Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION II.: OF THE OBJECT IN WHICH MAN'S HAPPINESS CONSISTS. - Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 1 (Summa Theologica - Prima Secundae, Secunda Secundae Pt.1)
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QUESTION II.: OF THE OBJECT IN WHICH MAN’S HAPPINESS CONSISTS. - St. Thomas Aquinas, Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 1 (Summa Theologica - Prima Secundae, Secunda Secundae Pt.1) 
Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas. A Translation of the Principal Portions of the Second part of the Summa Theologica, with Notes by Joseph Rickaby, S.J. (London: Burns and Oates, 1892).
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OF THE OBJECT IN WHICH MAN’S HAPPINESS CONSISTS.
Article I.—Does happiness consist in riches?
R. It is impossible for the happiness of man to consist in riches. For riches are of two sorts, as the Philosopher1 says, natural and artificial. Natural riches are all those aids which go to the supply of natural wants, like meat and drink, clothing, means of transport, habitation, and the rest. Artificial riches take the form of money, something that is no aid to nature in itself, but is an invention of human contrivance for the convenience of exchange, as a measure of things saleable. Now clearly the happiness of man cannot be in the possession of natural riches. For such riches are eligible for the sustenance of man’s nature, and therefore cannot be themselves the last end of man, but rather man is the end to which they are referred. Whence in the order of nature all such things are below man, and are made for man, as it is said: “Thou hast subjected all things beneath his feet.”1Artificial riches, on the other hand, are not eligible except for the sake of those that are natural. They would not be sought at all except for the fact that with them things are bought that are necessary for the uses of life. Much less therefore can they bear the character of a final end.
§ 1. “All” material “things obey money,”2 so far as the multitude of fools is concerned, who know only material things, which can be acquired by money. But an estimate of human goods should not be taken by the judgment of fools, but by that of wise men, as an estimate of palatable and unpalatable food is taken by the judgment of those whose sense of taste is in good order.
§ 2. To the words of the Philosopher, “Money was invented on purpose to be a sort of surety for having in exchange for it whatever man can desire,” it is to be said that all saleable articles may be had for money, but not spiritual goods: they cannot be sold. Hence it is said: “What doth it profit a fool to have money, when he cannot buy wisdom?”3
§ 3. The desire of natural riches is not boundless, because a certain measure of riches is sufficient for nature: but the desire of artificial riches is boundless, not however in the same way as the desire of the supreme good. For the more perfectly the supreme good is possessed, the more it is loved, and all things else despised. But with the desire of riches and all other temporal goods the contrary is the case: for when they are got, what is already in hand is despised, and something else desired, because their insufficiency is better recognized when they are possessed. And this very fact is a proof of their imperfection, and that the supreme good consists not in them.
Article II.—Does man’s happiness consist in honours?
R. It is impossible that happiness should consist in honour. For honour is paid to a person for some excellence of his, and so is a sign and testimony of that excellence which is in the person honoured. Now a man’s excellence is taken to obtain especially in point of happiness, which is the perfect good of man, and of the parts of happiness, that is, in point of those goods which are some participation of happiness. Therefore honour may indeed follow upon happiness, but happiness cannot consist principally in honour.
§ 1. Honour is not the reward of virtue for which the virtuous work, but they receive honour from men in lieu of a reward, inasmuch as men have nothing greater to give them. But the true reward of virtue is happiness itself, and for that the virtuous work; whereas, if they worked for honour, it would not be virtue but rather ambition.
§ 2. Honour is due to God, and to beings of high excellence, as a sign or testimony of pre-existent excellence, not that the mere honour makes them excellent.
§ 3. As honour attends upon happiness, it follows from the natural desire of happiness that men have a prevailing desire of honour; hence they seek especially to be honoured by the wise, upon whose judgment they believe themselves to be excellent or fortunate.
Article III.—Does man’s happiness consist in fame and glory?1
R. It is impossible for the happiness of man to consist in fame or human glory. For glory is nothing else than “clear notoriety with praise,” as Augustine says. Now the thing known stands in different relations to divine and to human knowledge. Human knowledge is caused by the things known, but divine knowledge is the cause of the things known. Hence the perfection of human good, which is called happiness, cannot be caused by human knowledge or notoriety amongst men, but rather men’s knowledge of another man’s happiness proceeds from and is in a manner caused by that same happiness, either in its initial or in its perfect state. But the good of man depends upon the knowledge of God as upon its cause; and therefore upon the glory which is with God human happiness depends as upon its cause. It is further to be considered that human knowledge is liable to many deceptions, especially as to points of detail in such a matter as human acts; and therefore human glory is frequently fallacious. But because God cannot be deceived, the glory that is of Him is ever true; therefore it is said: “He is approved whom God commendeth.”1
§ 2. As for that good which comes of fame and glory in the knowledge of many, we say that, if the knowledge be true, the good thereof must be derived from a previous good, existing in the man himself, and so presupposes perfect happiness, or at least the commencement of it. But if the knowledge be a false impression, it is not in harmony with fact, and in the man celebrated and famous at that rate no good is found.
Article IV.—Does man’s happiness consist in power?
R. It is impossible for happiness to consist in power, and that for two reasons. First, because power is an initiative, but happiness a last and final end. Secondly, because power is susceptible of good and evil, but happiness is the proper and perfect good of man. Hence it were more possible for some happiness to consist in the good use of power, which is by virtue, than in power itself.
§ 1. The divine power is its own goodness: hence God cannot use His power otherwise than well. But this is not the case in men. Hence it is not sufficient for happiness that man be likened unto God in power, unless he be likened to Him also in goodness.
§ 2. As it is the height of good that one should use power well in the government of many, so it is the lowest depth of evil if one uses power ill. Thus power is susceptible of good and of evil.
§ 3. Slavery is an obstacle to the good use of power, and therefore men naturally shun it, not as though the highest good consisted in power.
Four general reasons may be brought to show that in none of the above-mentioned exterior goods does happiness consist.
The first is that, happiness being the supreme good of man, no evil is compatible with it, but all the aforesaid things may be found in good men and evil men alike.
The second reason is that, whereas it is of the essence of happiness to be all in all by itself, it needs must be that, happiness once gained, no needful good is wanting to man; but after the gaining of each of the advantages above-mentioned, there may still be many needful good things wanting to man, as wisdom, bodily health, and the like.
Third reason, because whereas happiness is perfect good, it is impossible for any evil to come to any one from happiness, which is not true of the things in question, for it is said, “Riches are sometimes kept to the sorrow of their owner,”1 and in like manner of the other things.
The fourth reason is, because man is directed to happiness by interior principles, since he is directed to it by nature, but all the four goods above-mentioned are rather from exterior causes, and generally from fortune, whence they are called “goods of fortune.” Hence it is manifest that happiness nowise consists in the aforesaid things.
Article V.—Does man’s happiness consist in any good of the body?
R. It is impossible for the happiness of man to consist in goods of the body, for two reasons. First of all because it is impossible for that which is referred to something else as to its last end, to have its end in the preservation of its own being. Hence a captain does not intend as a last end the preservation of the ship entrusted to him, because the ship is referred to something else as its end, namely, navigation. But as a ship is given over to the captain to direct its course, so man is given over to his own will and reason, as is said: “God made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his own counsel.”1 But it is clear that man is referred to something as to an end, for man is not the supreme good. Hence it is impossible that the last end of human reason and will should be the preservation of human existence.
Secondly because, granted that the end of human reason and will were the preservation of human existence, still it could not be said that the end of man was any good of the body. For the being of man consists of soul and body, and while the being of the body depends on the soul, at the same time the being of the human soul does not depend on the body: indeed, the body is for the soul, as the matter is for the form, and as instruments are for him that uses them to do his work with: hence all goods of the body are referred to goods of the soul as to their end. Hence it is impossible that happiness, the ultimate end, should consist in goods of the body.
Article VI.—Does man’s happiness consist in pleasure?
R. Because bodily delights are better known, they have arrogated to themselves the name of pleasures. Still happiness does not consist principally in them. In everything, what belongs to the essence is distinguished from the proprium consequent upon the essence, as in man his being a mortal rational animal is distinguished from his being risible. We must notice accordingly that every delight is a sort of proprium consequent upon happiness, or upon some portion of happiness. For a man is delighted at this, that he has hold either in reality, or in hope, or at least in memory, of some good that suits him. Now that suitable good, if it is perfect, is none other than the happiness of man: but if it is imperfect, it is a participation in happiness, proximate, or remote, or at least apparent. Hence it is manifest that not even the delight which follows perfect good is the essence and core of happiness, but is consequent upon happiness after the manner of a proprium.
But bodily pleasure cannot follow perfect good even in the aforesaid way, for it follows that good which is apprehended by sense; but no bodily good apprehended by sense can be the perfect good of man, but is a trifle in comparison with the good of the soul. Thus bodily pleasure is neither happiness itself nor a proprium of happiness.
§ 1. The desire of good and the desire of delight stand on the same footing, delight being nothing else than the repose of desire in good. Hence, as good is desired for itself, so also is delight desired for itself, if by for we mean the final cause: but if we consider the motive cause, delight is desirable for something else, namely, for the good which is the object of delight, and which consequently is the principle that starts it and gives it its form. For by this is delight desirable, that it is a repose in a longed for good.
§ 2. The vehemence of the desire of sensible delight arises from the operations of the senses being more readily perceptible, as being the beginnings of our knowledge: hence also sensible delights are gone after by the greater number of men.
§ 3. All men desire delights in the same way in which they desire good; and yet the delight is desired by reason of the good, and not the other way about. Hence it does not follow that delight is good of itself and the greatest of goods; but that every delight is consequent upon some good, and some delight is consequent upon that which is good of itself and the greatest of goods.
§ 3. Happiness itself, being a perfection of the soul, is a good inherent in the soul: but that in which happiness consists, or the object that makes one happy, is something outside the soul.
Article VIII.—Does man’s happiness consist in any created good?
R. It is impossible for the happiness of man to be in any created good. For happiness is perfect good, which entirely appeases desire: otherwise it would not be the last end, if something still remained to be desired. But the object of the will is universal good, as the object of the intellect is universal truth. Hence it is clear that nothing can set the will of man to rest but universal good, which is not found in anything created, but in God alone. Hence God alone can fill the heart of man.
§ 3. Created good is not less than what a man is capable of as a good intrinsic to and inherent in him; but it is less than the good that he is capable of as an object, for that is infinite.
[1 ]When St. Thomas says “the Philosopher,” he means Aristotle, as when he says “the Apostle,” he means St. Paul. (Trl.)
[1 ]Psalm viii. 8.
[2 ]Eccles. x. 19.
[3 ]Prov. xvii. 16.
[1 ]Fame and glory attach to the absent and even the dead: honour is paid to a man living and present to receive it. This article is useful in considering the “eternal life” of fame and glory which is the Positivist substitute for Heaven. (Trl.)
[1 ]2 Cor. x. 18.
[1 ]Eccles. v. 12.
[1 ]Ecclus. xv. 14.