence.
13. For any kind of knowledge, a judgment is necessary. A judgment, however, is made only by a superior about something inferior. Therefore, since no intellect is superior to the divine essence, no created intellect will be able to see God through His essence.
14. Boethius says: “A judgment is the act of one who judges.” Consequently, what is judged is related to the judgment as something passive. But the divine essence cannot be in the relation of passivity with respect to any created intellect. Therefore, a created intellect cannot see God through His essence.
15. Whatever is seen through its essence is reached by the intellect. But no intellect can reach that which stands at an infinite distance from it. Consequently, an angelic intellect cannot see God’s essence, which stands at an infinite distance from it.
To the Contrary
1. In the Gospel according to St. Matthew (18:10) we read: “Their angels always see the face of my Father.” Now, to see the face of the Father is to see His essence. Angels, therefore, see God through His essence.
2. Beatified angels see God in the way in which we have been promised to see Him when we are beatified. But we will see God through His essence, as is clear from the first Epistle of St. John (3:2): “When he shall appear, we shall be like to him; because we shall see him as he is.” Therefore, angels see God through His essence.
3. Angels know the one who has made them. But the divine essence itself is the cause of angels. Therefore, angels see the divine essence.
4. Whatever is seen is seen either through its essence or through a likeness. But God’s likeness is not something other than His essence, because whatever is in God is God. Consequently, angels see God through His essence.
5. The intellect is stronger when it knows than the will when it loves. Consequently, Augustine says: “The intellect goes first; the will act follows later or not at all.” Now, angels love the divine essence. Therefore, they see it in a much higher degree.
Treating this question, some philosophers have erred by saying that no created intellect can see God through His essence; for they concentrated only on the distance lying between a created intellect and the divine essence. Since this position is heretical, it cannot be held.
It is clear that the beatitude of any intellectual creature consists in its most perfect operation. Now, the supreme element of any rational creature is his intellect. Consequently, the beatitude of any rational creature consists in the most noble act of his intellectual vision. The nobility of intellectual vision, however, comes from the nobility of what is understood, just as the Philosopher says that the most perfect operation of sight takes place when it is in good condition and is directed to the most beautiful of all those things that fall under its view. If in its most perfect vision a rational creature would not see the divine essence, then its beatitude would not be God Himself but something inferior to Him. This, however, is not possible, for the ultimate perfection of all things consists in their reaching their principle; and our faith tells us” that God Himself immediately created all rational creatures. Hence, according to faith, all rational creatures who attain beatitude should see God through His essence.
Now, however,we must consider or understand how we can see God through His essence. In all vision there must be posited something by which the one who sees beholds what is seen. This medium is either the very essence of the thing seen, as is true in the case of God’s knowledge of Himself, or some likeness of the thing seen, as is true in the case of a man seeing a stone. This is necessary, because the person who knows and the known should in some manner become one in the act of knowing. God’s essence, however, cannot be seen by a created intellect by means of a likeness. For, in all cognition taking place through a likeness, the perfection of cognition is determined by the conformity which the likeness has with that thing whose likeness it is; and I mean a conformity in representation, such as a species in the soul has with the thing outside the soul even though it does not have a conformity with it in real existence. Consequently, if a likeness represents a genus, but not a species, the thing is known according to the intelligible character of the genus but not according to that of the species. If the likeness were to fail to represent even the genus, however, it would represent the thing only according to a likeness which is merely analogous. In such a case, the thing would not be known even according to the intelligible character of the genus. This would happen, for example, if I were to know a substance through the likeness of an accident.
Now, any likeness of the divine essence that is received into a created intellect can have no proportion with the divine essence other than that of analogy. Consequently, knowledge which is had through such a likeness is not knowledge of God Himself through His essence. In fact, it is more imperfect than that which would be had if a substance were known through the likeness of an accident. Consequently, those persons who said that God is not seen through His essence taught that only a certain brightness of the divine essence will be seen, meaning by brightness a likeness of the uncreated light through which, they affirmed, God could be seen but which was unable to represent the divine essence—just as the light received by our eyes fails to represent the brightness of the sun, with the result that we cannot fix our vision upon the sun’s brightness but can see only some of its brilliant rays. It remains, therefore, that that by which a created intellect sees God through His essence is the divine essence itself.
It is not necessary, however, for the divine essence to become the form of the intellect but only to become related to the intellect after the manner of a form. Consequently, just as one actual being results from matter and a form which is a part of the thing; so, with the necessary differences, the created intellect and the divine essence become one in the act of understanding when the intellect understands and the divine essence is understood through itself.
How it is possible for a separated essence to be joined to the intellect as a form has been shown by the Commentator.16 Whenever two things are received in something that can receive, and one of them is more perfect than the other, the proportion of what is more perfect to that which is less perfect is like the proportion of a form to what it perfects—just as light is the perfection of color when both are received in a transparent medium. Consequently, since a created intellect, because present in a created substance, is less perfect than the divine essence, the divine essence bears to it in some way the relation of a form as long as it exists in it. We can find some sort of example of this among natural things. A self-subsistent thing cannot be the form of any matter if it contains matter itself. For example, a stone cannot be the form of any matter. A self-subsistent thing lacking matter, however, can be the form of matter, as is clear in the case of the soul. Similarly and in some way or other, and even though it is pure act and has an act of being entirely distinct from the intellect, the divine essence becomes related to the intellect as its form in the act of understanding. For this reason, Peter Lombard says that the union of the body with a rational soul is, in a way, an example of the beatifying union of a rational spirit with God.
Answers to Difficulties
1. The statement, “This is seen as it is,” can be understood in two ways. First, it can mean that the very mode of the thing’s existence comes within one’s vision , that is to say, the very mode of the thing’s existence is seen along with the thing. It is in this way that God, as He is, is seen by angels and will be seen by the blessed; for they will see that His essence has that manner of being which it has. That verse in the first Epistle of John, “We shall see him as he is” (3:2), is to be understood in this sense. Second, however, it can mean that the manner mentioned determines the vision of the one who sees. In other words, the manner of the vision itself is the same as the manner of the essence of the thing seen. In this sense, no created intellect can see God as He is; for it is impossible for the mode of a created intellect’s vision to be as sublime as the mode of God’s existence. The statement of Chrysostom should be understood in this sense.
2-3-4. A similar reply should be given to the second, third, and fourth Difficulties.
5. The form by which an intellect sees God when it sees Him through His essence is the divine essence itself. From this, however, it follows, not that the essence is that form which is a part of a thing in its existence, but only that in the act of knowing it has a relation similar to that of a form which is a part of a thing in its existence.
6. Properly speaking, a proportion is nothing else but a relation of a quantity to a quantity, such as arises when one quantity is equal to or three times another. The term proportion was ~hen transferred to signify the relation of one reality to another. For example, even though no relation of quantity is involved, matter is said to be proportioned to form inasmuch as it is related to form as its matter. Similarly, a created intellect is proportionate to the sight of the divine essence inasmuch as, in some way, it is related to the latter as to an intelligible form, even though the perfections of the two are incommensurable because an infinite distance lies between them.
7. Assimilation is required for knowledge for this reason only, that the knower be in some way united to what is known. However, when the thing itself is united through its own essence to the intellect, the union is more perfect than if it had taken place through a likeness. Consequently, since the divine essence is united to the angelic intellect as its form, there is no need that the angelic intellect be informed by some likeness which would serve as a medium for knowing the divine essence.
8. The statements of Dionysius and of Damascene should be understood as referring to the vision had in this life, in which a person sees God through some form or other. Since this form falls short of representing the divine essence, the latter cannot be seen through it. All that is known is that God transcends this intellectual representation of Him. Consequently, that which God is remains hidden; and this is the most exalted mode of knowledge that we can attain while we are in this life. Hence, we do not know u hat God is, but only what He is not. Nevertheless, the divine essence represents itself sufficiently. But when it becomes, as it were, the form of the intellect, the intellect knows not only what God is not but also what He is.
9. God’s splendor proves too much for the intellects of persons in this life for two reasons. First, it lies beyond the grasp of their intellectual power. From this it follows that the perfection of our vision is not equal to the perfection of His essence, because what an action can accomplish is determined by the agent’s perfection. Second, it transcends the form by which our intellects now understand. Consequently, God is not seen now through His essence, as is clear from what has been said. In the beatific vision, however, while God still transcends the power of a created intellect, and the perfection of our vision still does not equal the perfection of His being, He does not lie beyond the form by which He is seen. Consequently, that which is God will be seen.
10. Dionysius’s argument proceeds from the knowledge had while in this life. This is had from forms in existing creatures, and, consequently, it cannot attain to what is transcendent. Such is not the case, however, of the vision had in heaven. His argument, therefore, is not pertinent to the problem at hand.
11. That statement of Dionysius should be understood as referring to the vision had in this life, wherein God is known through some created form. Our reason for saying this has been explained above.
12. A sense of sight must be very strong if it sees what is at some distance from it; for sight is a passive power, and the more perfect a passive potency is, the less is required to move it. Conversely, the more perfect an active power is, the more it can move. Again, a thing is more susceptible to beirig heated, the less heat it requires to become hot. But the more distant a thing seen is, the smaller is the visual angle; consequently, less of the thing seen comes to the sense of sight. However, if an equal form were to come from what is near and from what is far, the near object would not be seen less than the distant object would be. Now, even though an infinite distance lies between God and an angelic intellect, He is nevertheless joined to that intellect by His entire essence. Consequently, the cases are not similar.
13. There are two kinds of judgments. In the first, we judge how a thing should be; and this kind of judgment can be made only by one who is superior about what is inferior. In the second, we judge how things are; and this kind of judgment can be both about what is superior and about what is equal, for I am equally able to judge if one is standing or sitting, whether he be a king or a peasant. This second kind of judgment is found in cognition.
14. A judgment is not an action which passes out from the agent into an exterior thing which is then changed by it. Instead, it is an operation that remains as a perfection in the one who judges. Consequently, that about which the intellect or the sense judges need not be passive, even though it may be signified as passive. As a matter of fact, what is sensed and what is understood (the object of a judgment) are related to intellect and sense more like agents, inasmuch as the operations of sensation and understanding are in a certain sense passive.
15. A created intellect never attains the divine essence so as to be of the same nature. It does attain it, however, as an intelligible form.
In the second article we ask:
Do the intellects of beatified angels and men comprehend the divine essence?
[Parallel readings: De ver., 2, 2, ad 5-7; 20, 5; S.T., I, 12, 7; I-II, 4, 3, ad 1; III, 10, 1; III Sent., 14, 2, 1; 27, 3, 2; IV Sent., 49, 2, 3; In Ephes., c. 5, lect. 3 (P. 13:490b); In I Tim., c. 6, lect. 3 (P. 13:618b); De div. nom., c. i, lects. 1-2 (P. 15:261b seq.; 269a seq.); De caritate, a. 10, ad 5; In Evang. Johannis, c. 1, lect. 11 (P. 10:312b); Comp. Theol., I, c. 106; C.G., III, 55.]
It seems that they do, for
1. If what is simple is seen, the whole of it is seen. Now, the divine essence is simple. Therefore, when a beatified angel sees it, he sees the entire essence and consequently comprehends it.
2. It was said, however, that even though the entire essence is seen, it is not seen entirely.—On the contrary, entirely signifies a certain mode, but every mode of the divine essence is the essence itself. Therefore, if the entire essence is seen, it will be seen entirely.
3. The effectiveness of an action is measured by the form, which is, the principle of action on the part of the agent. This is clear from the case of heat and the process of heating. Now, the form by which the intellect understands is the principle of intellectual vision. Consequently, the effectiveness of the intellect in seeing God will be as great as the perfection of the divine essence. Therefore, the intellect will comprehend the divine essence.
4. just as the most perfect way of knowing composite intelligible objects is to know them by demonstration, so also the most perfect way of knowing the incomposite is to know what they are.
Now, every composite intelligible object known by demonstration is comprehended. Consequently, if one knows what a thing is, he comprehends it. But those who know God through His essence know what He Is, since to know what a thing is, is to know its essence. Angels, therefore, comprehend the divine essence.
5. In the Epistle to the Philippians (3:12),we read: “But I follow after, hoping I may. comprehend as I am also comprehended.” But God perfectly comprehended the Apostle. The Apostle, therefore, was moving to a stage wherein he would perfectly comprehend God.
6. The gloss on the passage cited immediately above says: “‘If I may comprehend’—that is, that I may know the immensity of God that surpasses any intellect.” Now, God is incomprehensible only by reason of His immensity. Therefore, the blessed perfectly comprehend the divine essence.
To the Contrary
1. In his commentary on Luke, Ambrose says: “No one has looked upon the abundance of goodness which lives in God. Neither mind nor eye has comprehended it.”
2. In his treatment of the vision of God, Augustine says: “No one has ever comprehended the fullness of God, either with his bodily eyes or with his mind.”
3. According to Augustine in the same work: “A thing is comprehended if its limits can be seen.” Now, this is impossible in the case of God, for He is infinite. Consequently, He cannot be comprehended.
Properly speaking, one thing is said to be comprehended by another if it is included within it, for to comprehend means to apprehend something in all its parts simultaneously. This is, as it were, to include it in all its aspects. Now, what is included by another thing does not exceed it; instead, it is less than or at most equal to it. These principles pertain to quantity. Consequently, there are two modes of comprehension according to the two kinds of quantity, namely, dimensional (or extensive) quantity and virtual (or intensive) quantity. According to dimensional quantity, a cask comprehends wine; according to virtual quantity, matter is said to comprehend form when, nothing remains in the matter which has not been perfected by the form. It is in this latter manner that a knowing power is said to comprehend its object, namely, in so far as what is known lies perfectly under its cognition. When the thing known exceeds its grasp, then the knowing power falls short of comprehension.
This excess must be considered differently in the different powers. To the sensitive powers, the object is related not merely according to virtual quantity but also according to dimensional quantity; for, inasmuch as a sense is in space, the sensibles move it, not only in virtue of the quality of the proper sensibles, but also according to dimensional quantity. This is clear in the case of the common sensibles. As a result, comprehension by sense can be impeded in two ways. First, it can be impeded by an excess in the object considered from the standpoint of virtual quantity. For example, the eye is kept from comprehending the sun because the intensity of the sun’s brightness, by which it is visible, exceeds the proportion of the eye’s ability to see it. Second, it can be impeded by an excess according to dimensional quantity. For example, the eye is kept from comprehending the entire mass of the earth. Part of it the eye sees, part of it it does not. this, however, is not true of the first example given, for we see all the parts of the sun alike, but none of them as perfectly as they might be seen.
Now, the intelligible is related to intellect only indirectly according to dimensional or natural quantity, that is, only inasmuch as the intellect receives something from sense. Consequently, our intellect is similarly kept from comprehending what is infinite according to dimensional quantity, so that some of the infinite comes into the intellect, but some of it remains outside. The intelligible is not, however, directly related to the intellect according to dimensional quantity, since the intellect is a power that does not use a physical organ. Instead, the intelligible is related to intellect according to virtual quantity. Con, sequently, the intellectual comprehension of those things which are understood in themselves without dependence on sense is impeded only because of an excess according to virtual quantity. This occurs, for example, when what is known can be understood in a more perfect way than the intellect understands it. For example, a person can understand the following conclusion: “A triangle has three angles equal to two right angles,” merely because of a probable reason, namely, the authority of another or because the proposition is commonly accepted. Such a person does not comprehend the proposition, not because he is ignorant of one part of it and knows another, but because that conclusion can be known by a demonstration which he does not yet know. Consequently, he does not comprehend the proposition simply because he has not grasped it perfectly.
Now, it is clear that there is no place for dimensional quantity in an angelic intellect, especially in its relation to the vision of God. Consequently, any equality or excess occurring here must be taken as involving virtual quantity only. Moreover, the perfection of the intelligibility of the divine essence lies beyond the grasp of angelic and all created intenects in so far as they have the power of knowing, because the truth by which the divine essence is knowable surpasses the light by which any created intellect knows. Consequently, it is impossible for any created intellect to comprehend the divine essence, not because it does not know some part of the essence, but because it cannot attain the perfect manner of knowing it.
Answers to Difficulties
1. The entire divine essence is seen by an angel, for there is nothing in it which he does not see. Consequently, the term entire is to be explained in a privative sense, not in a sense that would suppose parts. He does not, however, see the essence perfectly. Therefore, it does not follow that he comprehends it.
2.We can consider three modes in any vision. The first mode is that of the person who sees, taken absolutely; and it means the extent of his capacity. According to this, the intellect of an angel sees God entirely; for this statement means simply that an angel uses all the force of his intellect in seeing God. The second mode is that of the thing seen; and this mode is nothing other than the thing’s quality. But, since quality in God is nothing other than His substance, His mode is His very essence. Consequently, angels see God entirely in this sense, too, for they see God’s entire mode in the same way in which they see the entire essence. The third mode is that of the vision itself, which is a medium between the one seeing and the thing seen; and therefore it signifies the mode of the one seeing in his relation to the thing seen In this sense, one person is said to see another entirely when his vision is total, as occurs when the mode of the vision is as perfect as the mode of the thing’s visibility. As is clear from what was said above, one cannot see the divine essence entirely in this sense. In this respect, we are like one who knows that a proposition can be demonstrated but does not know the demonstration. Such a person knows the entire mode of its cognition, but he does not know it according to the complete mode in which it is knowable.
3. That reasoning follows when the form which is the principle of an action is united to the agent according to its complete mode. Such a union is necessarily true of all non-subsistent forms, whose very existence is to be in another. But, even though the divine essence is, in some way, like a form of the intellect, still, because it is seized by the intellect only according to the manner of the intellect seizing it, and because the action here is not only that of the form but also that of the agent, the action cannot be as perfect as the form which is the principle of the action, because of the defect on the part of the agent.
4. A thing whose definition is known is comprehended only if the definition itself is comprehended. It is possible, however, to know a thing or its definition without comprehending either; consequently, the thing itself is not comprehended. Moreover, even though an angel knows in some way what God is, still he does not comprehend this.
5. Vision of God had through His essence can be called comprehension in comparisom with the vision had in this life, which does not attain God’s essence. It is not, however, comprehension simply speaking, for the reason already given.* Consequently, in the statements, “Hoping I may comprehend as I am also comprehended” and “I shall know even as I have been known,” the word as signifies a comparison of likeness, not of equality.
6. God’s immeasurableness will be seen, but not in an immeasurable manner; for, as was said previously, His entire mode will be seen, but not entirely.
In the third article we ask:
Can an angel by means of his own natural powers attain the vision of god through his essence?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 12, 4. See also readings given for q. 8, a. 1.]
It seems that he can, for
1. According to Augustine,” in their initial state in which, as many say,2 the angels had only natural powers, they saw in the Word all the
creatures that were to be made. Now, this would not have been possible unless they saw the Word. Therefore, by means of its purely natural powers, an angelic intellect saw God in His essence.
2. Whatever can understand what is less intelligible can understand what is more intelligible. Now, the divine essence is most intelligible, because it is most free of matter; and it is because of this condition that a thing becomes actually intelligible. Therefore, since an angelic intellect can by means of its purely natural powers understand other
intelligible objects, it can with even greater reason also know the divine essence by means of its purely natural powers.
3. But it was said that, even though the divine essence if taken in itself is most intelligible, it is not most intelligible to an angelic intellect.—On the contrary, the fact that what is more visible in itself is not more visible to us is due to a defect in our sight. There is no defect, however, in an angelic intellect; for, as Dionysius says, an angel is “a pure, clean and spotless mirror.” Consequently, that which is more intelligible in itself is more intelligible to an angel.
4. According to the Commentator, the principle laid down by Themistius, “This is more intelligible; therefore it is more understood,” is applicable to intellects completely separated from matter. Now, an angelic intellect is of this nature. Therefore, the principle can be applied to it.
5. Surpassing visible brilliancy is less visible to our sense of sight because its very brilliancy harms sight. But surpassing intelligible brilliancy does not harm our intellect; indeed, it strengthens it. Consequently, that which is more intelligible in itself is more understood by the intellect.
6. To see God in His essence is an act of the intellect. But grace lies in the affective power. Grace, therefore, is not needed in order to see God through His essence. Consequently, angels were able to reach the vision of God merely through natural powers.
7. According to Augustine, since faith by its essence is present in the soul, it is also seen through its essence by the soul. Now, God by His essence is present to the soul and is present similarly to an angel and to all creatures whatsoever. Consequently, in his purely natural state an angel could see God in His essence.
8. According to Augustine, a thing is present in the soul in three ways: through union, through a notion, and through the presence of its essence. Now, if this division is consistent, it must have been made through opposites. Consequently, since God is present to an angelic intellect through His essence, He is not present to it through a likeness. Hence, God cannot be seen by an angel by means of a likeness. If an angel, therefore, can know God in some way merely by means of his natural powers, it seems that he knows Him through His essence naturally.
9. If a thing is seen in a material mirror, the mirror itself must be seen. Now, in the state in which they were created angels saw things in the Word as in a mirror. Consequently, they saw the Word.
10. But it was said that the angels were created not in a purely natural condition but with grace—either with sanctifying grace or with charisms.—On the contrary, just as the light of nature falls short of the light of glory, so also does the light of grace given in sanctifying grace and in charisms. Consequently, if persons possessing either of these graces could see God through His essence, they could, for a like reason, do the same in the state of pure nature.
11. Things are seen only where they are. Now, before things were created, they existed only in the Word. Consequently, when the angels came to know the things that were to be made, they knew them in the Word and thus saw the Word.
12. Nature does not fail in necessary matters. But to attain its end is one of the most necessary concerns of nature. Consequently, each and every nature has been provided for in such a way that it can attain its end. Now, to see God through His essence is the end for which a rational creature exists. Therefore, by its own purely natural powers a rational creature can attain this vision.
13. Superior powers are more perfect than inferior. Now, by means of their own natures, inferior powers can attain their objects. For example, senses can attain sensibles; the imagination, objects of imagination. Consequently, since God is the object of the intelligence, as is said in Spirit and Soul, it seems that an angelic intelligence can see God through its own natural powers.
14. But it was said that such a comparison cannot be made, because the objects of other powers do not exceed the powers themselves, but God exceeds all created intelligences.—On the contrary, no matter how much a created intelligence is perfected by the light of glory, God always infinitely surpasses it. Consequently, if “excess” prevented one from seeing God through His essence, no created intellect would ever be able to attain a state of glory in which it would see God through His essence. This, however, is absurd.
15. In Spirit and Soul, we read: “The soul is a likeness of all wisdom,” but so is an angel, for the same reason. Now, things are known naturally by means of their likenesses. Consequently, an angel naturally knows those things which belong to wisdom. But, as Augustine says, wisdom is about divine matters. An angel, therefore, can come to see God through His essence by means of his natural powers.
16. In order that a created intellect see God through His essence, all that is required is that it be made like God. Now, by its very nature, the intellect of an angel is godlike. Consequently, it can see God through His essence by means of its own natural powers.
17. All knowledge of God is either as through a mirror or through His essence. This is clear from the first Epistle to the Corinthians (13:12): “We see now through a glass in a dark manner, but then face to face.” Now, in their natural condition angels do not know God as through a mirror, because, as Augustine says: “From the time they were created they enjoyed the eternal vision of the Word. They did not know the invisible things of God through things that are made.” (This latter type of knowledge is “seeing through a glass.”) Consequently, angels naturally see God through His essence.
18. We see a thing without a medium if we can think of it without thinking about something else. An angel, however, can by his natural knowledge think of God without thinking about any creature. Consequently, he can see God without any medium; and this is to see Him through His essence.
19. Augustine says that those realities which are in the soul in their essence are known by the soul through their essence. But the divine essence is in the soul in this manner. Therefore.
20. That which is not seen through its essence is seen through a species if it is seen at all. Now, the divine essence cannot be seen through a species, for a species is more simple than that of which it is the species. Consequently, since the divine essence is known naturally by an angel, it is known by him through its essence.
To the Contrary
1. To see God through His essence is life eternal. This is clear from the Gospel of St. John (17:3): “This is eternal life, etc.” Now, one cannot attain eternal life through merely natural powers; for, as it is said in the Epistle to the Romans (6:23): “The grace of God is life everlasting.” Consequently, by merely natural powers, one cannot attain the vision of God through His essence.
2. Augustine says” that, even though the soul is made to know God, it can be led to this act of knowledge only by the infusion of divine light. Consequently, no one can by his natural power see God through His essence.
3. Nature does not transcend its limits. Now, the divine essence surpasses any created nature. Consequently, the divine essence cannot be seen by any natural cognition.
In order that God be seen through His essence, the divine essence must be united with the intellect in some way as an intelligible form. However, what is to be perfected can be united with a form only after a disposition is present which makes the subject to be perfected capable of receiving such a form, because a definite act takes place only in a potency suitable for it. For example, a body is united with a soul as with its form only after it has been organized and disposed. Similarly, there must be some disposition produced in the intellect by which it is made perfectible by this form, the divine essence. This disposition is brought about by an intellectual light; and, were this light natural, an intellect could see God in His essence by its purely natural powers. It is impossible, however, for it to be natural, because the ultimate disposition for a form and the form itself must belong to one order. Consequently, if one is natural, so is the other. The divine essence, however, is not the natural intelligible form of a created intellect.
This is clear from the principle that act and potency always belong to one genus. Hence, potency in the genus of quantity has no relation to an act in the genus of quality; and, similarly, the natural form of a created intellect can belong only to that genus in which the potency of a created intellect exists. As a result, the form of the intellect cannot be a sensible form, since it belongs to another genus, but can be only an immaterial form belonging to the same genus as the intellect. Now, just as a sensible form lies below the genus of created intellectual powers, so does the divine essence lie above it. Consequently, the divine essence is not a form within the ambit of the natural power of the intellect. Therefore, that intellectual light by which a created intellect receives the ultimate disposition for union with the divine essence as with an intelligible form is not a natural light, but a supernatural light. And this is the light of glory of which the Psalmist speaks when he says (35:10): “In thy light we shall see light.”
Therefore, the natural capacity of any intellect has a determinate relation to some created intelligible form. This relationship, however, differs in man and in angels, since in man it is to an intelligible form abstracted from sense (all man’s knowledge has its origin in sense); however, in angels it is to an intelligible form not received from sense, and especially to that form which is their own essence. Consequently, the knowledge of God that an angel can naturally attain is simply that which he gets when he sees Him through his own substance. Hence, we read in The Causes: “An intelligence understands what lies above it through the mode of its own substance,” because, inasmuch as it is caused by God, its substance is a certain likeness of the divine essence. The knowledge of God that man can naturally attain, however, is had through knowing Him by means of sensible form which, by the light of the active intellect, is abstracted from sensible conditions. Hence, in its commentary on the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans(1:20), “For the invisible things of him, etc.,” the Gloss states that men were given help toward knowing God by sensible creatures and by the natural light of reason. However, knowledge of God had by means of a created form is not vision of Him through His essence. Consequently, neither man nor angel can attain the vision of God through His essence by their own purely natural powers.
Answers to Difficulties
1. This statement of Augustine, that angels saw things in the Word, can be understood as referring to angels, not as they were immediately after their creation, but as they were when they were beatified. Or the reply might be given that, even though they did not see the Word through His essence when they were in a natural state, they saw Him in some way by ineans of a likeness existing within them, and it was from this knowledge that they were able to know creatures. Later, however, they knew them much more fully in the Word when they saw the Word through His essence, since, in so far as a cause is known, its effects are known by means of the cause.
2. Even though the divine essence, taken in itself, is most knowable, it is not most knowable to a created intellect, because it lies outside the order of the latter.
3. The angelic intellect is said to be a pure and spotless mirror without defect because in view of its genus it does not suffer from a defect of intelligible light as the human intellect does. The intelligible light of the human intellect is obscured to such an extent that it must be passive in regard to phantasms under the limitations of space and time and progress discursively from one thing to another. This is why Isaac says: “Reason is born in the shadow of intelligence”16 and why its intellectual power can grasp the quiddities only of intelligible created forms belonging to its own genus. But the angelic intellect is also found to be “dark” and defective in its relation to the divine essence, which lies outside its genus. Therefore, it falls short of secing’the divine essence, even though the latter in itself is most knowable.
4. This statement of the Commentator is understood as referring to knowledge of created intelligibles, not to knowledge of the uncreated essence. A created intelligible substance is in itself most intelligible, but is less intelligible to us for this reason, that it exceeds forms abstracted by sense, our natural means of knowledge. Similarly—in fact, even to a much greater extent—the divine essence exceeds the created intelligible form by which angelic intellects know. Consequently, an angelic intellect understands the divine essence less [than created things] even though it is more intelligible in itself, just as our intellect knows less about an angelic essence than it does about sensible things, even though an angelic essence is more intelligible in itself.
5. Even though surpassing intelligible brilliancy does not harm the intellect but strengthens it, it sometimes lies beyond the representation of the form by which the intellect understands; and, for this reason, it hinders the intellect. Consequently, the following statement in the Metaphysics that the intellect is related to what is most manifest in nature “as the eye of the bat is to the light of the sun” is true.
6. For the vision of God through His essence, grace is not required as some kind of immediate disposition; but by grace man merits that the light of glory be given him, and through this he sees God in His essence.
7. Faith is known through its essence in so far as its essence is joined to the intellect as an intelligible form, and not for any other reason. But, the divine essence is not joined to a created intellect in this manner during life. It merely sustains the intellect in its act of existence.
8. That division is made, not through opposing things, but through opposing formal concepts. Consequently, there is no reason why something cannot be in the soul in one manner, say, through its essence, and in another manner also, as through its likeness or image. For an image and likeness of God exist in the soul, even though God is also present there through His essence.
9. The answer here is the same as that given to the first difficulty.
10. Neither sanctifying grace nor charisms suffice for vision of God through His essence. Only perfected grace is sufficient, and this is the light of glory.
i 1. Even before things existed in their own natures they existed not only in the Word but also in the minds of angels. Consequently, they could be seen even though the Word was not seen through His essence.
12. As the Philosopher says, many degrees of perfection are found in things. The first and most perfect degree is that wherein a thing has its own goodness without the motion or the help of another, just as the most perfect health exists in one who is healthy by himself without the help of medicine. This is the degree proper to divine perfection. The second degree is that wherein one can attain perfect goodness with slight help or with a little motion, like a man who can keep his health with only a little exercise. The third degree is that wherein one acquires perfect goodness only through many motions, like a man who acquires perfect health only after much exercise. The fourth degree belongs to him who can never acquire perfect goodness, but can acquire only some goodness by means of many motions. The fifth degree belongs to him who cannot acquire any goodness at all and has no movement towards goodness. He is like a man who has an incurable disease and, consequently, does not take any medicine.
Now, irrational natures can in no way attain perfect goodness, which is beatitude. They can attain only some imperfect goodness, their natural end, which they achieve through the force of their own natures. Rational creatures, however, can attain perfect goodness, that is, beatitude. Yet, in order to attain this, they need more things than lower natures need in order to obtain their ends. Consequently, even though rational creatures arc more noble, it does not follow that they can attain their end by means of their own natural powers as lower natures do. For, to attain beatitude through one’s own power belongs exclusively to God.
13. A similar reply should be given to this difficulty about the ordering of powers.
14. Even though a created intellect is never elevated by the light of glory to such an extent that the distance between it and the divine essence is no longer infinite, yet, as a result of this light, the intellect is united with the divine essence as with an intelligible form; and this union can happen in no other way.
15. By his natural powers an angel can know God through a likeness; but this knowledge is not the same as seeing God through His essence.
16. The natural conformity which an angelic intellect has with God is not such that it is proportioned to the divine essence as to an intelligible form. It consists rather in this, that an angelic intellect does not receive its knowledge of sensible things from sense as we do; and in other respects, too, the angelic intellect resembles God more than it resembles the human intellect.
17. A thing is seen in three different ways. First, it is seen through its essence, in the way in which a visible essence itself is joined to sight when the eye sees light. Second, it is seen through a species, as takes place when the likeness of a thing is impressed on my sense of sight when I see a stone. Third, it is seen “through a mirror”; and this takes place when the thing’s likeness, through which it is known, is not caused in the sight by the thing itself directly but by that in which the likeness of the thing is represented, just as sensible species are caused in a mirror.
Now, to see God in the first manner is natural only to God. It lie above the nature of man and angel. To see God in the second manner is natural to an angel. To see God in the third manner, however, is natural to man himself, for he can come to know God from creature inasmuch as they represent Him somehow or other. Consequently, th statement that all knowledge is either through an essence or through a mirror should be taken as referring to human knowledge. The knowledge which an angel naturally has of God lies between these two types.
18. An image of a thing can be considered in two ways. First, it can be considered in so far as it is a certain thing; and since as a thing it is distinct from that of which it is an image, under this aspect the motion of the cognitive power to the image will be other than its motion toward that of which it is an image. Second, it can be considered in so far as it is an image. Under this aspect, the motion toward the image will be the same as the motion toward that of which it is an image. Consequently, when a thing is known by means of a resemblance existing in its effect, the cognitive motion can pass over immediately to the cause without thinking about any other thing. This is the way in which the intellect of a person still in this life can think of God without thinking of any creature.
19. Those things which are in the soul in their essence, and are united with it as intelligible forms are understood by the soul through their essences. The divine essence, however, is not present this way in the soul of one still in this life. Consequently, the argument proves nothing.
20. That argument is talking about species abstracted from things, and these must be more simple than the things themselves. A created [angelic] intellect, however, does not know God naturally through such a likeness, but only through a likeness imprinted by Him. Consequently, the argument proves nothing.
In the fourth article we ask:
Does an angel, seeing God through his essence, know all things?
[Parallel readings: De ver., 20, aa. 4-6; S.T. I, 12, 8; 57, 5; 106, 1, ad 1; III, 10, 2; II Sent., 11, 2, 2, aa. 1-2; III Sent., 14, 2, sols. 2-4; IV Sent., 45, 3, 1; 49, 2, 5; C.G., III, cc. 56, 59.]
It seems that he does, for
1. As Isidore says: “Angels see all things in the Word of God before they come into being.”
2. Every faculty of sight sees those things whose likenesses it has within it. But the divine essence, a likeness of all things, is joined to the angelic intellect as an intelligible form. Consequently, when an angel sees God through His essence he sees all things.
3. If an angel does not know all things, this is because of a defect in his faculty of knowing or in its objects or in the medium of his cognition. But his lack of knowledge is not due to any defect in the angel’s intellect, for, as Dionysius says, an angel “is a pure and spotless mirror.” Nor is it due to any defect in the objects of this faculty, for all things are knowable in the divine essence. Finally, it is not due to any defect in the medium by which angels know, for the divine essence represents all things perfectly. Consequently, seeing God, an angel sees all things.
4. An angel’s intellect is more perfect than the intellect possessed by a human soul. But the human soul has the power to know all things; for as is said in The Soul, it is “all things in some manner” since it is natural for it to know all things. Consequently, an angelic intellect can also know all things. Now, nothing is more effective in bringing an angelic intellect to the act of cognition than the divine essence. Therefore, when an angel sees the divine essence he knows all things.
5. As Gregory says, love in heaven is equated with knowledge, for there one’s love is proportioned to his knowledge. But one who loves God will love in Him all things lovable. Consequently, one who sees God will see all things knowable.
6. If an angel, seeing God, does not see all things, then this is only because all the intelligibles are infinite. But an angel is not kept from understanding by the fact that the object of his intellect is infinite, for the divine essence itself is distant from him as something infinite from what is finite. Consequently, it seems that when an angel sees God he can see all things.
7. The knowledge one has in heaven is greater than that had by one on earth, no matter how much the knowledge of the latter is elevated. Now, all things can be revealed to one still on earth. That all things present can be revealed is clear from the case of Benedict, who, as Gregory says, was shown the whole world at once. That all future things can be revealed is also clear, since God reveals some future events to prophets; and, in the same way, He could reveal all of them to a prophet—and all past things, too. For an even better reason, therefore, an angel seeing God in the heavenly vision knows all things.
8. Gregory writes as follows: “What is there that they do not see when they see the one that sees all things?” Now, angels see God, who knows all things, through His essence. Consequently, angels know all things.
9. As regards knowledge, the power of an angel is not less than that of a soul. But Gregory says: “Every creature is small for a soul who sees the Creator.” Therefore, every creature is small to an angel; thus our conclusion is the same as before.
10. Spiritual light pours itself into the mind with greater force than physical light does into the eye. But, if physical light were the adequate cause of all colors, then in pouring itself into the eye it would manifest all colors. Consequently, since God Himself, who is spiritual light and the perfect principle of all things, pours Himself into the mind of an angel who sees Him, by knowing God the angel will know all things.
i 1. Cognition is, as it were, a kind of contact between the knower and the knowable. Now, if a simple thing is touched, whatever there is in it is touched. But God is simple. Therefore, if He is known, all things are known, because all their intelligible characters exist within Him.
12. Knowledge of creatures does not belong to the substance of beatitude. Therefore, creatures seem to be related equally to the knowledge had in that state: one who is beatified knows either all creatures or none at all. But, since he knows some creatures, he must know them all.
13. Any potency that is not reduced to act is imperfect. But the intellect of an angel is in potency to the knowledge of all things; otherwise, it would be inferior to the human intellect, which has the power to become all things. Consequently, if an angel did not know all things in his state of beatitude, his knowledge would remain imperfect; but this seems repugnant to the perfection of beatitude, which takes away all imperfections.
14. If a beatified angel did not know all things, he would, since he is in potency to knowing all things, at one time know something which he did not know previously. Now, this is impossible; for, as Augustine says, “beatified angels’ thoughts do not change”; and they would change if angels came to know something of which they were previously ignorant. Consequently, beatified angels see all things when they see God.
15. The beatific vision is measured by eternity, and for this reason is called eternal life. Now, since there is no “before” or “after” in eternity, these sequences are not in the beatific vision either. Hence, [in the vision] something cannot be known which was not known previously. Therefore, our conclusion is the same as before.
16. In the Gospel according to John (15:9), we read the following: “He shall go in, and go out, and shall find pastures.” This is explained as follows in Spirit and Soul: “He shall go in to contemplate the divinity of the Saviour, and go out to gaze upon His humanity. In both he will find glorious refreshment.” Now, our external sight will nourish itself perfectly upon the humanity of our Saviour, because nothing in His body will be hidden from it. Consequently, the eye of the mind will nourish itself similarly on His divinity, because it will be ignorant of nothing in His divinity, and so will know all things.
17. As is said in The Soul, an intellect that understands what is most intelligible does not understand what is less intelligible to a lesser degree but to a greater degree. Now, God is most intelligible. Hence, when an intellect sees God it sees all things.
18. One knows an effect especially by knowing its cause. Now, God is the cause of all things. Consequently, when an intellect sees God it knows all things.
19. Colors painted on a tablet, to become known by sight, would need only a light to shine upon them and make them actually visible. Now, through the illumination of the divine light, the representations of all things are actually intelligible in the divine essence. Consequently, when an intellect sees the divine essence, it sees all things by means of these representations of all things.
To the Contrary
1. We read the following in the Epistle to the Ephesians (3:10): “That the manifold wisdom of God may be made known to the principalities and powers in heavenly places through the church.” Commenting on this passage, Jerome says” that the angels learned the mystery of the Incarnation through the preaching of the Church Consequently, they were ignorant of it before the preaching of the Church, even though they saw God through His essence. Therefore, when they saw God in His essence they did not know all things.
2. Dionysius writes: “Many aspects of the mysteries are hidden from the celestial essences.”
3. Nothing is equal to another’s extension according to dimensional quantity unless it has the same amount of dimensional quantity. Therefore, nothing is equal to another’s extension in virtual quantity unless it has the same amount of efficacy. Now, an angelic intellect is not equal to the divine intellect in perfection. Consequently, it is impossible for an angelic intellect to embrace all things which the divine intellect embraces.
4. Since angels have been made to praise God, they praise Him in so far as they know Him. But, as is clear from what Chrysostom has written, all angels do not praise Him equally. Therefore, some know more things in God than others. Nevertheless, even those who know less see God through His essence. Consequently, when they see God through His essence they do not see all things.
5. Knowledge and joy belong to the substance of angelic beatitude. Now, the beatified angels can rejoice over something which they did not rejoice over previously, as, for example, the conversion of a sinner: “There shall be j oy before the angels of God upon one (Luke 15:10). Consequently, they can also know something which they did not know previously. Thus, even though they see God through His essence, there are some things which they do not know.
6. No created thing can be all-good or all-powerful. Therefore, no created thing can be all-knowing.
7. God’s knowledge infinitely surpasses that of a creature. Consequently, it is impossible for a creature to know all that God knows.
8. In Jeremiah (17:9-10) we read the following: “The heart is perverse... and unsearchable. Who can know it? I... the Lord.” From this it seems that even though the angels see God through His essence, they nevertheless do not know the heart’s secrets and, therefore, do not know all things.
In seeing His own essence, God knows some things, namely, the present, past, and future, with the knowledge of vision. Other things, namely, all those which He could make but which nevertheless do not exist, have not existed, and will not exist—these He knows with the knowledge of simple understanding. Now, it seems impossible that any creature seeing the divine essence should know all the things which God knows with His knowledge of simple understanding.
It is clear that the number of effects a person knows of a cause is in proportion to the perfection of his knowledge of that cause. For example, the more perfectly one knows a principle of demonstration, the more conclusions can he draw from it. Consequently, if an intellect is to know from its knowledge of a cause all the effects of that cause, it must attain a perfect knowledge of it and, consequently, must comprehend it. Now, as is evident from what has been said previously, it is impossible for a created intellect to comprehend the divine essence. Therefore, it is impossible for any created intellect in seeing the divine essence to know all the things that can be caused by it.
However, it is possible for a created intellect which sees God to know all that God knows with His knowledge of vision. All hold this is true of the soul of Christ. Opinion is split, however, about the others who see God through His essence. Some say that all angels and all the souls of the blessed necessarily know all things by seeing God’s essence because they are like men who look into a mirror and see all that is reflected there. This opinion, however, seems to contradict the sayings of the saints, especially those of Dionysius, who expressly states that the lower angels rid themselves of their ignorance by the help of higher angels. Hence, we must assert that the higher angels know things of which the lower are ignorant, even though all angels without exception contemplate God.
Consequently, we answer that things do not exist in the divine essence as actually distinct; but, as Dionysius says, in God all things are one in the way in which many effects are united in one cause. Images reflected in a mirror, however, are actually distinct; consequently, the way in which all things are in the divine essence is more like the way in which effects are in a cause than that in which images are in a mirror. Moreover, one who knows a cause will know all the effects which that cause can produce only if he comprehends that cause, but such comprehension is impossible for a created intellect with regard to the divine essence. Hence, in seeing His essence God alone necessarily knows all the things that He can make. The same is true of the effects that can be produced by the divine essence: one knows more of these the more fully he sees God’s essence. Consequently, the sou of Christ, which sees God more perfectly than all other creatures do is said to know all things, present, past, and future. Other creatures however, do not have this knowledge. Each one of them sees more ol fewer effects of God in proportion to the knowledge he has of Him.
Answers to Difficulties
1. As Peter Lombard points out, when one says that angels see all things in the Word before they come into being, his statement should not be understood as referring to all angels, but possibly only to the higher angels. Nor do these see all things perfectly, but,,perhaps, only in general. Some things they know, as it were, only implicitly. Or one could also reply that many concepts can be drawn from one object, just as many demonstrations can be made about a triangle; and it is possible for one to know the definition of a triangle and still not know all the things that can be known about a triangle. Therefore, it is one thing to know all things, and another to know all that can be known about things.
However, it is sufficiently probable that all who see God through His essence know all creatures at least according to their species. This is what Isidore means when he says angels “know all things in the Word before they come into existence,” for coming into existence pertains to things, not to intelligible characters. It is not necessary, however, that an angel know all the intelligible characters of a thing when he knows it; and, even if he were to know all the natural properties which can be known by comprehending its essence, he would not know it according to all the formalities by which it falls under the ordering of divine providence, which ordains one thing to many events. It is about such things that the highest angels enlighten the lower. And this is what Dionysius means when he says that higher angels teach the lower about the intelligible characters of things.
2. That argument holds when sight is joined to a likeness according to the entire potentialities of that likeness. Then sight necessarily knows everything to which the likeness extends. However, a created intellect is not joined to the divine essence in this manner. Consequently, the argument does not hold.
3. The fact that an angel, seeing God, nevertheless does not see all things is due to a defect in his intellect, which is not united to the divine essence according to the total cognoscibility of the essence. But, as mentioned above, this defect is not contrary to the purity of the angelic intellect.
4. The ambit of a soul’s natural power includes only those objects which can be understood by the light of the active intellect, and these are forms abstracted from sensible objects. Similarly, the natural power of an angelic intellect includes only those objects that are manifested to it by its own natural light, which is not, however, sufficient to manifest all the things hidden in the wisdom of God. Moreover, the soul receives knowledge of those things which it can know naturally only through a medium that is proportioned to itself. Consequently, even though two persons may apprehend a conclusion by one and the same medium, one will come to know it when the other, with a slower intellect, will not. Similarly, when angels see God’s essence, a higher angel will know many things which a lower angel will not. However, the lower angel gets knowledge of these things through a medium that is more proportioned to him, namely, the light of the higher angel. Hence, it is necessary for one angel to enlighten another.
5. Affection tends toward things themselves, but intellect not only tends toward things but also divides them up into many concepts. Consequently, these concepts are understood but not loved. They can, however, be the principle of love or the reason for it. But, properly speaking, what is loved is the thing itself. Therefore, since the angels who see God through His essence know all creatures, they can love all creatures. But, because they do not apprehend all the intelligible aspects of creatures, they do not love creatures under all the aspects under which they can be loved.
6. Even though God is at an infinite distance from the angelic intellect, angels do not know God according to the mode of His infinity, because they do not know Him infinitely. Consequently, it is not necessary that they know all the infinite things that He knows.
7. God could reveal to a person in this life so many things that he would know more about creatures than the intellect of one in heaven knows. Similarly, God could reveal to a person in a lower place in heaven as many things as one in a higher place knows—or even more things. But this is not the point of our present inquiry. The point is: Does it follow that a created intellect knows all things from the fact that it sees God’s essence?
8. Gregory’s statement can be understood as referring to things that pertain to the substance of beatitude. Or one can reply that Gregory is speaking about the sufficiency of the medium, because the divine essence is a medium that is sufficient to make all things known. Gregory accordingly holds that it is not strange if one who sees the divine essence knows future things; but that he does not know all things comes from a defect in the intellect which does not comprehend it.
9. This statement declares that every creature is small for a soul seeing the divine essence; that is, from such a soul no creature is hidden because of its nobility. There can be another reason, however, why it might remain hidden, namely, the fact that it is not joined to the soul by a proportionate medium through which the soul could know it.
10. That argument would hold if a physical eye could take upon itself all the potentialities of physical light. In the problem proposed this is clearly not the case.
11. When an intellect touches God by its cognition; it knows the whole of God, even though it does not know God wholly. Consequently, it does know all that is in God actually. It is not necessary however, that the intellect know the relation God has to all His effects, for this would mean that it knew God in so far as He is the ultimate meaning of all of them.
12. Although the knowledge of creatures does not belong to th substance of beatitude as something that beatifies, nevertheless, some knowledge of creatures pertains to beatitude as being in a way necessary for some act which the beatified person has to perform. For example, to know all who have been placed under his care belongs t the beatitude of an angel. Similarly, it belongs to the beatitude of the saints to know those persons who implore their help and even to know those other creatures from which they ought to rise to the praise of God.
Or it might be said that, even if the knowledge of creatures pertain in no way at all to beatitude, it does not follow that all knowledge of creatures is equally related to the beatific vision. For, when a cause is known, some effects are known immediately in it while others still remain rather hidden. For example, some conclusions can be drawn immediately from principles of demonstration while others cannot be except by means of numerous media; and one cannot come to know the latter by himself but must be led to them by someone else. The same is true of knowing the intelligible reasons of effects in their relation to the divine essence: some are hidden but others are manifest. Consequently, when one sees the divine essence he sees some effects but not others.
13. A thing can be in potency to something else in two ways. First, it can be in natural potency; and it is in this way that a created intellect is in potency to knowing all those things that can be manifested to it by its own natural light. A beatified angel is ignorant of none of these things, for were he ignorant of these his intellect would be imperfect. Secondly, a thing can be in merely obediential potency; and it is in this way that a thing is said to be in potency to those things above its nature which God can nevertheless cause in it. If such things are not reduced from potency to act, the potency is not imperfect. Consequently, the intellect of a beatified angel is not imperfect if it does not know all the things which God could reveal to it.
Or one could reply that if a potency is ordered to two perfections, and if the second is the final cause of the first, then that potency would not be imperfect if it should have the second without the first—for example, if one were to have health without the help of medicine which causes health. Now, all knowledge of created things is ordered to the knowledge of God. Consequently, granted the impossible position that a created intellect did not know creatures but still knew God, it would not be imperfect. Moreover, an intellect that sees God and knows more creatures is not more perfect because of this knowledge of creatures but rather by the fact that it knows God more perfectly. For this reason, Augustine says: “Unhappy the man who knows all things,” that is, created things, “but does not know You. Happy is he who knows You, even if he does not know creatures. Moreover, if he knows You and creatures, he is not happier on account of them, but his happiness comes from You alone.”
14. Change in thought, which is not had in beatified angels, can be understood in two different senses. First, thought is said to change as a result of reasoning from effects to causes or from causes to effects. Now, this discursive thinking is proper to reason and is beneath the clarity of angelic intellects. Second, change in thought can mean succession in the things that are thought about; and here we should note that there cannot be any succession in the knowledge by which angels know things in the Word, because they know many different things in one medium. But there is succession with respect to those things which they know through innate species or through the illuminations of higher angels. Hence, Augustine says: “God moves spiritual creatures through time;” that is, they are changed in their affections.
15. The beatific vision is that by which God is seen through His essence and things are seen in God. There is no succession in this vision, nor do angels make any progress in it or in beatitude. But they can progress in their vision of things through innate species or through the illumination of superior angels; and this vision is measured, not by eternity, but by time—not by that time which is the measure of the first mobile thing’s motion, about which the Philosopher speaks, but by non-continuous time, such as that by which creation is measured. This is nothing other than the difference between “before” and “after” in the creation of things or in the succession of acts of understanding had by angels.
16. Christ’s body is finite and can be comprehended by physical sight. The divine essence, however, cannot be comprehended by spiritual sight, because it is infinite. Hence, no comparison can be made.
17. That argument would conclude if the intellect could know perfectly what is most knowable, namely, God Himself. Since this is not so, the argument does not hold.
18. As is clear from what we have said, this difficulty from causes and effects can be.,answered in a similar way.
19. The intelligible representations of things are not in God the way in which colors are on a tablet or wall. This is clear from what we have said above. Hence, the argument proves nothing.
Answers to Contrary Difficulties
We concede these arguments, since their conclusions are true even though they are not reached as they should be.
In the fifth article we ask:
Is the vision of things in the word had through likenesses of them existing in the angelic intellects?
[Parallel readings; S.T., I, 12, 9; III Sent., 14, 1, sols. 4-5.]
It seems that it is, for
1. All cognition takes place through an assimilation of the knower to the known. Therefore, if an angelic intellect knows things in the Word, it should know them by means of likenesses existing within itself.
2. A spiritual thing is related to spiritual sight as a physical thing is related to physical sight. But a physical thing is known by physical sight only by means of an impression of the thing existing within it. The same is true, therefore, of spiritual sight.
3. The glory had in heaven does not destroy nature; instead, it perfects it. Now, the natural cognition of angels takes place through species. Therefore, their knowledge in glory, which consists in their vision in the Word, takes place through likenesses of things.
4. All knowledge takes place through some form. But the Word cannot be the form of the intellect, except perhaps the exemplary form, since He cannot be the intrinsic form of anything. Consequently, an angelic intellect must know the things that it knows in the Word through other forms.
5. It is clear from the second Epistle to the Corinthians (12:4) that Paul in rapture saw the essence of God and there saw “secret words which it is not granted to man to utter.” Now, he did not forget those words when he no longer saw the Word through His essence. Hence, he must have known them by means of some likenesses, which remained in his intellect. For the same reason, therefore, it seems that angels know through likenesses the things they know in the Word.
6. But it was said that when the Word departed from Paul, some traces of his vision remained in Paul’s soul, that is, some impressions or likenesses by which he could remember the things that he saw in the Word—just as impressions are left on the senses even after the objects that have been sensed are no longer present.—On the contrary, a thing leaves a greater impression on another when it is present than when it is absent. Therefore, if the Word when absent left an impression on Paul’s intellect, He also left an impression when He was present.
To the Contrary
1. Whatever is in God is God Himself. Consequently, when an angel sees God’s essence he does not see it by means of a likeness, nor does he see through a likeness the ideas of things as they exist in God.
2. The natures of things are reflected in the Word like images in a mirror. Now, all the things reflected in a mirror are seen by means of their one likeness there. Hence, all the things known in the Word are seen through the form of the Word.
3. An angelic intellect is like a painted tablet, for, as said in The Causes, “every intellect is filled with forms.” Now, other pictures are not added to a tablet that is already painted; hence, it is proved in The Soul that the possible intellect can receive all things because it is “like a tablet on which nothing has been written.” Consequently, an angel cannot have any likenesses of those things which he knows in the Word.
All cognition takes place through an assimilation of the knower to the known. Now, whenever one thing is made like a second thing in so far as the second thing is like a third, then the first thing is also like the third. For example, if a son is like his father in so far as the father is like the grandfather, then the son is like the grandfather. Now, one thing can be made like another in two ways: it can get this likeness immediately from the other, or it can get it by being assimilated to a third thing which is like the second. Cognition is had in two ways, also: we can know Socrates by seeing him either because our sense of sight is made like Socrates himself or because it is made like a picture of Socrates. In either case, the assimilation is sufficient for us to know Socrates.
I say, therefore, that, when a thing is known by means of the likeness of a second thing, that knowledge does not take place by means of some other likeness derived immediately from the thing known; and if the knower knows one and the same thing by means of its own likeness and also by means of its likeness to another thing, then these cognitions are different. This can be explained as follows.
Some knowing powers know only by receiving, not by forming something from what they have received. For example, the senses know merely those things whose species they receive and nothing more. Other powers, however, not only know what they receive, but can also form some other species from it. This is clearly the case of the imagination, which, having received the forms of gold and of mountain, forms a phantasm of a golden mountain. The same is true of the intellect, which, having comprehended the forms of genus and difference, forms the definition of a species. Consequently, when these powers know a thing through its likeness existing in another thing, it sometimes happens that a species other than that likeness is formed a species which belongs immediately to the thing. For example, when I have seen a statue of Hercules, I can form another likeness which will belong immediately to Hercules; but this second act of knowing will be other Ln that by which I knew Hercules by his statue. If it were the same, then the same thing would happen in all other powers—which is manifestly absurd, because, when my external sense of sight sees Hercules in a statue, that knowledge, does not take place through any other likeness than that of the statue.
Consequently, I say that the divine essence is itself a likeness of all things. Therefore, an angelic intellect can know things both through their likenesses and through the divine essence. But the act of knowledge by which it knows things through their likenesses is other than the act by which it knows things through the Word, even though those likenesses are caused by a conjunction of the angelic intellect to the Word either through operations of the angelic intellect (similar to those of the imagination) or, as seems more probable, through an outpouring from the Word.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Since the divine essence is a likeness of the things known through the Word, the angelic intellect’s union with the divine essence makes it sufficiently assimilated to these things to know them.
2. The Word can imprint something on an angelic intellect, but, as was said, the knowledge that would result from this impression would be other than that which is had through the Word.
3. Even though the glory had in heaven does not destroy nature, it elevates it to a level which it could not reach by itself, namely, that level where it can see things through God’s very essence without any likeness acting as a medium in this vision.
4. The Word is not the intrinsic form of a thing in the sense that it is part of a thing’s essence. It is, however, a form within the intellect, since it is intelligible of its very nature.
5. When Paul no longer saw God’s essence, he remembered the things he had known in the Word by means of likenesses of things that still remained with him.
6. Those likenesses which remained even when the Word had departed were imprinted when Paul saw the Word through His essence. But, as is clear from what has been said above, when Paul saw through the Word, the vision itself did not take place through these impressions.
In the sixth article we ask:
Does an angel know himself?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 56, 1; C.G., II, 98; III De anima, lect. 9, n. 721 seq.; De causis, lect. 13 (P. 21:741 a).]
It seems not, for
1. As Dionysius says, angels do not know their own power. Now, if they knew themselves by means of their essence, they would know their power. Consequently, angels do not know their own essence.
2. If an angel knows himself, he knows himself, not through a likeness, but through his own essence; for, as is said in The Soul, “in those beings which exist without matter, the knower and the known are one and the same.” But an angel cannot know himself by means of his own essence, since a thing is understood by means of a form within the intellect. Now, the essence of an angel cannot be the form of his own intellect, because the intellect itself inheres in his essence as its property or form. Consequently, an angel cannot know himself at all.
3. The same thing cannot be both active and passive, mover and moved, unless one of its parts is a mover or active and its other part is moved or passive. This is clear in the case of animals, as is shown in the Physics. But the knower and the known are related as active and passive. Consequently, it is impossible for an angel to know all of himself.
4. If an angel understands himself through his own essence, his essence must be the act of his intellect. But, unless it is pure act, no subsisting essence can be the act of anything else, for a material thing cannot be the form of another thing. Now, pure act of being belongs only to the divine essence. Consequently, an angel cannot know himself through his own essence.
5. A thing is understood only if it is stripped of matter and of the conditions of matter. But to be in potency is, in a way, a material condition which cannot be stripped from an angel. Consequently, an angel cannot understand himself.
6. If an angel understands himself through his own essence, his essence must be in his intellect. This, however, is impossible; for, as a matter of fact, his intellect is in his essence, and if one thing is in another, this other cannot be in it. Consequently, an angel does not know himself by means of his own essence.
7. The intellect of an angel is mixed with potentiality. Now, nothing is reduced from potency to act by itself. Consequently, since an intellect is reduced to the act of knowing by the known, it will be impossible for an angel to understand himself.
8. Every potency has the perfection of its activity determined by the essence in which it is rooted. Consequently, an angelic intellect can understand because of the power of its essence. Now, the same thing cannot be a principle of acting and of being acted upon; and, since that which is understood is, in a way, acted upon, it seems that an angel cannot know his own essence.
9. Demonstration is an intellectual act. But a thing cannot be demonstrated by means of itself. Therefore, an angel cannot understand himself by means of his essence.
10. There is the same reason for holding that the will reflects upon itself as that the intellect does. But the will of an angel reflects upon itself only by means of its natural love, which is a kind of natural habit. Consequently, an angel can know himself only by means of some habit, and, therefore, he cannot know himself by means of his essence.
11. Operation lies as a medium between what is active and what is passive. But the knower and the known are related as active and passive. Now, since there is nothing intermediate between a thing and itself, it seems impossible that an angel could know himself.
To the Contrary
1. As Boethius says, what a lower power can do a higher power can. But our soul can know itself. Therefore, it is even more true that an angel can know himself.
2. As Avicenna says, the reason why our intellect, but not our senses, knows itself is that the senses use a physical organ but the intellect does not. Now, an angelic intellect is even further removed from a physical organ than our intellect is. Therefore, an angel also knows himself.
3. Since the intellect of an angel is godlike, it greatly resemble God’s intellect. But God knows Himself through His essence. There fore, an angel knows himself also through his essence.
4. The more proportionate an intelligible is to an intellect, the mor the intellect can know it. Now, there is no intelligible more propor tionate to an angelic intellect than its own essence. Therefore, it know its essence in a very high degree.
5. In The Causes it is said: “Whoever knows intellectually know his own essence, and returns to it in a complete reflection.” There fore, angels can do this, for they know intellectually.
There are two types of action. One proceeds from the agent an goes out to an exterior thing, which it changes. An example of this type is illumination, which can properly be called an action. The second type of action does not go out to an exterior thing but remains in the agent as its perfection. Properly speaking, this is called operation. Shining is an example of this type.
Now, these two actions are at one in this, that both issue only from a thing which is actually existing and only in so far as it is in act. Consequently, a body does not shine unless it actually has light; and th same is true of illuminating action.
The action of appetite, sense, and intellect is not, however, like th action that goes out to exterior matter; it is like the action that remain in the agent as its perfection. Consequently, in so far as he knows, a knower must be in act. It is not necessary, however, for the knower in knowing to become an efficient cause and for the known to become something passive; but inasmuch as one thing results from the knower and known, namely, an intellect in act, these two are but one principle of this act, which is understanding.
I say that one thing results from them inasmuch as what is understood is joined to the understanding either through its essence or through a likeness. Hence, a knower is not related as active or as passive except for another consideration; that is, activity or passivity is required to some extent in order that the intelligible be united to the intellect. Efficient causality is required, because the active intellect makes species actually intelligible; change is required because the possible intellect receives intelligible species, and the senses, sensible species. But understanding follows upon this change or efficient causality as an effect follows upon a cause. Consequently, just as a bright body shines when light actually exists in it, so also does the intellect understand everything that is actually intelligible in it.
We must note, however, that there is no reason why a thing cannot be one thing actually and another potentially. For example, a transparent body is actually a body, but it is colored only potentially. Similarly, it is possible for a thing to be in act in the order of existence but only in potency in the order of intelligibility. Now, in beings there are grades of act and potency. One being, prime matter, is in potency only. Another, God, exists only actually. All other intermediate beings exist both actually and potentially. Similarly, in the genus of intelligibles, one being, the divine essence, is in act only; another, the possible intellect, is only in potency, and for this reason the Commentator says that the possible intellect in the order of intelligibles is like prime matter in the order of sensibles. All the angelic substances lie in between; for they have something of potency and of act, not only in the genus of being, but also in the genus of intelligibility.
Now, prime matter cannot perform any action unless it is perfected by some form (and even then that action is a kind of emanation from the form rather than from the matter); because things that actually exist can perform actions only in so far as they are in act. Similarly, our possible intellect can understand nothing before it is brought into act by an intelligible form. Only then can it understand that thing to which this form belongs. Moreover, it can understand itself only by means of an intelligible form that actually exists in itself. But, since the essence of an angel, which is in act in the genus of intelligibility, is present to it, an angelic intellect can understand this intelligible reality within itself, namely, its own essence—and not through any likeness of it but through the essence itself.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Angels know their power by comprehending it as it is in itself. They do not comprehend it, however, in so far as it has been modeled upon the eternal archetype, for this would involve comprehension of the archetype itself
2. Even though in the order of existence an angel’s essence cannot stand in the relation of act to potency with respect to his intellect, in the order of understanding it is related to it as act is to potency.
3. The knower and the known are not related as active and passive but as one principle of activity, as is clear from what has been said above, even though they may seem to be so related from our manner of speaking.
4. Although an angel’s essence is not pure act, it nevertheless is without matter. It is in potency merely in this respect, that it does not have its act of existence from itself. Consequently, there is no reason why it cannot be related to an angelic intellect as act in the order of understanding.
5. A thing that is understood need not be stripped entirely of matter; for it is evident that natural forms are never understood without matter, since matter is included in their definition. They must, however, be stripped of individual matter, that is, matter that lies under determinate dimensions. There is no reason, therefore, why angels need be separated from the kind of potency which they possess.
6. There is no reason why one thing cannot be in a second and the second in the first if this is in different ways, such as the ways in which a whole is in its parts and the parts are in the whole. The same is true here: the essence of the angel is in his intellect as an intelligible is in a knower, and his intellect is in his essence as a power is in a substance.
7. The intellect of an angel is not in potency with respect to his essence. In this respect, it is always in act. But with respect to other intelligible objects his intellect can be in potency. It does not follow, however, that when his intellect is in potency it is always reduced to act by some other agent. This is true only when it is in essential potency, as a person is before he learns something. When it is in accidental potency, the potency a person is in who has habitual knowledge but. is not using it—then it can go into act by itself, except, that it might be said that his intellect is reduced to act by his will, which moves it to actual consideration.
8. As is evident from what we have said above, that which is understood is not like something passive but like a principle of action. Consequently, the argument does not hold.
9. A thing can be the cause of knowing in two ways. First, it can be what is known. Thus, what is more known is the cause of cognizing what is less known; and in this way the medium of demonstration is a cause of understanding. Second, it can be the one who knows. Then the cause of knowledge is that which makes the intelligible to be present actually in the knower. Taken in this way, there is no reason why a thing cannot be known by means of itself.
10. Natural love is not a habit but an act.
11. The act of understanding is not a medium that stands as a reality between the knower and the known; it proceeds from the union of both.
In the seventh article we ask:
Does one angel know another?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 56, 2; 107, 1; C.G., II, 98; II Sent., 11, 2, 3; In I Cor., c. 13, lect. 1 (P. 13:259b).
Difficulties (First Series)
It seems not, for
1. As Dionysius says, even the angels themselves do not know their mutual relationships. Now, if one angel knew another, angels would know these. Consequently, one angel does not know another.
2. As is said in The Causes: “An intelligence knows what is above it in so far as that is its cause, and it knows what is below it in so far as that is its effect.” But our faith does not teach that one angel is the cause of another. Consequently, one angel does not know another.
3. As Boethius says: “The universal is had in intellection, the singular in sensation.” Now, since an angel is a person, he is, in a way, a singular. Consequently, it seems that one angel does not know another angel, because he knows merely through intellection.
Difficulties (Second Series)
1. It seems that an angel does not know another angel by means of the latter’s essence, because that by which the intellect understands must be within the intellect. But the essence of one angel cannot come into the intellect of another; only God can be substantially present in the mind of an angel. Consequently, an angel cannot know another angel by means of the latter’s essence.
2. It is possible for one angel to be known by all angels. Now, that by which a thing is known is joined to the one who knows. So if one angel were to know another angel by means of the latter’s essence, then the angel known could be in many places, because the angels who could know him might be in many places.
3. The essence of an angel is a substance; his intellect, being a power, is an accident. Now, a substance is not the form of an accident. Consequently, the essence of one angel cannot be for the intellect of another angel the form by which he knows.
4. A thing cannot be known to the intellect by its presence if it is separated from it. But the essence of one angel is separated from the intellect of another. Consequently, one angel is not known by another through the presence of his essence.
Difficulties (Third Series)
1. It seems that one angel cannot know another by knowing through his own essence, because the lower angels lie below the higher, as sentient creatures also do. Consequently, if a higher angel could know other angels by knowing his own essence, he could also know all sentient things in the same way, and not, as is said in The Causes, by means of forms.
2. One thing leads to the knowledge of another only in so far as it resembles that other. But the essence of one angel is only in generic agreement with that of another angel. Consequently, if one angel were to know another merely by knowing his own essence, then he would know that other only generically, and this would be imperfect knowledge.
3. That through which a thing is known is an intelligible representation of it. Now, if one angel knew all others by means of his own essence, then his own essence would be an intelligible representation of what is proper to all angels. But this property seems to belong to the divine essence alone.
Difficulties (Fourth Series)
1. It seems that one angel does not know another by means of a likeness or species existing within himself, because, as Dionysius says, angels are lofty intelligible lights. Now, a light is not known by means of a species, but only by means of itself. Therefore, an angel cannot be known by means of a species.
2. Every creature is a shadow. This is evident from Origen’s commentary on that verse in the Gospel of St. John (1:5): “And the darkness [shadows] did not comprehend it.” Now, a likeness of a shadow must itself be a shadow; a shadow, however, is not a principle that manifests but one that conceals. Hence, since an angel is a creature and is therefore a shadow, he cannot be known by means of a likeness. If he is known, he must be known by means of a God-given light existing within him.
3. An angel is closer to God than the rational soul is. Now, according to Augustine, the soul knows all things and judges about all things, not by means of any arts which the soul may have brought with it to the body, but by means of the connection it has with the eternal intelligible representations. Much more so, then, will one angel know another, not indeed by means of a likeness, but by means of an eternal intelligible representation.
Difficulties (Fifth Series)
1. It seems that one angel cannot know another even through an innate likeness. For an innate likeness is similarly related to what is present and to what is absent. Consequently, were one angel to know another by means of an innate likeness, he would not know when that angel was present and when he was absent.
2. God could make another angel. But an angel would not have within him the form of an angel that does not yet exist. Consequently, if, by his natural cognition, an angel knows other angels only by means of innate forms, the angels that exist now would not know by natural cognition an angel that would come into existence later.
Difficulties (Sixth Series)
1. It seems that one angel cannot know another through forms impressed by immaterial beings, as the sense knows through forms received from sensible things, because, if this were true, then the lower angels would not be known by the higher, since higher angels do not receive any influence from the lower.
Difficulties (Seventh Series)
1. It seems that one angel cannot know another even through abstracted forms, such as the agent intellect abstracts from phantasms, because then the lower angels would not know the higher.
From all this it seems that one angel does not know another.
To the Contrary (First Series)
1. In The Causes we read: “Every intelligence knows the things that do not undergo corruption and are not measured by time.” Now, angels are incorruptible and outside of time. Consequently, one angel is known by another.
2. Likeness is a cause of knowledge. But one angel has more in common with the intellect of another than material things have. Consequently, since angels know material things, it is even truer to say they know other angels.
3. The essence of one angel is more proportionate to the intellect of another than the divine essence is. But, since angels see God through His essence, it is even truer to say that they can know the essences of other angels.
4. As is said in The Intelligences: “Any substance that is immaterial and free from composition can know all things”; and this is proved in The Soul, where it is shown that the intellect is free from composition “and so can know all things.” Now, to be free from matter and composition belongs especially to angels. Consequently, they know all things, and one knows another.
To the Contrary (Second Series)
1. It seems that one angel can know another by means of the latter’s essence. For Augustine says that angels show what they have seen “by one spirit mingling with another.” But such a mingling is possible only if one spirit can be joined to another by means of his essence. Consequently, one angel can be joined to another by means of his essence, and thus, through his essence, be known by that other.
2. Knowledge is an act. Now, contact is sufficient for action. Since there can be spiritual contact between one angel and another, one angel can know another by means of the latter’s essence.
3. The intellect of one angel has more in common with the essence of another angel than with the likeness of a material thing. But the intellect of an angel can be informed by the likeness of a material thing so that it knows it. Consequently, the essence of one angel can be the form whereby the intellect of another can know him.
4. According to Augustine, intellectual vision is had of those things whose likenesses are the same as their essences. Now, one angel knows another only by means of intellectual vision. Consequently, he does not know that angel by means of a likeness other than that angel’s essence. Hence, the same must be said as was said previously.
There can be no doubt that one angel knows another, because every angel is an actually intelligible substance, since he is entirely free from matter. Now, an angelic intellect does not receive from sensible things. Consequently, it understands these immaterial intelligible forms by directing itself immediately to them. If we consider what various writers have said, however, there seem to have been different opinions about the mode of angelic knowledge.
According to the Commentator, in substances separated from matter the form in the intellect does not differ from the form outside of it. Now, in the case of men the form of a house existing in the mind of an architect is other than the form of the house existing outside his mind; however, this is because the exterior form is in matter, while the form of the artistic conception is without matter. But, since angels are substances and immaterial forms, as Dionysius says, it seems to follow that the form by which one angel is known by another is the same as the essence by which the former substantially exists. This mode of knowledge, however, does not seem to be possible in all cases. For the form by which an intellect understands is more noble than that intellect, since it is its perfection. With this in mind, the Philosopher proves that God does not know anything outside Himself, since its form would perfect His intellect and consequently be more noble than’ God Himself. Therefore, if higher angels were to know lower angels by means of the essences of the latter, it would follow that these essences were more perfect and more noble than the intellects of the higher angels. This, however, is impossible.
One might say, perhaps, that such a way would present no Difficulties as far as the knowledge of higher angels by the lower is concerned, that is, a lower angel could know a higher by means of the latter’s essence; and this seems to be in agreement with Dionysius, who taught that angels seem to be divided into “intelligible and intellectual substances,” the higher called intelligible, the lower, intellectual. For he also taught that the higher angels are “like food” to the lower, and this statement can be understood as meaning that the essences of the higher angels are forms by which the lower angels understand.
This opinion, too, might be supported by those philosophers who say that the higher intelligences create the lower; for thus they could assert that a higher angel is in some way intimately linked with the lower, being, as it were, the cause that keeps the lower in existence. We, however, can ascribe such action only to God, who is substantially present in the minds of men and of angels. Moreover, the form by which an intellect understands should be within an intellect that is in act. Consequently, we cannot say that any spiritual substance, except God, is seen by another by means of his essence.
That other philosophers did not think one angel could be seen by another by means of his essence is clear to anyone reading their works. For example, the Commentator says that that which the mover of Saturn understands about the mover of the first sphere is different from that which the mover of Jupiter understands about him. Now, this could be true only if that by which each of them understands [is different]. And this would not be possible if each of them knew t mover of the higher sphere by means of the latter’s essence. Moreover, we read in The Causes that “a lower intelligence knows what is above it according to the manner of its own substance,” not according to the manner of the higher substance; and Avicenna says that “the presence of the intelligences within us” means merely the effects they have caused within us, not that they are in the intellect through their own essence.
Now, the words of the Commentator, cited above, are to be taken in the following way. When a substance separated from matter know itself, it is not necessary that the form in its intellect be other than the form by which it substantially subsists, since the form by which such a thing substantially subsists is actually intelligible because of its complete freedom from matter.
The words of Dionysius are likewise not to be taken in the sense assigned to them above. Rather, he calls the same angels intelligible and intellectual, or he calls the higher angels intelligible and the food of the lower because the lower angels understand by means of the light given by the higher.
From what others have written, however, it seems that one angel sees another by means of his essence, that is, by means of his own essence. This is what Augustine seems to have intended when he wrote: “As the mind collects notions of physical things through the physical senses, so also does it collect notions of spiritual things through itself.” This seems to be true of an angelic mind, for, by knowing itself, it knows other angels. In support of this, one could cite The Causes where it is said, “An intelligence understands what is above and below itself by means of the mode of its own substance.”
This explanation does not seem to be sufficient, however; for, since all knowledge takes place through assimilation, by knowing his own essence one angel would know only as much about another angel as his essence resembled the latter’s. Now, one angel resembles another only according to their common nature. Hence, it would follow that the knowledge one angel would have about another would not be complete; and it would be very incomplete according to the opinion of those who hold that there are many angels in one species. This view, however, might be supported to some extent by those who hold that each angel is specifically different; for, by knowing his own essence, each angel would know perfectly what an intellectual nature is, and, having known this perfectly, he would know all the grades an intellectual nature could have. Now, the different species of angels are distinguished only according to grades of perfection found in intellectual natures; consequently, by seeing his own essence, one angel could conceive of the individual grades of perfection found in intellectual natures, and, by means of these conceptions, have complete knowledge of all other angels.
In this way, we could save the opinion of those who say that one angel knows another by means of a form he has acquired—if, indeed, the afore-mentioned conceptions could be called acquired forms. It would be as though whiteness understood itself, and, by knowing perfectly the nature of color, knew all species of color distinctly, according to their grades—even all individual colors, too, supposing that there were only one member to a species.
But this explanation does not seem sufficient either, because, even though there is only one angel in every species, nevertheless, in any particular angel there will be a difference between what belongs to him according to the intelligible constitution of his specific nature and what belongs to him as an individual, for example, his own particular operations. According to this theory, these special operations could in no way be known by another angel. Moreover, the words of Augustine do not mean that a mind can know other things through itself as through a medium, but merely as through a knowing power, as material things are known through the senses.
We must consequently take another explanation and say that one angel knows other angels by means of their likenesses existing within his intellect. These, however, are not abstracted or imprinted by the other angels, or acquired in any way, but are imprinted by God who creates them. Angels know material things also by means of these likenesses. This will become clearer in the following answers.
Answers to Difficulties (First Series)
1. Angels know their order one to another considered in itself, but they do not comprehend it as it stands under God’s providence; for this would mean that they could comprehend providence itself.
2. The relation of cause and effect is a source of intelligibility only inasmuch as the effect bears some resemblance to its cause and vice versa. Consequently, if we admit the existence of an angel’s likeness within another angel without admitting that one angel is the cause or effect of another, we will still have a sufficient basis for knowledge, since knowledge takes place through assimilation.
3. That statement of Boethius should be understood as referring to particular material things that fall under the senses. An angel, however, is not a particular of this type. Consequently, the argument proves nothing.
Answers to Difficulties (Second and Third Series)
We concede those arguments that prove one angel does not know another by means of either his own essence or that of the other angel Still, one could make some kind of a reply to them.
Answers to Difficulties (Fourth Series)
We must reply, however, to those arguments that prove one angel does not know another by means of a likeness.
1. It is possible to have a likeness even of light. This can be weaker than light, like color, which in a certain sense is a similitude of light, or one more perfect than light, like the light in a substance that illumines. Moreover, since angels are called lights inasmuch as they are forms which are actually intelligible, it is not inconsistent to say that the likenesses they have of other angels exist in a more sublime manner in the higher angels and in a less sublime manner in the lower.
2. When one says that every creature, taken in itself, is a shadow or false or nothing, this is not because its essence is dark or false, but because whatever act of existence, light, or truth it has it has from another being. Consequently, only considered apart from what it has from another is it nothing, darkness, and falsity.
3. The soul is united with the eternal representations inasmuch as there are certain imprints of these on our mind, such as the principles we know naturally and by which we judge all things. In angels these imprints are the likenesses by which they know things.
Answers to Difficulties (Fifth Series)
1. An angel knows another angel, not by means of a likeness that has been abstracted or imprinted upon his mind, but by means of one that is innate and leads him to the knowledge of the other angel—indeed, to a knowledge not only of the other!s essence but also of all his accidental qualities. By means of this likeness, therefore, he knows when the other angel is present or absent.
[No answers are given for the next three Difficulties.]
Answers to Contrary Difficulties (First Series)
We concede the arguments proving that one angel knows another.
Answers to Contrary Difficulties (Second Series)
We must reply, however, to the arguments proving that one angel is known by another by means of the essence of the angel known.
1. That knowledge Augustine speaks about should be understood as referring not to essences but to operations by which a higher spirit enlightens a lower.
2. From what we have said previously, it is clear that the knower and the known are related not as active and passive but as two things from which arises one principle of knowing. Consequently, for knowledge it is not enough that contact take place between the knower and the known. It is necessary, rather, that the intelligible be united to the knower like a form, either by means of its own essence or by means of a likene”ss.
3. Even though the essence of one angel has more in common with the intellect of another angel than with the likeness of a material thing, because they both participate in one nature, nevertheless, they do not have more in common in regard to that relationship which must exist between a perfection and what is to be perfected. Similarly, a soul has more in common with another soul than it has with a body; yet one soul is not the form of another soul, though it is the form of a body.
4. This statement of Augustine can be explained in two ways. It can mean that Augustine is talking about that intellectual vision by which a created spirit sees himself or God or other things which are within him through their essences. For it is evident that, even though a stone is known by the soul, it is not present in the soul by its essence.
Or this statement can be taken as referring to the thing known, not to the form by which it is known. Now, exterior accidents, which are the object of sense and of imagination, are merely likenesses of a thing, not the thing itself. The object of the intellect, however, is “the quiddity of a thing,” that is, its essence, as is said in The Soul. Consequently, the likeness of the thing in the intellect is a direct likeness of the thing’s essence, but the likeness which is in a sense or in the imagination is merely that of its accidents.
In the eighth article we ask:
Does an angel know material things through forms or by knowing his own essence?
[Parallel readings: De ver., 10, 4; S.T., I, 55, 1; 84, 2; 87, 1; I-II, 50, 6; 51, 1, ad 2; 1I Sent., 3, 39 1; C.G., II, 98.]
It seems that he knows them by knowing his own essence, for
1. A thing can be known sufficiently by knowing what it is modeled upon. Now, in the opinion of Clement, a philosopher mentioned in The Divine Names, lower beings are modeled upon higher. Consequently, the essences of material things are modeled upon angels. Angels, therefore, know material things by means of their own essences.
2. Material things are known better in the divine essence than they are in their own natures, because there they shine forth more brightly. Now, the essence of an angel is closer to the divine essence than material things are. Consequently, material things can be known better in the essences of angels than in their own nature; and since we human beings know material things in their own nature, still truer is it that angels know them all simply by looking at their own essences.
3. The light of the angelic intellect is more perfect than the light of the active intellect of our soul. Now, we know all material things in the light of this intellect because it is the act of all intelligibles. Consequently, it is even truer to say that, by knowing their own light, angels know all material things.
4. Since an angel knows material things, he must know them either by their species or by knowing his own essence. However, he does not know them through species—not through particular species, because an angel is completely free from matter; and not through universal species, because then he would not have perfect knowledge of things in their individuality. Consequently, he knows material things by means of his own essence.
5. If physical light could know itself, it would know all colors, because it is the act of all colors. Therefore, since an angel is a spiritual light, by knowing himself he can know all material things.
6. An angel’s intellect lies halfway between the divine and the human intellect. Now, the divine intellect knows all things by means of the divine essence, and a human intellect knows all by means of species. Consequently, the intellect of an angel will know at least some things by knowing his essence.
7. Dionysius says: “Scripture asserts that angels have knowledge of things that are on earth, by seeing them, not through sense, but through the power and nature of their godlike minds.” Hence, it seems that they know material things by knowing their own power and nature.
8. If a physical mirror could know and if the species of material things were not reflected in it, it would know them by means of its own essence. But species of material things are not reflected in the intellect of angels, as is evident from the writings of Dionysius. And since an angel, as Dionysius also says, is a kind of mirror, if he knows material things, he must know them by means of his own essence.
9. The knowing power of angels is more perfect than the natural power of material things. Now, many of the powers of material things can attain their objects by their own means, without anything being added to them. It is much more true, therefore, to say that the intellect of an angel knows material things by means of his essence and without any species.
10. An angel’s ability to know is much greater than fire’s ability to bum. But fire can bum combustible material without that material entering into the fire. So, likewise, an angel knows through itself without the presence of a cognoscible species within it.
To the Contrary
1. It is stated in The Causes that “every intelligence is filled with forms.” Moreover, it is said in the same work that “forms exist in an intelligence in an intelligible manner.” Consequently, an intelligence knows things by means of these forms and not by means of its essence.
7. The essence of an angel has more in common with another angel than with a material thing. But an angel cannot know other angels by knowing his own essence. Therefore, he cannot know material things by knowing his own essence.
3. That which is the principle of unity cannot be the principle of distinction. Now, the essence of an angel is the principle of his unity, for it is by means of his essence that an angel is one. Therefore, his essence cannot be the principle of knowledge about things distinct from him.
4. Nothing except God is that which it has. But an angel has intellectual power. Therefore, he is not intellectual power. Much less is he that by which he understands. Consequently, he does not understand t1iings by means of his essence.
All knowing takes place by means of assimilation, and likeness existing between two things is caused by their agreement in a form. Now, since unity in an effect shows unity in a cause, and, since, in consequence, no matter what genus any form may belong to, one must get back to the one first principle of that form, two things can resemble each other for two reasons only: either one is the cause of the other or both have been caused by one cause that has imprinted the same form upon both. Using this principle, we say that angels know material things in a manner different from that in which philosophers say that angels know them.
For we do not say that angels cause material things. God is the creator of all things, visible and invisible. Consequently, a likeness of the things of nature cannot be within an angel unless it comes from Him who is the cause of material things. Now, whatever one does not have from himself but from another is over and above his own essence. For this reason, Avicenna proves” that the act of being of anything except the First Being is something other than its essence, because all things have their act of existence from another. Consequently, the likenesses of material things existing within an angel must be other than his essence and must be imprinted there by God. Now, the intelligible representations of material things existing in the divine mind are life and light: they are life inasmuch as they come forth to constitute things in their act of existence, as the form of an artistic conception comes forth to constitute a product of art; they are light inasmuch as they cause impressions, resembling themselves, on the minds of angels.
Philosophers, however, have asserted that angels are the creators of material things. But logically, according to this position, angels should know material things, not by means of their own essences, but by means of forms added to them. For the likeness of an effect is in its cause only in the manner in which the power to produce that effect is there. Now, as is said in The Causes, “An intelligence gives existence to inferior things only by means of God’s power existing within it”; and for that reason the author calls this operation divine. Consequently, this power does not belong to the intelligence as flowing from the principles of its essence, but is something over and above its essence. Therefore, even if material things were caused by an angel, their likenesses would be over and above his essence.
It is clear, therefore, no matter what position is taken, that an angel does not know material things by means of his own essence but only by means of their forms existing within him.
Answers to Difficulties
1. According to its formal nature, an archetype implies a relation of causality to the things modeled upon it; for an archetype is a thing that something else is made to imitate. Consequently, in the passage cited, Dionysius finds fault with Clement’s opinion, and holds that the archetypes of things should be called intelligible representations of things, existing in God. However, if an archetype is taken in a broader sense as meaning a thing that is represented in some way by another thing, then angels’ essences can also be called the archetypes of material things. But the divine essence is the archetype of each and every thing in its individuality, because it contains the exemplary ideas of all things. Similarly, an angelic essence is a likeness of a material thing in its individuality because of the form which the angel possesses of it; though this form is not the same as his essence, as is true of the idea in God.
2. The divine essence is infinite. Hence, far from being included in any genus, it contains, as Dionysius,” Aristotle, and Averroes say, the perfections of all genera. Consequently, it can be a likeness of all things in their individuality, and through it all things can be known perfectly. The essence of an angel, however, is confined within a particular genus. Consequently, it cannot be, in itself, a likeness of all material things. Hence, to know a thing with all its individual characteristics, an angel must be given a likeness of it, which is over and above his essence.
3. All things are not known by means of the agent intellect as though by a likeness sufficient for us to know all things. For the agent intellect is not the act of all intelligible forms in the sense that it is this or that form, but only in so far as these forms are intelligible. For all things are said to be known by means of the agent intellect as through an active principle of knowing.
4. An angel knows things neither through particular species nor through universal species that are universal forms abstracted from the senses. Instead, he knows them through universal species which represent both universals and particulars. This will become clearer from our discussion later on.
5. Were physical light to know itself, it would not for that reason know all colors determinately. It would know them only in so far as they are visible. Otherwise, even the eye would see all colors by seeing light; and this is clearly false.
6. Since the angelic intellect lies halfway between the divine and the human intellect, it knows things other than itself by means of forms added to its essence; and, in this respect, it falls short of the divine intellect. However, it knows itself by means of its own essence, and, in this respect, it surpasses the human intellect.
7. This statement of Dionysius should not be understood as meaning that an angel’s power and nature are the medium by which he knows other things, but that his manner of knowing follows the charactcristics of his nature and power and not the characteristics of the natures of the things he knows. This is clear from the fact that he knows material things in an immaterial manner, and sense-objects without the aid of any senses.
8. Even if a physical mirror knew itself, it would by no means know other things simply by knowing its own essence. It would know things only by knowing forms reflected in itself. Moreover, it would make no difference whether these forms were received from things or were innate in the mirror.
9. The knowing power of an angel is ordered to a more sublime act than is the natural power of a material thing. Consequently, event though it may need more help, it remains a more perfect and more noble power.
10. A knower is not related to the known as what burns is related to the combustible. In this second case, one is active and the other passive; but a knower and the known are related as one principle of knowing inasmuch as the act of knowing in some way comes into being from the known and the knower. This is clear from what was said previously. Hence, the argument proves nothing.
In the ninth article we ask:
Are the forms by which angels know material things innate or received from things?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 55, 2; 1I Sent., 3, 3, 4; C.G., II, 96.]
It seems that they are not innate, for
1. Speculative knowledge differs from practical inasmuch as practical knowledge is directed to things, while speculative is derived from things. Now, as Damascene says, angels do not make material things; consequently, they do not have practical but only speculative knowledge. Their knowledge, therefore, is taken from things, and not from innate species.
2. In the Epistle to the Ephesians (3:10) we read: “That the manifold wisdom of God may be known to the principalities and power in heavenly places through the church.” Jerome understood this to mean that the angels learned the mystery of the Incarnation from the Apostles. Now, knowledge had through innate species is not received from others. Consequently, angels’ knowledge is not had through innate species.
3. Angels’ innate species are equally related to the present and future.,Their knowledge, however, is not equally related to the present and future, because they know the present but are ignorant of the future. Consequently, their knowledge is not had through innate species.
4. Angels have distinct knowledge of material things. Now, distinct knowledge of things can be had only through that which is a principle of distinction, because the principle of being and that of knowing are the same. But the principle of distinction in material things is their form, Consequently, the knowledge angels have of material things must be through forms received from things.
5. Things that are innate or naturally inborn remain always the same. Angels’ knowledge, however, does not remain always the same, for they know things now which they did not know previously; and, for this reason, Dionysius says3 that some angels have to be freed of their ignorance. Hence, their knowledge is not had by means of innate forms.
6. The forms that exist within angels are universal. But, as is said in The Soul: “A universal is either nothing or posterior [to something ].” Consequently, those forms are either nothing or posterior to things, since they are received from them.
7. A thing is known only in so far as it is in the knower. Consequently, if an angel knows material things, these very things must be in his intellect by means of forms which they have imprinted there.
8. The intelligible light in angels is more powerful than that in a human soul. But we can abstract species from phantasms by means of the light of the active intellect. Therefore, an angel can to an even greater degree abstract forms from sense-objects.
9. A superior power can do what an inferior can. Now, our soul, which is inferior to angels, can conform itself to things by producing forms within itself that are neither innate nor received from things. For example, our imagination can form a phantasm of a golden mountain, which it has never seen. For a much better reason, therefore, an angel can conform himself to things present to him and know them in this manner. Thus, there will be no need for him to know materia things by means of innate species; he can know them by means of species which he will make within himself.
To the Contrary
1. According to Dionysius, angels do not gather their knowledge by means of sense, or from things subject to division. Therefore, they do not know by means of forms received from things.
2. The superiority of angels over all physical things is greater than that of higher bodies over lower. But, because of their nobility, higher bodies do not receive any influence from the lower. Consequently, much less will angelic intellects receive forms from physical things in order to understand them.
Taking as already proved” that angels know material things not by means of their own essence but by means of forms, we can now consider three opinions about these forms.
Some say that the forms by which angels know material things are received from them. This, however, is impossible; for an intellect that receives forms from things is related to them in two ways, as something active and as something passive—taking active and passive in their broad meaning. Now, forms of material things are only potentially, not. actually, intelligible when they are in the senses or in the imagination, because they are not entirely stripped of matter. Consequently, an intellectual action is required in order that they become actually intelligible. For this reason, we must necessarily affirm the existence of an active intellect within ourselves.
Moreover, even when these forms have been made intelligible, we cannot understand things through them unless they are truly united to our intellect in such a way that the knower and the known become one. Consequently, our intellect must receive the forms of these things; and so, in a way, it is passive in their regard in so far as all reception is a kind of passivity.
Now, just as a form is related to matter as act is to potency, so also is something active similarly related to something passive, because a thing acts in so far as it is in act, and is passive in so far as it is in potency. Moreover, since a definite act has a definite relation to a definite potency, a definite passivity corresponds to a definite agent and vice versa—just as matter and form are mutually related. Consequently, what is active and what is passive must belong to the same class, for potency and act divide every class of being that there is. For example, “the white” is not passive with respect to “the sweet” (except indirectly) but only with respect to “the black.”
Now, material things and intelligibles belong to entirely different genera; for, as the Philosopher says, those things that do not have matter do not belong to the same genus as those that do. Consequently, it is not possible for a material thing to be passive immediately in relation to the intellect or to act upon the intellect. The Creator of our nature has therefore provided us with powers of sensation, in which forms exist in a mode between intelligibility and materiality. They have this in common with intelligible forms, that they are forms without matter, and this in common with material forms, that they are not yet stripped of material conditions. Hence, there can be activity and passivity between material things and the sense. faculties in their own proper way, and, similarly, between the sense faculties and the intellect.
Therefore, if the intellect of an angel were to receive forms from material things, it would have to have sense powers and, consequently, a body naturally united to it. This opinion seems to make angels animals (an actual opinion of certain Platonists) and to have them receive forms from material things. Moreover, it contradicts the authority of the saints and right reason itself.
Consequently, others say that angels do not know by means of forms received from things or by means of innate forms, but angels are able to conform their essence to anything present to them. These persons hold that knowledge of a thing follows from a conformity of this kind. Their opinion, however, seems to be of little value, because one thing can be conformed to another only if the form of the latter becomes present within it. Now, it cannot be said that the essence of an angel by its own activity becomes the form of a material thing, because its essence retains a single formal character. Hence, the form by which an angel conforms himself to a thing is something added to his essence and was previously in him potentially, because an angel could not have conformed himself to a thing unless he was previously in potency to such a conformity. Indeed, nothing is reduced from potency to act except by that which is in act. Consequently, in an angel, we should assume that forms must pre-exist by which he can reduce himself from being potentially conformable to being actually J conformed, as our imagination forms a new species, say, of a mountain of gold, from species it had previously, namely, of mountain and of gold, and as our intellect forms the definition of a species from the forms it has of genus and of differentia. Hence, we must return to the position holding that forms pre-exist in angels; and these are either innate or received from things.
As a result, it seems that we must say what the third opinion saysan opinion more widespread and closer to the truth—namely, that angels know material things by means of innate forms. Therefore, just as from the eternal archetypes existing in the mind of God come the material forms by which things subsist, so also do the forms of all things come from God to the minds of angels in order that they may know things. Hence, an angelic intellect excels our intellect as a thing possessing a form excels matter that is formless. Our intellect may be compared to a tablet on which nothing has been written, but that of an angel, to a painted tablet or to a mirror in which the intelligible characters of things shine forth.
Answers to Difficulties
1. That difference between speculative and practical knowledge is not essential but accidental; that is, it arises only in so far as these knowledges are human. Man knows things which he has not made only by means of forms received from things. The case is otherwise with angels, however, because they have the forms of things given them from the moment of their creation.
2. The mystery of the Incarnation was known by angels before it was known by men. Indeed, as Dionysius says, men learned of it from angels, who knew this mystery of the Incarnation, hidden from the world for ages; and, as Augustine explains, God revealed this mystery to the princes and powerful ones of this world through the church of the angels, which is in heavenly places. What is said there about the Church should therefore be taken as referring to the church of angels, as Augustine explains—even though Jerome seems to say the contrary.
However, Jerome’s words are not to be understood in the sense that angels acquire knowledge from men. He meant that while the Apostles were announcing the things that had taken place and had been previously predicted by the prophets, the angels understood them more fully, just as they know the present more fully than the future—a point that will be clarified later.
3. Even though the angels do not know any future events, they know events when they take place. From this it does not follow, however, that they receive species from the things which they know. For knowing takes place through an assimilation of the knower to the known. Hence, a person will receive new knowledge of a thing in so far as he is assimilated to it in a new manner. This happens in two ways: either through his own motion or through the motion of another with respect to a form which he already possesses.
Similarly, he begins to know something new in one way by newly receiving a form for the first time from an object which he now knows. This happens with us. Or the object known arrives for the first time at a form already in the knower; and this is how angels have new knowledge of present things that previously were future. For example, if a man did not yet exist, an angelic intellect would not yet be assimilated to him by means of the form of man which it has within itself; but, when he comes into existence, the angelic intellect begins to assimilate itself to him by means of this form, without any change being made within itself with respect to that object.
4. just as it is not the form by which a thing exists but only a likeness of it that is in the intellect, so also distinct knowledge of things does not demand that the very principles of distinction themselves be in the knower but that their likenesses be there. Moreover, as far as distinct knowledge is concerned, it makes no difference where these likenesses come from.
5. Without acquiring new intelligible forms, an angelic intellect can have new understanding in two ways. First, as was mentioned before, it can have new understanding by something being newly assimilated to those forms [which it already has]. Second, it can be strengthened by some stronger light, enabling it to draw more knowledge from the same forms. Similarly, when the light of prophecy operates from forms already existing in the imagination, knowledge is received which could not be received by means of the natural light of the active intellect.
6. The Philosopher’s statement should be taken as referring to the universal as it exists in the understanding, by which we understand things in nature. This universal is received from things. But even the universal existing in our understanding is prior, not posterior, to ardficial things, because we produce artificial things by means of universal forms of art already existing within us. In a similar way, God produces creatures by means of eternal archetypes; and, from these, forms flow down into the angels’ intellects. Hence, it follows that the forms in angels’ intellects are posterior, not to things, but only to the eternal archetypes.
7. The known is in the knower in the same way, whether its form, existing in the knower, has been received from the thing known or not. Consequently, the argument does not touch the problem.
8. No proportion exists between the light of an angelic intellect and sensible things that is such as to allow the latter to be rendered intelligible by means of this light. This is clear from what has been said. Hence, the conclusion does not follow.
9. The soul does not produce forms within itself unless some forms already exist there. Consequently, as is clear from what has been said, the argument does not hold.
In the tenth article we ask:
Do higher angels know by forms more universal than those by which lower angels know?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 55, 3; 89, 1; 1I Sent., 3, 3, 2; C.G., II, 98; Q.D. De anima, 7, ad 5; 18; De causis, lect. 10 (P. 21:737a).]
It seems not, for
1. The higher angels’ knowledge is more perfect than the lower angels. Now, what is known by universal knowledge is less perfectly known than what is known by particular knowledge. Consequently, the higher angel~ do. not know by means of forms that are more universal.
2. If the knowledge of the higher angels is more universal than that of the lower angels, this universality pertains either to their causal operations or to the object of their knowledge. It does not, however, pertain to their operations, for, as Damascene says, the higher angels do not make things; nor does it pertain to the object of their knowledge, for both higher and lower angels know the things of nature. Consequently, the higher angels’ knowledge is not more universal.
3. If the higher angels know all that the lower do but through more universal forms, these forms in the higher angels’ intellects must extend to more things. However, one and the same thing cannot represent the individual characteristics of many things. Therefore, the higher angels would not know things in their individual natures, and so their knowledge would be less perfect than that had by lower angels. This, however, is absurd.
4. As Dionysius says, the knowledge of angels is determined by the power and nature of the knower. Now, the nature of a higher angel is more in act than a lower angel’s nature is. Consequently, his knowledge is also more in act. But universal knowledge is in potency, and particular knowledge is in act. Therefore, higher angels know through forms that are less universal.
To the Contrary
1. According to Dionysius,3 higher angels, such as the Cherubim, have higher and more universal knowledge. Lower angels have only particular and inferior knowledge.
2. In The Causes it is said that “the higher intelligences contain forms that are more universal.”
3. Higher angels possess greater simplicity than the lower do. Consequently, their forms are also more simple and, therefore, more universal, for what is more universal possesses greater simplicity.
That which is in potency to many is made determinate to one by act. Consequently, form and act are found to be principles of union, but potency is found to be the principle of multiplicity and division. Now, since the ability of a thing to operate comes from its being in act, the more united a power is, the more it is able to act. Consequently, the higher a power is, the fewer the things it needs for its operation, even though it extends to many things. We see that this is generally true of productive and knowing powers. For, even though a master art, such as architecture, by one form directs all the operations coming within its scope, in these operations the subordinate workmen are directed by diverse arts. The same is true of the cognoscitive powers. A person with a higher intelligence is ready, from a few principles he has within himself, to proceed to various conclusions which those with a less acute intelligence cannot reach without considerable illustrated explanation and without knowing the proximate principles of these conclusions.
Now, since in God there is pure act and a most perfect power, He can do all things, and know all things most perfectly by means of one thing, His own essence. Moreover, as was previously explained, the representations of intelligible things flow from God into the angels, not in order that the angels may cause things, but in order that they may know them. Consequently, the more act and less potency there is in an angel, the fewer are the emanations he receives, and the stronger is his power to know. According to this principle, therefore, the higher angels know through forms more universal than those by which the lower know.
Answers to Difficulties
1. To know something “by universal knowledge” can be understood in two ways. First, it can refer to what is known. If taken this way, then to know something by universal knowledge means to know the universal nature of an object. In this sense, the argument is true, because, if only the universal nature of a thing is known, the thing is known less perfectly than it would be were it known in its individuality. Secondly, the phrase can refer to the medium of cognition. Then to know a thing by universal knowledge, that is, by a medium which is universal, is more perfect, as long as this knowledge extends to the individuality of the thing.
2. These forms are said to be more universal with respect to knowledge, not because they cause the knowledge of more things, but because a higher intellect, perfected by a few of them, can nevertheless know the same number of things—even more perfectly. For example, a higher angel might know all species of animals by means of one form of animal, but a lower angel would not know them except through many forms. Besides this, a higher angel can draw out many more intelligible characters from the same things.
3. What is one cannot be the intelligible representation of many in their individuality if it is merely equal to them. However, if it excels them, then it can represent their individual characteristics, because, within its own one form, it contains the individual characteristics of each of the elements which these objects have separately. In a similar manner, God’s essence is the intelligible representation of all things in their individuality, for, as Dionysius says, in this one form there preexists all that is found separately in creatures.
Similarly, since the forms in the intellects of angels, being closer to God, excel things, it is not inconsistent to say that one form within an angelic intellect is an intelligible representation of many things in their individuality, according as this form has different relationships to different things, just as the divine essence is the proper representation of many things in their individuality according to its different relationships to things; and from these relationships an angel can have many ideas. The forms in our intellects, however, are received from things. Hence, they do not excel things, and are, as it were, equal to them as far as representation goes, even though they may excel them in mode of being because their act of existence is immaterial. Consequently, one form in our intellect cannot be the intelligible representation of many things in their individuality.
4. The answer is the same as for the first difficulty.
In the eleventh article we ask:
Do angels know singulars?
[Parallel readings: De ver., 10, 5; 19, 2; S.T., I, 57, 2; 89, 4; 1I Sent., 3, 3, 3; IV Sent., 50, 1, 3; C.G., II, 100; Quodl., VII, 1, 3; Q.D. De anima, 20; De subst. sep., c. 14 (Perr. 1:nn.81-84).]
It seems not, for
1. According to Boethius: “The universal is known in intellection, the singular, in sensation.” But angels do not know except through intellection. Therefore, they do not know singulars.
2. But it was said that this statement referred to our intellect, not to that of an angel.—On the contrary, because it is immaterial, our intellect cannot understand singular things. Consequently, it is our material powers of knowing, such as sense and imagination, that know singulars. But an angel’s intellect is more immaterial than man’s. Hence, it does not know singulars.
3. All knowledge takes place through an assimilation of the knower to the known. Now, an angel’s intellect cannot be assimilated to a singular in its singularity because a singular gets its singularity from matter, and an angel’s intellect is entirely removed from matter and from the conditions of matter. Consequently, the intellect of an angel does not know singulars in their singularity.
4. According to the Philosopher, the principle of being and the principle of knowing are one and the same. But the principle of being for a singular is an individuated form. Hence, this is the principle of knowing the singular. An angelic intellect, however, receives [forms] without matter and the conditions of matter which’individuate forms. Therefore, it receives only universals, and not singulars.
5. Whatever is received into another is there after the manner of the recipient. Now, an angelic intellect has a simple and immaterial mode of being. Consequently, the likenesses of particular things existing in an angel’s intellect are there immaterially and simply, and therefore universally. Hence, by their means, he does not know singulars.
6. Different kinds of things cannot be distinctly known in their differences by the same medium. They must be known by separate media, because things known by a common medium are known only in so far as they are one. Now, any form abstracted from matter is common to many particular things. Through such a form, therefore, distinct particulars cannot be known distinctly in their individuality. In an angelic intellect, however, there is no form that is not immaterial. Hence, an angel can in no way know singulars.
7. A universal is opposed to a singular for the reason that it is in th intellect while the singular is outside it. Now, a universal is never outside the intellect. Hence, a singular is never inside it, and, consequent ly, cannot be known by it.
8. No power ever goes beyond its object. Now, as is said in The Soul, the object of the intellect is a quiddity stripped of matter Therefore, since a singular essence is realized in sensible matter, i cannot be known by the intellect.
9. What is known with certainty cannot change, because intellectual knowledge is the same whether the object be absent or present. But, as is said in the Metaphysics, certitude cannot be had about things that can change, because such things can become absent. Now, singulars can change, for they are subject to motion and variation. Consequently, they cannot be known by the intellect; and the same must be said as previously.
10. The form within the intellect is more simple than the intellect itself, just as a perfection is more simple than what is perfected. Now, an angelic intellect is immaterial. Therefore, its forms are immaterial. But its forms are not individual unless they are material. Consequently, those forms are universal, and not principles for knowing singulars.
11. As is said in the Metaphysics, because it is the principle by which the measured is known, a measure must be homogeneous with the measured. Therefore, a species, which is a principle of knowledge, must be homogeneous with the thing that it makes known. But, being immaterial, the form within an angelic intellect is not homogeneous with a singular. Through such a form, therefore, an angel cannot know a singular.
12. The power had in glory surpasses power had by nature. Therefore, the power of knowing possessed by a glorified human intellect surpasses the natural power had by an angel. But the intellect of a beatified man does not know individual things on earth, for, as Augustine says, the dead—even the saints—do not know what the living, even their sons, are doing. Consequently, angels cannot know singulars by means of their natural knowledge.
13. Were an angel to know singulars, he would know them through either singular or universal species. But he cannot know them through singular species, because then he would have to have within himself as many species as there are singulars. Singulars, however, are potentially infinite. This is evident if one grants that the world will continue in the future as it has in the past—a possibility clearly within God’s power. But then there would be an infinite number of forms in an angel’s intellect; and this is impossible. Likewise, an angel cannot know singulars by means of universals, because in that case he would not have distinct knowledge of individuals, and this would mean that he knew them imperfectly. But imperfect knowledge is not to be attributed to angels. Consequently, angels do not know singulars.
To the Contrary
1. No. one can guard what he does not know. But angels guard individual men. This is clear from the Psalms (90:11): “For he hath given his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” Therefore, they know singulars.
2. As is clear from Augustine, one can love only what he knows. Now, since angels have charity, they love individual men—even their sensible bodies, for these, too, are to be loved out of charity. Therefore, angels also know men.
3. According to the Philosopher, one who knows the universal knows the particular; but the opposite is not true. Now, angels know the universal causes of things. Hence, they also know singulars.
4. As Boethius says, whatever a lower power can do a higher power can. But man’s sensitive and imaginative powers know singulars. Therefore, it is even truer to say that the intellectual power of an angel knows them.
Some have erred in this matter by saying that angels do not know singulars. Such a position is contrary to faith,” denying as it does the custody of angels over men, as well as opposed to right reason, because, if angels did not know things which we know, their knowledge would, at least in this respect, be less perfect. This would occasion a remark similar to that made by Aristotle, to the effect that God would be most stupid if He were ignorant of disharmony that others knew about.
Once we have excluded this error, we find there are four ways proposed by different philosophers to explain how angels know singulars. Some say that angels know singulars by abstracting species of singulars from things, just as we know singulars by means of our senses. But this position is utterly irrational. First of all, as is clear from Dionysius and Augustine, as well as from what has been said above, angels do not receive their knowledge from things. Second, even granting that they do receive it from things, the forms received would be in an angelic intellect immaterially according to the manner of the intellect receiving them. Consequently, the same difficulty would remain: How could they, by these forms, know singular things, which are individuated by matter?
Avicenna proposed another theory and said that God and angels know singulars universally, not individually—meaning that a thing is known individually when it is known as it is here and now, and under all its individuating conditions, and universally, when it is known merely according to its universal principles and universal causes. For example, one knows this eclipse individually when he perceives it with his senses, universally when he foretells it from the motions of the heavens. According to this theory, angels would know singulars universally in a similar fashion; and, because they knew all the universal causes, they would be ignorant of nothing in individual effects. This manner of knowing, however, does not seem to be sufficient; for we assert that angels know singulars even with respect to those things which belong to their singularity, just as they also know men’s individual actions and other things of this sort that pertain to the care of a guardian.
Hence, a third theory has been proposed by others, namely, those who say that angels have within themselves universal forms of the entire order of the universe. These forms were given angels at the moment of creation, and they apply them to this or to that singular. In this way, they know singulars by means of universal forms. But this theory also seems to be inconsistent, because one thing cannot be applied to another unless that other has been already known previously in some way. For example, we can apply our universal knowledge to singulars which pre-exist in our sensitive knowledge. In angels, however, there is no knowledge other than intellectual in which the knowledge of singulars could pre-exist and so make it possible for the universal forms of their intellect to be applied to singulars. From this it is clear that the application of the universal to the particular demands intellectual knowledge of singulars in angels as a prerequisite; it cannot cause such knowledge.
Hence, it is more probable to say with the fourth theory that the forms within the intellects of angels can cause knowledge, not only of universals, but also of particulars, without there being any need of such application. This, however, is not true of our intellectual forms, which are related to things in two ways: first, as the cause of things, like the forms of the practical intellect; second, as caused by things, like the forms of the speculative intellect, by which we speculate about natural things. By means of the forms of the practical intellect, however, an artisan makes only a form. Hence, the forms of the practical intellect are likenesses merely of forms; and because every form as a form is universal, an artisan can have only universal knowledge of his product by means of the form of his artistic conception. Knowledge of it as a singular he acquires by means of his senses, just as anyone else does. But were he to make both the matter and the form by means of the forms of his artistic conception, then the latter would be an archetype of both form and matter, and, by its means, he could know the products of his art, not only universally, but also individually, because matter is the principle of individuation.
Forms in the speculative intellect, however, arise in us to some extent as the result of the action of things. Now, all action comes from the form. Hence, as far as the power of the agent is concerned, the form that comes to us from things is a likeness only of the form. True, it is also a likeness of material conditions, but this is because it is received in a material organ, which receives in a material way; consequently, it retains some conditions of matter. This is why sense and imagination know singulars. But, since the intellect receives in a manner that is entirely immaterial, the forms within the speculative intellect are likenesses of things only with respect to their forms.
However, the intelligible archetypes existing in God have a causal relation not only to things’ forms but also to their matter. Hence, they are likenesses of things in both respects. For this reason, God knows a thing through them not only in its universal nature by knowing the form, but also in its singularity by knowing its matter. Moreover, just as natural things come from the divine intellect according to both their form and matter, which constitute them in being, so do the forms within the angelic intellects come from God in order that angels might know both. Consequently, angels know things both in their singularity and universality by means of innate forms since these are similar to the creative forms, namely, the archetypes existing in the divine mind; yet these innate ideas do not create things.
Answers to Difficulties
1. The statement of Boethius refers to our intellect, which receives forms from things, not to the angelic intellect, which receives forms immediately from God. The reason for this has already been given.
2. Because the forms received in an angelic intellect are more immaterial than those in our intellect, they are by that very fact more powerful. Consequently, they represent a thing not only according to its formal, but also according to its material, principles.
3. Between the knower and the known there is needed a community, not of nature, but of representation. It is evident that that form of a stone existing within the soul has a far different nature from the form of a stone existing in matter, but, inasmuch as it represents the stone, it is a principle which can lead to knowledge of it. Hence, even though the forms within an angelic intellect are immaterial by their own nature, nothing prevents that intellect from being assimilated by means of them to things in regard to their matter as well as in regard to their forms.
4. A form is a principle of a thing’s being. But it need not be substantially present in an intellect in order to be a principle for knowing the thing; its similitude in the intellect would suffice. For in the soul there is not the form by which a stone exists but only a likeness of that form. Hence, what is necessary is not that the form by which an angelic intellect knows a singular be individuated, but that it be a likeness of the form that is individuated.
S. Forms in an angelic intellect are immaterial; yet they are likenesses of material things, just as are the ideas existing in God, which are much more immaterial. Thus, by their means, singulars can be known.
6. One species can be an intelligible representation of different things in their individuality if it excels them. This is clear from what has been said. Through a medium that is merely equal, however, distinct things cannot be known distinctly.
7. Although it is true that the universal has its act of existence in the intellect, the universal is not the only thing that exists in the intellect. Hence, in this reasoning, the fallacy of the consequent occurs.
8. By means of that species stripped of matter, which the angelic intellect has within itself, it can also understand the material conditions of a thing. This is clear from what has been said.
9. By means of the species which it has within itself, an angelic intellect knows a singular, not only according to its substance, but also according to all its accidents. Therefore, it can know a singular no matter how many its accidental variations may be. Consequently, the fact that a singular may vary does not take certitude away from angelic cognition.
10. Our answer to this can be taken from our replies above.
11. In so far as a measure is a principle for knowing the thing measured, it must belong to the same genus as the latter does, but not in all respects. It is evident, for example, that an elbow length is a measure for cloth, but all it has in common with the cloth is quantity; however, this is enough for it to be a measure for cloth. Similarly, the form in an angelic intellect need not have the same mode of existence that a singular existing outside the soul has, since the singular has a material existence, and the afore-mentioned form is immaterial.
12. Saints in glory know in the Word the things that are happening here. This is very clear from what Gregory has written. Moreover, this statement of Augustine should be taken as referring to the natural state. Nor is there any parallel between an angel and a soul, because an angel naturally has forms given to him at creation, and, by means of these, he knows singulars.
13. Forms in an angelic intellect are neither singular, like the forms in imagination or sense, because they are entirely separated from matter, nor universal, as our intellectual forms are, which can represent only a universal nature. Although they exist immaterially in themselves, they nevertheless indicate and express a universal nature and particular conditions.
In the twelfth article we ask:
Do angels know the future?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 57, 3; 86, 4; II-II, 95, 1; I Sent., 38, 1, 5; II Sent., 7, 21 2; In Isaiam, c. 3 (P. 14:445a); C.G., III, 154; Quodl., VII, 1, 3, ad 1; De spir. creat., a. 5, ad 7; Q.D. De anima, 20, ad 4; De malo, 16, 7; Comp. Theol., I, c. 134.]
It seems that they do, for
1. Angels know things by means of innate forms. Now, these forms are related equally to the present and future. Consequently, since angels know present things by their means, they also will know the future.
2. Boethius says that God is able to foreknow future contingent events infallibly, because His vision, being measured by eternity, is entirely simultaneous. But the beatific vision is likewise entirely simultaneous, since it is measured by participated eternity. Consequently, beatified angels know future contingent events.
3. According to Gregory, when the soul severs its connection with the body, it knows the future by means of its own subtle nature. Now, an angel is completely free of any connection with a body, and its nature is most subtle. Therefore, they can know the future.
4. The possible intellect in our soul is in potency to the knowledge of all things, and hence to the knowledge of the future. Now, as was said above, the potentialities of an angelic intellect are completely actuated by means of innate forms. Angels, therefore, have knowledge about future events.
5. Those who have providence over a person should also have foreknowledge of the things affecting that person. But, as our guardians, the angels have been entrusted with our providence and care. Consequently, they must know things in the future that affect us.
6. The angelic intellect excels the human. Now, a human intellect can know future events which have determined causes in nature. Therefore, an angelic intellect can know even those future contingent events which, not having any determined causes, can happen in either of two ways.
7. We are differently related to knowing the future than we are to knowing the present, because we receive our knowledge from things, and, consequently, things must exist before we can know them. Angels, however, do not receive their knowledge from things. Therefore, they are equally related to knowing the future and the present. Consequently, our original thesis stands.
8. Intellectual knowledge does not include time, because it abstracts from the “here and now,” and so is equally related to all time. Now the only knowledge an angel has is intellectual. Consequently, an ange is equally related to knowing the present, past, and future. Hence, we conclude as before.
9. An angel knows more than a man does. But in the state of innocence man knew future events. This is clear from Genesis (2:24) “Adam said... ‘Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother
Therefore, angels also know the future.
To the Contrary
1. In Isaiah (41:23) we read: “Shew the things that are to come hereafter: and we shall know that ye are gods.” Thus, knowledge of the future is a sign of divinity. However, angels are not gods. Therefore, they do not know the future.
2. Knowledge with certitude can be had only of those things which have determinate truth. But, as is clear from Interpretation, future contingent events do not belong to this class of things. Consequently, they are not known by angels.
3. Future events can be known only through a species of an artistic conception like that by which an artist knows the things he is going to make, or in their causes, as a future cold spell is known in the signs and positions of the stars. But angels do not know the future by means of artistic conceptions, because they do not make anything, nor do they know future things in their causes, since future contingent events are not determined in their causes. If they were, they would be necessary. There are no means, therefore, by which angels know future contingent events.
4. Hugh of St. Victor says that angels were shown what they should do, not what would happen to them in the future. It is even less true, therefore, to say that they know other future events.
Anything that is known in another thing is known according to the manner in which it exists in that other. Now, some future events are determined in their proximate causes in such a way as to happen necessarily from them, for example, tomorrow’s rising of the sun. Future effects of this sort can be known in their causes. Other future effects, however, do not exist so determinately in their causes that something else might not happen; their causes are merely disposed more to one effect than to another; and these effects are contingent events, which happen more or less often as the case may be. As a consequence, effects of this type cannot be known in their causes with infallibility, but only with conjectural certitude. Moreover, other future effects come from causes that are indifferently related to opposite effects; and these effects, especially those that depend upon free choice, are called “contingent to opposites.”
Now, as the Commentator proves, an effect cannot come from a cause indifferent to opposites and in a certain respect in potency, unless this cause is determined to one cffcct more than to another by means of another cause. Consequently, an effect of this sort cannot be known in any way through causes indifferent to opposites if these causes be taken merely by themselves. Yet, if we consider these causes, which are indifferent to opposites, together with those things that incline them more to one effect than to another, we can get some conjectural certitude about their effects. For example, we can conjecture about future effects depending upon free choice by considering men’s habits and temperaments, which incline them to one course of action.
But all these future effects, no matter what their proximate causes may be, exist determinately in the first cause, which by its presence sees them all, and by its providence gives a determinate character to each. Now, the angels see the divine essence and, by means of innate forms, know all thing§ and all natural causes. By their natural knowledge, therefore, they can foreknow by their innate forms only those future events which have determinate existence in a natural cause, whether this cause be merely one thing or a collection of many things —for an effect may be contingent with respect to one cause but necessary with respect to a concurrence of many. And since angels know all natural causes, some effects that seem contingent to us, who consider only a few causes, are known as necessary by the angels, who consider all their causes. Indeed, if angels could comprehend God’s providence, they would know all future events with certainty. None of them, however, comprehends His providence perfectly; but because some of them see it more perfectly than others do, they know more future events in the Word, even those coming from causes indifferent to opposites, than others know.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Species within an angelic intellect are not related equally to the present and future, because things that are present are actually similar to the forms existing within the angels and, consequently, can be known by their means. Things that are future, however, are not yet similar to these forms and thus, as explained earlier, cannot be known through them.
2. Angels are related indifferently to the knowledge of the present and future as far as the vision by which they see things in the Word is concerned. Yet it does not follow that they know all future events in the Word, because they do not comprehend the Word.
3. As Augustine tells us, some asserted that “the soul has powers of divination in itself.” He refuted this opinion on the grounds that, if the soul could foretell the future by its own means, it would always know future events; but we know that, even if the soul does have foreknowledge at some times, it is unable to know the future whenever it wishes. Consequently, it must need some help in order to know the future. It can be helped by a higher spirit, created or uncreated, good or evil. Moreover, while it is burdened with the weight of a body and fixes its attention on sense-objects, it is less capable of receiving such thoughts. Hence, when it withdraws from the senses, either in sleep or in sickness or by any other way, it thereby becomes more susceptible to the influence of the higher spirit. So, being severed in this manner from its physical connections, the soul foreknows the future with the help of a revelation by a higher spirit, who can reveal these future things, because, as has been said, he knows them either by his natural knowledge or in the Word.
4. There are two kinds of potency. One is natural and can be reduced to act by a natural agent. This potency in angels is completely actuated by innate forms. It is not according to this kind of potency, however, that our possible intellect is in potency to knowing all future things. But there is another potency, obediential potency, according to which the Creator can cause whatever He wants to cause in a creature. The possible intellect is in this kind of potency to the knowledge of all future things, that is, all things can be divinely revealed to it. However, the obediential potency of the angelic intellect is not totally actuated by means of innate forms.
5. It is not necessary for one who has providence over some persons to foreknow future events. It is enough for him to foresee what might happen so he can take proper steps against it.
6. An angelic intellect surpasses a human intellect inasmuch as it knows more contingent effects that exist determined in their causes and these with greater certitude. It does not necessarily surpass it in the respect touched upon in the objection.
7. The reply here should be the same as that given to the first difficulty.
8. By means of his intellectual knowledge, an angel knows things which are here and now, even though he himself is free from space and time. This is clear from what has been said. Hence, it should not occasion surprise if he should know the present in a manner different from that by which he knows the future. For he knows them differently, not because he has a different relation to them, but because, as explained previously, they are differently related to him.
9. In his state of innocence, man did not know future contingent events except in their causes or in the Word, just as angels know them. This is clear from what has been said.
Answers to Contrary Difficulties
To the extent that these Difficulties are contrary to the truth, an answer will be found in what has been said in this article.
In the thirteenth article we ask:
Can angels know the heart’s secrets?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 57, a. 4; Resp. de art. 42 (Declar. XLII quaest.), a. 38 (P. 16:163); Resp. de art. 36 (Declar. XXXVI quaest.), a. 36 (P. 16:175); De malo, 16, 8; In I Cor.,c. 2, lect. 2 (P. 13:171a).]
It seems that they can, for
1. To cleanse is the duty of angels. But the impurity from which we are cleansed is in our conscience. Therefore, angels know our consciences.
2. As the body receives its shape from its figure, so does the intellect receive its shape from the species of that which it actually thinks about. Now, when the eye sees a body, it simultaneously sees the body’s shape. Therefore, when an angel sees another angel’s intellect, he sees its thought.
3. Since the species in an intellect are actually intelligible, they are more intelligible ,than the forms existing in material things, which are merely potentially intelligible. Now, angels understand the forms of material things by means of forms which they have within themselves. Consequently, it is even truer that they understand the forms within our intellect; hence, they know our thoughts.
4. Man never knows without a phantasm. But angels know the phantasms in our imagination. Consequently, Augustine says: “The spiritual likenesses of material things existing within our soul are known to spirits, even to unclean spirits.” Therefore, angels know our thoughts.
5. By means of the forms he has within himself an angel can know whatever he can do by these forms. Now, an angel can make an impression on our intellect by enlightening and cleansing us. Therefore, it is even truer that he can know our thoughts.
6. Augustine says: “Demons sometimes learn men’s dispositions with the greatest ease, not only when they are expressed by speech, but even when conceived in thought and expressed by the soul through certain signs in the body.” Now, there is no thought that does not leave a trace on the body. Consequently, the demons know all our thoughts, and much more so do the angels.
7. Commenting on that verse in the Epistle to the Romans (2:15), “...their thoughts between themselves accusing or also defending one another,” Origen says that this passage should be understood as referring to thoughts which, during their existence, left marks on those who had them. Consequently, every thought leaves some mark on the soul. Now, this mark cannot be unknown to an angel, because he sees the whole soul. Hence, angels know our thoughts.
8. Angels know effects in their causes. Now, as Augustine says, knowledge proceeds from the mind, and actual understanding proceeds from habitual knowledge. Consequently, since angels know our mind, they know what we know and what we are actually thinking.
To the Contrary
1. We read the following in Jeremiah (17:9-10): “The heart is perverse... and unsearchable. Who can know it? I... the Lord. Therefore, it belongs to God alone to know the heart’s secrets.
2. The following is found in the Psalms (7:10): “The searcher of hearts and reins is God.” It seems, therefore, that God alone can search our hearts.
Of themselves angels cannot see the thoughts of the heart directly; for, in order that the mind actually think something, the will must make an intention moving the mind to act with respect to its mental species. This is clear from what Augustine has said. Now, an angel cannot naturally know the motion in the will of another person, because he naturally knows by means of forms that have been given him, and these are likenesses of things existing in nature. The motion of the will, however, has no dependence on or connection with any natural cause. It is the divine cause alone that can influence the will. Consequently, the will’s motion and the heart’s thoughts can be known, not by any likenesses of natural things, but only in the divine essence, which leaves its imprint on the will. Thus, angels cannot know the thoughts of the heart directly, but only if they are revealed to them in the Word.
Sometimes, however, an angel can indirectly come to know the heart’s thoughts, and this can happen in two ways. First, it happens inasmuch as a motion in the body results from an actual thought, as when one is affected by joy or sadness from what he thinks, and his heart is moved in some way or other. By this means, even doctors can sometimes know what a heart is experiencing. Second, an angel can know thoughts in so far as a person gains or loses merit from what he is actually thinking; for thus the doer’s or thinker’s condition is somehow changed for good or for evil, and angels can know this change in his condition. But this gives only a general knowledge of what was thought, because, as a result of many different thoughts, a person can merit or demerit, be joyful or sorrowful, in the same way.
Answers to Difficulties
1. That cleansing of which Dionysius speaks should be understood as being from ignorance, not from the impurity of sin.
2. From one species which the intellect has within itself, many distinct thoughts arise—just as we can think many different things about man from the one species we have of man. Consequently, even if an angel sees our intellect shaped to the species of man, it does not follow that he knows determinately what the heart is thinking about.
3. We do not actually think of all the things whose species we have within us, because sometimes species are in us only in the state of habit. Consequently, from the fact that the species in our intellects are seen by angels it does not follow that they know our thoughts.
4. By means of the same phantasms, our reason can direct its thought to different objects. Consequently, even should one know the phantasms by which the soul thinks, it would not follow that he knew the thoughts themselves. Thus, Augustine says: “If demons could see clearly a man’s internal thought, arising from his virtues, they would not tempt him.”
5. As a consequence of an angel’s action, we may be made capable of thinking certain things; but in order to think something actually, we must make an act of the will, and this by no means depends upon an angel. Consequently, even though angels can know our intellect’s power, that is, the power by which we can speculate about intelligible things, it does not follow that they know our actual thoughts.
6. Bodily motion, found in the passions of the soul, does not follow all knowledge but only practical knowledge. For, as is said in The Soul, when we consider something speculatively, we are related to the things we are considering “as though we were looking at them in pictures.” Moreover, even when bodily motion does take place, it indicates thought only in a general way, as we have said.
7. Those marks are nothing other than merits or demerits; and from these, thoughts can be known only in a general way.
8. Even though angels know our mind and our habitual knowledge, it does not follow that they know what we are actually thinking, because many actual thoughts can arise from one thing known habitually.
In the fourteenth article we ask:
Can angels know many things at the same time?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I, 12, 10; 58, 2; 85, 4; II Sent., 3,3,4; C.G., II, 101.]
It seems that they can, for
1. Augustine says: “In heaven we shall behold all our knowledge at the same time by one glance.” But angels see now in the manner in which we will see in heaven. Therefore, angels now actually understand many things at the same time.
2. An angel understands that a man is not a stone. Now, whoever understands this understands man and stone at the same time. Angels, therefore, understand many things at the same time.
3. An angel’s intellect is stronger than the common sense. But the common sense apprehends many things at the same time, because its object is number, whose parts are many unities. Consequently, it is even truer to say that an angel can know many things simultaneously.
4. That which belongs to an angel by reason of his natural power belongs to him no matter by what medium he understands. Now, in virtue of his nature it belongs to an angel to understand many things. For this reason, Augustine says: “The spiritual power of an angelic mind can with ease intellectually comprehend at the same time all that it wills. Therefore, no matter whether an angel knows things in the Word or through individual species, he still can know many things at one time.
5. The intellect and the intelligible are mutually related. Now, one intelligible can be grasped simultaneously by distinct intellects. Therefore, one intellect can focus on distinct intelligibles simultaneously.
6. Augustine says: “Our mind always remembers, understands, aandd wills itself.”The same is true of an angelic mind. Now, an angel sometimes understands things other than himself. Therefore, when this happens, he understands many things at the same time.
7. The relation of the intellect to the intelligible is the same as that of knowledge to the knowable. But one who knows can know many things at the same time. Consequently, the intellect can understand many things at the same time.
8. An angel’s mind is much more spiritual than air. But because of air’s spirituality, many distinct forms, such as black and white, can exist in it simultaneously. For example, a black thing and a white thing can be so situated that lines drawn from the eyes of different people to these things will intersect at one point, through which the species of black and of white will pass simultaneously. Therefore, it is even truer to say that an angelic intellect can be simultaneously actuated by distinct forms. Hence, it can know many things at once.
9. The intellect is reduced to the act of understanding by means of species which it has within itself. Now, many species exist simultaneously in an angelic intellect, for, as is said in The Causes: “an intelligence is filled with forms.” Consequently, an angel understands many things at the same time.
10. Many things can be understood at the same time in so far as they are one. But all intelligibles are one in so far as they are intelligible. Therefore, all intelligibles can be understood at the same time by an angel.
11. More distance lies between the divine essence and created forms than between one created form and another. Now, angels understand simultaneously through the divine essence and through a created form, because they always see things in the Word, and, unless they knew things at the same time through innate species, they would never understand them by means of these species. Much more possible is it, then, for an angel to understand by means of different created innate forms at the same time and in this way understand many things simultaneously.
12. If an angel did not understand many things at the same time, before and after would be found in the action by which he understands this and that thing. But every action in which before and after are found involves time; and, therefore, the characteristic action of an angel would be circumscribed by time. This is contrary, however, to The Causes, where we read: “An intelligence is a thing whose substance and operation are above time.”
13. The reason for our intellect’s not being able to know many things simultaneously seems to be this, that it understands things dependently on time and space. Neither of these, however, belongs to an angelic intellect, because it does not receive from the senses. Consequently, it can understand many things at the same time.
14. Since forms in the intellect are second perfections, they are accidental forms. Now, many accidental forms can exist in the same subject if they are not contraries, as whiteness and blackness are. Therefore, an angel’s intellect can also be informed by many different forms at the same time, as long as they are not contraries. Thus, it can know many things at the same time.
15. Music and grammar are forms belonging to one genus; and they can simultaneously inform the soul of a person who has both habits. It is possible, therefore, for an intellect to be informed simultaneously by different forms. Hence, the conclusion is the same as before.
16. By understanding that it understands, an angelic intellect is aware that it understands something other than itself. Therefore, it simultaneously understands itself and something else. Thus, it can understand many things at the same time.
17. An angelic intellect is of itself indifferently related to all the forms existing within it. Therefore, it understands either through all of them at the same time or through none of them at all. The latter alternative is impossible; hence, it understands through all of them at one time. Thus, it understands many things simultaneously.
To the Contrary
1. The Philosopher says: “It may happen that we have habitual knowledge of many things, but we have actual understanding of only one.”
2. As Augustine says, an intention is required before a thing can be considered actually. But, since intention is a motion, it cannot be directcd to different objects, because one motion can have only one end-term. Consequently, an angel cannot know many things at the same time.
3. As a body receives its shape from figure, so does the intellect receive its shape from the species of that which it actually understands, as Algazel says.” Now, one body cannot be shaped by different figures simultaneously. Consequently, an intellect, too, cannot be shaped simultaneously by different species. Therefore, it cannot know many things at the same time.
4. Just as [an angel], when understanding things in their own nature, understands them through distinct forms, so also, when understanding them in the Word, he understands them through distinct intelligible representations. Therefore, he cannot understand many things simultaneously either in their own nature or in the Word.
5. A thing’s power cannot be greater than its substance. Now, an angel’s substance cannot be in many places at the same time. Hence, his intellectual power cannot understand many things at the same time.
6. A thing which extends to many things contains some composition. But an angel’s intellect is simple. Therefore, it cannot extend to the simultaneous understanding of many things.
All that an intellect understands it understands by means of some form. Consequently, keeping in mind the kinds of forms by which an angel understands, we must now consider whether or not he can understand many things at one time.
It should be observed, therefore, that some forms belong to one genus, others belong to different genera, and the forms belonging to different genera are related to different potencies. Now, as the Philosopher says, the unity of a genus is determined by the unity of matter or of potency. Consequently, it is possible for the same subject to be perfected simultaneously by forms belonging to different genera, because then the one potency would not be terminating in different acts but differently. For example, if a body is both white and sweet at the same time, it has whiteness in it in so far as it shares the nature of the transparent medium, and sweetness in so far as it shares the nature of the moist. But forms belonging to one genus are related to one potency, whether they be contraries (as blackness and whiteness) or not contraries (as triangle and square).
Now, these forms are said to be in a subject in three ways. In the first, they exist only potentially and, consequently, simultaneously, because one potency has for its object different forms of one genus and their contraries. In the second, they exist in imperfect act, so that they are coming into being. In this manner, they can also exist simultaneously. This is evident in the case of one who becomes white; for, during the whole period of alteration, whiteness inheres in him as something coming into being, and blackness as something going out of being. In the third, they exist in perfect act, as whiteness does when the whitening process is finished. In this manner, it is impossible for two forms belonging to the same genus to be present simultaneously in the same subject, because the same potency would have to terminate in different acts; and this is just as impossible as it is for one line, beginning from one point, to be terminated at different points.
We should understand, therefore, that all intelligible forms belong to one genus, even if the things, whose forms they are, belong to different genera, because all intelligible forms are related to an intellectual potency. Consequently, in the intellect they can all simultaneously exist in potency, as well as in incomplete act—a mean between potency and perfect act. This latter condition is that had by a species which is present habitually, for habit is a mean between potency and act.
But many species cannot exist simultaneously in perfect act in an intellect, because, in order to understand actually, an intellect must be in perfect act with respect to that species by which it understands. Hence, it is impossible for the intellect to understand actually according to different forms taken together at one time. Therefore, all the different things which it understands by different forms cannot be understood at one time, but all that is understood by the same form will be understood at one time. Consequently, an angelic intellect can understand simultaneously all that it understands through the one essence of the Word, but the things it understands through innate forms (which are numerous) it cannot understand simultaneously if its understanding is through different forms. Any angel, however, through the same form, can understand many things, at least all the singulars of a species by means of one form of that species. Indeed, the higher angels can understand more through one species than the lower angels can. Hence, they are more able to understand many things at one time.
We should remember, however, that a thing can be one in one respect and many in another. For example, a continuum is actually one but potentially many. Now, if the intellect or sense is directed to a thing of this sort in so far as it is one, it is seen at one time, but if the same powers are directed to it in so far as it is many (and this would be to consider each part by itself), then the whole could not be seen simultaneously. Similarly, when our intellect considers a proposition, it considers many things as one. Hence, in so far as the things are one, many things are understood at one time when the one proposition made up of them is understood; but, in so far as they are many, they cannot be understood at one time, because this would mean that the intellect can simultaneously turn itself to understanding the intelligible characters of each one of them taken in itself. Consequently, the Philosopher says: “I mean, however, by understanding things ‘together’ or ‘apart’ in an affirmation or negation that they are not understood in succession but as one thing.” For they cannot be understood simultaneously in so far as a relation of distinctness exists between them, but they can be understood simultaneously in so far as they are united in one proposition.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Augustine is speaking of knowledge had by the blessed. In this they know all things in the Word.
2. As is clear from what has been said, when an angel, knowing a man, knows that he is not a stone, he knows many things as one.
3. The same answer should be given here as was given to the second difficulty.
4. The nature of an angelic mind is such that it can know many things through one form. Thus, by turning to that species, it can, when it wishes, understand at one time all that it knows through that species.
5. No part of the intellect itself is in the intelligible, but something of what is understood is in the intellect. Consequently, the argument for many things being understood simultaneously by one intellect is not the same as that for one thing being understood by many intellects.
6. Augustine himself later explains” that his statement, “Our mind always remembers, understands, and wills itself,” refers to internal memory. Consequently, our soul does not always actually understand itself. An angelic mind, however, always understands itself actually. This is due to the fact that an angelic mind understands itself through its essence, which always informs it. Our act of understanding, however, might be said to depend in a certain sense on the intention of our will. Nevertheless, even though an angel’s mind in some way understands itself and some other thing, it does not simultaneously understand many things except as they are one. This will be clear from the following.
If any two things are so related that one of them is the reason why the other can be understood, one of them will be, as it were, formal, the other, as it were, material. Thus, those two constitute one intelligible, because matter and form constitute one thing. Consequently, when the intellect understands one thing through another, it understands only one intelligible. This is evidently the case with sight. For light is that by which color is seen, and so is related to color, in a manner of speaking, as its formal element. Thus, color and light constitute only one visible thing and are seen simultaneously by sight. Now, an angel’s essence is his means for knowing all that he knows, even though it is not a perfect means and, for this reason, needs forms to be given it. For he knows all things according to the mode of his substance, as The Causes states, and according to his power and nature, as Dionysius says. Consequently, when he understands himself and other things, he cannot understand many things except as they are one.
7. Knowledge is a habit, knowing is an act. Now, many forms can exist in the intellect at the same time habitually, but not in perfect act, as is clear from what has been said. Hence, one can know many things io’gether, but he cannot understand many things at one time.
8. Those forms are not in the air except in the stage of coming-to-be, for they are in it as in a medium of transmission.
9. Many species exist simultaneously in an angel’s intellect, but they are not in perfect act.
10. All things are one in so far as they are intelligible, and so they can be understood at the same time in so far as they are intelligibles. This takes place when their intelligibility is understood.
11. The divine essence is the cause of the intelligibility of all the angel’s innate forms, because they are, as it were, modeled upon it. One innate form, however, is not the cause of the intelligibility of another. Hence, there is no parallel.
12. Any operation essentially involves time if it needs some future thing to complete its species. This is evidently the case with motion, which does not have a complete species until it is carried through to a term, because the motion which would end at mid-point would be specifically different from that which would terminate at the extreme. On the other hand, operations which have their complete species immediately are not measured by time except for another reason. Examples of such are understanding, sensing, and the like. For this reason, the Philosopher says14 that delight is not in time. By exception, however, these operations can be in time, in so far as they are joined to motion by existing in natures subject to time, namely, physical natures which come into and go out of existence. Our sensitive powers use organs, which are of this nature, and our intellect receives from them. But it is clear that an angel’s act of understanding involves time neither intrinsically nor extrinsically. Therefore, there is no before and after in an act by which he understands one intelligible. Nevertheless, this does not prevent a number of operations from being ordered accor ing to before and after.
13. The reason given in the objection is not the entire reason for o possible intellect’s not being able to understand many things at one time. The entire reason has been given above.
14. Accidental forms, if not contrary, can exist simultaneously link the same subject if they are related to different powers, but not if they belong to one genus and are related to the same power. This is clear if we consider triangles and squares.
15. Since music and grammar are habits, they are not complete acts, but, as it were, forms standing halfway between potency and act.
16. The knower:and the actually known are in some way one. Hence, when anyone:understands that he understands something, he understands many things as one.
17. The angelic intellect is not similarly related to all the forms it has within itself, because sometimes it is in perfect act with regard to one form but not with regard to the others. This takes place by means of the will, which reduces the intellect from this potency to act. Consequently, Augustine says in the statement quoted earlier that an angel understands when he wills.
Answers to Contrary Difficulties
1. It may happen that only one thing can be understood as one at one time and through one form, but this does not prevent many things from being understood as one at one time or through one form.
2. Virtual quantity is ascertained by comparing the power with its objects. Consequently, just as a body can, by its different parts, touch different things by means of its dimensional quantity, so can a power be applied to different things according to its different relation to them, as long as it has been perfected in act, just as fire can warm different things on all sides at the same time. Similarly, an intellect perfected by a form can be simultaneously directed to the different things to which that form’s representative power extends. There may be many intelligible characters in the thing to which the intellect is directed, but there will be only one species in the intellect because of the intellect’s unity with the form.
3. The intellect does not understand many things at one time if, to understand them, it must be shaped by many different forms.
4. The intelligible characters in the divine ideas differ only in so far as things have different relations to them. Hence, they are one through the divine essence. This is not true of the innate forms possessed by the angels.
5. When one says that a thing’s power cannot be greater than its substance, this statement should not be understood as meaning that nothing belongs to its power that does not belong to its substance, but rather that the strength of a power is determined by the mode of the substance. For example, if a substance is material, its power will act in a material way.
6. The more simple a thing’s virtual quantity, the greater is the number of objects to which it extends; but the more simple its dimensional quantity, the smaller the number of objects to which it extends. Consequently, extension to many things by reason of dimensional quantity is a sign of composition, but extension by reason of virtual quantity is a sign of simplicity.
In the fifteenth article we ask:
Is angels’ knowledge of things discursive?
[Parallel readings: De ver., 15, 1; S.T., I, 58, aa. 3-4; 79, 8; 85, 5; De malo, 16, 6, ad 1 s. c.]
It seems that it is, for
1. Whoever knows one thing through another knows it discursively. Now, angels know one thing through another when they see creatures in the Word. Hence, their knowledge of things is discursive.
2. just as we know some things and not others, so do angels also know some things and not others. This is clear from what has been said.’ But we are able to learn what we do not know by means of what we do know. Therefore, since angels possess more profound intellects than we, it seems that they, too, can come to a knowledge of what they do not know by means of what they know already. This, however, is discursive knowledge. Therefore, angels reason from one thing to another.
3. No motion can be detected in intellection other than that by which the mind passes from one thing to another. Now, angels are moved when they understand, and that is why Dionysius says that the motion of angels with respect to the good and the beautiful is circular, oblique, and horizontal, just as that of our own souls is. Therefore, angels, as well as our own souls, understand discursively.
4. As Augustine says,” demons know the heart’s thoughts by means of the movements that appear on the body. But this is to know the cause through the effect; it is also to reason from one thing to another.
Therefore, demons know things by reasoning from one thing to an-, other; and, by the same argument, angels also know in this manner, because the same kind of natural cognition is found in both angels and demons.
5- Maximus says that our souls roll many things together, just as angels do. Now, to roll many things together means to compare them. Therefore, angels know things by way of comparison.
6. Angels know natural causes and elffects as perfectly as we do. Now, we see effects in causes and causes in effects. Therefore, angels do the same. Consequently, they make comparisons, just as we do.
7. All knowledge had through experience is knowledge had by a process of comparison, because, as said in the Metaphysics, it is based on experience, and the general apprehension results from the memory of many individual events. Now, as Augustine says, through their long experience demons come to know many things about natural effects. Therefore, demons possess knowledge that is the result of comparison.
To the Contrary
1. All discursive knowledge is had by reasoning either from the universal to particulars or from particulars to the universal, for all reasoning is reduced to syllogizing and induction. But, as Dionysius says, angels do not acquire divine knowledge from what is divisible or from senses, nor are they led to these particular things from something common. Therefore, there is no discursive knowledge in angels.
2.Man is said to be rational inasmuch as he reasons by inquiring. As is clear from Dionysius, however, angels are not called rational but intellectual. Therefore, angels do not know discursively.
31. As said in Spirit and Soul: “Reasoning is a search made by the reason.” But in angels there is no reason, because, as is clear from the same work, reason is put into the definition of the human soul a being one of its properties. Therefore, angels neither reason nor have discursive knowledge.
4. We read the following in Spirit and Soul: “It belongs to the same person to know the natures of visible things and to investigate invisible things.” Now, the first type of knowledge belongs to man because of his senses, and the second type, too, for the same reason. Therefore, it seems that the second type of knowledge does not belong to angels, because they do not have senses.
5. Maximus the Commentator writes that angels do not circle about a number of existing things as our souls do. Now, souls are said to circle about a number of existing things in so far as they reason from one thing to another. Therefore, angels do not know discursively.
Properly speaking, to discourse is to come to the knowledge of one thing through another. There is a difference, however, between knowing something in another and knowing it from another. For when one thing is known in another, the knower is, by one motion, directed to both. This is clearly the case when a thing is known in another as in an intelligible form. This kind of knowledge is not discursive. Moreover, in this regard, it makes no difference whether the thing be seen in its own species or in a different one; for sight is not said to know discursively when it sees a stone either by means of a species received from the stone itself or by seeing the stone’s species reflected in a mirror.
A thing is said to be known from another, however, when the motion to both is not the same, but the intellect is first moved to one and from this is moved to the other. Consequently, discourse takes place here,. as it evidently takes place in demonstrations. For the intellect is first directed only to principles, then it is directed through the principles to conclusions. From the moment of their creation, however, the intellects of angels are perfected by innate forms giving them all the natural knowledge to which their intellectual powers extend, just as the matter of celestial bodies is completely terminated by its form, with the result that it no longer remains in potency to another form. For this reason, The Causes states: “An intelligence is filled with forms.” Now, it would not be filled with forms unless its entire potentialities were actuated by forms. Therefore, an intelligence is ignorant of none of the things that it can know naturally.
But because our intellect shares in a defective intellectual light, it is not actuated with regard to all the intelligibles which it can know naturally. It remains perfectible, nor could it reduce itself from potency to act had not its knowledge with respect to some things been actuated by nature. Consequently, there necessarily are some things in our intellect which it knows naturally, namely, first principles—even though in us this knowledge is not caused unless we receive something through our senses. Therefore, the relation of our intellect to those principles is similar to that which an angel has to all that he knows naturally. And since the knowledge we have of principles is the highest form of our knowledge, it is evident that on this summit of our nature we reach to some extent the lowest point of an angel’s. For, as Dionysius says: “The divine wisdom has linked the boundaries of the first creatures to the place where the second begin.” Consequently, just as we know principles by simple intuition without discourse, so do the angels know all they know in the same fashion. This is why they are called “intellectual,” and why our habit of principles has the same name.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Angels know creatures in the Word without any discourse, as things are known in their likenesses.
2. Angels are not ignorant of any of the things whose knowledge they can arrive at naturally; but they are ignorant of some things that surpass their natural knowledge. By themselves, they cannot arrive at a knowledge of these through discourse, but they need divine revelation. Our intellect, however, does not know all that it can know naturally. Hence, from the things it knows it can arrive at what it does not know. But, it cannot arrive at unknown things, such as matters of faith, that surpass our natural powers of knowing.
3. The motion of which Dionysius speaks is not taken to mean the passage from one thing to another. It is motion merely in that sense in which all operations are called motions, just as understanding and sensing are called motions. Consequently, Dionysius distinguishes three kinds of motions in souls and in angels as regards their knowledge of God:circular, oblique, and straight—using these as metaphors. Now, circular motion is perfectly uniform, because all the parts of a circle are equidistant from its center, and because it cannot be said that one part of a circular motion is its beginning or end more than any other. Straight motion, however, is not uniform, because as a line its parts are not equidistant from a designated point, and as motion it has a designated beginning and end. Oblique motion possesses uniformity in so far as it agrees with circular motion, but lacks uniformity in so far as it agrees with straight motion.
Now, there is not the same manner of uniformity and non-uniformity in an angel and in a soul. Consequently, Dionysius distinguishes between these motions as found in each. In the act of knowing God, an angel does not direct his cognition to many different things but fixes it on God alone. In this regard, he is said to be moved about God, as it were, in a circular motion, because he does not arrive at God as at the end of cognition that had its beginning from some principle of cognition, but [his knowledge is] like a circle, without a beginning or end. Hence Dionysius says that angels are moved “in a circular motion which is simple, without beginnings, and rich with everlasting illuminations of the good and the beautiful.”
These divine illuminations coming into the minds of the angels are to be understood as though they were lines coming from the center of a circle to its circumference and in some way constituting the substance of the circumference. Then, the knowledge which God has of Himself is compared to the center of the circle, and the knowledge which the angel has of God is compared to the circle itself, which imitates the unity of its center but falls short of achieving it.
Non-uniformity in an angel’s knowledge of God is not to be found in the knowledge itself but only in its communication, that is, in so far as he passes on his knowledge of God to others. This action Dionysius assigns to the angels’ straight movement, saying: “Their motion is straight when, passing directly over all things, they go forth to provide for all who are entrusted to them.” Moreover, he calls that motion of theirs oblique which is, as it were, made up of both of the afore-mentioned motions—the motion which occurs when, remaining united to God in knowledge, they go forth in action to lead others back to Him. Hence, he says: “They are moved obliquely when, while caring for those who have less, they nevertheless remain unmoved in uninterruptible union with the cause of union.”
However, uniformity and non-uniformity are also found in the soul’s knowledge of God, because a soul is moved towards God in three ways. In the first, by looking upon the visible things that have been made, the soul sees the invisible things of God. This motion is straight. Consequently, Dionysius says: “The motion of the soul is straight when the soul goes forth to the things which lie around it, and from external things, as from varied and multiple signs, is lifted up to simple and unified contemplation.” The soul is moved toward God in a second way by the illuminations it receives from Him. These, however, it receives in accordance with its own manner of existence, that is, they are veiled in sensible figures. For example, Isaiah saw “the Lord sitting upon a throne high and elevated” (Isaiah 6:1). This motion is oblique, having something of uniformity from God’s illumination and something of non-uniformity from the sensible figures. Hence, Dionysius says: “The soul is moved obliquely in so far as it is illumincd by divine thoughts according to its nature—not, indeed, intellectually and intuitively, but rationally and discursively.” Moreover, the soul is moved in a third way when it turns away from all sense objects by thinking of God as being above all things, even above itself. In this way, it is separated from any non-uniformity, and therefore it is circular motion. Hence, Dionysius says: “The circular motion of the soul takes place when, withdrawing from external things, the soul enters into itself and reflects by its intellectual powers. Finally, it is made uniform and enters into union with its united powers. In this way, it is led to that which is above all things.”
4. Angels see thoughts hidden in hearts by means of bodily movements, just as causes are seen without discourse by means of their likeness in their effects. However, this does not mean that angels need to reason discursively when they know these motions for the first time, because, as soon as sensible things come into being, they become similar to forms in the angels and so are known by the angels. Hence, without discourse, angels know new sensible things.
5. That rolling together does not mean comparison, but rather a kind of circular union of the soul with itself, and of the angel with itself.
6. [Angels] see causes in their effects and effects in their causes, not by reasoning discursively, as it were, from one thing to another, but in the manner in which a thing is seen in its image, without any discourse being needed.
7. Demons’ experiential knowledge is not had by making comparisons but by seeing effects in their causes or causes in their effects in the manner described. The longer they have existed, the greater the number of effects they know of a given cause. Thus, they come to know, in some way, more about a cause, not intensively but extensively, the more.they see its power manifested in effects.
In the sixteenth article we ask:
Should morning knowledge be distinguished from evening knowledge in angels?
[Parallel readings: S.T., I 58, aa. 6-7; 62, 1, ad 3; 64, 1, ad 3; II Sent., 12, 1, 3; In Ephes., c. 3, lect. 3 (P. 13:470b); De Pot., 4, 2, ad 2, 8,10,12-21, 24-25.]
It seems not, for
1. There are shadows in the morning and evening. In an angelic intellect, however, there are no shadows; for, as Dionysius says,, angels are very bright mirrors. Therefore, in angels morning knowledge should not be distinguished from evening knowledge.
2. According to Augustine, that knowledge is called morning knowledge by which an angel knows in the Word the things that are to be created; and that is called evening knowledge by which he knows things in their own natures. Now, angels do not know things differently before they exist than after they exist, since their intellects are like God’s intellect and do not receive their knowledge from things. Therefore, their morning knowledge should not be distinguished from their evening knowledge.
3. Evening knowledge is that by which things are known in their own nature. But things are known in their own nature in the Word, btcause the Word represents things in their individuality even more expressly than the forms within the angels do. Therefore, since morning knowledge is knowledge in the Word, it seems that angel’s evening knowledge should not be distinguished from their morning knowledge.
4. We read in Genesis (1:5): “And there was evening and morning one day.” Now, as Augustine says, day is taken there as meaning angels. knowledge. Consequently, angels’ morning and evening knowledge are one and the same.
5. The light of morning grows until noon. However, knowledge of things had in the Word cannot grow into another, fuller knowledge. Therefore, knowledge of things in the Word cannot properly be called morning knowledge. Hence, angels’ morning and evening knowledge cannot be distinguished by the fact that one is knowledge of things in the Word, the other, knowledge of them in their own nature.
6. Knowledge of things that are to be created comes before that of things that are already created. Now, evening knowledge comes before morning knowledge, as is clear from the words of Genesis (1:5): “There was evening and morning one day.” Consequently, it is not proper to distinguish evening knowledge from morning knowledge so that the former means knowledge of things already made, and the latter, of things to be made.
7. Augustine compares the knowledge of things in the Word to the knowledge had from an artistic concept, and that of them in their own nature to the knowledge had from the work of art itself. He also compares these two types of knowledge to the knowledge had of a line which is mentally conceived and to that which is had of a line written in dust. But these distinctions do not involve different genera of knowledge. Consequently, knowledge of things in the Word and in their proper nature are not two types of knowledge. Hence, morning and eveninLy knowledue are not distinct.
8. As soon as he was created, an angel knew with morning knowledge. However, he did not know the Word, because he was not created in the state of beatitude, and the sight of the Word is the act of beatitude. Consequently, knowledge of things in the Word is not morning knowledge. Hence, we conclude as before.
9. But it has been said that, even though an angel did not know the Word through its essence, he knew it through some created likeness and, therefore, did, know things in the Word.—On the contrary, all knowledge through,created forms is obscure, because all creatures, taken in themselves, ‘are shadowy. But evening knowledge is obscure knowledge. Therefore, to know things in the Word, or to know the Word in the manner just described, would not be morning but evening knowledge.
10. Augustine says: “When a mind, strong and vigorous, sees that first truth, it forgets all other things.” Therefore, when it sees the Word, it sees nothing else in it. Consequently, the morning knowledge of angels cannot be called the knowledge of things in the Word.
11. Morning knowledge is clearer than evening knowledge. But knowledge of things had in the Word is less clear than that of things in their own nature, because things are in the Word only in a certain respect, but in their own nature without any qualification. It is better, however, to know a thing where it exists simply than to know it where it exists only in a certain respect. Consequently, a distinction canno be made whereby knowledge of things had in the Word will be called morning knowledge, and that of things in their own nature, evening knowledge.
12. Knowledge had from a thing’s individual immediate causes is more perfect than that had from a general cause. But God is the general cause of all things. Consequently, that knowledge by which things are known in the Word is more imperfect than that by which they are known in their own nature.
13. Things are known in the Word as in a mirror. But things are known more perfectly in themselves than in a mirror. Consequently, they are known more perfectly in their own nature than in the Word. Hence, the same must be said as before.
To the Contrary
Augustine distinguisheS6 these types of knowledge in the manner described.
The expression “morning and evening knowledge” was introduced by Augustine so that he could hold that the things we read about as having been made in the first six days were really completed without any succession of time. Consequently, he wanted those days to be understood as referring, not to distinct times, but to distinct angelic cognitions. For, just as the presence of physical light on things here below makes a day in the temporal sense, so does the presence or operation of light from an angelic intellect on created things make a day in the spiritual sense. Consequently, as many days can be distinguished as there are relations from angelic intellects to the different classes of things to be known. Taken in this way, the order of a day would not be an order of time but an order of nature, and this would be found in angelic knowledge according to the order that the known things have to each other, that is, according as one thing is prior by nature to another. Moreover, just as morning is the beginning of a temporal day and evening its end, so the beginning and end of an angel’s knowledge of some one thing would be determined by the order in that thing. Now, the beginning of anything is to be found in the cause from which it issues; its end, in the thing itself, because it is in this that the action of the productive cause terminates. Hence, the first knowledge to be had of a thing is that in which it is considered in its cause, the eternal Word. For this reason, the knowledge of things in the Word is called morning knowledge. The last knowledge to be had of a thing is that in which it is known in itself. This is called evening knowledge.
It should be understood, however, that that distinction can have two meanings. First, it can refer to a distinction in the thing known; second, it can refer to a distinction in the medium of knowledge. Taking the distinction in the first way, we can say that a thing is said to be known in the Word when the being it has in the Word is known; and it is said to be known in its own nature in so far as the being which it has in itself is known. But this way of understanding causes Difficulties, because the being which it has in the Word is not other than that of the Word itself, since, as Anselm says, the creature in the Creator is simply the creative essence. Hence, to know a creature in the Word in this manner is to know, not the creature, but rather the Creator Consequently, this distinction between morning and evening knowl edge must be referred to the medium of knowledge. Accordingly, a thing will be said to be known in the Word when it is known in its own nature through the Word; and it will be said to be known in its own nature when it is known by means of some created forms proportioned to created things, as things are known [to angels] by innate forms or by acquired forms—if, indeed, angels did know by acquired forms, but it would make no difference as far as the present problem is concerned.
Answers to Difficulties
1. The figure of evening and morning in angelic knowledge is not based on the fact that there are shadows in the morning and evening of a temporal day, but, as has been said, on the fact that these two have the nature of a beginning and end. Or it can be said that all intellects, being created from nothing, are shadowy in comparison with the brightness of God’s intellect. They do, however, have some brightnes in so far as they imitate His intellect.
2. In the Word the angels know in the same way the things that are to be created and the things already created. But the way in which they know in the Word the things to be created differs from the way in which they know the individual natures of things already created when they know these latter by means of a similitude within them selves. It is according to this difference that their morning and evening knowledge are distinguished.
3. Even though things are more expressly represented in the Word than they are by the forms within an angel’s intellect, nevertheless, these forms are more proportioned to things and, in a way, conformed to them. Hence, this kind of knowledge, and not knowledge in the Word, is said to be of things in their own nature.
4. Just as one general science contains within itself different particular sciences by which different conclusions can be known, so also all the knowledge an angel has, being in some sense a whole, contains within itself morning and evening knowledge as, in a way, its parts—as a temporal day has morning and evening for its parts.
5. It is not necessary that spiritual things be like material things in all respects. Hence, knowledge of things in the Word is not called morning knowledge because it grows into greater knowledge, but, as has been said, because of its relation to an inferior knowledge.
6. Morning knowledge comes before evening knowledge if we consider the natural ordering found in one and the same thing. But, if we consider different things, evening knowledge of what is prior precedes morning knowledge of what is posterior, that is, as long as knowledge is considered from the viewpoint of what is prior and posterior in the things known. Consequently, in Genesis, evening is put before morning, because the work of the first day was light, which Augustine understands as a spiritual light enkindled by knowledge of the Word. By their natural knowledge, however, angels first knew themselves in themselves, and, having known themselves, they did not remain there to enjoy their own selves and, as it were, make themselves their own ends (for then they would have become “night”—as angels who sinned); instead, they turned their knowledge back to the praise of God. Hence, from contemplation of themselves angels turned to a contemplation of the Word, in whom existed the morning of the following day, inasmuch as the angels received knowledge in the Word of the creature that was to follow, namely, the firmament. Therefore, just as we see that in continuous time the same now belongs to two times, that is, it is the end of the past and the beginning of the future, so morning knowledge of the second day is the end of the first day and the beginning of the second, and so on until the seventh day is reached.
7. The knowledge had of a work of art from its artistic concept is not the same as that had from the thing already made. The first knowledge is universal only; the second can also be particular, as, for example, when I look at a particular house that has been made.
Besides, there is no parallel at all, because created art is more proportioned and conformed to artificial things than uncreated art is to created things.
8. At the moment of his creation, an angel was not beatified and did not see the Word through His essence. Hence, he did not have morning knowledge, but first he had evening knowledge and from this progressed to morning. For this reason, the first day is expressly said not to have had a morning, but began as evening, and from evening passed into morning. The reason for this was that that spiritual light, namely, the angelic substance, made on the first day, knew himself as soon as he was made. This was his evening knowledge. Then he turned this knowledge to the praise of the Word, and in the Word his knowledge became morning knowledge. This is why Genesis (1:5) says: “And there was evening and morning one day.”
9. Evening and morning knowledge must be distinguished with respect to the medium of knowledge, not with respect to the thing that is known. Knowledge of the Creator through creatures, therefore, is evening knowledge, just as, conversely, knowledge of creatures through the Creator is morning knowledge. To this extent, the argument is correct.
10. A strong mind intent on divine things is said to forget other things, not in the sense that it does not know them, but in the sense that it no longer esteems them. For, when we see God’s majesty, we consider as of little value creatures that previously seemed to be of very great worth.
11. Knowledge of things in the Word is more perfect than that of them in their own nature, because the Word expresses each one of them more clearly than a created species does. Moreover, the statement that things exist more truly in themselves than they do in the Word can be understood in two ways. First, it can mean that the existence they have in themselves is more perfect than that which they have in the Word. But this is false, because in themselves they have a created act of existence, and in the Word, uncreated being. Consequently, the existence they have in themselves is existence only in a certain sense as compared with that which they have in the Word. Second, it can mean that the thing can be its individual self more perfectly in its own being than in the Word. This, to a certain extent, is true. For in itself a thing is material (at least materiality belongs to the’ nature of some things); in the Word, however, it is not material. There is merely a likeness of the thing’s matter and form in the Word. Although it is true that a thing in so far as it is such and such exists only in a certain fashion in the Word, nevertheless, it is known more perfectly through the Word than through itself, even in so far as it is such and.such a thing. The reason for this is that a thing’s own nature is more perfectly represented in the Word than it is in itself, and this despite the fact that it exists more truly in itself when it exists according to its own mode of existence. For knowledge follows the representation of the form. Hence, even though a thing is not in the soul except in a qualified sense, that is, by its likeness, it is known simply as a thing.
12. God Himself is the proper and immediate cause of each and every thing, and, as Augustine says, in some way He is more closely united to each thing than the thing is to itself.
13. Forms do not flow into things from a mirror; rather, they flow into a mirror from things. From the Word, however, forms flow into things. Consequently, no parallel can be drawn between knowledge of things had from a mirror and that of them had in the Word.
In the seventeenth article we ask:
Is anangel’s knowledge adequately divided into morning and evening knowlege?
[Parallel readings: See readings given for preceding article.]
It seems not, for
1. Augustine says, that evening knowledge is that by which things are known in themselves, morning knowledge, that whereby things are referred to the praise of the Creator. Thus, morning knowledge seems to be distinguished from evening by means of distinguishing between related and non-related. But, besides this division of knowledge of creatures in themselves into knowledge related and not related to the Word, there is another knowledge of creatures—a knowledge that differs more from creatures than one of them differs from another—namely, the knowledge of creatures in the Word. Therefore, the division of angels’knowledge into morning and evening is not adequate.
2. Augustine says that a creature has three existences:one in the Word, a second in its own nature, a third in the mind of an angel. Now, the first two existences are included by morning and evening knowledge. Hence, the third should be included by a third type of knowledge.
3. Morning and evening knowledge are distinguished by this, that the first is knowledge of things in the Word, the second, knowledge of them in their own nature. They are also distinguished in so far as one is the knowledge of things to be created, the other, of things already created. This latter division, however, can be further divided in four ways. First, we can speak of knowing in the Word the things that will be created; second, of knowing in the Word things already created; third, of knowing in their own nature the things that are already created; fourth, of knowing in their own nature things that will be created. The last division, however, seems to be a useless addition, because a thing cannot be known in its own nature before it exists. At any rate, there should be at least three kinds of angelic knowledge. Hence, the twofold division is inadequate.
4. Angels’ morning and evening knowledge get their names from their resemblance to a temporal day. Now, in a temporal day, noon lies between morning and evening. Therefore, a noonday knowledge should be placed between morning and evening knowledge.
5. Angels know not only creatures but the Creator Himself. But angels’ knowledge is divided into morning and evening only with reference to their knowledge of creatures. Consequently, we must assign a third knowledge to angels that is other than their morning and evening knowledge.
6. Morning and evening knowledge pertain only to knowledge had by grace; otherwise, bad angels would also have morning or evening knowledge. This does not seem true, however, because there is no day for demons, and evening and morning are parts of a day. Consequently, since angels’ natural knowledge is other than that which they have as a result of grace, it seems that we must assign a third type of knowledge to them.
To the Contrary
Morning and evening knowledge are divided according to created and uncreated. Now, there is no mean between these two. Therefore, there is none between morning and evening knowledge.
We may speak of morning and evening knowledge in two ways First, we may speak of them simply in so far as they are knowledge. No mean can fall between the two types of knowledge, considered in this manner. For, as said previously, morning is distinguished from evening knowledge by means of the medium of knowing. If the medium iq created, it causes evening knowledge, no matter how it is had. If the medium is uncreated, it causes morning knowledge. And there can be no mean between created and uncreated.
On the other hand, if we consider the nature of morning and evening alone, then a mean can fall between the two for two reasons. First, morning and evening are parts of a day; and, according to Augustine, “day” exists in angels by means of the illuminating effects of grace. Consequently, morning. and evening do not extend beyond the knowledge good angels have because of grace. Hence, their natural knowledge will be a third type. Second, evening as evening ends with morning, and morning ends with evening. Hence, not any knowledge of things in their own nature can be called evening knowledge, but only that which is referred to the praise of the Creator, because, in this sense, evening returns to morning. Consequently, the knowledge demons have of things is neither morning nor evening. Therefore, these terms can be applied only to the knowledge angels have as a result of grace, and this knowledge is found only in the beatified angels.
Answers to Difficulties
1. Knowledge of things in their own nature is always evening knowledge. Its relation to knowledge in the Word does not make it morning, but makes it merely terminate in morning knowledge. Consequently, it should not be said that an angel has morning knowledge because he refers the knowledge he has of things in their own natures to the Word, as though this knowledge, being thus related, is morning knowledge. Rather, it is because he refers this knowledge that he merits to receive morning knowledge.
2. That argument proceeds as though morning were distinguished from evening knowledge on the part of the thing known. Then there would be three kinds of knowledge based on the three kinds of intelligible existence things have. However, morning is distinguished from evening knowledge entirely on the basis of the medium of knowledge, which is either created or uncreated, and the existence of things can be known through either of these mediums. Hence, there is no need for postulating a third kind of knowledge.
3. All knowledge had in the Word is called morning knowledge, whether the thing known is already created or not. The reason for this is that such knowledge is similar to God’s knowledge who without difference of manner knows all things before they are created just as He knows them after they are created.
However, all knowledge of things in the Word is of them as they are to be created, whether they are already created or not. Consequently, are to he created does not signify time but merely the fact that a creature has to leave the hands of its Creator. It is like the knowledge had of a work of art by means of an artistic conception:it concerns the thing in its coming to be, even after the thing has been made.
4. Augustine calls that knowledge morning which is in full light and, for this reason, includes noon. Consequently, he sometimes calls it day knowledge, sometimes morning knowledge. Or, one could reply that all the intellectual knowledge had by angels is mixed with shadows as far as the knower is concerned. Consequently, no knowledge had by an angelic intellect should be called noonday knowledge, but only that by which God knows all things in Himself.
5. The Word and things in the Word are known by the same knowledge. Hence, knowledge of the Word is also called morning knowledge. This is evident, because the seventh day, which signifies the day when God rested in Himself, has a morning. Hence, morning knowledge is had in so far as an angel knows God.
6. The answer is clear from what has been said.