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Home > Summa Theologiae > First Part > Question 59

Question 59. The will of the angels

  1. Is there will in the angels?
  2. Is the will of the angel his nature, or his intellect?
  3. Is there free-will in the angels?
  4. Is there an irascible and a concupiscible appetite in them?

Article 1. Whether there is will in the angels?

Objection 1. It would seem that there is no will in the angels. For as the Philosopher says (De Anima iii, text. 42), "The will is in the reason." But there is no reason in the angels, but something higher than reason. Therefore there is no will in the angels, but something higher than the will.

Objection 2. Further, the will is comprised under the appetite, as is evident from the Philosopher (De Anima iii, text. 42). But the appetite argues something imperfect; because it is a desire of something not as yet possessed. Therefore, since there is no imperfection in the angels, especially in the blessed ones, it seems that there is no will in them.

Objection 3. Further, the Philosopher says (De Anima ii, text. 54) that the will is a mover which is moved; for it is moved by the appetible object understood. Now the angels are immovable, since they are incorporeal. Therefore there is no will in the angels.

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Trin. x, 11,12) that the image of the Trinity is found in the soul according to memory, understanding, and will. But God's image is found not only in the soul of man, but also in the angelic mind, since it also is capable of knowing God. Therefore there is will in the angels.

I answer that, We must necessarily place a will in the angels. In evidence thereof, it must be borne in mind that, since all things flow from the Divine will, all things in their own way are inclined by appetite towards good, but in different ways. Some are inclined to good by their natural inclination, without knowledge, as plants and inanimate bodies. Such inclination towards good is called "a natural appetite." Others, again, are inclined towards good, but with some knowledge; not that they know the aspect of goodness, but that they apprehend some particular good; as in the sense, which knows the sweet, the white, and so on. The inclination which follows this apprehension is called "a sensitive appetite." Other things, again, have an inclination towards good, but with a knowledge whereby they perceive the aspect of goodness; this belongs to the intellect. This is most perfectly inclined towards what is good; not, indeed, as if it were merely guided by another towards some particular good only, like things devoid of knowledge, nor towards some particular good only, as things which have only sensitive knowledge, but as inclined towards good in general. Such inclination is termed "will." Accordingly, since the angels by their intellect know the universal aspect of goodness, it is manifest that there is a will in them.

Reply to Objection 1. Reason surpasses sense in a different way from that in which intellect surpasses reason. Reason surpasses sense according to the diversity of the objects known; for sense judges of particular objects, while reason judges of universals. Therefore there must be one appetite tending towards good in the abstract, which appetite belongs to reason; and another with a tendency towards particular good, which appetite belongs to sense. But intellect and reason differ as to their manner of knowing; because the intellect knows by simple intuition, while reason knows by a process of discursion from one thing to another. Nevertheless by such discursion reason comes to know what intellect learns without it, namely, the universal. Consequently the object presented to the appetitive faculty on the part of reason and on the part of intellect is the same. Therefore in the angels, who are purely intellectual, there is no appetite higher than the will.

Reply to Objection 2. Although the name of the appetitive part is derived from seeking things not yet possessed, yet the appetitive part reaches out not to these things only, but also to many other things; thus the name of a stone [lapis] is derived from injuring the foot [laesione pedis], though not this alone belongs to a stone. In the same way the irascible faculty is so denominated from anger [ira]; though at the same time there are several other passions in it, as hope, daring, and the rest.

Reply to Objection 3. The will is called a mover which is moved, according as to will and to understand are termed movements of a kind; and there is nothing to prevent movement of this kind from existing in the angels, since such movement is the act of a perfect agent, as stated in De Anima iii, text. 28.

Article 2. Whether in the angels the will differs from the intellect?

Objection 1. It would seem that in the angel the will does not differ from the intellect and from the nature. For an angel is more simple than a natural body. But a natural body is inclined through its form towards its end, which is its good. Therefore much more so is the angel. Now the angel's form is either the nature in which he subsists, or else it is some species within his intellect. Therefore the angel inclines towards the good through his own nature, or through an intelligible species. But such inclination towards the good belongs to the will. Therefore the will of the angel does not differ from his nature or his intellect.

Objection 2. Further, the object of the intellect is the true, while the object of the will is the good. Now the good and the true differ, not really but only logically [Cf. I:16:4]. Therefore will and intellect are not really different.

Objection 3. Further, the distinction of common and proper does not differentiate the faculties; for the same power of sight perceives color and whiteness. But the good and the true seem to be mutually related as common to particular; for the true is a particular good, to wit, of the intellect. Therefore the will, whose object is the good, does not differ from the intellect, whose object is the true.

On the contrary, The will in the angels regards good things only, while their intellect regards both good and bad things, for they know both. Therefore the will of the angels is distinct from their intellect.

I answer that, In the angels the will is a special faculty or power, which is neither their nature nor their intellect. That it is not their nature is manifest from this, that the nature or essence of a thing is completely comprised within it: whatever, then, extends to anything beyond it, is not its essence. Hence we see in natural bodies that the inclination to being does not come from anything superadded to the essence, but from the matter which desires being before possessing it, and from the form which keeps it in such being when once it exists. But the inclination towards something extrinsic comes from something superadded to the essence; as tendency to a place comes from gravity or lightness, while the inclination to make something like itself comes from the active qualities.

Now the will has a natural tendency towards good. Consequently there alone are essence and will identified where all good is contained within the essence of him who wills; that is to say, in God, Who wills nothing beyond Himself except on account of His goodness. This cannot be said of any creature, because infinite goodness is quite foreign to the nature of any created thing. Accordingly, neither the will of the angel, nor that of any creature, can be the same thing as its essence.

In like manner neither can the will be the same thing as the intellect of angel or man. Because knowledge comes about in so far as the object known is within the knower; consequently the intellect extends itself to what is outside it, according as what, in its essence, is outside it is disposed to be somehow within it. On the other hand, the will goes out to what is beyond it, according as by a kind of inclination it tends, in a manner, to what is outside it. Now it belongs to one faculty to have within itself something which is outside it, and to another faculty to tend to what is outside it. Consequently intellect and will must necessarily be different powers in every creature. It is not so with God, for He has within Himself universal being, and the universal good. Therefore both intellect and will are His nature.

Reply to Objection 1. A natural body is moved to its own being by its substantial form: while it is inclined to something outside by something additional, as has been said.

Reply to Objection 2. Faculties are not differentiated by any material difference of their objects, but according to their formal distinction, which is taken from the nature of the object as such. Consequently the diversity derived from the notion of good and true suffices for the difference of intellect from will.

Reply to Objection 3. Because the good and the true are really convertible, it follows that the good is apprehended by the intellect as something true; while the true is desired by the will as something good. Nevertheless, the diversity of their aspects is sufficient for diversifying the faculties, as was said above (Reply to Objection 2).

Article 3. Whether there is free-will in the angels?

Objection 1. It would seem that there is no free-will in the angels. For the act of free-will is to choose. But there can be no choice with the angels, because choice is "the desire of something after taking counsel," while counsel is "a kind of inquiry," as stated in Ethic. iii, 3. But the angels' knowledge is not the result of inquiring, for this belongs to the discursiveness of reason. Therefore it appears that there is no free-will in the angels.

Objection 2. Further, free-will implies indifference to alternatives. But in the angels on the part of their intellect there is no such indifference; because, as was observed already (I:58:5, their intellect is not deceived as to things which are naturally intelligible to them. Therefore neither on the part of their appetitive faculty can there be free-will.

Objection 3. Further, the natural endowments of the angels belong to them according to degrees of more or less; because in the higher angels the intellectual nature is more perfect than in the lower. But the free-will does not admit of degrees. Therefore there is no free-will in them.

On the contrary, Free-will is part of man's dignity. But the angels' dignity surpasses that of men. Therefore, since free-will is in men, with much more reason is it in the angels.

I answer that, Some things there are which act, not from any previous judgment, but, as it were, moved and made to act by others; just as the arrow is directed to the target by the archer. Others act from some kind of judgment; but not from free-will, such as irrational animals; for the sheep flies from the wolf by a kind of judgment whereby it esteems it to be hurtful to itself: such a judgment is not a free one, but implanted by nature. Only an agent endowed with an intellect can act with a judgment which is free, in so far as it apprehends the common note of goodness; from which it can judge this or the other thing to be good. Consequently, wherever there is intellect, there is free-will. It is therefore manifest that just as there is intellect, so is there free-will in the angels, and in a higher degree of perfection than in man.

Reply to Objection 1. The Philosopher is speaking of choice, as it is in man. As a man's estimate in speculative matters differs from an angel's in this, that the one needs not to inquire, while the other does so need; so is it in practical matters. Hence there is choice in the angels, yet not with the inquisitive deliberation of counsel, but by the sudden acceptance of truth.

Reply to Objection 2. As was observed already (Article 2), knowledge is effected by the presence of the known within the knower. Now it is a mark of imperfection in anything not to have within it what it should naturally have. Consequently an angel would not be perfect in his nature, if his intellect were not determined to every truth which he can know naturally. But the act of the appetitive faculty comes of this, that the affection is directed to something outside. Yet the perfection of a thing does not come from everything to which it is inclined, but only from something which is higher than it. Therefore it does not argue imperfection in an angel if his will be not determined with regard to things beneath him; but it would argue imperfection in him, were he to be indeterminate to what is above him.

Reply to Objection 3. Free-will exists in a nobler manner in the higher angels than it does in the lower, as also does the judgment of the intellect. Yet it is true that liberty, in so far as the removal of compulsion is considered, is not susceptible of greater and less degree; because privations and negations are not lessened nor increased directly of themselves; but only by their cause, or through the addition of some qualification.

Article 4. Whether there is an irascible and a concupiscible appetite in the angels?

Objection 1. It would seem that there is an irascible and a concupiscible appetite in the angels. For Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv) that in the demons there is "unreasonable fury and wild concupiscence." But demons are of the same nature as angels; for sin has not altered their nature. Therefore there is an irascible and a concupiscible appetite in the angels.

Objection 2. Further, love and joy are in the concupiscible; while anger, hope, and fear are in the irascible appetite. But in the Sacred Scriptures these things are attributed both to the good and to the wicked angels. Therefore there is an irascible and a concupiscible appetite in the angels.

Objection 3. Further, some virtues are said to reside in the irascible appetite and some in the concupiscible: thus charity and temperance appear to be in the concupiscible, while hope and fortitude are in the irascible. But these virtues are in the angels. Therefore there is both a concupiscible and an irascible appetite in the angels.

On the contrary, The Philosopher says (De Anima iii, text. 42) that the irascible and concupiscible are in the sensitive part, which does not exist in angels. Consequently there is no irascible or concupiscible appetite in the angels.

I answer that, The intellective appetite is not divided into irascible and concupiscible; only the sensitive appetite is so divided. The reason of this is because, since the faculties are distinguished from one another not according to the material but only by the formal distinction of objects, if to any faculty there respond an object according to some common idea, there will be no distinction of faculties according to the diversity of the particular things contained under that common idea. Just as if the proper object of the power of sight be color as such, then there are not several powers of sight distinguished according to the difference of black and white: whereas if the proper object of any faculty were white, as white, then the faculty of seeing white would be distinguished from the faculty of seeing black.

Now it is quite evident from what has been said (Article 1; I:16:1), that the object of the intellective appetite, otherwise known as the will, is good according to the common aspect of goodness; nor can there be any appetite except of what is good. Hence, in the intellective part, the appetite is not divided according to the distinction of some particular good things, as the sensitive appetite is divided, which does not crave for what is good according to its common aspect, but for some particular good object. Accordingly, since there exists in the angels only an intellective appetite, their appetite is not distinguished into irascible and concupiscible, but remains undivided; and it is called the will.

Reply to Objection 1. Fury and concupiscence are metaphorically said to be in the demons, as anger is sometimes attributed to God;—on account of the resemblance in the effect.

Reply to Objection 2. Love and joy, in so far as they are passions, are in the concupiscible appetite, but in so far as they express a simple act of the will, they are in the intellective part: in this sense to love is to wish well to anyone; and to be glad is for the will to repose in some good possessed. Universally speaking, none of these things is said of the angels, as by way of passions; as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei ix).

Reply to Objection 3. Charity, as a virtue, is not in the concupiscible appetite, but in the will; because the object of the concupiscible appetite is the good as delectable to the senses. But the Divine goodness, which is the object of charity, is not of any such kind. For the same reason it must be said that hope does not exist in the irascible appetite; because the object of the irascible appetite is something arduous belonging to the sensible order, which the virtue of hope does not regard; since the object of hope is arduous and divine. Temperance, however, considered as a human virtue, deals with the desires of sensible pleasures, which belong to the concupiscible faculty. Similarly, fortitude regulates daring and fear, which reside in the irascible part. Consequently temperance, in so far as it is a human virtue, resides in the concupiscible part, and fortitude in the irascible. But they do not exist in the angels in this manner. For in them there are no passions of concupiscence, nor of fear and daring, to be regulated by temperance and fortitude. But temperance is predicated of them according as in moderation they display their will in conformity with the Divine will. Fortitude is likewise attributed to them, in so far as they firmly carry out the Divine will. All of this is done by their will, and not by the irascible or concupiscible appetite.

The Summa Theologiæ of St. Thomas Aquinas
Second and Revised Edition, 1920
Literally translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province
Online Edition Copyright © 2017 by Kevin Knight
Nihil Obstat. F. Innocentius Apap, O.P., S.T.M., Censor. Theol.
Imprimatur. Edus. Canonicus Surmont, Vicarius Generalis. Westmonasterii.
Nihil Obstat. F. Raphael Moss, O.P., S.T.L. and F. Leo Moore, O.P., S.T.L.
Imprimatur. F. Beda Jarrett, O.P., S.T.L., A.M., Prior Provincialis Angliæ


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