Thomas Aquinas: Summa Theologica

Whether the Active Life is More Excellent than the Contemplative?

...Accordingly we must reply that the contemplative life is simply more excellent than the active: and the Philosopher proves this by eight reasons (Ethic. x. 7, 8). The first is, because the contemplative life becomes man according to that which is best in him, namely the intellect, and according to its proper objects, namely things intelligible; whereas the active life is occupied with externals.... The second reason is because the contemplative life can be more continuous, although not as regards the highest degree of contemplation, as stated above... Thirdly, because the contemplative life is more delightful than the active... Fourthly, because in thecontemplative life man is more self-sufficient, since he needs fewer things for that purpose... Fifthly, because the contemplative life is loved more for its own sake, while the active life is directed to something else.... Sixthly, because the contemplative life consists in leisure and rest... Seventhly, because the contemplative life is according to Divine things, whereas active life is according to human things... Eighthly, because the contemplative life is according to that which is most proper to man, namely his intellect; whereas in the works of the active life the lower powers also, which are common to us and brutes, have their part...

Yet in a restricted sense and in a particular case one should prefer the active life on account of the needs of the present life. Thus too the Philosopher says (Top. iii. 2): "It is better to be wise than to be rich, yet for one who is in need, it is better to be rich." (Summa Theologica, Pt. II-II, Qu. 182, Art. 1)

Whether Any Created Intellect Can See the Essence of God?

...For as the human beatitude of man consists in the use of his highest function, which is the operation of the intellect; if we suppose that the created intellect could never see God, it would either never attain to beatitude, or its beatitude would consist in something else beside God; which is opposed to faith.... For there resides in every man a natural desire to know the cause of any effect which he sees; and thence arises wonder in men. But if the intellect of the rational creature could not reach so far as to the first cause of things, the natural desire would remain void. (Summa Theologica, Pt. I, Qu. 12, Art. 1)

Whether One Can Be Happy in This Life?

...A certain participation of Happiness can be had in this life: but perfect and true Happiness cannot be had in this life. This may be seen from a twofold consideration.

First, from the general notion of happiness. For since happiness is a perfect and sufficient good, it excludes every evil, and fulfills every desire. But in this life every evil cannot be excluded. For this present life is subject to many unavoidable evils; to ignorance on the part of the intellect; to inordinate affection on the part of the appetite, and to many penalties on the part of the body; as Augustine sets forth in De Civ. Dei xix. 4. Likewise neither can the desire for good be satiated in this life. For man naturally desires the good, which he has, to be abiding. Now the goods of the present life pass away; since life itself naturally passes away, which we naturally desire to have, and would wish to hold abidingly, for man naturally shrinks from death.

Secondly, from a consideration of the specific nature of Happiness, viz., the vision of the Divine Essence, which man cannot obtain in this life....Hence it is evident that none can attain true and perfect Happiness in this life. (Summa Theologica, Pt. I-II, Qu. 5, Art. 3)

Whether Charity Is Friendship?

Yet neither does well-wishing suffice for friendship, for a certain mutual love is requisite, since friendship is between friend and friend: and this well-wishing is founded on some kind of communication.

Accordingly, since there is a communication between man and God, inasmuch as He communicates His happiness to us, some kind of friendship must needs be based on this same communication.... The love which is based on this communication, is charity: wherefore it is evident that charity is the friendship of man for God.

...Man's life is twofold. There is his outward life in respect of his sensitive and corporeal nature: and with regard to this life there is no communication or fellowship between us and God or the angels. The other is man's spiritual life in respect of his mind, and with regard to this life there is fellowship between us and both God and the angels, imperfectly indeed in this present state of life, wherefore it is written (Phil. iii. 20): "Our conversation is in heaven." But this "conversation" will be perfected in heaven, when "His servants shall serve Him, and they shall see His face "(Apoc. xxii 3, 4). Therefore charity is imperfect here, but will be perfected in heaven. (Summa Theologica, Pt. II-II, Qu. 23, Art. 1)

Whether the Love of Charity Stops at God, or Extends to Our Neighbor?

Now the aspect under which our neighbor is to be loved, is God, since what we ought to love in our neighbor is that he may be in God. Hence it is clear that it is specifically the same act whereby we love God, and whereby we love our neighbor. Consequently the habit of charity extends not only to the love of God, but also to the love of our neighbor....

...It is wrong to hope in man as though he were the principal author of salvation, but not, to hope in man as helping us ministerially under God. In like manner it would be wrong if a man loved his neighbor as though he were his last end, but not, if he loved him for God's sake; and this is what charity does. (Summa Theologica, Pt. II-II, Qu. 25, Art. 1)

Whether the Fellowship of Friends Is Necessary for Happiness?

...If we speak of the happiness of this life, the happy man needs friends, as the Philosopher says (Ethic. ix. 9), not, indeed, to make use of them, since he suffices himself; nor to delight in them, since he possesses perfect delight in the operation of virtue; but for the purpose of a good operation, viz., that he may do good to them; that he may delight in seeing them do good; and again that he may be helped by them in his good work. For in order than man may do well, whether in the works of the active life, or in those of the contemplative life, he needs the fellowship of friends.

But if we speak of perfect Happiness which will be in our heavenly Fatherland, the fellowship of friends is not essential to Happiness; since man has the entire fulness of his perfection in God. But the fellowship of friends conduces to the well-being of Happiness....

...That glory which is essential to Happiness, is that which man has, not with man but with God.

...Perfection of charity is essential to Happiness, as to the love of God, but not as to the love of our neighbor. Wherefore if there were but one soul enjoying God, it would be ahppy, though having no neighbor to love. But supposing one neighbor to be there, love of him results from perfect love of God. Consequently, friendship is, as it were, concomitant with perfect Happiness. (Summa Theologica, Pt. I-II, Qu. 4, Art. 8)

Whether It Is Unlawful to Kill Any Living Thing?

...Augustine says (De Civ. Dei 1 20): "When we hear it said, 'Thou shalt not kill,' we do not take it as referring to trees, for they have no sense, nor to irrational animals, because they have no fellowship with us...

...There is no sin in using a thing for the purpose for which it is. Now the order of things is such that the imperfect are for the perfect, even as in the process of generation nature proceeds from imperfection to perfection. Hence it is that just as in the generation of a man there is first a living thing, then an animal, and lastly a man, so too things, like the plants, which merely have life, are all alike for animals, and all animals are for man. Wherefore it is not unlawful if man use plants for the good of animals, and animals for the good of man...

...According to the Divine ordinance the life of animals and plants is preserved not for themselves but for man. Hence, as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei, 1. 20), "by a most just ordinance of the Creator, both their life and their death are subject to our use."

...Dumb animals and plants are devoid of the life of reason whereby to set themselves in motion; they are moved, as it were by another, by a kind of natural impulse, a sign of which is that they are naturally enslaved and accommodated to the uses of others.

...He that kills another's ox, sins, not through killing the ox, but through injuring another man in his property. Wherefore this is not a species of the sin of murder but of the sin of theft or robbery. (Summa Theologica, Pt. II-II, Qu. 64, Art. 1)

Whether It Is Always Sinful to Wage War?

...In order for a war to be just, three things are necessary. First, the authority of the sovereign by whose command the war is to be waged. For it is not the business of a private individual to declare war....

Secondly, a just cause is required, namely that those who are attacked, should be attacked because they deserve it on account of some fault....

Thirdly, it is necessary that the belligerents should have a rightful intention, so that they intend the advancement of good, or the avoidance of evil. (Summa Theologica, Pt. II-II, Qu. 40, Art. 1)