through species drawn from things.
Obj. 3: Further, the species in the intellect are indifferent to
what is present or distant, except in so far as they are taken from
sensible objects. Therefore, if the angel does not understand by
species drawn from things, his knowledge would be indifferent as to
things present and distant; and so he would be moved locally to no
_On the contrary,_ Dionysius says (Div. Nom. vii) that the "angels do
not gather their Divine knowledge from things divisible or sensible."
_I answer that,_ The species whereby the angels understand are not
drawn from things, but are connatural to them. For we must observe that
there is a similarity between the distinction and order of spiritual
substances and the distinction and order of corporeal substances. The
highest bodies have in their nature a potentiality which is fully
perfected by the form; whereas in the lower bodies the potentiality of
matter is not entirely perfected by the form, but receives from some
agent, now one form, now another. In like fashion also the lower
intellectual substances - that is to say, human souls - have a power
of understanding which is not naturally complete, but is successively
completed in them by their drawing intelligible species from things.
But in the higher spiritual substances - that is, the angels - the
power of understanding is naturally complete by intelligible species,
in so far as they have such species connatural to them, so as to
understand all things which they can know naturally.
The same is evident from the manner of existence of such substances.
The lower spiritual substances - that is, souls - have a nature akin to
a body, in so far as they are the forms of bodies: and consequently
from their very mode of existence it behooves them to seek their
intelligible perfection from bodies, and through bodies; otherwise
they would be united with bodies to no purpose. On the other hand,
the higher substances - that is, the angels - are utterly free from
bodies, and subsist immaterially and in their own intelligible
nature; consequently they attain their intelligible perfection
through an intelligible outpouring, whereby they received from God
the species of things known, together with their intellectual nature.
Hence Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. ii, 8): "The other things which
are lower than the angels are so created that they first receive
existence in the knowledge of the rational creature, and then in
their own nature."
Reply Obj. 1: There are images of creatures in the angel's mind, not,
indeed derived from creatures, but from God, Who is the cause of
creatures, and in Whom the likenesses of creatures first exist. Hence
Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. ii, 8) that, "As the type, according to
which the creature is fashioned, is in the Word of God before the
creature which is fashioned, so the knowledge of the same type exists
first in the intellectual creature, and is afterwards the very
fashioning of the creature."
Reply Obj. 2: To go from one extreme to the other it is necessary to
pass through the middle. Now the nature of a form in the imagination,
which form is without matter but not without material conditions,
stands midway between the nature of a form which is in matter, and
the nature of a form which is in the intellect by abstraction from
matter and from material conditions. Consequently, however powerful
the angelic mind might be, it could not reduce material forms to an
intelligible condition, except it were first to reduce them to the
nature of imagined forms; which is impossible, since the angel has no
imagination, as was said above (Q. 54, A. 5). Even granted that he
could abstract intelligible species from material things, yet he
would not do so; because he would not need them, for he has
connatural intelligible species.
Reply Obj. 3: The angel's knowledge is quite indifferent as to what
is near or distant. Nevertheless his local movement is not
purposeless on that account: for he is not moved to a place for the
purpose of acquiring knowledge, but for the purpose of operation.
THIRD ARTICLE [I, Q. 55, Art. 3]
Whether the Higher Angels Understand by More Universal Species Than
the Lower Angels?
Objection 1: It would seem that the higher angels do not understand
by more universal species than the lower angels. For the universal,
seemingly, is what is abstracted from particulars. But angels do not
understand by species abstracted from things. Therefore it cannot be
said that the species of the angelic intellect are more or less
Obj. 2: Further, whatever is known in detail is more perfectly known
than what is known generically; because to know anything generically
is, in a fashion, midway between potentiality and act. If, therefore,
the higher angels know by more universal species than the lower, it
follows that the higher have a more imperfect knowledge than the
lower; which is not befitting.
Obj. 3: Further, the same cannot be the proper type of many. But if
the higher angel knows various things by one universal form, which
the lower angel knows by several special forms, it follows that the
higher angel uses one universal form for knowing various things.
Therefore he will not be able to have a proper knowledge of each;
which seems unbecoming.
_On the contrary,_ Dionysius says (Coel. Hier. xii) that the higher
angels have a more universal knowledge than the lower. And in _De
Causis_ it is said that the higher angels have more universal forms.
_I answer that,_ For this reason are some things of a more exalted
nature, because they are nearer to and more like unto the first, which
is God. Now in God the whole plenitude of intellectual knowledge is
contained in one thing, that is to say, in the Divine essence, by
which God knows all things. This plenitude of knowledge is found in
created intellects in a lower manner, and less simply. Consequently it
is necessary for the lower intelligences to know by many forms what
God knows by one, and by so many forms the more according as the
intellect is lower.
Thus the higher the angel is, by so much the fewer species will he be
able to apprehend the whole mass of intelligible objects. Therefore
his forms must be more universal; each one of them, as it were,
extending to more things. An example of this can in some measure be
observed in ourselves. For some people there are who cannot grasp an
intelligible truth, unless it be explained to them in every part and
detail; this comes of their weakness of intellect: while there are
others of stronger intellect, who can grasp many things from few.
Reply Obj. 1: It is accidental to the universal to be abstracted from
particulars, in so far as the intellect knowing it derives its
knowledge from things. But if there be an intellect which does not
derive its knowledge from things, the universal which it knows will
not be abstracted from things, but in a measure will be pre-existing
to them; either according to the order of causality, as the universal
ideas of things are in the Word of God; or at least in the order of
nature, as the universal ideas of things are in the angelic mind.
Reply Obj. 2: To know anything universally can be taken in two
senses. In one way, on the part of the thing known, namely, that only
the universal nature of the thing is known. To know a thing thus is
something less perfect: for he would have but an imperfect knowledge
of a man who only knew him to be an animal. In another way, on the
part of the medium of such knowledge. In this way it is more perfect
to know a thing in the universal; for the intellect, which by one
universal medium can know each of the things which are properly
contained in it, is more perfect than one which cannot.
Reply Obj. 3: The same cannot be the proper and adequate type of
several things. But if it be eminent, then it can be taken as the
proper type and likeness of many. Just as in man, there is a
universal prudence with respect to all the acts of the virtues; which
can be taken as the proper type and likeness of that prudence which
in the lion leads to acts of magnanimity, and in the fox to acts of
wariness; and so on of the rest. The Divine essence, on account of
Its eminence, is in like fashion taken as the proper type of each
thing contained therein: hence each one is likened to It according to
its proper type. The same applies to the universal form which is in
the mind of the angel, so that, on account of its excellence, many
things can be known through it with a proper knowledge.
OF THE ANGEL'S KNOWLEDGE OF IMMATERIAL THINGS
(In Three Articles)
We now inquire into the knowledge of the angels with regard to the
objects known by them. We shall treat of their knowledge, first, of
immaterial things, secondly of things material. Under the first
heading there are three points of inquiry:
(1) Does an angel know himself?
(2) Does one angel know another?
(3) Does the angel know God by his own natural principles?
FIRST ARTICLE [I, Q. 56, Art 1]
Whether an Angel Knows Himself?
Objection 1: It would seem that an angel does not know himself. For
Dionysius says that "the angels do not know their own powers" (Coel.
Hier. vi). But, when the substance is known, the power is known.
Therefore an angel does not know his own essence.
Obj. 2: Further, an angel is a single substance, otherwise he would
not act, since acts belong to single subsistences. But nothing single
is intelligible. Therefore, since the angel possesses only knowledge
which is intellectual, no angel can know himself.
Obj. 3: Further, the intellect is moved by the intelligible object:
because, as stated in _De Anima_ iii, 4 understanding is a kind of
passion. But nothing is moved by or is passive to itself; as appears
in corporeal things. Therefore the angel cannot understand himself.
_On the contrary,_ Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. ii) that "the angel
knew himself when he was established, that is, enlightened by truth."
_I answer that,_ As is evident from what has been previously said
(Q. 14, A. 2; Q. 54, A. 2), the object is on a different footing in
an immanent, and in a transient, action. In a transient action the
object or matter into which the action passes is something separate
from the agent, as the thing heated is from what gave it heat, and
the building from the builder; whereas in an immanent action, for the
action to proceed, the object must be united with the agent; just as
the sensible object must be in contact with sense, in order that
sense may actually perceive. And the object which is united to a
faculty bears the same relation to actions of this kind as does the
form which is the principle of action in other agents: for, as heat
is the formal principle of heating in the fire, so is the species of
the thing seen the formal principle of sight to the eye.
It must, however, be borne in mind that this image of the object
exists sometimes only potentially in the knowing faculty; and then
there is only knowledge in potentiality; and in order that there may
be actual knowledge, it is required that the faculty of knowledge be
actuated by the species. But if it always actually possesses the
species, it can thereby have actual knowledge without any preceding
change or reception. From this it is evident that it is not of the
nature of knower, as knowing, to be moved by the object, but as
knowing in potentiality. Now, for the form to be the principle of the
action, it makes no difference whether it be inherent in something
else, or self-subsisting; because heat would give forth heat none the
less if it were self-subsisting, than it does by inhering in something
else. So therefore, if in the order of intelligible beings there be
any subsisting intelligible form, it will understand itself. And since
an angel is immaterial, he is a subsisting form; and, consequently, he
is actually intelligible. Hence it follows that he understands himself
by his form, which is his substance.
Reply Obj. 1: That is the text of the old translation, which is
amended in the new one, and runs thus: "furthermore they," that is
to say the angels, "knew their own powers": instead of which the
old translation read - "and furthermore they do not know their own
powers." Although even the letter of the old translation might be
kept in this respect, that the angels do not know their own power
perfectly; according as it proceeds from the order of the Divine
Wisdom, Which to the angels is incomprehensible.
Reply Obj. 2: We have no knowledge of single corporeal things, not
because of their particularity, but on account of the matter, which
is their principle of individuation. Accordingly, if there be any
single things subsisting without matter, as the angels are, there is
nothing to prevent them from being actually intelligible.
Reply Obj. 3: It belongs to the intellect, in so far as it is in
potentiality, to be moved and to be passive. Hence this does not
happen in the angelic intellect, especially as regards the fact that
he understands himself. Besides the action of the intellect is not of
the same nature as the action found in corporeal things, which passes
into some other matter.
SECOND ARTICLE [I, Q. 56, Art. 2]
Whether One Angel Knows Another?
Objection 1: It would seem that one angel does not know another. For
the Philosopher says (De Anima iii, text. 4), that if the human
intellect were to have in itself any one of the sensible things, then
such a nature existing within it would prevent it from apprehending
external things; as likewise, if the pupil of the eye were colored
with some particular color, it could not see every color. But as the
human intellect is disposed for understanding corporeal things, so is
the angelic mind for understanding immaterial things. Therefore, since
the angelic intellect has within itself some one determinate nature
from the number of such natures, it would seem that it cannot
understand other natures.
Obj. 2: Further, it is stated in _De Causis_ that "every intelligence
knows what is above it, in so far as it is caused by it; and what is
beneath it, in so far as it is its cause." But one angel is not the
cause of another. Therefore one angel does not know another.
Obj. 3: Further, one angel cannot be known to another angel by the
essence of the one knowing; because all knowledge is effected by way
of a likeness. But the essence of the angel knowing is not like the
essence of the angel known, except generically; as is clear from what
has been said before (Q. 50, A. 4; Q. 55, A. 1, ad 3). Hence, it
follows that one angel would not have a particular knowledge of
another, but only a general knowledge. In like manner it cannot be
said that one angel knows another by the essence of the angel known;
because that whereby the intellect understands is something within
the intellect; whereas the Trinity alone can penetrate the mind.
Again, it cannot be said that one angel knows the other by a species;
because that species would not differ from the angel understood,
since each is immaterial. Therefore in no way does it appear that one
angel can understand another.
Obj. 4: Further, if one angel did understand another, this would be
either by an innate species; and so it would follow that, if God were
now to create another angel, such an angel could not be known by the
existing angels; or else he would have to be known by a species drawn
from things; and so it would follow that the higher angels could not
know the lower, from whom they receive nothing. Therefore in no way
does it seem that one angel knows another.
_On the contrary,_ We read in _De Causis_ that "every intelligence
knows the things which are not corrupted."
_I answer that,_ As Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. lit. ii), such things
as pre-existed from eternity in the Word of God, came forth from Him
in two ways: first, into the angelic mind; and secondly, so as to
subsist in their own natures. They proceeded into the angelic mind in
such a way, that God impressed upon the angelic mind the images of the
things which He produced in their own natural being. Now in the Word
of God from eternity there existed not only the forms of corporeal
things, but likewise the forms of all spiritual creatures. So in every
one of these spiritual creatures, the forms of all things, both
corporeal and spiritual, were impressed by the Word of God; yet so
that in every angel there was impressed the form of his own species
according to both its natural and its intelligible condition, so that
he should subsist in the nature of his species, and understand himself
by it; while the forms of other spiritual and corporeal natures were
impressed in him only according to their intelligible natures, so that
by such impressed species he might know corporeal and spiritual
Reply Obj. 1: The spiritual natures of the angels are distinguished
from one another in a certain order, as was already observed (Q. 50,
A. 4, ad 1, 2). So the nature of an angel does not hinder him from
knowing the other angelic natures, since both the higher and lower
bear affinity to his nature, the only difference being according to
their various degrees of perfection.
Reply Obj. 2: The nature of cause and effect does not lead one angel
to know another, except on account of likeness, so far as cause and
effect are alike. Therefore if likeness without causality be admitted
in the angels, this will suffice for one to know another.
Reply Obj. 3: One angel knows another by the species of such angel
existing in his intellect, which differs from the angel whose image
it is, not according to material and immaterial nature, but according
to natural and intentional existence. The angel is himself a
subsisting form in his natural being; but his species in the
intellect of another angel is not so, for there it possesses only
an intelligible existence. As the form of color on the wall has a
natural existence; but, in the deferent medium, it has only
Reply Obj. 4: God made every creature proportionate to the universe
which He determined to make. Therefore had God resolved to make more
angels or more natures of things, He would have impressed more
intelligible species in the angelic minds; as a builder who, if he
had intended to build a larger house, would have made larger
foundations. Hence, for God to add a new creature to the universe,
means that He would add a new intelligible species to an angel.
THIRD ARTICLE [I, Q. 56, Art. 3]
Whether an Angel Knows God by His Own Natural Principles?
Objection 1: It would seem that the angels cannot know God by their
natural principles. For Dionysius says (Div. Nom. i) that God "by His
incomprehensible might is placed above all heavenly minds." Afterwards
he adds that, "since He is above all substances, He is remote from all
Obj. 2: Further, God is infinitely above the intellect of an angel.
But what is infinitely beyond cannot be reached. Therefore it appears
that an angel cannot know God by his natural principles.
Obj. 3: Further, it is written (1 Cor. 13:12): "We see now through a
glass in a dark manner; but then face to face." From this it appears
that there is a twofold knowledge of God; the one, whereby He is seen
in His essence, according to which He is said to be seen face to
face; the other whereby He is seen in the mirror of creatures. As was
already shown (Q. 12, A. 4), an angel cannot have the former
knowledge by his natural principles. Nor does vision through a mirror
belong to the angels, since they do not derive their knowledge of God
from sensible things, as Dionysius observes (Div. Nom. vii).
Therefore the angels cannot know God by their natural powers.
_On the contrary,_ The angels are mightier in knowledge than men. Yet
men can know God through their natural principles; according to Rom.
1:19: "what is known of God is manifest in them." Therefore much more
so can the angels.
_I answer that,_ The angels can have some knowledge of God by their
own principles. In evidence whereof it must be borne in mind that a
thing is known in three ways: first, by the presence of its essence
in the knower, as light can be seen in the eye; and so we have said
that an angel knows himself - secondly, by the presence of its
similitude in the power which knows it, as a stone is seen by the eye
from its image being in the eye - thirdly, when the image of the
object known is not drawn directly from the object itself, but from
something else in which it is made to appear, as when we behold a man
in a mirror.
To the first-named class that knowledge of God is likened by which He
is seen through His essence; and knowledge such as this cannot accrue
to any creature from its natural principles, as was said above
(Q. 12, A. 4). The third class comprises the knowledge whereby we
know God while we are on earth, by His likeness reflected in
creatures, according to Rom. 1:20: "The invisible things of God are
clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made." Hence,
too, we are said to see God in a mirror. But the knowledge, whereby
according to his natural principles the angel knows God, stands midway
between these two; and is likened to that knowledge whereby a thing is
seen through the species abstracted from it. For since God's image is
impressed on the very nature of the angel in his essence, the angel
knows God in as much as he is the image of God. Yet he does not behold
God's essence; because no created likeness is sufficient to represent
the Divine essence. Such knowledge then approaches rather to the
specular kind; because the angelic nature is itself a kind of mirror
representing the Divine image.
Reply Obj. 1: Dionysius is speaking of the knowledge of
comprehension, as his words expressly state. In this way God is not
known by any created intellect.
Reply Obj. 2: Since an angel's intellect and essence are infinitely
remote from God, it follows that he cannot comprehend Him; nor can he
see God's essence through his own nature. Yet it does not follow on
that account that he can have no knowledge of Him at all: because, as
God is infinitely remote from the angel, so the knowledge which God
has of Himself is infinitely above the knowledge which an angel has
Reply Obj. 3: The knowledge which an angel has of God is midway
between these two kinds of knowledge; nevertheless it approaches more
to one of them, as was said above.
OF THE ANGEL'S KNOWLEDGE OF MATERIAL THINGS
(In Five Articles)
We next investigate the material objects which are known by the
angels. Under this heading there are five points of inquiry:
(1) Whether the angels know the natures of material things?
(2) Whether they know single things?
(3) Whether they know the future?
(4) Whether they know secret thoughts?
(5) Whether they know all mysteries of grace?
FIRST ARTICLE [I, Q. 57, Art. 1]
Whether the Angels Know Material Things?
Objection 1: It would seem that the angels do not know material
things. For the object understood is the perfection of him who
understands it. But material things cannot be the perfections of
angels, since they are beneath them. Therefore the angels do not
know material things.
Obj. 2: Further, intellectual vision is only of such things as exist
within the soul by their essence, as is said in the gloss [*On 2 Cor.
12:2, taken from Augustine (Gen. ad lit. xii. 28)]. But the material
things cannot enter by their essence into man's soul, nor into the
angel's mind. Therefore they cannot be known by intellectual vision,
but only by imaginary vision, whereby the images of bodies are
apprehended, and by sensible vision, which regards bodies in
themselves. Now there is neither imaginary nor sensible vision in
the angels, but only intellectual. Therefore the angels cannot know
Obj. 3: Further, material things are not actually intelligible, but
are knowable by apprehension of sense and of imagination, which does
not exist in angels. Therefore angels do not know material things.
_On the contrary,_ Whatever the lower power can do, the higher can do
likewise. But man's intellect, which in the order of nature is
inferior to the angel's, can know material things. Therefore much
more can the mind of an angel.
_I answer that,_ The established order of things is for the higher
beings to be more perfect than the lower; and for whatever is