Of God and His Creatures

That God Knows Individual Things

GOD knows things in so far as He is the cause of them. But the substantial effects of divine causation are individual things, universals not being substantial things, but having being only in individuals.

2. Since God's cognitive act is His essence, He must know all that is in any way in His essence; and as this essence is the first and universal principle of being and the prime origin of all, it virtually contains in itself all things that in any way whatsoever have being.

5. In the gradation of faculties it is commonly found that the higher faculty extends to more terms, and yet is one; while the range of the lower faculty extends to fewer terms, and even over them it is multiplied, as we see in the case of imagination and sense, for the single power of the imagination extends to all that the five senses take cognisance of, and to more. But the cognitive faculty in God is higher than in man: whatever therefore man knows by the various faculties of understanding, imagination and sense, God is cognisant of by His one simple intuition. God therefore is apt to know the individual things that we grasp by sense and imagination.

6. The divine mind, unlike ours, does not gather its knowledge from things, but rather by its knowledge is the cause of things; and thus its knowledge of things is a practical knowledge. But practical knowledge is not perfect unless it descends to individual cases: for the end of practical knowledge is work, which is done on individuals.

9. As the Philosopher argues against Empedocles, God would be very wanting in wisdom, if He did not know individual instances, which even men know.

This truth is established also by the authority of Holy Scripture, for it is said: There is no creature invisible in his sight: also the contrary error is excluded by the text: Say not, I shall be hidden from God; and from the height of heaven who shall mind me? (Ecclus xvi, 16).

From what has been said it is evident how the objection to the contrary (Chap. LXIII, i) is inconclusive: for though the mental presentation whereby divine understanding understands is immaterial, it is still a type both of matter and form, as being the prime productive principle of both.

1.64 : A list of things to be said concerning the Divine Knowledge
1.66 : That God knows things which are not