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Bonum nostrum: Thomas Aquinas and love of others for their own sake.

Thomas Aquinas understands love, in its most general and metaphysical sense, as a certain disposition of a subject by which the subject relates to something as good. (1) Because he conceives love in this way, he associates love with appetite: "love is something pertaining to appetite," he says, "because the object of both is the good." (2) Accordingly, he identifies love at the rational level as an act of the will, and at the sensitive level as an act of the concupiscible appetitive power. (3) At the natural or noncognitive level, where there are no appetitive powers but only actual appetites, he speaks interchangeably of natural love and natural appetite. (4) This association of love with appetite, however, gives rise to a problem. On the one hand, Thomas unequivocally asserts the possibility of love of others for their own sake. He argues that it is natural for all creatures to love God more than self, and he claims that we would love our friends even if we in no way benefitted from them. (5) On the other hand, he identifies the perfection of the subject as that which the subject, by means of appetite, principally seeks, and he presents the rational creature's pursuit of happiness as a particular instance of the universal pursuit of perfection. (6) But if all things are willed or sought on account of the ultimate end, and the ultimate end is the happiness or perfection of the self, (7) it seems to follow that all love, as an appetitive act, is ultimately motivated by a desire for our own happiness or perfection, and that in final analysis we cannot wish the good of others except as a means to our own good.

In the face of this difficulty, some scholars, such as Anders Nygren and Leslie Dewart, have concluded that Thomas's thought on love is simply inconsistent; Thomas attempts to unite Greek philosophy with Christian faith, but all such attempts are doomed to fail. (8) Other scholars, however, have held that Thomas is consistent and have endeavored to show how his principles, when properly understood, allow for genuine love of others. Of these scholars, many have pursued the issue by participating in the discussion of the so-called problem of love. This discussion has its source in Pierre Rousselot's 1908 work Pour l'histoire du probleme de Vamour au moyen age. (9) Rousselot identified the problem of love as that of whether nonegoistic love is possible, and, if it is, what the relationship might be between this love and love of self. (10) When addressing Thomas's answer to this problem, he focused on Thomas's teaching on love of God above self and argued that Thomas's explanation depends on our relationship to God being like that of a part to a whole. (11)

The discussion that arose from Rousselot's work has seen a wide variety of proposed solutions. For the most part, interpreters have approached the problem as Rousselot did, namely, through an examination of Thomas's teaching on love of God above self. (12) Such an approach is reasonable. If nonegoistic love is to be found anywhere in Thomas's thought, we would expect to find it where the object of love is said to be loved more than self. Further, in God "interested" and "disinterested" love meet, inasmuch as God is both the one whom we ought to love more than self and the object of true happiness which we ought most to desire for our self.

While this approach has much to recommend it, there are alternatives. Some scholars have approached the problem from a more general perspective, focusing their attention on the good that is the object of love and volition. (13) It is from this perspective that I wish to pursue the problem of love here. In particular, I wish to pursue it by considering the nature of the good that is the object of the will and discerning the relation of this good to the perfection of the self. Scholars commonly recognize the close relation in Thomas's thought between the perfection of the self and appetitive tendency, but there is disagreement over precisely what this relation is.

Because the discussion of the problem of love has persisted for so long without arriving at any consensus, I will pursue the problem dialectically. By an orderly consideration of the possible means of resolving our problem, we will be able to proceed with greater confidence and hold our conclusions with greater certainty. We will begin by considering solutions that are simple and readily suggest themselves. Afterward we will turn to more complicated accounts found within the secondary literature.


Let us begin our inquiry by considering the solution that perhaps most immediately presents itself when we first encounter our problem. Could not the apparent conflict between love of others and the eudaimonistic pursuit of our perfection be solved, we might wonder, by recognizing that love of others is part of our perfection? We cannot be good as creatures unless we love God above self, nor can we be good as human beings unless we love our fellow man and are disposed to assist him in cases of necessity. If we are a father or mother, we cannot be good unless we love our children. Since nonegoistic love is necessary for our perfection, the eudaimonistic pursuit of our perfection seems to be not an obstacle to such love but a cause leading to it.

This solution is correct in noting that, for Thomas, love of others is necessary for our perfection. (14) But identifying love of others as part of our perfection does not solve our problem, for if we make our own attainment of perfection the cause leading us to will all other things, we render the perfection of love of others for their own sake impossible. The reason is that a final cause is more than something sought; it is the cause and reason of the goodness of those things that are ordered to it as an end. The end of attaining health, for instance, causes surgery to be good. If the end in question, however, is not the ultimate end, it is possible to find in things ordered to that end both a goodness that comes from that end and a goodness that comes from another end--certain medicine, for instance, can be considered good both because it is conducive to health and because of its taste. But in the case of the ultimate end, this possibility cannot occur; whatever we take to be our complete good or ultimate end will be the cause and reason of the goodness we see in all other things. If, then, the final cause of our appetitive acts is our own attainment of perfection, this good will be the reason for the goodness we see in all things. Desire for our perfection can cause us to do good to others, just as a desire to acquire virtue can cause us to give money to the poor, but it cannot cause us to love others for their own sake, let alone love God above our self. To love others in this way we would have to find their possession of the good inherently pleasing and desirable, but we cannot because the reason and cause of the goodness we see in things is our own possession of perfection. We can do good to others, but we cannot care about their good except inasmuch as it is a means to our own.

As far as I am aware, scholars have not advocated this solution in the simple form presented above, although, as we will see later, some have incorporated it into a more complex account. (15) The simple form, however, is useful to consider at the outset, for it allows us to grasp the nature of our problem more precisely. Love of others for their own sake is impossible if the good that we most desire is our own perfection, for this good will be the cause and reason of the goodness of all other goods.


An essential relation exists, for Thomas, between appetite and our perfection, and in some sense perfection is the ultimate end that appetite seeks; but if, as the above consideration reveals, Thomas understands our own perfection as the good and final cause on account of which we will all other things, he cannot with consistency maintain the possibility of love of others for their own sake. For Thomas to be consistent, the good that we will needs to be intimately related to our perfection, but not simply identical with it. What might this good be?

The most obvious candidate is God himself. In the treatise on beatitude in the Summa theologiae, Thomas argues that God is our true ultimate end. (16) Beatitude is also our end, but not in the same sense. In ST I-II, q. 1, a. 8, Thomas distinguishes two senses of end: in one sense the end is "the thing in which the notion of the good is found," while in another it is "the use or attainment of this thing." (17) He later identifies God as the ultimate end in the former sense of end, and beatitude as our ultimate end in the latter. Between these two senses of end--as thing (ut res) and as use or attainment (ut usus)--the former appears to be the primary, for it is here, Thomas says, that the "notion of the good is found." Consequently, it seems that we can say that our true ultimate end, that on account of which we will all things, is God himself and not our perfection. Our perfection is closely tied to the good we will, but it is secondary and penultimate; properly speaking, the true object of our will is God. (18)

The distinction between the two senses of end that Thomas draws in the treatise on beatitude is certainly important, but closer inspection of the distinction reveals that it is incapable, at least in itself, of resolving our problem. In ST I-II, q. 1, a. 8, Thomas exemplifies the distinction by saying that in the motion of a heavy body a lower place is the end in the sense of thing, while being in a lower place is the end in the sense of use; for the miser, he says, money is his end as thing while possession of the money is his end as use. In these cases it does not seem possible to separate the two ends in the way proposed above. A rock does not primarily seek a lower place, and only secondarily seek being in a lower place; it seeks a lower place as a place to be. Similarly, a miser does not love money first for its own sake, and then secondarily for his own; he loves money as a good to be possessed by himself. It seems, then, that the ultimate end in the sense of thing is something that, as such, we wish to acquire, obtain, use, or enjoy. It is a good loved for our sake. Thomas's later presentations of the two senses of end bear out this suspicion, for in these presentations he defines the end as thing as that which "we desire to acquire" (adipisci desideramus, cupimus adipisci). (19) This understanding of the end as thing explains why Thomas considers money, power, pleasure, and honor as possible candidates for the ultimate end and yet never rejects them on the grounds that they are loved for our sake rather than for their own.

We can take money as our ultimate end because, reasoning defectively, we can see it as the good that totally perfects and fulfills us. Reasoning rightly, we can take God as our ultimate end for the same reason. But Thomas's identification of God as the ultimate end in the treatise on beatitude tells us only that God is the good we most desire and wish to obtain for our self. Consequently, God's existence as that which we ought to will as our ultimate end does not, in itself, solve our problem.


The solutions we have considered above are ones that readily suggest themselves and are relatively simple. Their failure indicates both the difficulty of our problem and the need to consider solutions that are more complex and less obvious. The solution we will consider next is one that is conceptually simple, but not textually obvious. This solution is that of Louis-Bertrand Geiger, and among the solutions found within the secondary literature, it is probably the boldest and most revolutionary, for, as we will see, it ultimately turns the problem on its head.

Geiger's basic contention is that we cannot solve the problem of love unless we take into account the differences that exist between the three forms of appetite: natural, sensitive, and rational. Appetite in general, he explains, names a link between the subject of the appetite and a good. (20) This link reveals a relation of complementarity between the two at the level of their being, and this complementarity ensures that the good will be perfective of the subject. (21) At the noncognitive level, appetition designates nothing other than the order of the subject to its perfection and natural activity. (22) At the level of sensitive appetition, however, a new element enters in; the subject still tends to a good that is perfective of it, but it does so through the intermediacy of the notion of the delectable or pleasurable. (23) At the level of intellectual appetition, the cognition that is the principle of appetition again profoundly affects the appetition's character. Intellectual cognition allows us to grasp the essential nature of the good and understand the analogical unity of its diverse modes. (24) Accordingly, the object of appetition and love at this level is the "good as such," (25) and love itself is the "response to the attraction of the good as such." (26)

Rousselot's conception of appetite, Geiger tells us, corresponds with that found at the noncognitive level; (27) his account errs because he fails to appreciate how cognition, and especially intellectual cognition, "intrinsically modifies" the appetite at these levels. (28) Since noncognitive appetition orders the subject to a good that is perfective of it, this criticism that Geiger makes of Rousselot provides an early indication that Geiger does not understand the object of the will, which he calls the "good as such," to be identical with that which is "perfective of the subject." When Geiger addresses the nature of intellectual appetite, he explains that by virtue of intellectual apprehension we are able to understand the "different modalities of the good," and to distinguish and identify the "particular reason for the attraction that emanates from a being." (29) We can grasp that some beings to which we are attracted we call good because they afford us pleasure or utility (that is, perfection or what is conducive to it). We understand that such goods are not loved for their own sake; they are relative goods loved for the sake of another. Other beings, however, we grasp as attracting us absolutely, that is, as being good in themselves and for themselves. Our own self is one such good, (30) but other beings are good in this way as well, and when we grasp them as the good that they in fact are, we love them in and for themselves. (31) The "good as such" includes the perfection of the self, but it is not limited to it; the "good as such" encompasses anything we can apprehend as a perfection of being. (32)

For Geiger, the good that we will does not need to be one that is good in relation to our self. Will follows the apprehension of the intellect, and intellect can recognize the good as it exists objectively in things, apart from any relation to the self. Consequently, the will can respond with love to goods without any need of our grasping these goods as good in relation to our self. This interpretation of the will allows for an easy solution to the problem of love. (33) When we grasp another person according to his true ontological status as an absolute rather than relative good, we respond to his objective goodness with a love of him for his own sake. (34)

But is this understanding of the object of the will correct? Prima facie, as an interpretation of Thomas, it appears suspicious for several reasons. First, it lacks a strong textual basis. Second, it makes no use of the causes of love of others that Thomas himself identifies, namely, the union or likeness of the other with the self. (35) Third, while it might explain a general love for others, it is unclear how it could account for the variety of loves, and their varying intensity, that we find Thomas addressing in his treatment of the order of charity in the Summa theologiae. (36) Fourth, it turns the problem of love on its head, for while it makes love of others easy to explain, it makes eudaimonism difficult. Thomas seems to consider every act of the will as bearing some relation to our perfection, but could such a relation exist if our will responds to things in terms of their objective goodness?

Geiger does propose a solution for this last noted problem. He identifies the perfection of the subject, inasmuch as the subject is a spiritual being, with the very act of willing the good for its own sake, that is, in accordance with the good's objective ontological status. (37) The grounds for this identification are (1) that the perfection of a thing consists in its being joined to the good, and (2) that love joins a subject to the good. (38) Consequently, every time we respond with love to the good that another person is in himself, our own perfection is realized "par surcroit," that is, as an unintended by-product. (39) This solution, however, appears to depend on a confusion between the union that love is essentially and the union that love seeks to realize. (40) At any rate, it comes at an unacceptable cost, for it forces Geiger to identify our beatitude with the very act of loving God for his own sake. (41) Thomas, to the contrary, asserts that beatitude consists essentially in an act of the intellect, (42) and he denies that beatitude consists in an act of love, or in any other volitional act. (43)

Geiger's account fails, but for our purposes, seeing that it fails is far less important than determining why. Does it fail because the "objectivist" interpretation of the will on which it is based is essentially incorrect? Or does it fail because this interpretation, while essentially correct, is insufficient? Perhaps Geiger's interpretation could be incorporated into a more complex account whose additional elements allow it to overcome the problems noted above. (44) To discern whether the objectivist interpretation is essentially correct or incorrect, we will need to examine in some detail Thomas's teaching on the good.

While Thomas remarks upon the good in a wide variety of places, his formal and most extensive treatments of the good appear in De veritate, q. 21, a. 1 and ST I, q. 5. In the De veritate, Thomas seeks to explain what the notion of the good adds to the notion of being. It adds, he says, the notion of a certain relation. Good signifies that a being, by virtue of both its nature and existence, is perfective of another. (45) Because that which is perfective of another in this way has the notion of an end with respect to that which it perfects, the notion of the good is essentially related to that of the end, and all correct definitions of the good--such as "the good is that which all things seek"--indicate the good's existence as an end. (46) In its primary sense, "good" names something inasmuch as it is "perfective of another through the mode of an end." (47)

In the Summa theologiae, Thomas begins his treatment of the good by asking whether being and the good differ really or only notionally. He first lays down as a principle that "the notion of the good consists in that something is desirable [appetibile]." (48) Next, via the notion of the desirable, he connects the good with the notion of the perfect, arguing that since "all things seek their perfection," it is "manifest that something is desirable to the extent that it is perfect." (49) He then connects the perfect with being in act, and being in act with existence, ultimately concluding that because something is good to the degree that it is a being, being and the good differ only notionally. Later in the question, Thomas connects the good to the notion of an end, doing so, again, through the notion of the desirable--that which is sought is an end relative to the seeker. (50)

Important similarities and differences exist between the two accounts. The accounts differ in primarily two ways. First, they differ in terms of approach. In the Summa, Thomas moves from effect to cause, from what is more known to us to what is more known according to nature. The first thing that experience reveals about the good is that it is desirable: we seek to attain those things we judge to be good. Desire, however, is an effect of the good: things are not judged good because they are desired; they are desired because they are judged good. More specifically, desire is the effect that the good has when it is not present; when it is present, it causes rest or pleasure, rather than desire, and so we could equally say that the good has the notion of the pleasing. Observation of what is desirable then allows us to move from effect to cause: something is good because it is perfect. In the De veritate, however, Thomas moves the other way. He begins by noting that the good signifies that something is perfective of another. As a consequence of this relation, the good has the notion of an end with respect to that which it perfects and so it is something that is to be sought, and by implication, rested in and enjoyed by that which it perfects.

The accounts also differ in terms of the notions Thomas uses to explain the good. In both accounts, he explains the good through the notions of the desirable and the end, but in the De veritate he connects the good with the notion of the perfective of another, while in the Summa he connects it with the notion of the perfect and of perfection. This difference in terminology should not be interpreted as signifying a change in Thomas's thought. We can easily reconcile the texts by noting that perfection and the perfect are perfective of another, namely, of the nature or subject that is in potency toward it. Thomas makes no indication in the De veritate that the other must be something substantially distinct from the good, but he does tell us that the other is related to the good as to an end, and such a relation is found in a nature with regard to the perfections to which it is in potency.

For our purposes, the commonality that is most noteworthy between the two accounts is the relational nature of the good. Thomas is explicit about this relational nature in the De veritate. In the Summa, it is implicit but readily evident. The notions of the desirable and the end, with which Thomas identifies the good in the Summa, are clearly relational. Perfection and the perfect likewise imply a relation, namely, one to a nature or subject that is in potency to them.

For Thomas, then, the good is a relational notion: in its primary sense, it identifies a thing as being a certain completion that is, with respect to something else, an end to be sought after and attained, desired, or enjoyed. It is this notion that the intellect grasps and by means of which it elicits acts of the will. But here an important question arises. Does the good that elicits volition need to be one apprehended as related to the self--whether in the primary sense of being perfective of the self or in some other way derived from this sense--or is such a relation to the self unnecessary? Is the apprehension of anything as perfective of another sufficient to move the will toward that thing?

This latter possibility is untenable. Appetitive acts are ones by which we relate to something as good. Given Thomas's explanations of the good, relating to something as good means relating to it as an end that is desired if it is not present, or enjoyed if it is. But apprehension of a finish line, which we grasp as the good and end of those in the race, does not cause us to relate to it as an end--unless, of course, we are in the race--nor does it necessarily even cause us to desire that it be attained by those in the race. Likewise, it is possible to grasp certain things as being good or perfect--a good washboard or a good thief--because they possess the characteristics necessary to attain their end well, but such an apprehension does not necessarily cause us to love or desire them. Further, certain goods are in conflict with each other: it is good for the wolf to eat the sheep, and good for the sheep to escape. We cannot will both simultaneously, and we may very well will neither.

In addition to such problems, this interpretation of the object of the will leaves the response of the will unexplained. There is nothing in the apprehension of what is good in relation to another that explains why we would suddenly begin to relate to it as something that is good in relation to our self. We must accept this response as a brute fact.

The object of the will ought to be interpreted, rather, as that which is good relative to the willing subject. This interpretation explains why we can understand certain things as being good without ourselves finding this good desirable, and it renders the move from apprehension to volition intelligible--we apprehend something as being an end with respect to our self and then we begin to relate to it as such. It also is not only compatible with eudaimonism, but by all appearances demanded by it: if we will all things on account of the ultimate end, and the ultimate end that we will is that which we judge to be completely perfective of us, the subject-relative quality of the ultimate end necessitates that all other goods will be subject-relative as well. Further, this understanding of the object of the will finds definitive textual support in In De divinis nominibus, c. 4, l. 9, where Thomas declares that "we love something inasmuch as it is our good" and then proceeds to explain the four ways by which something may be our good, namely, either by being our very self or by bearing one of three kinds of relations to our self. (51) We will examine this important text in more detail later.

Geiger's interpretation of the will, then, should not be followed because he does not understand the good that we will to be subjectrelative. We should note, however, that Geiger does not hold, in its simple form, the alternative, nonrelative interpretation addressed above; he holds, rather, a particular version of it. Geiger identifies the good with perfection and asserts that only as an effect is the good perfective of another. By separating perfection from the perfective, he obscures the relational nature of the good. Rather than perfection being an end that is desired by that which is in potency to it, perfection becomes something like an absolute quality that attracts the will and causes the will to respond to it in accordance with its objective status. This particular understanding of the object of the will runs into at least one of the problems noted above: it asks us to accept as an inexplicable fact that the apprehension of something that is good with respect to something else causes us to relate to that thing as good with respect to our self.


The problem of love cannot be solved by identifying the fundamental object of the will as our own perfection, for if we make our own attainment of the good the cause and reason of the goodness of all other goods, we make egoism unavoidable. But neither can we solve the problem by severing the relation between our self and the good that we will, and asserting, like Geiger, that the good that we will is the objective good in itself. Avital Wohlman, whose account we will consider next, recognizes these two sides of the problem. Like Geiger, she thinks that a successful solution to the problem of love requires a "Copemican revolution" in which the center of the affective universe ceases to be the self. (52) But she thinks Geiger goes too far, for by denying that the good that we will is our own good, he precludes the possibility of our finding joy in the attainment of the ultimate end. (53) For Wohlman, the good that we will has to be own our good (bien propre). Consequently, the solution to the problem of love must lie in showing why this good need not be willed primarily for our self--or as Wohlman prefers to express it, why love of one's own good (amor du bien propre) is not identical with love of self (amor du soi).

Wohlman finds the key to separating love of one's own good from love of self in the restriction of love of self to the rational level. Love of self is a form of love of friendship, and love of friendship is the love one has for someone for whom one wills the good. Because love of friendship involves the ordering of some good to some subject, whether that subject be the self or another, it can arise only as a consequence of a rational apprehension, for to order one thing to another is proper to reason. Thus love of friendship, and its counterpart, love of concupiscence, concludes Wohlman, are only possible at the level of rational appetite. (54)

This restriction of love of friendship to the will has serious consequences for love at the lower levels of appetite. We can no longer interpret the tendency of a rock to a lower place as an inclination to a good sought for the possession and benefit of the rock itself. Such an interpretation would treat the inclination as involving a love of concupiscence for the lower place and love of friendship, or something analogous to it, for the rock itself. The inclination, rather, must be interpreted as a simple, ecstatic motion that is terminated and specified by the good toward which the subject of the inclination tends. (55) The rock moves toward the lower place and rests in it, but it does not do so in order to acquire this good for itself. The lower place, of course, is good for the rock, and the rock comes to possess it, and so to this extent we can speak about a love of self being virtually present in this natural inclination. This virtual love of self, however, is something secondary and oblique. (56) It is more proper to see in natural inclination a virtual love of the good for its own sake. The rock inclines toward the lower place because of the lower place's goodness, not because the lower place is good for the rock. (57) Virtually speaking, the rock loves the lower place first for the lower place's own sake, and only secondarily for its own. Accordingly, says Wohlman, we should not fear to say that the rock loves the lower place more than itself in a manner analogous to that in which a rational creature loves God more than self. (58)

To solve the problem of love, at least with regard to God, Wohlman combines this interpretation of natural inclination with a certain interpretation of the will. She claims that, for Thomas, the will has two levels or "affective registers," which she calls will as nature (voluntas ut natura) and will as reason (voluntas ut ratio). When encountering a good, there are two moments that correspond respectively to these two levels. The first moment is passive and affective. The good acts on the will, "seducing" it and attracting it to itself. The result is an act of the will that Wohlman calls complacentia and which is, like all natural inclinations, an ecstatic motion that is neither explicitly uninterested nor interested, but virtually both. The second moment of the encounter is, by comparison, active and effective. Reason applies itself to the good in a manner that is more conscious, deliberate, and reflexive. The subject is not just moved by the good, but freely chooses it, and for this reason, Wohlman identifies this response of the will as dilectio. The subject may also, by virtue of reason, order the good to something else. It is here at the level of will as reason that love of friendship becomes possible. (59)

By means of her interpretation of natural inclination and the will, Wohlman offers an explanation of love of God above self. When we encounter, through intellectual apprehension, the goodness of God, this good elicits from the will an ecstatic tendency that is virtually and primarily a love of God for his own sake and virtually and secondarily a love of God for one's own. Reason then reflects on this tendency, and if it interprets it rightly, the tendency is reexpressed at the level of will as reason as a love of friendship for God above self. (60)

Wohlman seems correct in the manner in which she conceives the problem. The problem is to be solved not by showing, as Geiger would have it, that we can will some good that is not our own, but by showing that our good need not be willed only, or even primarily, for our own self. The idea that our natural inclination to God implies both a love of self and a love of God above self is also a particularly attractive feature of the account. Nevertheless, the solution Wohlman offers is questionable. The two-level interpretation of the will lacks clear textual support, and the indirect evidence Wohlman offers is only remotely suggestive and can be interpreted in other ways. Her interpretation of natural inclination likewise lacks textual support. The interpretation works well enough when the object is God, but it quickly runs into difficulties when applied more broadly. The claim that a rock loves the lower place more than self is certainly questionable--place is an accident, not a thing.

If Wohlman frames the question correctly, but does not successfully arrive at a solution, where does her account go wrong? It first goes wrong, I contend, in its restriction of love of friendship to the level of the will. Depending on what one means by love of friendship, this restriction need not be wrong, and indeed it seems to me that the term itself properly applies only to love at the rational level. But Wohlman understands love of friendship in terms of Thomas's mature and ex professo treatment of the topic in ST I-II, q. 26, a. 4. There Thomas, having set forth the Aristotelian definition of love as "to will the good for someone," explains that "the motion of love tends to two things, namely, to a good that someone wills for someone, whether for himself or for another, and to that one for whom he wills the good." (61) The terms "love of concupiscence" and "love of friendship" name, respectively, love's tendency to these diverse objects. The good that we will for someone, we love with love of concupiscence; the someone for whom we will the good, we love with love of friendship. Wohlman, quite understandably, identifies these two loves with the twofold inclination of love to a good and to a subject who is to have or benefit from this good. Accordingly, when she denies love of friendship a place at the subrational level, what she precisely denies is the existence of a complex inclination wherein some good is sought so as to be possessed by some subject.

The reason Wohlman offers for this denial, however, is not compelling. The ordination of one thing to another involved in love of friendship does depend on reason, to which such ordering is proper. Will, however, is not the only appetite that follows the apprehension of reason. Natural appetite also follows a rational apprehension--not of the creature itself, but of God, its creator. (62) Sensitive appetite follows sensitive cognition, but the judgment of the senses is guided by nature, and so the tendency of animals also seems ultimately to stem from God's apprehension.

For Thomas, a twofold tendency of love does indeed exist at the subrational level. A variety of evidence may be advanced to support this contention, but chief among such evidence are the following two considerations. (63) First, while Thomas's predecessors commonly assumed that nature's inclination is "curved back onto itself' in the sense that everything that nature loves, it orders back to itself, Thomas distinguished himself by holding that some natural inclinations are of this sort while others are not. (64) In Quodlibet I, q. 4, a. 3, he explains that fire's inclination to move upward is "curved back" to the self, for it is on account of fire's conservation; but its inclination to generate new fire is not "curved back," for it is not on account of the fire itself, but on account of the good of the newly generated fire and on account of the good of the species. (65) Curved back or not, natural inclination involves an order both to a good and to a subject that is to have or benefit from this good.

Second, arguments that Thomas offers for love of friendship at the level of the will presuppose the existence of a twofold tendency of love at the natural level. In ST I, q. 60, a. 3, for example, Thomas seeks to show that an angel, as well as a man, has a natural, volitional love of self. To do so, he first lays out the distinction between love of friendship and love of concupiscence. Next, he draws attention to inclination at the noncognitive level: "it is evident," he says, "that in things lacking cognition, each thing naturally seeks to obtain that which is good for it, just as fire seeks an upper place." From this observation, he concludes that "both an angel and a man naturally seek their good and their perfection, and this is to love oneself." (66)

In the two subsequent articles, which address love for one's fellow creature and love of God above self, the same approach is taken. Thomas looks to noncognitive inclination and then draws a conclusion about the inclination of the will on the grounds that "the natural inclination in these things that are without reason demonstrates the natural inclination in the will of an intellectual nature." (67) All of these arguments presuppose the existence of something like love of friendship and love of concupiscence at the natural level, for if nothing analogous to love of friendship exists at the purely natural level, inclinations at this level cannot demonstrate love of friendship at the level of the will.

Wohlman frames the question correctly but does not provide us with the solution for which we are looking. She believes that the problem of love can be solved only by restricting love of friendship, or more exactly, the twofold tendency of love to the rational level, but it is precisely here that her account goes astray. The twofold tendency is present at all levels of inclination. The significance of this point extends beyond its use in establishing whether we should follow Wohlman's solution. The existence of the twofold tendency of love at the subrationai level critically bears on the question of how we ought to pursue a solution to the problem of love. Wohlman and Geiger, for different reasons, think that the problem of love is to be solved by attending to what is special about love at the rational level. If nothing analogous to love of friendship exists at the subrationai level, such an approach is necessary. But if something analogous to love of friendship does exist there, then perhaps the problem of love is to be solved by looking at what is common to all nature. The last line of argument adduced above, that concerning Thomas's appeal to noncognitive inclinations to explain the inclinations of the will, suggests that this is indeed the approach Thomas would wish us to take.


The last scholarly solution to consider is that of David Gallagher. Like Wohlman, Gallagher takes it as a principle that the good we will 67 and love is our own good. The solution to the problem of love thus lies, as it does for Wohlman, in explaining how this good can be willed for others for their own sake. Unlike Wohlman, however, Gallagher believes that self-love can generate nonegoistic love. For Gallagher, self-love must be the basis for love of others because the natural inclination of the will to beatitude is a love of concupiscence implying as its foundation a love of friendship for the self. (68) Since all other acts of the will flow from this fundamental inclination, love of others for their own sake must somehow arise from love of self. (69)

Earlier we noted the difficulties involved in deriving love of others from love of self. If we make our own attainment of perfection the end on account of which we will all else, love of others for their own sake seems to become impossible since our own attainment of perfection becomes the reason for the goodness we see or wish for others. Gallagher is aware of this problem, but believes it can be overcome by doing two things. The first is to show how the good we see and care about in others is our good in some way other than by being productive of our own perfection. To do so, Gallagher appeals to likeness (similitudo), which Thomas asserts is a cause of love: when we find in another a good that we love in our self, we find our good in that other. (70) If the other is God, the relation is slightly different: the good in God is not like that in our self; our good, rather, is like God's, and our good, being a partial one, relates to the good in God as a part to a whole. (71)

Likeness enables us to see the good of another as our good and thereby renders it a possible object of love. This possibility, however, requires activation; to love this good we must connect this love with our natural inclination to beatitude. (72) The second thing Gallagher must do, therefore, is to show how our desire for beatitude activates love of others but not in such a way as to order the goods of these others to our own. The self-reflexivity of the will provides Gallagher the means for doing so. Love of others for their own sake can be preserved if what we order to our own perfection is not the good that we will for the other, but only the act of willing the good for the other. (73) To love others we must see our love for them as something good for us.

Gallagher's account improves on Wohlman's by appealing to likeness to explain how the good of others can be our good. Unlike the means Wohlman employs, this appeal has a strong textual basis. Likewise in contrast to Wohlman, Gallagher seems correct in identifying the natural inclination to beatitude as a love of concupiscence. Although I did not use the term "love of concupiscence," I argued earlier for essentially the same conclusion when we considered whether the problem of love could be resolved simply by noting that God is the ultimate end that we ought to will. The evidence Gallagher offers is quite decisive; he appeals to ST I-II, q. 2, a. 7, ad 2, in which Thomas declares that beatitude is what is most loved as a concupiscible good (bonum concupitum), and that the question of what we most love with love of friendship will be postponed until the treatment of charity. (74)

But is Gallagher's identification of the will's natural inclination as a self-love an improvement? The answer to this question depends on whether the reflexivity of the will can do what Gallagher needs it to do. It cannot. As Thomas presents the self-reflexivity of the will in ST II-II, q. 25, a. 2 (the key text for Gallagher), the love we have for the act of loving an object is the consequence of our love for the object, not the cause leading us to choose to do the act. Gallagher has swapped the cart and the horse. The act of loving an object is prior to the reflexive act of loving the act of love. The other must already be loved before we can love this act of love, but in that case the subsequent, reflexive love is unnecessary.


The problem of love cannot be solved by claiming, as Geiger does, that the object of the will is the objective good in itself. To apprehend the good of another simply as the good of another is to apprehend it as something that the other ought to care about, but not as something that concerns oneself. To care about the good of another we need to grasp that person's good as our good--which, whatever that might mean, means at least that we perceive some relation between our self and the good of the other. Wohlman and Gallagher are correct in trying to resolve the problem by explaining how another can be our good but without our having to love that other as a means to our perfection. For Wohlman, it seems, others are our good because they are in fact perfective of us, but we can love them for their own sake because their perfectivity of us is not the formal reason for our love, but only a material condition; the formal reason for our love is their inherent goodness. For Gallagher, the goods of others are our good because they are like our own individual good, or at least because they bear some sort of relation to it. This grasp of the good of others as our good, however, is not sufficient to give rise to love. All love must derive from the fundamental tendency of the will. Since this tendency is a self-love, love for the good of others needs to be connected with our own attainment of the good. This connection cannot occur on the part of the object of the act; it must occur on the part of the act of loving the object. Neither account appears to succeed, but each seems correct about something. Wohlman, together with Geiger, appears right in holding that love of others for their own sake is impossible if we make love of self the foundation of our affective acts. Gallagher, on the other hand, seems right in holding that our natural tendency to beatitude is a love of concupiscence.

If these conclusions of our dialectical inquiry are correct, is there any way open by which we might proceed? At first glance, it might appear not. If we grant with Gallagher that our natural inclination to beatitude is a love of concupiscence, his further conclusion seems to follow, for every love of concupiscence implies a love of friendship, and in this case that love of friendship would seem to be one had toward oneself. There is a way forward, I will argue, one depending on the possibility of the good we ultimately will being a common or shared good. I will not, however, immediately seek to respond to Gallagher's argument. While it is certainly necessary to show why love of concupiscence for the ultimate end need not imply a love of friendship for our self as the foundation and source of all our affections, the establishment of this point is not what is primarily necessary for resolving the problem of love. In contrast to Geiger, Wohlman, and Gallagher, who each attempt to solve the problem by looking at what is special to the will, I propose that questions about the will are of secondary importance, for the reason that the will follows the apprehension of reason, and reason looks to reality. It is from reality and the order that we find there that we come to apprehend what is good for us and subsequently will or love it. The primary question to ask, then, is why, prior to any apprehension or willing, others are our good in such a way that they would be loved with love of friendship. We will pursue this question first before turning to the will.

In regard to this first question, Gallagher's account is very useful because he draws our attention to the most important text on this issue, namely, Thomas's fourfold division of our good in In De divinis nominibus, c. 4, l. 9. (75) Here Thomas, having asserted that we love something inasmuch as it is our good, explains that, in terms of the good loved with love of friendship, something may be our good in one of four ways:
   in one way, [1] as something is the good of itself, and thus a
   thing loves itself; in another, [2] as something is as if one with
   another through a certain likeness, and thus a thing loves that
   which is equally coordinated with itself in some order, just as one
   man loves another man as being of the same species, and as a
   citizen loves his fellow citizen, and as one loves a
   blood-relation; in another, [3] something is the good of another by
   being something of it, just as the hand is something of a man and,
   more generally, the part is something of the whole; but in another
   way, [4] as, conversely, the whole is the good of the part, for the
   part is not perfect except in the whole. (76)

Something is our good by virtue of some relation to our self. This relation may either be one of (1) identity, (2) unity through likeness, (3) part to whole, or (4) whole to part. (77) That the good we are or have is our good requires no explanation. The other ways of being our good do require explanation, and we will take them up in turn.

For reasons that will emerge later, the relationship to begin with is the fourth, namely, that of whole to part. This relationship is to be understood broadly, even analogically. We may distinguish three types of part-whole relationships. First, there is that found within a substance. The whole is a substance, and parts materially constitute it. In this way, a hand is part of the body. Second, there is a part-whole relation in which many substances, while being one in themselves, form a whole by virtue of an order they bear to each other. The parts are substances, but the whole is not. We may call such a whole a whole of order. Examples of such wholes include the army, the city, the family, and the species. Third, there is, speaking by analogy, a part-whole type relation in which both the whole and the parts are substances (or more precisely things subsisting in themselves). This sort of relation is found between image and original, and between creatures and God. (78) We may call a whole of this sort a "whole before the parts." (79)

In each of these three cases, the good of the whole is the good of the part, and is so in such a way as to cause the part to love the whole with love of friendship or something analogous to it. The reason why may be expressed in one of two ways: we may say either that it is because the good of the whole is the end of the part, or because the good of the whole is the cause of the goodness of the part. The former manner of expression works well in cases where the good of the whole is something to be brought about by the parts. In a substantial whole such as the body, parts vary in their operation--the heart, for instance, pumps blood, while the skull maintains its shape. The reason for these operations, however, is ultimately one and the same. The heart pumps blood so that blood might circulate and nourishment might be brought to other parts of the body. The skull is hard so as to protect the brain, on which the life of the animal depends. Ultimately, the parts do what they do for the good of the whole. We find the same in certain wholes of order. In the army, the proximate end of the solider, qua solider, is fighting well together with others, but he seeks to fight well so that the army as a whole might be victorious, and more remotely so that his city might have peace. Victory and peace, the goods of the army and of the city, are the further ends the soldier seeks. From the fact that the good of the whole is the end of the part, however, two things follow. First, the good of the whole is the good of the part, for the end has the notion of a good. Second, the part loves the whole with something analogous to love of friendship because the part seeks that the good might be possessed by the whole.

This line of explanation, however, is not what Thomas offers in his fourfold division of our good. Rather, he says that the reason why the whole is the good of the part is that the part is not perfect except in the whole. (80) Thomas seems to be saying that the whole is the good of the part because it perfects the part and makes the part good. This explanation can appear problematic, for things that perfect us and make us good--like food, knowledge, and virtue--are loved with love of concupiscence, not love of friendship. The explanation, however, does succeed, and does so because of the manner in which the whole perfects the part. The whole may help bring about the individual good of the part in a variety of ways, but first and foremost it perfects the part by making the part's good to be good. The good of the whole is the reason why the heart's pumping blood is good and why this shape of the skull, and not some other, is good. An end is the cause of the goodness of those things ordered toward it as an end. That, however, on account of which something else is good and lovable, is itself good and lovable. Consequently, the good of the whole is the good of the part, and the part loves the whole with something like love of friendship because it is precisely the whole's possession of the good that is the cause of the goodness and lovableness of the part's individual good.

This line of explanation is especially useful for explaining why God is the good of a creature. God is the good of every creature because, as first agent cause of the universe, God orders all creation to himself as a good to be attained and shared in. (81) Creatures attain and share in the divine good through likeness to it. (82) A likeness, however, inasmuch as it is a likeness, is good because of the goodness of the original. The divine good, therefore, is the cause of the goodness of the creature, and so is the good of the creature. And because this good is precisely the good as possessed by God, love of this good implies love of friendship for God or something analogous to it.

From this explanation of why the good of the whole is the good of the part, a further and important consequence follows. Because the good of the whole is the further end of the part and the cause of the part's goodness, it is more the good of the part than is the part's own individual good, and consequently, it is more lovable. (83) Creatures naturally love God above self because God's possession of the good is even more pleasing than the creature's own share in this good, for this share would not be loved if the good shared in were not first lovable. Rational creatures, apprehending the good of God and its relation to their individual good, are more pleased by God's possession of the good than their own; for irrational creatures, who do not apprehend the divine good, God is loved above self in the sense that the good as possessed by him is the primary cause of their motion and rest in particular ends.

Since the relation of part to whole is the converse of that of whole to part, it seems that the explanation of why the part is the good of the whole ought to be given in light of the above. If the whole is the good of the part because it is that for which the part primarily operates or that in which the part principally seeks to share, it follows that the part is the good of the whole either because it is productive of the good of the whole, or because the part's good is a sharing in the good of the whole.

Since our text concerns love of friendship, the latter explanation is the more important. Although Thomas gives the hand as an example of something that is, as part of us, our good in this way, he almost certainly means this relation to apply to God's love for creation, a parent's love for a child, and a benefactor's love for the one benefitted. (84) We relate to someone as whole to part and love that person with love of friendship when we wish that that other might enjoy or participate in some good that first belongs to our self.

While Thomas does not explicitly identify the relation of unity through likeness as the relation of a part to a fellow part, the relation may be interpreted in this way on the grounds that: (1) it makes the fourfold division exhaustive; (2) the examples given involve love for a fellow part of an important whole of order, namely, the species, the city, and the family; and (3) the relation is exemplified in the next lectio as that between one hand and another. (85) Interpreting the relationship in this way allows us to explain it in light of the explanation of the part's love for its whole. Above I argued that the common good, or the good of the whole, is good of the part because it is the reason of the goodness of the part. As such it is more the end and more the good of the part than the part's private or individual good is. But the proper subject of this good is the whole itself, and so the part's preference for the common good yields a love of friendship for the whole. Our relation to God is analogous to that of a part to a whole because God is the proper subject of the common good of creation, namely, the divine good; we love God above self because before we can find a share in this common good desirable, we must first be pleased by this good, which is to say, precisely as it is possessed by God.

Love for something as a common good is, I propose, the key to explaining the love we have for our fellow man, fellow citizen, our blood-relations, and more generally anyone "equally coordinated [with us] in some order." (86) To love something as a common good is to love it as a good whose proper subject is not oneself. We necessarily desire to share in this good, but it is not our own possession of the good that we primarily desire or are pleased by; what we primarily desire or are pleased by is the possession of the good by its proper subject. If, however, the common good that we love is one whose proper subject is a whole of order, our wish that the whole might possess the good is essentially the wish that we might possess the good together with those others who belong to this order. To love a common good is to wish that it be shared by those others who are similarly ordered to it. Ordination to something as a common good may arise by choice, such as when I choose to join a sports team, but ultimately such orientations are founded in nature, for by nature we are ordered to the principal common goods of the species, political life, the family, and the universe as a whole.

Likeness causes love for another because it causes us to see the other as one with our self. This unity, however, cannot be a substantial unity. In light of what has been said above, it seems that likeness causes love, as least primarily, because by virtue of likeness we see the other as one with us in a whole of order. Our love for the common good of this whole causes us to wish that the other, who is part of the proper subject of this good, might share in it together with our self.

With this explanation of the ways in which another might be our good in hand, we may turn now to the will and to the difficulty posed by accepting Gallagher's interpretation of the natural tendency of the will to beatitude as a love of concupiscence. To resolve this difficulty, it is necessary to explain more precisely why I think Gallagher is right in holding that the ultimate end that we will, whether as thing (God, money, and so on) or as possession (beatitude), is loved with love of concupiscence. While one can point to various texts about the ultimate end to establish this point, arguments based on such evidence are unnecessary. The reason why the ultimate end that we will must be, as such, a concupiscible good is that willing is essentially a love of concupiscence: anything that is willed is as such loved with love of concupiscence. While love may take as its object either a concupiscible good, such as wine, or an object of love of friendship, such as a friend, willing can take only a concupiscible good as its object and must indicate the object of love of friendship indirectly. To express my love of friendship for someone I cannot say that I will that person; I must say that I will the good of that person.

The object of the will considered as a power is the good of the person taken broadly in a sense that allows it to include concupiscible goods and the love of friendship type goods described in the fourfold division of our good. But the object of willing as an act is a concupiscible good; it is a good one wishes for someone whom one loves with love of friendship. Accordingly, the identification of God as the ultimate end that we will tells us that he is the ultimate concupiscible good. This love of concupiscence does imply a love of friendship for the self: our ultimate end, the good that is completely perfective of us, is always something we wish to attain or share in. But is it a good that we wish only or primarily for our self? The answer depends on how we conceive the ultimate object of our love of concupiscence. If we think our ultimate good is something like pleasure, then by the nature of this good we are compelled to will this good primarily and only for our self. If, however, we conceive the ultimate good as a common good, then we will wish this good principally for its proper subject, and secondarily for our self.


Conclusion. Love of others for their own sake is impossible if the good we fundamentally will and love is our own individual good. Our own attainment of perfection would, in that case, be the reason for the goodness of all things we willed or loved. The reflexivity of the will, to which Gallagher appeals, does not allow us to overcome this problem. But the radically opposed interpretation of the object of the will proposed by Geiger is similarly untenable. The good is an inherently relational notion, and the good that we will and love must be one that is apprehended as good by virtue of some relation to our self. The good that we will and love must be our good. The solution to the problem of love lies in explaining how others can be our good in such a way that we would love them with love of friendship.

I have proposed that this explanation of how others are our good is to be found principally at the level of nature. Prior to any apprehension or volition on our part, certain others are our good in such a way that when we apprehend them as such, we love them with love of friendship. To explain this matter, I examined Thomas's fourfold division of our good in In De divinis nominibus, c. 4, l. 9. The explanation I provided is similar in many respects to Gallagher's, especially as presented in "Self-Love as the Basis of Love of Others"; but I have endeavored, through focusing on agent and final causality and on the subject who possesses the good, to establish more firmly that certain others really are our good. When grasped as our good in the ways explained above, we do not need to connect them with our ultimate end in order to love them; they are already connected with it. God not only orders each creature to himself as to an ultimate end and common good, he coordinates creation, directing creatures to himself by means of participation in subordinated common goods such as that of the universe, the species, political society, and the family.

The problem of love is partially a philosophical problem and partially a textual problem. The explanation of why others are our good resolves the philosophical aspects of the problem. Connecting this explanation with Thomas's eudaimonism is largely a textual problem. To a great extent, the problem of love arises as the result of confusion generated by Thomas's use of two languages of appetition: that of love and that of willing. The most significant difference between the two is that the good that we will can be only a concupiscible good. The ultimate end that we will is the good we judge to be completely perfective of us, and as such it is a good we wish to possess. Will for the ultimate end implies a love of friendship for our self, but it does not imply that the self is loved most of all. Whether we can wish the ultimate end for others, or even for another more than self, depends on the nature of the good we judge to be the ultimate end and the manner in which we see it as perfecting us. Love of others and love of God above self become possible when we take as our ultimate end a common good that perfects us through participation in it.

University of St. Thomas, Houston

* Correspondence to:

(1) Thomas Aquinas, In librum Beati Dionysii De divinis nominibus expositio (hereafter, In De divinis nominibus), ed. Ceslai Pera (Turin-Rome: Marietti, 1950), c. 4, l. 9, n. 401: "Ex hoc igitur aliquid dicitur amari, quod appetitus amantis se habet ad illud sicut ad suum bonum. Ipsa igitur habitudo vel coaptatio appetitus ad aliquid velut ad suum bonum amor vocatur."

(2) Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae (hereafter, ST) I-D, q. 26, a. 1, in Opera omnia (Rome: Commisio Leonina, 1882-), vol. 6: "amor est aliquid ad appetitum pertinens: cum utriusque obiectum sit bonum." All translations are my own.

(3) Ibid.

(4) ST I, q. 60, a. 1.

(5) Thomas Aquinas, Quaestiones Quodlibetales (hereafter, Quodlibet), ed. Raymond Spiazzi (Turin: Marietti, 1956), I, q. 4, a. 3: "diligere Deum super omnia plus quam seipsum, est naturale non solum Angelo et homini, sed etiam cuilibet creaturae." See also ST I-II, q. 109, a. 3, and ST II-II, q. 26, a. 3; Thomas Aquinas, In quatuor libros Sententiarum (hereafter, In Sent.), in Sancti Thomae Aquinatis Opera Omnia (Parma: Fiaccadori, 1852-1873; New York: Musurgia Publishers, 1948), vol. 6-7, III, d. 29, q. 1, a. 3, ad 2: "amicitia non retorqueat ad seipsum bonum quod ad alteram optat: diligimus enim amicos, etaim si nihil nobis debeat inde fieri"; In Sent. II, d. 3, q. 4, a. 1; In Sent. IV, d. 49, q. 1, a. 2, qc. 1, ad 3.

(6) Thomas Aquinas, Expositio in librum Boetii De hebdomadibus, in Opera omnia, vol. 5, c. 2: "unumquodque primo et per se appetit suam perfectionem." ST I, q. 26, a. 2: "sicut unaquaeque res appetit suam perfectionem, ita et intellectualis natura naturaliter appetit esse beata."

(7) ST I-II, q. 1, a. 6: "omnia quae homo appetit, appetat propter ultimum finem." ST I-II, q. 1, pro.: "ultimus finis humanae vitae ponitur esse beatitudo"; Thomas Aquinas, Sententia libri Ethicorum, in Opera Omnia, vol. 47, I, l. 1: "finale bonum in quod tendit appetitus uniuscuiusque est ultima perfectio eius"; ST I-II, q. 1, a. 5: "cum unumquodque appetat suam perfectionem, illud appetit aliquis ut ultimum finem, quod appetit ut bonum perfectum et completivum sui ipsius."

(8) Anders Nygren, Agape and Eros, trans. Philip S. Watson (London: SPCK, 1953), 641-45. Leslie Dewart, The Future of Belief: Theism in a World Come of Age (New York: Herder and Herder, 1966), 30-33.

(9) Pierre Rousselot, Pour Vhistoire du probleme de I'amour au moyen age, Beitrage zur Geschichte der Philosophie und Theologie des Mittelalters, Bd. 6, Hft. 6 (Munster: Aschendorff, 1908).

(10) Ibid., 1.

(11) Ibid., 7-14.

(12) Works in which the author principally addresses the question of love of God above self include: Charles-Vincent Heris, "L'amour naturel de Dieu d'apres saint Thomas," in Melanges Thomistes (Kain: Le Saulchoir, 1923); Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, "Le probleme de l'amour pur et la solution de saint Thomas," Angelicum 6 (1929): 83-124; Etienne Gilson, The Spirit of Mediaeval Philosophy (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1940), c. 14; M.-R. Gagnebet, "L'amour naturel de Dieu chez Saint Thomas et ses contemporains," Revue Thomiste 48 (1948): 394-446 (part 1); 49 (1949): 31-102 (part 2); Gregory Stevens, "The Disinterested Love of God according to St. Thomas and Some of His Modern Interpreters," The Thomist 16 (1953): 307-33, 497-541; Thomas M. Osborne, Jr., Love of Self and Love of God in Thirteenth-century Ethics (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2005), c. 3 ; Christopher Malloy, Love of God for His Own Sake and Love of Beatitude (PhD diss, The Catholic University of America, 2001); and Ezra Sullivan, "Natural Self-Transcending Love According to Thomas Aquinas," Nova et Vetera (English ed.) 12, no. 3 (2014): 913-46. My own treatment of the question appears in "Love of God above Self," The Thomist 80 (2016): 97-131.

(13) Louis-Bertrand Geiger takes this approach in Le Probleme de Vamour chez Saint Thomas d'Aquin (Montreal: Institute d'Etudes Medievales, 1952), as does Jean-Hevre Nicolas in "Amour de soi, amour de Dieu, amour des autres," Revue Thomiste 56 (1956): 5-42, and, most recently, Daniel Shields in "Aquinas on Will, Happiness, and God: The Problem of Love and Aristotle's Liber de Bona Fortuna," American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 91, no. 1 (2017): 113-42. Stevens gives significant attention to the object of the will as well. Other important works that do not fall neatly into either of the two indicated approaches include: Avital Wohlman, "Amour du bien propre et amour de soi dans la doctrine Thomiste de l'amour," Revue Thomiste 81 (1981): 203-34; David M. Gallagher, "Desire for Beatitude and Love of Friendship in Thomas Aquinas," Mediaeval Studies 58 (1996): 1-47; and David M. Gallagher, "Thomas Aquinas on Self-Love as the Basis for Love of Others," Acta Philosophica 8 (1999): 23-44.

(14) We cannot be perfect unless we act in accordance with natural law, but natural law commands, as its first and common precepts, love of God and love of neighbor. See ST I-II, q. 100, a. 3, ad 1.

(15) It may appear as if Christopher Toner holds this solution in "Was Aquinas an Egoist?" The Thomist 71 (2007): 577-608, but it is actually a position that he would like to avoid, as he makes clear in "The Self-Centredness Objection to Virtue Ethics," Philosophy 81 (2006): 595-617. The more complicated account that we will examine later is that of David Gallagher.

(16) ST I-II, qq. 1-5.

(17) ST I-II, q. 1, a. 8: "finis dupliciter dicitur, scilicet cuius, et quo: idest ipsa res in qua ratio boni invenitur, et usus sive adeptio illius rei."

(18) Jacques Maritain appears to propose this solution, although he uses different terminology, identifying God as our Absolute Ultimate End and beatitude as our Subjective Ultimate End. See Jacques Maritain, Moral Philosophy: An Historical and Critical Survey of the Great Systems (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1964), 78. Daniel Shields, whose work appeared while this article was in process of publication, advances a solution along similar lines. He claims that there are two ultimate ends for the will, one penultimate, which he identifies as happiness, the other ultimate simply speaking, which he identifies as God. Happiness, the end as attainment, can only be penultimate because it is an object of love of desire (love of concupiscence), and such objects are always ordered to something further that is loved with love of friendship. For the same reason, the truly ultimate end, the end as object, must be an object of love of friendship. This end, however, cannot in truth be the self since the self is a particular good; it must be God, the universal good. See Shields, "Aquinas on Will, Happiness, and God," 115-16, 120-21, and 126-30.

(19) ST I-II, q. 2, a. 7: "finis dupliciter dicitur: scilicet ipsa res quam adipisci desideramus; et usus, seu adeptio aut possessio illius rei"; ST I-II, q. 3, a. 1: "finis dicitur dupliciter. Uno modo, ipsa res quam cupimus adipisci: sicut avaro est finis pecunia. Alio modo, ipsa adeptio vel possessio, seu usus aut fruitio eius rei quae desideratur."

(20) Geiger, Le Probleme de I'amour, 42.

(21) Ibid.

(22) Ibid.

(23) Ibid., 47.

(24) Ibid., 56-57.

(25) Ibid., 88: "L'amour spirituel, du fait de sa liaison a la connaissance intellectuelle a pour objet formel le bien comme tel."

(26) Ibid., 67: "Car nous pouvons connaitre, grace a notre intelligence, la nature du bien. Nous pouvons le reconnaitre partout ou il se trouve et en apprecier les differents modes de realisation. Notre amour lui-meme peut done constituer une veritable reponse a l'attrait du bien comme tel."

(27) Ibid., 30 n. 7.

(28) Ibid., 45-46.

(29) Ibid., 58: "Nous pouvons done aussi en chaque cas distinguer la raison particuliere de l'attrait qui emane d'un etre, e'est-a-dire, les differentes modalites du bien."

(30) Ibid., 59-60.

(31) Ibid., 60-61.

(32) This understanding, while evident throughout the latter half of Geiger's presentation, receives its clearest expression near the end, on p. 117: "Le bien n'est pas d'abord objet de desir ou de convoitise. Il est d'abord la perfection de l'etre et le fondement de l'attrait qui en emane en tant qu'il est parfait. L'amour n'est done non plus d'abord convoitise ou recherche centripete du bien propre. II est d'abord l'hommage au bien lui-meme, mouvement vers le bien en tant que tel." See ibid., 112.

(33) See ibid., 67 and 75.

(34) Ibid., 100: "l'acte de l'amour spirituel qui est naturellement un amour objectif, qui tend meme naturellement a etre un amour droit et rectifie, peut etre, tantot un amour de bienveillance, un amour desinteresse, quand il se trouve en presence d'un bien qui merite un tel amour, tantot un amour de convoitise, s'il adresse a des biens qui doivent servir, en effet, a un bien voulu pour lui-meme." See also ibid., 81, 86-87, and 90-91.

(35) On these causes of love, see especially ST I, q. 60, a. 4, and ST I-II, q. 27, a. 3.

(36) ST I-II, q. 26.

(37) Geiger, Le Probleme de Vamour, 97: "Or notre achevement naturel en tant qu'hommes, en tant qu'etres doues de volonte, c'est d'aimer toutes choses selon la verite du bien." See also ibid., 102-03.

(38) Ibid., 101: "La volonte est done un appetit naturel en un sens special, propre au monde de l'esprit. Son objet est bien comme tel. Son acte est notre bien, notre perfection ou notre beatitude justement parce que par lui nous sommes eonjoints directement au bien par un amour du bien lui-meme, non point par une convoitise qui ne pourrait atteindre son objet que par la raison formelle de mon bien."

(39) Ibid., 101, 104 and 109.

(40) See ST I-II, q. 28, a. 1.

(41) Geiger presents this understanding of beatitude on pp. 98-99 of Le Probleme de Vamour. He grants intellectual apprehension a role, for it is a means by which we are joined to God, but this apprehension is more of a precondition, for we are not truly joined to God until we love him for his own sake. Significantly, this apprehension is not that of the divine essence; it appears, rather, to be the sort that we may attain now. This understanding of beatitude is made evident by an argument that Geiger offers in support of his position. He proposes that it is because Thomas identifies beatitude with the very act of loving God for his own sake that Thomas does not consider the problem of sacrificing one's eternal beatitude out of love for God. See Geiger, Le Probleme de l'amour, 104.

(42) ST I-II, q. 3, a. 4: "essentia beatitudinis in actu intellectus consistit." See also Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra Gentiles (hereafter, SCG), in Opera Omnia, vol. 14, III, c. 25.

(43) SCG III, c. 26: "Amare etiam non potest esse ultimus finis." ST I-II, q. 3, a. 4: "quantum ad id quod est essentialiter ipsa beatitudo, impossibile est quod consistat in actu voluntatis." Also, SCG III, c. 26, and ST I-II, q. 19, a. 1, ad 2.

(44) Gregory Stevens, for instance, appears to make an objectivist interpretation of the will a part of his complex account. See especially "The Disinterested Love of God," 504-06.

(45) Thomas Aquinas, Quaestiones disputatae de veritate, in Opera Omnia, vol. 22, q. 21, a. 1: "Alio modo ens est perfectivum alterius non solum secundum rationem speciei sed etiam secundum esse quod habet in rerum natura, et per hunc modum est perfectivum bonum."

(46) Ibid.: "In quantum autem unum ens secundum esse suum est perfectivum alterius et consummativum, habet rationem finis respectu illius quod ab eo perficitur; et inde est quod omnes recte definientes bonum ponunt in ratione eius aliquid quod pertinet ad habitudinem finis: unde philosophus dicit in I Ethicorum quod 'bonum optime diffinierunt dicentes quod bonum est quod omnia appetunt.'"

(47) Ibid.: "Sic ergo primo et principaliter dicitur bonum ens perfectivum alterius per modum finis."

(48) ST I, q. 5, a. 1: "Ratio enim boni in hoc consistit, quod aliquid sit appetibile."

(49) Ibid.: "Manifestum est autem quod unumquodque est appetibile secundum quod est perfectum: nam omnia appetunt suam perfectionem."

(50) ST I, q. 5, a. 4.

(51) In De divinis nominibus, c. 4, l. 9, n. 406: "Et quia unumquodque amamus inquantum est bonum nostrum, oportet tot modis variare amorem, quot modis contingit aliquid esse bonum alicuius."

(52) Wohlman, "Amour du bien propre," 223.

(53) Ibid., 206-07.

(54) Ibid., 211-12.

(55) Ibid., 214-15.

(56) Ibid., 215: "Il ne s'agit done pas, a vrai dire, d'un amour de soi, sinon de facon tout a fait implicite, derivee, secondaire, in obliquo." See also ibid., 225.

(57) Wohlman is not entirely clear on this point, but it seems to me that she understands the good, as Geiger does, as a perfection of being that is first good in itself and attractive as such, and then as perfective of another.

(58) Ibid., 215: "Et cependant, a ce plan fondamental, il ne faut pas craindre de dire : de meme que la pierre qui tend ver son lieu propre comme vers la fin qui lui convient aime ce lieu plus qu'elle-meme, de meme l'homme qui tend vers Dieu comme a sa fin ultime aime Dieu par-dessus tout plutot que lui-meme."

(59) For Wohlman's account of the will, see ibid., 209-12.

(60) For Wohlman's explanation of love of God, see ibid., 231-32.

(61) ST I-II, q. 26, a. 4: "sicut philosophus dicit in II Rhetoric., amare est velle alicui bonum. Sic ergo motus amoris in duo tendit: scilicet in bonum quod quis vult alicui, vel sibi vel alii; et in illud cui vult bonum."

(62) ST I-II, q. 27, a. 2, ad 3: "amor naturalis, qui est in omnibus rebus, causatur ex aliqua cognitione, non quidem in ipsis rebus naturalibus existente, sed in eo qui naturam instituit." See also, ST I-II, q. 26, a. 1.

(63) Other grounds for arguing that the tendency of love is twofold at the subrational level include: (1) Thomas's explanation of the twofold tendency of love and anger in ST I-II, q. 46, a. 2; (2) Thomas's use of the scriptural claim that "every animal loves it like" to argue for love of friendship (see especially ST fill, q. 114, a. 1, ad 2); (3) sensitive appetite for food and sexual intercourse being by every appearance a love of concupiscence; and (4) teleology in the philosophy of nature being otherwise impossible (we would not be able to say that a plant puts down roots in order to acquire water [concupiscible good] for itself [subject]).

(64) For the position of Thomas's predecessors, see Gagnebet, "L'amour naturel de Dieu," 398-409. For Thomas's originality in this respect, see ibid., 414.

(65) Quodlibet I, q. 4, a. 3: "inclinatio rei naturalis est ad duo: scilicet ad moveri, et ad agere. Ilia autem inclinatio naturae quae est ad moveri, in seipsa recurva est, sicut ignis movetur sursum propter sui conservationem. Sed ilia inclinatio naturae quae est ad agere, non est recurva in seipsa: non enim ignis agit ad generandum ignem propter seipsum, sed propter bonum generati, quod est forma eius; et ulterius propter bonum commune quod est conservatio speciei."

(66) ST I, q. 60, a. 3: "Et hunc modum amoris quidam nominaverunt concupiscentiam: primum vero amicitiam. Manifestum est autem quod in rebus cognitione carentibus, unumquodque naturaliter appetit consequi id quod est sibi bonum; sicut ignis locum sursum. Unde et angelus et homo naturaliter appetunt suum bonum et suam perfectionem. Et hoc est amare seipsum."

(67) ST I, q. 60, a. 5: "inclinatio enim naturalis in his quae sunt sine ratione, demonstrat inclinationem naturalem in voluntate intellectualis naturae."

(68) Gallagher, "Desire for Beatitude," 8: "This natural desire for beatitude is actually a natural self-love." See also Gallagher, "Self-Love," 25 and 28.

(69) Gallagher, "Desire for Beatitude," 2-3: "The aim here will be to show how the desire for beatitude, which is a love of self, gives rise to a true love of others for their own sake." See also Gallagher, "Self-Love," 25.

(70) Gallagher, "Desire for Beatitude," 32-33. See also Gallagher, "Self-Love," 34.

(71) Gallagher, "Desire for Beatitude," 37. See more generally ibid., 34-39 and Gallagher, "Self-Love," 35-39.

(72) Gallagher, "Desire for Beatitude," 39.

(73) Gallagher, "Desire for Beatitude," 41. See more generally ibid., 39-45. See also Gallagher, "Self-Love," 38-39 and 42-43.

(74) ST I-II, q. 2, a. 7, ad 2: "beatitudo maxime amatur tanquam bonum concupitum: amicus autem amatur tanquam id cui concupiscitur bonum; et sic etiam homo amat seipsum. Unde non est eadem ratio amoris utrobique. Utrum autem amore amicitiae aliquid homo supra se amet, erit locus considerandi cum de caritate agetur." See Gallagher, "Desire for Beatitude," 20 n. 52 and Gallagher, "Self-Love," 28.

(75) Gallagher, "Desire for Beatitude," 29.

(76) In De divinis nominibus, c. 4, l. 9, n. 406: "uno modo, secundum quod aliquid est bonum suipsius et sic aliquid amat seipsum; alio modo, secundum quod aliquid per quamdam similitudinem est quasi unum alicui et sic aliquid amat id quod est sibi aequaliter coordinatum in aliquo ordine, sicut homo amat hominem alium eiusdem speciei et sicut civis amat concivem et sicut consanguineus, consanguineum; alio modo, aliquid est bonum alterius quia est aliquid eius, sicut manus est aliquid hominis et universaliter pars est aliquid totius; alio vero modo, secundum quod, e converso, totum est bonum partis: non enim est pars perfecta nisi in toto."

(77) The third and fourth ways may also be expressed in terms of the relationship of "being something of': something is our good because it is something of us or we are something of it. See ST I, q. 60, a. 5.

(78) After setting out the fourth way, he adds by way of explanation: "Quod enim est superius in entibus, comparatur ad inferius sicut totum ad partem, inquantum superius, perfecte et totaliter, habet quod ab inferiori, imperfecte et particulariter habetur et inquantum supremum continet in se, inferiora multa" (ibid., 135). God, of course, is most superior among beings. See also In De divinis nominibus, c. 4, l. 10, n. 432.

(79) See In De divinis nominibus, c. 2, l. 1, n. 113.

(80) In De divinis nominibus, c. 4, l. 9, n. 406: "totum est bonum partis: non enim est pars perfecta nisi in toto."

(81) SCG III, c. 17-18.

(82) SCG III, c. 19.

(83) See In Sent. III, d. 29, q. 1, a. 3: "Bonum autem ipsius amantis magis invenitur ubi perfectius est.... Quia ergo bonum nostrum in Deo perfectum est, sicut in causa universali prima et perfecta bonorum, ideo bonum in ipso esse magis naturaliter complacet quam in nobis ipsis; et ideo etiam amore amicitiae naturaliter Deus ab homine plus seipso diligitur."

(84) That God loves us in this manner is implied by the association of our love for God with the love of a part for its whole. In ST II-II, q. 26, a. 9, Thomas explains that "parents love their children as being something of themselves [parentes diliguntfilios ut aliquid sui existentes]", while here, explaining this third mode, he says that "something is the good of another because it is something of it [aliquid eius]." In ST II-II, q. 26, a. 12, ad 3, Thomas connects the benefactor's love for the one benefitted with God's love for us and the love of parents for their children.

(85) In De divinis nominibus, c. 4, l. 10, n. 432.

(86) See n. 76 above.
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Author:Olver, Jordan
Publication:The Review of Metaphysics
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2017
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