De veritate EN 42



As Dionysius says, effects fail short of perfectly imitating their causes which are above them, and, because of this distance between the cause and the effect, something is truly predicated of the effect that is not predicated of the cause. For example, amusements are not properly said to be amused, although they are causes of our being amused. Now, this certainly could not happen unless the manner of the causes existence were more sublime than the things predicated of their effects. And we find this to be true of all equivocal efficient causes. For example, the sun cannot be said to be hot, even though other things are heated by it; and this is because of the superiority of the sun over those things that are called hot.

When, therefore, we ask if things exist more truly in themselves than in the Word we must make a distinction, because more truly can refer to the truth of the thing or to the truth of the predication. If it refers to the truth of the thing, then undoubtedly the truth of things as they exist in the Word is greater than that which they possess in themselves. But, if it refers to the truth of predication, then the opposite is true. For man is more truly predicated of a thing which is in its own nature than it is of a thing as it is in the Word. But this is not due to any defect in the 'Word, but, rather, to its great superiority, as was pointed out.

Answers to Difficulties:

1. If one is thinking of truth of predication, then, simply speaking, it is true that a thing exists more truly where it exists through its essence than where it exists through a likeness. But if one considers the truth of the thing, then a thing exists more truly where it exists through a likeness which is its cause than where it exists through a likeness which it has caused.

2. The likeness of a thing in our soul is not the cause of that thing, as is the likeness existing in the 'Word. Hence, there is no parallel.

3. An active potency is more perfect than an act which is its effect. It is according to this kind of potency that creatures are said to exist potentially in the Word.

4. Although creatures as they are in the Word do not have their own operations, nevertheless, they have more noble operations inasmuch as they cause things as well as the operations of things.

5. Although the act of existence of creatures in the Word and their act of existing in themselves are not of the same character univocally, they are of the same character analogously.

Answers to Contrary Difficulties:

1'. This argument proceeds from the truth of the thing, not from the truth of predication.

2’. Plato was criticized for asserting that natural forms exist in their own natures, without matter—as though matter were merely accidentally related to natural species. If this were true, "natural things" could be truly predicated of things without matter. Our position, how ever, is not the same as Plato’s. Hence, there is no parallel.

3’. The reply to the third argument is the same as our reply to the first.


Parallel readings: Summa Theol., I,, ad III, 3,8;l Sentences 27,2,3; Quolibet IV, 4, a. 6.


It seems that it is, for

1. A word implies something proceeding from an intellect. Now, the divine intellect knows also those things which are not, will not be, arid never have been. This we showed when we treated God’s knowledge. Hence, the Word can be related to these things.

2. According to Augustine: "The Son is the Father’s art, filled will the ideas of living things." But, as Augustine says elsewhere: "Even if nothing comes into being because of an idea, it is rightly called an idea." Hence, the 'Word is also related to those things which will not be or have not been made.

3. The Word would not be perfect unless it contained in itself all that is contained in the knowledge of Him who utters it. But the knowledge of the Father, who utters the Word, includes those things which never will be and never were. Therefore, these things also are contained in the Word.

To the Contrary:

1’. Anselm says: "There can be no word of that which does not exist, will not exist, and never has existed."

2’. That whatever a person says takes place is a sign of his power. Now, God is most powerful. Hence, His Word does not pertain to anything which will not, at some time, take place.



A thing can be in the Word in two ways. First, it can be in the Word as what the Word knows, or what can be known in the Word. It is in this latter way that those things exist in the Word that do not exist, have not existed, and will not exist; for the Word knows these things just as the Father does, and they can be known in the Word just as they can be known in the Father. Second, a thing is said to be in the Word as something spoken through the Word. Now, whatever is spoken by a word is in some way directed to be carried out, because it is by means of words that we incite others to action and arrange for them to carry out our ideas. This is why God’s utterance is called His arrangement, as the Gloss says, commenting on the words of the Psalmist (Ps 61,12): "God hath spoken once." Hence, just as God does not dispose things unless they are, will be, or have been, so also He does not utter such things. Consequently, the Word is related to these things only, namely, the things that are actually uttered. But knowledge, art, and idea (in other words, intelligible representation) do not imply a relation to execution. Hence, no parallel exists between them and the Word.

From this, our replies to the difficulties are clear.


Parallel readings: Summa Theol., I, i8, 4. See also readings given for q. 4, a. 6.


It seems not, for

1. The Word causes things in so far as they exist in it. Therefore, if the things within the Word are life, the Word causes them through its life. Now, from the fact that the Word causes things through its goodness, all things are good. Hence, if it causes things through its life, all things would be living. This is false, and, consequently, the initial proposition is false.

2. Things exist in the Word as works exist in an artist. But as they are in an artist works are not life. They are not the life of the artist, who lived even before they existed in him, nor do they have any life themselves, for they are lifeless. Therefore, creatures in the Word are not life, either.

3. In Scripture, the causing of life is appropriated to the Holy Spirit rather than to the Word. This is clear from John (6:64): "It is the spirit the quickeneth," as well as from other passages. Now, as is clear from what we said previously, only the Son, and not the Holy Spirit, is called the Word. Consequently, it is not consistent to say that things existing in the Word are life.

4. Intellectual light is not the principle of life. But things in the Word are light. Hence, it seems that in the Word they are not life.

To the Contrary:

1'. We read the following in John (1:3): "What is made in Him was life."

2'. According to the Philosopher, the motion of the heavens is said to be "a kind of life for all naturally existing things." But the Word has a greater influence on creatures than the motion of the heavens has on nature. Therefore, as they exist in the Word, things should be called life.



As they exist in the Word, things can be considered in two ways: in their relation to the Word and in their relation to things existing in their own natures. In both ways, the likeness of a creature in the Word is life.

Now, we say that something lives in the proper sense if it has a principle of motion or of any activity whatsoever within it, for the primary reason why things are said to be alive is that they seem to have something within them moving them in some kind of motion. For this reason the word life is used of all things which have in them the principle of their own activity. Consequently, because certain things understand, feel, or will, they are said to be living not merely because they move from place to place or because they increase in quantity. Hence, that act of existence which a thing has in so far as it moves itself to perform a certain action is properly called the life of the thing, because "the life of a living being is its act of existence," as is said in The Soul. In our case, however, no action that we move ourselves to perform is our act of existence. Hence, properly speaking, to understand is not our life, unless to live is taken to mean the end term of an operation; but this is merely a sign of life. Similarly, a like ness as conceived within us is not our life. On the other hand, the intellection of the Word is His act of existence, and so is the likeness of things He possesses. Therefore, a likeness of a creature existing in the Word is also His life.

Similarly, this likeness of the creature is, in a way, the creature it- self —that is, in the same way that the soul is said to be, in some fashion, all things. Consequently, because the likeness of a creature existing within the Word in some way produces the creature and moves it as it exists in its own nature, the creature, in a sense, moves itself, and brings itself into being; that is, in view of the fact that it is brought into being, and is moved by its likeness existing in the Word. Thus, the likeness of a creature in the Word is, in a certain sense, the very life of the creature itself.

Answers to Difficulties:

1. That a creature existing in the Word is called life does not pertain to the creature’s own nature, but to its manner of existence in the Word. Since it does not exist in this manner in itself, it does not follow that it lives in itself, even though it is life in the W more than it follows that the thing is immaterial in itself because it is immaterial in the Word. On the other it goodness, being, and other things of this sort belong to the creature’s own nature. Hence, just as creatures are good when existing in the 'Word, so also are they good when existing in their own nature.

2. The likenesses of things in an artist cannot be called life in the strict sense, because they are neither the very act of existence of the living artist nor the artist’s operation, as is true of God. It is true, how ever, as Augustine says, that "a cabinet existing in the mind of a cabinetmaker is living;" but this is because as it exists in his mind it possesses an intelligible act of existence, which belongs to the category of life.

3. Life is attributed to the Holy Spirit according as God is said to be the life of things, namely, as He is in all things and moves all things, will the result that all things seem to be moved, in some way, by an intrinsic principle. But life is appropriated to the Word according as things are in God. This is clear from what has been said.

4. Just as the likenesses of things in the Word cause existence in things, so also they cause knowledge in things—that is, in so far as they are received into intelligences, thus causing them to be able to know things. Hence, just as these likenesses are called life because they principles of existing, so are they also called light because they are principles of knowing.

QUESTION V: Providence


Parallel readings: De veritate, 3, aa. 2-3; Summa Theol., I, 22, 1; Ï Sentences 39, 2, I; VI Metaph., lectura 3, n. 1218 seq.


It seems that it belongs only to His knowledge, for

1. Boethius says: "It is certainly clear that Providence is the immovable and simple form of things to be done." Now, in God the form of things that should be done is an idea, and an idea pertains to His knowledge. Providence, therefore, pertains to His knowledge.

2. But it was said that providence also pertains to God’s will in so far as it is the cause of things. To the contrary, in us practical knowledge causes the things that we know. Practical knowledge, however, consists merely in knowledge. The same is true, therefore, of providence.

3. In the same section as cited above, Boethius writes: "The plan of carrying things out, when considered in the purity of God’s understanding, is called Providence." Now, purity of understanding seems to pertain to speculative knowledge. Providence, therefore, pertains to speculative knowledge.

4. Boethius writes: "Providence is so called because, standing at a distance from the lowest things, it looks upon all things from their highest summit." Now, to look upon is to know, especially to know speculatively. Providence, therefore, seems to belong to speculative knowledge.

5. As Boethius says: "Fate is related to Providence as reasoning is to understanding." Now, understanding and reasoning are common to both speculative and practical knowledge. Providence, therefore, also belongs to both types of knowledge.

6. Augustine writes: "An unchangeable law controls all changeable things, governing them gloriously." Now, control and government belong to providence. Consequently, that unchangeable law is providence itself. But law pertains to knowledge. Therefore, providence also belongs to knowledge.

7. The natural law as it exists within u is caused by divine providence. Now, a cause acts to bring about an effect in its own likeness. For this reason we also say that God’s goodness is the cause of good ness in things, His essence, the cause of their being, and His life, the cause of their living. Divine providence, therefore, is a law; hence, our former position stands.

8. Boethius says: "Providence is the divine plan set up within the ruler of all things." Now, as Augustine says, the divine plan of a thing is an idea. Providence, therefore, is an idea; and since an idea pertains to knowledge, providence also pertains to knowledge.

9. Practical knowledge is ordained either to bring things into existence or to order things already in existence. Now, it does not belong to providence to bring things into existence. It rather presupposes the things over which it is exercised. Nor does it order things that are in existence. This belongs to God’s disposal of things. Providence, there fore, pertains not to practical, but only to speculative knowledge.

To the Contrary:

1'. Providence seems to belong to the will, because, as Damascene says: "Providence is the will of God, which brings all existing things to a suitable end."

2’. We do not eau those people provident who know what to do but are unwilling to do it. Providence, therefore, is related more to the will than to knowledge.

3’. As Boethius says, God governs the world by His goodness. Now, goodness pertains to the will. Therefore, providence also pertains to the will, since the role of providence is to govern.

4’. To dispose things is a function, not of knowledge, but of will. Now, according to Boethius, providence is the plan according to which God disposes all things. Providence, therefore, pertains to the will, not to knowledge.

5’. What is provided for, taken simply as such, is neither a will thing nor a known thing. It is merely a good. Consequently, one who provides, taken as such, is not will, but good. Hence, providence does not pertain to wisdom, but to goodness or to the will.

To the Contrary (Second Series):

1'. Furthermore, it seems that providence pertains to power. For Boethius says: "Providence has given to the things it has created the greatest reason for enduring, so that as far as they are able, all things naturally desire to endure." Providence, therefore, is a principle of creation. But, since creation is appropriated to God’s power, providence pertains to power.

2'. Government is the effect of providence, for the Book of Wisdom (1:3) says: "But thy providence, O Father, governed all." But, as Hugh of St. Victor says, the will commands, wisdom directs, and power executes. Power, therefore, is more closely related to govern merit than is knowledge or will. Consequently, providence pertains more to power than to knowledge or will.



Because our intellects are weak, what we know of God we have to learn from creatures around us. Consequently, to know how God is said to be provident, we have to see how creatures are provident.

We should first note that Cicero makes providence a part of prudence. Providence, as it were, completes prudence, since the other two parts of prudence, memory and understanding, are merely preparations for the prudent act. Moreover, according to the Philosopher, prudence is the reasoned plan of doing things. Now, things to be done differ from things to be made, because the latter start from an agent and terminate in some extrinsic matter, as, for example, a bench and a house; and the reasoned plan of making them is called art. On the other hand, things to be done are actions which do not go outside the agent, but, instead, are acts that perfect him, as, for example, chaste living, bearing oneself patiently, and the like. The reasoned plan of performing these is called prudence. With respect to action, two things should be considered: the end and the means.

However, it is especially the role of prudence to direct the means to the end; and, as we read in the Ethics, one is called prudent if he deliberates well. But, as we also read in the Ethics, deliberation "is not concerned will ends, but only will means." Now, the end of things to be done pre-exists in us in two ways: first, through the natural knowledge we have of man’s end. This knowledge, of course, as the Philosopher says, belongs to the intellect, which is a principle of things to be done as well as of things to be studied; and, as the Philosopher also points out, ends are principles of to be done. The second way that these ends pre-exist in us is through our desires. Here the ends of things to be done exist in us in our moral virtues, which influence a man to live a just, brave, or temperate life. This is, in a sense, the proximate end of things to be done. We are similarly perfected will respect to the means towards this end: our knowledge is perfected by counsel, our appetite, by choice; and in these matters we are directed by prudence.

It is clear, therefore, that it belongs to prudence to dispose, in an orderly way, the means towards an end. And because this disposing of means to an end is done by prudence, it can be said to take place by a kind of reasoning process, whose first principles are ends. The very reason for the sequence described above—and found in all things to be done—is taken from ends, as is clear in the case of art products. Consequently, if one would be prudent, he must stand in the proper relation to the ends themselves, for a reasoned plan cannot exist unless the principles of reason are maintained. Hence, prudence requires not only the understanding of ends but also moral virtues by which the will is settled in a correct end. For this reason, the Philosopher says that the prudent man must be virtuous. Finally, this is common to all rightly ordered powers and acts of the soul: the virtue of what is first is maintained in all the rest. Consequently, in prudence, in some way, are included both the will as directed towards an end and the knowledge of the end itself.

From what has been said it is now clear how providence is related to God’s other attributes.. His knowledge is related both to ends and to means toward ends, because through knowledge God knows Him self and creatures. But providence pertains only to that knowledge which is concerned will means to ends and in so far as these means are ordained to ends. Consequently, in God providence includes both knowledge and will, although, taken essentially, it belongs only to knowledge, that is, to practical, not to speculative, knowledge. Providence, moreover, also includes the power of execution; hence, an act of power presupposes an act of providence, as it were, directing it, and for this reason power is not included in providence as the will is.

Answers to Difficulties:

1. Two aspects of a creature can be considered: first, its species taken absolutely; second, its relation to an end. The form of each exists previously in God. The exemplary form of a thing considered absolutely in its species is an idea; but the form of a thing considered as directed to an end is called providence. Moreover, according to Boethius, the order divine providence implants in things is called fate. Consequently, providence is related to fate as an idea is related to the species of a thing. An idea, however, can in some way pertain to speculative knowledge; but providence is related only to practical knowledge, since it implies an ordering to an end, and, consequently, to something to be done, by means of which the end will be reached.

2. Providence pertains more to the will than does practical knowledge taken absolutely, because the latter is concerned in general only will the knowledge of an end and of the means to achieve it. Consequently, practical knowledge does not presuppose that an end has been willed. If this were true, then the will would be included in knowledge, as has been said will regard to providence.

3. Purity of understanding is mentioned, not to exclude the will from the concept of providence, but to exclude change and mutability.

4. In this passage Boethius is not giving a complete description of the nature of providence. He is merely giving the reason for its name. Consequently, even though looking upon things may be considered as speculative knowledge, it does not follow that providence may be considered to be such. Besides, Boethius explains providence, or fore sight, as though it were far-sight, because "God Himself surveys all things from their highest summit." But God is on the highest summit of things for the very reason that He causes and directs all things. So, even in the words of Boethius something pertaining to practical knowledge can be noted.

5. The comparison Boethius makes is taken from the resemblance had by the proportion between the simple and the composite to the proportion between a body at rest and a body in motion. For, just as understanding is simple and non-discursive but reason is discursive, passing from one thing to another, similarly, providence is simple and unchangeable but fate is multiple and changeable. The conclusion, therefore, does not follow.

6. Properly speaking, God’s providence is not the eternal law; it is something that follows upon the eternal law. The eternal law should be thought of as existing in God as those principles of action exist in us which we know naturally and upon which we base our deliberation and choice. These belong to prudence or providence. Consequently, the law of our intellect is related to prudence as an indemonstrable principle is related to a demonstration. Similarly, the eternal law in God is not His providence, but, as it were, a principle of His providence; for this reason one can, without any inconsistency, attribute an act of providence to the eternal law in the same way that he attributes every conclusion of a demonstration to self-evident principles.

7. There are two types of causality to be found in the divine at— tributes. The first type is exemplary causality. Because of this type, we say that all living beings come from the first living being. This type of causality is common to all the divine attributes. The second type of causality is according to the relation the attributes have to their objects. We say, for example, that divine power is the cause of the possibles, divine knowledge is the cause of what is known. An effect of this type of causality need not resemble its cause; for the things that are made by knowledge need not be knowledge, but merely known. It is according to this type of causality that the providence of God is said to be the cause of all things. Consequently, even though the natural law within our understanding is derived from providence, it does not follow that divine providence is the eternal law.

8. "That divine plan within the highest ruler" is not called providence unless one includes in it the notion of direction to an end, which, in turn, presupposes that an end has been willed. Consequently, even though providence may essentially belong to knowledge, it also, in some way, includes the divine will.

9. A twofold ordering may be found in things. First, there is that order according to which things come from their principles. Second, there is the order according to which they are directed to an end. Now, the divine disposing pertains to that order according to which things proceed from their principles; for things are said to be disposed inasmuch as they are put on different levels by God, who is like an artist arranging the different parts of his work in different ways. Consequently, disposition seems to pertain to art. Providence, however, implies the ordering which directs to an end; for this reason it differs from the divine art and disposition. For divine art is so called because of its relation to the production of things, but divine disposition is so called because of its relation to the order of what has already been produced. Providence, however, implies the ordination to an end. Now, we can gather from the end of an art product whatever exists in the thing itself. Moreover, the ordering of a thing to an end is more closely related to the end than is the ordering of its parts to each other. In fact, their ordering to an end is, in a sense, the cause of the ordering of the parts to each other. Consequently, divine providence is, in a sense, the cause of God’s disposition of things, and for this reason an act of His disposition is sometimes attributed t His providence. Therefore, even if providence is not an art related to the production of things or a disposition related to the ordering of things one to another, it does not follow that providence does not belong to practical knowledge.

Answers to Contrary Difficulties:

1'. With reference to the difficulty about the will, we reply that Damascene calls providence will inasmuch as providence includes and presupposes the will, as we have pointed out previously.

2’. As the Philosopher says, no man can be prudent unless he has moral virtues which rightly dispose him toward his ends, just as no one can demonstrate properly unless he knows well the principles of demonstration. It is for this reason that no one is said to be provident unless he has a correct will—not because providence is in the will.

3'. God is said to govern through His goodness, not because His goodness is providence, but because, having the nature of an end, His goodness is a principle of providence. He is also said to govern through His goodness because the divine goodness is related to God as moral virtues are to us.

4’. Even though the disposition of things presupposes the will, it is not an act of the will, because, as the Philosopher says, ordering, which is what is meant by disposition, is the act of one who is will. Consequently, both disposition and providence really belong to knowledge.

5’. Providence is compared to what is provided for as knowledge is compared to what is known—not as knowledge is compared to the knower. Consequently, it is not necessary that what is foreseen, taken as such, be will, but rather that it be known.

The other two arguments we concede.


Parallel readings: Summa Theol., I, 22, 2 103, I Sentences 39, 2, 2; Contra Gentiles III, cc. r, 64, 75, 79, 94; De div. nom., e. 3, lectura r (P. 15:292a); De subst. sep., cc. II- (Perr. 1 68-91); Comp. Theol., I, cc. 123, 130, 132-33.


It seems that it is not, for

1. No agent that acts from natural necessity- acts through providence. But God acts upon created things through the necessity of nature, because, as Dionysius says: "The divine goodness communicates itself to us like the sun, which, without previous choice or knowledge, pours out its rays upon all bodies." The world, therefore, is not ruled by the providence of God.

2. A principle having many forms is posterior to a principle having but one form. Now, the will is a multiform principle because it is related to opposites. Consequently, providence is also multiform, since it presupposes will. On the other hand, nature is a principle having but one form, because it is determined to one. Therefore, nature precedes providence. Consequently, the realm of nature is not ruled by providence.

3. But it was said that a principle having one form precedes a mufti form principle in the same genus, not in other genera.—On the contrary, the greater the power that a principle has of exercising causality, the greater is its priority. But the more a principle has but one form, the greater is its power of causality, since, as said in The Causes: "A united power is more infinite than one that is multiplied." Consequently, a principle having but one form precedes a multiform principle whether they are in the same genus or in different genera.

4. According to Boethius, any inequality is reduced to an equality and any multitude to a unity. Therefore, any multiple act of the will ought to be reduced to an act of nature that is simple and equal. Hence, the first cause must work through its own essence and nature, and not through providence. Thus, our original argument stands.

5. What is, of itself, determined to one course of action does not need the direction of anything else, because direction is applied to a thing to prevent it from taking a contrary course. Natural things, however, are determined to one course of action by their own natures. Consequently, they do not need the direction of providence.

6. But it was said that natural things need the direction of providence to be kept in being.—On the contrary, if no possibility of corruption exists in a thing, it has no need of something extrinsic to con serve it. Now, there are some things in which there is no potency to corruption, since there is none to generation, as, for example, the celestial bodies and the spiritual substances, which are the most important things in the universe. Therefore, substances of this sort do not need providence to keep them in being.

7. There are certain things in the realm of nature that even God cannot change, such as the principle that "one cannot assert and deny the same thing under the same aspect," and "what has existed cannot not have existed," as Augustine says. Therefore, at least principles of this sort do not need divine rule and conservation.

8. Damascene points out that it would be illogical to say that the one who makes things is other than the one who exercises providence over them. Material bodies, however, are not made by God, since He is a spirit, and it seems no more possible for a spirit to produce a material body than for a material body to produce a spirit. Material bodies of this sort, therefore, are not ruled through divine providence.

9. The government of things involves distinguishing between things. But making things distinct does not seem to be the work of God, be cause, as said in The Causes, God is related to all things in one way. Therefore, things are not ruled through divine providence.

10. Things ordered of themselves need not be ordered by others. But natural things are ordered of themselves, because, as is said in The Soul: "For all things naturally constituted there is a term and proportion set to their size and growth." Natural things, therefore, are not ordered by divine providence.

11. If things were ruled by divine providence, we could know divine providence by studying the order of nature. But, as Damascene says: "We should wonder at all things, praise all things, and accept without question all the works of providence." The world, therefore, is not ruled by providence.

To the Contrary:

1'. Boethius writes: "O Thou that dost the world in everlasting order guide.

2’. Whatever has a fixed order must be ruled by a providence. But natural things have a fixed order in their motions. Hence, they are ruled by providence.

3’. Things which have different natures remain joined only if they are ruled by a providence. For this reason, certain philosophers were forced to say that the soul is a harmony, because contraries remain joined together in the bodies of animals. Now, we see that in the world contraries and things of different natures are kept together. Consequently, the world is ruled by providence.

4’. As Boethius says: "Fate directs the motion of all things and determines their places, forms, and time. This unfolding of the temporal order, united in the foresight of God’s mind, is providence." There fore, since we see that things have distinct forms, times, or places, we must admit the existence of fate and, consequently, that of providence.

5'. Whatever cannot keep itself in existence needs something else to rule it and keep it in existence. But created things cannot keep them selves in existence, for, as Damascene says, what is made from nothing tends, of itself, to return to nothing. There must, therefore, be a providence ruling over things.

De veritate EN 42