De veritate EN 156



For a clear understanding of this question we must bear in mind that, according to Boethius, nature begins will perfect things. This can be seen in divine works, for in any work of God the things which are first are perfect. Hence, since in the state of innocence God made Adam the source of the whole human race, not only to transmit human nature to posterity but also to pass on original justice to others, man in the state of innocence must be considered as having had a two fold perfection. One of these is natural and the other is given freely by God over and above what is due from natural principles.

According to natural perfection, however, man could flittingly know God only from creation. This is clear from the following. In any genus a passive power extends only to those things to which an active power extends. Therefore, the Commentator saysh that there is no passive power in nature for which there is not a corresponding active power.

In human nature, however, there is a double power for understanding: one passive, which is the possible intellect, and the other active, which is the agent intellect. Consequently, the possible intellect ac cording to the natural process is in potency only to those forms which become actually intelligible through the agent intellect. But these are only the forms of sensible things which are abstracted from phantasms. For immaterial substances are intelligible of themselves and not be cause we make them intelligible. Therefore, our possible intellect can not reach any intelligible objects except through those forms which it abstracts from phantasms. Thus it is that by our natural power we can know God and other immaterial substances only through sensible things.

But, in the state of innocence, man, by reason of the perfection of grace, received a knowledge of God by means of an internal inspiration due to the irradiation of divine wisdom. In this way he did not know God from visible creation but from a spiritual likeness imprinted on his mind.

Accordingly, there were thus in man two kinds of knowledge of God, one, by which he knew God as the angels do, through an internal inspiration; the other, by which he knew God as we do, through sensible creatures. However, this second knowledge of his differed from our knowledge as the investigation of one who has the habit of a science and proceeds from things he knows to a consideration of things which he had once known differs from the investigation of one who is learning and strives to proceed from what he knows to things which he does not know. However, we cannot have knowledge of God any other way except by coming to know Him from creatures. But Adam, who already knew God in a different way, that is, through an internal inspiration, also possessed a knowledge of Him from creatures.

Answers to Difficulties:

1. That process of reasoning by which we reach the unknown from the known includes imperfection, since through it what is sought is unknown. But the process of reasoning which man in the state of in nocence made use of was not of that sort. However, there is nothing to prevent us from saying that something [ belonged to man in that state, not indeed [ I perfect in that which was due to his nature, but by comparison will a higher nature. For, when buman nature was created, it did not have as much perfection as an angelic nature or the divine nature.

2. What Isidore says gives the reason why man had of necessity to get his knowledge of God, as an unknown, from creatures. Man in the state of innocence did not need this, as has been said.

3. Besides the knowledge of contemplation, he had another knowledge of God by which he knew Him from creatures, as was said above.

4. Through grace, Adam was like an angel in the knowledge of contemplation. But besides this he had another knowledge belonging to his nature, as has been said.

5. Creatures are darkness in so far as they are from nothing, but, in so far as they are from God, they participate in some likeness of Him and thus lead to His likeness.

6. There, Augustine is talking of that knowledge which is had through divine inspiration. This is clear from the fact that he mentions there the speech of God, and is not altogether suent about the other mode of knowledge, when he adds: "Perhaps, also, God spoke to him will that manner of speaking which takes place through creatures," whether by images of bodies in ecstasy of spirit, or by some image presented to the senses of the body themselves.

7. Although the soul is more like God than any other creature is, it cannot reach a knowledge of His nature so that it can distinguish it from other things except through sensible creatures, from which our knowledge takes its origin.

8. Although Adam saw God through the light of contemplation, the knowledge by which he saw God by means of creatures was not superfluous, that is to say, it was not superfluous that he knew the same thing in several ways, and that he had not only gratuitous but also natural knowledge.


Parallel readings: II Sentences 29, 3; Summa Theol., I, II-II, g, 1.


It seems that he did not, for

1. The knowledge of faith is obscure knowledge, as is clear in the first Epistle to the Corinthians (1:12): "We see now in a glass.

But in the state of innocence Adam had plain, not obscure, knowledge. Therefore, he did not have faith.

2. Hugh of St. Victor says: "He knew his Creator not will the knowledge will which believers now seek their absent Creator by faith." We conclude as before.

3. Gregory says that faith belongs to him "who cannot know by experience" the things which must be believed. But, as is said in the same place, Adam knew by experience what we believe. Therefore, he did not have faith.

4. Faith concerns not only the Creator but also the Redeemer. But in the state of innocence Adam seems to have known nothing about the Redeemer, because he did not foresee his fail, without which there would have been no redemption. Therefore, Adam did not have faith.

To the Contrary:

1í. Augustine says that in the state of innocence Adam had "the charity of a pure heart and a good conscience and faith unfeigned."

2'. As the Master says, he had all the virtues. Therefore, he also had faith.



In his first state, Adam had faith. This becomes evident if we consider the object of faith. For the object of faith is the first truth itself, in so far as it is not evident. Moreover, I say not evident, either through an intentional likeness, as it appears to the blessed, or through natural

reason, as some things about God are known to some philosophers, as that He is intelligible, incorporeal, and so on. Adam, however, knew not only what can be known about God by natural reason, but even more. However, he did not attain to vision of God through His essence. Consequently, it is clear that he had knowledge of God through faith.

But faith is twofold, according to a twofold hearing and a twofold speaking. For "faith cometh by hearing," as is said in Romans (10: 7). Now, there is an external speaking, by which God speaks to us through preachers, and an interior speaking, by which He speaks to us through an internal inspiration. This internal inspiration is called a kind of speaking in view of its likeness to external speaking. For, as in external speaking we present to the hearer not the thing itself which we want to make known but a sign of that thing, that is to say, a word which expresses some meaning; so in internal inspiration it is not His essence which God presents to view, but some sign of His essence, which is some spiritual likeness of His wisdom.

Faith arises in the hearts of the faithful from both kinds of hearing. By interior hearing it arose in those who first received faith and taught it, as in the Apostles and Prophets. Hence, in Psalms (84:9) we read: "I will hear what the Lord God will speak in me." But faith arises in the hearts of the rest of the faithful, who receive knowledge of the faith through other men, by the second kind of hearing. Adam, however, had faith, and as one who first learned it from God. There fore, he should have had faith through interior speaking.

Answers to Difficulties:

1. He did not have knowledge so plain that it was enough to remove the obscurity of faith. This is removed only through the appearance of the first truth.

2. Hugh denies to the first man the kind of knowledge of faith which belongs to us, who have knowledge of faith, not through a revelation made to us, but through adherence to revelations made to others.

3. That experience which man had was not the kind which those who see God through His essence have, as has been said earlier. Therefore, it is not enough to make faith superfluous.

4. Adam had only implicit and not explicit faith about the Redeemer in so far as he believed that God would make ample provision for all the things which would be necessary for his salvation.


Parallel readings: II Sentences 23, 2, 2; Summa Theol., I, 3; II-II, 5, 2, ad 2.


It seems that he did not, for

1. He did not have knowledge of futures, since this is proper only to God, according to Isaias (41:23): "Shew the things that are to come hereafter, and we shah know that ye are gods." But among creatures there were many things which were in the future. Therefore, he did not have knowledge of all creatures.

2. As Avicenna says, the senses are necessary to the human soul so that through them it may get perfect knowledge of things. Therefore, if the soul of Adam had knowledge of all things from the beginning, his senses would have been given to him to no purpose. But this can not b; since nothing is to no purpose in the works of God. Therefore, he did not have knowledge of all things.

3. As Boethius says: "Though the mind is born enfolded in the cloud of bodily members, it has not completely forgotten itself, and, while losing the particulars, it retains the sum." Here it is shown that the soul, when first created, had confused knowledge, by which it knew things in general, but did not have distinct knowledge, by which it knew individual things in their proper natures. Therefore, if Adam had the kind of knowledge which it is fitting for the human soul to have when it is created, it seems that he did not have knowledge of creatures distinctly, but only in a confused way.

4. Proper knowledge of a thing is had only through the existence of its proper species in the soul. But, as appears from the Philosopher, when the human soul is created, it is "like a tablet on which nothing is written." Therefore, when Adam was first created, he could not have proper knowledge of created things.

5. It was said that, although he did not have this in virtue of his nature, he had it by divine gift.óOn the contrary, when first created, all men are equal will respect to merit, and specifically similar to each other. Therefore, if perfect knowledge of things was conferred on Adam by God when he was first created, it seems that will equal reason this is conferred on all other men when they are created. But we see that this is false.

6. Nothing which is moved toward the perfection of knowledge is at the term of its perfection. But Adam was moved toward the perfection of knowledge. Therefore, he was not at the term of knowledge, as one who had perfect knowledge of creatures. I prove the minor: According to the Philosopher, before the intellect understands, it is not anything of the things which exist. But, after it understands, it is actually something of those things. Thus, at some time it is actually something of things that exist, and sometimes it is not. But everything which has this kind of existence is on the way to perfect act. There fore, when first created, the human understanding is on the way to perfect knowledge. Hence, when Adamís understanding was first created, it was not at the term of perfect knowledge, but on the w to perfection.

7. For angels to be infused will knowledge of all natural things as soon as they are created is part of the excellence of angelic nature, according to The Causes: "Every intelligence is full of forms." But human nature does not risc to the excellence of angelic nature. There fore, it was not fitting for the soul of the first man, when first created, to have knowledge of all things.

8. It is possible for the intellect to understand only when it actually becomes the intelligible thing. But the human understanding cannot actually become many intelligible things at once. Therefore, neither can it know many intelligible things at once; hence, the first

could not have knowledge of all things at once.

9. For every subject of perfectibility there is one corresponding perfection, because one power cannot be perfected at one time except by one act of one kind. Thus, in first matter there can be only one substantial form, and in a body only one colour. But the human understanding is a power which is perfected by the habits of the sciences. There fore, it is impossible for many habits to be in the soul at the same time. Consequently, Adamís soul could not have knowledge of all things, since different things are known through different habits.

10. If Adam knew all creatures, he knew them either in the Word, or in their proper natures, or in his intelligence. But he did not know them in the Word, for that is the knowledge of the blessed, who see the Word. Nor did he see them in their proper natures, since all of them did not yet exist in their proper natures. Nor did he see them in his own intelligence, for it is not contrary to the perfection of the first state for a higher power to receive something from a lower power, as imagination from sense. Hence, it was appropriate for the human soul to have the intellect receive from sense. Consequently, since he did not perceive all creatures through sense, it was impossible for all things to be in his intelligence. Therefore, he did not in any way have knowledge of all creatures.

11. Adam was created in a state in which he could will equal reason progress in understanding as well as in affection. But he who has knowledge of all things cannot make progress in that knowledge. Therefore, he did not have knowledge of all things.

12. Augustine seems to say that Adam was placed in paradise to work, not from necessity but for the pleasure of tilling the soul. This comes from the fact that "human reason in a certain sense converses will physical reality, will the seeds which have been sown, will the shoots which have been planted, as if it asked them what the power of the root and the seed was, what it could do or could not do." But to ask nature about the power of nature is nothing else but to learn the powers of nature from seeing the activities of nature. Therefore, Adam had to receive knowledge of things from things. Thus, he did not have knowledge of all creatures.

13. In the state of innocence Adam was not more perfect than the beatified angels. But they do not know everything. For this reason, Dionysius says that the lower angels are purified from ignorance by the higher angels. Therefore, neither did man in the state of innocence know all things.

14. As Augustine says, the demons can know the secrets of hearts only in so far as these become known from movements of the body. Therefore, since the angelic understanding has clearer sight than the human understanding, it seems that even Adam in the state of innocence could not know the secrets of hearts. Thus, he did not have knowledge of all creatures.

To the Contrary:

1'. Augustine says that in that state "nothing was missing which a good will could acquire." But will a good will he could want to have knowledge of all things. Therefore, he had knowledge of all things.

2í. Adam was an image [of God] more in his soul than in his body. But, when first created, Adam was perfect in body as regards age, stature, and all his members. Therefore, he was perfect also in soul as regards all knowledge.

3í. The perfection of nature when it was created is greater than the perfection of fallen nature. But knowledge of the future pertains to the state of fallen nature. Hence, after the fall some saints were raised to the perfection of knowing the future through the gift of prophecy. Therefore, will much greater reason Adam had knowledge of the future, and much more of the present.

[4'. Adam had all the virtues. Therefore, he had all knowledge.]

5'. The names of things should fit their properties. But Adam gave names to things, as is clear from Genesis (2: 20). Therefore, he had full knowledge of the nature of things.



Adam had a twofold knowledge: one natural and one due to grace. Natural human knowledge can extend to those things which we can know under the guidance of natural reason. And there is a beginning and a term of this natural knowledge. It has its beginning in a kind confused knowledge of all things, in so far as man naturally has within him a knowledge of the general principles in which, as in seeds, there virtually pre-exist all the objects of knowledge which can be known by natural reason. This knowledge reaches its term when the things which are virtually in the principles are expressed in act, as animal generation is said to reach its term when the animal, will all its members perfect and distinct, is developed from the seed of the animal in which all its members pre-existed virtually.

Adam, however, when first created, had to have natural knowledge not only in its first stage but also in its term, because he was created as the father of the whole human race. For the Sons should receive from their father not only existence through generation, but also instruction through teaching.

One is not a principle in so far as he is in potency, but in so far as he is in act, and, for this reason, act is naturally prior to potency, and the activity of nature always begins from things which are perfect. Be cause of this, the first man had to be set at the term of perfection as soon as he was created, and this both in body, so that he would be a suitable principle of generation of the whole human race, and in mind, so that he would be an adequate principle of instruction.

And, just as nothing in his body which pertained to bodily perfection was not actually developed, so, too, whatever there was seminally or virtually in the first principles of reason was developed in its entirety, in so far as the perfect knowledge of all those things to which the power of the first principles could extend vas concerned. Consequently, we must say that whatever knowledge of things any man could ever acquire by his natural talents Adam had in its entirety by habitual natural knowledge.

There also are many things in creatures which cannot be known by natural knowledge, that is, those to which the power of first principles does not extend, such as future contingents, the secret thoughts of men, and the dispositions of creatures in so far as they are subject to divine providence. For he could not have a comprehensive grasp of divine providence, and so no comprehensive grasp of the order of creatures themselves in so far as they are subject to divine providence. For providence sometimes ordains creatures to many things beyond their natural capacity. But he was helped to know these things to some extent by the other knowledge, which is knowledge due to grace, through which God spoke internally to him, as Augustine says. But the first man was not given this knowledge as though he were placed at the term of its perfection, since one reaches the term of this freely conferred knowledge only in the vision of glory, to which he had not yet arrived. Therefore, he did not know all of these things, but only as much of them as God revealed to him. Accordingly, we have to answer both sets of difficulties.

Answers to Difficulties:

1. There are some futures which can be known naturally in their causes. Adam had knowledge of these. But he did not know all the others which cannot be known naturally, but only those which were revealed to him by God.

2. Adam should have had in its perfection everything which human nature requires. But, just as the power of growth is given to man so that he may reach perfect stature, so the senses are given to the human soul to attain the perfection of knowledge. Accordingly, just as Adam did not have the power of growth, in order through itto grow larger, but in order that he might lack nothing of what is needed for the perfection of his nature, so, too, he did not have senses to acquire knowledge through them, but to have a perfect human nature, and so that through the senses he might experience again what he knew habitually.

3. Adam, in so far as he was made the source of all human nature, had something more than is commonly due to all men. For, in so far as he was the teacher of the whole human race, it was incumbent on him not to have confused, but distinct, knowledge, so that will it he could teach. And for this reason it was also necessary that, when he was first created, his understanding should not be like a tablet on which nothing is written, but should have the fullness of knowledge by reason of Godís action. Nor was this necessary for other men, who were not made the source of the human race.

4.-6. The solution to the fourth, fifth, and sixth difficulties is clear from the third response.

7. The angels were created will full knowledge of physical reality because it is due to their nature, but this is not so will man, who obtained this knowledge by reason of Godís action. Therefore, human nature still remains lower than the angelic nature. Similarly, manís body is naturally more imperfect than a heavenly body, even though, by the power of God, Adamís body had its full stature when it was created. This belongs to heavenly bodies as due to their nature.

8. Adamís understanding could not actually be many intelligible things, as actually informed by them; however, it could simultaneously be habitually informed by many intelligible things.

9. That argument is valid when the power is perfected completely by one perfection, as a substantial form perfects matter and colour per fects the potency of a surface. But one habit of knowledge does not fully perfect the power of understanding will reference to all intelligible things. Therefore the case is not the same.

10. Adam had knowledge of all natures, not in the Word, but in their proper nature and in his intelligence. This twofold manner of knowing is not distinguished according to the species of things in so far as some thing is known by these species, but in so far as they are what is known. For, even when the understanding knows things in their proper nature, it knows them only through species which are present to it. Accordingly, when through species which are present to it the understanding is directed to things which are outside the soul, then it is said to know things in their proper nature. But, when the understanding stops at the species themselves, studying their nature and arrangement, then is it said to know things in its intelligence, as, for instance, when it under stands that it understands and how it understands.

Therefore, to say that all things did not yet exist in their proper nature, and so could not be known in their proper nature, does not follow. For to know a thing in its proper nature is used in two senses. In one, it is used by way of a statement, namely, when the thing itself is known to be in its own proper nature. And this can be done only when the thing exists in its proper nature. Adam did not know all things in their proper nature in this way, for all things did not yet exist in their proper nature, unless we were to say that they were not in their proper nature perfectly, but imperfectly. For all things which were produced later in the works of the six days [of creation] did pre-exist in some way, as is clear from Augustine.

In the other way, one is said to know a thing in its proper nature by way of a definition, that is to say, when one knows what the proper nature of a thing is. In this way, even things which do not exist can be known in their proper nature. Thus, I would be able to know what a lion is even if all lions were dead. In this way, Adam could know in their proper nature even things which did not then exist.

Similarly, there is nothing to prevent all creatures from being in his intelligence through their likenesses, although he did not perceive them all by his senses. For, although it is not contrary to the dignity of the first state for a higher power to receive something from a lower, to be created without the fullness of knowledge and to have to receive knowledge only from sense were contrary to the perfection which belonged to the first man.

11. Adam could make progress in knowledge in two ways. One of these related to things which he did not know, that is, those to which natural reason could not reach. In these he could make progress partly by reason of divine revelation, as in knowledge of divine mysteries, and partly from sense experience, as in knowledge of futures, which, though previously unknown to him, would become known when they came to pass. The other way related to that which he knew, and thus he could later know also through sense experience that which he knew only through intellectual knowledge.

12. Those words of Augustine are not to be taken as though he meant that Adam had to know the power of nature from the works of nature, but that he knew by experience that the nature, which he knew interiorly will his mi, acted according to that which pre-existed in his knowledge. And this he found delightful.

13. The angels are purified from ignorance, not of natural things, but of divine mysteries. This ignorance existed in Adam, too, as has been said. And for this he himself needed an angelic illumination.

14. The secret thoughts of men are among those things to which natural reason cannot extend its knowledge. Hence, our judgment about these is the same as that about the knowledge of future contingents.

Answers to Contrary Difficulties:

1'. With a good will Adam was able to will only what he willed according to right order, that is, to seek to have what he wanted at its proper time, and not to want what did not befit him.

2í. Adam had natural perfection lii his body, but not the supernatural perfection which is the perfection of glory. Consequently, it does not follow that he had in his soul any other than the perfection of natural knowledge.

3'. Foreknowledge of futures is indeed a perfection of human nature, because it does have this perfection even after the fail; it is not a perfection, however, in such a way that it is natural to man. Hence, there was no need for Adam to have such a perfection. For it belongs to Christ alone to be given everything which the other saints had through grace, because He is the source of grace for us, as Adam is the source of nature. It was for this reason that the perfection of natural knowledge was due to Adam.

4'. It was by reason of the state of innocence that Adam had all the virtues, for, if any were lacking in him, he would not have had original justice. But the state of innocence does not require the possession, of all knowledge. Hence, the case is not the same.

5í. We read that Adam gave names to the animals and knew their natures fully, and, consequently, knew the natures of all other natural things. But it does not follow from this that he knew things which surpass natural knowledge.


Parallel readings: Summa Theol., I, 94, 2.


It seems that he did, for

1. Gregory says: "In paradise man was accustomed to enjoy the words of God and to share in purity of heart and loftiness of vision will the spirits of the beatified angels." Therefore, through the loftiness of his vision he seems to have attained even to the Vision of the angels.

2. On the words of Genesis (2:21), "Then the Lord God cast a deep sleep upon Adam," the Gloss reads: "The correct interpretation of this ecstasy is that it was given so that Adamís mind, sharing the company of the heavenly court, might enter into the sanctuary of God and understand the last things." But he could not share the company of the heavenly court unless he knew the angels. Therefore, he had knowledge of the angels.

3. The Master says: "Man had a knowledge of the things which were made for his sake." But, along will other creatures, even the angels are made in some way for manís sake, as the Master says. Therefore, he had knowledge of the angels.

4. It is more difficult to make something which is intelligible in potency become intelligible actually and to understand it than to understand that which is of itself actually intelligible. But Adamís understanding could make species of material things, which of themselves are intelligible in potency, become actually intelligible, and in this way understand material things. Therefore, will much more reason he was able to understand the essences of the angels, which of them selves are actually intelligible, since they are free of matter.

5. That someone does not better understand things which are of themselves more intelligible is due to a defect of his understanding. But the essences of the angels are of themselves more intelligible than the essences of material things, and there was no defect in Adamís understanding. Accordingly, since he knew material things through their essence, will much more reason he could know the angels through their essence.

6. The intellect can understand material things by abstracting the quiddity from the material supposite. And, if that quiddity is again a supposite having a quiddity, it can will equal reason abstract the quiddity from it. And, since this cannot go on to infinity, it will at last arrive at the understanding of some simple quiddity, which does not have [another] quiddity. But such a quiddity is the quiddity of a separate substance, that is to say, of an angel. Therefore, Adamís intellect could know the essence of an angel.

7. According to the Philosopher, since understanding is a power not joined to an organ, it is not destroyed by an excessively intelligible object. "For, after it has understood the highest intelligible, it does not understand the lowest intelligibles less, but more," contrary to what takes place in sense. But Adamís understanding in the state of innocence was whole and complete. Therefore, the excellence of an intelligible object was not an impediment to his understanding of it. Consequently, he was able to know the angels through their essence, since the only impediment to this knowledge seems to be the excellence of the intelligible object.

8. As was mentioned above, Adam, as soon as he was created, had all the knowledge to which a man can come naturally. But man can naturally come to a knowledge of the separated substances through their essence, as is clear from the statements of many philosophers, which the Commentator mentions. Therefore, Adam knew the angels through their essence.

9. It is evident that Adam knew his own soul through its essence. But the essence of the soul is free from matter, just as an angelís essence. Therefore, he could also know the angels through their essence.

10. Adamís knowledge was intermediate between our knowledge and that of the blessed. But the blessed see and know the essence of God, and we know the essence of material things. But between God and material things are spiritual substances, that is, the angels. There fore, Adam knew the angels through their essence.

To the Contrary:

1í. In its knowledge no power can reach beyond its object. But the objects of the intellective soul are phantasms, to which the intellective soul is related, as sense is to sensibles, as is said in The Soul. Therefore, our soul can attain to knowledge only of those things which it can derive from phantasms. But the essence of the angels is beyond all phantasms. Therefore, by natural knowledge, the perfection of which we assign to Adam, man cannot reach a knowledge of the angels through their essence.

2í. It was said that, although an angel cannot be perceived through phantasms, some effect of an angel can be grasped under the guise of a phantasm, and from such an effect the angel can be known.óOn the contrary, no effect which is not equal to its cause is sufficient of itself to be a means to knowledge of the essence of its cause. Otherwise, those who know God from creatures would see the essence of God, which is false. But a physical effect, which alone can be grasped in a phantasm, is the kind of effect which is not equal to the power of the angels. Therefore, through this kind of effect one cannot know what an angel is, but only whether he exists.

3í. It was said that Adam was able to know the angels through some intelligible effect, according to the dictum of Avicenna that the presence of intelligences in us is nothing other than the presence of their imprints in us.óOn the contrary, what is received in a thing is received there according to the mode of being of that in which it is received. But the mode of being of the human soul is lower than that of the angelic nature. Therefore, the imprint made on the human soul by an angel, or by the angelic light, will which it enlightens the mind, is in the human soul in a lower manner than in the angelic nature. Accordingly, since the soul knows a thing through the mode in which the thing known is within it, through this kind of imprint the soul does not reach knowledge of an angel as it is in its essence.

De veritate EN 156