I Sentences, Distinction 8, Question 4
Concerning God's Simplicity

ARTICULUS PRIMUS
Utrum Deus sit omnino simplex.
First Article
Whether God is entirely simple.
Ad primum sic proceditur. 1. Videtur quod Deus non sit simplex omnino. Ens enim cui non fit additio, est ens commune praedicatum de omnibus de quo nihil potest vere negari. Sed Deus non est hujusmodi. Ergo ad esse suum fit aliqua additio. Non est ergo simplex.We proceed thus to the first issue. 1. It seems that God is not entirely simple. For the being to which an addition is not made is the common being that is predicated of all things and about which nothing can be truly denied. But God is not this kind of being. Some addition, therefore, is made to his being. Therefore, he is not simple.
2. Praeterea, Boetius, lib. De hebdom.: Omne quod est, esse participat ut sit; alia autem participat, ut aliquid sit. Sed Deus verissime est ens et est aliquid, quia bonus et sapiens et hujusmodi. Ergo Deus habet esse suum quo est, et super hoc habet aliquid aliud quo aliquid est. Ergo non est simplex.2. Furthermore, in De Hebdomadibus, Boethius says: Every thing that exists participates in being so that it may exist, while it participates in other things so that it may be a determinate thing. But God is most truly a being and is a determinate thing, because he is good, wise, and such things. Therefore, God has his being by which he exists, and on top of this he has something else by which he is a determinate thing. He is not, therefore, simple.
3. Item, de quocumque praedicatur aliquid quod non est de substantia sua, illud non est simplex. Sed quidquid praedicatur de aliquo postquam non praedicabatur, illud non est de substantia sua, cum nulli rei substantia sua de novo adveniat. Cum igitur de Deo praedicetur aliquid postquam non praedicabatur, ut esse dominum et creatorem quae dicuntur de ipso ex tempore, videtur quod ipse non sit simplex.3. Moreover, a thing is not simple that has something predicated of it that does not belong to its substance. But whatever is predicated of any thing after it was not predicated does not belong to that thing's substance, since its own substance comes anew to no thing. Therefore, since something is predicated of God after it was not predicated - for example, that he is "Lord" and "Creator," which are said of him on account of time - it seems that he is not simple.
4. Praeterea, ubicumque sunt plures res in uno, ibi oportet esse aliquem modum compositionis. Sed in divina natura sunt tres personae realiter distinctae, convenientes in una essentia. Ergo videtur ibi esse aliquis modus compositionis.4. Furthermore, wherever there are many things in one, there must be some mode of composition in that thing. But in the divine nature, there are three really distinct Persons, who agree in one essence. It seems, therefore, that there is some mode of composition in the divine nature.
Contra, omne compositum est posterius suis componentibus: quia simplicius est prius in se quam addatur sibi aliquid ad compositionem tertii. Sed primo simpliciter nihil est prius. Cum igitur Deus sit primum principium, non est compositus.On the contrary, every composite thing is posterior to its components, because, in order for a third thing to be composed, something is added to a more simple thing that is prior in itself. But, absolutely speaking, nothing is prior to the first. Therefore, since God is the first principle, he is not composite.
Praeterea, illud quod est primum dans omnibus esse, habet esse non dependens ab alio: quod enim habet esse dependens ab alio, habet esse ab alio, et nullum tale est primum dans esse. Sed Deus est primum dans omnibus esse. Ergo suum esse non dependet ab alio. Sed cujuslibet compositi esse dependet ex componentibus, quibus remotis, et esse compositi tollitur et secundum rem et secundum intellectum. Ergo Deus non est compositus.Furthermore, that which is first, which gives being to all things, has being that does not depend on something else. For what has being that depends on something else has being from something else, and no such thing is the first, which gives being. But God is the first, who gives being to all things. His being, therefore, does not depend on something else. But the being of any composite thing depends on components, and when those components have been removed, the being of the composite thing is destroyed both in the thing as well as in the mind. God is, therefore, not composite.
Item, illud quod est primum principium essendi, nobilissimo modo habet esse, cum semper sit aliquid nobilius in causa quam in causato. Sed nobilissimus modus habendi esse, est quo totum aliquid est suum esse. Ergo Deus est suum esse. Sed nullum compositum totum est suum esse, quia esse ipsius sequitur componentia, quae non sunt ipsum esse. Ergo Deus non est compositus. Et hoc simpliciter concedendum est.Moreover, that which is the first principle of being possesses being in the noblest way, since something is always nobler in a cause than in an effect. But the noblest way of possessing being is the way by which the entirety of something is its own being. God is, therefore, his own being. But the entirety of no composite thing is its own being, because its being results from components that are not being itself. God is, therefore, not composite. And this should be conceded without qualification.
Ad primum ergo dicendum, quod aliquid esse sine additione dicitur dupliciter. Aut de cujus ratione est ut nihil sibi addatur: et sic dicitur de Deo: hoc enim oportet perfectum esse in se ex quo additionem non recipit; nec potest esse commune, quia omne commune salvatur in proprio, ubi sibi fit additio. Aut ita quod non sit de ratione ejus quod fiat sibi additio, neque quod non fiat, et hoc modo ens commune est sine additione. In intellectu enim entis non includitur ista conditio, sine additione; alias nunquam posset sibi fieri additio, quia esset contra rationem ejus; et ideo commune est, quia in sui ratione non dicit aliquam additionem, sed potest sibi fieri additio ut determinetur ad proprium; sicut etiam animal commune dicitur esse sine ratione, quia de intellectu ejus non est habere rationem, neque non habere; asinus autem dicitur sine ratione esse, quia in intellectu ejus includitur negatio rationis, et per hoc determinatur secundum differentiam propriam. Ita etiam divinum esse est determinatum in se et ab omnibus aliis divisum, per hoc quod sibi nulla additio fieri potest. Unde patet quod negationes dictae de Deo non designant in ipso aliquam compositionem.To the first, therefore, it should be said that something is called 'being without an addition' in two ways. On the one hand, the concept of the thing may be such that nothing may be added to it, and in this way it is said about God that he is without an addition. This is indeed proper for being that is perfect in itself, on account of which it does not receive an addition. Nor can this be common being, because every common thing is preserved in a particular thing, where an addition is made to it. On the other hand, something is called 'being without an addition' in such a way that it does not belong to the concept of the thing that an addition may be made to it or that an addition may not be made to it. And in this way, common being is without an addition. For the condition - 'without an addition' - is not included in the understanding of being. Otherwise, an addition could never be made to it, because that would be contrary to the concept of being. For this reason, it is common because, in its concept, one does not signify any addition, but an addition can be made to it so that it may be determined to a particular thing. For example, 'animal' is said in common of beings that lack reason, because it does not belong to the concept of animal to have reason or not to have reason. An ass, however, is called 'a being that lacks reason,' because the negation of reason is included in its concept, and by this fact, it is determined according to a proper difference. In the same way, the divine being is determined in itself and separated from all other things by the fact that no addition can be made to it. Hence, it is evident that negations said of God do not signify any composition in him.
Ad secundum dicendum, quod in rebus creatis res determinatur ut sit aliquid, tripliciter: aut per additionem alicujus differentiae, quae potentialiter in genere erat; aut ex eo quod natura communis recipitur in aliquo, et fit hoc aliquid; aut ex eo quod additur aliquid accidens, per quod dicitur esse vel sciens vel albus. Nullus istorum modorum potest esse in Deo, quia ipse non est commune aliquid, cum de intellectu suo sit quod non addatur sibi aliquid; nec etiam ejus natura est recepta in aliquo, cum sit actus purus; nec etiam recipit aliquid extra essentiam suam, eo quod essentia sua continet omnem perfectionem. Remanet autem quod sit aliquid determinatum per conditionem negandi ab ipso omnem additionem, et per hoc removetur ab eo omne illud quod possibile est additionem recipere. Unde per suum esse absolutum non tantum est, sed aliquid est. Nec differt in eo quo est et aliquid esse, nisi per modum significandi, vel ratione, ut supra dictum est de attributis. Dictum autem Boetii intelligitur de participantibus esse, et non de eo qui essentialiter est suum esse. Ex quo patet quod attributa nullam compositionem in ipso faciunt. Sapientia enim secundum suam rationem non facit compositionem, sed secundum suum esse, prout in subjecto realiter differens est ab ipso; qualiter in Deo non est, ut dictum est.To the second, it should be said that, in created things, a thing is determined in three ways so that it may be a determinate thing: either by the addition of some difference that existed potentially in the genus; or from the fact that a common nature is received in something and is made this determinate thing; or from the fact that some accident is added by which it is said to be knowing or white. None of these ways can exist in God. For he is not something common, since the concept of God is such that something is not added to him. Nor again is his nature received in something, since it is pure act. Nor does he receive something beyond his essence, because his essence contains every perfection. It remains, however, that he is a thing determined by the condition of denying from him every addition, and consequently, every thing that can be received as an addition is removed from him. Hence, by his own independent being, he not only exists but is a determinate thing. Nor in him does what he is and the determinate thing that exists differ, except by mode of signification or by reason, as was said above about the divine attributes. Boethius' statement, however, is understood with respect to things that participate in being, and not with respect to the one who is essentially his own being. For this reason, it is evident that attributes produce no composition in him. For wisdom does not produce composition according to its concept, but according to its being in proportion as, in a subject, it differs in reality from being. As was said, it is not this way in God.
Ad tertium dicendum, quod hujusmodi relationes quae dicuntur de Deo ex tempore, non ponunt aliquid in ipso realiter sed tantum in creatura. Contingit enim, ut dicit Philosophus, V Metaph., aliquid dici relative, non quod ipsum referatur, sed quia aliquid refertur ad ipsum; sicut est in omnibus quorum unum dependet ab altero, et non e contrario; sicut scibile non est relativum, nisi quia scientia refertur ad ipsum; scibile enim non dependet a scientia, sed e converso. Sed quia intellectus noster non potest accipere relationem in uno relativorum, quin intelligatur in illo ad quod refertur, ideo ponit relationem quamdam circa ipsum scibile, et significat ipsum relative. Unde illa relatio quae significatur in scibili, non est realiter in ipso, sed secundum rationem tantum; in scientia autem realiter. Ita etiam relatio importata per hoc nomen Deus, vel Creator, cum de Deo dicatur, non ponit aliquid in Deo nisi secundum intellectum, sed tantum in creatura. Ex quo patet quod diversitas relationum ipsius Dei ad creaturas non ponit compositionem in ipso.To the third, it should be said that the kinds of relations that are said of God on account of time do not establish something in him in reality but only in a creature. For, as the Philosopher says in Book 5 of the Metaphysics, it happens that something is called "relative," not because something else is referred to it, but because it refers to something else, as is the case, for example, in all the things of which one depends on another but not the reverse. For instance, a knowable thing is relative only because knowledge refers to it. For a knowable thing does not depend on knowledge but vice versa. But because our intellect cannot understand a relation in one of relative things without understanding in that one thing the something else to which it refers, it therefore establishes a certain relation concerning a thing as knowable and signifies it as relative. Hence, the relation that is signified in a knowable thing does not exist in it in reality, but only according to the mind; in knowledge, however, the relation exists in reality. In the same way, a relation expressed by the name "God" or "Creator" when said of God does not establish something in God except according to the mind, but it establishes something only in a creature. For this reason, it is evident that the diversity of relations of God himself to creatures does not establish composition in him.
Ad quartum dicendum, quod, sicut supra dictum est, proprietas personalis comparata ad essentiam, non differt re ab ipsa, et ideo non facit compositionem cum ea; sed comparata ad suum correlativum, facit distinctionem realem; sed ex illa parte non est aliqua unio, et ideo nec compositio. Unde relinquitur ibi tres esse res et tamen nullam compositionem. Ex hoc patet nomina personalia nullam in Deo compositionem significare.To the fourth, it should be said, as was said above, that a personal property, when compared to the divine essence, does not differ from it in reality, and for this reason, it does not produce a composition with it. But when a personal property is compared to its own correlative property, it produces a real distinction. But in that respect, no union exists and, therefore, no composition. Hence, it remains that three things exist in the divine essence and nonetheless no composition. It is evident, accordingly, that the personal names signify no composition in God.

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



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