follow that the universality of bodily creatures would not be the
effect of the goodness of God as communicated to creatures, but it
would be for the sake of the punishment of sin, which is contrary to
what is said: "God saw all the things that He had made, and they were
very good" (Gen. 1:31). And, as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei ii, 3):
"What can be more foolish than to say that the divine Architect
provided this one sun for the one world, not to be an ornament to its
beauty, nor for the benefit of corporeal things, but that it happened
through the sin of one soul; so that, if a hundred souls had sinned,
there would be a hundred suns in the world?"
Therefore it must be said that as the wisdom of God is the cause of
the distinction of things, so the same wisdom is the cause of their
inequality. This may be explained as follows. A twofold distinction
is found in things; one is a formal distinction as regards things
differing specifically; the other is a material distinction as regards
things differing numerically only. And as the matter is on account
of the form, material distinction exists for the sake of the formal
distinction. Hence we see that in incorruptible things there is only
one individual of each species, forasmuch as the species is
sufficiently preserved in the one; whereas in things generated and
corruptible there are many individuals of one species for the
preservation of the species. Whence it appears that formal distinction
is of greater consequence than material. Now, formal distinction
always requires inequality, because as the Philosopher says (Metaph.
viii, 10), the forms of things are like numbers in which species vary
by addition or subtraction of unity. Hence in natural things species
seem to be arranged in degrees; as the mixed things are more perfect
than the elements, and plants than minerals, and animals than plants,
and men than other animals; and in each of these one species is more
perfect than others. Therefore, as the divine wisdom is the cause of
the distinction of things for the sake of the perfection of the
universe, so it is the cause of inequality. For the universe would not
be perfect if only one grade of goodness were found in things.
Reply Obj. 1: It is part of the best agent to produce an effect which
is best in its entirety; but this does not mean that He makes every
part of the whole the best absolutely, but in proportion to the
whole; in the case of an animal, for instance, its goodness would be
taken away if every part of it had the dignity of an eye. Thus,
therefore, God also made the universe to be best as a whole,
according to the mode of a creature; whereas He did not make each
single creature best, but one better than another. And therefore we
find it said of each creature, "God saw the light that it was good"
(Gen. 1:4); and in like manner of each one of the rest. But of all
together it is said, "God saw all the things that He had made, and
they were very good" (Gen. 1:31).
Reply Obj. 2: The first effect of unity is equality; and then comes
multiplicity; and therefore from the Father, to Whom, according to
Augustine (De Doctr. Christ. i, 5), is appropriated unity, the Son
proceeds to Whom is appropriated equality, and then from Him the
creature proceeds, to which belongs inequality; but nevertheless
even creatures share in a certain equality - namely, of proportion.
Reply Obj. 3: This is the argument that persuaded Origen: but it
holds only as regards the distribution of rewards, the inequality of
which is due to unequal merits. But in the constitution of things
there is no inequality of parts through any preceding inequality,
either of merits or of the disposition of the matter; but inequality
comes from the perfection of the whole. This appears also in works
done by art; for the roof of a house differs from the foundation, not
because it is made of other material; but in order that the house may
be made perfect of different parts, the artificer seeks different
material; indeed, he would make such material if he could.
THIRD ARTICLE [I, Q. 47, Art. 3]
Whether There Is Only One World?
Objection 1: It would seem that there is not only one world, but many.
Because, as Augustine says (QQ. 83, qu. 46), it is unfitting to say
that God has created things without a reason. But for the same reason
He created one, He could create many, since His power is not limited
to the creation of one world; but rather it is infinite, as was shown
above (Q. 25, A. 2). Therefore God has produced many worlds.
Obj. 2: Further, nature does what is best and much more does God.
But it is better for there to be many worlds than one, because many
good things are better than a few. Therefore many worlds have been
made by God.
Obj. 3: Further, everything which has a form in matter can be
multiplied in number, the species remaining the same, because
multiplication in number comes from matter. But the world has a form
in matter. Thus as when I say "man" I mean the form, and when I say
"this man," I mean the form in matter; so when we say "world," the
form is signified, and when we say "this world," the form in the
matter is signified. Therefore there is nothing to prevent the
existence of many worlds.
_On the contrary,_ It is said (John 1:10): "The world was made by
Him," where the world is named as one, as if only one existed.
_I answer that,_ The very order of things created by God shows the
unity of the world. For this world is called one by the unity of
order, whereby some things are ordered to others. But whatever things
come from God, have relation of order to each other, and to God
Himself, as shown above (Q. 11, A. 3; Q. 21, A. 1). Hence it must be
that all things should belong to one world. Therefore those only can
assert that many worlds exist who do not acknowledge any ordaining
wisdom, but rather believe in chance, as Democritus, who said that
this world, besides an infinite number of other worlds, was made
from a casual concourse of atoms.
Reply Obj. 1: This reason proves that the world is one because all
things must be arranged in one order, and to one end. Therefore from
the unity of order in things Aristotle infers (Metaph. xii, text 52)
the unity of God governing all; and Plato (Tim.), from the unity of
the exemplar, proves the unity of the world, as the thing designed.
Reply Obj. 2: No agent intends material plurality as the end
forasmuch as material multitude has no certain limit, but of itself
tends to infinity, and the infinite is opposed to the notion of end.
Now when it is said that many worlds are better than one, this has
reference to material order. But the best in this sense is not the
intention of the divine agent; forasmuch as for the same reason it
might be said that if He had made two worlds, it would be better if
He had made three; and so on to infinite.
Reply Obj. 3: The world is composed of the whole of its matter. For
it is not possible for there to be another earth than this one, since
every earth would naturally be carried to this central one, wherever
it was. The same applies to the other bodies which are part of the
THE DISTINCTION OF THINGS IN PARTICULAR
(In Six Articles)
We must now consider the distinction of things in particular; and
firstly the distinction of good and evil; and then the distinction of
the spiritual and corporeal creatures.
Concerning the first, we inquire into evil and its cause.
Concerning evil, six points are to be considered:
(1) Whether evil is a nature?
(2) Whether evil is found in things?
(3) Whether good is the subject of evil?
(4) Whether evil totally corrupts good?
(5) The division of evil into pain and fault.
(6) Whether pain, or fault, has more the nature of evil?
FIRST ARTICLE [I, Q. 48, Art. 1]
Whether Evil Is a Nature?
Objection 1: It would seem that evil is a nature. For every genus is
a nature. But evil is a genus; for the Philosopher says (Praedic. x)
that "good and evil are not in a genus, but are genera of other
things." Therefore evil is a nature.
Obj. 2: Further, every difference which constitutes a species is a
nature. But evil is a difference constituting a species of morality;
for a bad habit differs in species from a good habit, as liberality
from illiberality. Therefore evil signifies a nature.
Obj. 3: Further, each extreme of two contraries is a nature. But evil
and good are not opposed as privation and habit, but as contraries,
as the Philosopher shows (Praedic. x) by the fact that between good
and evil there is a medium, and from evil there can be a return to
good. Therefore evil signifies a nature.
Obj. 4: Further, what is not, acts not. But evil acts, for it
corrupts good. Therefore evil is a being and a nature.
Obj. 5: Further, nothing belongs to the perfection of the universe
except what is a being and a nature. But evil belongs to the
perfection of the universe of things; for Augustine says (Enchir.
10, 11) that the "admirable beauty of the universe is made up of all
things. In which even what is called evil, well ordered and in its
place, is the eminent commendation of what is good." Therefore evil
is a nature.
_On the contrary,_ Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv), "Evil is neither
a being nor a good."
_I answer that,_ One opposite is known through the other, as darkness
is known through light. Hence also what evil is must be known from the
nature of good. Now, we have said above that good is everything
appetible; and thus, since every nature desires its own being and its
own perfection, it must be said also that the being and the perfection
of any nature is good. Hence it cannot be that evil signifies being,
or any form or nature. Therefore it must be that by the name of evil
is signified the absence of good. And this is what is meant by saying
that "evil is neither a being nor a good." For since being, as such,
is good, the absence of one implies the absence of the other.
Reply Obj. 1: Aristotle speaks there according to the opinion of
Pythagoreans, who thought that evil was a kind of nature; and
therefore they asserted the existence of the genus of good and evil.
For Aristotle, especially in his logical works, brings forward
examples that in his time were probable in the opinion of some
philosophers. Or, it may be said that, as the Philosopher says
(Metaph. iv, text 6), "the first kind of contrariety is habit and
privation," as being verified in all contraries; since one contrary
is always imperfect in relation to another, as black in relation to
white, and bitter in relation to sweet. And in this way good and evil
are said to be genera not simply, but in regard to contraries;
because, as every form has the nature of good, so every privation, as
such, has the nature of evil.
Reply Obj. 2: Good and evil are not constitutive differences except
in morals, which receive their species from the end, which is the
object of the will, the source of all morality. And because good has
the nature of an end, therefore good and evil are specific
differences in moral things; good in itself, but evil as the absence
of the due end. Yet neither does the absence of the due end by itself
constitute a moral species, except as it is joined to the undue end;
just as we do not find the privation of the substantial form in
natural things, unless it is joined to another form. Thus, therefore,
the evil which is a constitutive difference in morals is a certain
good joined to the privation of another good; as the end proposed by
the intemperate man is not the privation of the good of reason, but
the delight of sense without the order of reason. Hence evil is not a
constitutive difference as such, but by reason of the good that is
Reply Obj. 3: This appears from the above. For the Philosopher speaks
there of good and evil in morality. Because in that respect, between
good and evil there is a medium, as good is considered as something
rightly ordered, and evil as a thing not only out of right order, but
also as injurious to another. Hence the Philosopher says (Ethic. iv,
i) that a "prodigal man is foolish, but not evil." And from this evil
in morality, there may be a return to good, but not from any sort of
evil, for from blindness there is no return to sight, although
blindness is an evil.
Reply Obj. 4: A thing is said to act in a threefold sense. In one
way, formally, as when we say that whiteness makes white; and in that
sense evil considered even as a privation is said to corrupt good,
forasmuch as it is itself a corruption or privation of good. In
another sense a thing is said to act effectively, as when a painter
makes a wall white. Thirdly, it is said in the sense of the final
cause, as the end is said to effect by moving the efficient cause.
But in these two ways evil does not effect anything of itself, that
is, as a privation, but by virtue of the good annexed to it. For
every action comes from some form; and everything which is desired as
an end, is a perfection. And therefore, as Dionysius says (Div. Nom.
iv): "Evil does not act, nor is it desired, except by virtue of some
good joined to it: while of itself it is nothing definite, and beside
the scope of our will and intention."
Reply Obj. 5: As was said above, the parts of the universe are
ordered to each other, according as one acts on the other, and
according as one is the end and exemplar of the other. But, as was
said above, this can only happen to evil as joined to some good.
Hence evil neither belongs to the perfection of the universe, nor
does it come under the order of the same, except accidentally, that
is, by reason of some good joined to it.
SECOND ARTICLE [I, Q. 48, Art. 2]
Whether Evil Is Found in Things?
Objection 1: It would seem that evil is not found in things. For
whatever is found in things, is either something, or a privation of
something, that is a "not-being." But Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv)
that "evil is distant from existence, and even more distant from
non-existence." Therefore evil is not at all found in things.
Obj. 2: Further, "being" and "thing" are convertible. If therefore
evil is a being in things, it follows that evil is a thing, which is
contrary to what has been said (A. 1).
Obj. 3: Further, "the white unmixed with black is the most white," as
the Philosopher says (Topic. iii, 4). Therefore also the good unmixed
with evil is the greater good. But God makes always what is best,
much more than nature does. Therefore in things made by God there is
_On the contrary,_ On the above assumptions, all prohibitions and
penalties would cease, for they exist only for evils.
_I answer that,_ As was said above (Q. 47, AA. 1, 2), the perfection
of the universe requires that there should be inequality in things,
so that every grade of goodness may be realized. Now, one grade of
goodness is that of the good which cannot fail. Another grade of
goodness is that of the good which can fail in goodness, and this
grade is to be found in existence itself; for some things there are
which cannot lose their existence as incorruptible things, while
some there are which can lose it, as things corruptible.
As, therefore, the perfection of the universe requires that there
should be not only beings incorruptible, but also corruptible beings;
so the perfection of the universe requires that there should be some
which can fail in goodness, and thence it follows that sometimes they
do fail. Now it is in this that evil consists, namely, in the fact
that a thing fails in goodness. Hence it is clear that evil is found
in things, as corruption also is found; for corruption is itself an
Reply Obj. 1: Evil is distant both from simple being and from simple
"not-being," because it is neither a habit nor a pure negation, but a
Reply Obj. 2: As the Philosopher says (Metaph. v, text 14), being is
twofold. In one way it is considered as signifying the entity of a
thing, as divisible by the ten "predicaments"; and in that sense it
is convertible with thing, and thus no privation is a being, and
neither therefore is evil a being. In another sense being conveys the
truth of a proposition which unites together subject and attribute by
a copula, notified by this word "is"; and in this sense being is what
answers to the question, "Does it exist?" and thus we speak of
blindness as being in the eye; or of any other privation. In this way
even evil can be called a being. Through ignorance of this
distinction some, considering that things may be evil, or that evil
is said to be in things, believed that evil was a positive thing in
Reply Obj. 3: God and nature and any other agent make what is best in
the whole, but not what is best in every single part, except in order
to the whole, as was said above (Q. 47, A. 2). And the whole itself,
which is the universe of creatures, is all the better and more
perfect if some things in it can fail in goodness, and do sometimes
fail, God not preventing this. This happens, firstly, because "it
belongs to Providence not to destroy, but to save nature," as
Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv); but it belongs to nature that what may
fail should sometimes fail; secondly, because, as Augustine says
(Enchir. 11), "God is so powerful that He can even make good out of
evil." Hence many good things would be taken away if God permitted no
evil to exist; for fire would not be generated if air was not
corrupted, nor would the life of a lion be preserved unless the ass
were killed. Neither would avenging justice nor the patience of a
sufferer be praised if there were no injustice.
THIRD ARTICLE [I, Q. 48, Art. 3]
Whether Evil Is in Good As in Its Subject?
Objection 1: It would seem that evil is not in good as its subject.
For good is something that exists. But Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv,
4) that "evil does not exist, nor is it in that which exists."
Therefore, evil is not in good as its subject.
Obj. 2: Further, evil is not a being; whereas good is a being. But
"non-being" does not require being as its subject. Therefore, neither
does evil require good as its subject.
Obj. 3: Further, one contrary is not the subject of another. But good
and evil are contraries. Therefore, evil is not in good as in its
Obj. 4: Further, the subject of whiteness is called white. Therefore
also the subject of evil is evil. If, therefore, evil is in good as
in its subject, it follows that good is evil, against what is said
(Isa. 5:20): "Woe to you who call evil good, and good evil!"
_On the contrary,_ Augustine says (Enchiridion 14) that "evil exists
only in good."
_I answer that,_ As was said above (A. 1), evil imports the absence
of good. But not every absence of good is evil. For absence of good
can be taken in a privative and in a negative sense. Absence of good,
taken negatively, is not evil; otherwise, it would follow that what
does not exist is evil, and also that everything would be evil,
through not having the good belonging to something else; for instance,
a man would be evil who had not the swiftness of the roe, or the
strength of a lion. But the absence of good, taken in a privative
sense, is an evil; as, for instance, the privation of sight is called
Now, the subject of privation and of form is one and the same - viz.
being in potentiality, whether it be being in absolute potentiality,
as primary matter, which is the subject of the substantial form, and
of privation of the opposite form; or whether it be being in relative
potentiality, and absolute actuality, as in the case of a transparent
body, which is the subject both of darkness and light. It is, however,
manifest that the form which makes a thing actual is a perfection and
a good; and thus every actual being is a good; and likewise every
potential being, as such, is a good, as having a relation to good. For
as it has being in potentiality, so has it goodness in potentiality.
Therefore, the subject of evil is good.
Reply Obj. 1: Dionysius means that evil is not in existing things as
a part, or as a natural property of any existing thing.
Reply Obj. 2: "Not-being," understood negatively, does not require a
subject; but privation is negation in a subject, as the Philosopher
says (Metaph. iv, text 4), and such "not-being" is an evil.
Reply Obj. 3: Evil is not in the good opposed to it as in its
subject, but in some other good, for the subject of blindness is not
"sight," but "animal." Yet, it appears, as Augustine says
(Enchiridion 13), that the rule of dialectics here fails, where it is
laid down that contraries cannot exist together. But this is to be
taken as referring to good and evil in general, but not in reference
to any particular good and evil. For white and black, sweet and
bitter, and the like contraries, are only considered as contraries in
a special sense, because they exist in some determinate genus;
whereas good enters into every genus. Hence one good can coexist with
the privation of another good.
Reply Obj. 4: The prophet invokes woe to those who say that good as
such is evil. But this does not follow from what is said above, as is
clear from the explanation given.
FOURTH ARTICLE [I, Q. 48, Art. 4]
Whether Evil Corrupts the Whole Good?
Objection 1: It would seem that evil corrupts the whole good. For
one contrary is wholly corrupted by another. But good and evil are
contraries. Therefore evil corrupts the whole good.
Obj. 2: Further, Augustine says (Enchiridion 12) that "evil hurts
inasmuch as it takes away good." But good is all of a piece and
uniform. Therefore it is wholly taken away by evil.
Obj. 3: Further, evil, as long as it lasts, hurts, and takes away
good. But that from which something is always being removed, is at
some time consumed, unless it is infinite, which cannot be said of
any created good. Therefore evil wholly consumes good.
_On the contrary,_ Augustine says (Enchiridion 12) that "evil cannot
wholly consume good."
_I answer that,_ Evil cannot wholly consume good. To prove this we must
consider that good is threefold. One kind of good is wholly destroyed
by evil, and this is the good opposed to evil, as light is wholly
destroyed by darkness, and sight by blindness. Another kind of good is
neither wholly destroyed nor diminished by evil, and that is the good
which is the subject of evil; for by darkness the substance of the air
is not injured. And there is also a kind of good which is diminished
by evil, but is not wholly taken away; and this good is the aptitude
of a subject to some actuality.
The diminution, however, of this kind of good is not to be considered
by way of subtraction, as diminution in quantity, but rather by way of
remission, as diminution in qualities and forms. The remission
likewise of this habitude is to be taken as contrary to its intensity.
For this kind of aptitude receives its intensity by the dispositions
whereby the matter is prepared for actuality; which the more they are
multiplied in the subject the more is it fitted to receive its
perfection and form; and, on the contrary, it receives its remission
by contrary dispositions which, the more they are multiplied in the
matter, and the more they are intensified, the more is the
potentiality remitted as regards the actuality.
Therefore, if contrary dispositions cannot be multiplied and
intensified to infinity, but only to a certain limit, neither is the
aforesaid aptitude diminished or remitted infinitely, as appears in
the active and passive qualities of the elements; for coldness and
humidity, whereby the aptitude of matter to the form of fire is
diminished or remitted, cannot be infinitely multiplied. But if the
contrary dispositions can be infinitely multiplied, the aforesaid
aptitude is also infinitely diminished or remitted; yet, nevertheless,
it is not wholly taken away, because its root always remains, which is
the substance of the subject. Thus, if opaque bodies were interposed
to infinity between the sun and the air, the aptitude of the air to
light would be infinitely diminished, but still it would never be
wholly removed while the air remained, which in its very nature is
transparent. Likewise, addition in sin can be made to infinitude,
whereby the aptitude of the soul to grace is more and more lessened;
and these sins, indeed, are like obstacles interposed between us and
God, according to Isa. 59:2: "Our sins have divided between us and
God." Yet the aforesaid aptitude of the soul is not wholly taken away,