Treatise on Beatitude


Question 1: The ultimate end of a human being

Question 2: The thing such that human beatitude consists in possessing it

Question 3: The way in which the highest good must be possessed for beatitude

Question 4: The prerequisites for beatitude

Question 5: The attainment of beatitude

  • Question 1: The ultimate end of a human being
    • 1,1: Explanation of the notions of act, object, and end as they apply to all agents, natural and voluntary.  Roughly, the object of an act is what is done, and the end is that for the sake of which (or why) it is done.  Later on we will see that an action may derive its species both from what is done (finis operis) and from the motive or end for which it is done (finis operantis).  (Acts are complicated, eh?  We will see more of this below.)

      Note the distinction between (a) a human act and (b) an act belonging to a human being; and also the distinction, among voluntary human acts, between (i) acts elicited by the will (elicited acts) and (ii) acts commanded by the will (commanded acts). (This is a little more complicated than St. Thomas lets on here, since one possible end I might have is to be the sort of person who elicits certain acts of will in certain circumstances. That is, it is possible for elicited acts of intellect and will to be the ends--and perhaps even the proximate ends or objects--of elicited acts of will. However, all elicited acts of will have objects that are distinct from themselves.)
    • 1,2: Acting for an end is not peculiar to human beings, since all substances are agents, rational or non-rational, that act for an end. (This is a fundamental thesis that St. Thomas takes over from Aristotle and that he would not relinquish even if he were around today.)  If an agent were not ordered toward some determinate effect, it wouldn't do this rather than that. What is peculiar to voluntary actions is that this ordering is accomplished through a rational appetite rather than through natural appetite--so that rational agents qua rational move themselves toward determinate deliberated ends that they themselves intend, whereas non-rational agents are moved by another toward either an apprehended but undeliberated end (brute animals) or a non-apprehended end (agents that lack cognition).
    • 1,3: We can construe actions by analogy with substances. Just as a substance receives its species from its form, which makes it to be an actual member of that species, so human acts receive their species from that which makes them actual. Motions in general--and human acts in particular--can be thought of as both actions and passions, i.e., instances of acting (on the part of the agent) and of being acted upon (on the part of the patient). An action receives its species from the actuality which is the principle of the motion, whereas the passion receives its species from the actuality which is the terminus of the motion. For instance, heating proceeds from the heat of the agent (principle) and terminates in the heat of the patient (terminus). In the case of human acts, in which the agent moves himself and is moved by himself, the proximate end [or: object or finis operis] (see ad 3) is both the principle and the terminus, though in different ways. (This is analogous to a case of natural generation, in which the form of the species is both the principle and the terminus.) The proximate end is the principle because properly human acts proceed from a deliberated act of will that has the proximate end as its object; it is the terminus because properly human acts tend toward the realization of the object (proximate end) that the will deliberately intends. So a human act has the (proximate) end or object it intends as its form and it aims at realizing that form or object in reality. Also, we must distinguish an act's natural species from its moral species. These types of species may be related to one another only incidentally. Specifically, acts of the same "natural" species (e.g., raising one's hand) may have different moral species, depending on the variety of ultimate ends or motives (e.g., making a contribution to a discussion, signalling the beginning of an assassination attempt, changing the play at the line of scrimmage, etc). So we must be careful in discerning an act's per se moral terminus.  Also, the reply to the last objection presupposes a distinction between the action itself, as specified by its object or proximate end, and further ends that the agent might direct the action, so constituted, to.  The scholastics sometimes call the first of these ends the finis operis (the end of the act itself) and the finis operantis (the end of the agent).  This raises the possibility that an act might have a bad object independently of the good intentions of the agent.  More on this below.  Also, an action may have more than one species; this leads to some interesting questions to be taken up below.
    • 1,4: Note that the question here is, in effect, whether there is at least one ultimate end of human life. (In fact, what the argument seems to show is only that each human act must have an ultimate or last end.) Even if the answer is yes, St. Thomas does not take himself to have shown that there is just one end for any particular human being or, better, human life (this is shown in art. 5) or just one (or the same) end for all human beings (this is discussed in art. 7 and again at the very end of q. 5). His point here is simply that every complete human action presupposes some ultimate end, the desire for which gets the action started.  If there were not such an end, we would never even begin to deliberate about the means to that end.  Note also the distinction between the order of intention and the order of execution with respect to ends. The ultimate end is first in intention and, as it were, the principle that moves the appetite, thus initiating action; but it is the last in execution, since it is effected by the effecting of the proximate ends that precede it. (I intend to take a vacation and this initiates a series of acts ordered toward my being on vacation, which itself occurs last in the series.) By contrast, the most proximate means to the end is the first in execution and the last in intention, since the resolve to effect it is arrived at intentionally only at the end of a process of deliberation about how to achieve the ultimate end.
    • 1,5&6: Art. 5 has to be read carefully. St. Thomas is arguing only that each human being has a single ultimate end, but he is not saying anything about the precise character of that end. The point he is making is in this sense a purely formal one: "Each thing desires its own perfection (completion, fulfillment) as an ultimate end .... Therefore, it must be the case that the ultimate end fulfills all of a human being's desires in such a way that there is nothing beyond it left to desire." So the ultimate end is one's own perfection or fulfillment, and under this description it is unitary--even if, concretely, what one strives for in the attempt to bring about this fulfillment is a whole host of goods. So every human act has or presupposes the intention of attaining perfection or fulfillment--which is the claim of art. 6. Notice, though, that the reply to obj. 1 suggests that the relation of an action to the ultimate end is not always direct. For instance, rest and relaxation are in given contexts seen as good for the one resting and so contribute to that person's attaining his perfection in an indirect way, e.g., as an enabling condition for or a necessary condition for, rather than a constituent of, perfection.  Notice, too, that it is much too early in the game to characterize this position as 'egoism', in the way that many writers do.  This is at least very misleading if we take into account St. Thomas's later claim (in ST 2-2) that our fulfillment entails loving God more than ourselves and our neighbors as ourselves by means of the supernatural habit of charity--and that a paradigm instance of an act ordered to our true ultimate end is Christ's passion and death for the salvation of the whole human race.  That is, true self-love is not only compatible with, but demands, transcending oneself. 

      By the way, to call this 'egoism', even 'rational egoism', and to contrast it with 'altruism', is to import a later Scotistic and Kantian distinction and thereby obliterate the distinctively Thomistic account of human fulfillment.  Scotus claims in effect that instead of one fundamental desire for beatitude, we have two independent fundamental desires, the affectio commodi (something like the desire for beatitude -- or, better, what Scotus perhaps thinks the desire for happiness amounts to, viz., being a 'decent' person with lots of pleasant and useful external and internal goods) and the affectio iustitiae (the desire for moral uprightness), which is identified with the inclination to obey God's law.  (In Kant this becomes the desire to obey the law that I give myself as a rational being.)  The Scotistic distinction raises the possibility, realized in his own treatment of the second tablet of the Ten Commandments, that human flourishing as defined by the affectio commodi might conflict with obedience to God's law.  St. Thomas explicitly denies the possibility of a genuine conflict between our desire for true human flourishing and obedience to God's law.  On this matter and related issues, see Christopher Toner's excellent dissertation, "Flourishing and Self-interest in Virtue Ethics."
    •  1,7: Here St. Thomas makes some helpful clarifications. We can speak of the ultimate end in two ways: (a) according to the intension or meaning of the concept ultimate end and (b) according to that which the concept ultimate end applies to concretely--or to put it another way, according to the good or goods that satisfy, or are thought to satisfy, the definition of the ultimate good. Everyone desires his own perfection and beatitude as such; so as far as (a) is concerned, there is one agreed upon ultimate end for all human beings, viz., their own perfection or beatitude. But human beings disagree about what concretely constitutes their perfection or beatitude. Some desire, say, riches or comfort or power, etc., or some combination thereof, as their ultimate end; others desire to dedicate their lives to others or to God; still others desire other things, e.g., something akin to absolute autonomy, or a relatively thoughtless desire for a suitable cluster of internal and external goods. But from such disagreement it does not follow that there is no truth of the matter about what goods are truly perfective of us or about what sorts of life are best--or, perhaps better, it does not follow that there are no objective constraints on what sorts of lives are aimed at or lead toward the true ultimate end for human beings. We must take our cue here from what someone "with well-disposed affections" desires. But what is that? Stay tuned for questions 2 and 3. Still, we are not starting in a vacuum--we will be successful in moral inquiry only to the extent that our own affections are already well-disposed or at least on the way to being well-disposed.
    • 1,8: This question is important mainly for drawing our attention to the fact that it is not only possession of a certain good (or goods) but the manner in which it is possessed that constitutes beatitude. In question 2 we will identify the good in which beatitude consists and in question 3 the relevant mode of possession. So it is only at the end of question 3 that we will understand the true ultimate end for human beings, and only at the end of questions 4 and 5 that we have a better idea of what is involved in attaining true beatitude and what our chances are of attaining it.

  • Question 2: The thing such that human beatitude consists in possessing it in the right way
    • 2,1-4: Our inquiry here is aimed at identifying the good or set of goods, the possession of which in the right way constitutes human beatitude--or, as Aristotle puts it, "the complete and sufficient good that excludes all evil and fulfills all [well-ordered] desire." What St. Thomas will try to show is that no finite good or set of goods can satisfy Aristotle's own definition of human fulfillment. The first four articles focus on "external goods" such as wealth, power, honor, fame (or reputation), glory and their concomitants. In art. 4 St. Thomas gives four general reasons why the good for human beings cannot consist just in the possession of one or more of these external goods: (1) human fulfillment rules out all evil, whereas each of the external goods can be found in both good and evil people and can be used to do either good or evil; (2) beatitude is a sufficient good that does not lack any good necessary for a human being, whereas the external goods leave out many necessary goods, e.g., wisdom, bodily health, love and friendship, etc.; (3) beatitude is a complete good from which no evil can come to a person, whereas all of the external goods can lead to evil for their possessors; (4) a human being is ordered to beatitude by internal principles, since each of us is naturally ordered toward our own perfection, whereas the external goods come to us from without and in large measure fortuitously and by luck. (Shades of the Republic.)
    • 2,5-6: The next two articles focus on those internal goods that are "goods of the body". Think of health, longevity, good looks, bodily pleasures of various kinds, bodily strength and fitness, athletic prowess, comfort, and by extention things like good food and drink, nice houses, hot cars, silk sheets (silk sheets?), etc. St. Thomas simply points out something that anyone with well-ordered affections will immediately see to be true, viz., that the goods of the body are ordered toward the goods of the soul. The goods of the body are not in themselves sufficient and perfect. (Even though it is in some respects unfair to animals to say that so-and-so lives like an animal, still, you get the point.) The discussion of pleasure (or delight) is very instructive. Delight is a consequence of the possession of a good rather than its essence. And in the case of bodily pleasure, it is evident that our desire for such pleasure is great but just as evident (at least to those whose affections are well-ordered) that beatitude as defined by Aristotle does not consist solely in such pleasures and that, indeed, the obsessive thirst for such pleasures is one of the signs of a disordered and unhappy life.
    • 2,7: The next article focuses on those internal goods that are goods of the soul, e.g., intelligence, aesthetic enjoyment, artistic and intellectual accomplishment, friendship, virtue, relaxation, etc. As for the thing that is our highest good, this cannot be any one or more of the goods of the soul, since these goods are not the complete good which wholly satisfies our desire. Rather, we desire a universal good, something that is good in every way and has no defect or downside associated with it. Every good of the soul is, by contrast, a participated and hence limited good, one that, however good it might be, does not give us complete fulfillment. Also, as we will see later, permanence is one of the conditions of beatitude, and the prospect of death effectively means that we cannot achieve complete beatitude in this life, even if we enjoy a high degree of the goods of the soul. On the other hand, the manner of the possession of the highest good will obviously involve the soul, since it is in some way through the soul that we will possess the highest good.
    • 2,8: Only God can be a sufficient and complete good for us, since we have the universal good as an object of our will. Later St. Thomas will distinguish complete (or 'perfect') beatitude from incomplete (or imperfect) beatitude. A crucial question will be how these two sorts of beatitude are related to one another.

  • Question 3: The way in which the highest good must be possessed for beatitude
    • 3,1-2: God is the good we must attain to. But our attainment or possession or enjoyment of God must be of a certain sort in order to be human beatitude or fulfillment. Not just any way of being related to God is sufficient. In particular, beatitude must be a certain operation of our soul--an immanent as opposed to transeunt operation--that has God as its object. (And, as well shall see, only a soul that is well-disposed in a special way is capable of having this operation.) Hence, because in this life we cannot have any such operation without interruption, we cannot have perfect beatitude in this life--though we can have a beginning of it under fortuitous circumstances to be spelled out later on. Look carefully at art. 2, ad 4:  "In man's present state of life, his ultimate perfection is in the activity whereby he is united to God, but this activity cannot be continual ..... [and so] men cannot have complete beatitude in this life."  This is imperfect or incomplete beatitude.  Question:  where and how is it realized in this life?
    • 3, 3-5: The next three questions try to narrow down the immediate subject of the operation in question--or, to put it another way, to determine which part or power of the soul is the relevant subject of this operation. The alternatives are: the sentient part, the will, the practical intellect, and the speculative intellect. In art. 3 St. Thomas makes a useful distinction among (a) what is essential to--or part of the essence or definition of--beatitude, (b) what is [necessarily] antecedent to beatitude, and (c) what is [necessarily] consequent upon beatitude. In other words, we have to distinguish the essence or definition of beatitude from things which pertain to beatitude as either leading up to it (and/or accompanying it) or following upon it. (Remember the claim above that delight is not part of the essence of beatitude but is instead consequent upon beatitude.) 
      • Since beatitude consists in our being conjoined to God in some way, and since we cannot be joined to God through sentient operations, beatitude cannot consist in possessing God through sentient operations (art. 3). However, such operations do pertain to beatitude both as antecedents (since the imperfect beatitude we can attain in this life depends on sentient operations) and as consequences (assuming that we will have bodies in patria), since our beatitude will spill over to the senses as well. But the very operation by which we are joined to God will not depend on the senses.
      • But what about operations of the will, such as love and delight (art. 4)? We have already talked about delight. As for love, loving God is in some way superior to knowing God.  To be sure, St. Thomas insists that the essence of beatitude is knowing God (in some way); still, it turns out that loving God both precedes this knowledge as a necessary prelude and follows upon this knowledge as a necessary consequence. I emphasize the role of love here in order to counter the objection that St. Thomas's notion of complete beatitude is excessively intellectualist.  On St. Thomas's view the knowledge that is constitutive of beatitude is the knowledge of one who is in love--specifically in this case, in love with God in the appropriate way.  Another way to say this is that human beatitude consists in being a saint (and not, pace Socrates and Plato and Aristotle and the Stoics, etc., a philosopher).   In fact, as ST 1.12.6  makes clear and as St. Thomas says in various places, those who love God more see God's essence more perfectly because of the greater intensity of their desire for Him.
      • So beatitude consists in an operation of the intellect with respect to God. But what sort of intellectual operation? Not, St. Thomas says, an act of the practical intellect, e.g., deliberation, judgment, command. For (a) a speculative intellectual operation with respect to God is our highest and most perfect operation, since it is an operation of our highest power with respect to our highest object, viz., God; (b) speculative understanding (contemplation) is most sought after for itself, whereas practical understanding is ordered toward action; and (c) contemplation emulates God and the angels, whereas lower animals partly emulate us with respect to the practical life. (Note: Imperfect beatitude consists principally in contemplation and secondarily in those operations of the practical intellect by which we order our actions and passions--would-be saints must be contemplative souls even in the midst of activity.)
    • 3, 6-8: But if it is speculative intellectual operations we speaking of here, then what sort of knowledge is the best? Knowledge of all the speculative [natural and mathematical] sciences (art. 6)? Knowledge of the separated substances (art. 7)? Here we begin to see St. Thomas distance himself from the ancient philosophical schools.
      • Distinguishing perfect beatitude from that participation in beatitude that we call imperfect beatitude, we can say with confidence that perfect beatitude does not consist in scientific knowledge, because such knowledge cannot take us beyond the strength of the first principles of the relevant science, viz., what we accept as evident to the senses. Such knowledge is perfective of us only to the extent that the forms we come to know through it participate in something ("the intelligible light") superior to our own minds. (Redolent of Plato.) Our ultimate perfection must consist in knowledge of something more perfect than our own intellect--even though we can aver that our scientific knowledge gives us a certain participation in true and perfect beatitude.  Note the reply to 2 in art. 6:  "Not only is complete beatitude desired naturally, but also any likeness or participation in it."
      • As for the separated substances (art. 7), an object of the intellect is more perfective of the intellect to the extent that it satisfies the concept of the perfect object of the intellect. But what has a perfection through its essence is more perfect than what has it through participation. Since the object of the intellect is truth, what has truth through its essence is a more perfect object of the intellect than what has truth through participation. This can only be the highest being, viz., God. So beatitude does not consist in knowledge of separated substances, despite the fact that they are more perfect than our cognitive powers.
      • In the end (art. 8) St. Thomas arrives at the conclusion that it is knowledge of God that our beatitude consists in--but not, of course, the sort of knowledge of God that the natural sciences and metaphysics can yield. For such knowledge is not knowledge of God's essence--or, at least, knowledge of his whole essence, since we do not start with a quidditative concept of God. So perfect beatitude requires that we attain cognitively to the essence of God--something that, as we shall see, is not possible for us in this life and, more worrisomely, not possible for our natural cognitive powers.  Notice how understated St. Thomas's conclusion is here.  One reason is that he has already discussed the metaphysics of the beatific vision at ST 1, q. 12.

  • Question 4: The prerequisites of beatitude
    • 4,1-2: In this question we clarify further some of the aspects of beatitude, and this gives us a fuller idea of what is involved. St. Thomas distinguishes four ways in which something can be required for beatitude without being part of the essence of beatitude: (1) as something preparatory for beatitude; (2) as something that completes beatitude; (3) as something that assists it from without; (4) as something that is concomitant with beatitude. For instance, in these articles we find out that pleasure (or better: delight) is a necessary concomitant of beatitude, but that it is subordinate to the beatific vision, since the will rests only because it has attained the object which it desires and which is such that, having attained that object, the will desires nothing else.  Again, we find out that rectitude of will of the appropriate sort is both preparatory for and concomitant with beatitude.
    • 4,3: Here we delve a bit deeper into the nature of the vision itself. Does the beatific vision involve comprehending God's nature or essence? (See ST 1.12.7) St. Thomas first gives us here a rather deep explanation of our longing for our true ultimate end. Since God is an intelligible (vs. sensible) end, we are ordered to Him both (a) through our intellect, to the extent that we even now have a partial and imperfect cognition of our end, and (b) through our will, to the extent that we (i) love our end and (ii) bear a real relation of hope to it. (Hope is the relation the lover bears to the object loved when that object is absent, possible to attain, but not possible to attain easily or immediately.) Now in the beatific vision all three of these elements are satisfied. Perfect cognition (vision) replaces imperfect cognition (faith and/or natural knowledge); the presence of the end (comprehension) replaces hope, and delight in a now present object of love brings love (charity) to completion. But what does comprehend mean here, exactly? What sort of immediate presence is it? In ad 1 St. Thomas distinguishes two senses: (1) x comprehends y iff y is included in x, and in this sense whatever is comprehended by something finite is itself finite; (2) x comprehends y iff x grasps y as something now possessed. This latter is the sense required by beatitude. (Perhaps apprehension is a more accurate English term.)
    • 4,4: This is an important article. Its upshot is that not just anyone can be granted the beatific vision. In particular, rectitude of will (i.e., moral uprightness--indeed, supernatural moral uprightness in the form of charity) is required as a preparation because without it one is not appropriately transformed from within and properly ordered toward the true ultimate end. That is, without it we do not love our true ultimate end (see above) and hence do not pursue it. And just as matter that is not properly disposed cannot receive a given form, so a person who is not properly disposed to the ultimate end cannot attain that end--indeed, such a person does not want to attain it. (This is to some extent challenged by the objections in q. 5, art. 7.) By the same token, rectitude of will is required concomitantly because the will of one who see's God's essence must love whatever God loves, and loving whatever God loves is what makes a will upright. The upshot is that (i) God cannot grant the beatific vision to someone who lacks rectitude of will and that (ii) someone without rectitude of will does not love that which his true beatitude consists in. (Such is the stuff of moral tragedy.) Later, in our treatment of the theological virtues, we will establish a supernatural framework in which this notion of rectitude of will is put into a more general context.  Basically, moral uprightness of the sort appropriate for the beatific vision results from the exercise of the virtues, the chief among which is charity, since it motivates the acts of the others.
    • 4,5-6: The question of the relation of beatitude to the body is a tricky one for St. Thomas, since he holds to the Aristotelian view that the soul is not the human being and yet also holds that the saints are beatified even now and that they help us by their prayers. Also, in art. 5 he makes explicit the distinction between perfect (complete) beatitude and the imperfect (incomplete) beatitude that is attainable in this life. The problem here is what to make of imperfect beatitude, since it can be interpreted in either a straight Aristotelian sense (what is attainable in this life through our natural powers) or a Christian Aristotelian sense (what is attainable in this life only with the assistance of divine grace). In any case, imperfect beatitude, however it is taken, requires the body because we require the body for all of our intellectual operations in this life. As for perfect beatitude, St. Thomas denies that the saints will be happy only after the Last Judgment. Rather, since the intellectual operation that constitutes beatitude is wholly independent of the body, it can be had without the body. Still, the presence of the body perfects beatitude in the way that, say, good looks perfect the body--not by adding to its essence but by enhancing it in a manner that accords with its nature. And in art. 6 we find that the body in question must be in some way a "spiritual" body, i.e., a body completely subjected to the soul--like Christ's body after the resurrection.
    • 4,7-8: External goods are necessary for imperfect beatitude, in much the way that Aristotle outlines in the Ethics, i.e., as subserving and facilitating the virtuous practical and speculative activities which lie at the heart of the beatitude attainable in this life. However, no such goods--and the same holds for the goods of the body--are required for perfect beatitude. Note ad 2: "Yet in [the state of] perfect beatitude there will be a gathering together of all goods, since whatever good is found in these [external and bodily] goods will be had in its entirety in the highest source of goods." Likewise, various goods of the soul, such as friendship, which are not part of the essence of beatitude, nonetheless contribute to its "well-being" (bene esse).

  • Question 5: The attainment of beatitude
    • 5,1: Given our previous discussions, it is an open question whether and how beatitude might be attainable by us. According to St. Thomas, the fact that we can entertain the notion of a universal and perfect good and also desire such a good shows that we are capable (at least in principle) of attaining beatitude. (See ST 1.12 for further clarification of what is involved in a creature's vision of God.)
    • 5,2: Is it possible for one beatified person to be happier than another? On the surface it might seem that the answer is no, since the essence of beatitude is the same for all. St. Thomas, however, demurs. Individuals can, he asserts, differ in their enjoyment of the essence of God to the extent that some are better disposed or ordered toward this enjoyment than others. (This, we find out in other places, is a difference in degrees of supernatural charity.) It is not that they differ in that some desire a further good. It is rather that some are able to enjoy the same good to a greater degree. (There are analogies from our experience.)
    • 5,3-4: Here we come face to face with the distinction between perfect and imperfect beatitude. Obviously, with the specter of death confronting us, we cannot be perfectly happy in this life, since we desire permanence as part of beatitude; but all the other evil conditions of this life--ignorance, disordered affections, and the afflictions of the body--are unavoidable. [Note art. 3, ad 2 for a further insight into what St. Thomas means by imperfect beatitude here.] Likewise, imperfect beatitude can be lost, in both its contemplative and active aspects. But the same cannot be true of perfect beatitude.
    • 5,5-6: This question is an important one, since it gives some indication of our starting point. Here St. Thomas uses "imperfect beatitude" in a sense in which it is attainable by our natural powers. Perfect beatitude, however, is not attainable by our natural powers, even though we do have "free choice, by which we can turn ourselves to God, who makes us happy." And in art. 6 we learn that God alone can make us happy. Still, we are aided by angels and other human beings in our quest for beatitude, since they aid us with respect to those things that are preparatory for beatitude.
    • 5,7: Even though God could immediately bestow the right disposition (rectitude of will) on someone who did not have it, "the order of divine wisdom requires that this not happen." Note, though, that the principle element here (see ad 2) consists in the merits of Christ and only secondarily in the merit that we earn by our free choices within the framework of salvation founded upon Christ's merits.
    • 5,8: It may seem strange for St. Thomas to raise here the question of whether everyone desires beatitude. But it is good for him to do so. What he suggests is that even though everyone desires beatitude described generally, not everyone desires the relevant object (God), the operation by which one possesses that object in the way required for beatitude (the vision of God's essence), or all the prerequisites for that operation (e.g., especially rectitude of will). There is a lot below the surface here. First of all, it seems that there can be differences in the clarity (or obscurity) with which one understands the ultimate end; and, second, it seems that these differences can stem from a number of sources, e.g., defects of the intellect (voluntary and involuntary ignorance), defects of the will (malice), disordered affections (concupiscence), etc. This helps us to begin to see the role of (i) philosophy as the knowledge of first principles, of (ii) the moral and intellectual virtues, and of (iii) the theological virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit. More on this below.