Of God and His Creatures

St Thomas here is not denying, what he throughout supposes, that in this life our acceptance (intentio, inhaesio, desiderium ultimi finis) of anything as our last end is a free act. He is merely quoting Aristotle as sufficient authority for his present purpose. Aristotle's words are in Eth. Nic. III, iv, 8. Cf. Aquinas Ethicus, I, pp. 51-54: Political and Moral Essays, p. 250. -- Free will goes with deliberation. We mortal men find ourselves deliberating continually about means, but very rarely about ends. Character is said to become 'formed' as time advances: that is to say, some definite view of the meaning and purpose of life comes to be finally adopted: or, in Thomistic phraseology, 'the will of the last end becomes fixed,' practically speaking, before death; and if so, he would argue, much more in death. A conversion or perversion, that is to say, a total change of front for better or worse, does not occur in mature life, except where a series of choices and preferences has for years been leading up to such a consummation. We must not look for conversions beyond the tomb, nor, happily, for perversions either.

Of God and His Creatures: 4.95