Tommaso d’Aquino (Roccasecca, 1225 – Fossanova, 7 marzo 1274)

FAITH ( Revelation ) AND REASON

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.

“Reginald, I can write no more. All that I have hitherto written seems to me nothing but straw.”

Self love

Every sinful act proceeds from an inordinate desire  of a mutable good. Now the fact that someone desire a mutable good  inordinately, is due to the fact that he loves himself inordinately (Thomas Aquinas- Summa Theologica)

Chapter 40 (book 3 contra gentiles)

[1] Now, there is still another knowledge of God, in one sense superior to the aforementioned knowledge, and by this God is known to men through faith. In comparison with the knowledge that we have of God through demonstration, this knowledge through faith surpasses it, for we know some things about God through faith which, because of their sublimity, demonstrative reason cannot attain, as we said at the beginning of this work. Yet, it is not possible for man’s ultimate felicity to consist in even this knowledge of God.
[2] Felicity, indeed, is a perfect operation of the intellect as is clear from what we have said. But, in the knowledge of faith, there is found a most imperfect operation of the intellect, having regard to what is on the side of the intellect, though the greatest perfection is discovered on the side of the object. For the intellect does not grasp the object to which it gives assent in the act of believing. Therefore, neither does man’s ultimate felicity lie in this kind of knowledge of God.
[3] Again, we showed above, that ultimate felicity does not consist primarily in an act of the will. But in the knowledge of faith the will takes priority; indeed, the intellect assents through faith to things resented to it, because of an act of will and not because it is necessarily moved by the very evidence of the truth. So, man’s ultimate felicity does not lie in this knowledge.
[4] Besides, one who believes gives assent to things that are proposed to him by another person, and which he himself does not see. Hence, faith has a knowledge that is more like hearing than vision. Now, a man would not believe in things that are unseen but proposed to him by another man unless he thought that this other man had more perfect knowledge of these proposed things than he himself who does not see them. So, either the believer’s judgment is false or else the proposer must have more perfect knowledge of the things proposed. And if the proposer only knows these things by hearing them from another man, this cannot go on indefinitely, for the assent of faith would be foolish and without certitude; indeed, we would discover no first thing certain in itself which would bring certainty to the faith of the believer. Now, it is not possible for the knowledge of faith to be false and empty, as is evident from what we have said in the opening Book [I, 7]. Yet, if it were false and empty, felicity could not consist in such knowledge.
So, there is for man some knowledge of God which is higher than the knowledge of faith: either the man who proposes the faith sees the truth immediately, as is the case when we believe in Christ; or he takes it immediately from one who does see, as when we believe the Apostles and Prophets. So, since man’s felicity consists in the highest knowledge of God, it is impossible for it to consist in the knowledge of faith.
[5] Moreover, through felicity, because it is the ultimate end, natural desire comes to rest. Now, the knowledge of faith does not bring rest to desire but rather sets it aflame, since every man desires to see what he believes. So, man’s ultimate felicity does not lie in the knowledge of faith.

[6] Furthermore, the knowledge of God has been called the end because it is joined to the ultimate end of things, that is, to God. But an item of belief is not made perfectly present to the intellect by the knowledge of faith, since faith is of things absent, not of things present. For this reason the Apostle says, in 2 Corinthians (5:6-7), that “while we are in the body we walk by faith and we are absent from the Lord.” Yet God is brought into the presence of love through faith, since the believer assents to God voluntarily, according to what is said in Ephesians (3:17): “that Christ may dwell by faith in our hearts.” Therefore, it is not possible for ultimate human felicity to consist in the knowledge of faith.


[1] From this, moreover, it is also clear that riches are not the highest good for man.

[2] Indeed, riches are only desired for the sake of something else; they provide no good of themselves but only when we use them, either for the maintenance of the body or some such use. Now, that which is the highest good is desired for its own sake and not for the sake of something else. Therefore, riches are not the highest good for man.

[3] Again, man’s highest good cannot lie in the possession or keeping of things that chiefly benefit man through being spent. Now, riches are chiefly valuable because they can be expended, for this is their use. So, the possession of riches cannot be the highest good for man.

[4] Besides, an act of virtue is praiseworthy in so far as it comes closer to felicity. Now, acts of liberality and magnificence, which have to do with money, are more praiseworthy in a situation in which money is spent than in one in which it is saved. So, it is from this fact that the names of these virtues are derived. Therefore, the felicity of man does not consist in the possession of riches.

[5] Moreover, that object in whose attainment man’s highest good lies must be better than man. But man is better than riches, for they are but things subordinated to man’s use. Therefore, the highest good for man does not lie in riches.

[6] Furthermore, man’s highest good is not subject to fortune, for things subject to fortune come about independently of rational effort. But it must be through reason that man will achieve his proper end. Of course, fortune occupies an important place in the attainment of riches, Therefore, human felicity is not founded on riches.

[7] Again, this becomes evident in the fact that riches are lost in an involuntary manner, and also that they may accrue to evil men who must fail to achieve the highest good, and also that riches are unstable—and for other reasons of this kind which may be gathered from the preceding arguments.

[1] Now, it is clear from what we have said that it is impossible for human felicity to consist in bodily pleasures, the chief of which are those of food and sex.
[2] In fact, we have shown that in the order of nature pleasure depends on operation, and not the converse. So, if operations are not the ultimate end, the pleasures that result from them are not the ultimate end, either; nor are they concomitant with the ultimate end. It stands to reason that the operations which accompany the above-mentioned pleasures are not the ultimate end, for they are ordered to certain ends that are quite obvious: eating, for instance, to the preservation of the body, and sexual intercourse to the generation of offspring. Therefore, the aforementioned Pleasures are not the ultimate end, nor are they concomitants of the ultimate end. So, felicity is not to be located in these pleasures.
[3] Again, the will is higher than sense appetite, for it moves itself, as we said above. Now, we have already shown that felicity does not lie in an act of the will. Still less will it consist in the aforementioned pleasures which are located in the sense appetite.
[4] Besides, felicity is a certain kind of good, appropriate to man. Indeed, brute animals cannot be deemed happy, unless we stretch the meaning of the term. But these pleasures that we are talking about are common to men and brutes. So, felicity should not be attributed to them.
[5] Moreover, the ultimate end is the noblest appurtenance of a thing; in fact, the term means the best. But these pleasures are not agreeable to man by virtue of what is noblest in him, namely, his understanding, but by virtue of his sense capacity. So, felicity should not be located in pleasures of this kind.
[6] Furthermore, the highest perfection of man cannot lie in a union with things inferior to himself, but, rather, in a union with some reality of a higher character, for the end is better than that which is for the sake of the end. Now, the aforementioned pleasures consist in this fact: that man is, through his senses, united with some things that are his inferiors, that is, with certain. sensible objects. So, felicity is not to be located in pleasures of this sort.
[7] Again, something which is not good unless it be moderated is not good of itself; rather, it receives goodness from the source of the moderation. Now, the enjoyment of the aforementioned pleasures is not good for man unless it be moderated; otherwise, these pleasures will interfere with each other. So, these pleasures are not of themselves the good for man. But that which is the highest good is good of itself, because what is good of itself is better than what depends on something else. Therefore, such pleasures are not the highest good for man, that is, felicity.
[8] Besides, in the case of all things that are predicated per se, an absolute variation is directly accompanied by a similar variation in the degree of intensification. Thus, if a hot thing heats, then a hotter thing heats more, and the hottest thing will heat the most. So, if the aforementioned pleasures were goods of themselves, the maximum enjoyment of them should be the best. But this is clearly false, for excessive enjoyment of them is considered vicious, and is also, harmful to the body, and it prevents the enjoyment of similar pleasures. Therefore, they are not of themselves the good for man. So, human felicity does not consist in them.
[9] Moreover, virtuous acts are praiseworthy because they are ordered to felicity. So, if human felicity consisted in the aforementioned pleasures, a virtuous act would be more praiseworthy when it involved the enjoyment of these pleasures than when it required abstention from them. However, it is clear that this is false, for the act of temperance is given most praise when it involves abstaining from pleasures; as a result, it gets its name from this fact. Therefore, man’s ultimate felicity does not lie in the aforesaid pleasures.  Bene Supremo Contra Gentile  1  Contra  Gentile 2