De veritate EN 171



Something can be added to something else in three ways. (1) It adds some reality which is outside the essence of the thing to which it is said to be added. For instance, white adds something to body, since the essence of whiteness is something beyond that of body. (2) One thing is added to the other as limiting and determining it. Man, for instance, adds something to animal—not indeed in such a way that there is in man some reality which is completely outside the essence of animal; otherwise it would be necessary to say that it is not the whole of man which is animal but only a part. Animal is limited by man because what is contained in the notion of man determinately and actually, is only implicitly and, as it were, potentially contained in the notion of animal. It belongs to the notion of man that he have a rational soul; to the notion of animal, that it have a soul, without its being determined to rational or non rational. And yet that determination by reason of which man is said to add something to animal is founded in reality. Something is said to add to something else in concept only. This occurs when something which is nothing in reality but only in thought, belongs to the notion of one thing and not to the notion of the other, whether that to which it is said to be added is limited by it or not. Thus blind adds something to man, 1.e., blindness, which is not a being in nature but merely a being in the thought of one who knows privations. By it man is limited, for not every man is blind. But when we say "a blind mole," no limitation is placed by what is added.

It is not possible, however, for something to add anything to being in general in the first way, though in that way there can be an addition to some particular sort of being; for there is no real being which is outside the essence of being in general, though some reality may be outside the essence of this being. But in the second way certain things are found to add to being, since being is narrowed down i the ten categories, each of which adds something to being not, of course, an accident or difference which is outside the essence of being, but a definite manner of being which is founded upon the very existence of the thing. It is not in this way, however, that good adds something to being, since good itself, like being, is divided into the ten categories, as is made clear in the Ethics.

Good must, accordingly, either add nothing to being or add some thing merely in concept. For if it added something real, being would have to be narrowed down by the character of good to a special genus. But since being is what is first conceived by the intellect, as Avicenna says, every other noun must either be a synonym of being or add something at least conceptually. The former cannot be said of good, since it is not nonsense to eau a being good. Thus good, by the fact of its not limiting being, must add to it something merely conceptual.

What is merely conceptual, however, can be of only two kinds: negation and a certain kind of relation. Every absolute positing signifies something existing in reality. Thus to being, the first intellectual conception, one adds what is merely conceptual—a negation; for it means undivided being. But true and good, being predicated positively, cannot add anything except a relation which is merely conceptual. A relation is merely conceptual, according to the Philosopher, when by it something is said to be related which is not dependent upon that to which it is referred, but vice versa; for a relation is a sort of dependence. An example is had in intellectual knowledge and its object, as also in sense and the sensible object. Knowledge depends upon its object, but not the other way about. The relation by which knowledge is referred to its object is accordingly real, but the relation by which the object is referred to the knowledge is only conceptual. Ac cording to the Philosopher the object of knowledge is said to be related, not because it is itself referred, but because something else is referred to it. The same holds true of all other things which stand to one another as measure and thing measured or as perfective and perfectible.

The true and the good must therefore add to the concept of being, a relationship of that which perfects. But in any being there are two aspects to be considered, the formal character of its species and the act of being by which it subsists in that species. And so a being can be perfective in two ways. (1) It can be so just according to its specific character. In this way the intellect is perfected by a being, for it perceives the formal character of the being. But the being is still not in it according to its natural existence. It is this mode of perfecting which the true adds to being. For the true is in the mind, as the Philosopher says; and every being is called true inasmuch as it is confirmed or confirmable to intellect. For this reason all who correctly define true put intellect in its definition. (2) A being is perfective of another not only according to its specific character but also according to the existence which it has in reality. In this fashion the good is perfective; for the good is in things, as the Philosopher says. Inasmuch as one being by reason of its act of existing is such as to perfect and complete another, it stands to that other as an end. And hence it is that all who rightly define good put in its notion something about its status as an end. The Philosopher accordingly says that they excellently defined good who said that it is "that which all things desire."

First of all and principally, therefore, a being capable of perfecting another after the manner of an end is called good; but secondarily something is called good which leads to an end (as the useful is said to be good), or which naturally follows upon an end (as not only that which has health is called healthy, but also anything which causes, preserves, or signifies health).

Answers to Difficulties:

1. Since being is predicated absolutely and good adds to it the status of a final cause, the essence of a thing considered absolutely suffices for the thing to be called a being on its account, but not thereby to be called good. Just as in the case of the other kinds of causes the status of a secondary cause depends upon that of the primary cause, but that of the primary cause depends upon no other; so also in the case of final causes secondary ends share in the status of final cause from their relation to the last end, but the last end has this status of itself.

And so it is that the essence of God, who is the last end of creatures, suffices for God to be called good by reason of it; but when the essence of a creature is given, the thing is not yet called good except from the relation to God by reason of which it has the character of a final cause. In this sense it is said that a creature is not good essentially but by participation. For from one point of view this is so inasmuch as the essence itself, in our understanding of it, is considered as some thing other than that relation to God by which it is constituted a final cause and is directed to God as its end. But from another point of view a creature can be called essentially good inasmuch as the essence of a creature does not exist without a relation to God’s goodness. This is Boethius meaning.

2. It is not only negation that expresses what is merely conceptual but also a certain type of relation, as has been said.

3. Every real relation is in a definite category, but non-real relations can run through all being.

4. Though, according to the proper use of the word, to pour out seems to imply the operation of an efficient cause, yet taken broadly it can imply the status of any cause, as do to influence, w make, etc. When good is said to be of its very notion diffusive, however, diffusion is not to be understood as implying the operation of an efficient cause but rather the status of a final cause. Nor is such diffusion brought about through the mediation of any added power. Good expresses the diffusion of a final cause and not that of an agent, both because the latter, as efficient, is not the measure and perfection of the thing caused but rather its beginning, and also because the effect participates in the efficient cause only in an assimilation of its form, whereas a thing is dependent upon its end in its whole existence. It is in this that the character of good was held to consist.

5. Things can be really one in God in two ways. (1) Their unity may be merely from that in which they are, and not from their own formal characters. In this way knowledge and power are one; for knowledge is not really the same as power by reason of its being knowledge, but by reason of its being divine. Now things which are really one in God in this way are found to differ really in creatures. (2) The things which are said to be really one in God may be so by their very formal characters. In this way good and being are really one in God, because it is of the very notion of good that it does not differ in reality from being. Hence, wherever good and being are found, they are really identical.

6. Just as there is essential being and accidental being, so also there is essential good and accidental good; and a thing loses its goodness in just the same way as it loses its substantial or accidental act of being.

7. From the relationship mentioned above it comes about that good is said to inform or determine being conceptually.

8. The answer is clear from what has just been said.

9. To that concept something does correspond in reality (a real dependence of that which is a means to an end upon the end itself), as there also does in other conceptual relations.

10. Although good expresses a special status, that of an end, nevertheless that status belongs to any being whatsoever and does not put anything real into being. Hence the conclusion does not follow.

11. "Capable of laughter," though interchanged will man, still adds to man a distinct reality which is over and above man’s essence. But nothing can be added to being in this way, as has been said.

Answers to Contrary Difficulties:

1'. We grant this, because good as such does not really add anything to being.

2’. This argues that nothing is added even conceptually. To this it must be said that a thing can be understood without another in two ways. (1) This occurs by way of enunciating, when one thing is understood to be without the other. Whatever the intellect can under stand without another in this sense, God can make without the other. But being cannot be so understood without good, i.e., so that the intellect understands that something is a being and is not good. (2) Some thing can be understood without another by way of defining, so that the intellect understands one without at the same time understanding the other. Thus animal is understood without man or any of the ot species. In this sense being can be understood without good. Yet it does not follow that God can make a being without good, because the very notion of making is to bring into existence.


Parallel readings: I Sentences 8, 1, 3; in De hebdom., 2; Contra Gentiles III, 20; Sum. Theol., I 5,3.


It seems that they are not, for

1. Opposites are capable of occurring in regard to the same thing.

But good and evil are opposites. Now evil is not capable of being in all things; for, as Avicenna says, beyond the sphere of the moon there is no evil. It seems, then, that neither is good found in all beings. And so good is not interchangeable will being.

2. Predicates such that one extends w more things than another are not interchangeable will one another. But, as Maximus the commentator says, good extends to more things than being; for it extends to non-beings, which are called into being by good. Therefore good and being are not interchangeable.

3. Good is a perfection of which the apprehension is enjoyable, as Algazel says. But not every being has perfection, for prime matter has none. Not every being, therefore, is good.

4. In mathematics being is found but not good, as appears from what the Philosopher says. Being and good are therefore not inter changeable.

g. In The Causes it is said that the first of created things is the act of being. But according to the Philosopher "the prior is that from which there is a sequence which cannot be reversed." The sequence from being to good therefore cannot be reversed; and so good and being are not interchangeable.

6. What is divided is not interchangeable will any one of the things into which it is divided, as animal is not interchangeable will rational. But being is divided into good and evil, since many beings are called evil. Therefore good and being are not interchangeable.

7. Even a privation, according to the Philosopher, is called a being in a certain sense. But it cannot in any sense be called good; otherwise evil, consisting essentially in a privation, would be good. Good and being are therefore not interchangeable.

8. According to Boethius all things are said to be good by reason of the fact that they are from the good, namely God. But God’s good ness is His very wisdom and justice. By the same reasoning, then, all things which are from God would be will and just. But this is false. So too, then, is the first, viz., that all things are good.

To the Contrary:

1'. Nothing tends except to what is like itself. But, as Boethius says, "every being tends to good." Then every being is good, and nothing can be good unless it in some way is. Consequently good and being are interchangeable.

2’. Only what is good can be from the good. But every being proceeds from the divine goodness. Therefore every being is good; and so the conclusion must be the same as above.



Since the essence of good consists in this, that something perfects another as an end, whatever is found to have the character of an end also has that of good. Now two things are essential to an end: it must be sought or desired by things which have not yet attained the end, and it must be loved by the things which share the end, and be, as it were, enjoyable to them. For it is essentially the same to tend to an end and in some sense to repose in that end. Thus by the same natural tendency a stone moves towards the center [of the world] and comes to rest there.

These two properties are found to belong to the act of being. For whatever does not yet participate in the act of being tends toward it by a certain natural appetite. In this way matter tends to form, ac cording to the Philosopher. But everything which already has being naturally loves its being and will all its strength preserves it. Boethius accordingly says: "Divine providence has given to the things created by it this greatest of reasons for remaining, namely, that they naturally desire to remain to the best of their ability. Therefore you can not in the least doubt that all beings naturally seek permanence in perduring and avoid destruction."

Existence itself, therefore, has the essential note of goodness. Just as it is impossible, then, for anything to be a being which does not have existence, so too it is necessary that every being be good by the very fact of its having existence, even though in many beings many other aspects of goodness are added over and above the act of existing by which they subsist.

Since, moreover, good includes the note of being, as is clear from what has been said, it is impossible for anything to be good which is not a being. Thus we are left will the conclusion that good and being are interchangeable.

Answers to Difficulties:

Good and evil are opposed as privation and possession or habit. But privation does not have to be in every being in which habit is found; and so evil does not have to be in everything in which there is good. Furthermore, in the case of contraries as long as one is real\ly in a certain thing, the other is not capable of being in the same thing as the Philosopher says. Good, however, is really in every being whatever, since it is called good from its own real act of existing.

2. Good extends to non-beings not attributively but causally, inasmuch as non-beings tend to good. And so we can call non-beings things which in potency and not in act. But the act of being does not have causality except perhaps after the manner of an exemplary cause. This sort of causality, however, extends only to the things which actually participate in being.

3. Just as prime matter is a being in potency and not in act, so it is perfect in potency and not in act and good potentially and not actually.

4. The things which a mathematician studies are good according to the existence which they have in reality. The very existence of a line or of a number, for instance, is good. But the mathematician does not study them according to their existence but only according to their specific formal character. For he studies them abstractly, though they are not abstract in their existence but only in their notion. It was said above that good is not consequent upon the specific character except according to the existence which it has in some real thing. And so the note of goodness does not belong to a lime or number as they fall within the purview of the mathematician, even though a lime and a number are good.

5. Being is not called prior to good in the sense of prior employed in the objection, but in another sense, as the absolute is prior to the relative.

6. A thing can be called good both from its act of existing and from some added property or state. Thus a man is said to be good both as existing and as being just and chaste or destined for beatitude. By reason of the first goodness being is interchanged will good, and conversely. But by reason of the second, good is a division of being.

7. Privation is not called a reality but only a conceptual being. In this sense it is a good for reason, for to know a privation or anything of the sort is good. Even knowledge of evil, as Boethius points out, cannot be lacking in good.

8. According to Boethius a thing is called good from its very existence, but is called just by reason of some action of its own. Existence, however, is communicated to everything that comes forth from God. But not all things share in that activity to which justice is referred. For although in God to act and to be are the same thing, and thus His justice is His goodness, nevertheless in creatures to act and to be are distinct. Hence existence can be communicated to something to which activity is not; and even in those beings to which both are communicated, to act is not the same as to be. Hence also men who are good and just are indeed good because they exist, but not just because they exist, but rather because they have a certain habit directed to action. And the same can be said of wisdom and other things of the sort.

Or a different answer can be taken from the same Boethius: The just and the will and other things of this kind are special goods since they are special perfections; but good designates something perfect in an unqualified sense. From the perfect God, therefore, things come forth perfect, but not will the same degree of perfection will which God is perfect, because what is made does not exist in the manner of the agent but in that of the product. Nor do all things which receive perfection from God receive it in the same measure. And so, just as

It is common to God and all creatures to be perfect in an absolute sense, but not to be perfect in this or that particular way, so also does it belong to God arid to all creatures to be good; but the particular goodness which is wisdom or that which is justice does not have to be common to all. Some goods belong to God alone, as eternity and omnipotence; but some others, to certain creatures as well as to God, as wisdom and justice and the like.


Parallel readings: in Hebr., c. 11, lectura 1; Sum. Theol., I, 16, 4.


It seems that it is, for

1. What is in things is prior to what is only in apprehension, because our apprehension is caused and measured by things. But according to the Philosopher good is in things, the true in the mind. Good is therefore in its essential character prior w the true.

2. What is perfect in itself is prior in character w that which perfects another. Now a thing is called good inasmuch as it is perfect in itself, but true inasmuch as it can perfect another. Hence good is prior to the true.

3. Good is predicated will reference to the final cause, the true will reference to the formal cause. But the final cause is prior to the formal because the end is the cause of causes. Good is therefore prior in essential character to the true.

4. A particular good is posterior to the universal good. But the true is a particular good, for it is the good of the intellect, as the Philosopher says. Therefore good is naturally prior in character to the true.

5. Good has the character of an end. But the end is first in intention. Therefore the intention of good is prior to that of the true.

To the Contrary:

1’. Good perfects the will; the true, the intellect. The intellect, how ever, naturally precedes the will. Then the true likewise precedes good.

2’. The more immaterial any-thing is, the more it is prior. But the true is more immaterial than good, for good is found even in material beings, whereas the true is found only in an immaterial mind. The true is therefore by nature prior to good.



Both the true and good have the essential character of that which perfects or of perfections, as has been said. The order among perfections, however, can be considered in two ways: (x) from the view point of the perfections themselves, and (2) from that of the beings perfected.

If the true and good are considered in themselves, then the true is prior in meaning to good since the true perfects something specifically, whereas good perfects not only specifically but also according to the existence which the thing has in reality. Thus the character of good includes more notes than that of the true and is constituted by a sort of addition to the character of the true. Thus good presupposes the true, but the true in turn presupposes the one, since the notion of the true is fulfilled by an apprehension on the part of the intellect, and a thing is intelligible in so far as it is one; for whoever does not understand a unit understands nothing, as the Philosopher says. The order of these transcendent names, accordingly, if they are considered in themselves, is as follows: after being comes the one; after the one comes the true; and then after the true comes good.

If, however, the order between the true and good is viewed from the standpoint of the beings perfected, then the converse holds: good is naturally prior to the true, and that for two reasons.

(1) The perfection of good has greater extension than that of the true. By the true only those things can be perfected which can receive a being into themselves or have it within themselves according to its formal character but not according to the existence which that being has in itself. of this sort are only those things which can receive something immaterially and have the power of cognition. For the species of a stone is in the soul but not according to the act of existing which it has in the stone. But even things which receive something according to the material act of being are capable of being perfected by good, since the essence of good consists in being perfective both specifically and existentially, as has been said. All things, accordingly, seek good, but not all know the true. In both the tendency to good and the knowledge of truth, however, there is verified the relation of the perfectible to a perfection, which is good or the true.

(2) The things capable of being perfected by both the true and good, moreover, are perfected by good before they are by the true. For by the mere fact that they share in the act of being they are perfected by good, as has been said; but by the fact that they know something they are perfected by the true. Knowledge, however, is subsequent to existence. Hence in this consideration from the view point of the beings which are perfectible good precedes the true.

Answers to Difficulties:

1. The argument is taken from the order of the true and good from the viewpoint of the perfectible beings, not from that of the true and good in themselves. For only the mind is perfectible by the true, but every real being is perfectible by good.

2. Like the true, good has not only the character of the perfect but also that of the perfective, as was said above. Hence the argument docs not hold.

. The end comes before any of the other causes in the lime of causation. And so the argument is based upon the relation of the perfectible to its perfection. In this relationship good is prior. But if the form and the end are considered absolutely, then, since the form it self is the end, the form considered in itself is prior to its aspect as the end of something else. But the essential character of the true arises from the species itself in so far as it is understood as it is.

4. The true is said to be a good inasmuch as it has existence in some special being capable of being perfected. Thus this objection too is concerned will the relation of the perfectible to its perfection.

5. The end is said to be prior in intention to the means, but not to the other causes except in so far as they are means to the end. Thus the solution is the same as that given to the third difficulty. It should nevertheless be noted that when the end is called prior in intention, intention is taken as the act of the mmd which is to intend. But when we compare the intention of good will that of the true, intention is taken as the essential character which is signified by a definition. Hence the term is used equivocally in the two contexts.

Answers to Contrary Difficulties:

1'. A thing is capable of being perfected by good not only through the mediation of the will but also in so far as it has the act of existing. Hence, although the intellect comes before the will, it docs not follow that anything is perfected by the true before being perfected by good.

2’. That argument is based upon the true and good considered in themselves. It is therefore to be granted.


Parallel readings: I Sentences 19, 5, z ad 3; Contra Gentiles I, 40; Sum. Theol., I, 6, 4.


It seems that it is, for

2. According to Boethius, if by an impossible supposition we were to understand that God existed without His goodness, it would follow that all other things would be beings but not good; but if we understand goodness to be in God, then it follows that all things are good as well as beings. Everything, therefore, is called good by reason of the first goodness.

2. The answer was given that the reason why it happens that when we do not understand goodness in God there is no goodness in His creatures, is that the goodness of the creature is caused by the good ness of God, and not that the thing is formally denominated good by the goodness of God.—On the contrary, whenever anything is de nominated in a given way merely from its relation to something else, it is not so denominated from something inhering in it formally but from something outside it to which it is referred. Thus urine is called healthy because it is a sign of the health of an animal. It is not so de nominated from any health inherent in it but from the animal’s health which it signifies. But a creature is called good in reference to the first goodness because everything is called good from the fact of its flowing from the first good, as Boethius says. Hence the creature is not denominated good from any formal goodness found in it but from the divine goodness.

3. Augustine says: "This is good and that is good. Remove this and that and, if possible, see the good itself. Thus you will see God, not as good by some other good, but as the good of every good." But by reason of that good which is the good of every good all things are called good. Therefore, by reason of the divine goodness of which Augustine speaks, everything is said to be good.

4. Since every creature is good, it is good either by some inherent goodness or only by the first goodness. If it is good by some goodness inherent to it, then, since that goodness is also a creature, it too will be good either by being goodness itself or by some other goodness. But if it is good by being goodness itself, then it will be the first good ness; for it is of the essence of the first good that it be good of itself, as appears from the passage of St. Augustine just cited. And thus the point is established—a creature is good by the first goodness. If, how ever, that goodness is good by some other goodness, the same problem remains in regard to the latter. We must, therefore, proceed to infinity which is impossible— or arrive at some goodness giving its name to created goodness, which is good of itself; and this will be the first goodness. Hence, from every point of view creatures must be good by the first goodness.

5. Everything true is true by the first truth according to Anselm. But the first goodness stands to good things in the same way as the first truth to true things. Everything is therefore good by the first goodness.

6. What is incapable of the lesser is incapable of the greater. But to be is something less than to be good. A creature, however, has no power over the act of being, since all being is from God. Neither, then, has it power over being good. The goodness by which any thing is called good is therefore not created goodness.

7. To be, according to Hilary, is "proper to God." But whatever is proper belongs to only one. There is therefore no other act of being besides God Himself. But all things are good in so far as they have the act of being. All things, therefore, are good by the very divine act of being which constitutes God’s goodness.

8. The first goodness has nothing added to goodness; otherwise it would be composite. But it is true that everything is good by good ness. It is consequently also true that everything is good by the first goodness.

9. The answer was given that to goodness taken absolutely some thing may be added conceptually though not really. On the contrary, a notion to which there corresponds nothing in reality is empty and useless. But the notion by which we understand the first good ness is not useless. If, therefore, anything is added in our notion, it will also be added in reality. But this is impossible. Neither, then, will any thing be added conceptually. Everything, as a consequence, will be called good by the first goodness just as by goodness taken absolutely.

To the Contrary:

1'. Everything is good in so far as it is a being, because, according to Augustine, "inasmuch as we are, we are good." But not everything is called a being formally by reason of the first essence but by reason of a created essence. Consequently neither is everything formally good by the first goodness but by a created goodness.

2’. The changeable is not informed by the unchangeable, since they are opposites. But every creature is changeable, whereas the first good ness is unchangeable. A creature is therefore not called good formally by the first goodness.

3'. Every form is proportioned to the thing which it perfects. But the first goodness, being infinite, is not proportioned to a creature, which is Imite. A creature is therefore not said to be good formally by reason of the first goodness.

4'. All created things "are good by participation in the good," as Augustine says. But participation in the good is not the first goodness itself, for this is total and perfect goodness. Not everything, there fore, is good formally by the first goodness.

5'. A creature is said to have a vestige of the Trinity inasmuch as it is one, true, and good. Thus good belongs to the vestige. But the vestige and its parts are something created. Therefore a creature is good by a created goodness.

6’. The first goodness is perfectly simple. It is therefore neither composite in itself nor compoundable will anything else. Thus it can not be the form of anything, since a form enters into composition will that which it informs. But the goodness by which certain things are said to be good is a form, since every act of being comes from a form. Creatures are therefore not good formally by the first goodness.

De veritate EN 171