Of God and His Creatures

The Arguments of those who wish to withdraw from God the Knowledge of Individual Things*

THE first argument is drawn from the very condition of individuality. For as matter (materia signata)* is the principle of individuality, it seems that individuals cannot be known by any immaterial faculty, inasmuch as all knowledge is a certain assimilation, and hence even in us those powers alone apprehend individual objects, that make use of material organs, as do the imagination and senses, but our understanding, which is immaterial, does not recognise individuals as such: much less then is the divine understanding apt to take cognisance of individuals, being, as it is, the furthest removed from matter.

2. The second argument is that individual things do not always exist. Either then they will always be known by God, or they will sometimes be known and sometimes not known. The former alternative is impossible, because there can be no knowledge of that which is not: for knowledge is only of things true, and things that are not cannot be true. The second alternative is also impossible, because the knowledge of the divine mind is absolutely invariable (Chap. XLV).

3. The third argument is from the consideration that not all individual things come of necessity, but some are by contingency: hence there can be no certain knowledge of them except when they exist. For that knowledge is certain, which is infallible: but all knowledge of contingent being is fallible while the thing is still in the future; for the opposite may happen of that which is held in cognition: for if the opposite could not happen, the thing would be a necessity: hence there can be no science in us of future contingencies, only a conjectural reckoning. On the other hand we must suppose that all God's knowledge is most certain and infallible (Chap. LXI). It is also impossible for God to begin to know anything, by reason of His immutability. From this it seems to follow that He does not know individual contingencies.

4. The fourth argument is from this, that some individual effects have their cause in will. Now an effect, before it is produced, can be known only in its cause: for so only can it have being before it begins to have being in itself. But the motions of the will can be known with certainty by none other than the willing agent, in whose power they are. It is impossible therefore that God should have certain knowledge of such individual effects as derive their causation from a created will.

5. The fifth argument is from the infinite multitude of individual things. The infinite as such is unknown: for all that is known is measured in a manner by the comprehension of the knower, measurement being nothing else than a marking out and ascertaining of the thing measured: hence every art repudiates infinities. But individual existences are infinite, at least potentially.

6. The sixth argument is from the vileness of individual things. As the nobility of knowledge is weighed according to the nobility of the thing known, so the vileness also of the thing known seems to redound to the vileness of the knowledge. Therefore the excellent nobility of the divine mind does not permit of God knowing sundry most vile things that have individual existence.

7. The seventh argument is from the evil that is found in sundry individual things. Since the object known is in some manner in the knowing mind, and evil is impossible in God, it seems to follow that God can have no knowledge at all of evil and privation: only the mind that is in potentiality can know that, as privation can be only in potentiality.*

1.62 : That the Truth of God is the First and Sovereign Truth
1.64 : A list of things to be said concerning the Divine Knowledge