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CHAPTER LIV: ARGUMENTS THAT WOULD SEEM TO PROVE THAT GOD CANNOT BE SEEN IN HIS ESSENCE; AND THE SOLUTION THEREOF
SOMEONE will object against the foregoing:
No additional light can help the sight to see things that surpass the natural faculty of corporeal sight: since the sight can see only coloured objects. Now the divine substance surpasses the whole faculty of a created intellect, more even than intelligence surpasses the senses' capacity. Therefore no additional light can raise the created intellect to see the divine substance.
Again. This light that is received into the created intellect, is something created. Therefore it also is infinitely distant from God: and consequently such a light cannot help the created intellect to see the divine substance.
Besides. If the aforesaid light can do this for the reason that it is an image of the divine substance; since every intellectual substance, for the very reason that it is intellectual, bears a likeness to God, the nature itself of an intellectual substance will suffice for it to see God.
Further. If this light is created; since there is no reason why that which is created should not be connatural to some creature; there might possibly be a creature that would see the divine substance through its connatural light. But the contrary of this has been proved.
Furthermore. There should be proportion between the understanding and the thing understood. But there is no proportion between the created intellect, even perfected by this light, and the divine substance: for there still remains an infinite distance between them. Therefore the created intellect cannot be helped by any light to see the divine substance.
By these and like arguments some have been induced to maintain that the divine substance is never seen by a created intellect. This opinion both would destroy the rational creature's true happiness, which can consist in nothing but the vision of the divine substance, as we have proved, and is contrary to the authority of Holy Writ, as appears from what we have said. Wherefore it should be rejected as false and heretical.
It is not difficult, however, to answer the above arguments. For the divine substance is not so outside the range of the created intellect, as to be absolutely beyond its reach, as sound is to the sight, or an immaterial substance to the senses: because the divine substance is the first intelligible, and the principle of all intellectual knowledge: yet it is outside the range of the created intellect, as exceeding its power, just as the highest sensibles are outside the range of the senses. Wherefore the Philosopher (2 Metaph.) says that our intellect stands in relation to the most evident things, as the owl's eye does in relation to the sun. Therefore the created intellect needs to be strengthened by some divine light in order to be able to see the divine substance. This solves the first argument.
Moreover, this light raises the created intellect to the vision of God, not on account of its affinity to the divine substance, but on account of the power which it receives from God to produce such an effect: although in its being it is infinitely distant from God, as the second argument stated. For this light unites the created intellect to God, not in being but only in understanding.
Since, however, it belongs to God Himself to understand His substance perfectly, the light in question is a likeness of God in this that it perfects the intellect for seeing the divine substance. Now no intellectual substance can be like God in this way. For since no created substance's simplicity is equal to the divine simplicity, it is impossible for the created substance to have its entire perfection in one subject: for this is proper to God, as we proved in the First Book, who is being, understanding and blessed in respect of the same. Consequently in the intellectual substance the created light through which it is raised to the beatific vision of God, differs from any light whereby it is perfected in its specific nature, and understands proportionately to its substance. Hence the reply to the third argument is clear.
The fourth argument is solved thus. The vision of the divine substance surpasses all natural power, as was shown.
Consequently the light whereby the created intellect is perfected in order to see the divine substance must needs be supernatural.
Nor can the fact that God is infinite be an obstacle to the vision of the divine substance, as the fifth objection argued. For He is not said to be infinite by way of privation, as quantity: and the infinite of this kind is reasonably unknown, because it is like matter devoid of form which is the principle of knowledge. But He is said to be infinite negatively, as a per se subsistent form that is not limited by being received into matter. Wherefore that which is infinite in this way is in itself most knowable.
There is indeed proportion between the created intellect and understanding God, a proportion not of measure, but of aptitude, such as of matter for form, or cause for effect. In this way there is no reason against there being in the creature a proportion to God, consisting in the aptitude of an intelligent being for an intelligible object, as well as of effect in respect of its cause. Wherefore the solution of the sixth objection is clear.
- ↑ Ch. lii.
- ↑ 1 Phys. iv. 4.
- ↑ Ch. xliii.
- ↑ Ch. l.
- ↑ Ch. li.
- ↑ Ed. Did., 1a, 1, 2.
- ↑ Ch. xxviii.
- ↑ Ch. lii.
|Source: St. Thomas Aquinas, The Summa Contra Gentiles, trans. by The English Dominican Fathers from the latest Leonine Edition, Benzinger Brothers: New York, 1924.|