Of God and His Creatures

That the Happiness of Man does not consist in Bodily Pleasures

ACCORDING to the order of nature, pleasure is for the sake of activity, and not the other way about. If therefore certain activities are not the final end, the pleasures ensuing upon these activities are neither the final end nor accessories of the final end. But certainly the activities on which bodily pleasures follow are not the final end: for they are directed to other obvious ends, the preservation of the body and the begetting of offspring. Therefore the aforesaid pleasures are not the final end, nor accessories of the final end, and happiness is not to be placed in them.

3. Happiness is a good proper to man: dumb animals cannot be called happy except by an abuse of language.* But bodily pleasures are common to man and brute: happiness therefore cannot consist in them.*

4. The final end of a thing is noblest and best of all that appertains to the thing.* But bodily delights do not appertain to a man in respect of what is noblest in him.

5. The highest perfection of man cannot consist in his being conjoined with things lower than himself, but in his conjunction with something above him.

7. In all things that are said to be 'ordinarily' (per se), 'more' follows upon 'more,' if 'absolutely' goes with 'absolutely.' If then bodily pleasures were good in themselves,* to take them to the utmost would be the best way of taking them. But this is manifestly false: for excessive use of such things is accounted a vice, injures the body, and bars further enjoyments of the same sort.*

8. If human happiness consisted in bodily pleasures, it would be a more praiseworthy act of virtue to take such pleasures than to abstain from them.* But this is manifestly false, for it is the special praise of the act of temperance to abstain from such pleasures.*

9. The last end of everything is God (Chap. XVIII). That then must be laid down to be the last end of man, whereby he most closely approaches to God. But bodily pleasures injure a man from any close approach to God: for God is approached by contemplation, and the aforesaid pleasures are a hindrance to contemplation.

Hereby is excluded the error of the Epicureans, who placed the happiness of man in these pleasures: in whose person Solomon says: This seemed to me good, that man should eat and drink and make merry on the fruit of his toil (Eccles. V, 17). Everywhere let us leave behind us signs of mirth, for this is our portion and this our lot (Wisd. ii, 9). Also the error of the followers of Cerinthus is excluded, who spread the fable of a thousand years of the pleasures of the belly as an element in the kingdom of Christ after the resurrection, hence they are called Chiliasts, or Millennarians. Also the fables of the Saracens, who place the rewards of the just in the aforesaid pleasures.

3.26 : That Happiness does not consist in any Act of the Will
3.28, 29 : That Happiness does not consist in Honours nor in Human Glory