God's Goodness

Ludger Honnefelder

in The Oxford Handbook of Aquinas

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780195326093
Published online May 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 God's Goodness

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Aquinas dealt with the science whose subject is God in his Summa theologiae. He focused on the determining of the predicates such as existence/being, simplicity, perfection, and goodness, characterizing God. He mentioned that one couldn't see God in his essence, but rather one cognizes him through creatures under the aspect of a cause, abstracting from creatures the mode of excellence. Aquinas concluded that every being desires its perfection, the perfection or form is a similitude of the agent that causes perfection by actualizing a thing's form, and the agent cause, itself must be something desirable and therefore good as stated in the previous definition. Aristotle defined ‘good’ as the ‘desirable’ (appetibile) only as regards active human desiring agents, Aquinas extends it beyond active agents, claiming that all beings have a fundamental desire, namely to reach their perfection. Aquinas argued that even non-rational creatures desire God insofar as God has given them a natural inclination to their ends. He also introduces and defined the predicate of perfection in order to demonstrate that God is ‘perfect’ (perfectus). Aquinas distinguished a twofold way in which something can be perfected with regard to the two predicates ‘true’ (verum) and ‘good’ (bonum). The intellect is perfected by its object according to its kind (species), the will according to its being (esse).

Keywords: Summa theologiae; appetibile; perfectus; verum; bonum; esse

Article.  5002 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Philosophy of Religion

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