I Sentences, Distinction 3, Question 1
Concerning Man's Knowledge of God

ARTICULUS II
Utrum Deum esse sit per se notum.
Second Article
Whether God's existence is self-evident.
Ad secundum sic proceditur. 1. Videtur quod Deum esse sit per se notum. Illa enim dicuntur per se nota quorum cognitio naturaliter est nobis insita, ut omne totum est majus sua parte. Sed cognitio existendi Deum, secundum Damascenum, lib. I Fid. orthod., cap. I, naturaliter est omnibus inserta. Ergo Deum esse est per se notum.We proceed thus to the second issue. 1. It seems that God's existence is self-evident. For those things are called self-evident the knowledge of which is naturally implanted in us, such as every whole is greater than its part. But, according to Damascene in Book I, Chapter 1 of Orthodox Faith, the knowledge of God's existence is naturally implanted in everyone. God's existence is, therefore, self-evident.
2. Item, sicut se habet lux sensibilis ad visum, ita se habet lux intelligibilis ad intellectum. Sed lux visibilis seipsa videtur; immo nihil videtur, nisi mediante ipsa. Ergo Deus seipso immediate cognoscitur.2. Moreover, as sensible light is related to a seen thing, intelligible light is related to an understood thing. But visible light is itself seen, or more precisely, nothing is seen except by means of it. God is known, therefore, immediately in himself.
3. Item, omnis cognitio est per unionem rei cognitae ad cognoscentem. Sed Deus est per seipsum intrinsecus animae, etiam magis quam ipsa anima sibi. Ergo per seipsum cognosci potest.3. Again, all knowledge is through the union of the thing known with the knower. But through himself God is even more internal to the soul than the soul is to itself. He can be known, therefore, through himself.
4. Praeterea, illud est per se notum quod non potest cogitari non esse. Sed Deus non potest cogitari non esse. Ergo ipsum esse per se est notum. Probatio mediae est per Anselmum, Proslog., cap. XV; Deus est quo majus cogitari non potest. Sed illud quod non potest cogitari non esse, est majus eo quod potest cogitari non esse. Ergo Deus non potest cogitari non esse. Potest aliter probari. Nulla res potest cogitari sine sua quidditate, sicut homo sine eo quod est animal rationale mortale. Sed Dei quidditas est ipsum suum esse, ut dicit Avicenna, lib. De intelligentiis, cap. I. Ergo Deus non potest cogitari non esse.4. Furthermore, that is self-evident which cannot be thought not to be. But God cannot be thought not to be. His existence is, therefore, self-evident. The proof of the second premise is provided by Anselm, who in Chapter 15 of the Proslogion says that God is that than which a greater cannot be thought. But that which cannot be thought not to be is greater than that which can be thought not to be. God cannot, therefore, be thought not to be. This can be proved in another way. No thing can be thought without its quiddity, as, for example, man cannot be thought without thinking about a rational, mortal animal. But God's quiddity is his being itself, as Avicenna says in Chapter 1 of On the Intelligences. Therefore, God cannot be thought not to be.
Contra, ea quae per se sunt nota, ut dicit Philosophus, IV Metaph., etsi exterius negentur ore, nunquam interius negari possunt corde. Sed Deum esse, potest negari corde, ps. XIII, 1 : Dixit insipiens in corde suo : Non est Deus. Ergo Deum esse non est per se notum.On the contrary, those things that are self-evident, as the Philosopher says in Book 4 of the Metaphysics, can never be denied inwardly by the heart, even if they may be denied outwardly by the lips. But God's existence can be denied by the heart: The fool said in his heart: there is no God (Psalm 13:1). Therefore, God's existence is not self-evident.
Item, quidquid est conclusio demonstrationis non est per se notum. Sed Deum esse demonstratur etiam a philosophis, VIII Physic., item XII Metaphys. Ergo Deum esse non est per se notum.Moreover, whatever is the conclusion of a demonstration is not self-evident. But God's existence is indeed demonstrated by philosophers, for instance in Book 8 of the Physics and Book 12 of the Metaphysics. Therefore, God's existence is not self-evident.
SOLUTIO. Respondeo, quod de cognitione alicujus rei potest aliquis dupliciter loqui: aut secundum ipsam rem, aut quoad nos. Loquendo igitur de Deo secundum seipsum, esse est per se notum, et ipse est per se intellectus, non per hoc quod faciamus ipsum intelligibile, sicut materialia facimus intelligibilia in actu. Loquendo autem de Deo per comparationem ad nos, sic iterum dupliciter potest considerari. Aut secundum suam similitudinem et participationem; et hoc modo ipsum esse, est per se notum; nihil enim cognoscitur nisi per veritatem suam, quae est a Deo exemplata; veritatem autem esse, est per se notum. Aut secundum suppositum, id est, considerando ipsum Deum, secundum quod est in natura sua quid incorporeum; et hoc modo non est per se notum; immo multi inveniuntur negasse Deum esse, sicut omnes philosophi qui non posuerunt causam agentem, ut Democritus et quidam alii, I Metaphys. Et hujus ratio est, quia ea quae per se nobis nota sunt, efficiuntur nota statim per sensum; sicut visis toto et parte, statim cognoscimus quod omne totum est majus sua parte sine aliqua inquisitione. Unde Philosophus, I Posterior : Principia cognoscimus dum terminos cognoscimus. Sed visis sensibilibus, non devenimus in Deum nisi procedendo, secundum quod ista causata sunt et quod omne causatum est ab aliqua causa agente et quod primum agens non potest esse corpus, et ita in Deum non devenimus nisi arguendo; et nullum tale est per se notum. Et haec est ratio Avicennae, lib. De intellig., cap. I.Solution: I respond that someone can speak about the knowledge of any thing in two ways: either according to the thing itself or with respect to us. Speaking therefore about God according to himself, God's existence is self-evident, and he is understood through himself, not by the fact that we make him intelligible as we make material things intelligible in act. Speaking about God, however, in relation to us, he can thus be considered once again in two ways. The first is according to his likeness and participation, and in this way, his existence is self-evident. For nothing is known except through its own truth, which is modelled by God, and yet, the existence of truth is self-evident. The second way is according to supposit, that is, by considering God himself insofar as, in his nature, he is an incorporeal thing. And in this way, God's existence is not self-evident. On the contrary, many are found who denied God's existence, as, for example, all the philosophers who did not posit an efficient cause, such as Democritus and certain others as noted in Book 1 of the Metaphysics. This is because the things that are self-evident to us are made known instantly by the senses. For instance, when we have seen a whole and a part, we know instantly that every whole is greater than its part without any inquiry. Hence, in Book 1 of the Posterior Analytics, the Philosopher says, We know principles when we know their terms. But when we have seen sensible things, we reach God only by proceeding on the fact that those things are caused, that every caused thing is from some efficient cause, and that the first agent cannot be a body. In this manner, we reach God only by argumentation, and no thing of this kind is self-evident. And this is the reasoning of Avicenna in Chapter 1 of On the Intelligences.
Ad primum ergo dicendum, quod auctoritas Damasceni intelligenda est de divina cognitione nobis inserta, secundum ipsius similitudinem et non secundum quod est in sua natura; sicut etiam dicitur, quod omnia appetunt Deum: non quidem ipsum prout consideratur in sua natura, sed in sui similitudine; quia nihil desideratur, nisi inquantum habet similitudinem ipsius, et etiam nihil cognoscitur.To the first, therefore, it should be said that Damascene's authoritative statement concerning the divine knowledge implanted in us should be understood as pertaining to the likeness of God and not as pertaining to God as he is in his own nature. In the same way, it is also said that all things desire God, not indeed insofar as he is considered in his own nature but in his likeness. For nothing is desired and likewise nothing is known except insofar as it has a likeness of him.
Ad secundum dicendum, quod visus noster est proportionatus ad videndum lucem corporalem per seipsam; sed intellectus noster non est proportionatus ad cognoscendum naturali cognitione aliquid nisi per sensibilia; et ideo in intelligibilia pura devenire non potest nisi argumentando.To the second, it should be said that our sight is proportioned to seeing corporeal light in itself. But our intellect is proportioned to knowing something by a natural knowledge only by means of sensible things, and for this reason, it can reach pure intelligible things only by argumentation.
Ad tertium dicendum, quod quamvis Deus sit in anima per essentiam, praesentiam et potentiam, non tamen est in ea sicut objectum intellectus; et hoc requiritur ad cognitionem. Unde etiam anima sibi ipsi praesens est; tamen maxima difficultas est in cognitione animae, nec devenitur in ipsam, nisi ratiocinando ex objectis in actus et ex actibus in potentiam.To the third, it should be said that, although God is in the soul by essence, presence, and power, he is not nonetheless in it as an object of the intellect, and this is required for knowledge. The soul is thus likewise present to itself. Nonetheless, there is the greatest difficulty concerning the knowledge of the soul, nor is knowledge reached concerning it except by reasoning from objects to its activities and from its activities to its power.
Ad quartum dicendum, quod ratio Anselmi ita intelligenda est. Postquam intelligimus Deum, non potest intelligi quod sit Deus, et possit cogitari non esse; sed tamen ex hoc non sequitur quod aliquis non possit negare vel cogitare, Deum non esse; potest enim cogitare nihil hujusmodi esse quo majus cogitari non possit; et ideo ratio sua procedit ex hac suppositione, quod supponatur aliquid esse quo majus cogitari non potest. Et similiter etiam dicendum ad aliam probationem.To the fourth, it should be said that Anselm's reasoning should be understood in the following manner. As soon as we understand God, it cannot be thought that God exists and that he can be thought not to be. But it does not nonetheless follow from this that someone cannot deny that God exists or think that God does not exist. For he can think that nothing of this kind exists, namely, a thing than which a greater cannot be thought. And therefore, Anselm's reasoning proceeds on the assumption that it is supposed that there exists something than which a greater cannot be thought. And the same thing should also be said to the other argument.

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



The Aquinas Translation Project
(http://www4.desales.edu/~philtheo/loughlin/ATP/index.html)