Summa Contra Gentiles 1
Summa Contra Gentiles 1
Quod sit officium sapientis
In what the office of a wise man consists
Veritatem meditabitur guttur meum, et labia mea detestabuntur impium.
My mouth shall meditate truth, and my lips shall hate impiety.
Multitudinis usus, quem in rebus nominandis sequendum philosophus censet, communiter obtinuit ut ‘sapientes’ dicantur qui res directe ordinant et eas bene gubernant. Unde inter alia quae homines de sapiente concipiunt, a philosopho ponitur quod sapientis est ordinare. Omnium autem ordinatorum ad finem, gubernationis et ordinis regulam ex fine sumi necesse est: tunc enim unaquaeque res optime disponitur cum ad suum finem convenienter ordinatur; finis enim est bonum uniuscuiusque. Unde videmus in artibus unam alterius esse gubernativam et quasi principem, ad quam pertinet eius finis: sicut medicinalis ars pigmentariae principatur et eam ordinat, propter hoc quod sanitas, circa quam medicinalis versatur, finis est omnium pigmentorum, quae arte pigmentaria conficiuntur. Et simile apparet in arte gubernatoria respectu navifactivae; et in militari respectu equestris et omnis bellici apparatus. Quae quidem artes aliis principantes ‘architectonicae’ nominantur, quasi ‘principales artes’: unde et earum artifices, qui ‘architectores’ vocantur, nomen sibi vindicant sapientum.
The general use which, in the Philosopher’s opinion (2 Topics 1, 5) should be followed in naming things, has resulted in those men being called ‘wise’ who order things rightly and govern them well. Hence, among other things which men conceive of the wise man, the Philosopher reckons that it belongs to the wise man to order things (1 Metaphysics 2, 3). Now the rule of all things directed to the end of government and order must be taken from their end: for a thing is best disposed when it is fittingly directed to its end, since the end of everything is its good. Thus in the arts we observe that the art which governs and rules another is the one to which the latter’s end belongs. In this way the medical art rules and directs the art of the druggist, because health which is the object of medicine is the end of all drugs which are made up by the druggist’s art. The same may be observed in the art of sailing in relation to the art of ship-building, and in the military art in relation to the equestrian art and all warlike appliances. These arts which govern others are called ‘architectonic,’ that is, ‘principal arts,’ for which reason their craftsmen, who are called architects, are awarded the name of wise men.
Quia vero praedicti artifices, singularium quarundam rerum fines pertractantes, ad finem universalem omnium non pertingunt, dicuntur quidem sapientes huius vel illius rei, secundum quem modum dicitur 1 Cor. 3, 10, ut sapiens architectus, fundamentum posui; nomen autem simpliciter sapientis illi soli reservatur cuius consideratio circa finem universi versatur, qui item est universitatis principium; unde secundum philosophum, sapientis est causas altissimas considerare.
Since, however, these same craftsmen, through being occupied with the ends of certain singular things, do not come to the universal end of all things, they are called wise about this or that, in which sense it is said, as a wise architect, I have laid the foundation (1 Cor 3:10), whereas the name of being wise simply is reserved to him alone who considers the end of the universe, which is also the beginning of the universe. Thus, according to the Philosopher, it belongs to the wise man to consider the highest causes (1 Metaphysics 1, 12; 2, 7).
Finis autem ultimus uniuscuiusque rei est qui intenditur a primo auctore vel motore ipsius. Primus autem auctor et motor universi est intellectus, ut infra ostendetur. Oportet igitur ultimum finem universi esse bonum intellectus. Hoc autem est veritas. Oportet igitur veritatem esse ultimum finem totius universi; et circa eius considerationem principaliter sapientiam insistere. Et ideo ad veritatis manifestationem divina sapientia carne induta se venisse in mundum testatur, dicens, Ioan. 18, 37: ego in hoc natus sum, et ad hoc veni in mundum, ut testimonium perhibeam veritati.
Now the ultimate end of each thing is that which is intended by the first author or mover of that thing, and the first author and mover of the universe is an intellect, as we shall prove further on (ch. 44; bk. II, ch. 24). Consequently, the ultimate end of the universe must be the good of the intellect, and this is truth. Therefore, truth must be the ultimate end of the whole universe, and the consideration of it must be the chief occupation of wisdom. And for this reason divine wisdom, clothed in flesh, declares that he came into the world to make known the truth, saying, for this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth (John 18:37).
Sed et primam philosophiam philosophus determinat esse scientiam veritatis; non cuiuslibet, sed eius veritatis quae est origo omnis veritatis, scilicet quae pertinet ad primum principium essendi omnibus; unde et sua veritas est omnis veritatis principium; sic enim est dispositio rerum in veritate sicut in esse.
Moreover, the Philosopher defines the first philosophy as being the knowledge of truth (1a Metaphysics 4, 5) not of any truth, but of that truth which is the source of all truth, namely, of that which relates to the first principle of being of all things. Hence its truth is the principle of all truth, since the disposition of things is the same in truth as in being.
Eiusdem autem est unum contrariorum prosequi et aliud refutare sicut medicina, quae sanitatem operatur, aegritudinem excludit. Unde sicut sapientis est veritatem praecipue de primo principio meditari et aliis disserere, ita eius est falsitatem contrariam impugnare.
Now it belongs to the same thing to pursue one contrary and to remove the other: thus medicine, which effects health, removes sickness. Hence, just as it belongs to a wise man primarily to meditate on the first principle and speak of it to others, so it belongs to him to refute contrary falsehood.
Convenienter ergo ex ore sapientiae duplex sapientis officium in verbis propositis demonstratur: scilicet veritatem divinam, quae antonomastice est veritas, meditatam eloqui, quod tangit cum dicit, veritatem meditabitur guttur meum; et errorem contra veritatem impugnare, quod tangit cum dicit, et labia mea detestabuntur impium, per quod falsitas contra divinam veritatem designatur, quae religioni contraria est, quae etiam ‘pietas’ nominatur, unde et falsitas contraria ei ‘impietatis’ sibi nomen assumit.
Therefore, the twofold office of the wise man is fittingly declared from the mouth of wisdom, in the words above quoted (Prov 8:7); namely, to meditate and publish the divine truth (which antonomastically is the truth, as signified by the words: my mouth shall meditate truth); and to refute the error contrary to truth, as signified by the words: and my lips shall hate impiety, by which is denoted falsehood opposed to divine truth, which is the contrary of religion (which is also called ‘piety’; hence the falsehood that is contrary to it receives the name of ‘impiety’).
Quae sit in hoc opere auctoris intentio
The author’s intention in this work
Inter omnia vero hominum studia sapientiae studium est perfectius, sublimius, utilius et iucundius. Perfectius quidem, quia inquantum homo sapientiae studium dat, intantum verae beatitudinis iam aliquam partem habet unde sapiens dicit, beatus vir qui in sapientia morabitur, Eccli. 14, 22. Sublimius autem est quia per ipsum homo praecipue ad divinam similitudinem accedit, quae omnia in sapientia fecit: unde, quia similitudo causa est dilectionis, sapientiae studium praecipue Deo per amicitiam coniungit; propter quod Sap. 7, 14 dicitur quod sapientia infinitus thesaurus est hominibus, quo qui usi sunt, facti sunt participes amicitiae Dei. Utilius autem est quia per ipsam sapientiam ad immortalitatis regnum pervenitur: concupiscentia enim sapientiae deducet ad regnum perpetuum, Sap. 6, 21. Iucundius autem est quia non habet amaritudinem conversatio illius nec taedium convictus illius, sed laetitiam et gaudium, Sap. 8, 16.
Now of all human pursuits, that of wisdom is the most perfect, the most sublime, the most profitable, and the most delightful. It is the most perfect, since a man already shares in true happiness in proportion as he devotes himself to the pursuit of wisdom. Thus the wise man says, blessed is the man who meditates on wisdom (Sir 14:20). It is the most sublime because by it man especially approaches to a likeness to God, who made all things in wisdom (Ps 104:24). Thus, since likeness is the cause of love, the pursuit of wisdom especially unites man to God by friendship: hence it is said that wisdom is an unfailing treasure for men; those who use it obtain friendship with God (Wis 7:14). It is the most profitable, because by wisdom itself man is brought to the kingdom of immortality, for the desire of wisdom leads to the everlasting kingdom (Wis 6:21). And it is the most delightful because companionship with her has no bitterness, and life with her has no pain, but gladness and joy (Wis 8:16).
Assumpta igitur ex divina pietate fiducia sapientis officium prosequendi, quamvis proprias vires excedat, propositum nostrae intentionis est veritatem quam fides Catholica profitetur, pro nostro modulo manifestare, errores eliminando contrarios: ut enim verbis Hilarii utar, ego hoc vel praecipuum vitae meae officium debere me Deo conscius sum, ut eum omnis sermo meus et sensus loquatur.
Therefore, assuming the office of the wise man with confidence from God’s loving kindness, although it surpasses our own powers, the purpose we have in view is, in our own weak way, to declare the truth which the Catholic faith professes, while weeding out contrary errors; for, in the words of Hilary, I acknowledge that I owe my life’s chief occupation to God, so that every word and every thought of mine may speak of him (On the Trinity 1, 37).
Contra singulorum autem errores difficile est procedere, propter duo. Primo, quia non ita sunt nobis nota singulorum errantium dicta sacrilega ut ex his quae dicunt possimus rationes assumere ad eorum errores destruendos. Hoc enim modo usi sunt antiqui doctores in destructionem errorum gentilium quorum positiones scire poterant quia et ipsi gentiles fuerant, vel saltem inter gentiles conversati et in eorum doctrinis eruditi.
But it is difficult to refute the errors of each individual, for two reasons. First, because we do not know the sacrilegious assertions of each erring individual well enough to refute their errors with arguments from what they say. For the doctors of old used this method to confute the errors of the heathens, whose opinions they were able to know since they had been heathens themselves, or at least had lived among heathens and were conversant with their teachings.
Secundo, quia quidam eorum, ut Mahumetistae et Pagani, non conveniunt nobiscum in auctoritate alicuius Scripturae, per quam possint convinci, sicut contra Iudaeos disputare possumus per vetus testamentum, contra haereticos per novum. Hi vero neutrum recipiunt. Unde necesse est ad naturalem rationem recurrere, cui omnes assentire coguntur. Quae tamen in rebus divinis deficiens est.
Second, because some of them, like the Mohammedans and pagans, do not agree with us as to the authority of any Scripture by which they may be convinced in the same way as we are able to dispute with the Jews by means of the Old Testament, and with heretics by means of the New. But the former accept neither. Thus we need to have recourse to natural reason, to which all are compelled to assent. And yet this is deficient in the things of God.
Simul autem veritatem aliquam investigantes ostendemus qui errores per eam excludantur: et quomodo demonstrativa veritas, fidei Christianae religionis concordet.
But while we are occupied in the inquiry about a particular truth, we shall show what errors are excluded thereby, and how demonstrable truth is in agreement with the faith of the Christian religion.
Fides et ratio
Faith and reason
Quis modus sit possibilis divinae veritatis manifestandae
In what way it is possible to make known the divine truth
Quia vero non omnis veritatis manifestandae modus est idem; disciplinati autem hominis est tantum de unoquoque fidem capere tentare, quantum natura rei permittit, ut a philosopho, optime dictum Boetius introducit, necesse est prius ostendere quis modus sit possibilis ad veritatem propositam manifestandam.
Since, however, not every truth should be made known in the same way, and it is the part of an educated man to seek for conviction in each subject only so far as the nature of the subject allows (1 Ethics 3, 4) as the Philosopher most rightly observes, as quoted by Boethius (On the Trinity 2), it is necessary to show first of all in what way it is possible to make known the aforesaid truth.
Est autem in his quae de Deo confitemur duplex veritatis modus. Quaedam namque vera sunt de Deo quae omnem facultatem humanae rationis excedunt, ut Deum esse trinum et unum. Quaedam vero sunt ad quae etiam ratio naturalis pertingere potest, sicut est Deum esse, Deum esse unum, et alia huiusmodi; quae etiam philosophi demonstrative de Deo probaverunt, ducti naturalis lumine rationis.
Now, in those things which we hold about God there is truth in two ways. For certain things that are true about God wholly surpass the capability of human reason: for instance, that God is three and one. But there are certain things to which even natural reason can attain, for instance, that God is, that God is one, and others like these, which even the philosophers, being guided by the light of natural reason, proved demonstratively about God.
Quod autem sint aliqua intelligibilium divinorum quae humanae rationis penitus excedant ingenium, evidentissime apparet.
That certain divine truths wholly surpass the capability of human reason is most clearly evident.
Cum enim principium totius scientiae quam de aliqua re ratio percipit, sit intellectus substantiae ipsius, eo quod, secundum doctrinam philosophi demonstrationis principium est quod quid est; oportet quod secundum modum quo substantia rei intelligitur, sit modus eorum quae de re illa cognoscuntur. Unde si intellectus humanus, alicuius rei substantiam comprehendit, puta lapidis vel trianguli, nullum intelligibilium illius rei facultatem humanae rationis excedet. Quod quidem nobis circa Deum non accidit. Nam ad substantiam ipsius capiendam intellectus humanus naturali virtute pertingere non potest: cum intellectus nostri, secundum modum praesentis vitae, cognitio a sensu incipiat; et ideo ea quae in sensu non cadunt, non possunt humano intellectu capi, nisi quatenus ex sensibilibus earum cognitio colligitur. Sensibilia autem ad hoc ducere intellectum nostrum non possunt ut in eis divina substantia videatur quid sit: cum sint effectus causae virtutem non aequantes. Ducitur tamen ex sensibilibus intellectus noster in divinam cognitionem ut cognoscat de Deo quia est, et alia huiusmodi quae oportet attribui primo principio. Sunt igitur quaedam intelligibilium divinorum quae humanae rationi sunt pervia; quaedam vero quae omnino vim humanae rationis excedunt.
For, since the principle of all the knowledge which the reason acquires about a thing is the understanding of that thing’s essence—because, according to the Philosopher’s teaching (2 Posterior Analytics 3, 9) the principle of a demonstration is what a thing is—it follows that our knowledge about a thing will be in proportion to our understanding of its essence. Therefore, if the human intellect comprehends the essence of a particular thing, such as a stone or a triangle, no truth about that thing will surpass the capability of human reason. But this does not happen to us in relation to God, because the human intellect is incapable by its natural power of attaining to the comprehension of his essence. For our intellect’s knowledge, according to the mode of the present life, originates from the senses: and thus things which are not objects of sense cannot be comprehended by the human intellect except insofar as knowledge of them is gathered from sensibles. Now sensibles cannot lead our intellect to see in them what God is, because they are effects unequal to the power of their cause. And yet our intellect is led by sensibles to the divine knowledge so as to know about God that he is, and other such truths which need to be ascribed to the first principle. Accordingly, some divine truths are attainable by human reason, while others altogether surpass the power of human reason.
Adhuc ex intellectuum gradibus idem facile est videre. Duorum enim quorum unus alio rem aliquam intellectu subtilius intuetur, ille cuius intellectus est elevatior, multa intelligit quae alius omnino capere non potest: sicut patet in rustico, qui nullo modo philosophiae subtiles considerationes capere potest. Intellectus autem angeli plus excedit intellectum humanum quam intellectus optimi philosophi intellectum rudissimi idiotae: quia haec distantia inter speciei humanae limites continetur, quos angelicus intellectus excedit. Cognoscit quidem angelus Deum ex nobiliori effectu quam homo: quanto ipsa substantia angeli, per quam in Dei cognitionem ducitur naturali cognitione, est dignior rebus sensibilibus et etiam ipsa anima, per quam intellectus humanus in Dei cognitionem ascendit. Multoque amplius intellectus divinus excedit angelicum quam angelicus humanum. Ipse enim intellectus divinus sua capacitate substantiam suam adaequat, et ideo perfecte de se intelligit quid est, et omnia cognoscit quae de ipso intelligibilia sunt: non autem naturali cognitione angelus de Deo cognoscit quid est, quia et ipsa substantia angeli, per quam in Dei cognitionem ducitur, est effectus causae virtutem non adaequans. Unde non omnia quae in seipso Deus intelligit, angelus naturali cognitione capere potest: nec ad omnia quae angelus sua naturali virtute intelligit, humana ratio sufficit capienda. Sicut igitur maximae amentiae esset idiota qui ea quae a philosopho proponuntur falsa esse assereret propter hoc quod ea capere non potest, ita, et multo amplius, nimiae stultitiae est homo si ea quae divinitus angelorum ministerio revelantur falsa esse suspicatur ex hoc quod ratione investigari non possunt.
Again, the same is easy to see from the degrees of intellects. For if one of two men perceives a thing with his intellect with greater subtlety, the one whose intellect is of a higher degree understands many things which the other is altogether unable to grasp, as instanced in a yokel who is utterly incapable of grasping the subtleties of philosophy. Now the angelic intellect surpasses the human intellect more than the intellect of the cleverest philosopher surpasses that of the most ignorant idiot. For an angel knows God through a more excellent effect than does man, as much as the angel’s essence, through which he is led to know God by natural knowledge, is more excellent than sensible things, even than the soul itself, by which the human intellect mounts to the knowledge of God. And the divine intellect surpasses the angelic intellect much more than the angelic surpasses the human. For the divine intellect by its capacity equals the divine essence: hence God perfectly understands of himself what he is, and he knows all things that can be understood about him. But the angel does not know what God is by his natural knowledge, because the angel’s essence, by which he is led to the knowledge of God, is an effect unequal to the power of its cause. Consequently, an angel is unable to grasp by his natural knowledge all that God understands about himself, neither is human reason capable of grasping all that an angel understands by his natural power. Accordingly, just as a man would show himself to be a most insane fool if he declared the assertions of a philosopher to be false because he was unable to understand them, much more so would a man would be exceedingly foolish if he were to suspect of falsehood the things revealed by God through the ministry of his angels, because they cannot be the object of reason’s investigations.
Adhuc idem manifeste apparet ex defectu quem in rebus cognoscendis quotidie experimur. Rerum enim sensibilium plurimas proprietates ignoramus, earumque proprietatum quas sensu apprehendimus rationes perfecte in pluribus invenire non possumus. Multo igitur amplius illius excellentissimae substantiae omnia intelligibilia humana ratio investigare non sufficit.
Furthermore, the same is made abundantly clear by the deficiency which we experience every day in our knowledge of things. For we are ignorant of many of the properties of sensible things, and in many cases we are unable to discover the nature of those properties which we perceive by our senses. Much less, therefore, is human reason capable of investigating all the truths about that most sublime essence.
Huic etiam consonat dictum philosophi, qui in II Metaphys. asserit quod intellectus noster se habet ad prima entium, quae sunt manifestissima in natura, sicut oculus vespertilionis ad solem.
This agrees with the saying of the Philosopher, where he says that our intellect is like the eye of a bat in relation to the sun in relation to those primary things which are most evident in nature (1a Metaphysics 1, 2).
Huic etiam veritati sacra Scriptura testimonium perhibet. Dicitur enim Iob 11:7: forsitan vestigia Dei comprehendes, et omnipotentem usque ad perfectum reperies? Et 36:26: ecce, Deus magnus, vincens scientiam nostram. Et 1 Cor. 13:9: ex parte cognoscimus.
To this truth Holy Writ also bears witness. For it is written: can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty? (Job 11:7), and: behold, God is great, exceeding our knowledge (Job 36:26), and: we know in part (1 Cor 13:9).
Non igitur omne quod de Deo dicitur, quamvis ratione investigari non possit, statim quasi falsum abiiciendum est, ut Manichaei et plures infidelium putaverunt.
Therefore, all that is said about God, though it cannot be investigated by reason, must not be immediately rejected as false, as the Manicheans and many unbelievers have thought.
Quod veritas divinorum ad quam naturalis ratio pertingit convenienter hominibus credenda proponitur
That the truth about divine things which is attainable by reason is fittingly proposed to man as an object of belief
Duplici igitur veritate divinorum intelligibilium existente, una ad quam rationis inquisitio pertingere potest, altera quae omne ingenium humanae rationis excedit, utraque convenienter divinitus homini credenda proponitur.
While, then, the truth of the intelligible things of God is twofold—one to which the inquiry of reason can attain, the other which surpasses the whole range of human reason—both are fittingly proposed by God to man as an object of belief.
Hoc autem de illa primo ostendendum est quae inquisitioni rationis pervia esse potest: ne forte alicui videatur, ex quo ratione haberi potest, frustra id supernaturali inspiratione credendum traditum esse. Sequerentur autem tria inconvenientia si huiusmodi veritas solummodo rationi inquirenda relinqueretur.
We must first show this with regard to that truth which is attainable by the inquiry of reason, lest it appear to some that, since it can be attained by reason, it is useless to make it an object of faith by supernatural inspiration. Now, there would be three unsuitable consequences if this truth were left solely to the inquiry of reason.
Unum est quod paucis hominibus Dei cognitio inesset. A fructu enim studiosae inquisitionis, qui est inventio veritatis, plurimi impediuntur tribus de causis.
One is that few men would have knowledge of God. For very many are hindered from gathering the fruit of diligent inquiry, which is the discovery of truth, for three reasons.