Friday, June 12, 2015

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Who was St. Thomas Aquinas?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Human Rights without God?

Human Rights without God?

Thomas Aquinas - In Our Time BBC Radio 4

Final Cause in St. Thomas Aquinas

Final Cause in St. Thomas Aquinas

Although St. Thomas was primarily a Christian theologian, we are interested here in his philosophical vision. It must be pointed out that for St. Thomas there exists a fundamental harmony between human thought (reason) and faith. Both come from the same source, God. Philosophy has its own authority and autonomy. In working out his philosophical vision St. Thomas repeated time and again that the human intellect is capable of attaining at truth on its own, and that this is possible even without the aid of grace. Here he pointed out the Greek Thinkers as an example.
For St. Thomas philosophy is necessary since it is the common ground on which all people willing to seek the truth can meet, even if they differ insofar as their religious faith in revealed scriptures is concerned.1
The primary concern of St. Thomas was always one: to show the truth. Here is the root of his extraordinary universalism, when it comes to collecting true insights from any thinker whatsoever whether among his predecessors or contemporaries. Although Aristotle remained for Thomas always 'the Philosopher,' he had to modify Aristotelian views considerably, and elements of Platonism, Neo-Platonism, Arabic and Judaic thought are not lacking within his synthesis, which nevertheless remained thoroughly original.2
Thus, from Aristotle, Aquinas took the basic position of the theory of knowledge and on it he built his moderate realism, within which the ultimate ground of truth is always in realistic experience. The Stagirite provided also the theory of the causal connection of beings. When it comes to the theory of finality in the universe, Aquinas utilized the analysis of change done so well by Aristotle and his notion of immanent finality of beings composed of matter and form. In this regard, however, he had to modify Aristotle on many essential points, especially when it comes to consider the relationship between God and the universe. For Thomas, God is the Creator–the Efficient Cause of all reality that is not God. He is also the Ultimate Final Cause of the universe. It is impossible to know the First Cause without at the same time knowing the First End.3 For St. Thomas all beings are most intimately dependent in their whole reality on God's causality: in their existence, in their operations, in their structure and in their finality. But, most importantly, finality in Thomas' thought is ultimately grounded in the Divine Intelligence operative in the universe as well as directing all towards God, as the Ultimate Final End. Here Thomas went-as we shall show later in what follows–far beyond Aristotle. The relationship between the God of Thomas Aquinas and the universe is far richer and more intimate than any ancient thinker could imagine. The essence of this relationship can be briefly, in a condensed version, expressed as: Creator-creature. The basic condition of every finite is defined by creatureliness. God's position is best expressed in this respect by the two letters of the Greek alphabet: alpha and omega.
There is in Thomas a considerable amount of Plato's thought. Two elements especially are of Platonic origin: the idea of participation, and the idea of forms as models of all creatures. Both positions are deeply transformed: although the ideas are models of all creatures, they are in God's mind in Thomas' philosophy, as God sees his Essence as imitable in finite modes ad extra. They are not, as in Plato, independent, subsistent entities on their own. As for participation, Thomas considers it on the plane of being primarily:4 each finite being insofar as it is a limited act of existence, and to that degree, participates in the perfection of Existence Itself in an analogical mode. The last remark is to be kept in mind always: being is intrinsically analogical for Thomas. God as an Intelligent Planner of the Whole Universe may also be of Platonic parentage (The Demiurge of Plato's Timaeus).
In many points Thomas agreed with Augustine, insofar as the doctrine about God is concerned both Aristotle and St. Augustine were the source, and moreover the Christian Neo-Platonist Pseudo-Denys, the early scholastics like St. Anselm and St. Bernard. It is hardly necessary to mention that the one who influenced St. Thomas the most insofar as the Aristotelianism of Aquinas goes, was his master Albert the Great.
The influence of St. Augustine is visible especially insofar as God's knowledge of this world is concerned, and Augustine's view of the world as created and ordered by seminal reasons: principles of teleological development, intrinsic to beings in which all perfections are potentially present. Those principles are designed by God and 'put' into things by the very fact of creation which is done according to the plan of God's ideas, in God's Intelligence. Those ideas are the exemplars according to which God's creative work is designed. In St. Augustine's own words: “God therefore knew all things which he made before He made them… He knew them that He might make them, not because He had made them.”5 In book XVIII of De Civitate Dei the bishop of Hippo says: “And His wisdom being simply multiple and uniformly multiform, can comprehend all incomprehensible things with such incomprehensible comprehension that whatsoever thing that is new and unlike to all other He should ever please to create, it could not be irregular or unforeseen by him.”6
In the “seminal reasons” (rationes seminales) there is a principle of intrinsic teleological development of all reality: “As in the seed there are invisibly present all the things which in course of time will grow into a tree, so the universe must be conceived…”7 And so, according to Augustine, “God's will diffuses itself through all things by certain perfectly ordered movements of created things, first spiritual, then corporeal, and puts all to the service of the immutable bidding of its purpose…”8 The Platonic ideas are now ideas of God's creative structuring of all reality according to His intelligent design. This idea is obvious in the system of Thomas Aquinas. For him, too, all action for an end is ultimately grounded in God's Intelligence. The Christian Platonism of Augustine was primarily Christian. As such it could be utilized, to an extent, by St. Thomas.
Without falling into crude pantheism, St. Thomas incorporated into his synthesis the Plotinian idea of a hierarchical universe in which different layers of being are related to each other within the scheme of a ladder, from the least perfect to the highest. The section below man is pictured by Thomas primarily according to Aristotle, but the upper part, from man up, is predominantly neo-Platonic. Utilizing those principles, Thomas remained always within the limits of Christian philosophy; pantheism is completely alien to him. One of the fundamental principles pervading his whole metaphysical vision is the analogy of being.9 Within the emanationist system of Plotinus, in which everything proceeds with necessity – an idea not acceptable to the Christian understanding of the God/creature relationship–nevertheless all is ordered and pervaded by Intelligence. The principle of the sensible world realized according to order in space and matter “can only be absolutely fixed intellectual order, containing in an eternal form and accessible to pure intelligence the relationships and harmonies which are perceived in the sensible world.”10 In the Plotinian system, Intelligence–the first hypostasis–is the central hypostasis. It is above all an order, an intelligible world. But the ultimate ground of order is the Unity, the One. The One of Plotinus is a reality higher and anterior to the order itself: the One is the 'source' or the 'First.' The One includes all without distinction. St. Thomas could use much of Plotinus and he certainly did. There is a certain primacy of intelligence in the Plotinian system. This element is certainly very clear to Aquinas. However, more detailed discussion of this problem here, would go beyond the purpose of this work.
We must stress emphatically at this point that although St. Thomas used all those elements of other thinkers, and he confesses this openly (see footnote), nevertheless his synthesis is not a mere eclectic conglomeration: as we hope it will appear later in this work, Thomas hardly used any elements of other thinkers without a deep transformation and adaptation within his basic focus of reflection, always present to his mind: the focus on the plane of being as such, the existential plane, on the basis of which all principles flow together to form a thoroughly original and unified vision of the thinker from Aquino.
We presuppose this knowledge in the reader: the existential character of St. Thomas thought. At this point we mention it only, saving a more detailed elaboration of it for one of the following chapters.

Building up the Principle of Finality:
“Every Agent Acts for an End.”

St. Thomas considers this principle within the context of mutual reciprocity of causes. The efficient cause insofar as it is efficient at all is intelligible only as acting for an end. In other words, in their very intelligibility, they stand or fall together. This is the gist of the arguments that follow.
If any finite being exists, it exists as structured intrinsically: it exists as possessing a determined nature, i.e., a determined principle of activity conferring determination and individualizing the act of existence, and giving it a definite direction of activity. There simply is no physical being which could really exist and yet remain undetermined. Such a being is inconceivable. It follows that any finite being concretely existing in rerum natura is determined. By the same token any action is determined, directioned, since: operari sequitur esse. But every determined action tends to a determined end, to a determined terminus ad quem.11
To the question: what determined action? the answer must be that since action is an emanation from a subject to which it is transcendentally related, it receives its determination from the nature of the subject. Nature is nothing else but the intrinsic ultimate principle of activity.
To quote St. Thomas himself: “Now every inclination of an agent tends toward something definite. A given action does not stem from any power, but heating comes from heat, cooling from cold.”12
An undetermined action is no action, it is an absurdity inconceivable and unintelligible, an impossibility. With his usual clarity St. Thomas expresses this in the following words: “Besides, if an agent did not incline toward some definite effect, all results would be a matter of indifference to him. Now he who looks upon a manifold number of things with indifference no more succeeds in doing one of them, than another. Hence from an agent contingently indifferent to alternatives no effect follows, unless he be determined to one effect by something. So, it would be impossible for him to act.”13 An indifferent action is undetermined, not-directioned, and as such, a figment of phantasy, an impossibility. There always must be a determining element thanks to which an action is, and it is this action and not another, tending to this terminus ad quem, a determined end. The end determines the being-acting. It is the reason why action is simply as such. Thus any being-that-acts manifests finality by the very fact of its real defined activity, directed toward some definite object-actuality, without which action would remain unintelligible and an impossibility.
Every action is intrinsically oriented towards an end of the action. Action is a doing of an effect-end. For this end is that towards which it tends in a determined, i.e., intrinsically directed way. Since each action is an orderly actualization of an effect-end, the production of a definite end is this at which the action aims. This 'aiming at' has its ground in the intrinsic determination of each action toward a definite terminus, i.e., a definite end. Thus every agent acts for an end.
Thus, the reason why the determination of an action is identically an orientation toward its effect as end is that the very nature of every action is forward-pointing – It is precisely the production of its effect to be.l4
Thus every agent acts for an end. The preceding argument can be broken down into the following points: a) whatever is actual, acts; b) but every action is a determined action; c) every determined action is intrinsically oriented towards a definite end; d) thus every agent acts for an end.

The end becomes apparent–reveals itself–in a being insofar as it is an acting being. Now since the analysis of a subject-acting-insofar-as-acting–as proved above–reveals the necessity of its determination, and the end is the definite term of any such determined action, the end is the ground, the reason why action exists at all. Thus every agent acts for the sake of an end. St. Thomas explains: “Efficient cause is the cause of final cause, final cause of efficient cause …thus the efficient cause derives its causality from the final cause.”15 Hence “omne agens agit propter finem” is a universal principle embracing all agents and, as noted, it includes: a) beings endowed with intellectual insight in the most proper sense; b) beings endowed with sense knowledge; and c) beings without any knowledge at all. Thus the principle includes all actual beings as actual. The validity of the principle omne agens agit propter finem can be illustrated by reducing its negation to absurdity. Since knowledge of reality consists in knowing the ultimate causes, the one who denies the above principle implicitly negates also all other causes. This idea is well expressed by St. Thomas in the following words: “Moreover, the end holds first place over other types of cause, and to it all other causes owe the fact that they are causes in act: for the agent acts only for the sake of the end, as was pointed out.”16 Thus, removing final cause is tantamount to removing all intelligible ground of all other causes. Without them there are no effects-facts: no reality, no knowledge. But there is reality, there is knowledge. The rejection of the end in rerum natura must, by the same token, be a rejection of the very notion of the nature of things. Thus the stable principle of action, producing stable results, grounds the intelligibility of regularly recurring action, the order of nature on the phenomenal level.

Series of Ends: Need of an Ultimate End

This, however, raises the problem whether the series of ends is infinite or not. In other words, are the ends infinitely many or is there an ultimate end?
A procedure to infinity is impossible here. Unless there is some definite ultimate end beyond which the agent does not seek anything else, there would be an infinite regress. Yet in every action, as proved above, we can always find a definite end. Now, if a processus ad infinitum is accepted, the agent would not even begin to act, because no being is moved towards the un-reachable and in an infinite process nothing definite can be reached, since there is always infinity left in front, and infinity can not be 'gone through' ever.'?17 There must, then, be a definite first or ultimate end at the origin of every action.
It is not essential at this point to determine whether an agent acts with knowledge of the end or not, since all beings act either by nature or by intellect. The agent acting by intellect predetermines himself the end to be attained, but agents by nature have the end determined by the very structure of their being, as shown above. Either way: every agent acts for an end.18 St. Thomas remarks at the end of chapter II of De Veritate III: “Through this consideration the error ancient natural philosophers is refuted; they claimed that all things come about as a result of material necessity, for they completely excluded final cause from things.”
St. Thomas' thinking moves predominantly on the level of the metaphysical plane of being. This is important to remember. He very rarely appeals to phenomenological evidence by itself. The plane of being and the metaphysically necessary structure of action as such remain always the kernel and prime focus of his thought. As shown above, he approaches the problem from many angles, not from one only. Nevertheless, the ultimate metaphysical ground of his thought is the same: the metaphysical structure of a finite as such. The principle “all agents act for an end” is transcendental, embracing all composed beings insofar as they are such.
It is therefore established on a metaphysical basis that every real-agent-as-such acts necessarily for an end. All beings within the realm of the finite are finalized beings. The principle of finality embraces all of them. Moreover–as pointed out above–the final cause is the cause of all causes.19
The nature and essence of final cause necessarily presents us with the question: If the final cause is a genuine cause it is something that somehow contributes positively to the production of the effect, to the being of the effect. How does the end accomplish this? In other words the question concerns the formal nature of the mode of causality of the end. The end is the last in execution and in existence (ultimum in esse as end already attained), the last terminus ad quem. Expressed in this way it is somewhat difficult to see how the end can be a principle, a source? In what sense, and how is the end a beginning of the action?
St. Thomas answers that the end is first in intentione agentis. For without the end as somehow already present determining the action to the particular effect rather than to another, there could be no action at all. It could never get started.20 Intentio means the tendency, to-be-towards, to-lean-towards, in aliud tendere: to-be-towards-another. It signifies a dynamic relatedness to another. It is an active-directing oneself towards-another, or to-be-directed, to be subject to the activity of another-who-directs the being towards another. Intentio is therefore proper to the mover, as well as to that-which-moves-by-being moved.
The end (finis) must be present somehow to be a genuine cause, since nothing acts unless it is present. Nothingness cannot influence anything at all. The causality of the end (finis) is exercised because the end is present in intention: 'in intentione agentis.' As such it is a source, a principle influencing the tendency by directing it toward itself. In this sense the end is a principle (principium). As such it presupposes the existence of an agent whose activity it influences by attracting, drawing it to itself and so directidirecting it. This influence contributes the definiteness, directedness of the causal efficiency towards the end.
It is evident therefore that in the order of intention the end is not only a source of influence but the first in the order of causes. Otherwise the assertion repeatedly stressed by Thomas in various places that the final cause is cause-of-all-causes, could not be justified. Without the influence of the end all other modes of causality vanish.
It follows that the end must have some mode of presence in the order of intention. The end formally exercises its influence by being pursued as good, as a perfection, 'ens appetibile.' This appetibility of the good is the formal aspect under which the end influences the efficiency of an agent.

End as Good

St. Thomas dedicates a whole chapter in the Summa contra gentiles, book III, to arguing that every agent acts for a good. The gist of the arguments consists in the conclusion drawn from the established principle 'Every agent acts for an end.' Good is by definition that which perfects another. Now the end is precisely that which perfects another. It is that which contributes positively to the being of another. Thus good and end are convertible and every end is a good. Thus every agent acts for a good. The finite lacks in fullness of being: its tendency is always towards greater being, towards greater perfection: a good-for-it.21
The good is that which all desire, towards which all tend. The end is that towards which the tendency is directed and in which it rests. But that in which the tendency rests is a good. It constitutes the very meaning of good. Thus, every agent acts for a good. Again: all things „desire” to be. This is evident from the fact that all preserve their existence and shun destruction, annihilation, since the very fact of existing is good: it is what is desired. Thus every action and every movement is for the sake of good.22
Beings deprived of knowledge act from natural impulse, nevertheless it is an action for an end. Since they cannot know the meaning of end as such, they move insofar as they are determined to this movement by another. An intelligent being however does not determine the end for itself, unless it do so by considering the rational character of the good, for an object of the intellect is only motivating by virtue of the rational meaning of the good… Therefore not even the natural agent is moved, nor does it move for the sake of an end, except insofar as the end is good. Therefore every agent acts for the sake of good. By the same token, whatever is moved, is brought to the end of movement by a mover. That which is moved is in transition from potency to act, which is a moving towards the perfect, the good… It follows that both the mover and the moved tend to good.23
Good is that-under-the-aspect-of-which the end attracts the action of the agent within the order of intention towards itself. The end is a mode of being in the order of intention which influences another (or itself, if the movement is immanent) to move actively towards itself. To the question: how does the final cause influence the agent? the answer is: The end-as-good exercises its influence by being-desired-as-good,24 and in this manner attracting and determining the activity of efficient cause towards itself, as good-for-the-agent. The 'attractivity' of good is the essence of final causality. That is why St. Thomas calls the good an appetible being (ens appetibile).

Finality in God

One more clarification seems to be necessary at this point. We saw that for Aristotle, the Prime Mover could not act for any other reason than for his own self‑contemplative happiness. Thus he had to remain completely closed within a thought that eternally thinks itself. He could not be bothered with the imperfect moving world beneath him, nor engage in any efficient activity on behalf of this world, since this would be below his dignity as the Best. The Thought of the Best can be occupied only with the Best, with Itself. As we already mentioned, this excluded the notion of God as Creator, it cancelled out Providence and also the very essence of religion, which consists primarily in a living relationship between Creator and His creature. Thomas, as a Christian thinker, could not agree with such conclusions.
This, however poses a serious problem within the context of God’s action, which is through and through characterized by finality: every agent acts for an end. Thus God also acts for an end. But how? A finite being acts for an end because it is a good-for-it; it lends perfection to it, it enriches it. But God is Infinite Fullness of Goodness, He is Goodness Unlimited. He cannot gain, or lose, any perfection. God does not need anything. So how is the principle 'every agent act for an end' to be reconciled with the absolute self-sufficiency of God?
The answer to this problem lies in the distinction between acting-for-an-end and acting-fora-final cause. Since a cause properly speaking must always be distinct from what it influences, if God were influenced by an end as cause He would then be dependent on something other than Himself as cause of His action. God cannot act for a final cause because He is the First, the Source of all existence of any finite being, neither can He be attracted by any good “outside” since any “other” has its very ontological ground exclusively in God, on whom it always remains absolutely dependent in existence, in its modes of acting–in fact, in everything–with metaphysical necessity.
Yet, in giving existence the Creator must have a sufficient reason for acting, hence must have an end as sufficient reason though not as cause of His acting. A sufficient reason, unlike a cause, need not be really distinct from what it renders intelligible. Since the principle, “Every agent acts for an end,” is transcendental, God as the First Agent acts for-an-end, 'For-an-end' here cannot mean a real relation to another (as it is with all finite beings), because such relation involves real dependence on another. God, the absolutely First and Self-sufficient, can thus have no real relation to any other being. He cannot act for another being. 'For-an-end' in case of God's creative action and final action means only a relation of reason, i.e., without implying any real dependence, God has a reason why He creates all other finite beings; why He creates the universe 'ex nihilo.' Thus God has a sufficient reason for the sake of which He acts, but He does not act for any final cause. (He himself is the Ultimate End of all reality.)
Now the only sufficient reason for God's creative action can be God's Infinite Goodness identical with Himself. God loves this Infinite Goodness absolutely, but He also loves this Goodness as communicable to others. Here we see the great difference between the Aristotelian Prime Mover and the God of Thomas, the Christian God. All the universe is God's work. It is the effect of God's free creative causality, inasmuch as God sees His Goodness and loves It as communicable to others in infinitely various modes; of finite existences. As there is no “interest,” no “gain,” for God in this action, since Infinite Existence cannot gain more or “acquire” more in any conceivable way, this very same action must nevertheless be ultimately directed toward Himself. God loves His Goodness, his very Self, but as communicable to others. This constitutes the sufficient reason, the end for the sake of which God acts. In this fashion God's whole action is for Himself, but also for others.
“For others” must be understood here as meaning that the ontological ground for the existence of the universe is creation-out-of-nothing, the sufficient reason of which is God's love for Himself as communicable to others. The creature is established by this creative act in complete and absolute ontological dependence on God. Thus it can be said that the whole “gain” is on the part of the creature. Creatureliness implies the deepest ontological dependency-bond in existence with the Creator. God's Providence, which truly is the continuation of creation, reaches to the least in the realm of the finite. Thomas dedicates two whole chapters in Summa contra gentiles I, to arguing that God knows all things, even lowly things, and that this fact not only does not detract from his dignity, but even augments it.25 The gist of the argument is based on the infinite power of the divine mind on one hand, and on the other on the participation in existence as closer to God or farther from Him. The Divine Mind as infinite in power is in his cognition constitutive activity and so it embraces all finite, beings; lowliness and dignity of things are relative notions depending on the 'closeness or remoteness' from God in the hierarchy of finite existences. Since God's Mind is Infinite in power, it must embrace all, and since the divine Mind cannot be drawn down to the level of the creature, the cognition of lowly things does not detract from God's dignity in any way. It rather augments it, insofar as such cognition shows forth the infinite power of God's Mind.
Thus the principle “every agent acts for an end” retains its full validity, extending analogously even to God as Supreme Agent.

The Analogical Mode of Finalistic Intentionality

The analogical character of intentio (intention) should be clarified at this point in order to elucidate the problem of how beings “tend-towards” their ends, and in what manner this intentionality of being was understood by Thomas Aquinas.
The principle “Every agent acts for an end/ good” affirms the basic intentionality of all being, its dynamic-to-be-towards, its in-tending, or “intention.” We use this word here only in this sense. This remark is necessary because St. Thomas uses the word in many different senses. Our question is how this intentionality of all active beings is verified on the different levels of beings.
Since for Thomas Aquinas being is predicated in an analogical way, this tendency must also be conceived in an analogical fashion. Its meaning, therefore, varies according to the nature of beings under consideration. In a word, 'intentio finis' is analogical in character.
The word intentio, for St. Thomas, signifies in its primary sense an act of will: “hoc nomen intentio nominat actum voluntatis, praesupposita ordinatione intellectus ordinantis aliquid ad finem.”26 Thus the will tends to its object following the apprehension of the intellect.27
The primary meaning of intention can be summarized in three points: a) intentio is an act; b) it is an act of the will; and c) the intellectual knowledge is the fundament of it. This, then, is intentio infinem in its proper sense. All other forms of it will be secondary and derivative in relation to it.
St. Thomas, however, ascribes intentio ad finem to all beings, including beings not endowed with-either sense or intellectual knowledge.28
In beings not endowed with intellectual cognition nature is the principle of intentio ad finem since it is. the ground-principle of activity. Nature so conceived tends towards more being, towards more good-perfection (since being and good are convertible), and thus every good is some end: that which attracts, influences by attracting.
Intention-to-an-end, which St. Thomas calls sometimes 'connatural appetite,' natural love,' or natural desire, is thus strictly transcendental. Within the order of intention-to-an-end, however, a law appears: different forms, by which the different kinds of intentionality-to-an-end are determined, show different degrees insofar as their materiality or immateriality is concerned. There exists a gradation here: the more materiality, the less universal the intentionality of a being and, conversely, the more immateriality, be more consciousness and immanence, until we come to beings endowed with intellectual insight. Here man appears as the highest on earth, but in respect to angels and, finally God, man is the lowest.Each and every being shows this intention-to-an-end. As St. Thomas says: “Each inclination follows some form.”29 Nevertheless, in the primary meaning of the word only beings endowed with an intellect have intention-to-an-end as such. St. Thomas uses the term 'nature' as opposed to intention-through-knowledge and thus divides all beings into two groups: a) those following ends by knowledge; and b) those following ends “by nature.” To let St. Thomas' speak: “Just as natural tendency springs from nature and is in accord with it, so does the tendency which corresponds to sensitive and intellectual nature follow knowledge.”30
In animals not endowed with reason there exists sense-knowledge through which they are capable of “practical judgment.” Using it, they can avoid their “natural” enemies, fight for survival, etc. The seat of this judgment is the “common sense” with which, again according to specific degrees, animals are endowed. However, because animals do not possess intellectual knowledge, their spontaneity remains limited within some basic psychological determinism. In St. Thomas' words: “They act according to discrimination but not according to a complete one.”31
In the higher animals a semblance of freedom appears.32 The power of response extends to embrace a broader horizon and the power of instinct reigns over them with less vigor and absoluteness. Because, however, they are not aware of the reason for their judgment, they do not judge in the proper meaning of the term. The judgment they are capable of does not extend to the ideal range of all being. They do not grasp relations as such, neither do they understand the meaning of symbols as such. The sphere of their intentionality-to-an-end is accordingly restricted. St. Thomas says: “All swallows build the same kind of nests, and the industry of the bee does not go beyond the formation of honeycombs to attempt any other form of art.”33
Non-cognitive beings, i.e., beings not endowed with any degree of consciousness whatsoever, both living and non-living, have their intentionality-to-an-end already predetermined by nature on the basis of their intrinsic metaphysical structure. They possess intentionality only in a participated, secondary manner. Their formal determinateness is the ground of their tendency-to-an-end, which in them is simply a built-in predetermined unconscious drive of nature towards its appropriate end.
As already pointed out, the gradation of intentionality-to-an-end varies according to the degree to which the being under consideration is endowed with more immateriality, immanence, and spirituality or, on the contrary, with more materiality, more restriction.
We can now summarize St. Thomas' position on the universality of immanent finality in all agents, and therefore in all beings, as follows:
a)       all beings tend-to-an-end;
b)       this tending-to-an-end in its primary sense is found only in beings endowed with intellectual knowledge;
c)        thus, in other beings this tendency toward-an-end is found in secondary and derivative, although still analogical, modes, either as originating from sense knowledge or, in beings lacking all knowledge, as originating from the completely predetermined drive of their underlying natures as such, determined by their basic intrinsic metaphysical structures.
We have seen that immanent finality is necessarily connected with being itself, since in every affirmation of being as active finality is already necessarily implied as a condition of the intelligibility of action itself. It is important to stress that the above conclusion is not based on phenomenal observations but on strict metaphysical analysis and, as such, it renders finality so necessary that a denial of it can be made only at the cost of unintelligibility, and the intelligibility of all being is for St. Thomas one of the first principles of all thought.


1 Summa contra gentiles, ed. Leonina, vol. XIII-XV (Romae, 1920-1950), I, caput II.: “Contra singulorum autem errores …difficile est procedere.. Unde necesse est ad naturalem rationem recurrere, cui omnes assentire coguntur.”
2 “A quibusdam enim predecessorum nostrorum accepimus aliquas opiniones de veritate rerum, in quibus credimus eos benedixisse, alias opiniones praetermittentes.” In Metaphysics, lect. 2. 228.
3 Summa theologica, ed. Leonina, vol. IV-XII (Romae, 1906 I q.103,art. 2c.: “Cum finis respondeat principio, non potest fieri, ut principio cognito, quis sit rerum finis ignoretur.”
4 Pourtant l'originalité du thomisme se montrerait peut-être par la netteté avec laquelle le système maintient, de son point de départ, la priorité de la notion d'être. Forest, La structure métaphysique du concret selon Saint Thomas d'Aquin.
5 St. Augustine, Ad Orosium, VIII, 9.
6 St. Augustine, De Civitate Dei, XVIII.
7 St. Augustine, De Gen. ad Litt., V, XIII, 45.
8 St. Augustine, De Trinitate, III, IV, 9.
9 Quaest. disp. de Potentia, q. 7, a. 7: Diversa habitudo ad esse impedit univocam predicationem entis.
10 Emile Brehier, The Philosophy of Plotinus (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958), p. 45.”
11 Tout être est détermine dans la nature; il l'est donc également dans son activité, dont la nature est le principe substantiel. Si l'action est déterminée, l'effet le sera lui aussi. Ce qui veut dire, que l'action est ordonnée a un terme déterminé ; ou mieux, qu’elle est déterminée en elle-même a raison de son orientation vers un terme déterminé. Ce terme est donc la raison de l'action: il lui donne un sens, car il la spécifie en lui imprimant une direction… l'opération dépende de la fin, l'efficience trouve sa raison, son sens, dans le but poursuivi. Louis De Raeymaeker, Philosophie l' être (Louvain, 1947), p. 311.
12 Quaest. Disp. De Veritate, Q.3, a. 2; also q.3, a. 2: “…so does the likeness of a natural resultant preexist in the natural agent; and as a consequence of this, the action is determined to a definite result.”
13 Quaest. Disp. De Veritate, q. 3, a.2.
14 Ibid.
15 In Metaphysics, V, lect. II, nr. 775.
16 Quaest. Disp. de Veritate, q. 3, a. 17, 9; also, In Anal. Post.I, lect.16 nr. 5, book II, lect. 8, nr.3In Metaphysics, V, lect. 3, nr.782; In Lib. de causis, lect. 1.. „Nam finis intantum est causa inquantum movet efficientem ad agendum.”
17 Quaest. Veritate, q. 3, a. 3. „Nihil enim movetur ad id at quod mpossibile est pervenire.”
18 Quaest. disp. de Veritate, q. 3, a. 3: “Agens per intellectum agit propter finem sicut determinans sibi finem: agens autem per naturam licet agat propter finem, ut probatum est, non tamen determinat sibi finem, cum non cognoscat rationem finis, sed movetur ad finem determinatum sibi ab alio.”
19 De Princip, nat., c. 4: „…quia a causa finail omnes aliae causae recipiunt quod sint causae. Pour rejeter cette conclusion, il faudrait déclarer que la cause est indépendante de sa fin. Mais dans ce cas une opération efficiente s'accomoderait de n'importe quel effet; ce qui revient à dire qu'elle serait indéterminée ou, en d'autres termes, qu'elle ne serait pas. I1 reste donc, que la finalité, c'est-à-dire l'influence de la fin sur l’opération, est un élément essentiel de la causalité: quidquid agit, agit propter finem.” Louis de Raeymaeker, The Philosophy of Being: A Synthesis of Metaphysics, trans. Rev. E. H. Zeigelmeyer, S.J., 6th ed. (London: 

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