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St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

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  • FIRST PART (FP: QQ 1-119)
      • Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF THE MEDIUM OF THE ANGELIC KNOWLEDGE (THREE ARTICLES)
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Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF THE MEDIUM OF THE ANGELIC KNOWLEDGE (THREE ARTICLES)

Next in order, the question arises as to the medium of the angelic
knowledge. Under this heading there are three points of inquiry:

(1) Do the angels know everything by their substance, or by some
species?

(2) If by species, is it by connatural species, or is it by such as they
have derived from things?

(3) Do the higher angels know by more universal species than the lower
angels?


Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the angels know all things by their substance?

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the angels know all things by their substance.
For Dionysius says (Div. Nom. vii) that "the angels, according to the
proper nature of a mind, know the things which are happening upon earth."
But the angel's nature is his essence. Therefore the angel knows things
by his essence.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, according to the Philosopher (Metaph. xii, text. 51; De
Anima iii, text. 15), "in things which are without matter, the intellect is the same as the object understood." But the object understood is the
same as the one who understands it, as regards that whereby it is
understood. Therefore in things without matter, such as the angels, the
medium whereby the object is understood is the very substance of the one
understanding it.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, everything which is contained in another is there
according to the mode of the container. But an angel has an intellectual
nature. Therefore whatever is in him is there in an intelligible mode.
But all things are in him: because the lower orders of beings are
essentially in the higher, while the higher are in the lower
participatively: and therefore Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv) that God
"enfolds the whole in the whole," i.e. all in all. Therefore the angel
knows all things in his substance.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv) that "the angels are
enlightened by the forms of things." Therefore they know by the forms of
things, and not by their own substance.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[1] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, The medium through which the intellect understands, is
compared to the intellect understanding it as its form, because it is by
the form that the agent acts. Now in order that the faculty may be
perfectly completed by the form, it is necessary for all things to which
the faculty extends to be contained under the form. Hence it is that in
things which are corruptible, the form does not perfectly complete the
potentiality of the matter: because the potentiality of the matter
extends to more things than are contained under this or that form. But
the intellective power of the angel extends to understanding all things:
because the object of the intellect is universal being or universal
truth. The angel's essence, however, does not comprise all things in
itself, since it is an essence restricted to a genus and species. This is
proper to the Divine essence, which is infinite, simply and perfectly to
comprise all things in Itself. Therefore God alone knows all things by
His essence. But an angel cannot know all things by his essence; and his
intellect must be perfected by some species in order to know things.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: When it is said that the angel knows things according to
his own nature, the words "according to" do not determine the medium of
such knowledge, since the medium is the similitude of the thing known;
but they denote the knowing power, which belongs to the angel of his own
nature.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: As the sense in act is the sensible in act, as stated in De
Anima ii, text. 53, not so that the sensitive power is the sensible
object's likeness contained in the sense, but because one thing is made
from both as from act and potentiality: so likewise the intellect in act
is said to be the thing understood in act, not that the substance of the
intellect is itself the similitude by which it understands, but because
that similitude is its form. Now, it is precisely the same thing to say
"in things which are without matter, the intellect is the same thing as
the object understood," as to say that "the intellect in act is the thing understood in act"; for a thing is actually understood, precisely because
it is immaterial.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The things which are beneath the angel, and those which are
above him, are in a measure in his substance, not indeed perfectly, nor
according to their own proper formality - because the angel's essence, as
being finite, is distinguished by its own formality from other
things - but according to some common formality. Yet all things are
perfectly and according to their own formality in God's essence, as in
the first and universal operative power, from which proceeds whatever is
proper or common to anything. Therefore God has a proper knowledge of all
things by His own essence: and this the angel has not, but only a common
knowledge.


Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the angels understand by species drawn from things?

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the angels understand by species drawn from
things. For everything understood is apprehended by some likeness within
him who understands it. But the likeness of the thing existing in another
is there either by way of an exemplar, so that the likeness is the cause
of the thing; or else by way of an image, so that it is caused by such
thing. All knowledge, then, of the person understanding must either be
the cause of the object understood, or else caused by it. Now the angel's
knowledge is not the cause of existing things; that belongs to the Divine
knowledge alone. Therefore it is necessary for the species, by which the
angelic mind understands, to be derived from things.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, the angelic light is stronger than the light of the
active intellect of the soul. But the light of the active intellect
abstracts intelligible species from phantasms. Therefore the light of the
angelic mind can also abstract species from sensible things. So there is
nothing to hinder us from saying that the angel understands through
species drawn from things.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the species in the intellect are indifferent to what is
present or distant, except in so far as they are taken from sensible
objects. Therefore, if the angel does not understand by species drawn
from things, his knowledge would be indifferent as to things present and
distant; and so he would be moved locally to no purpose.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Dionysius says (Div. Nom. vii) that the "angels do not
gather their Divine knowledge from things divisible or sensible."

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[2] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, The species whereby the angels understand are not drawn
from things, but are connatural to them. For we must observe that there
is a similarity between the distinction and order of spiritual substances
and the distinction and order of corporeal substances. The highest bodies
have in their nature a potentiality which is fully perfected by the form;
whereas in the lower bodies the potentiality of matter is not entirely
perfected by the form, but receives from some agent, now one form, now
another. In like fashion also the lower intellectual substances - that
is to say, human souls - have a power of understanding which is not
naturally complete, but is successively completed in them by their
drawing intelligible species from things. But in the higher spiritual
substances - that is, the angels - the power of understanding is
naturally complete by intelligible species, in so far as they have such
species connatural to them, so as to understand all things which they can
know naturally.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[2] Body Para. 2/2

The same is evident from the manner of existence of such substances. The
lower spiritual substances - that is, souls - have a nature akin to a
body, in so far as they are the forms of bodies: and consequently from
their very mode of existence it behooves them to seek their intelligible
perfection from bodies, and through bodies; otherwise they would be
united with bodies to no purpose. On the other hand, the higher
substances - that is, the angels - are utterly free from bodies, and
subsist immaterially and in their own intelligible nature; consequently
they attain their intelligible perfection through an intelligible
outpouring, whereby they received from God the species of things known,
together with their intellectual nature. Hence Augustine says (Gen. ad
lit. ii, 8): "The other things which are lower than the angels are so
created that they first receive existence in the knowledge of the
rational creature, and then in their own nature."

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: There are images of creatures in the angel's mind, not,
indeed derived from creatures, but from God, Who is the cause of
creatures, and in Whom the likenesses of creatures first exist. Hence
Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. ii, 8) that, "As the type, according to
which the creature is fashioned, is in the Word of God before the
creature which is fashioned, so the knowledge of the same type exists
first in the intellectual creature, and is afterwards the very fashioning
of the creature."

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: To go from one extreme to the other it is necessary to
pass through the middle. Now the nature of a form in the imagination,
which form is without matter but not without material conditions, stands
midway between the nature of a form which is in matter, and the nature of
a form which is in the intellect by abstraction from matter and from
material conditions. Consequently, however powerful the angelic mind
might be, it could not reduce material forms to an intelligible
condition, except it were first to reduce them to the nature of imagined
forms; which is impossible, since the angel has no imagination, as was
said above (Q[54], A[5]). Even granted that he could abstract
intelligible species from material things, yet he would not do so;
because he would not need them, for he has connatural intelligible
species.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The angel's knowledge is quite indifferent as to what is
near or distant. Nevertheless his local movement is not purposeless on
that account: for he is not moved to a place for the purpose of acquiring
knowledge, but for the purpose of operation.


Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the higher angels understand by more universal species than the
lower angels?

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the higher angels do not understand by more
universal species than the lower angels. For the universal, seemingly, is
what is abstracted from particulars. But angels do not understand by
species abstracted from things. Therefore it cannot be said that the
species of the angelic intellect are more or less universal.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, whatever is known in detail is more perfectly known than
what is known generically; because to know anything generically is, in a
fashion, midway between potentiality and act. If, therefore, the higher
angels know by more universal species than the lower, it follows that the
higher have a more imperfect knowledge than the lower; which is not
befitting.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the same cannot be the proper type of many. But if the
higher angel knows various things by one universal form, which the lower
angel knows by several special forms, it follows that the higher angel
uses one universal form for knowing various things. Therefore he will not
be able to have a proper knowledge of each; which seems unbecoming.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Dionysius says (Coel. Hier. xii) that the higher angels
have a more universal knowledge than the lower. And in De Causis it is
said that the higher angels have more universal forms.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[3] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, For this reason are some things of a more exalted nature,
because they are nearer to and more like unto the first, which is God.
Now in God the whole plenitude of intellectual knowledge is contained in
one thing, that is to say, in the Divine essence, by which God knows all
things. This plenitude of knowledge is found in created intellects in a
lower manner, and less simply. Consequently it is necessary for the
lower intelligences to know by many forms what God knows by one, and by
so many forms the more according as the intellect is lower.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[3] Body Para. 2/2

Thus the higher the angel is, by so much the fewer species will he be
able to apprehend the whole mass of intelligible objects. Therefore his
forms must be more universal; each one of them, as it were, extending to
more things. An example of this can in some measure be observed in
ourselves. For some people there are who cannot grasp an intelligible
truth, unless it be explained to them in every part and detail; this
comes of their weakness of intellect: while there are others of stronger
intellect, who can grasp many things from few.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: It is accidental to the universal to be abstracted from
particulars, in so far as the intellect knowing it derives its knowledge
from things. But if there be an intellect which does not derive its
knowledge from things, the universal which it knows will not be
abstracted from things, but in a measure will be pre-existing to them;
either according to the order of causality, as the universal ideas of
things are in the Word of God; or at least in the order of nature, as the
universal ideas of things are in the angelic mind.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: To know anything universally can be taken in two senses. In
one way, on the part of the thing known, namely, that only the universal
nature of the thing is known. To know a thing thus is something less
perfect: for he would have but an imperfect knowledge of a man who only
knew him to be an animal. In another way, on the part of the medium of
such knowledge. In this way it is more perfect to know a thing in the
universal; for the intellect, which by one universal medium can know each
of the things which are properly contained in it, is more perfect than
one which cannot.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[55] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The same cannot be the proper and adequate type of several
things. But if it be eminent, then it can be taken as the proper type and
likeness of many. Just as in man, there is a universal prudence with
respect to all the acts of the virtues; which can be taken as the proper
type and likeness of that prudence which in the lion leads to acts of
magnanimity, and in the fox to acts of wariness; and so on of the rest.
The Divine essence, on account of Its eminence, is in like fashion taken
as the proper type of each thing contained therein: hence each one is
likened to It according to its proper type. The same applies to the
universal form which is in the mind of the angel, so that, on account of
its excellence, many things can be known through it with a proper
knowledge.





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