Although St. Thomas Aquinas holds that the transcendentals are convertible with being, one may question whether they all follow upon the metaphysical principles of a creature in the same way. Aquinas raises the question when he says that creatures are one by essence but good only by being. This paper examines the ground of truth according to Aquinas, considering his distinction between types of truth as well as his distinguishing kinds of knowers. To advance this investigation the essay compares truth and goodness; it also includes a discussion of unity.

Clearly there is a close parallel between goodness and ‘the truth of a thing’, but must the truth of the intellect – truth in the primary sense – be grounded in the extramental being of a creature? This paper argues that, for Aquinas, human knowledge of composite beings is attained through encounters with their real instances and is reflected in necessarily true yet nonanalytic statements about these creatures, statements that can be explained by St.Thomas's theory of predication, to which the theory of an influential contemporary thinker is strikingly similar. God's knowledge of finite essences, and hence truth concerning them, does not assume the actual existence of their instantiations from all eternity, but it does assume their real existence at some time. The requirement of real existence for the human mode of knowing, and, as explained, for divine knowing, underscores the value of finite being and thus harmonizes with Aquinas's claims that composite beings, as what they are, possess being more truly in themselves than as in the mind of God, and they are known properly by God only when grasped as actually existent particulars.

St. Thomas Aquinas holds that the transcendentals are convertible with being, ens.1 One may question, however, whether they all follow upon the metaphysical principles of a creature in the same way. St. Thomas himself raises the question when he says that creatures are one by essence but good only by being, esse, and not by essence.2 This paper examines the ground of truth according to Aquinas, considering his distinction between types of truth as well as his distinguishing kinds of knowers. To advance this investigation, the essay compares truth and goodness; it also includes a discussion of unity, for two reasons: first, to address the above puzzling statement about the apparent basis of unity, and second, to enhance the comparison of goodness and truth. Through this discussion there emerges an emphasis on the value of extramental finite being in the thought of Aquinas.

As will be seen, St. Thomas unequivocally holds that the goodness of any creature is its own being (esse). Despite the fact that Aquinas also insists that truth follows upon being, an explanation of this doctrine is more complex than that required in the case of goodness, given his position that there are two kinds of truth: the truth of things and the truth of the intellect. It will be shown that the former kind of truth is coextensive with the finite being of a creature; here there is a close parallel between goodness and truth. However, one might question whether the truth of the intellect, which for Aquinas is truth in the primary sense, need be grounded in the real esse of a creature. That is, does the knowledge of, and thus truth concerning, finite natures depend upon the actual existence of their instantiations? If so, how? I will argue that, for human beings, a composite creature's essence is known through successive encounters with real instances of the creature.3 Human knowledge of natural beings is a gradual process, starting with the existent singular, and is reflected in necessarily true yet nonanalytic statements about these beings, statements that can be explained by Aquinas's theory of predication, to which the theory of an influential contemporary thinker is strikingly similar. I will then propose that, according to Aquinas, God's knowledge of finite essences or natures, and hence truth concerning them, does not assume the actual existence of their instantiations from all eternity, but it does assume their real existence at some time. The requirement of real existence not only for the human mode of knowing, but also, in the sense just noted, for divine knowing, underscores the value of finite being and thus harmonizes with Aquinas's claims that, granting God's decision to create, composite beings, as what they are, possess being more truly in themselves than as in the mind of God, and they are known properly by God only when grasped as the actually existent particulars that they are.


Aquinas's position on the real identity of goodness and esse is very clear. He holds that all things are good insofar as they are, which is to say good in a relative sense, secundum quid; they can also be good absolutely, simpliciter, insofar as they are developed according to their nature:

Hence that which is ultimately complete is said to be good without qualification; that, however, which has not the ultimate completion it ought to have – although insofar as it is in act, it has some completion – is not said to be complete without qualification nor good without qualification, but only in some respect.4

It is apparent from the context of this passage that Aquinas is speaking of created beings, existing outside the mind of God. A creature is a being through its own act of being; likewise, it is good through its own goodness, which is its being.5 The basic ratio with respect to goodness is ‘completion’, as that which in some sense belongs to a thing. As the above quotation indicates, a good X is a complete X; only when it is in some sense complete is an item able to be desired or suited to desire or, indeed, able to desire its own further completion. It is not necessary here to explicate the relation of ‘completion’ and ‘desire’,6 but some elaboration on ‘completeness’ is in order. A being of nature that is good absolutely or without qualification, simpliciter, is one that has (to a high degree) the accidental being belonging to it according to its nature; the nature or essence, then, is the standard for goodness, but the goodness itself is the being itself, the actual presence of a developed aspect or aspects.

Goodness in a relative sense, secundum quid, is substantial esse. Something exists when it has esse; it has a fundamental ‘completion’ in that it has the basic entitative principles of esse and essence. Thus esse must belong to something if that thing is to be at all. Aquinas says a nature is that to which being or esse belongs; that is, being belongs to essence, rather than the reverse,7 for an essence or form is but a potency. Moreover, for something to subsist, to be, rather than to be in, it must have substantial being. Esse, then, belongs to substances, which subsist in their being.8 That is, esse belongs to the subsisting thing rather than to the form, and what belongs to forms is to be concreated rather than created.9

Goodness simpliciter or absolutely speaking, which pertains to the development of a substance, admits of degrees; in this sense, one member of a species can be better than another. Goodness secundum quid or in a relative sense, which in fact is substantial being, does not admit of degrees; each member of a kind exists equally as a member of that kind. But again, there is no doubt that for Aquinas goodness of both kinds is the finite being of an extramentally existing creature. Hence mathematical entities, because they do not subsist as separate entities, do not possess goodness: ‘Nor is it inappropriate that in some being of reason there should be neither goodness nor the notion of good, since the notion of being is prior to the notion of goodness.’10


Aquinas's treatment of unity raises difficulties in interpretation. As noted above, he claims that creatures are one by essence: quaelibet res sit una per suam essentiam.11 But is he referring to essence without being, esse? Perhaps some light on this question may be shed by reviewing the differences between the transcendentals, including unity and goodness, that Aquinas articulates in the De veritate, question one, article one. Here Thomas points out that the transcendentals express modes of being not expressed by the term ‘being’ (ens) itself, but which are consequent upon every being. There are two types of transcendentals: (1) those that pertain to every being considered absolutely or in itself, and (2) those considered in relation to another. Of the first kind are ‘thing’ (res) and ‘one’ (unum); of the second, ‘something’ (aliquid), ‘good’ (bonum), and ‘true’ (verum). Moreover, within (1), ‘thing’ is predicated of every being absolutely and affirmatively, whereas ‘one’ is understood absolutely and negatively, ‘For the one is nothing other than undivided being.’12

Aquinas, then, identifies one and being. Indeed, he says that the esse of anything consists in indivision.13 Yet, again, he seems to base unity on essence. However, it might be noted that in question one, article one of De veritate Aquinas associates both transcendentals in category (1) – that is, ‘thing’ and ‘one’– with essence, saying, while referring to Avicenna, that ‘thing’ expresses the quiddity or essence of a being, whereas ‘being’ is named from the act of being (ab actu essendi). Aquinas's wording here is instructive: It supports the view that although ‘thing’ focuses on the quidditative aspect of a reality, that quiddity belongs to a being, and only as applicable to a being is ‘thing’ appropriate. A thing is a being of some sort.

This interpretation comports with an analysis made by Joseph Owens, C.Ss.R., in his penetrating study ‘Unity and Essence in St. Thomas Aquinas’,14 an article that takes up precisely the question posed above: When Aquinas claims that creatures are one by essence, does he mean essence without being (esse)? Fr. Owens's discussion is meticulously researched and convincing. According to Fr. Owens, when Thomas says that things are one through essence, ‘essence’ is not to be understood apart from esse. Owens explains that in a neoplatonic setting ‘good through essence’ is contrasted to ‘good through participation’; the former applies only to God, whereas creatures are good only by participation. In the Aristotelian and Averroist tradition, however, a thing is one not by participation in unity, but rather through its essence.15

To explain the compatibility of these positions, Owens first considers goodness, noting that goodness by participation is not opposed to goodness through essence if by the latter one means that something is good through essence to the extent that something is, or exists, through (ab, per) essence: ‘in an existent essence the existence follows upon the essence in the order of formal causality.’16 For, as explained above, goodness secundum quid, or goodness relatively speaking, is in fact substantial being, and since, Aquinas holds, creatures have existence by participation, they also participate in goodness secundum quid. So creatures have esse and hence relative goodness through participation as well as through essence. However, goodness simpliciter, or goodness in an absolute sense, is present only by participation, since this kind of goodness is not identical with the being that follows upon essence, but with accidental being. Thus goodness properly or absolutely speaking can be said to be had only by participation.17

Turning to the relevant Aristotelian-Averroistic background, Owens notes that Aquinas sides with Averroes, against the latter's interpretation of Avicenna, in asserting that everything is by its essence a being and by its essence one: Avicenna was mistaken in considering unity and being to be accidents. But this assertion is not referring to unity as distinguished from being; unity is present through essence in the way that being follows upon essence, i.e., in the order of formal causality.18 Because unity is a negative perfection, it involves no participation in any new positive aspect, as does goodness. Indeed, restricting himself to ‘an historical framework in which there are only two ways of considering unity – either as essential to things or as a quantitative accident’19– Aquinas holds that if unity were participated it would have to be a quantitative accident, which it certainly is not. Hence a thing has unity not by participation but only through essence, but again, this claim does not refer to the essence of a thing devoid of its being.20

But what kind of being? Of course Aquinas distinguishes real being and mental being,21 and the mind can give unity to a thing as understood. In this case, the being that provides unity is the being of the mind. But the unity of a creature itself must be rooted in the being of that creature. This may seem to be a trivial point, but it serves to underscore the fact that to refer to a particular creature assumes its actual being, at least at some time. It is true that Aquinas distinguishes whatever will exist and whatever can exist but will not exist; the latter, Aquinas says, is everything that can be but will not be, owing to God's decision.22 But, as James Ross has recently stressed, natures themselves exist only in their instantiations.23 Without becoming immersed in the controversy over the status of ‘possible beings’,24 one might also note that a composite singular or particular requires individuation through matter, which pertains to only actually existent beings.25 Indeed, a subsistent immaterial creature is singular owing to its subsistence and hence being, without which, then, it has no unity.26

The above discussion of unity is perforce sketchy and does not do justice to the thoroughness and intricacy of Owens's exposition. What may have emerged, however, is a further emphasis on actual existence as grounding goodness and unity in composite creatures. True, an examination of unity proved complicated, owing to apparently conflicting statements by Aquinas himself; by contrast, Thomas's doctrine on actual being as grounding goodness is pellucid. Now Aquinas clearly states that truth follows upon being.27 But analysis of the ground of truth is, like that of unity, complex. The reasons are different: In the case of truth, Aquinas does not confuse the reader by sometimes identifying essence as a ground; however, he distinguishes kinds of truth and he distinguishes the manner of knowing according to the knower.


The basic ratio of truth is the conformity, correspondentia, conformitas, or equation, adequatio, of thing and intellect.28 Aquinas holds that there are two kinds of truth, the truth of things and truth of the intellect; the latter is truth in the primary sense.29 The things that Aquinas considers when he discusses the truth of things are natural beings, res naturales; he uses this term repeatedly.30 The thing as in God's mind, of course, is identical with His mind and hence His being, which is Truth itself.31 On the other hand, the truth of natural things, or creatures, consists in their conformity to the divine intellect.32 The formal identity of the essence of a creature – a being existing outside God's mind – and that essence in God's mind is owing to the intelligible structure of the essence,33 but this kind of identity is not absolute. Rather, the formal identity, or conformity, between the creature and its Creator's mind involves a distinctness dependent upon the being of the actuated form that conforms. As in this conforming relationship of truth, natural things are termed ‘true’; no natural being is the being who is Truth itself.34 It can be seen that, in both the case of goodness and that of the truth of things, finite or created esse is assumed. With respect to goodness, actualization of essence is needed for something to be complete just insofar as it is or exists; in the proper or absolute sense of goodness, actualization of accidents is necessary.35 Both types of actualization are extramental being. So, too, with respect to the truth of a natural thing: It must have extramental being in order merely to conform to, rather than be equivalent to, the divine mind.

As noted above, in God's mind nothing exists apart from His being. In connection with this it is interesting to note that according to Aquinas composite beings absolutely speaking have or possess ‘being more truly’, verius esse, in the divine mind than of themselves, because in God they have an uncreated being, i.e., God's being. They are God's understanding what he will, at some time, make.36 However, says Aquinas, they have being more truly as the kinds of things they are when they exist as natural beings – that is, extramentally – since this mode of finite being includes matter, which is proper to them. Despite its length, the full relevant passage deserves quoting here:

If form only, and not matter, belonged to natural things, then in all respects natural things would be in a truer way, through their ideas, in the divine mind than in themselves … But, since matter belongs to natural things, it must be said that natural things absolutely have being more truly in the divine mind than in themselves, because in the divine mind they have uncreated being, while in themselves, created being. But this being – namely as a man or a horse – they have more truly in their own nature than in the divine mind, because it pertains to the truth of the human to be material, which humans do not have in the divine mind. Even so a house has being more nobly in the architect's mind than in matter; yet a house that is in matter is called a house more truly than one that exists in the mind, since the former is actual, the latter, however, potential.37

A close reading of this passage raises some questions. There is no doubt that as in God's mind, or as understood by God, a finite thing ‘has’ the highest kind of being, because it is God's being itself. But the third sentence in the above quotation seems to say that actually existing composite beings possess more truly finite being owing to the type of nature they have. On the other hand, the fourth sentence, about man-made items, says that a material house has or possesses being more nobly in the architect's mind, whereas a material house is called, or said to be, more truly a house than a house in someone's mind, here owing to the fact that a house in someone's mind is only potentially a house. Is Aquinas distinguishing between natural and man-made items with respect to how truly they relate to, or possess, being? Is he distinguishing a claim about the possession of being and a predication about a kind of thing? A comparison with an earlier work, De veritate, may prove helpful. In that work, Aquinas distinguishes being or existing ‘more truly’ according to the truth of the thing, veritas rei, and the truth of predication, veritas praedicationis. The truth of things as they are in God is greater than their own truth, whereas the term referring to a composite being, such as ‘man’, is more truly predicated of the creature itself than of the essence in God's mind.38 In other words, in the later work, Summa Theologiae, Aquinas seems to have moved beyond a ‘mere’ claim about predication with respect to actually existing composite creatures: They, he says, do in fact possess being more truly as what they are, inasmuch as their being exists according to their natures – in conditions of materiality.

One may question, however, whether the claim of the Summa Theologiae really moves substantially beyond that of the De veritate, at least insofar as Aquinas understands predication in the later work, Summa Theologiae. Here St. Thomas holds that to say ‘Socrates is a man’ is to say that Socrates is something having humanity: He has, or possesses, humanity but does not exhaust it.39 To say, then, that ‘something having humanity’ is more truly predicated of an existing individual human being than of that human being in God's mind is to say that the existing individual human being more truly possesses the nature, humanity, and thus exists more truly as human.40 And this is to claim that it has or possesses being more truly as what it is, or in its own nature, as the quotation above from the Summa Theologiae asserts of natural beings. So perhaps there is no fundamental difference between what Aquinas says in the De veritate regarding predication and what he says in the Summa Theologiae in the above quotation, although in the latter work he more explicitly conveys the point that given what they are, composite beings have being more truly, or are truer, in themselves than they are in God.

However, given the fact that, according to Aquinas, in the divine mind composite beings are really God's being, it must also be the case that in the divine mind the nature of a composite being is really God's nature, since God's nature or essence is His being. Indeed, in Summa Theologiae 3.4.4, where Aquinas discusses the Son of God's assumption of human nature, he explicitly holds that human nature could not have been assumed as it is in the divine intellect, because then it would have been ‘none other than the divine nature’.41 For, referring to Damascene, Aquinas notes in the sed contra of the same article that human nature as abstracted from individuals is a pure conception (in nuda contempatione cogitatur); in the body of the article Thomas insists that human nature itself cannot be without sensible matter: non potest esse quod natura human sit praeter materiam sensibilem. This teaching underscores the point made above that natures themselves exist only in instantiations. It must follow, then, that a composite being as in God's mind is not as true as that being is in itself because in God's mind ‘it’ is not a composite being at all! No real composite nature as such exists in God's (or any) mind; so much less does an actual individual instance of such a nature exist in God's mind.

Why, then, does Aquinas discuss the question of whether a composite being is truer in God's mind or as an extramental reality? Surely Aquinas is not about to hold that creation somehow increases the total amount of truth or goodness, for God Himself is infinite truth and goodness. Rather, Aquinas seems to be stressing, albeit carefully and respectfully, the fact that the truth of things, although derived from God, is theirs, based on their very own being. Creatures themselves can have truth, and being, and goodness, only when they are what they are, which is to say, when they are. And to compare favorably, even in a very subtle way, their reality with what is in God's mind underscores the intrinsic value of their extramental being.


According to Aquinas, however, truth as such is primarily in the intellect; even things are true because of their relation to Intellect.42 Since only actually existing composite beings have their own truth, it would seem that such composite beings are known most properly when grasped as the particular things that they are rather than simply in their causes. Indeed, Aquinas holds that God's knowledge would be imperfect if He knew things only by universal causes, and not as they are in themselves: ‘[H]e who knows Socrates because he is white, or the son of Sophroniscus, or because of something of that sort, would not know him in so far as he is this man.’43 Of angelic knowledge Aquinas says as well: ‘[T]o know a singular in its universal causes is not to know it as it is singular, that is, as it is here and now.’44

Certainly human understanding must also be considered imperfect without knowledge of the singular or individual, extramentally existing thing.45 Indeed, as is well-known, according to Aquinas the natural object of the human intellect is the materially embodied essence, discerned from existing things.46 That is, our intellect arrives at truth not in a simple apprehension of essence, but in a judgment that begins in a sensible grasp of objects of our experience.47 The process of human knowing is a gradual one, an accumulation of judgments: ‘For we know man in a certain confused way before we know how to distinguish all that belongs to the nature of man.’48 We begin to know an object by apprehending it under some aspect that need not even be a proper accident of the thing, for example, we name a stone from that which hurts the foot.49 Even regarding knowledge of the soul, Aquinas points out that one can know through one's own intellectual act something about one's own intellect, but grasping the nature of the human mind itself requires ‘a careful and subtle inquiry’.50 Definitional judgments, then, result from a progressive understanding of real things and are about these things.

According to this explanation, human knowledge about composite essences requires the actual presence of individual creatures, which is to say, it requires that they have real, extramental, being. This is not to claim that all knowledge pertains to actually existent composite beings. St. Thomas holds that created intellects can, indeed, have scientific knowledge of future events and occurrences, but only in their causes and thus not as they are in themselves.51 The mathematical entities about which we know many logical truths have only logical being.52 Indeed, we can know privations, and hence evil, even though these do not have actual being that corresponds to some supposed essence; evil, too, has logical being only, that is, being as in the intellect.53 Aquinas, then, distinguishes being, ens, as (1) the entity of a thing, entitas rei, and (2) that which signifies the truth of a proposition, revealed by the word ‘is’, est. In the second sense, being, ens, is what answers to the question, ‘Does it exist?’, and for the answer to be in the affirmative the being in question need not be real being: ‘In this way even evil can be called a being.’54

This mention of ‘proposition’ calls to mind Aquinas's well-known teaching that truth proper, at least for humans, is found in the act of judging, that is, in ‘composing and dividing’, and that propositions are true to the extent that they reflect true judgments.55 The above considerations suggest that not all such judgments need be about really existing things. As Aquinas states, ‘In this conformity or commensuration of intellect and thing it is not necessary that each of the two actually be.’56 The human knowledge to which Aquinas is referring here is of a future truth guaranteed by faith. But even concerning our knowledge of composite beings, Aquinas's theory of human knowledge relies on abstraction and a grasping of essences absolutely considered, i.e., intelligible structures reflected upon in abstraction from esse.57 Peter Hoenen points out that a scientific statement, that which is universally and necessarily true (whether per se nota or simply per se), is about an essence that is realizable, that to which being is appropriate, or belongs (id cui competit esse).58 Nevertheless, as Aquinas and also Hoenen insist, for us humans, the abstraction of any essence begins in sense perception, and our knowledge begins with, and is about, the actual extramental particular things to which such connections and forms apply.59

Some may believe that this interpretation of how humans know is inconsistent with what Aquinas says about per se nota judgments, often and unfortunately rendered into English as ‘self-evident’ statements. St. Thomas considers these to be statements in which the ratio, or intelligible structure, of the predicate is contained in the intelligible structure of the subject.60‘Rational animal’ is contained in ‘man’; one may wonder if the statement ‘Man is a rational animal’ is thus analytic. To explain that it is not a tautology requires an understanding of Aquinas's theory of predication.

In general, St. Thomas says, a subject is taken materially, that is, it stands for something; the predicate is taken formally, it indicates a form. Usually the subject stands for a supposit, a subsisting instance of a nature.61 A proposition attributes to the subject the form signified by the predicate. Consider the classic example, ‘Socrates is a man.’ Aquinas would say this statement attributes to the supposit Socrates (stood for by the word ‘Socrates’) the form ‘humanity’. That is not to say that Socrates is humanity; rather, Socrates has the form humanity.62 The phrase habens humanitatem (‘[one] having humanity’) in the proposition ‘Socrates is a man’ does not refer to the supposit, as Aquinas makes clear in his discussion of the reduplicative structure; rather, it signifies a nature.63 However, the structure of a proposition does not indicate what type of property the predicate signifies; in a parallel example to the above one could say ‘Socrates is a carpenter.’64 Still, in both propositions an intelligible structure, shared by many others, is attributed to the individual Socrates.

What, then, of the definitional statement, ‘Man is a rational animal’? How does the explication just given show that utterance to be other than tautological or analytic? It would seem that it must be a judgment, and an informative one, because it reveals the object of the human intellect, the materially embodied essence. And, as has been seen, progress in human knowledge occurs only by composing and dividing, i.e., in affirmations and negations, which are judgments. ‘Man’, then, initially stands for those beings in our experience that we call ‘humans’; it does not at first convey ‘rational animal’.

A striking similarity to Aquinas's theory of predication is discernable in Saul Kripke's relatively recent influential theory of meaning and predication; in the year of the celebration of his 65th birthday, it might be appropriate briefly to revisit his teaching.65 Consider again Aquinas's claim that ‘stone’ is named from that which hurts the foot. Kripke might say that such a description fixes the reference of the thing, stone, although it does not by that fact become the meaning of ‘stone’. Rather, ‘stone’ is similar to ‘Socrates’; it functions like a name, although it names a kind. It might be more illuminating to speak of a kind of living being, and here Kripke is accommodating: ‘Cat’ is the name of a kind; it designates the object we identify as cat wherever it exists. It is, thus, referential.66 Kripke notes that because the reference-fixing sense of something is not the same as the meaning, that sense may indicate merely contingent properties of the object designated.67 Terms for natural kinds are, like proper names, ‘rigid designators’. A statement such as ‘A cat is an animal’ is necessarily true, then, but not analytic, since it conveys the information that those kinds of things, cats, necessarily have the property animality.68

Similarly, Aquinas would say that from the point of view of our knowledge, ‘man’ is initially a referential term, standing for those beings in our experience that we come to call ‘men’ or ‘humans’. The proposition ‘Man is a rational animal’, then, says that those things that we call ‘men’ or ‘humans’ have as their essence rational animality. This is informative because ‘man’ or ‘human’, as initially referential and standing for an identifiable but not necessarily defined item, does not start out as a term already signifying ‘rational animal’. The human essence is presented to us through our experience with instances of it actuated by real being: As Aquinas says, ‘knowledge of the singular is prior, with regard to us, to the knowledge of the universal, as sensible knowledge is to intellectual knowledge.’69

There is slightly different way of analyzing ‘Man is a rational animal’ according to Aquinas. ‘Man’ could be said to stand for the essence of those things we call ‘humans’, thus, ‘Man is a rational animal’ says that the essence of those things we call ‘humans’ is, in fact, rational animality. This explanation of the statement is not, however, significantly different from the first explanation. To say that those things, humans, have the essence rational animality and to say that the essence of those things, humans, is rational animality amounts to the same claim. In both cases humans are what are encountered initially as items whose nature is gradually revealed. Indeed, if there were no actually existing beings to which we could refer – if, for example, there were no actually existing humans in our experience – what information would the statement ‘Man is a rational animal’ convey to us? None about the nature of man, for in order for the definition to be nontautologous, ‘man’ must stand for an item initially encountered in experience as something not yet fully understood.

The above analysis comports with what St Thomas says about per se nota propositions: The intelligible structure or notion of the predicate is contained in that of the subject, so that as soon as one knows the notions of the predicate and subject, then one knows ‘immediately’ that the proposition must be true.70 There is no claim here by Aquinas that one knows the notions of the subject and predicate immediately upon coming into contact with the object referred to by the subject.

Kripke distinguishes necessarily a posteriori propositions from those that are contingent a posteriori, necessary a priori (analytic), and contingent a priori. That is, he distinguishes between a prioricity and necessity, holding that the former is epistemic and the latter metaphysical, independent of knowledge.71 For Aquinas, too, the metaphysical realm is independent of any finite knowledge, and, whether he would agree with Kripke on all points, he certainly holds that we are able to make necessarily true yet non-analytic, or informative, statements about things in the world, i.e., about what various composite beings are, and also what must belong to them.72 Necessity is not restricted to word-meanings or to the domain of pure thought.73

To be sure, it is because we are the lowest type of intellectual being that we know gradually, beginning with our senses.74 On the other hand, God's knowledge is not only immediate; it is also creative.75 As noted above, Aquinas distinguishes between things He will make and those He could make but never will (mere possibles); the former He grasps with a ‘knowledge of vision’, scientia visionis– a term Aquinas chooses because they will have at some time a distinct extramental being – whereas the latter He knows with a knowledge of ‘simple intelligence’, scientia simplicis intelligentiae.76 In connection with this distinction, Aquinas claims that God knows all things through His essence, and thus in knowing what He can make, and what He will make, God knows by ‘one sufficing likeness’ all actual and possible things.77 Indeed, Aquinas holds that God knows even singulars, which are extramental beings, through His essence.78 But, as James Ross has stressed, since mere possibles will never exist, God's knowledge of ‘them’ is more properly said to be God's knowledge of what He can but does not do, and hence is knowledge of Himself.79 Clearly, then, and perhaps trivially, it cannot be the case that knowledge of mere possibles in any way assumes or requires their extramental existence, since by definition they have none and never will.

It might also be considered trivial to assert that knowledge of finite essences or natures requires extramental existence, since, as has been shown above, for Aquinas essences are essences only in instantiations. However, unlike ‘possible beings’, even not-yet-created creatures can be spoken about as themselves, at least from God's point of view, for God is in eternity rather than in time: He knows the future as present, and all things that will ever be actual He knows as present to Him and hence as they are in themselves.80 Nevertheless, it makes some sense to consider God's knowledge as preceding their creation in time and in that sense not assuming or requiring their existence. Certainly God knows such things in a reverse order than we do. In Summa Theologiae 1.14.8 ad 3 Aquinas states that for us, natural objects are prior to our knowledge and are its measure, whereas the (creative) knowledge of God is prior to things and the measure of them. In a passage from Quodlibetum 8, a.1, emphasized by Hoenen, Aquinas is more detailed:

Hence the first consideration of any caused nature is as it is in the divine intellect; the second consideration is of the nature itself absolutely; the third is as it has being in things themselves or in the angelic mind; the fourth, as it has being in our intellect. … In these, therefore, that which is prior is always the reason [ratio] for what is posterior; and when the posterior is taken away there remains the prior, but not conversely; and hence it is that what belongs to a nature according to its absolute consideration is the reason [ratio] why it belongs to a nature as it has being in singulars, and not conversely.81

Now Aquinas holds that certain properties follow upon, or necessarily belong to, the nature of a human being; for example, the abilities to laugh and speak necessarily ‘flow from’ the rational animality that constitutes humans. Indeed, according to Aquinas all the powers of the human soul are properties of human nature.82 Of course for these properties actually to exist, the nature must be actualized and thus be in actually existing humans. Still, the necessary connection between the property and the nature is not owing to the esse aspect in abstraction from the nature; rather, the above quotation makes it clear that the connection in human beings between, say, their rational animality and risibility is owing to the nature of such a rational animal, so that any actual human being would have to have these properties.

Since God knows these necessary connections, He certainly has genuine or ‘scientific’ knowledge in this regard, even before any humans actually exist. Indeed, Aquinas holds that by innate forms or species, conferred by God, even the angels have knowledge of the species of future existents and thus of resultant proper accidents.83 This claim, which Aquinas makes repeatedly, is integral to his explication of angelic knowing. Noted above was Aquinas's assertion that for conformity of intellect and thing it is not necessary that each of the two actually be; the example he gives concerning human understanding is knowing that the Antichrist will be born. Guaranteed by faith, this event will become a reality. Moreover, the example Aquinas offers concerning God's knowledge is that of items that are, in fact, created in time – items that (will) have extramental existence. As creator of them, including their natures, God knows from all eternity everything about them as they will be, including the necessary connections owing to their intelligible structures. Whether Aquinas any place discusses necessary connections regarding things God could make but does not, I do not know. It would seem odd, inasmuch as such ‘things’ do not, nor ever will, have existence, and hence their being is forever God's being. But I believe it is instructive that the example just cited regarding God's knowledge is only about items that at sometime are, items that are created in time. Similarly, when in the De veritate and the Summa Theologiae Aquinas discusses how and what angels know, he asserts that they can know only God's actual creation, and not mere possibles. For, he says, knowing these latter would require comprehending the divine intellect, that is, knowing all things as they are in the divine essence: not actually distinct, but as united in one cause. But no creature, not even an angel, can comprehend God's mind.84

How, then, does Aquinas understand truth regarding future existents? The following passage is clear:

[A]lthough things were not from eternity in their proper nature, the divine intellect was conformed with things in their proper nature even though they would come into being in time. And thus from eternity God had true knowledge of things even in their proper natures, although the truths of things were not from eternity.85

That is, the truth of things themselves is identical with their being, and this type of truth characterizes only actual, extramental realities. But truth concerning them, as in the divine intellect, does not require that they exist from all eternity. To the extent one can invoke the notion ‘before creation’, it can be said that at that point there is truth about things that do not exist.86 Nevertheless, the conformity between God's mind and future realities that constitutes truth about these things is grounded in their future creation, in their having their own truth through their actuality or instantiation.

The truth of finite beings – that is, their truth – as well as their unity and their goodness are clearly grounded in the actual, extramental esse of these creatures; to this extent, these transcendentals are similarly grounded in being. As has been shown, human knowledge of the essences of composite beings, and hence human understanding of truth about these, depends upon progressive encounters with their real instances. Divine knowledge of future beings, as creative, is metaphysically prior to their instantiation and is had from all eternity, but this knowledge is of sometime actual beings and ‘looks toward’ their extramentally existing. Thus even in his explanation of divine knowing, Aquinas stresses real being, extramental finite esse, as much as his philosophy and theology allow. He compares favorably the truth of extramental realities with ‘their’ truth as in God's mind, further holding that, granting creation, it would be inappropriate for finite knowers as well as for God not to know actual beings as they are in themselves. For Aquinas, the extramental being that grounds the unity, goodness, and truth of each finite reality is precious, not only because being is most intimate to each creature, but also because through its being the very being and goodness of God are present and made manifest.87


  1. 1 For example, in St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae (hereafter ST) 1.11.1; 1.16.3; 1.54.2; also Aquinas, Questiones disputatae de veritate (hereafter De ver.) 1.1; 21.1. On the notion of ‘transcendental’, see e.g., ST 1.30.3 and ad 1; 1.39.3 ad 3; 1.93.9; De ver. 1.1. Hereafter ST and De ver. will appear in the notes without prior identification of Aquinas.

  2. 2 ST 1.6.3 and replies. This will be discussed further below. On unity through essence, see note 11 below.

  3. 3 This paper considers God's knowing and human knowing (with some references to angelic knowledge); with respect to human knowledge, it focuses on knowledge of composite beings. However, Aquinas does hold that all our knowledge is derived from our understanding of material things: e.g., ST 1.87.3 ad 1

  4. 4 ‘Unde, id quod est ultimo perfectum, dicitur bonum simpliciter. Quod autem non habet ultimam perfectionem quam debet habere, quamvis habeat aliquam perfectionem inquantum est actu, non tamen dicitur perfectum simpliciter, nec bonum simpliciter, sed secundum quid’: ST 1.5.1 ad 1. Translations of Latin into English are my own.

  5. 5 See, e.g., ST 1.6.3 and 1.6.4, sed contra.

  6. 6 On the ratio of ‘good’ and the relation of completion and desire, see Janice L. Schultz, ‘Thomistic Metaethics and a Present Controversy’, The Thomist, 52.1 (Jan. 1988), pp. 40–62.

  7. 7 ‘to be belongs to a form considered in itself (esse … secundum se competit formae)’: ST 1.50.5. See also 1.4.1 ad 3; 1.75.6, and next two notes.

  8. 8 ST 1.45.4; 1.3.5 ad 1; 1.90.2.

  9. 9 ST 1.45.4 and 8.

  10. 10 ‘Non est autem inconveniens quod in aliquo ente secundum rationem non sit bonum vel ratio boni: cum ratio entis sit prior quam ratio boni’: ST 1.5.3 ad 4. See also 1.16.4 sed contra. On mathematical entities, see also 1.44.1 ad 3; 1.85.1 ad 2. On goodness and real being in De ver., see 21.1 and 21.2 ad 4.

  11. 11 ST 1.6.3 ad 1. Aquinas makes the claim that unity is based on essence, substance, or form in many places, including ST 1.11.1 ad 1; 1.11.4 ad 3; 1.16.7 ad 2; 1.76.3; 1.76.7; De ver. 1.5 ad 15 (unity and matter); 21.5 obj. 7 and ad 7. For other citations, see Joseph Owens, C.Ss.R., ‘Unity and Essence in St. Thomas Aquinas’, Mediaeval Studies 23 (1961; hereafter ‘Unity and Essence’), pp. 240–59 (here p. 241, note 5 and p. 249, note 18). This article is discussed below.

  12. 12 ‘nihil aliud enim est unum quam ens indivisum.’

  13. 13 ‘esse cuiuslibet rei consistit in indivisione’: ST 1.11.1. See also ST 1.11.4 and 1.30.3 for one and being.

  14. 14 See citation in note 11 above.

  15. 15 Owens offers this historical background in ‘Unity and Essence’, pp. 248–55.

  16. 16 Ibid., p. 251. On being through form in Aquinas, see ST 1.6.3; 1.17.3; 1.65.4; 1.77.1 ad 3; 1.45.5 ad 1; 1.50.5; 1.104.1 ad 1; De ver. 1.6; 1.8.

  17. 17 Owens, ‘Unity and Essence’, pp. 249–50.

  18. 18 Ibid., p. 251.

  19. 19 Ibid., p. 252.

  20. 20 Ibid., pp. 251–55.

  21. 21 E.g., ST 1.2.1 ad 2 (‘esse … in apprehensione intellectus’); 1.56.2 ad 3 (‘esse intentionale’).

  22. 22 ST 1.14.9; 1.25.3.

  23. 23 In Aquinas, see, e.g., ST 1.45.8 and ad 1; 1.84.7; 3.2.5 ad 2 and 3.4.4. These references from the third part of ST will be discussed further below. On the point in the text in James Ross, see ‘Aquinas's Exemplarism; Aquinas's Voluntarism’, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 64.2 (Spring 1990; hereafter ‘Aquinas's Exemplarism’), pp. 171–98 (here pp. 176–83 and 195).

  24. 24 On the ‘possible beings’ discussion, see Ross, ‘Aquinas's Exemplarism’ and also Armand Maurer, ‘James Ross on the Divine Ideas: A Reply’, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 65.2 (Spring 1991), pp. 213–20; and in the same ACPQ issue, Lawrence Dewan, O.P., ‘St. Thomas, James Ross, and Exemplarism: A Reply’, pp. 221–34, and James Ross, ‘Response to Maurer and Dewan’ (hereafter ‘Response’), pp. 235–43.

  25. 25 Individuation through matter: ST 1.84.7.

  26. 26 For Aquinas each angel is a subsistent form: ST 1.50.2 and ad 3; 1.50.5; 1.56.2 ad 3. On an angel as indivisible: 1.52.2; as singular, 1.56.1 ad 2. On number in the angels and transcendental multitude: 1.50.3 and ad 1; 1.30.3. Owens summarizes the basis of the unity of essence nicely: ‘As found in reality, it [essence] is individuated. As found in the mind, it is universalized. In each of these cases it has a unity corresponding to its respective existence. But considered in itself it has no being and no unity whatsoever’: Owens, ‘Unity and Essence’, p. 247.

  27. 27 ST 1.16.3–5; De ver. 1.1 and replies; 1.2; 1.5 ad 19; 2.12 obj. 9 and ad 9.

  28. 28 De ver. 1.1; ST 1.16.1 and 2.

  29. 29 ST 1.16.1–3 and 6–8; De ver. 1.1–6 and 8.

  30. 30 ST 1.16.1; 1.16.8; 1.17.1; 1.17.3; De ver. 1.2; he also uses the broader ‘created things (res creatae)’: e.g., De ver. 1.6–1.8.

  31. 31 ST 1.14.4 and 5; 1.15.1–3; 1.16.5; 1.18.4; 1.44.3.

  32. 32 ST 1.16.1; De ver. 1.2.

  33. 33 In his Expositio libri Boetii de ebdomadibus, Aquinas uses the phrase ‘rationem proprie essencie’ when denying that the goodness of something is grounded in its essence: ‘esse autem secundi boni est quidem bonum, non secundum rationem proprie essencie quia essencia eius non est ipsa bonitas, set vel humanitas vel aliquid aliud huiusmodi’: in Opera Omnia, 5 (Rome: Leonine Commission; Paris: Les Editions du Cerf, 1992), lect 4, ll. 135–40 (p. 280). In keeping with Boethius's language, in this commentary Aquinas speaks of esse as good, rather than as goodness, whereas in other works, including the mature Summa Theologiae, he declares the indentity of being and goodness.

  34. 34 Things are called ‘true’: ST 1.16.1; God is Truth Itself: ST 1.16.5.

  35. 35 Of course there is the further relation involving desire. The relation of esse and truth is discussed below.

  36. 36 ST 1.14.5 and 6; 1.18.4 and ad 3. God's essence as the sufficing principle of knowing all that He makes: 1.14.11. See also 1.55.3 and ad 3 on God's eminent (‘excellens’) knowing.

  37. 37 ‘si de ratione rerum naturalium non esset materia, sed tantum forma, omnibus modis veriori modo essent res naturales in mente divina per suas ideas, quam in seipis … Sed quia de ratione rerum naturalium est materia, dicendum quod res naturales verius esse habent simpliciter in mente divina, quam in seipsis: quia in mente divina habent esse increatum, in seipsis autem esse creatum. Sed esse hoc, utpote homo vel equus, verius habent in propria natura quam in mente divina: quia ad veritatem hominis pertinet esse materiale, quod non habent in menta divina. Sicut domus nobilius esse habet in mente artificis, quam in materia: sed tamen verius dicitur domus quae est in materia, quam quae est in mente; quia haec est domus in actu, illa autem domus in potentia.’ST 1.18.4 ad 3.One might suppose that an angel, which is a pure form, also exists more truly as what-it-is as an extramental reality, because it is a finite subsistent form, having distinct principles of form and esse: ST 1.50.2 ad 3 and 4. Perhaps this matter requires more study.

  38. 38 De ver. 4.6. The relevant passage is ‘cum ergo quaeritur utrum res verius sint in seipsis quam in verbo, distinguendum est: quia ly verius potest designare vel veritatem rei, vel veritatem praedicationis. Si designet veritatem rei, sic proculdubio maior est veritas rerum in verbo quam in seipsis. Si autem designetur veritas praedicationis, sic est e converso: verius enim praedicatur homo de re quae est in propria natura, quam de ea secumdum quod est in verbo.’

  39. 39 E.g., ST 3.16.10 ad 1; 3.17.1. Aquinas's theory of predication will be discussed more fully below.

  40. 40 ‘Exists more truly as human’ simply or intuitively seems to be another way of saying ‘more truly possesses human nature’, but this equation is reinforced by the long quotation given above (ST 1.18.4 ad 3). There Aquinas uses the phrase ‘exist in a truer way, or more truly (veriori modo essent)’ interchangeably with ‘have (or possess) being more truly (verius esse habent)’, whether absolutely or in a given nature.

  41. 41 ‘Quia hoc nihil aliud esset quam natura divina.’ To say that the Son of God assumed human nature as it is in the human intellect would be to say nothing other than that He is understood to assume a human nature, and ‘thus if He did not assume it in reality, this would be a false understanding. Nor would this [assumption of human nature] be anything but a fictitious incarnation, as Damascene says (sic, si non assumeret eam in rerum natura, esset intellectus falsus. Nec aliud esset quam fictio quaedam incarnationis, ut Damascenus dicit).’ In ST 1.18. 4 ad 1 Aquinas states that things as they are in God insofar as they are known by him are the divine essence: ‘res, prout sic in Deo sunt, sunt essentia divina.’ See also ST 3.2.5 ad 2, where Aquinas points out that if the Son of God assumed human nature as it is in the pure thought of the intellect, He would not have assumed human nature in reality, ‘ipsam rem humanae naturae’.

  42. 42 ST 1.16.1; 1.16.6; De ver. 1.2 and 4. Truth is the perfection of the intellect: ST 1.16.2; 1.82.3 ad 1 (truth as the end of the intellect); 1.87.3 and ad 1; De ver.21. 1 and 3.

  43. 43 ‘qui cognosceret Socratem per hoc quod est albus, vel Sophronisci filius, vel quidquid aliud sic dicatur, non cognosceret ipsum inquantum est hic homo’: ST 1.14.11; see also 1.57.2, 1.84.7, and De ver. 2.5 and 7. On the proper knowledge of God, see ST 1.14.6, esp. ad 1.

  44. 44 ‘cognoscere singulare in causis universalibus non est congnoscere ipsum ut est singulare, hoc est ut est hic et nunc’: ST 1.57.2. See also 1.58.6 and 7.

  45. 45 See, e.g., ST 1.14.11; 1.84.7; 1.86.1. In this last place Aquinas explains that our knowledge of singulars is indirect; still, as discussed below, it must begin with them.

  46. 46 ST 1.84.7; 1.85.5 ad 3; 1.85.8; 1.87.3.

  47. 47 ST 1.16.2; 1.58.4; 1.58.5; De ver. 1.3, and next two notes. On all human knowledge as beginning is sense perception, see ST 1.84.4–8. On judgment see also note 55 below.

  48. 48 ‘prius enim cognoscimus hominem quadam confusa cognitione, quam sciamus distinguere omnia quae sunt de hominis ratione’: ST 1.85.3 ad 3. See also other replies, and 1.17.1; 1.18.2; 1.29.1 ad 3; 1.77.1 ad 7; 1.85.8 ad 1; De ver. 1.10, and next note.On the general difficulty in knowing essences in Aquinas, see Josef Pieper's The Silence of St Thomas, tr. John Murray, S.J. and Daniel O'Connor (Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., Logos Edition, 1965), ch. 2.In his penetrating article ‘The Knowledge of Material Essences According to St. Thomas Aquinas’ (The Modern Schoolman 33, March, 1956, pp. 153–81), Ralph B. Gehring, S.J., argues that although the proper object of the human intellect is the knowledge of material essences, Aquinas is not a naive realist. Gehring points out that the simple apprehension – the first operation of the intellect – can be of an accident, and is always a confused grasp. The intellect integrates initial knowledge with subsequent apprehensions of the same material thing, and the being of the thing furnishes the unity of the object of these apprehensions. ‘Abstraction’ can be of two kinds. ‘Immediate abstraction’ depends entirely on present data and is not partially construed from previous experiences. Abstraction in this sense, applied to humanity, pertains only to accidents. If ‘humanity’ includes the explicit ratio of the essence, then ‘abstraction’ refers to that process that is subsequent to discursive reasoning and to a collection of gradually apprehended apprehensions, that is, it refers to the process of considering a thing without considering individuating notes.

  49. 49 ST 1.13.2 ad 2; 1.13.8; 1.18.2.

  50. 50 ‘diligens et subtilis inquisitio’: ST 1.87.1; see also ST 1.87.2.

  51. 51 ST 1.57.3; 1.86.4.

  52. 52 ST 1.5.3 ad 4; 1.16.4 sed contra.

  53. 53 ST 1.16.3 ad 2; 1.16.5 ad 3. Even God understands evil only indirectly, insofar as He knows it through goodness: ST 1.14.10.

  54. 54 ST 1.48.2 ad 2: The relevant passages are: ‘ens dupliciter dicitur. Uno modo, secundum significat entitatem rei … et sic convertitur cum re. Et hoc modo, nulla privatio est ens, unde nec malum. Alio modo dicitur ens, quod significat veritatem propositionis, quae in compositione consistit, cuius nota est hoc verbum est, et hoc est ens quo respondetur ad quaestionem an est … Et hoc modo etiam malum dicitur ens.’ See also 1.3.4 ad 2, and De ver. 1.1 ad 1. Peter Geach discusses these passages in his article ‘Form and Existence’ in Aquinas: A Collection of Critical Essays (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1969; hereafter FE), pp. 29–53.

  55. 55 ST 1.16.2 and 7; De ver. 1.3 and 1.6; also note 47 above.

  56. 56 ‘In hac autem adequatione vel commensuratione intellectus ac rei non requiritur quod utrumque extremorum sit in actu’: De ver. 1.5 and ad 2. This point will be discussed further below.

  57. 57 On the process of human knowing in Aquinas, see ST 1.QQ.85–88. Essences as known are considered in these questions, see, e.g., 1.85.1 ad 1 and ad 4; 1.86.2 ad 4.

  58. 58 Peter Hoenen, Reality and Judgment According to St. Thomas, trans. Henry F. Tiblier, S.J. (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1952; hereafter Reality and Judgment), pp. 46–52, 58–72. See also notes 7–9 above.

  59. 59 Human knowledge begins in sense perception: ST 1.84.4–8; in Hoenen, Reality and Judgment, pp. 33–34. Human knowledge is of extramental things: ST 1.85.2; also 1.14.6 ad 1; 1.76.2 ad 4; 1.84.7; in Hoenen, p. 27.

  60. 60 E.g., ST 1.17.3 ad 2; 1–2.94.2.

  61. 61 ST 3.16.7 ad 4; 3.16.9 and ad 3; 3.16.10; 3.16.11. Peter Geach has written extensively on this subject in FE and other works. Hoenen treats this in ch. 3 of Reality and Judgment.

  62. 62 ST 1.39.3 obj. 1 and ad 1; 3.16.10 ad 1; 3.2.2; 3.17.1 and ad 2; 3.50.3 ad 3.

  63. 63 ST 3.16.10–12.

  64. 64 Indeed, ‘something having x’ indicates our way of conceiving the relation of supposit and essence. For example, in God ‘habens deitatem (〈one〉having Godhead)’ can be said about each Person of the Trinity (ST 1.39.3 obj. 1 and 4 and ad 1) even though there is no real distinction between each Person and the essence and the being of the Trinity (1.39.1; 3.17.2 ad 3). Thus the fact that a form is represented as being possessed by a subject does not indicate how the subject and the form are related.

  65. 65 The New York Times published a story on Kripke on the occasion of his birthday: Fred R. Conrad, ‘Philosopher, 65, Lectures Not About “What Am I?” but “What Is I?”’ January 28, 2006. I thank Professor John Zeis of Canisius College for calling this article to my attention.

  66. 66 Saul Kripke, Naming and Necessity (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1980; hereafter NN), pp. 32–3, 48–9, 54–8, 77–8, 131–35 (on proper names).Kripke and necessarily true statements in Aquinas are discussed in further detail in Janice L. Schultz, ‘Necessary Moral Principles’, The New Scholasticism 62.2 (spring, 1988), pp. 15078.

  67. 67 Kripke, NN, pp. 75, 117–21; 137.

  68. 68 Ibid., pp. 122, 136, 113–16, 120–29, 133, 137–38 (‘nature’ and ‘essence’ are used here and elsewhere).

  69. 69 ‘cognitio singularium est prior quoad nos quam cognitio universalium, sicut cognitio sensitiva quam cognitio intellectiva’: ST 1.85.3. Although we know singulars only indirectly, intelligibility is incompatible not with the singular as such, but with the singular as material: ST 1.86.1 and ad 3.

  70. 70 E.g., ST 1–2.94.2.

  71. 71 The discussion of these statements begins on p. 34 of Kripke, NN.

  72. 72 Properties, or proper accidents, are discussed below.

  73. 73 Henry Veatch stresses this point in his book Two Logics: The Conflict Between Classical and Neo-analytic Philosophy (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1969). Veatch develops thoughts similar to Kripke's (subsequent) thoughts on necessarily true statements (see, e.g., pp. 76–8; 92–3), although no connection is suggested.

  74. 74 ST 1.55.2; 1.58.3.

  75. 75 God's knowledge is non-discursive and non-propositional: 1.14.7; 1.14.14; 1.16.5 ad 1; God's knowledge is the cause of things: ST 1.14.8 and 11.

  76. 76 ST 1.14.9 and 12; 1.57.3; cf. De ver. 2.8. In the De veritate God is said to know the former types of beings with practical knowledge, the latter, with speculative knowledge, and these latter, which will never actually be, are certainly in God's power, although they are more appropriately described as having being in God's goodness: De ver. 2.8 ad 1 and 5. God can do whatever is not contradictory: ST 1.25.3; see also 1.46.1 ad 1.

  77. 77 God's knowledge by His essence: ST 1.14.5 and 6; see also note 36 above. For ‘sufficing likeness (similitudo sufficiens)’ see ST 1.14.12; also 1.14.14. For Ross on the notion of one sufficing likeness, see his ‘Aquinas's Exemplarism’, pp. 174–76, 180, and 186–87; also ‘Response’, pp. 238–39.

  78. 78 ‘His essence must be the sufficing principle of knowing all things made by Him, not only in the universal, but also in the singular (necesse est quod essentia sua sit principium sufficiens cognoscendi omnia quae per ipsum fiunt, non solum in universale, sed etiam in singulari)’: ST 1.14.11.

  79. 79 See, e.g., ST 1.18.4 and replies; De ver. 8.16. In Ross: ‘Aquinas's Exemplarism’, 176, 179–82, 188; ‘Response’, pp. 236, 239, 241–42.

  80. 80 ST 1.14.9; 1.14.13; 1.20.2 ad 2; 1.57.3; De ver. 1.5 ad 11; 2.12. For an insightful discussion of God's knowledge of the temporal according to Aquinas, see Brian J. Shanley, O.P. , ‘Eternal Knowledge of the Temporal in Aquinas’, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 71.2 (spring 1997), pp. 197224 (esp. 218–22).

  81. 81 ‘Unde uniuscuiusque naturae causatae prima consideratio est secundum quod est in intellectu divino; secunda vero consideratio est ipsius naturae absolute; teria secundum quod habet esse in rebus ipsis, vel in mente angelica; quarta secundum esse quod habet in intellectu nostro … In his ergo illud quod est prius, semper est ratio posterioris; et remoto posteriori remanet prius, non autem e converso; et inde est quod hoc quod competit naturae secundum absolutam considerationem, est ratio quare competat naturae alicui secundum esse quod habet singulari, et non e converso.’ In Hoenen: Reality and Judgment, p. 49. On the reference to angels, cf. ST 1.57.2.

  82. 82 ST 1.3.4; 1.3.6; 1.54.3 ad 2; 1.77.6 ad 3; 1–2.18.3 ad 2. Powers of the soul as properties: ST 1.77.1 ad 5; 1.77.6; 1.77.7 ad 1; 1–2.110.4 ad 3.

  83. 83 De ver. 8.3 ad 11; 8.4 and ad 1; 8.9 and ad 1; 8.15; ST 1.56.2; on knowing properties through form or species: De ver. 2.7; 8.4 ad 1; ST 1.58.5. However, see De ver. 8.9 ad 3 and ST 1.57.3 ad 3 regarding the knowledge of individuals of the species. On angels knowing through forms conferred by God, see also De ver. 8. 7–16; ST 1.55.2; 1.57.1; 1.58.7. See De ver. 8.17 ad 3 for Aquinas's claim that God knows all things before they are created just as He knows them after they are created; also De ver. 1.5 ad 11, which is discussed briefly below.

  84. 84 De ver. 8.4. See also ST 1.57.5 ad 2.

  85. 85 ‘quamvis res non fuerint ab aeterno in propria natura, intellectus tamen divinus fuit adaequatus rebus in propria natura futuris in tempore; et ideo veram cognitionem habuit de rebus ab aeterno etiam in propria natura, quamvis rerum veritates ab aeterno non fuerint’: De ver. 1.5 ad 11; see also ST 1.20.2 ad 2. James Ross discusses the quoted passage briefly in ‘Aquinas's Exemplarism’, p. 184; see also p. 176 of that article. In ST 1.20. 2 ad 2 Aquinas holds that God also loves future existents from eternity.

  86. 86 Aquinas discusses the beginning and duration of creatures in ST 1.46 (three articles). He does use the terminology ‘before the world existed (antequam mundus esset)’: ST 1.46.1 ad 1; see also other replies.

  87. 87 Being as most intimate to creatures: ST 1.8.1; created being as manifesting God: 1.47.1; 1.65.1 and ad 3; 1.65.2 and ad 1.