I Sentences, Distinction 2, Question 1

ARTICULUS PRIMUS
Utrum Deus sit tantum unus
First Article
Whether there is only one God.
Ad primum sic proceditur. 1. Videtur quod non sit necessarium ponere unum Deum. Ab uno enim primo et simplici procedit tantum unum, secundum Philosophum, VIII Phys., et VIII Metaph. Sed plures bonitates inveniuntur participari in creaturis, sicut sapientia, bonitas, pax et hujusmodi. Ergo videtur quod procedant a pluribus primis principiis, et sic est ponere plures deos: et hic videtur fuisse error gentilium, ut dicit Dionysius, lib. De div. nom., cap. XI, quod etiam patet ex hoc quod ponebant unum deum sapientiae, et aliam deam pacem, et sic de aliis.We proceed thus to the first issue. 1. It seems that it is not necessary to suppose one God. For, from one thing that is first and simple, there proceeds only one thing, according to the Philosopher in Book 8 of the Physics and Book 8 of the Metaphysics. But many kinds of goodness are found to be participated in by creatures, as, for example, wisdom, goodness, peace, and other such things. It seems, therefore, that they proceed from many first principles, and this is, consequently, to suppose many gods. This seems to have been the error of the Gentiles, as Dionysius says in Chapter 11 of On the Divine Names, which is by all means clear from the fact that they supposed one god of wisdom, another god for peace, and so on for the others.
2. Item, sicut dicitur V Metaph., perfectum unumquodque est, quando potest producere sibi simile in natura. Sed divina essentia est perfectissima. Ergo videtur quod possit producere aliam essentiam sibi similem, ita quod sint plures divinae essentiae.2. Moreover, as is said in Book 5 of the Metaphysics, every thing that is perfect produces, when it can, something similar to itself in nature. But the divine essence is most perfect. It seems, therefore, that it can produce another essence similar to itself so that there are many divine essences.
3. Item, prima materia, quae est pura potentia, est una; et quanto formae sibi sunt propinquiores, inveniuntur pauciores numero. Primo enim perficitur per quatuor formas elementares, post per plurimas formas mixtorum corporum. Ergo in ultimo remotionis a materia, debet inveniri maxima pluralitas, et ita videtur quod, cum Deus sit maxime remotus a materia, et natura divina sit maxime multiplicata; et sic sunt plures dii.3. Again, prime matter, which is pure potency, is one, and the nearer forms are to it, they are found to be fewer in number. For it is first perfected by the four elementary forms and afterwards by the many forms of mixed bodies. Therefore, at the greatest distance from matter, there should be found the greatest plurality. Accordingly, it seems that, since God is removed the most from matter, the divine nature is multiplied the most, and so, there are many gods.
Contra, omnis natura quae invenitur in pluribus secundum prius et posterius, oportet quod descendat ab uno primo, in quo perfecte habeatur. Unitas enim principiati attestatur unitati principii, sicut omnis calor originatur ab uno calidissimo, quod est ignis. Sed entitas invenitur in pluribus secundum prius et posterius. Ergo oportet esse unum primum ens perfectissimum, a quo omnia entia habent esse, et hic est Deus. Est igitur unus Deus.On the contrary, every nature that is found in many things according to priority and posteriority must descend from one first thing in which it may be possessed perfectly. For the unity of a participated thing attests to the unity of the principle, as, for example, every heat is originated from one thing that is most hot, which is fire. But the nature of being is found in many things according to priority and posteriority. It is therefore necessary that there be one most perfect first being from which all beings have being, and this is God. There is, therefore, one God.
Praeterea, si sint plures dii per essentiam distincti, oportet quod eorum essentiae dividantur ab invicem essentiali differentia, sicut quae differunt specie vel genere vel quae differunt numero. Si autem differunt genere vel specie, oportet quod aliqua differentia differant. Illa autem differentia aut pertinet ad bonitatem, aut non. Si non, ergo Deus, in quo erat differentia, non habet puram bonitatem; et sic non est purum bonum. Si autem pertinet ad bonitatem, et illa non invenitur in alio, ergo ille in quo non invenitur non erit perfectus in bonitate. Oportet autem Deum esse summum bonum, quod sit et purum et perfectum in bonitate. Ergo impossibile est esse plures deos.Furthermore, if there are many gods that are distinct by essence, it is necessary that their essences be distinguished from each other by an essential difference so that they differ by species or genus, or they differ in number. If, however, they differ by genus or species, it is necessary that they will differ by some difference. That difference either regards goodness, or it does not. If not, then the god in which there was the difference does not have pure goodness, and so, that god is not the pure good. If, however, it regards goodness, and that difference is not found in another god, then the god in which it is not found will not be perfect in goodness. It is necessary, however, that God be the highest good, which is pure and perfect in goodness. It is therefore impossible that there be many gods.
Si dicatur, quod illa differentia est eadem secundum speciem in utroque, sed differens numero, contra: quidquid est ejusdem speciei, non dividitur secundum numerum, nisi secundum divisionem materiae vel alicujus potentialitatis. Ergo si illa differentia est eadem secundum speciem, sed differens numero, oportebit ergo quod in Deo sit aliquid potentiale, et sic ens diminutum et dependens ad aliud, quod est contra rationem primi entis.It may be said that that difference is the same according to species in both gods, but different in number. On the contrary, whatever is of the same species is divided according to number only according to a division of matter or of some potentiality. Therefore, if that difference is the same according to species but different in number, it will then be necessary that there be in God something potential and, thus, being that is diminished and dependent on something else, which is contrary to the notion of the first being.
Praeterea, ejus in quo non differt suum esse et sua quidditas, non potest participari quidditas sua sive essentia, nisi et esse participetur. Sed quandocumque dividitur essentia alicujus per participationem, participatur essentia eadem secundum rationem et non secundum idem esse. Ergo impossibile est ejus in quo non differt essentia et esse, essentialem participationem dividi vel multiplicari. Tale autem est Deus: alias esset suum esse acquisitum ab aliquo. Ergo impossibile est quod divinitas multiplicetur vel dividatur; et ita erit unus tantum Deus.Besides, the quiddity or essence of a thing in which being and quiddity do not differ cannot be participated unless being is participated. But whenever the essence of something is divided by participation, the same essence is participated according to thought and not according to the same being. It is therefore impossible that a thing in which essence and being do not differ be divided or multiplied according to an essential participation. God is, however, such a thing; otherwise, his being would be acquired from something else. It is therefore impossible that divinity be multiplied or divided. Accordingly, there will be only one God.
SOLUTIO. Respondeo dicendum, quod cum omnis multitudo procedat ex aliqua unitate, ut dicit Dionysius, cap. XIII De div. nom., oportet universitatis multitudinem ad unum principium omnium entium primum reduci, quod est Deus; hoc enim et fides supponit et ratio demonstrat.Solution: I answer that it should be said that, since every multitude proceeds from some unity, as Dionysius says in Chapter 13 of On the Divine Names, it is necessary that the multitude of the universe be reduced to one first principle of all beings, which is God. Indeed, faith accepts and reason demonstrates this.
Ad primum ergo dicendum, quod quamvis bonitates participatae in creaturis sint differentes ratione, tamen habent ordinem ad invicem et una includit alteram, et una fundatur super altera; sicut in intelligere includitur vivere, et in vivere includitur esse; et ideo non reducuntur in diversa principia, sed in unum. Si etiam ordinem non haberent, non propter hoc excluderetur unitas primi principii: quia quod in principio unitum est, in effectibus multiplicatur: semper enim in causa est aliquid nobilius quam in causato. Unde primum principium licet sit unum et simplex re, sunt tamen in eo plures rationes perfectionum, ut sapientia, vita et hujusmodi, secundum quas diversae perfectiones re differentes in creaturis causantur.To the first, therefore, it should be said that, although the kinds of goodness participated in by creatures are different in thought, they have nonetheless an order between them. One includes another, and one is based on another. For example, to live is included in to understand, and to be is included in to live. For this reason, they are not reduced to different principles, but to one. Even if they did not have an order, the unity of the first principle would not be excluded on account of this. For what is united in a principle is multiplied in effects. For there is always something more noble in a cause than in an effect. Hence, although the first principle is in reality one and simple, there are nonetheless in it many ideas of perfections, as, for example, wisdom, life, and other such things, according to which different perfections are caused in reality in different creatures.
Ad secundum dicendum, quod hoc est de perfectione divinae essentiae, quod sibi similis et aequalis alia essentia esse non potest. Si enim ab ipsa esset, oporteret quod esse illius esset dependens ab ipsa, et sic incideret in illam essentiam potentialitas, per quam distingueretur ab essentia divina, quae est actus purus. Non autem oportet quod quidquid est de nobilitate creaturae, sit de nobilitate Creatoris, quae ipsam improportionabiliter excedit; sicut aliquid est de nobilitate canis, ut esse furibundum, quod esset ad ignobilitatem hominis, ut dicit Dionysius, cap. IV De div. nom.To the second, it should be said that it concerns the perfection of the divine essence that it cannot be similar to itself and equal to another essence. For, if that other essence were from the divine essence, it would be necessary that the being of that other essence would depend on the divine essence, and so, potentiality would encroach on that essence by which it would be distinguished from the divine essence, which is pure act. It is not necessary, however, that whatever pertains to a creature's nobility pertains to God's nobility, which surpasses a creature's nobility unproportionately. For example, something that pertains to the nobility of a dog, such as to be raging, would count in favor of the inferior quality of a human being, as Dionysius says in Chapter 4 of On the Divine Names.
Ad tertium dicendum, quod simplex principium habet rationem unitatis; et quia materia est potentia tantum, ideo est una numero, non per unam formam quam habeat, sed per remotionem omnium formarum distinguentium; et per eamdem rationem actus purus et primus est unus, non multiplicabilis sicut materia multiplicatur per adventum formarum, sed omnino impossibilis ad diversitatem.To the third, it should be said that a simple principle possesses the concept of unity. And because matter is potency only, it is therefore one in number, not by one form that it has, but by the remoteness of all distinguishing forms. By the same argument, the act that is pure and first is one, not because it can be multiplied as matter may be multiplied by the coming of forms, but because it is wholly impossible for it to receive a difference.

© John Laumakis
(jlamakis@hilltop.ic.edu)



The Aquinas Translation Project
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