Joseph Pilsner

in The Specification of Human Actions in St Thomas Aquinas

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780199286058
Published online May 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603808 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Theological Monographs


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Aquinas asserts that ends specify human actions, and explains this point by comparing human actions with other realities. For example, he maintains that an end is comparable to a form in a natural corporeal being (such as a plant or animal), for just as no material creature exists or has a species without a form, no human action can come to be or be of a particular kind unless a human agent wills some definite end. Even more important for Aquinas is a comparison with natural motions (such as changes in place, colour, or size). He thinks that as a subsensory motion is specified by its active principle (the nature from which the motion arises) and its ‘terminus to which’ (the motion’s final resting point), so a human action is specified by its active principle (the rational good or end which attracts the agent) and its ‘terminus to which’ (the action’s arrival at the agent’s intended goal).

Keywords: active principle; end; evil; form; human action; good; species; specification; term; terminus

Chapter.  10288 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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