Man cannot possibly be good unless he stands in the right relation to the common good,

Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica

By , on May 7, 2011

Divine Goodness


You see, then, that what constitutes the foundation of this inquiry is excellently well laid, for since the belief in question was determined by no ordinance, or custom, or law, and since a steadfast unanimity continues to prevail amongst all men without exception, it must be understood that the gods exist. For we have ideas of them implanted, or rather innate, within us, and as that upon which the nature of all men is agreed must needs be true, their existence must be acknowledged. Since their existence is pretty universally admitted not only among philosophers but also among those who are not philosophers, let us own that the following fact is also generally allowed, namely, that we possess a “preconception,” to use my former word, or “previous notion” of the gods (new designations that have to be employed when the objects of designation are new, just as Epicurus himself applied the term πρόληψις to what no one had described by that name before)—we possess, I say, a preconception which makes us think of them as blessed and immortal. For nature that gave us the idea of gods as such, has also engraved in our minds the conviction that they are blessed and eternal. If that is so, there was truth in the doctrine put forward by Epicurus, that what is blessed and eternal knows no trouble itself, and causes none to others, and is therefore unaffected by anger or favour, since, as he said, anything that is so affected is marked by weakness. Enough would have now been said, if our aim were only to worship the gods with piety, and to be freed from superstition, for a divine nature of this exalted kind, being eternal and supremely blessed, would receive the pious worship of mankind (everything that is of surpassing excellence inspiring a just reverence), and also all fear arising from the violence and anger of the gods would have been dispelled, now that it is understood that anger and favour have no place in a blessed and immortal nature, and that, when those feelings have been removed, no terrors threaten us from the powers above. However, in order to confirm this belief, the mind looks for form in God, and for active life, and the working of intelligence. (The Nature of the Gods, XVII)



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