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St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

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  • FIRST PART (FP: QQ 1-119)
      • Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF IDEAS (THREE ARTICLES)
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Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF IDEAS (THREE ARTICLES)

After considering the knowledge of God, it remains to consider ideas.
And about this there are three points of inquiry:

(1) Whether there are ideas?

(2) Whether they are many, or one only?

(3) Whether there are ideas of all things known by God?


Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether there are ideas?
Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It seems that there are no ideas. For Dionysius says (Div. Nom.
vii), that God does not know things by ideas. But ideas are for nothing
else except that things may be known through them. Therefore there are no
ideas.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, God knows all things in Himself, as has been already
said (Q[14], A[5]). But He does not know Himself through an idea; neither
therefore other things.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, an idea is considered to be the principle of knowledge
and action. But the divine essence is a sufficient principle of knowing
and effecting all things. It is not therefore necessary to suppose ideas.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Augustine says (Octog. Tri. Quaest. qu. xlvi),"Such is
the power inherent in ideas, that no one can be wise unless they are
understood."

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[1] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, It is necessary to suppose ideas in the divine mind. For
the Greek word {Idea} is in Latin "forma." Hence by ideas are understood
the forms of things, existing apart from the things themselves. Now the
form of anything existing apart from the thing itself can be for one of
two ends: either to be the type of that of which it is called the form,
or to be the principle of the knowledge of that thing, inasmuch as the
forms of things knowable are said to be in him who knows them. In either
case we must suppose ideas, as is clear for the following reason:

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[1] Body Para. 2/2

In all things not generated by chance, the form must be the end of any
generation whatsoever. But an agent does not act on account of the form,
except in so far as the likeness of the form is in the agent, as may
happen in two ways. For in some agents the form of the thing to be made
pre-exists according to its natural being, as in those that act by their
nature; as a man generates a man, or fire generates fire. Whereas in
other agents (the form of the thing to be made pre-exists) according to
intelligible being, as in those that act by the intellect; and thus the
likeness of a house pre-exists in the mind of the builder. And this may
be called the idea of the house, since the builder intends to build his
house like to the form conceived in his mind. As then the world was not
made by chance, but by God acting by His intellect, as will appear later
(Q[46], A[1]), there must exist in the divine mind a form to the likeness
of which the world was made. And in this the notion of an idea consists.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: God does not understand things according to an idea
existing outside Himself. Thus Aristotle (Metaph. ix) rejects the opinion
of Plato, who held that ideas existed of themselves, and not in the
intellect.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Although God knows Himself and all else by His own essence,
yet His essence is the operative principle of all things, except of
Himself. It has therefore the nature of an idea with respect to other
things; though not with respect to Himself.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: God is the similitude of all things according to His
essence; therefore an idea in God is identical with His essence.


Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether ideas are many?

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It seems that ideas are not many. For an idea in God is His
essence. But God's essence is one only. Therefore there is only one idea.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, as the idea is the principle of knowing and operating,
so are art and wisdom. But in God there are not several arts or wisdoms.
Therefore in Him there is no plurality of ideas.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, if it be said that ideas are multiplied according to
their relations to different creatures, it may be argued on the contrary
that the plurality of ideas is eternal. If, then, ideas are many, but
creatures temporal, then the temporal must be the cause of the eternal.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[2] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, these relations are either real in creatures only, or in
God also. If in creatures only, since creatures are not from eternity,
the plurality of ideas cannot be from eternity, if ideas are multiplied
only according to these relations. But if they are real in God, it
follows that there is a real plurality in God other than the plurality of
Persons: and this is against the teaching of Damascene (De Fide Orth. i,
10), who says, in God all things are one, except "ingenerability,
generation, and procession." Ideas therefore are not many.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Augustine says (Octog. Tri. Quaest. qu. xlvi), "Ideas
are certain principal forms, or permanent and immutable types of things,
they themselves not being formed. Thus they are eternal, and existing
always in the same manner, as being contained in the divine intelligence.
Whilst, however, they themselves neither come into being nor decay, yet
we say that in accordance with them everything is formed that can rise or
decay, and all that actually does so."

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[2] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, It must necessarily be held that ideas are many. In proof
of which it is to be considered that in every effect the ultimate end is
the proper intention of the principal agent, as the order of an army (is
the proper intention) of the general. Now the highest good existing in
things is the good of the order of the universe, as the Philosopher
clearly teaches in Metaph. xii. Therefore the order of the universe is
properly intended by God, and is not the accidental result of a
succession of agents, as has been supposed by those who have taught that
God created only the first creature, and that this creature created the
second creature, and so on, until this great multitude of beings was
produced. According to this opinion God would have the idea of the first
created thing alone; whereas, if the order itself of the universe was
created by Him immediately, and intended by Him, He must have the idea of
the order of the universe. Now there cannot be an idea of any whole,
unless particular ideas are had of those parts of which the whole is
made; just as a builder cannot conceive the idea of a house unless he has
the idea of each of its parts. So, then, it must needs be that in the
divine mind there are the proper ideas of all things. Hence Augustine
says (Octog. Tri. Quaest. qu. xlvi), "that each thing was created by God
according to the idea proper to it," from which it follows that in the
divine mind ideas are many. Now it can easily be seen how this is not
repugnant to the simplicity of God, if we consider that the idea of a
work is in the mind of the operator as that which is understood, and not
as the image whereby he understands, which is a form that makes the
intellect in act. For the form of the house in the mind of the builder,
is something understood by him, to the likeness of which he forms the
house in matter. Now, it is not repugnant to the simplicity of the divine
mind that it understand many things; though it would be repugnant to its
simplicity were His understanding to be formed by a plurality of images.
Hence many ideas exist in the divine mind, as things understood by it; as
can be proved thus. Inasmuch as He knows His own essence perfectly, He
knows it according to every mode in which it can be known. Now it can be
known not only as it is in itself, but as it can be participated in by
creatures according to some degree of likeness. But every creature has
its own proper species, according to which it participates in some degree
in likeness to the divine essence. So far, therefore, as God knows His
essence as capable of such imitation by any creature, He knows it as the
particular type and idea of that creature; and in like manner as regards
other creatures. So it is clear that God understands many particular
types of things and these are many ideas.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: The divine essence is not called an idea in so far as it is
that essence, but only in so far as it is the likeness or type of this or
that thing. Hence ideas are said to be many, inasmuch as many types are
understood through the self-same essence.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: By wisdom and art we signify that by which God understands;
but an idea, that which God understands. For God by one understands many
things, and that not only according to what they are in themselves, but
also according as they are understood, and this is to understand the
several types of things. In the same way, an architect is said to
understand a house, when he understands the form of the house in matter.
But if he understands the form of a house, as devised by himself, from
the fact that he understands that he understands it, he thereby
understands the type or idea of the house. Now not only does God
understand many things by His essence, but He also understands that He
understands many things by His essence. And this means that He
understands the several types of things; or that many ideas are in His
intellect as understood by Him.
Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Such relations, whereby ideas are multiplied, are caused
not by the things themselves, but by the divine intellect comparing its
own essence with these things.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[2] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: Relations multiplying ideas do not exist in created things,
but in God. Yet they are not real relations, such as those whereby the
Persons are distinguished, but relations understood by God.


Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether there are ideas of all things that God knows?

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It seems that there are not ideas in God of all things that He
knows. For the idea of evil is not in God; since it would follow that
evil was in Him. But evil things are known by God. Therefore there are
not ideas of all things that God knows.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, God knows things that neither are, nor will be, nor have
been, as has been said above (A[9]). But of such things there are no
ideas, since, as Dionysius says (Div. Nom. v): "Acts of the divine will
are the determining and effective types of things." Therefore there are
not in God ideas of all things known by Him.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, God knows primary matter, of which there can be no idea,
since it has no form. Hence the same conclusion.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[3] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, it is certain that God knows not only species, but also
genera, singulars, and accidents. But there are not ideas of these,
according to Plato's teaching, who first taught ideas, as Augustine says
(Octog. Tri. Quaest. qu. xlvi). Therefore there are not ideas in God of
all things known by Him.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Ideas are types existing in the divine mind, as is
clear from Augustine (Octog. Tri. Quaest. qu. xlvi). But God has the
proper types of all things that He knows; and therefore He has ideas of
all things known by Him.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[3] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, As ideas, according to Plato, are principles of the
knowledge of things and of their generation, an idea has this twofold
office, as it exists in the mind of God. So far as the idea is the
principle of the making of things, it may be called an "exemplar," and
belongs to practical knowledge. But so far as it is a principle of
knowledge, it is properly called a "type," and may belong to speculative
knowledge also. As an exemplar, therefore, it has respect to everything
made by God in any period of time; whereas as a principle of knowledge it
has respect to all things known by God, even though they never come to be
in time; and to all things that He knows according to their proper type,
in so far as they are known by Him in a speculative manner.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Evil is known by God not through its own type, but through the type of good. Evil, therefore, has no idea in God, neither in so far
as an idea is an "exemplar" nor as a "type."

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: God has no practical knowledge, except virtually, of things
which neither are, nor will be, nor have been. Hence, with respect to
these there is no idea in God in so far as idea signifies an "exemplar"
but only in so far as it denotes a "type."

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Plato is said by some to have considered matter as not
created; and therefore he postulated not an idea of matter but a concause
with matter. Since, however, we hold matter to be created by God, though
not apart from form, matter has its idea in God; but not apart from the
idea of the composite; for matter in itself can neither exist, nor be
known.

Aquin.: SMT FP Q[15] A[3] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: Genus can have no idea apart from the idea of species, in
so far as idea denotes an "exemplar"; for genus cannot exist except in
some species. The same is the case with those accidents that inseparably
accompany their subject; for these come into being along with their
subject. But accidents which supervene to the subject, have their special
idea. For an architect produces through the form of the house all the
accidents that originally accompany it; whereas those that are superadded
to the house when completed, such as painting, or any other such thing,
are produced through some other form. Now individual things, according to
Plato, have no other idea than that of species; both because particular
things are individualized by matter, which, as some say, he held to be
uncreated and the concause with the idea; and because the intention of
nature regards the species, and produces individuals only that in them
the species may be preserved. However, divine providence extends not
merely to species; but to individuals as will be shown later (Q[22], A[3]
).





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