In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

133 6 Rational Appetite and Good Sense Will and Intellect in Aquinas The intellectual dimension so prevalent in Aristotle’s account of “choice”— yet crucially fused with Augustine’s metaphysics of grace—was to find its consummate articulation in Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae, particularly in his discussion of the will in the so-called “Treatise on Man” and at the beginning of the Prima Secundae. Unlike in Aristotle’s ethics, the will now presents itself in the two distinct forms of the divine (uncreated) and the human, finite person. Both are, for Aquinas , ontologically related, specifically because the very idea of the “person” as a rational being is intelligible only on the basis of its participation in “sanctifying grace” (donum gratiae gratiam faciens). For Aquinas, that ontological framework must be accepted by all those who wish to engage in a rational and sustained exchange about pretty much anything at all. Even heretics and pagans can be engaged, within limits , provided they accept the premise of some non-contingent relation between the human and the divine. Minimally, such a relation becomes legible in the inner tele­ ological structure or purposiveness of being, a point famously set forth in the “five ways” of Quaestio 2 of the Summa.1 Thus “each and every part exists for the sake of 1. On the quinque viae, see Rudi te Velde’s scrupulous account of the first “way” in Aquinas on God, 37–63. Te Velde effectively dismantles the longstanding misreading of the “five ways” as 134 rational appetite its proper act, as the eye for the act of seeing; secondly, that the less honorable parts exist for the more honorable, as the senses for the intellect … thirdly, that all parts are for the perfection of the whole, as the matter for the form [sicut materia propter formam] … Furthermore, the whole man is on account of an extrinsic end, that being the fruition of God [ut fruatur Deo]” (ST, Ia Q 65 A 2). However distant it may seem to us now, Aquinas’s position constitutes not simply a statement of belief but, consistent with Anselm’s notion of “faith seeking understanding” (fides quaerens intellectum), concurrently enacts a commitment to reason itself. For Aquinas, the very intelligibility of any particular thing—that is, of matter concretized qua form— hinges on its teleological orientation toward a superior end. Yet if the rationality of things inheres in their relations, it does so not merely by being of instrumental use to higher creatures but also by affirming the teleological ordination of the whole: “Every creature exists for the perfection of the entire universe.”2 It bears recalling that in its root universum means “turned toward unity,” and that for Aquinas a singular being cannot be known except as something “active, self-manifesting, and self-­ communicating through action.”3 The entire “Treatise on the Work of the Six Days” (ST, Ia 65–74), as well as the “Treatise on Man” (ST, Ia QQ 75–102) that follows it, pivot on this relational model of rationality. In the case of the human being, however, some special circumstances apply and now need to be briefly recalled. First and foremost, Aquinas insists that unlike all other created beings, “rational creatures … can attain to [God] by their own operations” [quem attingere possunt sua operatione (ST, Ia Q 65 A 2)]. To understand Thomas’s conception of will and intellect is to encounter a model of personhood radically different from modern notions of individuality or subjectivity as they are consolidated under the heading of self-­ possession, self-discipline, and autonomy by the alternately neo-Stoic, anti-­ Aristotelian, and anti-clerical modern projects of Luther, Justus Lipsius, Cornelius Jansen, Descartes, Hobbes, Kant, and many others besides. Unlike the Platonic model, in which eidos and physis remain antagonists, all existence—including, especially, that of the human person—constitutes for Aquinas a vivid instantiation of the ontology of reason. Following Aristotle, he thus conceives being as the realization of a substantial form. In a daring synthesis of Aristotelian metaphysics with Augustinian spirituality, Aquinas also posits all existence as a divinely created gift­ supposed evidence of Thomas’s commitment to some version of natural theology. See also Kerr, After Aquinas, 52–72. 2. Discussion of teleology in Aquinas, and on the possibility of a non-teleological and posttheistic modeling of reason continues unabated. For the varied reception of Aquinas in twentiethcentury existentialist thought from Étienne Gilson to Heidegger to Hans Urs von Balthasar, see Kerr, After Aquinas...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.