De veritate EN 189



Intention is an act of the will. This shows up very clearly from its object. A power and its act must agree in their object, since a power is referred to the object only through the act.. Thus for the power of sight and for Vision there must be the same object, colour. Now since the object of the act of intention is the good which is an end, and this is also the object of the will, intention must be an act of the will. It is, however, an act of the will, not absolutely but in subordination to reason.

That this may be seen clearly it should be noted that, whenever there are two agents standing in an order, the second agent can move or act in two ways: (j) according to what belongs to its own nature, and (2) according to what belongs to the nature of the higher agent. The influence of the higher agent remains in the lower, and for this reason the lower acts not only by its own action but also by the action of the higher. The sphere of the sun, for example, moves by its own motion, which is completed in the course of a year, and by the motion of the first mobile, which is the motion of one day. In like fashion water moves by its own motion, tending to the center, and it has a motion from the influence of the moon moving it, as is revealed in the tides. Compounds also have certain reactions proper to them selves which are based upon the natures of the four elements, such as to tend downward, to heat, and to cool; and they have other operations from the influence of the heavenly bodies, as a magnet attracts iron.

Though no action of the lower agent takes place unless that of the higher agent is presupposed, nevertheless the action which belongs to it in accordance will its own nature is attributed to it absolutely, as it is attributed to water to move downward; but that which belongs to it from the influence of the higher agent is not attributed to it absolutely but only will reference to something else. Thus the ebb and flow of the tides are said to be the proper motion of the sea, not in so far as it is water, but in so far as it is moved by the moon.

Now reason and the will are operative powers related to each other. Viewed absolutely, reason is prior, although by reflection the will is made prior and superior inasmuch as it moves reason.

The will can accordingly have two types of acts. (1) It has one which belongs to it according w its own nature inasmuch as it tends to its own object absolutely. This act is attributed to the will without qualification, e.g., to will and to love, although even for this act the action of reason is presupposed. (2) It has another type of act which belongs to it inasmuch as the influence of reason is left in the will. Since the proper function of reason is to order and compare, when ever there appears in the act of the will any comparison or ordering, such an act does not belong to the will absolutely but in subordination to reason. It is in this way that intending is an act of the will, since to intend seems to be nothing but to tend from what one wills to some thing else as to an end. Thus intending differs from willing in this, that willing tends to an end absolutely whereas intending expresses a reference to an end inasmuch as the end is that to which the means are referred. Since the will is moved to its object as proposed to it by reason, it is moved in various ways according as the object is variously proposed. When reason proposes something to it as a good absolutely, the will is moved to it absolutely. This is willing. When reason pro poses something toit under the aspect of a good to which other things are referred as to an end, then the will tends to it will a certain order, which is found in the act of the will, not in accordance will its own nature, but in accordance will the demands of reason. In this way intending is an act of the will in subordination to reason.

Answers to Difficulties:

Intention is likened to an eye as regards the characteristic of reason which is found in it.

2. Reason moves the will in a certain sense, and the will in a certain sense moves reason, as is evident from what has been said. Thus each one is higher than the other in a different respect, and to each can be attributed an act in subordination to the other.

3. Although any act of the will presupposes knowledge on the part of reason, nevertheless there does not always appear in the act of the will what is proper to reason, as is clear from what has been said. Hence the argument proves nothing.

4. An active relation to the end belongs to reason, for it is its function to refer or relate to an end. But a passive relation can belong w whatever is directed or referred to an end by reason, and so it can also belong w the will. It is in this sense that the relation to an end pertains to intention.

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

6. In the prime mover there is found not only knowledge but also will, and so intention can properly be attributed to it. But only knowledge belongs to reason. The case is accordingly not the same.

7. Intending also has to do will non-cognitive beings, since even the things of nature intend an end, even though intention supposes some knowledge. But if we speak of an intention of the soul, this has to do only will cognitive beings, as does willing. Yet it is not necessary that intending and willing be acts of the same power as knowing, but merely of the same Supposite. Properly speaking, it is not a power which knows or intends, but the supposite through a power.

8. Reason and the will are one by order, just as the universe is said to be one. In this case nothing prevents a single act from belonging w both, to one immediately, to the other mediately.

9. Although the will is chiefly concerned will the end in view of the fact that the means are desired only for the sake of the end, nevertheless the will is also concerned will the means to the end. The state merit of the Philosopher that "the will is concerned will the end; choice, will the means," does not mean that the will is always directed to the end, but merely sometimes and chiefly. From the fact that choice is never directed to the end it is shown that choosing and Willing are not the same thing.

10. Active direction to an end belongs to reason, but passive direction to an end can belong w will. In the latter way it belongs to intention.

11. Faith directs our intention as reason directs our will. Intention accordingly is a function of the will as faith is of reason.

12. The will is not always concerned will impossibles but merely sometimes. In conformity will the Philosopher’s meaning this suffices to show the difference between willing and choice, which is always concerned will possibles; that is, it shows that to choose is not altogether the same as to will. Simularly, neither is to intend altogether the same as to will. But this does not keep it from being an act of the will.

13. Intention is an act of the soul. But in that threefold division pro posed by the Philosopher the actions of the soul are not included, be cause actions do not belong to the soul as being in the soul but rather as being from the soul.—Or it may be said that actions are included under habits as that which proceeds from a principle is contained within its principle.

14. To order is the function of reason, but to be ordered can be the function of the will. In this way intention implies ordering.

15. That argument would prove something if nothing else were required for intention besides mere distance. But along will distance there is required an inclination; and that inclination is in the province of the will, not of reason. Hence the conclusion does not follow.

16. Intention is an act of the will in subordination to reason as it directs to an end the means to it. Choice is an act of the will in sub ordination to reason as it compares among themselves the means to an end. On this account intention and choice also differ.


Parallel readings: II Sentences 38, I, 4; Sum. Theol., I-II, 8, 3; 12, 4.


It seems that it does not, for

1. It is impossible for the same act to be at the same time good and bad. But it sometimes happens that there is a bad act of will with a good intention, as when someone wishes to steal in order to give an aims. Intending and willing are therefore not the same act.

2. According to the Philosopher a motion which terminates in the mean and one which terminates in the extreme are specifically different. But the means to an end and the end are related about as the mean and the extreme. The intention of the end and the willing of the means are therefore specifically different, and so they are not a single act.

3. According to the Philosopher, in practical matters ends are com parable to principles in demonstrative sciences. But the act of the speculative intellect by which it understands principles is not the same as that by which it sees conclusions. This is shown by the fact that they are elicited from different habits; for understanding is the habit of principles, and science, that of conclusions. Then in matters of operation it is not the same act of the will by which we intend the end and will the means.

4. Acts are distinguished by their objects. But the end and the means are distinct. The intention of the end and the willing of the means are therefore not the same act.

To the Contrary:

1'. There cannot be two acts of the same power at the same time. But while the will is willing the means, it is at the same time intending the end. The intention of the end and the willing of the means are therefore not distinct acts.

2'. The end is the reason for the appetibility of the means just as light is the reason for the visibility of colour. But in the same act sight sees colour and light. In the same act, therefore, the will wills the means and intends the end.



Concerning this question there are two Opinions, as the Master of the Sentences says. Some have said that the willing of the means to an end and the intention of the end are distinct acts. Others, on the contrary, have said that they are one and the same act but that their distinction comes merely from the difference in things. Each of these Opinions is in some respect true.

In clarification of this it should be noted that, since the unity of an act is to be judged from the unity of its object, if there are any two things which are one in any sense, an act which is directed to them under the aspect of their unity will be one. But an act which is directed to them under the aspect of their duality will be two different acts. Take for example the parts of a line, which are in some sense two and in some sense one—as they are united in the whole. If an act of vision is directed to the two parts of the lime as two, that is, to each one under the aspect of what is proper to it, there will be two acts of seeing, and the two parts will not be able to be seen at the same time. But if our vision is directed to the whole line embracing both parts, it will be a single act of seeing, and the whole line will be seen at once.

Now all things that are arranged in an order are, indeed, many in so far as they are things viewed in themselves, but they are one in regard to the order in which they are arranged. An act of the soul which is directed to them from the point of view of their order is accordingly one. But an act which is directed to them as considered in themselves is manifold. This distinction shows up in a viewing of the statue of Mercury. If one looks upon it as a thing in itself, one’s attention will in one act be directed to it, and in another to Mercury, whose image the statue is. But if one looks upon the statue as the image of Mercury, in the same act one’s attention will be directed to the statue and to Mercury.

Similarly when the motion of the will is directed w the end and to the means, if it is directed to them inasmuch as each is a certain thing existing by itself, there will be a distinct motion of the will for each. In this way the opinion which says that the intention of the end and the willing of the means are distinct acts is true. But if the will is directed to one as having an ordination to the other, there is a single act of the will in regard to both. In this way the other opinion, which holds that the intention of the end and the willing of the means are one and the same act, is true.

Now if the essential character of intention is rightly examined, the latter opinion is found to be truer than the former. For the motion of the will toward an end taken absolutely is not called an intention, but it is called willing without further qualification. But an inclination of the will to an end as being that in which the means terminate is called an intention. A person who wants health is said simply to will it. He is said to intend it only when he wills something else on account of health. And so it must be granted that intention is not an act numerically distinct from willing.

Answers to Difficulties:

1. A single act cannot be both good and bad; yet there can be a good circumstance of a bad act. The act is vicious if a person eats more than he should, though he may eat when he should. Thus the act of will by which someone wishes to steal in order to give food to a poor man is an act simply evil, yet having a good circumstance; for the reason for which something is done is listed as one of the circumstances.

2. The Philosopher’s statement is to be understood as meaning:

when the motion stops in the mean. When it passes through the mean to the term, then the motion is numerically one. And so when the will is moved to a means subordinated to the end, there is a single motion.

3. When the conclusion and the principle are considered each by itself, there are distinct Considerations; but when the principle is considered in its relation to the conclusion, as happens in syllogizing, there is one and the same consideration of both.

4. The end and the means are one object in so far as one is considered in relation to the other.


Parallel readings: II Sentences 24, I, 2; Sum. Theol., I, 83, 3; In III Eth., 6, XII 452, 456; 9, flfl. 484, 486; in Vi Eth., 2, nn. 1129, 1I33 Sum. Theol., I-II, 13, I.


It seems that it is not, but rather of reason, for

1. Ignorance is not found in the will but in reason. But the perversity of a choice is a sort of ignorance. Hence also "every evil person is said to be ignorant" will the ignorance of choice, as is explained in the Ethics. Choice, then, pertains to reason.

2. Not only do inquiry and argumentation belong to reason but also conclusion. But a choice is, as it were, the conclusion of a deliberation, as is made clear in the Ethic. Since deliberation belongs to reason, choice will therefore also belong to reason.

3. According to the Philosopher the chief characteristic of moral virtue con in choice. But, as he himself says, in the moral virtues the part of prudence is the most important factor, adding the last formal determinant to the essential nature of virtue Choice therefore pertains to prudence. But prudence is in reason, and so choice also is.

4. Choice implies a certain discrimination. But to discriminate is a function of reason. Therefore to choose also is.

To the Contrary:

1'. To choose is, when two things are proposed, to want one in preference to the other, as Damascene explains. But to want is an act of the will, not of reason. Then so is to choose.

2’. The Philosopher says that choice is the desire of what has been previously deliberated. But desire is a function of the will, not of reason. Then so is choice.



Choice contains something of the will and something of reason. But the Philosopher seems to leave in doubt whether it is properly an act of the will or of reason, when he says that choice is an act either of the intellective appetite (that is, of appetite as subordinated to the intellect) or of the appetitive intellect (that is, of the intellect in sub ordination to appetite). The first, that it is an act of the will in subordination to reason, is the truer.

That it is directly an act of the will is clear from two considerations: (1) From the formality of its object. The proper object of choice is the means to an end, and this belongs to the formality of good, which is the object of the will. For both the end, such as the honorable or the pleasurable, and the means, namely, the useful, are called good. (2) From the formality of the act itself. Choice is the final acceptance of something to be carried out. This is not the business of reason but of will; for, however much reason puts one ahead of the other, there is not yet the acceptance of one in preference to the other as something to be done until the will inclines to the one rather than to the other. The will does not of necessity follow reason. Choice is nevertheless not an act of the will taken absolutely but in its relation to reason, because there appears in choice what is proper to reason: the comparing of one will the other or the putting of one before the other. This is, of course, found in the act of the will from the influence of reason: reason proposes something to the will, not as useful simply, but as the more useful to an end.

It is accordingly clear that the act of the will is to will, to choose, and to intend. It is to will in so far as reason proposes to the will some thing good absolutely, whether it is something to be chosen for itself, as an end, or because of something else, as a means. In either case we are said to will it. In so far as reason proposes to the will a good as the more useful to an end, the act is to choose. It is w intend in so far as reason proposes to the will a good as an end to be attained through a means.

Answers to Difficulties:

1. Ignorance is attributed to choice on the basis of the part played in it by reason.

2. The Conclusion of a practical inquiry is of two kinds. One is in reason, and this is decision, the judgment about what has been de liberated upon. The other is in the will, and this is choice. It is called a conclusion by a sort of simile, because in speculative matters the discourse finally comes to rest in the conclusion, and in matters of operation it comes to rest in the doing.

3. Choice is said to be the principal element in moral virtue both from the point of view of the role of reason in it, and from that of the role of the will. Both are necessary for the essential character of moral virtue. Choice is called the principal element will reference to external acts. It is accordingly not necessary that choice be entirely an act of prudence, but it shares in the characteristics of prudence as it does in those of reason.

4. Discrimination is found in choice in accordance will what be longs to reason, whose distinctive characteristic the will follows in choosing, as has been said.

QUESTION 23: God’s Will


Parallel readings: I Sentences 45, a. 1; Contra Gentiles 1, 72 & 73; IV, 19; Sum. Theol., I, 19, 1 Comp. Theol., I, 3 2-34.


It seems that it does not, for

1. It belongs to everyone who has a will to act according to the choice of his will. But God does not act according to the choice of His will; for, as Dionysius says, just as our visible sun enlightens all things, not by reasoning or choosing, but by its very being, so too does the divine goodness. It therefore does not belong to God to have a will.

2. Necessary effects cannot come from a contingent cause. But the will is a contingent cause, since it is open to alternatives. It cannot, then, be the cause of necessary things. But God is the cause of all things, necessary as well as contingent. He therefore does not act through a will, and so the conclusion is the same as before.

3. Nothing which implies a reference to a cause belongs to that which has no cause. But since God is the first cause of all things, He has no cause. Now a will implies a relationship to a final cause, because the will is referred to an end, as the Philosopher says. It therefore seems that will does not pertain to God.

4. According to the Philosopher, what is voluntary deserves praise or blame; what is involuntary deserves pardon and mercy. Voluntariness therefore does not belong to anything to which praiseworthiness does not belong. But praiseworthiness does not belong to God be cause, as is said in the Ethics, "praise is not for the best," but for those things which are directed to the best. Honor is for the best. It therefore does not belong to God to have a will.

5. Opposites have reference to the same thing. But two species of the involuntary are opposed to the voluntary, as is said in the Ethics: the involuntary "from violence" and the involuntary "from ignorance." Now nothing involuntary from violence is attributable to God because force cannot be applied to Him; nor is anything involuntary from ignorance, because He knows everything. Then neither is anything voluntary attributable to God.

6. As is said in The Rules of Faith, there are two kinds of will: affective, regarding internal acts, and effective, regarding external acts. Affective will works for merit, as is said there; effective will achieves merit. But it does not belong to God to merit. Then neither does it belong to Him in any way to have a will.

7. God is an unmoved mover because, in the words of Boethius, "while remaining immobile He communicates motion to all things." But a will is a moved mover, as is said in The Soul. Hence the Philosopher likewise argues from the principle that God is an unmoved mover to show that He moves only by being desired and known. It therefore does not belong to God to have a will.

8. Will is a sort of appetite, for it is included in the appetitive part of the soul. But appetite is an imperfection, since it is directed to what is not had, as Augustine points out. Since no imperfection is found in God, it therefore seems that it does not belong to Him to have a will.

9. Nothing that has reference to opposites seems to belong to God, since things having such reference are subject to generation and corruption. But God is far removed from these. Now the will has reference to opposites, since it is numbered among the rational powers, and these are open to opposite determinations according to the Philosopher." Will is therefore not attributable to God.

10. Augustine says that God is not disposed in one way to things when they are and in another when they are not. But when they are not, God does not want things to be; for, if He willed them to be, they would be. Therefore even when they are, God does not will them to be.

11. It is compatible will God to perfect but not to be perfected. It belongs to the will, however, to be perfected by good, as to the intellect to be perfected by truth. Will is therefore not compatible will God.

To the Contrary:

1’. In one of the Psalms (113:3) it is said that the Lord "hath done all things whatsoever he would." From this it appears that He has a will and that created things exist by His will.

2’. Happiness is found most perfectly in God. But happiness demands will, because according to Augustine a happy person is one "who has whatever he wishes and wishes no evil." Will therefore belongs to God.

3'. Wherever more perfect conditions for willing are found, will exists in a more perfect way. But in God the conditions for willing are found most perfectly. In Him there is no separation of the will from its subject, because His essence is His will. There is no separation of the will from its act, because His action also is His essence. There is no separation of the will from the end, its object, because His will is His goodness. Therefore will is found most perfectly in God.

4’. Will is the root of freedom. But freedom belongs especially to God. In the words of the Philosopher, "a free person is one who is for his own sake," and this is most true of God. Will is therefore found in God.



Will is most properly found in God. In support of this it should be noted that knowledge and will in a spiritual substance are founded upon its different relations to things. There is one relation of a spiritual substance to things according as the things are in some sense within the spiritual substance itself, not indeed in their own existence, as the ancients held, saying that by earth we know earth and by water, water, etc., but in their distinctive intelligible design. "For a stone is not in the soul, but its species is" (that is, its intelligible design), as the Philosopher taught. Because the intelligible design of a being cannot be found by itself without a subject except in an immaterial substance, knowledge is not attributed to all things but only to immaterial beings. And the degree of knowledge parallels the degree of immateriality so that the things which are most immaterial are most capable of knowledge. Because their essence is immaterial, it serves them as a medium for knowing. Through His essence God knows Himself and all other things. Will, however, and any appetite is based upon the relation by which a spiritual substance is oriented to things as existing in themselves.

Inasmuch as it is characteristic of any being, whether material or immaterial, to have some reference to something else, it accordingly follows that it pertains to everything whatever to have an appetite, natural or animal or rational (that is, intellectual); but in different beings it is found in different ways. Since a thing has its reference to another being through something which it has within itself, its different ways of being referred to another correspond to the different ways in which it has something within itself.

Whatever is in material things is in them as bound up and com pounded will matter. The reference of material beings to other things is accordingly not free but dependent upon the necessity of a natural disposition. Material beings are therefore not the cause of their own reference as if they directed themselves to the end to which they are in fact directed. They receive that direction from elsewhere, namely, the source from which they get their natural disposition. They are consequently able to have only a natural appetite.

In immaterial and knowing substances, on the other hand, there is found something in the pure state and not compounded or tied up will matter. This is proportioned to the degree of their immateriality. By this very fact, too, they are referred to things by a free reference of which they are the cause, directing themselves to that to which they are referred. It is accordingly their lot to do or seek something voluntarily and of their own accord. If the house in the mind of the builder were a material form having a determinate act of being, it would incline him only in accordance will its own determinate mode of existence Hence the builder would not remain free to make the house or not, or to make it in this way or in some other. But because the form of the house in the mind of the builder is the plan of the house taken absolutely, of itself not disposed any more to existence than to non-existence or to existence in one particular way rather than in another as far as the accidental features of the house go, the builder’s inclination in regard to making the house or not remains free.

In the case of a sentient spiritual substance, however, the forms, though received without matter, are nevertheless as a consequence of their being received in a bodily organ, not received altogether immaterially and without the conditions of matter. Their inclination is for this reason not altogether free, though they have a certain imitation or semblance of freedom. They incline appetitively to something by themselves inasmuch as they desire something as a result of their apprehension; but it does not lie within their competence to incline or not to incline to that which they desire. But in an intellectual nature, in which something is received altogether immaterially, the essence of a free inclination is found perfectly verified. And this free inclination is what constitutes the essential character of will.

Will is accordingly not attributed to material things, though natural appetite is. To a sensitive soul there is attributed not will but animal appetite. Only to an intellectual substance is will attributed; and the more immaterial this substance is, the more the essence of will belongs to it. Consequently, since God is at the extreme of immateriality, the essential character of will supremely and most properly belongs to Him.

Answers to Difficulties:

2. By the words cited Dionysius does not mean to exclude will and choice from God but to show His universal influence upon things. God does not communicate His goodness to things in such a way that He chooses certain ones to receive a share in His goodness and excludes others completely from a share in it; but He "giveth to all abundantly," as is said in the Epistle of St. James (1:5). He is, however, said to choose in this respect, that in the order of His wisdom he gives more to some than to others.

2. The will of God is not a contingent cause, inasmuch as what He wills He wills immutably. By reason of its very immutability necessary things can be caused. This is of particular importance since of itself no created thing is necessary but is possible in itself and necessary through something else.

3. The will is directed to something in two ways: (1) principally, and (2) secondarily. Principally the will is directed to the end, which is the reason for willing everything else. Secondarily it is directed to the means, which we want for the sake of the end. Now the will does not stand in a relationship of an effect to a cause in regard to its secondary object, but only in regard to its principal object, the end. It should be noticed, however, that the will and its object are sometimes really distinct, and in that case the object is related to the will as its real final cause. But if the will and its object are only conceptually distinct, the object will then not be the final cause of the will except according to our way of expressing it.

The divine will is accordingly referred to God’s goodness as to an end, whereas the two are really identical. They are distinguished only in our manner of speaking. There accordingly remains only the conclusion that nothing is really the cause of the divine will, but it is a cause only in our manner of designating it. Nor is it out of place for something to be designated after the manner of a cause in regard to God. It is in this way for instance, that deity is spoken of as if it were related to God as His formal cause.

The created things which God wills, however, are not related to the divine will as ends but as directed to an end. God wills creatures to exist in order that His goodness may be manifested in them, and that His goodness, which in its essence cannot be multiplied, may be poured out upon many at least by a participation through likeness.

4. If praise is taken strictly, as the Philosopher takes it, it is not due to the will in every one of its acts but only in that in which the will regards the means to an end. It is clear that an act of the will is found not only in virtuous deeds, which are praiseworthy, but also in the act of happiness, which is concerned will honorable things; for happiness obviously involves pleasure. And yet praise is attributed to God too, since we are invited in many places in Holy Scripture to praise God. But in this case praise is taken more broadly than the Philosopher takes it.—Or it can be said that praise, even in its proper sense, is attributable to God in so far as by His will He directs creatures to Himself as their end.

5. [This answer is lacking.]

6. There is in God both affective and effective will, for I-le wills to will and He wills to do what He does. But it is not necessary that, wherever there is either one of these types of will, merit be found, but only in an imperfect nature which is tending to perfection.

7. When the object of the will is distinct from the will itself, the object really moves the will. But when it is identical will the will, then it moves it only in our way of speaking. And in regard to this way of speaking, in the opinion of the Commentator’7 there is yen- lied the saying of Platol8 that the first mover moves itself inasmuch as it understands and wills itself. Nor does it follow from the fact that God wills creatures to be that He is moved by creatures, because lie does not will the creatures except by reason of His own goodness, as has been said.

8. It is by one and the same nature that a thing both moves toward a term which it does not yet possess and reposes in a term which it has already come to possess. It is accordingly the function of one and the same power to tend to a good when it is not yet had, and to love it and take pleasure in it after it is had. Both belong to the appetitive power, though it gets its name rather from that act by which it tends to what it does not have. That is why appetite is said to belong to what is imperfect. But will is equally applicable to both. Hence will in its proper meaning is attributable to God, but not appetite.

9. It is not compatible will God to have reference to opposites as regards the things that are in His essence; but He can have opposite dispositions as regards His effects in creatures, which He can produce or not.

10. Even when God is not producing things, He wants things to be; but He does not want them to be at that time. The argument accordingly proceeds from a false supposition.

11. God cannot really be perfected by anything; yet in our manner of expressing it He is sometimes referred to as being perfected by something; for example, when I say that God understands something. The intelligible object is the perfection of the intellect just as the willed object is the perfection of the will. In God, however, the first intelligible object and the intellect are identical, and also the first object willed and the will.


Parallel readings: I Sentences 46, a. 47, aa. 2 & 3; In Timoth., c. 2, lectura 1; Sum Theol., I, 19, 6 ad 1.


It seems that it cannot, for

1. Order presupposes distinction. But in the divine will there is no distinction, since in one simple act it wills everything which it wills. Therefore antecedent and consequent, when imply order, are not found in the divine will.

2. The answer was given that, although there is no distinction in the divine will on the part of the one willing, there is no the part of the things willed. On the contrary, order can be held to be in the will on the part of the things willed in only two ways: either in regard to different things willed or in regard to one and the same thing willed. If this order is taken in regard to different things willed, it follows that the will will be said to be antecedent concerning the first creatures and consequent concerning those which follow. But this is false. If, however, this order is taken in regard to one and the same thing willed, this can only be according to different circumstances considered in that thing. But this cannot put any distinction or order in the will, since the will is referred to the thing as existing in its own nature whereas the thing in its own nature is enmeshed in all its conditions. In no sense, therefore, should antecedent and consequent be affirmed of the divine will.

3. Knowledge and power are referred to creatures in just the same way as will. But we do not distinguish God’s knowledge and power into antecedent and consequent on the basis of the order of creatures. Then neither should His will be so distinguished.

4. Whatever is not subject to change or hindrance by another is not judged according to that other but only in itself. Now the divine will cannot be changed or hindered by anything. It should not, there fore, be judged according to anything else but only in itself. But according to Damascene "antecedent will" is spoken of in God "as arising from Him; consequent will, as arising because of us." Consequent will should therefore not be distinguished in God from antecedent will.

5. In the affective power there does not seem to be any order except that derived from the cognitive, because order pertains to reason. But we do not attribute to God ordered cognition, which is reasoning, but rather simple cognition, which is understanding. Then neither should we affirm the order of antecedent and consequent of His will.

6. Boethius says that God "beholds all things in a single look of His mind." In like fashion, then, will one simple act of His will He reaches out to everything which He wills; and so antecedent and consequent should not be affirmed of His will.

7. God knows things in Himself and in their own nature; and al though they are in their own nature only after being in the Word, even so the distinction of antecedent and consequent is not affirmed of God’s knowledge. Then neither should it be affirmed of His will.

8. The divine will, like the divine existence, is measured by eternity.

But the duration of the divine existence, because measured by eternity, is all simultaneous, having no before and after. Then neither should antecedent and consequent be placed in the divine will.

To the Contrary:

1’. Damascene says that it should be noted that "God wills all to be saved by His antecedent will," and not by His consequent will, as he adds just afterwards. The distinction of antecedent and consequent therefore applies to the divine will.

2'. There is in God an eternal habitual will inasmuch as He is God, and an actual will inasmuch as He is the Creator, willing things actually to be. But this latter will is compared to the former as consequent to antecedent. Antecedent and consequent are therefore found in the divine will.

De veritate EN 189