De veritate EN 181



As can be gathered from the words of Augustine, necessity is of two kinds: the necessity of force; and this can by no means apply to the will; and the necessity of natural inclination, as we say that God necessarily lives; and will such necessity the will necessarily wills something.

For an understanding of this it should be noted that among things arranged in an order the first must be included in the second, and in the second must be found not only what belongs to it by its own nature but also what belongs to it according to the nature of the first. Thus it is the lot of man not only to make use of reason, as belongs to him in accordance will his specific difference, rational; but also to make use of senses and food, as belongs to him in accordance will his genus, animal or living being. In like manner we see among the senses that the sense of touch is a sort of foundation for the other senses and that in the organ of each sense there is found not only the distinctive characteristic of the sense whose proper organ it is, but also the characteristics of touch. Thus the eye not only senses white and black as the organ of sight, but also as the organ of touch senses heat and cold and is destroyed by an excess in them.

Now nature and the will stand in such an order that the will itself is a nature, because whatever is found in reality is called a nature. There must accordingly be found in the will not only what is proper to the will but also what is proper to nature. It belongs to any created i however, to be ordained by God for good, naturally tending to it. Hence even in the will there is a certain natural appetite for the good corresponding to it. And it has, moreover, the tendency to some thing according to its own determination and not from necessity. This belongs to it inasmuch as it is the will.

Just as there is an ordination of nature to the will, there is, more over, a parallel ordination of the things which the will naturally wills to those in regard to which it is determined of itself and not by nature. Thus, just as nature is the foundation of will, similarly the object of natural appetite is the principle and foundation of the other objects of appetite. Now among the objects of appetite the end is the foundation and principle of the means to the end, because the latter, being for the sake of the end, are not desired except by reason of the end. Accordingly what the will necessarily wills, determined to it by a natural inclination, is the last end, happiness, and whatever is in chided in it: to be, knowledge of truth, and the like. But it is deter mined to other things, not by a natural inclination, but by so disposing itself without any necessity.

Although the will wills the last end by a certain necessary inclination, it is nevertheless in no way to be granted that it is forced to will it. For force is nothing else but the infliction of some violence. Ac cording to the Philosopher that is violent "whose principle is outside it will the being which suffers the violence contributing nothing." The throwing of a stone upward would be an example, because the stone of itself is not at all inclined to that motion. But seeing that the will is an inclination by the fact of its being an appetite, it cannot happen that the will should will anything without having an inclination to it. Thus it is impossible for the will to will anything by force or violently even though it does will something by a natural inclination. It is therefore evident that the will does not will anything necessarily will the necessity of force, yet it does will something necessarily will the necessity of natural inclination.

Answers to Difficulties:

1. That common appetite for happiness does not come from any forcing but from a natural inclination.

2. However effectively a good moves the will, it still cannot force it; because as soon as we posit that the will wills something, we posit that it has an inclination to it. But that is the contrary of force. It does happen, however, that because of the excellence of a good the will is determined to it by an inclination of natural necessity.

3. The intellect naturally understands something just as the will naturally wills. But force is not contrary to the intellect in its very notion as it is w the will. For although the intellect has an inclination to something, it nevertheless does not designate a man’s inclination it self, whereas the will does designate the very inclination of the man. Hence whatever happens according to the will happens according to the man’s inclination and so cannot be Violent. But the operation of the intellect can be against a man’s inclination, his will. This occurs, for instance, when a certain Opinion pleases him but because of the force of the arguments he is brought by his intellect to assent w the Contrary.

4. Augustine is speaking of natural necessity, which we do not exclude from the will in regard to certain things. This necessity is also found in the divine will just as it is found in the divine existence; for God is necessary essentially, as is said in the Metaphysics.

5. From what has just been said the answer is clear.

6. A sin committed does not draw a man by forcing his will but by inclining it, inasmuch as it deprives the man of the grace by which he is strengthened against sin, and also inasmuch as there is left in the soul from the act of sinning a disposition or habit inclining it to subsequent sin.

7. On this point there are two opinions. Some say that however much a man may be in the state of mortal sin, he can avoid mortal sin by the freedom of his will. They explain the statement that man cannot avoid sinning to mean that he cannot avoid having sin, just as to see means to have sight as well as to make use of sight. But in their opinion he is able not to sin, meaning not to make use of sin. And it is accordingly evident that no necessity of consenting to sin is introduced into the will. Others say that, just as a man in the state of this present life cannot avoid venial sin, not in the sense that he is unable to avoid this or that particular venial sin, but in the sense that he cannot avoid all venial sins so as not to commit a single one, the same is also true of mortal sins in a man who does not have grace. And in accordance will this opinion it is clear that the will is not necessitated to will this or that mortal sin, although when without grace it is found to fall short of an unwavering inclination to good.

8. A form received into something does not move the recipient, but the very having of such a form means that it has been moved. It is, however, moved by an external agent. Thus a body which is heated by fire is not moved by the heat received but by the fire. So too the intellect is not moved by the species already received or by the true knowledge which is consequent upon the species, but by some external thing which influences the intellect—the agent intellect or a phantasm or something else of the sort. Moreover, just as truth is proportioned to the understanding, so too is good proportioned to the affection. Hence because truth is in our apprehension, it is not for that reason any less capable of moving our understanding than good our affection. And furthermore, the fact that the will is not forced by a good does not come from the insufficiency of the good for moving but from the very nature of willing, as is apparent from what has been said.

9. From the above answer the answer here too is evident.

10. A thing which is external to the soul does not imprint its species upon the possible intellect except through the operation of the agent intellect. On this account the soul is said to form within itself the forms of things. In like manner it is not without the operation of the will that the will tends to its object. The argument is accordingly not conclusive. And besides, the same answer can be given as was given to the two preceding difficulties.

11. The first good is essentially willed, and the will essentially and naturally wills it. Nevertheless it does not always actually will it, for it is not necessary that the things which are naturally associated will the soul are always actually in the soul, just as principles which are naturally known are not always actually being considered.

12. The necessity by which we know something necessarily in scientific knowledge and that by which of necessity we desire know edge do not belong to the same kind of necessity. The former can be the necessity of force, but the latter can be only a necessity of natural inclination It is in this way that the will necessarily wills good inasmuch as it naturally wills it.

3. Front the above answer this answer also is clear

4. The freedom which is increased and diminished is freedom from sin and from misery, not freedom from force. Hence it does not follow that the will can be brought to such a pass that it is forced.

Answers to Difficulties to the Contrary.

2'. That authoritative statement to be understood of the necessity of force, which is repugnant to the will, not of the necessity of natural inclination, which, according to Augustine, is not repugnant to the will.

2’. It is not due to the weakness of the will if it is directed to some thing of necessity by a natural inclination but rather to its strength, just as a heavy body is the stronger, the greater the necessity will which it is borne downward But it would be due to its weakness if it were forced by another.

3’. Freedom is opposed to the necessity of force, according to Augustine, as but not to the necessity of natural inclination.

4’. Natural necessity is not repugnant to the dignity of the will, but Only the necessity of force.

5’. Inasmuch as the will is rational it is open to opposites. This is to consider it according to what is distinctive of it. But from the view point of its being a nature nothing prevents it from being naturally determined to one object.

6’. The will is distinguished from natural appetite in a precisive sense i.e., an appetite which is only natural, just as man is distinguished from what is only animal. It is not distinguished from natural appetite in an absolute sense but includes just as man includes animal.

7’. This argument also is based Upon the will taken as will. For it is characteristic of the will as will to be master of its Own acts.


Parallel readings: Il Sentences 25, a. 2; Contra Gentiles II, 7; Sum. Theol., I, 82, 2; I-II, 10, 2; De malo, 3, 3; 6; in i Perihermen., 14, nn. 23-24.


It seems that it does, for

1. The nobler a thing is, the more unchangeable it is. But to live is nobler than to be; to understand, nobler than to live; and to will, nobler than to understand. Therefore to will is more unchangeable than to be. But the being of a soul that wills is unchangeable because it is incorruptible. Therefore its willing is also unchangeable; and so whatever it wills, it wills unchangeably and necessarily.

2. The more confirmed a thing is to God, the more unchangeable it is. But the soul is more confirmed to God by secondary confirmity, which is that of likeness, than by primary conformity, which is that of an image. But in its primary conformity the soul has unchangeable ness because it cannot lose its image, according to the words of the Psalm (38:7): "Man passed as an image." Then according to secondary conformity, which is that of a likeness consisting in the due ordering of the will, it will also have unchangeableness so that the will will unchangeably will good and cannot will evil.

3. Potency stands to potential being as act to actual being. But God, being actually good, cannot actually do anything evil. Therefore His power, which is good, also cannot produce anything which is evil potentially; and thus the will, which the divine power has produced, cannot tend to evil.

4. According to the Philosopher in matters of operation and appetency ends are related to means just as in demonstrative sciences principles are to conclusions. But from principles that are naturally known necessity is imposed upon the intellect so that it knows conclusions necessarily. Then from the fact that the will necessarily wills the last end in the way already explained, it will of necessity will all other things which are directed to the ultimate end.

5. Whatever is naturally determined to something necessarily attains it unless something interferes. But the will "naturally wills good," as is said in the Gloss. It therefore unchangeably wills good, since there is nothing to stop it, seeing that it is "the most powerful" thing under God, as Bernard teaches.

6. Evil is opposed to good as darkness to light. But sight, which is naturally determined to know light and what is lighted, sees them naturally so as to be unable to see what is dark. Then the will, whose object is the good, so unchangeably wills good that it can in no way will evil. And so the will has some necessity not only in regard to the last end but also in regard to other things.

To the Contrary:

1’. Augustine says: "It is by the will that one sins or lives correctly."

2’. According to Augustine "sin is voluntary to such an extent that if it is not voluntary it is not a sin." If, then, sin is not at all from the will, there will not be any sin at all. But it is evident from experience that that is false.



Something is said to be necessary from the fact that it is unchangeably determined to one thing. Since, therefore, the will stands undetermined in regard to many things, it is not under necessity in regard to everything but only in regard to those things to which it is determined by a natural inclination, as has been said. And because every thing mobile is reduced to what is immobile as its principle, and everything undetermined, to what is determined, that to which the will is determined must be the principle of tending to the things to which it is not determined; and this is the last end, as has been said. Now there is found to be indetermination of the will in regard to three things: its object, its act, and its ordination to its end.

In regard to its object the will is undetermined as to the means to the end, not as to the last end itself, as has been said. This is so be cause there are many ways of reaching the last end, and for different people different ways prove suitable. The appetite of the will could not, then, be determined to the means to the end as is the appetite in natural things, which have definite and fixed ways of reaching a definite and fixed end. And so it is evident that natural things not only desire the end necessarily, but also desire the means in the same way, so that there are among the means none to which natural things can either tend or not. The will, however, necessarily desires the last end in such a way that it is unable not to desire it, but it does not necessarily desire any of the means. In their regard, then, it is within the power of the will to desire this or that.

In the second place the will is undetermined in regard to its act, because even concerning a determined object it can perform its act or not perform it when it wishes. It can pass or not pass into the act of willing will regard to anything at all. This is not true of natural things, for something heavy always actually goes down unless some thing else prevents it. This is the case because inanimate things do not move themselves but are moved by other things. There is in them, then, no ability to be moved or not to be moved. But animate things are their own source of movement. Hence it is that the will can will or not.

A third indetermination of the will is found in regard to its ordination to its end inasmuch as the will can desire what is in truth directed to its appointed end or what is so only in appearance. This indetermination comes from two sources: from the indetermination in regard to its object in the case of the means, and again from the indetermination of our apprehension, which can be correct or not. From a given true principle a false conclusion does not follow unless it is because of some falsity in the reasoning through a false subsumption or the false relating of the principle to the conclusion. In the same way from a correct appetite for the last end the inordinate desire for something could not follow unless reason were to take as referable to the end something which is not so referable. Thus a person who naturally de- sires happiness will a correct appetite would never be led to desire fornication except in so far as he apprehends it as a good for man, seeing that it is something pleasurable, and as referable to happiness as a sort of copy of it. From this there follows the indetermination of the will by which it can desire good or evil.

Since the will is said to be free inasmuch as it is not necessitated, the freedom of the will can be viewed in three respects: (1) as regards its act, inasmuch as it can will or not will; (2) as regards its object, inasmuch as it can will this or that, even if one is the opposite of the other; and (2) as regards its ordination to the end, inasmuch as it can will good or evil.

In regard to the first of these three there is freedom in the will in any state of nature will reference to any object, for the act of any will is in its power as regards any object. The second of these is had will reference to some objects, the means and not the end itself. This too holds for any state of nature. The third is not will reference to all objects but only certain ones, the means to the end, and not will reference to any state of nature but only that in which nature can fail. Where there is no failure in apprehending and comparing, there can be no willing of evil even when there is question of means, as is clear among the blessed. For this reason it is said that to vi1l evil is not freedom or any part of it, though it is a sign of freedom.

Answers to Difficulties:

1. The act of being of the soul is not determined for it by itself but by another, but it does determine its own act of willing. Thus, al though its being is unchangeable, still its willing is undetermined and so can be directed to different things. It is not true, however that to understand or to will is nobler than to be if they are discriminated from being. Rather being is then nobler than they, according to Dionysius.

2. The conformity of an image is viewed from the standpoint of natural powers, which are determined for the thing by nature. And so that conformity always remains. But secondary conformity, that of likeness, is had by grace and the habits and acts of the virtues, to which the soul is directed by an act of the will which stands within its power. That conformity, then, does not always remain.

3. In God there is no passive or material potency to be distinguished from act, as is supposed in the objection; but there is active potency, which is the act itself, because a being is capable of acting inasmuch as it is in act. And yet the ability of the will to be directed to evil does not come from the fact of its being from God but from that of its being made out of nothing.

4. In demonstrative sciences conclusions are so related to principles that when the Conclusion is removed the principle is removed. And so from this fixity of the conclusions with regard to the principles the intellect is forced by the principles themselves to assent to the Conclusions. But the means do not have will regard to the end such a fixity that upon the removal of any one of them the end is removed, Since it is possible to attain the last end in various ways either really or apparently Consequently from the necessity which is in the voluntary appetite in regard to the end, there is not imposed upon it any necessity in regard to the means.

5. The will naturally wills good but not this or that particular good. It is like sight, which naturally sees colour but not this or that particular Color. For this reason whatever the will wills it wills under the aspect of good; yet it does not always have to will this or that good.

6. Nothing is so evil that it cannot have some aspect of good; and it is by reason of that goodness that it can move the appetite.


Parallel readings: Contra Gentiles III, 8; Sum. Theol., II-II, 88, 6; 189, 2.


It seems that he does not, for

2. What anyone necessarily wills he wills naturally. But we do not merit by what is natural. Therefore we do not merit by such an act of the will.

2. Merit and demerit app to the same thing. But according to Augustine no one gets any demerit in anything that he cannot avoid.

3. No one merits except by an act of virtue. But every act of virtue is from a choice, not from a natural inclination. Then no one merits in anything that he does from necessity.

To the Contrary:

1'. Every creature naturally and necessarily seeks God. But in loving God we merit. It is therefore possible to merit in what one necessarily does.

2'. Happiness consists in eternal life. But saints merit by desiring eternal life. Therefore a person merits by willing what he wills necessarily.



In willing what he naturally wills a person merits in a certain sense and in a certain sense does not. For the explanation of this it should be observed that there is a difference in the way in which providence is exercised in regard to man and in regard to the other animals both as to his body and as to his soul. For other animals are provided will special coverings for their bodies, such as a tough hide, feathers, and the like, and also special weapons, such as horns, claws, and so forth. This is because they have just a few ways of acting to which they can adapt definite instruments. But man is provided will those things in a general way inasmuch as there has been given to him by nature hands by which he is able to prepare for himself a variety of coverings and protections. This is because man’s reason is so manifold and extends to so many different things that definite tools sufficient for him could not be provided for him ahead of time.

The case is similar in regard to apprehension Other animals have innate in them in the line of natural discretion certain specific conceptions necessary for them, as a sheep has a natural realization that wolf is its enemy, and so on. But in place of these there are implanted in man certain naturally understood universal principles by means of which he can go on to [figure out] everything that is necessary- for him.

In regard to their appetitive tendency also the same holds true. In other things there is implanted a natural appetite for something definite, as in a heavy body, to be down, and in every animal, whatever suits it according to its nature. But man has implanted in him an appetite for his last end in general so that he naturally desires to be complete in goodness. But in just what that completeness consists, whether in virtues or knowledge or pleasure or anything else of the sort, has not been determined for him by nature.

When, therefore, by his own reason will the help of divine grace he grasps as his happiness any particular good in which his happiness really does consist, then he merits, not because he desires happiness (which he naturally desires), but because he desires this particular good (which he does not naturally desire)for example, the Vision of God, in which his happiness does in truth consist. But if anyone were by erroneous reasoning to be brought to desire as his happiness some particular good—for example, bodily pleasures, in which his happiness does not in fact consist – he incurs demerit by so desiring. This is not because he desires happiness, but because he unwarranted de- sires as his happiness this particular thing in which his happiness is not found.

It is therefore clear that willing what anyone naturally wills is in itself neither meritorious nor blameworthy But when it is specified to this or that, it can be either the one or the other. In this way the saints merit by desiring God and eternal life.

Answer to Difficulties:

From what has just been said the answers are clear.


Parallel readings: C.OE, III, 88, 89, 91; Sum. Theol., I, 105,4; II 2 I-II, 9,6; De malo, 3, 3; Comp. theol, I, 129.


It seems that He can, for

1. Whoever turns something whithersoever he wishes can force it. But, as is said in Proverbs (21:1), "The heart of the king is in the hand of the Lord: whithersoever he will he shah turn it." God can therefore force the will.

2. Quoting Augustine on Romans (I: 24): "Wherefore, God gave them up to the desires of their heart...,"the Gloss says: "It is evident that God works in the hearts of men to incline their wills to whatever He wishes, whether to good, according to His mercy, or to evil, according to their deserts." God can accordingly force the will.

3. If a finite being acts finitely, an infinite being will act infinitely. But a finite creature attracts the will in a finite way, because, as Cicero says, the honorable is what attracts us by its own vigor and entices us by its own excellence. Therefore God, who has infinite efficacy in acting, can altogether force the will.

4. He is properly said to be forced to something who is unable not to do it whether he wants to or not. But the will is unable not to will what God by His will of good pleasure wants it to will; otherwise the will of God would be inefficacious in regard to our will. God can therefore force the will.

5. In any creature there is perfect obedience to the Creator. But the will is a creature. Hence there is in it a perfect obedience to the Creator. God can therefore force it to what He wills.

To the Contrary:

1'. To be free from force is natural to the will. But what is natural to anything cannot be removed from it. The will therefore cannot be forced by God.

2’. God cannot make opposites to be true at the same time. But what is voluntary and what is violent are opposites, because the violent is a species of the Invo1untar as is made clear in the Ethics. God therefore cannot make the will do anything by force; and so He cannot force the will.



God can change the will with necessity but nevertheless cannot force it. For however much the will is moved toward something, it is not said to be forced to it. The reason for this is that to will some thing is to be inclined to it. But force or violence is contrary to the inclination of the thing forced. When God moves the will, then, He causes an inclination to succeed a previous inclination so that the first disappears and the second remains. Accordingly, that to which He induces the will is not contrary to an inclination still extant but merely to one that was previously there. This is not, then, violence or force.

The case is parallel to that of a stone, in which by reason of its heaviness there is an inclination downward While this Inclination re mains, if the stone is thrown upward violence is done it. But if God were to subtract from the stone the inclination of its heaviness and give it an inclination of lightness, then it would not be violent for the stone to be borne upward. Thus a change of motion can be had without Violence.

It is in this way that God’s changing of the will without forcing it is to be understood God can change the will because He works within t just as He works in nature. Now, just as every natural action is from God, so too every action of the will, in so far as it is an action, not only is from the will as its immediate agent but also is from God as its first agent, who in it more forcefully Then, just as the will can change its act to something else, as is apparent from the explanation above, so too and much more can God.

God changes the will in two ways. (1) We does it merely by moving it. This occurs for instance when He moves the will to want something without introducing any form into the will. Thus He some times without the addition of any habit causes a man to want what he did not want before. (2) He does it by introducing some form into the will itself. By the very nature which God gave the will He in clines it to will something as is clear from what has been said. Now n like fashion by something additional, such as grace or a virtue, the soul is inclined to will something to which it was not previously de tern-lined by a natural inclination.

This additional inclination is sometimes perfect, sometimes imperfect. When it is perfect it causes a necessary inclination to the thing to which it determines the will, in the same way as the will is inclined by nature necessarily to desire the end. This happens among the blessed, whom perfect charity sufficiently inclines to good not only as regards the last end but also as regards the means to this end. Sometimes, however, the additional form is not in all respects perfect, as among the wayfarers on earth. Then the will is indeed inclined by reason of the additional form, but not necessarily.

Answers to Difficulties:

From what has just been said the answers are clear. For the first set of arguments go to prove that God can change the will; the second, that He cannot force it. Bath of these are true, as is evident from the explanation above.

It should, however, be noted that, when it is said in the Glass as cited that God works in the hearts of men to incline their wills to evil, this is not to be understood (as the Glass itself says in the same place) as if God bestowed wilderness, but in the sense that, just as He confers grace by which men’s wills are inclined to good, He also withdraws it from some; and when it is thus withdrawn, their wills are bent to evil.


Parallel readings: Jl Sentences 8, a. g; Contra Gentiles III, 88 & 92; Sum. Theol., I, 106, 2; I-II, So, 1; De malo,, & in Joan., c. 13, lectura 1, 3.


It seems that it can, for

The will is a creature. But the will changes its own act as it wishes. It therefore seems that some creature can change the will and force it.

2. It is harder to change a whole thing than a part of it. But according to some philosophers the heavenly bodies change a whole crowd to will something. With all the more reason, then, does it seem that they can force the will of a single man.

3. Whoever is bound by something is forced by it. But according to the Philosopher2 incontinent people are bound by their passions. Passions therefore change and force the will of an incontinent person.

4. According to Augustine3 both among spirits and among bodies the higher move the lower will a certain natural order. But not only the intellect but also the will of the blessed angels is higher and more perfect than ours. Therefore, just as they can influence our intellect by theirs by enlightening it, according to the teaching of Dionysius, so also it seems that by their will they can influence our will by changing it in some Way.

5. According to Dionysius5 the higher angels enlighten, cleanse, and perfect the lower. But just as enlighten me applies to the intellect, so cleansing seems to apply to the affections. Angels can accordingly influence the will as they can the intellect.

6. A thing is naturally more disposed to be changed by a higher nature than by a lower. But just as sense appetite is inferior to our will, the will of angels is superior. Therefore, since sense appetite sometimes changes our will, will all the more reason will the angelic will be able to change ours.

7. In Luke (4:23) the master says to his servant, "Compel them to come in." Now it is by their will that they enter that banquet hall. Our will can therefore be forced by an angel, the servant of God.

To the Contrary:

1'. Bernard says that free choice is the most powerful thing this side of God. But nothing is changed except by something stronger. Then nothing can change the will.

2’. Merit and demerit are in some sense situated in the will. If, then, any creature could change the will, a person could be justified or even made a sinner by some creature. But that is false, because no one becomes a sinner except by himself. nor does anyone become just except by the operation of God and his own cooperation.

De veritate EN 181