QUESTION 82: OF THE WILL
We next consider the will. Under this head there are five points of
(1) Whether the will desires something of necessity?
(2) Whether it desires anything of necessity?
(3) Whether it is a higher power than the intellect?
(4) Whether the will moves the intellect?
(5) Whether the will is divided into irascible and concupiscible?
Article 1: Whether the will desires something of necessity?
Objection 1: It would seem that the will desires nothing. For Augustine says
(De Civ. Dei v, 10) that it anything is necessary, it is not voluntary.
But whatever the will desires is voluntary. Therefore nothing that the
will desires is desired of necessity.
Objection 2: Further, the rational powers, according to the Philosopher
(Metaph. viii, 2), extend to opposite things. But the will is a rational
power, because, as he says (De Anima iii, 9), "the will is in the
reason." Therefore the will extends to opposite things, and therefore it
is determined to nothing of necessity.
Objection 3: Further, by the will we are masters of our own actions. But we
are not masters of that which is of necessity. Therefore the act of the
will cannot be necessitated.
On the contrary, Augustine says (De Trin. xiii, 4) that "all desire
happiness with one will." Now if this were not necessary, but contingent,
there would at least be a few exceptions. Therefore the will desires
something of necessity.
I answer that, The word "necessity" is employed in many ways. For that
which must be is necessary. Now that a thing must be may belong to it by
an intrinsic principle---either material, as when we say that everything
composed of contraries is of necessity corruptible---or formal, as when
we say that it is necessary for the three angles of a triangle to be
equal to two right angles. And this is "natural" and "absolute
necessity." In another way, that a thing must be, belongs to it by reason
of something extrinsic, which is either the end or the agent. On the part
of the end, as when without it the end is not to be attained or so well
attained: for instance, food is said to be necessary for life, and a
horse is necessary for a journey. This is called "necessity of end," and
sometimes also "utility." On the part of the agent, a thing must be, when
someone is forced by some agent, so that he is not able to do the
contrary. This is called "necessity of coercion."
Now this necessity of coercion is altogether repugnant to the will. For we call that violent which is against the inclination of a thing. But the very movement of the will is an inclination to something. Therefore, as a thing is called natural because it is according to the inclination of nature, so a thing is called voluntary because it is according to the inclination of the will. Therefore, just as it is impossible for a thing to be at the same time violent and natural, so it is impossible for a thing to be absolutely coerced or violent, and voluntary.
But necessity of end is not repugnant to the will, when the end cannot
be attained except in one way: thus from the will to cross the sea,
arises in the will the necessity to wish for a ship.
In like manner neither is natural necessity repugnant to the will.
Indeed, more than this, for as the intellect of necessity adheres to the
first principles, the will must of necessity adhere to the last end,
which is happiness: since the end is in practical matters what the
principle is in speculative matters. For what befits a thing naturally
and immovably must be the root and principle of all else appertaining
thereto, since the nature of a thing is the first in everything, and
every movement arises from something immovable.
Reply to Objection 1: The words of Augustine are to be understood of the
necessity of coercion. But natural necessity "does not take away the
liberty of the will," as he says himself (De Civ. Dei v, 10).
Reply to Objection 2: The will, so far as it desires a thing naturally,
corresponds rather to the intellect as regards natural principles than to
the reason, which extends to opposite things. Wherefore in this respect
it is rather an intellectual than a rational power.
Reply to Objection 3: We are masters of our own actions by reason of our being
able to choose this or that. But choice regards not the end, but "the
means to the end," as the Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 9). Wherefore the
desire of the ultimate end does not regard those actions of which we are
Article 2: Whether the will desires of necessity, whatever it desires?
Objection 1: It would seem that the will desires all things of necessity,
whatever it desires. For Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv) that "evil is
outside the scope of the will." Therefore the will tends of necessity to
the good which is proposed to it.
Objection 2: Further, the object of the will is compared to the will as the
mover to the thing movable. But the movement of the movable necessarily
follows the mover. Therefore it seems that the will's object moves it of
Objection 3: Further, as the thing apprehended by sense is the object of the
sensitive appetite, so the thing apprehended by the intellect is the
object of the intellectual appetite, which is called the will. But what
is apprehended by the sense moves the sensitive appetite of necessity:
for Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. ix, 14) that "animals are moved by
things seen." Therefore it seems that whatever is apprehended by the
intellect moves the will of necessity.
On the contrary, Augustine says (Retract. i, 9) that "it is the will by
which we sin and live well," and so the will extends to opposite things.
Therefore it does not desire of necessity all things whatsoever it
I answer that, The will does not desire of necessity whatsoever it
desires. In order to make this evident we must observe that as the
intellect naturally and of necessity adheres to the first principles, so
the will adheres to the last end, as we have said already (Article ). Now
there are some things intelligible which have not a necessary connection
with the first principles; such as contingent propositions, the denial of
which does not involve a denial of the first principles. And to such the
intellect does not assent of necessity. But there are some propositions
which have a necessary connection with the first principles: such as
demonstrable conclusions, a denial of which involves a denial of the
first principles. And to these the intellect assents of necessity, when
once it is aware of the necessary connection of these conclusions with
the principles; but it does not assent of necessity until through the
demonstration it recognizes the necessity of such connection. It is the
same with the will. For there are certain individual goods which have not
a necessary connection with happiness, because without them a man can be
happy: and to such the will does not adhere of necessity. But there are
some things which have a necessary connection with happiness, by means of
which things man adheres to God, in Whom alone true happiness consists.
Nevertheless, until through the certitude of the Divine Vision the
necessity of such connection be shown, the will does not adhere to God of
necessity, nor to those things which are of God. But the will of the man
who sees God in His essence of necessity adheres to God, just as now we
desire of necessity to be happy. It is therefore clear that the will does
not desire of necessity whatever it desires.
Reply to Objection 1: The will can tend to nothing except under the aspect of
good. But because good is of many kinds, for this reason the will is not
of necessity determined to one.
Reply to Objection 2: The mover, then, of necessity causes movement in the thing
movable, when the power of the mover exceeds the thing movable, so that
its entire capacity is subject to the mover. But as the capacity of the
will regards the universal and perfect good, its capacity is not
subjected to any individual good. And therefore it is not of necessity
moved by it.
Reply to Objection 3: The sensitive power does not compare different things with
each other, as reason does: but it simply apprehends some one thing.
Therefore, according to that one thing, it moves the sensitive appetite
in a determinate way. But the reason is a power that compares several
things together: therefore from several things the intellectual
appetite---that is, the will---may be moved; but not of necessity from
Article 3: Whether the will is a higher power than the intellect?
Objection 1: It would seem that the will is a higher power than the intellect.
For the object of the will is good and the end. But the end is the first
and highest cause. Therefore the will is the first and highest power.
Objection 2: Further, in the order of natural things we observe a progress
from imperfect things to perfect. And this also appears in the powers of
the soul: for sense precedes the intellect, which is more noble. Now the
act of the will, in the natural order, follows the act of the intellect.
Therefore the will is a more noble and perfect power than the intellect.
Objection 3: Further, habits are proportioned to their powers, as perfections
to what they make perfect. But the habit which perfects the
will---namely, charity---is more noble than the habits which perfect the
intellect: for it is written (1 Cor. 13:2): "If I should know all
mysteries, and if I should have all faith, and have not charity, I am
nothing." Therefore the will is a higher power than the intellect.
On the contrary, The Philosopher holds the intellect to be the higher
power than the intellect.
I answer that, The superiority of one thing over another can be
considered in two ways: "absolutely" and "relatively." Now a thing is
considered to be such absolutely which is considered such in itself: but
relatively as it is such with regard to something else. If therefore the
intellect and will be considered with regard to themselves, then the
intellect is the higher power. And this is clear if we compare their
respective objects to one another. For the object of the intellect is
more simple and more absolute than the object of the will; since the
object of the intellect is the very idea of appetible good; and the
appetible good, the idea of which is in the intellect, is the object of
the will. Now the more simple and the more abstract a thing is, the
nobler and higher it is in itself; and therefore the object of the
intellect is higher than the object of the will. Therefore, since the
proper nature of a power is in its order to its object, it follows that
the intellect in itself and absolutely is higher and nobler than the
will. But relatively and by comparison with something else, we find that
the will is sometimes higher than the intellect, from the fact that the
object of the will occurs in something higher than that in which occurs
the object of the intellect. Thus, for instance, I might say that hearing
is relatively nobler than sight, inasmuch as something in which there is
sound is nobler than something in which there is color, though color is
nobler and simpler than sound. For as we have said above (Question , Article ; Question , Article ), the action of the intellect consists in this---that the
idea of the thing understood is in the one who understands; while the act
of the will consists in this---that the will is inclined to the thing
itself as existing in itself. And therefore the Philosopher says in
Metaph. vi (Did. v, 2) that "good and evil," which are objects of the
will, "are in things," but "truth and error," which are objects of the
intellect, "are in the mind." When, therefore, the thing in which there
is good is nobler than the soul itself, in which is the idea understood;
by comparison with such a thing, the will is higher than the intellect.
But when the thing which is good is less noble than the soul, then even
in comparison with that thing the intellect is higher than the will.
Wherefore the love of God is better than the knowledge of God; but, on
the contrary, the knowledge of corporeal things is better than the love
thereof. Absolutely, however, the intellect is nobler than the will.
Reply to Objection 1: The aspect of causality is perceived by comparing one thing
to another, and in such a comparison the idea of good is found to be
nobler: but truth signifies something more absolute, and extends to the
idea of good itself: wherefore even good is something true. But, again,
truth is something good: forasmuch as the intellect is a thing, and truth
its end. And among other ends this is the most excellent: as also is the
intellect among the other powers.
Reply to Objection 2: What precedes in order of generation and time is less
perfect: for in one and in the same thing potentiality precedes act, and
imperfection precedes perfection. But what precedes absolutely and in the
order of nature is more perfect: for thus act precedes potentiality. And
in this way the intellect precedes the will, as the motive power precedes
the thing movable, and as the active precedes the passive; for good which
is understood moves the will.
Reply to Objection 3: This reason is verified of the will as compared with what
is above the soul. For charity is the virtue by which we love God.
Article 4: Whether the will moves the intellect?
Objection 1: It would seem that the will does not move the intellect. For what
moves excels and precedes what is moved, because what moves is an agent,
and "the agent is nobler than the patient," as Augustine says (Gen. ad
lit. xii, 16), and the Philosopher (De Anima iii, 5). But the intellect
excels and precedes the will, as we have said above (Article ). Therefore the
will does not move the intellect.
Objection 2: Further, what moves is not moved by what is moved, except perhaps
accidentally. But the intellect moves the will, because the good
apprehended by the intellect moves without being moved; whereas the
appetite moves and is moved. Therefore the intellect is not moved by the
Objection 3: Further, we can will nothing but what we understand. If,
therefore, in order to understand, the will moves by willing to
understand, that act of the will must be preceded by another act of the
intellect, and this act of the intellect by another act of the will, and
so on indefinitely, which is impossible. Therefore the will does not
move the intellect.
On the contrary, Damascene says (De Fide Orth. ii, 26): "It is in our
power to learn an art or not, as we list." But a thing is in our power by
the will, and we learn art by the intellect. Therefore the will moves the
I answer that, A thing is said to move in two ways: First, as an end;
for instance, when we say that the end moves the agent. In this way the
intellect moves the will, because the good understood is the object of
the will, and moves it as an end. Secondly, a thing is said to move as an
agent, as what alters moves what is altered, and what impels moves what
is impelled. In this way the will moves the intellect and all the powers
of the soul, as Anselm says (Eadmer, De Similitudinibus). The reason is,
because wherever we have order among a number of active powers, that
power which regards the universal end moves the powers which regard
particular ends. And we may observe this both in nature and in things
politic. For the heaven, which aims at the universal preservation of
things subject to generation and corruption, moves all inferior bodies,
each of which aims at the preservation of its own species or of the
individual. The king also, who aims at the common good of the whole
kingdom, by his rule moves all the governors of cities, each of whom
rules over his own particular city. Now the object of the will is good
and the end in general, and each power is directed to some suitable good
proper to it, as sight is directed to the perception of color, and the
intellect to the knowledge of truth. Therefore the will as agent moves
all the powers of the soul to their respective acts, except the natural
powers of the vegetative part, which are not subject to our will.
Reply to Objection 1: The intellect may be considered in two ways: as
apprehensive of universal being and truth, and as a thing and a
particular power having a determinate act. In like manner also the will
may be considered in two ways: according to the common nature of its
object---that is to say, as appetitive of universal good---and as a
determinate power of the soul having a determinate act. If, therefore,
the intellect and the will be compared with one another according to the
universality of their respective objects, then, as we have said above
(Article ), the intellect is simply higher and nobler than the will. If,
however, we take the intellect as regards the common nature of its object
and the will as a determinate power, then again the intellect is higher
and nobler than the will, because under the notion of being and truth is
contained both the will itself, and its act, and its object. Wherefore
the intellect understands the will, and its act, and its object, just as
it understands other species of things, as stone or wood, which are
contained in the common notion of being and truth. But if we consider the
will as regards the common nature of its object, which is good, and the
intellect as a thing and a special power; then the intellect itself, and
its act, and its object, which is truth, each of which is some species of
good, are contained under the common notion of good. And in this way the
will is higher than the intellect, and can move it. From this we can
easily understand why these powers include one another in their acts,
because the intellect understands that the will wills, and the will wills
the intellect to understand. In the same way good is contained in truth,
inasmuch as it is an understood truth, and truth in good, inasmuch as it
is a desired good.
Reply to Objection 2: The intellect moves the will in one sense, and the will
moves the intellect in another, as we have said above.
Reply to Objection 3: There is no need to go on indefinitely, but we must stop at
the intellect as preceding all the rest. For every movement of the will
must be preceded by apprehension, whereas every apprehension is not
preceded by an act of the will; but the principle of counselling and
understanding is an intellectual principle higher than our intellect
---namely, God---as also Aristotle says (Eth. Eudemic. vii, 14), and in
this way he explains that there is no need to proceed indefinitely.
Article 5: Whether we should distinguish irascible and concupiscible parts in the superior appetite?
Objection 1: It would seem that we ought to distinguish irascible and
concupiscible parts in the superior appetite, which is the will. For the
concupiscible power is so called from "concupiscere" [to desire], and the
irascible part from "irasci" [to be angry]. But there is a concupiscence
which cannot belong to the sensitive appetite, but only to the
intellectual, which is the will; as the concupiscence of wisdom, of which
it is said (Ws. 6:21): "The concupiscence of wisdom bringeth to the
eternal kingdom." There is also a certain anger which cannot belong to
the sensitive appetite, but only to the intellectual; as when our anger
is directed against vice. Wherefore Jerome commenting on Mt. 13:33 warns
us "to have the hatred of vice in the irascible part." Therefore we
should distinguish irascible and concupiscible parts of the intellectual
soul as well as in the sensitive.
Objection 2: Further, as is commonly said, charity is in the concupiscible,
and hope in the irascible part. But they cannot be in the sensitive
appetite, because their objects are not sensible, but intellectual.
Therefore we must assign an irascible and concupiscible power to the
Objection 3: Further, it is said (De Spiritu et Anima) that "the soul has
these powers"---namely, the irascible, concupiscible, and
rational---"before it is united to the body." But no power of the
sensitive part belongs to the soul alone, but to the soul and body
united, as we have said above (Question , Articles ,8). Therefore the irascible
and concupiscible powers are in the will, which is the intellectual
On the contrary, Gregory of Nyssa (Nemesius, De Nat. Hom.) says "that
the irrational" part of the soul is divided into the desiderative and
irascible, and Damascene says the same (De Fide Orth. ii, 12). And the
Philosopher says (De Anima iii, 9) "that the will is in reason, while in
the irrational part of the soul are concupiscence and anger," or "desire
I answer that, The irascible and concupiscible are not parts of the
intellectual appetite, which is called the will. Because, as was said
above (Question , Article ; Question , Article ), a power which is directed to an object
according to some common notion is not differentiated by special
differences which are contained under that common notion. For instance,
because sight regards the visible thing under the common notion of
something colored, the visual power is not multiplied according to the
different kinds of color: but if there were a power regarding white as
white, and not as something colored, it would be distinct from a power
regarding black as black.
Now the sensitive appetite does not consider the common notion of good,
because neither do the senses apprehend the universal. And therefore the
parts of the sensitive appetite are differentiated by the different
notions of particular good: for the concupiscible regards as proper to it
the notion of good, as something pleasant to the senses and suitable to
nature: whereas the irascible regards the notion of good as something
that wards off and repels what is hurtful. But the will regards good
according to the common notion of good, and therefore in the will, which
is the intellectual appetite, there is no differentiation of appetitive
powers, so that there be in the intellectual appetite an irascible power
distinct from a concupiscible power: just as neither on the part of the
intellect are the apprehensive powers multiplied, although they are on
the part of the senses.
Reply to Objection 1: Love, concupiscence, and the like can be understood in two
ways. Sometimes they are taken as passions---arising, that is, with a
certain commotion of the soul. And thus they are commonly understood, and
in this sense they are only in the sensitive appetite. They may, however,
be taken in another way, as far as they are simple affections without
passion or commotion of the soul, and thus they are acts of the will. And
in this sense, too, they are attributed to the angels and to God. But if
taken in this sense, they do not belong to different powers, but only to
one power, which is called the will.
Reply to Objection 2: The will itself may be said to irascible, as far as it wills to repel evil, not from any sudden movement of a passion, but from a judgment of the reason. And in the same way the will may be said to be concupiscible on account of its desire for good. And thus in the irascible and concupiscible are charity and hope---that is, in the will as ordered to such acts. And in this way, too, we may understand the words quoted (De Spiritu et Anima); that the irascible and concupiscible powers are in the soul before it is united to the body (as long as we understand priority of nature, and not of time), although there is no need to have faith in what that book says. Whence the answer to the third objection is clear.