De veritate EN 7



A thing is said to be changed in two ways. First, because it is the subject of a change, as when we say that a body is changeable. In this meaning, no form is said to be changeable. Consequently, a form is said to be something steadfast in an unchanging essence; since truth consists in a form, the present question is not whether truth is mutable in this sense. Second, a thing is said to be changed because something else changes according to it, as when we say that whiteness is changed because a body is changed in its whiteness. It is in this sense that we ask whether or not truth is changeable.

To clarify this point, we should note that the thing according to which there is a change is sometimes said to be changed and sometimes not. For, when it is inhering in a thing which is affected in its respect, then it is said to be changed itself—as whiteness or quantity is said to be changed when something is changed in their respect because they succeed each other in a subject. When, however, that according to which the change occurs is extrinsic, the thing itself is not changed but remains unaffected throughout the whole change. For example, a place is not said to be moved when a thing moves will respect to it. For this reason, it is said in the Physics that place is "the unchangeable boundary of the container," because local motion does not mean a succession of loci in regard to one located body, but a succession of many located bodies in one place.

Now, there are two ways in which inhering forms are said to be changed will respect to a change of their subject; for general forms are said to be changed in one way and special forms in another. After a change, a special form does not remain the same either according to its act of existing or according to its intelligible character. For example, when a qualitative change has been made, whiteness does not re main at all. But, after a change has been made, a general form retains the same intelligible character, though not the same act of existing. For example, after a change from white to black has taken place, colour, according to the general character of colour, remains unchanged; but the same species of colour does not remain.

It was noted previously, however, that a thing is said to be true by the first truth as by an extrinsic measure; but it is said to be true by an inherent truth as by an intrinsic measure. Consequently, created things change in their participation of the first truth, yet the first truth itself, according to which they are said to be true, does not change in any way. This is what Augustine says: "Our minds sometimes see more, sometimes less, of truth itself; but truth itself remains, and neither in creases nor decreases."

If we take truth as inherent in things, however, then truth is said to be changed inasmuch as some things are said to be changed will respect to truth. For, as pointed out previously, truth in creatures is found in two different subjects: in things themselves and in intellect. The truth of an action is included in the truth of a thing, and the truth of a proposition is included in the truth of the understanding which it signifies. A thing, however, is said to be true by its relation to intellect, divine and human.

Consequently, if the truth of a thing is considered according to its reference to the divine intellect, then, indeed, the truth of a changeable thing is changed into another truth, but not into falsity. For truth is a most general form because the true and being are interchangeable. Hence, just as, even after any change has been made, a thing nevertheless remains a being, although it is other as a result of the other form by which it has existence; so, also, a thing always remains true—but by another truth; for, no matter what form or what privation it acquires through the change, it is confirmed in that respect to the divine intellect, which knows it as it is, whatever may be its state.

If, however, the truth of a thing is considered in its reference to a human intellect, or conversely, then sometimes there is a change from truth into falsity, sometimes from one truth to another. For truth is "an equation of thing and intellect"; and, if equal amounts are taken from things that are equal, these things remain equal, although the equality is not the same. Hence, when intellect and thing are similarly changed, truth remains; but it is another truth For example, when Socrates sits, what is understood is that Socrates is sitting. Afterwards, when he does not sit, what is understood is that he is not sitting. But, if something is taken from one of two equal things, and nothing from the other, or if unequal amounts are taken from each, then inequality must result; and this corresponds to falsity, just as equality corresponds to truth.

Consequently, if an intellect is true, and it is not changed when a thing is changed, or vice versa, or if each is changed but not similarly, falsity results, and there will be a change from truth to falsity. For example, if, when Socrates is white, he is understood to be white, the intellect is true. If, however, the intellect later understands him to be black, although Socrates still is white; or if, conversely, he is still understood to be white, although he has turned black; or if, when he has turned pale, he is understood to be reddish—then there will be falsity in the intellect. Accordingly, it is clear how truth changes and how it does not.

Answers to Difficulties:

1. Anselm is speaking here of the first truth according to which all things are said to be true as by an extrinsic measure.

2. Since the intellect reflects upon itself and knows itself as it knows other things (as said in The Soul the things belonging to the intellect as regards the intelligible character of truth can be considered in two ways. First, in so far as they are things; in this way, truth is predicated of them in the same way in which it is predicated of other things. Consequently, as a thing is said to be true because it fulfils what was assigned to it in the divine mind by retaining its own nature, so a proposition is also said to be true by retaining its own nature, which was also allotted to it in the divine mind; and this cannot be taken from it as long as the proposition itself remains. Second, these may be considered in their reference to things that are known. In this way, a proposition is said to be true when it is proportioned to a thing. This kind of truth is changed, as has been said.

. Truth which remains after true things have been destroyed is the first truth, which does not change even when things change.

4. As long as a thing remains, no change can take place in it concerning its essentials. For example, it is essential to a proposition that it signify that which it has been made to signify. Consequently, it does not follow that the truth of a thing is in no way changeable, but only that it is unchangeable will respect to the essentials of the thing while the thing remains. Nevertheless, in those cases in which a change occurs through corruption of a thing, but only will respect to its accidentals, this accidental change can take place even though the thing remains. In this way, a change can take place in the truth of a thing in regard to its accidentals.

5. When every change has been made, truth remains, but not the same truth—as is clear from what has been said.

6. The identity of the truth depends not only on the identity of the thing but also on the identity of the intellect—the same way that identity of an effect depends on the identity of the agent and that of the patient. Moreover, even though the same thing is signified by those three propositions, the understanding of each is not the same; for time enters into the intellect’s conjunctive operation, and the understandings of things differ will the differences of time.


Parallel readings: Summa Theol., I, 16, 5, ad 2 3 8.


It seems that it is predicated personally, for

1. In regard to God, whatever implies the relation of origin is predicated personally. But truth belongs to this class, as is clear from Augustine; for he says that the divine truth is "the greatest possible

likeness of its source, without any unlikeness" from which falseness arises. Therefore, truth is predicated personally of God.

2. Just as nothing is similar to itself, so also, nothing is equal to itself. But, according to Hilary, from the fact that nothing is similar to it self, likeness in God implies a distinction of persons. The same reasoning can be applied to equality. But truth is a certain equality. Therefore, truth implies a distinction of persons in God.

3. Whatever implies procession in God is predicated personally of Him. But truth implies a certain procession since it signifies an intellectual concept just as a word does. Therefore, just as the Word is predicated personally, so also is truth.

To the Contrary:

Augustine says that of the three Persons there is but one truth. Therefore, it is something essential, not personal.



In regard to God, truth can be taken in two ways: properly and, as it were, metaphorically. If truth is taken properly, then it will imply an equality of the divine intellect and of a thing. Since the first thing the divine intellect knows is its own essence, through which it knows all other things, truth in God principally implies an equality between the divine intellect and a thing which is its essence; and, in a secondary sense, truth likewise implies an equality of the divine intellect will created things.

The divine intellect and the divine essence are not, however, made equal to each other in the way in which a measure is related to what is measured, since one is not the source of the other, but both are entirely identical. Consequently, the truth resulting from such equality does not involve its having the character of a source, whether it be considered from the standpoint of the essence or from that of the intellect, since both in this case are one and the same. For, just as in God the knower and the thing known are the same, so also in Him the truth of the thing and that of intellect are the same, without any connotation of origin.

But if the truth of the divine intellect be considered in its conformity to created things, the same truth will still remain; for God knows Himself and other things through the same means. However, there is added to the concept of truth the note of origin will respect to creatures, to which the divine intellect is compared as a measure and cause. Moreover, in theological matters every name which does not imply the notion of origin or of being from a principle is predicated essentially. And even if the name implies the notion of origin of creatures, it still is also predicated essentially. Consequently, if truth is taken properly in whatever pertains to God, it is predicated essentially; yet it is appropriated to the person of the Son, as are also art and all else pertaining to intellect.

Truth is taken metaphorically or figuratively in divine matters when we take it according to that formal character by which truth is found in created things. For in these, truth is said to exist inasmuch as a created thing imitates its source, the divine intellect. Similarly, when truth is applied to God and is said to be the highest possible imitation of its principle, this is attributed to the Son. Taken in this way, truth properly belongs to the Son and is predicated personally; and this, too, is what Augustine says.

Answers to Difficulties:

1. The response is clear from the reply.

2. When equality is referred to divine things it sometimes implies a relation that indicates a distinction of Persons—as when we say that the Father and the Son are equal. In this respect a real distinction is understood in the word equality. Sometimes, however, a real distinction is not understood in the word equality, but merely a rational distinction, as when we say that the divine wisdom and the divine goodness are equal. Hence, equality does not necessarily imply a distinction of persons. Such also is the distinction implied in the word truth, since truth is an equality of intellect and essence.

3. Although truth is conceived by the intellect, the notion of a concept is not expressed by the word truth as it is by the term word. Hence, no analogy can be drawn.


Parallel readings: De veritate, 21,, ad 5; 27, 5, ad 7; Summa Theol., I, 16, aa. 5-6; Contra Gentiles III, 47; Quolibet X, 4,7;l Sentences 19, 5, aa. I-2; Il Sentences 37, 1, 2, ad 1; X Metaph., lectura 2, nn. 1956-59.


It seems not, for

2. Fornication is a true thing; yet it is not from the first truth. There fore, not every truth is from the first truth.

2. The answer was given that fornication is said to be true by reason of the truth of the sign or concept, and this is from God. Its truth as a thing, however, is not from God.—On the contrary, besides the first truth, there is not only the truth of the sign or of the concept, but also the truth of the thing. Therefore, if its truth as a thing is not from God, then there is a truth of a thing not from God, and our proposition that not every truth other than the first is from God will have to be granted.

3. From "He fornicates," it follows that "fornication is true." There fore, a transition can be made from the truth of a proposition to the truth of what is said, which in turn expresses the truth of the thing. Consequently, the truth mentioned consists in this: that that act is joined to that subject. But the truth of what is said would not arise from the conjunction of such an act will a subject unless the con junction of the act, which has the deformity, were understood. There fore, the truth ? the thing regards not only the very essence of an act but also its deformity. But an act considered as having a deformity- is by no means from God. Not all truth of things, therefore, is from God.

4. Anselm says that a thing is called true if it is as it ought to be. Among the ways in which a thing can be said to be what it ought to be he mentions one, namely, that it happens will God’s permission. Now, God’s permission extends even to the deformity in an act. Therefore, the truth of the thing reaches as far as that deformity. But deformity is in no way from God. Therefore, not every truth is from God.

5. It was said, however, that just as a deformity or privation cannot be called a being without qualification, but only a being in a certain respect, so also a deformity or privation cannot be said to have truth without qualification, but only in a certain respect. Such a restricted truth is not from God.—On the contrary, to being, the true adds a reference to intellect. Now, although privation or deformity in itself is not being absolutely, it is apprehended absolutely by the intellect. Therefore, even though it does not have entity absolutely, it does have truth absolutely.

6. Everything qualified is reduced to something unqualified. For example, "An Ethiopian is white will respect to teeth" is reduced to this: "The teeth of an Ethiopian are white without qualification." Consequently, if some limited truth is not from God, then not every unqualified truth will be from God—which is absurd.

7. What is not the cause of the cause is not the cause of the effect. For example, God is not the cause of the deformity of sin, for He is not the cause of the defect in a free choice from which the deformity of sin arises. Now, just as the act of existing is the cause of the truth of affirmative propositions, so non-existing is the cause of negative propositions. Now, as Augustine says, since God is not the cause of this non existing, it follows that He is not the cause of negative propositions. Hence, not every truth is from God.

8. Augustine says: "The true is that which is as it appears." Now, an evil thing is as it appears. Therefore, something evil is true. But no evil is from God. Therefore, not every true thing is from God.

9. But it was said that evil is not seen through the species of evil but through the species of a good.—On the contrary, the species of a good never makes anything appear but that good. Consequently, if evil is seen only through the species of a good, evil will appear only as a good. But this is false.

To the Contrary:

1'. Commenting on the text, "And no man can say the Lord Jesus..."(1Co 12,3), Ambrose says: "Every true thing, no matter who says it, is from the Holy Spirit."

2’. All created goodness is from the first uncreated goodness, God. For the same reason, all other truth is from the first truth, God.

3’. The formal character of truth finds its completion in the intellect. But every intellect is from God. Hence, every truth is from God.

4’. Augustine says: "The true is that which But every act of existing is from God. Therefore, every truth is from Him.

5’. Just as the one is interchangeable will being, so is the true, and conversely. But all unity is from the first unity, as Augustine says. Therefore, every truth also is from the first truth.



As is clear from what has been said, among created things truth is found both in things and in intellect. In the intellect it is found ac cording to the conformity which the intellect has will the things whose notions it has. In things it is found according as they imitate the divine intellect, which is their measure—as art is the measure of all products of art—and also in another way, according as they can by their very nature bring about a true apprehension of themselves in the human intellect, which, as is said in the Metaphysics, is measured by things. By its form a thing existing outside the soul imitates the art of the divine intellect; and, by the same form, it is such that it can bring about a true apprehension in the human intellect. Through this form, moreover, each and every thing has its act of existing. Consequently, the truth of existing things includes their entity in its intelligible character, adding to this a relation of conformity to the human or divine intellect. But negations or privations existing outside the soul do not have any form by which they can imitate the model of divine art or introduce a knowledge of themselves into the human intellect. The fact that they are confirmed to intellect is due to the intellect, which apprehends their intelligible notes.

It is clear, therefore, that when a stone and blindness are said to be true, truth is not related to both in the same way; for truth predicated of the stone includes in its notion the entity of the stone, adding a reference to intellect, which is also caused by the thing itself since it has something by which it can be referred to intellect. As predicated of blindness, however, truth does not include in itself that privation which is blindness, but only the relation of blindness to intellect. This relation, moreover, is not supported by anything in the blindness itself, since blindness is not confirmed to intellect by virtue of anything which it has in itself. —Hence, it is clear that the truth found in created things can include nothing more than the entity of a thing and conformity of the thing to intellect or conformity of intellect to things or to the privations of things. All this is entirely from God, because both the very form of a thing, through which it is confirmed, is from God, and the truth it self in so far as it is the good of the intellect, as is said in the Ethics; for the good of any thing whatsoever consists in its perfect operation. But since the perfect operation of the intellect consists in its knowing the true, that is its good in the sense just mentioned. Hence, since every good and every form is from God, one must say, without any qualification, that every truth is from God.

Answers to Difficulties:

1. The argument—"Every true thing is from God. But to fornicate is true. Therefore."—falls into the fallacy of accident. For, as is evident from our discussion above, when we say that fornicating is true, we do not imply that the defect involved in the act of fornication is included in the notion of truth. True predicates merely the conformity of that act to an intellect. Hence, one cannot conclude that fornicating is from God, but merely that its truth is from God.

2. As is clear from our reply just above, deformities and other defects do not possess truth in the same say that other things do. Consequently, even though the truth of defects is from God, it does not follow that the deformity is from God.

3. According to the Philosopher, truth does not consist in the com position found in things but in that made by the soul. Hence, truth does not consist in this, that the act will its deformity inheres in a subject (for this is proper, rather, to the character of good and evil). It consists in the conformity of the act, inherent in its subject, to the soul’s apprehension.

4. The good, the due, the right, and all other things of this sort are related in one way to the divine permission, and in another, to other manifestations of the divine will. In the latter, there is a reference to the object of the will act, as well as to the will act itself. For example, when God commands that parents be honored, both the honor to be given parents and the act of commanding are goods. But in a divine permission there is a reference only to the subjective act of permitting, and not to the object of the permission. Hence, it is right that God should permit deformities, but it does not follow from this that the deformity itself has some rectitude.

5. [The solution to the fifth difficulty is not given.]

6. The qualified truth which belongs to negations and defects is reducible to that unqualified truth which is in the intellect and from God. Consequently, the truth of defects is from God, although the defects themselves are not from Him.

7. Non-existing is not the cause of the truth of negative propositions in the sense that it causes them to exist in the intellect. The soul itself does this by confirming itself to a non-being outside the soul. Hence, this non-existing outside the soul is not the efficient cause of truth in the soul, but, as it were, its exemplary cause. The difficulty is based upon the efficient cause.

8. Although evil is not from God, that evil is seen to be what it is, is from God. Hence, the truth by which it is true that there is evil is from God.

9. Although evil does not act on the soul except through the species of good, nevertheless, since evil is a deficient good, the soul grasps the intelligible character of the defect, and so conceives the character of evil. Accordingly, evil is seen as evil.


Parallel readings: Summa Theol., I, i6, 2; 17, 2; 85, 6; III De anima, lectura 6, n. 66o seq.; IV Metaph., lectura 12, nn. 673, 68r seq.


It seems that it is not, for

1. Anselm says: "Truth is a correctness perceivable only by the mind." But sense does not have the same nature as the mind. Hence, truth is not in sense.

2. Augustine proves that truth is not known by the bodily senses, and his reasons were set down above. Hence, truth is not in sense.

To the Contrary:

Augustine says: "Truth manifests that which is." But that which is, is manifested not only to the intellect, but also to sense. Therefore.



Truth is both in intellect and in sense, but not in the same way. It is in intellect as a consequence of the act of the intellect and as known by the intellect. Truth follows the operation of the intellect inasmuch as it belongs to the intellect to judge about a thing as it is. And truth is known by the intellect in view of the fact that the intellect reflects upon its own act—not merely as knowing its own act, but as knowing the proportion of its act to the thing. Now, this proportion cannot be known without knowing the nature of the act; and the nature of the act cannot be known without knowing the nature of the active principle, that is, the intellect itself, to whose nature it belongs to be confirmed to things. Consequently, it is because the intellect reflects upon itself that it knows truth.

Truth is in sense also as a consequence of its act, for sense judges of things as they are. Truth is not in sense, however, as something known by sense; for, although sense judges truly about things, it does not know the truth by which it truly judges. Although sense knows that it senses, it does not know its own nature; consequently, it knows neither the nature of its act nor the proportion of this act to things. As a result, it does not know its truth.

The reason for this is that the most perfect beings, such as, for example, intellectual substances, return to their essence will a complete return: knowing something external to themselves, in a certain sense they go outside of themselves; but by knowing that they know, they are already beginning to return to themselves, because the act of cognition mediates between the knower and the thing known. That re turn is completed inasmuch as they know their own essences. Hence, it is said in The Causes: "A being which is such as to know its own essence returns to it by a complete return."

Since sense is closer to an intellectual substance than other things are, it begins to return to its essence; it not only knows the sensible, but it also knows that it senses. Its return, however, is not complete, since it does not know its own essence. Avicenna has given the reason for this by pointing out that the sense knows nothing except through a bodily organ, and a bodily organ cannot be a medium between a sensing power and itself. But powers without any ability to sense cannot return to themselves in any way, for they do not know that they are acting. For example, fire does not know that it is heating.

From this discussion the solutions to the difficulties are clear.


Parallel readings: Summa Theol., I, 16, aa. 1, 6; I Sentences 19, g, 1; IV Metaph., lectura 52, n. 68i seq.; V Metaph., lectura 22, nn. 1128-29; VI Metaph., lectura 4, n. 5237 seq.


It seems not, for

1. According to Augustine: "The true is that which is." Hence, the false is that which is not. Now, what is not is not a thing. Therefore, no thing is false.

2. It was said that the true is a differentia of being; consequently, the false, like the true, is that which is.—On the contrary, no dividing differentia is interchangeable will that whose differentia it is. Now, as was said, the true is interchangeable will being. Consequently, the true is not a dividing differentia of being, for this would make it possible to call some thing false.

3. Truth is a conformity of thing and intellect. Now, all things are confirmed to the divine intellect, since in itself nothing can be other than it is known to be by the divine intellect. Hence, all things are true, and nothing is false.

4. All things possess truth from their forms. For example, one is said to be a true man if he has the true form of a man. But there is nothing which does not have some form, for every act of existing comes from form. Hence, everything is true, and there is no thing which is false.

5. Good and evil are related as true and false are related. Now, since evil is found in things, it has concrete reality only in something good, as Dionysius and Augustine say. Therefore, if falseness is found in things, it can have reality only in what is true. But this does not seem possible, for then the same thing would be both true and false; but this is impossible. This would mean, for example, that man and white are the same because whiteness is made real in a man.

6. Augustine proposes the following difficulty. If a thing is called false, it is either because it is similar or because it is dissimilar. "If be cause it is dissimilar, there is nothing that cannot be called false, for there is nothing that is not unlike something else. If because it is similar, all things loudly protest, for they are true because they are similar." Therefore, falsity cannot be found in things in any way.

To the Contrary:

1'. Augustine defines the false as follows: "The false is that which approaches the likeness of something else without being that whose likeness it bears." But every creature bears the likeness of God. Therefore, since no creature is identical will God Himself, it seems that every creature is false.

2'. Augustine says that "Every body is a true body and a false unity." Now, a body is said to be false because it imitates unity, yet is not a unity. Therefore, since every creature, in so far as it is perfect, imitates the divine perfection, and, nevertheless, in any perfection which it has, remains infinitely distant from it, it seems that every creature is false.

3'. The good, like the true, is interchangeable will being. But the interchangeability of the good and being docs not stand in the way of a thing’s being evil. Therefore, the fact that the true is interchangeable will being docs not stand in the way of a thing’s being false.

4'. Anselm says that there are two kinds of truth in propositions. "The first type occurs when the proposition has the meaning which was given to it." For example, this proposition, "Socrates sits," means that Socrates is sitting, whether he is actually sitting or not. "The second type of truth occurs when the proposition signifies that for which it was formed"—and it has been formed to signify that something is when it is. In this respect, a proposition is properly said to be true. In the same way, a thing may be called true when it fulfils its purpose, and false when it does not do so. But everything which falls short of its end does nor fulfil its purpose; and, since there are many things of this sort, it seems that many things are false.



Just as truth consists in an equation of thing and intellect, so falsity consists in an inequality between them. Now, as was said, a thing is related to divine and human intellects. In regard to everything that is positively predicated of things or found in them, it is related to the divine in one way as the measured to its measure; for all such things come from the divine intellect’s art. A thing is related in another way to the divine intellect: as a thing known is related to the knower. In this way even negations and defects are equated to the divine intellect, since God knows all these even though He does not cause them. It is clear, then, that a thing is confirmed to the divine intellect in what ever way it exists, under any form whatsoever or even under a privation or a defect. Consequently, it is clear that everything is true in its relation to the divine intellect. Hence, Anselm says: "There is, then, truth in the essence of all things which are, for they are what they are in the highest truth." Therefore, in its relation to the divine intellect, nothing can be false.

In its relation to a human intellect, however, an inequality of thing will intellect, caused in some way by the thing, is occasionally found; for a thing makes itself known in the soul by its exterior appearance, since our cognition takes its beginning from sense, whose direct object is sensible qualities. For this reason it is said in The Soul: "Accidents greatly contribute to our knowledge of the quiddity." Consequently, when there are manifested in any object sensible qualities indicating a nature which does not actually underlie them, that thing is said to be false. Hence, the Philosopher says that those things are called false "which are such as to seem to be what they are not, or of a kind which they are not." For example, that is called "false" gold which has in its external appearance the colour and other accidents of genuine gold, whereas the nature of gold does not interiorly underlie them. But a thing is not to be the cause of falsity in the soul in the sense that it necessarily causes falsity; for truth and falsity exist principally in the soul’s judgment; and the soul, inasmuch as it judges about things, is not acted U by things, but rather, in a sense, acts upon them. Hence, a thing is not said to be false because it always of itself causes a false apprehension, but rather because its natural appearance is likely to cause a false apprehension.

As was pointed out previously, however, the relation to the divine intellect is essential to a thing; and in this respect a thing is said to be true in itself. Its relation to the human intellect is accidental to it; and in this respect a thing is not true, absolutely speaking but, as it were, in some respect and in potency. Therefore, all things are true absolutely speaking, and nothing is false. But in a certain respect, that is, will reference to our intellect, some things are said to be false. Hence, it is necessary to answer the arguments of both sides.

Answers to Difficulties:

1. The definition, "The true is that which is," does not perfectly express the intelligible character of truth. It expresses it, as it were, only materially, unless is here signifies the affirmation of a proposition, and means that a thing is said to be true when it is said to be or to be understood as it is in reality. Taken in this sense, the false may be said to be that which does not exist; it is not as it is said or understood to be. And this type of falsity can be found in things.

2. Properly speaking, the true cannot be a differentia of being, for being does not have any differentia, as is proved in the Metaphysics. But in some sense the true, as well as the good, is related to being in the manner of a differentia, since it expresses something about being which is not expressed by the noun being; and in this sense the meaning of being is indeterminate will respect to the meaning of the true. Consequently, the meaning of the true is compared to the notion of being somewhat as a differentia is compared to its genus.

3. That argument must be conceded, since it treats a thing in its relation to the divine intellect.

4. All things have some form, yet not everything has that form whose characteristics are externally manifested by sensible qualities; and it is in regard to these that a thing is said to be false if it is naturally apt to produce a false estimation about itself.

5. As is clear from what has been said, something outside the soul is said to be false if it is naturally such as to give a false impression of itself. But what is nothing is not capable of making any impression, since it does not move a knowing power. What is said to be false, therefore, must be a being; and since every being, in so far as it is a being, is true, falsity must exist in things and be based upon some truth. For this reason Augustine says that a tragedian representing true per- sons in dramas would not be false without being a true tragedian. Similarly, a painting of a horse would not be a false horse were it not a true picture. It does not follow, however, that contradictories are true, because the affirmation and the negation in expressing the true and the false do not refer to the same reality.

6. A thing is said to be false in so far as, by its nature, it is likely to deceive. When I say deceive, however, I mean an action that brings on some defect; for nothing can act except to the extent that it is being, and every defect is non-being. Moreover, everything has some likeness to the true to the extent that it is a being; and in so far as it docs not exist it departs from this likeness. Consequently, this deceiving as implying action arises from likeness; but the defect it implies (and in which the intelligible character of falsity formally consists) arises from unlikeness. Hence, Augustine says that falsity arises from un likeness.

Answers to Contrary Difficulties:

1'. The soul is not so constituted as to be deceived by any likeness whatsoever, but only by a considerable resemblance which makes it difficult to discover the unlikeness. Hence, the soul is deceived by similarities, more or less great, according to the varying degrees of its acuteness in discovering unlikeness. A thing, however, should not be said to be absolutely false because it leads into error, however much it may do that, but only because it is such as to deceive many or highly intelligent men. Now, although creatures bear some resemblance to God in themselves, so great is the dissimilarity between the two that only because of great stupidity could it happen that a mind would be deceived by such similarity. Hence, from the similarity and dissimilarity between creatures and God, it does not follow that all creatures should be called false.

2'. Some have thought that God is a body; and, since He is the unity by which all things are one, they consequently thought that body was unity itself, because of its likeness to unity. Therefore, a body is called a false unity for this reason, that it has led or could lead some into the error of believing it to be unity.

3'. There are two kinds of perfection, first and second. First perfection is the form of each thing, and that by which it has its act of existing. Nothing is without it while it continues in existence. Second perfection is operation, which is the end of a thing or the means by which a thing reaches its end; and a thing is sometimes deprived of this perfection. The note of truth in things results from first perfection; for it is because a thing has a form that it imitates the art of the divine intellect and produces knowledge of itself in the soul. But the note of goodness in things results from its second perfection, for this goodness arises from the. end. Consequently, evil, but not falsity, is found in things absolutely.

4’. According to the Philosopher, the true itself is the good of the intellect, for an operation of intellect is perfect because its concept is true. And since a proposition is a sign of’what is understood, truth is its end. But this is not the case will other things, and so there is no similarity.


Parallel readings: Sec readings given for q. 1, a. 9.


It seems that it is not, for

1. As is said in The Soul: "The intellect is always correct." Now, since the intellect is the superior part of man, his other parts must also pursue correctness just as the disposition of lower bodies in the universe depends on the motion of the higher bodies. Therefore, sense, which is the inferior part of the soul, will also always be correct; there is, then, no falsity in it.

2. Augustine says: "Our eyes do not deceive us: they can report to the mind only their own modification. And if all the bodily senses report as they are affected, I do not know what more we can require of them." Hence, there is no falsity in the senses.

3. Anselm says: "it seems to me that truth or falsity is not in the sense but in opinion." This confirms our thesis.

To the Contrary:

1'. Anselm says: "Truth is, indeed, in our senses, but not always; for they sometimes deceive us."

2’. According to Augustine: "A thing is called false because it is far from being a likeness of the true, even though it does in some way imitate the true." Now, a sense has at times a likeness of certain things other than they are in reality. For example, when the eye is pressed, one thing is sometimes seen as two. Consequently, there is falsity in sense.

3'. The answer was given that sense is not deceived will regard to proper sensibles, but only will regard to common sensibles.—On the contrary, whenever something is apprehended about a thing other than it is, the apprehension is false. Now, when a white body is seen through a green glass, the sense apprehends it other than it is, for it sees it as green and judges accordingly—unless a higher judgment is present, detecting the falsity. Therefore, sense is deceived even will regard to proper sensibles.

De veritate EN 7