Second Set of Readings by St. Thomas Aquinas
First Part of the Second Part (Prima Secundæ Partis)
Question 1. Man's last end
Article 1. Whether it belongs to man to act for an end?
I answer that,
Of actions done by man those alone are properly called "human," which are
proper to man as man. Now man differs from irrational animals in this, that he is master of his
actions. Wherefore those actions alone are properly called human, of which man is master. Now
man is master of his actions through his reason and will; whence, too, the free-will is defined as
"the faculty and will of reason." Therefore those actions are properly called human which
proceed from a deliberate will. And if any other actions are found in man, they can be called
actions "of a man," but not properly "human" actions, since they are not proper to man as man.
Now it is clear that whatever actions proceed from a power, are caused by that power in
accordance with the nature of its object. But the object of the will is the end and the good.
Therefore all human actions must be for an end.
Article 2. Whether it is proper to the rational nature to act for an end?
proves (Phys. ii, 5) that "not only mind but also nature acts for an end."
I answer that,
Every agent, of necessity, acts for an end. For if, in a number of causes ordained
to one another, the first be removed, the others must, of necessity, be removed also. Now the first
of all causes is the final cause. The reason of which is that matter does not receive form, save in
so far as it is moved by an agent; for nothing reduces itself from potentiality to act. But an agent
does not move except out of intention for an end. For if the agent were not determinate to some
particular effect, it would not do one thing rather than another: consequently in order that it
produce a determinate effect, it must, of necessity, be determined to some certain one, which has
the nature of an end. And just as this determination is effected, in the rational nature, by the
"rational appetite," which is called the will; so, in other things, it is caused by their natural
inclination, which is called the "natural appetite."
Nevertheless it must be observed that a thing tends to an end, by its action or movement, in two
ways: first, as a thing, moving itself to the end, as man; secondly, as a thing moved by another to
the end, as an arrow tends to a determinate end through being moved by the archer who directs
his action to the end. Therefore those things that are possessed of reason, move themselves to an
end; because they have dominion over their actions through their free-will, which is the "faculty
of will and reason." But those things that lack reason tend to an end, by natural inclination, as
being moved by another and not by themselves; since they do not know the nature of an end as
such, and consequently cannot ordain anything to an end, but can be ordained to an end only by