Monday, October 30, 2006

Q54 A2: Whether in the angel to understand is to exist?

No. In the angel, to be is not to understand because the angel's act of understanding is his movement, as is clear from Dionysius (Div. Nom. iv), and to exist is not movement.

The action of the angel, as also the action of any creature, is not his existence.

The essence of an angel is the reason of his entire existence, but not the reason of his whole act of understanding, since he cannot understand everything by his essence. Consequently in its own specific nature as such an essence, it is compared to the existence of the angel, whereas to his act of understanding it is compared as included in the idea of a more universal object, namely, truth and being. Thus it is evident, that, although the form is the same, yet it is not the principle of existence and of understanding according to the same formality. On this account it does not follow that in the angel "to be" is the same as "to understand".

The being of every creature is restricted to one in genus and species; God's being alone is simply infinite, comprehending all things in itself, as Dionysius says (Div. Nom. v). Hence the Divine nature alone is its own act of understanding and its own act of will.