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St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

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  • SECOND PART
    • Aquin.: SMT FS Prologue Para. 1/1 - FIRST PART OF THE SECOND PART (FS) (QQ[1]-114)
      • Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF COUNSEL, WHICH PRECEDES CHOICE (SIX ARTICLES)
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Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF COUNSEL, WHICH PRECEDES CHOICE (SIX ARTICLES)

We must now consider counsel; concerning which there are six points of
inquiry:

(1) Whether counsel is an inquiry?

(2) Whether counsel is of the end or of the means?

(3) Whether counsel is only of things that we do?

(4) Whether counsel is of all things that we do?

(5) Whether the process of counsel is one of analysis?

(6) Whether the process of counsel is indefinite?


Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether counsel is an inquiry?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that counsel is not an inquiry. For Damascene says
(De Fide Orth. ii, 22) that counsel is "an act of the appetite." But
inquiry is not an act of the appetite. Therefore counsel is not an
inquiry.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, inquiry is a discursive act of the intellect: for which
reason it is not found in God, Whose knowledge is not discursive, as we
have shown in the FP, Q[14], A[7]. But counsel is ascribed to God: for it
is written (Eph. 1:11) that "He worketh all things according to the
counsel of His will." Therefore counsel is not inquiry.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, inquiry is of doubtful matters. But counsel is given in
matters that are certainly good; thus the Apostle says (1 Cor. 7:25):
"Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: but I give
counsel." Therefore counsel is not an inquiry.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Gregory of Nyssa [*Nemesius, De Nat. Hom. xxxiv.] says:
"Every counsel is an inquiry; but not every inquiry is a counsel."

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[1] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, Choice, as stated above (Q[13], A[1], ad 2; A[3]),
follows the judgment of the reason about what is to be done. Now there is
much uncertainty in things that have to be done; because actions are
concerned with contingent singulars, which by reason of their
vicissitude, are uncertain. Now in things doubtful and uncertain the
reason does not pronounce judgment, without previous inquiry: wherefore
the reason must of necessity institute an inquiry before deciding on the
objects of choice; and this inquiry is called counsel. Hence the
Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 2) that choice is the "desire of what has
been already counselled."

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: When the acts of two powers are ordained to one another, in
each of them there is something belonging to the other power:
consequently each act can be denominated from either power. Now it is
evident that the act of the reason giving direction as to the means, and
the act of the will tending to these means according to the reason's
direction, are ordained to one another. Consequently there is to be found
something of the reason, viz. order, in that act of the will, which is
choice: and in counsel, which is an act of reason, something of the
will - both as matter (since counsel is of what man wills to do) - and
as motive (because it is from willing the end, that man is moved to take
counsel in regard to the means). And therefore, just as the Philosopher
says (Ethic. vi, 2) that choice "is intellect influenced by appetite,"
thus pointing out that both concur in the act of choosing; so Damascene
says (De Fide Orth. ii, 22) that counsel is "appetite based on inquiry,"
so as to show that counsel belongs, in a way, both to the will, on whose
behalf and by whose impulsion the inquiry is made, and to the reason that
executes the inquiry.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: The things that we say of God must be understood without
any of the defects which are to be found in us: thus in us science is of
conclusions derived by reasoning from causes to effects: but science when
said of God means sure knowledge of all effects in the First Cause,
without any reasoning process. In like manner we ascribe counsel to God,
as to the certainty of His knowledge or judgment, which certainty in us
arises from the inquiry of counsel. But such inquiry has no place in God;
wherefore in this respect it is not ascribed to God: in which sense
Damascene says (De Fide Orth. ii, 22): "God takes not counsel: those only
take counsel who lack knowledge."

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: It may happen that things which are most certainly good in
the opinion of wise and spiritual men are not certainly good in the
opinion of many, or at least of carnal-minded men. Consequently in such
things counsel may be given.


Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether counsel is of the end, or only of the means?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that counsel is not only of the means but also of
the end. For whatever is doubtful, can be the subject of inquiry. Now in
things to be done by man there happens sometimes a doubt as to the end
and not only as to the means. Since therefore inquiry as to what is to be
done is counsel, it seems that counsel can be of the end.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, the matter of counsel is human actions. But some human
actions are ends, as stated in Ethic. i, 1. Therefore counsel can be of
the end.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Gregory of Nyssa [*Nemesius, De Nat. Hom. xxxiv.] says
that "counsel is not of the end, but of the means."

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[2] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, The end is the principle in practical matters: because
the reason of the means is to be found in the end. Now the principle
cannot be called in question, but must be presupposed in every inquiry.
Since therefore counsel is an inquiry, it is not of the end, but only of
the means. Nevertheless it may happen that what is the end in regard to
some things, is ordained to something else; just as also what is the
principle of one demonstration, is the conclusion of another: and
consequently that which is looked upon as the end in one inquiry, may be
looked upon as the means in another; and thus it will become an object of
counsel.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: That which is looked upon as an end, is already fixed:
consequently as long as there is any doubt about it, it is not looked
upon as an end. Wherefore if counsel is taken about it, it will be
counsel not about the end, but about the means.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Counsel is about operations, in so far as they are ordained
to some end. Consequently if any human act be an end, it will not, as
such, be the matter of counsel.


Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether counsel is only of things that we do?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that counsel is not only of things that we do. For
counsel implies some kind of conference. But it is possible for many to
confer about things that are not subject to movement, and are not the
result of our actions, such as the nature of various things. Therefore
counsel is not only of things that we do.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, men sometimes seek counsel about things that are laid
down by law; hence we speak of counsel at law. And yet those who seek
counsel thus, have nothing to do in making the laws. Therefore counsel is
not only of things that we do.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, some are said to take consultation about future events;
which, however, are not in our power. Therefore counsel is not only of
things that we do.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[3] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, if counsel were only of things that we do, no would take
counsel about what another does. But this is clearly untrue. Therefore
counsel is not only of things that we do.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1
On the contrary, Gregory of Nyssa [*Nemesius, De Nat. Hom. xxxiv.] says:
"We take counsel of things that are within our competency and that we are
able to do."

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[3] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, Counsel properly implies a conference held between
several; the very word [consilium] denotes this, for it means a sitting
together [considium], from the fact that many sit together in order to
confer with one another. Now we must take note that in contingent
particular cases, in order that anything be known for certain, it is
necessary to take several conditions or circumstances into consideration,
which it is not easy for one to consider, but are considered by several
with greater certainty, since what one takes note of, escapes the notice
of another; whereas in necessary and universal things, our view is
brought to bear on matters much more absolute and simple, so that one man
by himself may be sufficient to consider these things. Wherefore the
inquiry of counsel is concerned, properly speaking, with contingent
singulars. Now the knowledge of the truth in such matters does not rank
so high as to be desirable of itself, as is the knowledge of things
universal and necessary; but it is desired as being useful towards
action, because actions bear on things singular and contingent.
Consequently, properly speaking, counsel is about things done by us.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Counsel implies conference, not of any kind, but about what
is to be done, for the reason given above.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Although that which is laid down by the law is not due to
the action of him who seeks counsel, nevertheless it directs him in his
action: since the mandate of the law is one reason for doing something.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Counsel is not only about what is done, but also about
whatever has relation to what is done. And for this reason we speak of
consulting about future events, in so far as man is induced to do or omit
something, through the knowledge of future events.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[3] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: We seek counsel about the actions of others, in so far as
they are, in some way, one with us; either by union of affection - thus a
man is solicitous about what concerns his friend, as though it concerned
himself; or after the manner of an instrument, for the principal agent
and the instrument are, in a way, one cause, since one acts through the
other; thus the master takes counsel about what he would do through his
servant.


Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[4] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether counsel is about all things that we do?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[4] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that counsel is about all things that we have to
do. For choice is the "desire of what is counselled" as stated above
(A[1]). But choice is about all things that we do. Therefore counsel is
too.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[4] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, counsel implies the reason's inquiry. But, whenever we
do not act through the impulse of passion, we act in virtue of the
reason's inquiry. Therefore there is counsel about everything that we do.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[4] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 3) that "if it appears
that something can be done by more means than one, we take counsel by
inquiring whereby it may be done most easily and best; but if it can be
accomplished by one means, how it can be done by this." But whatever is
done, is done by one means or by several. Therefore counsel takes place
in all things that we do.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[4] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Gregory of Nyssa [*Nemesius, De Nat. Hom. xxxiv.] says
that "counsel has no place in things that are done according to science
or art."

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[4] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, Counsel is a kind of inquiry, as stated above (A[1]). But
we are wont to inquire about things that admit of doubt; hence the
process of inquiry, which is called an argument, "is a reason that
attests something that admitted of doubt" [*Cicero, Topic. ad Trebat.].
Now, that something in relation to human acts admits of no doubt, arises
from a twofold source. First, because certain determinate ends are gained
by certain determinate means: as happens in the arts which are governed
by certain fixed rules of action; thus a writer does not take counsel how
to form his letters, for this is determined by art. Secondly, from the
fact that it little matters whether it is done this or that way; this
occurs in minute matters, which help or hinder but little with regard to
the end aimed at; and reason looks upon small things as mere nothings.
Consequently there are two things of which we do not take counsel,
although they conduce to the end, as the Philosopher says (Ethic. iii,
3): namely, minute things, and those which have a fixed way of being
done, as in works produced by art, with the exception of those arts that
admit of conjecture such as medicine, commerce, and the like, as Gregory
of Nyssa says [*Nemesius, De Nat. Hom. xxiv.].

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[4] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Choice presupposes counsel by reason of its judgment or
decision. Consequently when the judgment or decision is evident without
inquiry, there is no need for the inquiry of counsel.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[4] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: In matters that are evident, the reason makes no inquiry,
but judges at once. Consequently there is no need of counsel in all that
is done by reason.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[4] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: When a thing can be accomplished by one means, but in
different ways, doubt may arise, just as when it can be accomplished by
several means: hence the need of counsel. But when not only the means,
but also the way of using the means, is fixed, then there is no need of
counsel.


Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[5] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the process of counsel is one of analysis?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[5] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the process of counsel is not one of analysis.
For counsel is about things that we do. But the process of our actions is
not one of analysis, but rather one of synthesis, viz. from the simple to
the composite. Therefore counsel does not always proceed by way of
analysis.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[5] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, counsel is an inquiry of the reason. But reason proceeds
from things that precede to things that follow, according to the more
appropriate order. Since then, the past precedes the present, and the
present precedes the future, it seems that in taking counsel one should
proceed from the past and present to the future: which is not an
analytical process. Therefore the process of counsel is not one of
analysis.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[5] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, counsel is only of such things as are possible to us,
according to Ethic. iii, 3. But the question as to whether a certain
thing is possible to us, depends on what we are able or unable to do, in
order to gain such and such an end. Therefore the inquiry of counsel
should begin from things present.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[5] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, The Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 3) that "he who takes
counsel seems to inquire and analyze."

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[5] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, In every inquiry one must begin from some principle. And
if this principle precedes both in knowledge and in being, the process is
not analytic, but synthetic: because to proceed from cause to effect is
to proceed synthetically, since causes are more simple than effects. But
if that which precedes in knowledge is later in the order of being, the
process is one of analysis, as when our judgment deals with effects,
which by analysis we trace to their simple causes. Now the principle in
the inquiry of counsel is the end, which precedes indeed in intention,
but comes afterwards into execution. Hence the inquiry of counsel must
needs be one of analysis, beginning that is to say, from that which is
intended in the future, and continuing until it arrives at that which is
to be done at once.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[5] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Counsel is indeed about action. But actions take their
reason from the end; and consequently the order of reasoning about
actions is contrary to the order of actions.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[5] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Reason begins with that which is first according to reason;
but not always with that which is first in point of time.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[5] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: We should not want to know whether something to be done for
an end be possible, if it were not suitable for gaining that end. Hence
we must first inquire whether it be conducive to the end, before
considering whether it be possible.


Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[6] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the process of counsel is indefinite?

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[6] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the process of counsel is indefinite. For
counsel is an inquiry about the particular things with which action is
concerned. But singulars are infinite. Therefore the process of counsel
is indefinite.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[6] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, the inquiry of counsel has to consider not only what is
to be done, but how to avoid obstacles. But every human action can be
hindered, and an obstacle can be removed by some human reason. Therefore
the inquiry about removing obstacles can go on indefinitely.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[6] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, the inquiry of demonstrative science does not go on
indefinitely, because one can come to principles that are self-evident,
which are absolutely certain. But such like certainty is not to be had in
contingent singulars, which are variable and uncertain. Therefore the
inquiry of counsel goes on indefinitely.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[6] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, "No one is moved to that which he cannot possibly
reach" (De Coelo i, 7). But it is impossible to pass through the
infinite. If therefore the inquiry of counsel is infinite, no one would
begin to take counsel. Which is clearly untrue.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[6] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, The inquiry of counsel is actually finite on both sides,
on that of its principle and on that of its term. For a twofold principle
is available in the inquiry of counsel. One is proper to it, and belongs
to the very genus of things pertaining to operation: this is the end
which is not the matter of counsel, but is taken for granted as its
principle, as stated above (A[2]). The other principle is taken from
another genus, so to speak; thus in demonstrative sciences one science
postulates certain things from another, without inquiring into them. Now
these principles which are taken for granted in the inquiry of counsel
are any facts received through the senses - for instance, that this is
bread or iron: and also any general statements known either through
speculative or through practical science; for instance, that adultery is
forbidden by God, or that man cannot live without suitable nourishment.
Of such things counsel makes no inquiry. But the term of inquiry is that
which we are able to do at once. For just as the end is considered in the
light of a principle, so the means are considered in the light of a
conclusion. Wherefore that which presents itself as to be done first,
holds the position of an ultimate conclusion whereat the inquiry comes to
an end. Nothing however prevents counsel from being infinite potentially,
for as much as an infinite number of things may present themselves to be
inquired into by means of counsel.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[6] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Singulars are infinite; not actually, but only potentially.
Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[6] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Although human action can be hindered, the hindrance is not
always at hand. Consequently it is not always necessary to take counsel
about removing the obstacle.

Aquin.: SMT FS Q[14] A[6] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: In contingent singulars, something may be taken for
certain, not simply, indeed, but for the time being, and as far as it
concerns the work to be done. Thus that Socrates is sitting is not a
necessary statement; but that he is sitting, as long as he continues to
sit, is necessary; and this can be taken for a certain fact.





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