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Summa Theologica

Summa Theologica

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The Summa Theologiæ is the best-known work of Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

 (c.1225–1274), and although unfinished, "one of the classics of the history of philosophy and one of the most influential works of Western literature." It is intended as a manual for beginners in theology and a compendium of all of the main theological
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 teachings of the Church. It presents the reasoning for almost all points of Christian theology in the West. The Summas topics follow a cycle: the existence of God
Existence of God
Arguments for and against the existence of God have been proposed by philosophers, theologians, scientists, and others. In philosophical terms, arguments for and against the existence of God involve primarily the sub-disciplines of epistemology and ontology , but also of the theory of value, since...

; Creation, Man; Man's purpose
Teleology
A teleology is any philosophical account which holds that final causes exist in nature, meaning that design and purpose analogous to that found in human actions are inherent also in the rest of nature. The word comes from the Greek τέλος, telos; root: τελε-, "end, purpose...

; Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

; the Sacraments; and back to God.

It is famous, among other things, for its five arguments for the existence of God, the Quinque viae .

Throughout the work, Aquinas cites Sacred Scripture, Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

, Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

, and other Jewish
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

, Roman, Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

, and Muslim
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 scholars.

Structure


The Summa is composed of three major parts, each of which deals with a major subsection of Christian theology.
  • First Part (in Latin, Prima Pars): God's existence and nature; the creation of the world; angel
    Angel
    Angels are mythical beings often depicted as messengers of God in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles along with the Quran. The English word angel is derived from the Greek ἄγγελος, a translation of in the Hebrew Bible ; a similar term, ملائكة , is used in the Qur'an...

    s; the nature of man
  • Second Part:
  • First part of the Second Part (Prima Secundae, often abbreviated Part I-II): general principles of morality (including a theory of law
    Law
    Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

    )
  • Second part of the Second Part (Secunda Secundae, or Part II-II): morality in particular, including individual virtues and vices
  • Third Part (Tertia Pars): the person and work of Christ, who is the way of man to God; the sacrament
    Sacrament
    A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

    s; the end of the world. Aquinas left this part unfinished.


Each part contains several questions, each of which revolves around a more specific subtopic; one such question is "Of Christ's Manner of Life." Each question contains several articles phrased as interrogative statements dealing with specific issues, such as "Whether Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

 should have led a life of poverty in this world?" The Summa has a standard format for each article.
  • A series of objections to the (yet to be stated) conclusion are given; one such objection, for example, is that "Christ should have embraced the most eligible form of life...which is a mean between riches and poverty."
  • A short counter-statement, beginning with the phrase "sed contra" ("on the contrary"), is then given; this statement almost always references authoritative literature, such as the Bible
    Bible
    The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

     or Aristotle
    Aristotle
    Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

    . In this instance, Aquinas begins, "It is written (in Matthew
    Gospel of Matthew
    The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

     8:20): 'The Son of Man hath not where to lay His head'".
  • The actual argument is then made; this is generally a clarification of the issue. For example, Aquinas states that "it was fitting for Christ to lead a life of poverty in this world" for four distinct reasons, each of which is expounded in some detail.
  • Individual replies to the preceding objections are then given, if necessary. These replies range from one sentence to several paragraphs in length. Aquinas's reply to the above objection is that "those who wish to live virtuously need to avoid abundance of riches and beggary, ...but voluntary poverty is not open to this danger: and such was the poverty chosen by Christ."


This method of exposition is derived from Averroes
Averroes
' , better known just as Ibn Rushd , and in European literature as Averroes , was a Muslim polymath; a master of Aristotelian philosophy, Islamic philosophy, Islamic theology, Maliki law and jurisprudence, logic, psychology, politics, Arabic music theory, and the sciences of medicine, astronomy,...

, to whom Aquinas refers respectfully as "the Commentator."

Notable points made by the Summa

  • Theology is the most speculative of all the sciences since its source is divine knowledge (which cannot be deceived), and because of the greater worth of its subject matter, the sublimity of which transcends human reason.
  • When a man knows an effect, and knows that it has a cause, the natural desire of the intellect or mind is to understand the essence of that thing – natural, because this understanding results from the perfection of the operation of the intellect or mind.
  • The existence of something and its essence are separate. That is, its being and the conception of being man has or can imagine of it (for example, a mountain of solid gold would have essence – since it can be imagined – but not existence, as it is not in the world) are separate in all things – except for God, who is simple
    Divine simplicity
    In theology, the doctrine of divine simplicity says that God is without parts. The general idea of divine simplicity can be stated in this way: the being of God is identical to the "attributes" of God. In other words, such characteristics as omnipresence, goodness, truth, eternity, etc...

    .
  • The existence of God
    Existence of God
    Arguments for and against the existence of God have been proposed by philosophers, theologians, scientists, and others. In philosophical terms, arguments for and against the existence of God involve primarily the sub-disciplines of epistemology and ontology , but also of the theory of value, since...

    , his total simplicity
    Divine simplicity
    In theology, the doctrine of divine simplicity says that God is without parts. The general idea of divine simplicity can be stated in this way: the being of God is identical to the "attributes" of God. In other words, such characteristics as omnipresence, goodness, truth, eternity, etc...

     or lack of composition, his eternal
    Eternity
    While in the popular mind, eternity often simply means existence for a limitless amount of time, many have used it to refer to a timeless existence altogether outside time. By contrast, infinite temporal existence is then called sempiternity. Something eternal exists outside time; by contrast,...

     nature ("eternal," in this case, means that he is altogether outside of time; that is, time is held to be a part of God's created universe), his knowledge, the way his will operates, and his power can all be proved by human reasoning alone.
  • All statements about God are either analogical
    Analogy
    Analogy is a cognitive process of transferring information or meaning from a particular subject to another particular subject , and a linguistic expression corresponding to such a process...

     or metaphor
    Metaphor
    A metaphor is a literary figure of speech that uses an image, story or tangible thing to represent a less tangible thing or some intangible quality or idea; e.g., "Her eyes were glistening jewels." Metaphor may also be used for any rhetorical figures of speech that achieve their effects via...

    ical; one cannot say man is "good" in exactly the same sense as God, but rather that he imitates in some way the simple nature of God in being good, just or wise.
  • Unbelief is the greatest (meaning largest in scope) sin
    Sin
    In religion, sin is the violation or deviation of an eternal divine law or standard. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation. Christians believe the moral code of conduct is decreed by God In religion, sin (also called peccancy) is the violation or deviation...

     in the realm of morals.
  • The principles of just war
    Just War
    Just war theory is a doctrine of military ethics of Roman philosophical and Catholic origin, studied by moral theologians, ethicists and international policy makers, which holds that a conflict ought to meet philosophical, religious or political criteria.-Origins:The concept of justification for...

     and natural law
    Natural law
    Natural law, or the law of nature , is any system of law which is purportedly determined by nature, and thus universal. Classically, natural law refers to the use of reason to analyze human nature and deduce binding rules of moral behavior. Natural law is contrasted with the positive law Natural...

  • The greatest happiness
    Happiness
    Happiness is a mental state of well-being characterized by positive emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy. A variety of biological, psychological, religious, and philosophical approaches have striven to define happiness and identify its sources....

     of all, the ultimate good, consists in the beatific vision
    Beatific vision
    The beatific vision - in Christian theology is the ultimate direct self communication of God to the individual person, when she or he reaches, as a member of redeemed humanity in the communion of saints, perfect salvation in its entirety, i.e. heaven...

    .
  • Collecting interest
    Interest
    Interest is a fee paid by a borrower of assets to the owner as a form of compensation for the use of the assets. It is most commonly the price paid for the use of borrowed money, or money earned by deposited funds....

     on loans is forbidden, because it is charging people twice for the same thing.
  • In and of itself, selling a thing for more or less than it is worth is unlawful (the just price
    Just price
    The just price is a theory of ethics in economics that attempts to set standards of fairness in transactions. With intellectual roots in ancient Greek philosophy, it was advanced by Thomas Aquinas based on an argument against usury, which in his time referred to the making of any rate of interest...

     theory).
  • The contemplative life is greater than the active life, but greater still is the contemplative life that takes action to call others to the contemplative life and give them the fruits of contemplation. (This actually was the lifestyle of the Dominican
    Dominican Order
    The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

     friar
    Friar
    A friar is a member of one of the mendicant orders.-Friars and monks:...

    s, of which Aquinas was a member.)
  • Being a monk is greater than being married
    Marriage
    Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

     and even greater (in many ways) than being a priest
    Priest
    A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

    , but it is not as good as being a bishop
    Bishop
    A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

    . Both monks and bishops are in a state of perfection.
  • Although the Jews delivered Christ to die, it was the Gentile
    Gentile
    The term Gentile refers to non-Israelite peoples or nations in English translations of the Bible....

    s who killed him, foreshadowing how salvation
    Salvation
    Within religion salvation is the phenomenon of being saved from the undesirable condition of bondage or suffering experienced by the psyche or soul that has arisen as a result of unskillful or immoral actions generically referred to as sins. Salvation may also be called "deliverance" or...

     would begin with the Jews and spread to the Gentiles.
  • After the end of the world
    Last Judgment
    The Last Judgment, Final Judgment, Day of Judgment, Judgment Day, or The Day of the Lord in Christian theology, is the final and eternal judgment by God of every nation. The concept is found in all the Canonical gospels, particularly the Gospel of Matthew. It will purportedly take place after the...

     (in which all living material will be destroyed), the world will be composed of non-living matter (such as rocks) but it will be illuminated or enhanced in beauty by the fires of the apocalypse
    Apocalypse
    An Apocalypse is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. the veil to be lifted. The Apocalypse of John is the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament...

    ; a new heaven and new earth will be established.
  • Martyr
    Martyr
    A martyr is somebody who suffers persecution and death for refusing to renounce, or accept, a belief or cause, usually religious.-Meaning:...

    s, teachers of the faith (doctors), and virgins, in that order, receive special crowns in heaven
    Heaven
    Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

     for their achievements.

Overview of the entire Summa


The Summa Theologica is meant to summarize the history of the cosmos and provide an outline for the meaning of life
Meaning of life
The meaning of life constitutes a philosophical question concerning the purpose and significance of life or existence in general. This concept can be expressed through a variety of related questions, such as "Why are we here?", "What is life all about?", and "What is the meaning of it all?" It has...

 itself.

This order is cyclical. It begins with God and his existence in Question 2. The entire first part of the Summa deals with God and his creation, which reaches its zenith in man. The First Part therefore ends with the treatise on man.

The second part of the Summa deals with man's purpose (the meaning of life), which is happiness. The ethics detailed in this part summarize the ethics (Aristotelian in nature) which man must follow to reach his intended destiny.

Since no man on his own can truly live the perfect ethical life (and therefore reach God), it was necessary that a perfect man bridge the gap between God and man. Thus God became man. The third part of the Summa, therefore, deals with the life of Christ.

In order to follow the way prescribed by this perfect man, in order to live with God's grace (which is necessary for man's salvation), the Sacraments have been provided; the final part of the Summa considers the Sacraments.

The entire Summa can be summarized roughly in this chart:

Summary of key opinions in the Summa


The following is from the New Schaff–Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (a public-domain work):

The Summa, Part I: Theology


Aquinas's greatest work was the Summa, and it is the fullest presentation of his views. He worked on it from the time of Clement IV
Pope Clement IV
Pope Clement IV , born Gui Faucoi called in later life le Gros , was elected Pope February 5, 1265, in a conclave held at Perugia that took four months, while cardinals argued over whether to call in Charles of Anjou, the youngest brother of Louis IX of France...

 (after 1265) until the end of his life. When he died, he had reached Question 90 of Part III (on the subject of penance
Penance
Penance is repentance of sins as well as the proper name of the Roman Catholic, Orthodox Christian, and Anglican Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation/Confession. It also plays a part in non-sacramental confession among Lutherans and other Protestants...

). What was lacking was added afterwards from the fourth book of his commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard as a supplementum, which is not found in manuscripts of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The Summa was translated into Greek (apparently by Maximus Planudes
Maximus Planudes
Maximus Planudes, less often Maximos Planoudes , Byzantine grammarian and theologian, flourished during the reigns of Michael VIII Palaeologus and Andronicus II Palaeologus. He was born at Nicomedia in Bithynia, but the greater part of his life was spent in Constantinople, where as a monk he...

 around 1327), Armenian, many European languages, and Chinese.

It consists of three parts. Part I treats of God, who is the "first cause, himself uncaused" (primum movens
Primum movens
Primum movens , usually referred to as the Prime mover or first cause in English, is a term used in the philosophy of Aristotle, in the theological cosmological argument for the existence of God, and in cosmogony, the source of the cosmos or "all-being".-Aristotle's ontology:In book 12 of his...

 immobile) and as such existent only in act (actu) – that is, pure actuality without potentiality, and therefore without corporeality. His essence is actus purus et perfectus
Actus purus
Actus Purus is a term employed in scholastic philosophy to express the absolute perfection of God. It literally means, "pure act."Created beings have potentiality that is not actuality, imperfections as well as perfection. Only God is simultaneously all that He can be, infinitely real and...

. This follows from the fivefold proof for the existence of God; namely, there must be a first mover, unmoved, a first cause in the chain of causes, an absolutely necessary being, an absolutely perfect being, and a rational designer. In this connection the thoughts of the unity, infinity
Infinity
Infinity is a concept in many fields, most predominantly mathematics and physics, that refers to a quantity without bound or end. People have developed various ideas throughout history about the nature of infinity...

, unchangeability, and goodness of the highest being are deduced.

As God rules in the world, the "plan of the order of things" preexists in him; in other words, his providence
Divine providence
In Christian theology, divine providence, or simply providence, is God's activity in the world. " Providence" is also used as a title of God exercising His providence, and then the word are usually capitalized...

 and the exercise of it in his government are what condition as cause everything which comes to pass in the world. Hence follows predestination
Predestination
Predestination, in theology is the doctrine that all events have been willed by God. John Calvin interpreted biblical predestination to mean that God willed eternal damnation for some people and salvation for others...

: from eternity some are destined to eternal life, while as concerns others "he permits some to fall short of that end". Reprobation
Reprobation
Reprobation, in Christian theology, is a corollary to the Calvinistic doctrine of unconditional election which derives that some of mankind are predestined by God for salvation. Therefore, the remainder are left bound to their fallen nature and certain damnation. This same state of unbelief is...

, however, is more than mere foreknowledge; it is the "will of permitting anyone to fall into sin and incur the penalty of condemnation for sin". The effect of predestination is grace. Since God is the first cause of everything, he is the cause of even the free acts of men through predestination. Determinism is deeply grounded in the system of Aquinas; things (with their source of becoming in God) are ordered from eternity as means for the realization of his end in himself. On moral grounds Aquinas advocates freedom energetically; but, with his premises, he can have in mind only the psychological form of self-motivation. Nothing in the world is accidental or free, although it may appear so in reference to the proximate cause. From this point of view miracles become necessary in themselves, and are to be considered merely as inexplicable to man. From the point of view of the first cause all is unchangeable, although from the limited point of view of the secondary cause, miracles may be spoken of.

In his doctrine of the Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

, Aquinas starts from the Augustinian system. Since God has only the functions of thinking and willing, only two processiones can be asserted from the Father. But these establish definite relations of the persons of the Trinity, one to another. The relations must be conceived as real and not as merely ideal; for, as with creatures relations arise through certain accidents, since in God there is no accident but all is substance, it follows that "the relation really existing in God is the same as the essence according to the thing". From another side, however, the relations as real must be really distinguished one from another. Therefore, three persons are to be affirmed in God.

Man stands opposite to God; he consists of soul
Soul
A soul in certain spiritual, philosophical, and psychological traditions is the incorporeal essence of a person or living thing or object. Many philosophical and spiritual systems teach that humans have souls, and others teach that all living things and even inanimate objects have souls. The...

 and body. The "intellectual soul" consists of intellect
Nous
Nous , also called intellect or intelligence, is a philosophical term for the faculty of the human mind which is described in classical philosophy as necessary for understanding what is true or real, very close in meaning to intuition...

 and will
Will (philosophy)
Will, in philosophical discussions, consonant with a common English usage, refers to a property of the mind, and an attribute of acts intentionally performed. Actions made according to a person's will are called "willing" or "voluntary" and sometimes pejoratively "willful"...

. Furthermore, the soul is the absolutely indivisible form of man; it is immaterial substance, but not one and the same in all men (as the Averroists
Averroism
Averroism is the term applied to either of two philosophical trends among scholastics in the late 13th century: the Arab philosopher Averroës or Ibn Rushd's interpretations of Aristotle and his reconciliation of Aristotelianism with Islamic faith; and the application of these ideas in the Latin...

 assumed). The soul's power of knowing has two sides; a passive (the intellectus possibilis
Passive intellect
Passive intellect is a term used in philosophy to refer to the material aspect of the intellect , in accordance with the theory of hylomorphism.-Aristotle:In Aristotle's philosophy of mind, the passive intellect...

) and an active (the intellectus agens). It is the capacity to form concepts and to abstract the mind's images (species) from the objects perceived by sense. But since what the intellect abstracts from individual things is universal the mind knows the universal primarily and directly, and knows the singular only indirectly by virtue of a certain reflexio (compare Scholasticism
Scholasticism
Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100–1500, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending orthodoxy in an increasingly pluralistic context...

). As certain principles are immanent in the mind for its speculative activity, so also a "special disposition of works" – or the synderesis
Synderesis
Synderesis, in scholastic moral philosophy, is the natural capacity or disposition of the practical reason to apprehend intuitively the universal first principles of human action....

 (rudiment of conscience) – is inborn in the "practical reason", affording the idea of the moral law of nature so important in medieval ethics.

Structure


Part II of the Summa is divided into two parts. The first part comprises 114 quaestiones, and the second part comprises 189. The two parts of the second part are usually presented as containing several "treatises". The contents are as follows:
  • First part of Part II:
    • Treatise on the last end (qq. 1 to 5)
    • Treatise on human acts: Acts peculiar to humans (qq. 6 to 21)
    • Treatise on the passions (qq. 22 to 48)
    • Treatise on habits (qq. 49 to 54)
    • Treatise on habits in particular (qq. 55 to 89): Good habits, i.e. virtues (qq. 55 to 70)
    • Treatise on law
      Law
      Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

       (qq. 90 to 108)
    • Treatise on grace
      Divine grace
      In Christian theology, grace is God’s gift of God’s self to humankind. It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to man - "generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved" - that takes the form of divine favour, love and clemency. It is an attribute of God that is most...

       (qq. 109 to 114)
  • Second part of Part II:
    • Treatise on the theological virtues
      Theological virtues
      Theological virtues - in theology and Christian philosophy, are the character qualities associated with salvation, resulting from the grace of God, which enlightens human mind.- In the Bible :The three theological virtues are:...

       (qq. 1 to 46)
    • Treatise on the cardinal virtues
      Cardinal virtues
      In Christian traditionthere are 4 cardinal virtues:*Prudence - able to judge between actions with regard to appropriate actions at a given time*Justice - proper moderation between self-interest and the rights and needs of others...

       (qq. 47 to 170)
      • Treatise on prudence
        Prudence
        Prudence is the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason. It is classically considered to be a virtue, and in particular one of the four Cardinal virtues .The word comes from Old French prudence , from Latin...

         (qq. 47 to 56)
      • Treatise on justice
        Justice
        Justice is a concept of moral rightness based on ethics, rationality, law, natural law, religion, or equity, along with the punishment of the breach of said ethics; justice is the act of being just and/or fair.-Concept of justice:...

         (qq. 57 to 122)
      • Treatise on fortitude
        Courage
        Courage is the ability to confront fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation...

         and temperance
        Temperance (virtue)
        Temperance has been studied by religious thinkers, philosophers, and more recently, psychologists, particularly in the positive psychology movement. It is considered a virtue, a core value that can be seen consistently across time and cultures...

         (qq. 123 to 170)
    • Treatise on gratuitous graces (qq. 171 to 182)
    • Treatise on the states of life (qq. 183 to 189)

Content in general


The first part of the Summa is summed up in the premise that God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 governs the world as the "universal first cause". God sways the intellect; he gives the power to know and impresses the species intelligibiles on the mind, and he sways the will in that he holds the good before it as aim, creating the virtus volendi. "To will is nothing else than a certain inclination toward the object of the volition which is the universal good". God works all in all, but so that things also themselves exert their proper efficiency. Here the Areopagitic ideas of the graduated effects of created things play their part in Aquinas' thought. The second part of the Summa (two parts, Prima Secundae and Secunda Secundae) follows this complex of ideas. Its theme is man's striving for the highest end, which is the blessedness of the visio beata. Here Aquinas develops his system of ethics, which has its root in Aristotle.

In a chain of acts of will, man strives for the highest end. They are free acts, insofar as man has in himself the knowledge of their end (and therein the principle of action). In that the will wills the end, it wills also the appropriate means, chooses freely and completes the consensus. Whether the act be good or evil depends on the end. The "human reason" pronounces judgment concerning the character of the end; it is, therefore, the law for action. Human acts, however, are meritorious insofar as they promote the purpose of God and his honor.

By repeating a good action, man acquires a moral habit or a quality which enables him to do the good gladly and easily. This is true, however, only of the intellectual and moral virtues (which Aquinas treats after the manner of Aristotle); the theological virtues are imparted by God to man as a "disposition", from which the acts here proceed; while they strengthen, they do not form it. The "disposition" of evil is the opposite alternative. An act becomes evil through deviation from the reason, and from divine moral law. Therefore, sin involves two factors: its substance (or matter) is lust; in form, however, it is deviation from the divine law.

Sin
Sin
In religion, sin is the violation or deviation of an eternal divine law or standard. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation. Christians believe the moral code of conduct is decreed by God In religion, sin (also called peccancy) is the violation or deviation...

 has its origin in the will, which decides (against reason) for a "changeable good". Since, however, the will also moves the other powers of man, sin has its seat in these too. By choosing such a lower good as its end the will is misled by self-love, so that this works as cause in every sin. God is not the cause of sin since, on the contrary, he draws all things to himself. But from another side God is the cause of all things, so he is efficacious also in sin as actio but not as ens. The devil is not directly the cause of sin, but he incites the imagination and the sensuous impulse of man (as men or things may also do).

Sin is original sin
Original sin
Original sin is, according to a Christian theological doctrine, humanity's state of sin resulting from the Fall of Man. This condition has been characterized in many ways, ranging from something as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred...

. Adam's first sin passes through himself to all the succeeding race; because he is the head of the human race and "by virtue of procreation human nature is transmitted and along with nature its infection". The powers of generation are, therefore, designated especially as "infected". The thought is involved here by the fact that Aquinas, like other scholastics, believed in creationism; he therefore taught that souls are created by God. Two things according to Aquinas constituted man's righteousness in paradise – the justitia originalis or the harmony of all man's powers before they were blighted by desire, and the possession of the gratis gratum faciens (the continuous, indwelling power of good). Both are lost through original sin, which in form is the "loss of original righteousness". The consequence of this loss is the disorder and maiming of man's nature, which shows itself in "ignorance; malice, moral weakness, and especially in concupiscentia, which is the material principle of original sin". The course of thought here is as follows: when the first man transgressed the order of his nature appointed by nature and grace, he (and with him the human race) lost this order. This negative state is the essence of original sin. From it follow an impairment and perversion of human nature in which thenceforth lower aims rule, contrary to nature, and release the lower element in man.

Since sin is contrary to the divine order, it is guilt and subject to punishment. Guilt and punishment correspond to each other; and since the "apostasy from the invariable good which is infinite", fulfilled by man, is unending, it merits everlasting punishment.

But God works even in sinners to draw them to the end by "instructing through the law and aiding by grace". The law is the "precept of the practical reason". As the moral law of nature, it is the participation of the reason in the all-determining "eternal reason". But since man falls short in his appropriation of this law of reason, there is need of a "divine law". And since the law applies to many complicated relations, the practicae dispositiones of the human law must be laid down.

The divine law consists of an old and a new. In so far as the old divine law contains the moral law of nature it is universally valid; what there is in it, however, beyond this is valid only for the Jews. The new law is "primarily grace itself" and so a "law given within", "a gift superadded to nature by grace", but not a "written law". In this sense, as sacramental grace, the new law justifies. It contains, however, an "ordering" of external and internal conduct, and so regarded is, as a matter of course, identical with both the old law and the law of nature. The consilia (see Consilia Evangelica) show how one may attain the end "better and more expediently" by full renunciation of worldly goods.

Since man is sinner and creature, he needs grace to reach the final end. The "first cause" alone is able to reclaim him to the "final end". This is true after the fall, although it was needful before. Grace is, on one side, "the free act of God", and, on the other side, the effect of this act, the gratia infusa or gratia creata, a habitus infusus which is instilled into the "essence of the soul", "a certain gift of disposition, something supernatural proceeding from God into man". Grace is a supernatural ethical character created in man by God, which comprises in itself all good, both faith and love.

Justification
Justification (theology)
Rising out of the Protestant Reformation, Justification is the chief article of faith describing God's act of declaring or making a sinner righteous through Christ's atoning sacrifice....

 by grace
Divine grace
In Christian theology, grace is God’s gift of God’s self to humankind. It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to man - "generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved" - that takes the form of divine favour, love and clemency. It is an attribute of God that is most...

 comprises four elements: "the infusion of grace, the influencing of free will toward God through faith, the influencing of free will respecting sin, and the remission of sins". It is a "transmutation of the human soul", and takes place "instantaneously". A creative act of God enters, which, however, executes itself as a spiritual motive in a psychological form corresponding to the nature of man. Semipelagian tendencies are far removed from Aquinas. In that man is created anew he believes and loves, and now sin is forgiven. Then begins good conduct; grace is the "beginning of meritorious works". Aquinas conceives of merit in the Augustinian sense: God gives the reward for that toward which he himself gives the power. Man can never of himself deserve the prima gratis, nor meritum de congruo (by natural ability; cf. R. Seeberg, Lehrbuch der Dogmengeschichte, ii. 105-106, Leipsic, 1898).

After thus stating the principles of morality, in the Secunda Secundae, Aquinas comes to a minute exposition of his ethics according to the scheme of the virtues. The conceptions of faith and love are of much significance in the complete system of Aquinas. Man strives toward the highest good with the will or through love. But since the end must first be "apprehended in the intellect", knowledge of the end to be loved must precede love; "because the will can not strive after God in perfect love unless the intellect have true faith toward him". Inasmuch as this truth which is to be known is practical it first incites the will, which then brings the reason to "assent". But since, furthermore, the good in question is transcendent and inaccessible to man by himself, it requires the infusion of a supernatural "capacity" or "disposition" to make man capable of faith as well as love. Accordingly the object of both faith and love is God, involving also the entire complex of truths and commandments which God reveals, in so far as they in fact relate to God and lead to him. Thus faith becomes recognition of the teachings and precepts of the Scriptures and the Church ("the first subjection of man to God is by faith"). The object of faith, however, is by its nature object of love; therefore faith comes to completion only in love ("by love is the act of faith accomplished and formed").

Treatise on Law


According to Question 90, Article Four of the Second Part of the Summa, law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 "is nothing else than an ordinance of reason for the common good, made by him who has care of the community, and promulgated." All law comes from the eternal law of Divine Reason that governs the universe, which is understood and participated in by rational beings (such as men and angels) as the natural law
Natural law
Natural law, or the law of nature , is any system of law which is purportedly determined by nature, and thus universal. Classically, natural law refers to the use of reason to analyze human nature and deduce binding rules of moral behavior. Natural law is contrasted with the positive law Natural...

. The natural law, when codified and promulgated, is the human law. In addition to the human law, dictated by reason, man also has the Divine law, which, according to Question 91, is dictated through revelation, that man may be "directed how to perform his proper acts in view of his last end," "that man may know without any doubt what he ought to do and what he ought to avoid," because "human law could not sufficiently curb and direct interior acts," and since "human law cannot punish or forbid all evil deeds: since while aiming at doing away with all evils, it would do away with many good things, and would hinder the advance of the common good, which is necessary for human intercourse." Human law is not all-powerful; it cannot govern a man's conscience
Conscience
Conscience is an aptitude, faculty, intuition or judgment of the intellect that distinguishes right from wrong. Moral judgement may derive from values or norms...

, nor prohibit all vices, nor can it force all men to act according to its letter, rather than its spirit. Furthermore, it is possible that an edict can be issued without any basis in law as defined in Question 90; in this case, men are under no compulsion to act, save as it helps the common good. This separation between law and acts of force also allows men to depose tyrant
Tyrant
A tyrant was originally one who illegally seized and controlled a governmental power in a polis. Tyrants were a group of individuals who took over many Greek poleis during the uprising of the middle classes in the sixth and seventh centuries BC, ousting the aristocratic governments.Plato and...

s, or those who flout the natural law
Natural law
Natural law, or the law of nature , is any system of law which is purportedly determined by nature, and thus universal. Classically, natural law refers to the use of reason to analyze human nature and deduce binding rules of moral behavior. Natural law is contrasted with the positive law Natural...

; while removing an agent of the law is contrary to the common good and the eternal law of God which orders the powers that be, removing a tyrant is lawful as he has ceded his claim to being a lawful authority by acting contrary to law.

The Summa, Part III: Christ


The way which leads to God is Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

, the theme of part III. It can be asserted that the incarnation
Incarnation (Christianity)
The Incarnation in traditional Christianity is the belief that Jesus Christ the second person of the Trinity, also known as God the Son or the Logos , "became flesh" by being conceived in the womb of a woman, the Virgin Mary, also known as the Theotokos .The Incarnation is a fundamental theological...

 was absolutely necessary. The Unio between the Logos and the human nature is a "relation" between the divine and the human nature which comes about by both natures being brought together in the one person of the Logos. An incarnation can be spoken of only in the sense that the human nature began to be in the eternal hypostasis of the divine nature. So Christ is unum since his human nature lacks the hypostasis. The person of the Logos, accordingly, has assumed the impersonal human nature, and in such way that the assumption of the soul became the means for the assumption of the body. This union with the human soul is the gratia unionis which leads to the impartation of the gratia habitualis from the Logos to the human nature. Thereby all human potentialities are made perfect in Jesus. Besides the perfections given by the vision of God, which Jesus enjoyed from the beginning, he receives all others by the gratia habitualis. In so far, however, as it is the limited human nature which receives these perfections, they are finite. This holds both of the knowledge and the will of Christ. The Logos impresses the species intelligibiles of all created things on the soul, but the intellectus agens
Active intellect
The active intellect is a concept in classical and medieval philosophy...

 transforms them gradually into the impressions of sense. On another side the soul of Christ works miracles only as instrument of the Logos, since omnipotence in no way appertains to this human soul in itself. Concerning redemption, Aquinas teaches that Christ is to be regarded as redeemer after his human nature but in such way that the human nature produces divine effects as organ of divinity. The one side of the work of redemption consists herein, that Christ as head of humanity imparts ordo, perfectio, and virtus to his members. He is the teacher and example of humanity; his whole life and suffering as well as his work after he is exalted serve this end. The love wrought hereby in men effects, according to Luke vii. 47, the forgiveness of sins.

This is the first course of thought. Then follows a second complex of thoughts which has the idea of satisfaction as its center. To be sure, God as the highest being could forgive sins without satisfaction; but because his justice and mercy could be best revealed through satisfaction he chose this way. As little, however, as satisfaction is necessary in itself, so little does it offer an equivalent, in a correct sense, for guilt; it is rather a "superabundant satisfaction", since on account of the divine subject in Christ in a certain sense his suffering and activity are infinite. With this thought the strict logical deduction of Anselm's
Anselm of Canterbury
Anselm of Canterbury , also called of Aosta for his birthplace, and of Bec for his home monastery, was a Benedictine monk, a philosopher, and a prelate of the church who held the office of Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109...

 theory is given up. Christ's suffering bore personal character in that it proceeded "out of love and obedience". It was an offering brought to God, which as personal act had the character of merit. Thereby Christ "merited" salvation for men. As Christ, exalted, still influences men, so does he still work in their behalf continually in heaven through the intercession (interpellatio). In this way Christ as head of humanity effects the forgiveness of their sins, their reconciliation with God, their immunity from punishment, deliverance from the devil, and the opening of heaven's gate. But inasmuch as all these benefits are already offered through the inner operation of the love of Christ, Aquinas has combined the theories of Anselm and Abelard
Peter Abelard
Peter Abelard was a medieval French scholastic philosopher, theologian and preeminent logician. The story of his affair with and love for Héloïse has become legendary...

 by joining the one to the other.

The Sacraments


The doctrine of the sacrament
Sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

s follows the Christology; the sacraments "have efficacy from the incarnate Word himself". They are not only signs of sanctification, but bring it about. It is inevitable that they bring spiritual gifts in sensuous form, because of the sensuous nature of man. The res sensibiles are the matter, the words of institution the form of the sacraments. Contrary to the Franciscan view that the sacraments are mere symbols whose efficacy God accompanies with a directly following creative act in the soul, Aquinas holds it not unfit to agree with Hugo of St. Victor that "a sacrament contains grace", or to teach that they "cause grace".

Aquinas attempts to remove the difficulty of a sensuous thing producing a creative effect, by distinguishing between the causa principalis et instrumentalis. God as the principal cause works through the sensuous thing as the means ordained by him for his end. "Just as instrumental power is acquired by the instrument from this, that it is moved by the principal agent, so also the sacrament obtains spiritual power from the benediction of Christ and the application of the minister to the use of the sacrament. There is spiritual power in the sacraments in so far as they have been ordained by God for a spiritual effect". This spiritual power remains in the sensuous thing until it has attained its purpose. At the same time Aquinas distinguished the gratia sacramentalis from the gratia virtutum et donorum, in that the former perfects the general essence and the powers of the soul, whilst the latter in particular brings to pass necessary spiritual effects for the Christian life. Later this distinction was ignored.

In a single statement, the effect of the sacrament
Sacrament
A sacrament is a sacred rite recognized as of particular importance and significance. There are various views on the existence and meaning of such rites.-General definitions and terms:...

s is to infuse justifying grace into men. That which Christ effects is achieved through the sacraments. Christ's humanity was the instrument for the operation of his divinity; the sacraments are the instruments through which this operation of Christ's humanity passes over to men. Christ's humanity served his divinity as instrumentum conjunctum, like the hand: the sacraments are instrumenta separata, like a staff; the former can use the latter, as the hand can use a staff. For a more detailed exposition cf. Seeberg, ut sup., ii. 112 sqq.

Eschatology


Of Aquinas' eschatology
Eschatology
Eschatology is a part of theology, philosophy, and futurology concerned with what are believed to be the final events in history, or the ultimate destiny of humanity, commonly referred to as the end of the world or the World to Come...

, according to the commentary on the Sentences, this is only a brief account. Everlasting blessedness consists in the vision of God; this vision consists not in an abstraction or in a mental image supernaturally produced, but the divine substance itself is beheld, and in such manner that God himself becomes immediately the form of the beholding intellect. God is the object of the vision and at the same time causes the vision. The perfection of the blessed also demands that the body be restored to the soul as something to be made perfect by it. Since blessedness consists in operatio, it is made more perfect in that the soul has a definite operatio with the body, although the peculiar act of blessedness (in other words, the vision of God) has nothing to do with the body.

Influence


Not only has the Summa Theologica been one of the main intellectual inspirations for Thomistic philosophy
Thomism
Thomism is the philosophical school that arose as a legacy of the work and thought of St. Thomas Aquinas, philosopher, theologian, and Doctor of the Church. In philosophy, his commentaries on Aristotle are his most lasting contribution...

, but it has also so much influenced Dante Alighieri
Dante Alighieri
Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

's Divine Comedy that Dante's epic poem has been called "the Summa in verse."

See also

  • Sentences
    Sentences
    The Four Books of Sentences is a book of theology written by Peter Lombard in the twelfth century. It is a systematic compilation of theology, written around 1150; it derives its name from the sententiae or authoritative statements on biblical passages that it gathered together.-Origin and...

     of Peter Lombard
    Peter Lombard
    Peter Lombard was a scholastic theologian and bishop and author of Four Books of Sentences, which became the standard textbook of theology, for which he is also known as Magister Sententiarum-Biography:Peter Lombard was born in Lumellogno , in...

  • Summa logicae of William of Ockham
    William of Ockham
    William of Ockham was an English Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher, who is believed to have been born in Ockham, a small village in Surrey. He is considered to be one of the major figures of medieval thought and was at the centre of the major intellectual and political controversies of...


External links