QUESTION 94: OF THE STATE AND CONDITION OF THE FIRST MAN AS REGARDS HIS INTELLECT
We next consider the state or condition of the first man; first, as
regards his soul; secondly, as regards his body. Concerning the first
there are two things to be considered: (1) The condition of man as to his
intellect; (2) the condition of man as to his will.
Under the first head there are four points of inquiry:
(1) Whether the first man saw the Essence of God?
(2) Whether he could see the separate substances, that is, the angels?
(3) Whether he possessed all knowledge?
(4) Whether he could err or be deceived?
Article 1: Whether the first man saw God through His Essence?
Objection 1: It would seem that the first man saw God through His Essence. For
man's happiness consists in the vision of the Divine Essence. But the
first man, "while established in paradise, led a life of happiness in the
enjoyment of all things," as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. ii, 11). And
Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xiv, 10): "If man was gifted with the same
tastes as now, how happy must he have been in paradise, that place of
ineffable happiness!" Therefore the first man in paradise saw God through
Objection 2: Further, Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xiv, loc. cit.) that "the
first man lacked nothing which his good-will might obtain." But our
good-will can obtain nothing better than the vision of the Divine
Essence. Therefore man saw God through His Essence.
Objection 3: Further, the vision of God is His Essence is whereby God is seen
without a medium or enigma. But man in the state of innocence "saw God
immediately," as the Master of the Sentences asserts (Sent. iv, D, i). He
also saw without an enigma, for an enigma implies obscurity, as Augustine
says (De Trin. xv, 9). Now, obscurity resulted from sin. Therefore man in
the primitive state saw God through His Essence.
On the contrary, The Apostle says (1 Cor. 15:46): "That was not first
which is spiritual, but that which is natural." But to see God through
His Essence is most spiritual. Therefore the first man in the primitive
state of his natural life did not see God through His Essence.
I answer that, The first man did not see God through His Essence if we
consider the ordinary state of that life; unless, perhaps, it be said
that he saw God in a vision, when "God cast a deep sleep upon Adam" (Gn. 2:21). The reason is because, since in the Divine Essence is beatitude
itself, the intellect of a man who sees the Divine Essence has the same
relation to God as a man has to beatitude. Now it is clear that man
cannot willingly be turned away from beatitude, since naturally and
necessarily he desires it, and shuns unhappiness. Wherefore no one who
sees the Essence of God can willingly turn away from God, which means to
sin. Hence all who see God through His Essence are so firmly established
in the love of God, that for eternity they can never sin. Therefore, as
Adam did sin, it is clear that he did not see God through His Essence.
Nevertheless he knew God with a more perfect knowledge than we do now.
Thus in a sense his knowledge was midway between our knowledge in the
present state, and the knowledge we shall have in heaven, when we see God
through His Essence. To make this clear, we must consider that the vision
of God through His Essence is contradistinguished from the vision of God
through His creatures. Now the higher the creature is, and the more like
it is to God, the more clearly is God seen in it; for instance, a man is
seen more clearly through a mirror in which his image is the more clearly
expressed. Thus God is seen in a much more perfect manner through His
intelligible effects than through those which are only sensible or
corporeal. But in his present state man is impeded as regards the full
and clear consideration of intelligible creatures, because he is
distracted by and occupied with sensible things. Now, it is written
(Eccles. 7:30): "God made man right." And man was made right by God in
this sense, that in him the lower powers were subjected to the higher,
and the higher nature was made so as not to be impeded by the lower.
Wherefore the first man was not impeded by exterior things from a clear
and steady contemplation of the intelligible effects which he perceived
by the radiation of the first truth, whether by a natural or by a
gratuitous knowledge. Hence Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. xi, 33) that,
"perhaps God used to speak to the first man as He speaks to the angels;
by shedding on his mind a ray of the unchangeable truth, yet without
bestowing on him the experience of which the angels are capable in the
participation of the Divine Essence." Therefore, through these
intelligible effects of God, man knew God then more clearly than we know
Reply to Objection 1: Man was happy in paradise, but not with that perfect happiness to which he was destined, which consists in the vision of the Divine Essence. He was, however, endowed with "a life of happiness in a certain measure," as Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. xi, 18), so far as he was gifted with natural integrity and perfection.
Reply to Objection 2: A good will is a well-ordered will; but the will of the
first man would have been ill-ordered had he wished to have, while in the
state of merit, what had been promised to him as a reward.
Reply to Objection 3: A medium (of knowledge) is twofold; one through which, and,
at the same time, in which, something is seen, as, for example, a man is
seen through a mirror, and is seen with the mirror: another kind of
medium is that whereby we attain to the knowledge of something unknown;
such as the medium in a demonstration. God was seen without this second
kind of medium, but not without the first kind. For there was no need for
the first man to attain to the knowledge of God by demonstration drawn
from an effect, such as we need; since he knew God simultaneously in His
effects, especially in the intelligible effects, according to His
capacity. Again, we must remark that the obscurity which is implied in
the word enigma may be of two kinds: first, so far as every creature is
something obscure when compared with the immensity of the Divine light;
and thus Adam saw God in an enigma, because he saw Him in a created
effect: secondly, we may take obscurity as an effect of sin, so far as
man is impeded in the consideration of intelligible things by being
preoccupied with sensible things; in which sense Adam did not see God in
Article 2: Whether Adam in the state of innocence saw the angels through their essence?
Objection 1: It would seem that Adam, in the state of innocence, saw the
angels through their essence. For Gregory says (Dialog. iv, 1): "In
paradise man was accustomed to enjoy the words of God; and by purity of
heart and loftiness of vision to have the company of the good angels."
Objection 2: Further, the soul in the present state is impeded from the
knowledge of separate substances by union with a corruptible body which
"is a load upon the soul," as is written Wis. 9:15. Wherefore the
separate soul can see separate substances, as above explained (Question , Article ). But the body of the first man was not a load upon his soul; for
the latter was not corruptible. Therefore he was able to see separate
Objection 3: Further, one separate substance knows another separate substance,
by knowing itself (De Causis xiii). But the soul of the first man knew
itself. Therefore it knew separate substances.
On the contrary, The soul of Adam was of the same nature as ours. But
our souls cannot now understand separate substances. Therefore neither
could Adam's soul.
I answer that, The state of the human soul may be distinguished in two
ways. First, from a diversity of mode in its natural existence; and in
this point the state of the separate soul is distinguished from the
state of the soul joined to the body. Secondly, the state of the soul is
distinguished in relation to integrity and corruption, the state of
natural existence remaining the same: and thus the state of innocence is
distinct from the state of man after sin. For man's soul, in the state of
innocence, was adapted to perfect and govern the body; wherefore the
first man is said to have been made into a "living soul"; that is, a soul
giving life to the body---namely animal life. But he was endowed with
integrity as to this life, in that the body was entirely subject to the
soul, hindering it in no way, as we have said above (Article ). Now it is
clear from what has been already said (Question , Article ; Question , Article ; Question , Article ) that since the soul is adapted to perfect and govern the body, as
regards animal life, it is fitting that it should have that mode of
understanding which is by turning to phantasms. Wherefore this mode of
understanding was becoming to the soul of the first man also.
Now, in virtue of this mode of understanding, there are three degrees of
movement in the soul, as Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv). The first is by
the soul "passing from exterior things to concentrate its powers on
itself"; the second is by the soul ascending "so as to be associated with
the united superior powers," namely the angels; the third is when the
soul is "led on" yet further "to the supreme good," that is, to God.
In virtue of the first movement of the soul from exterior things to
itself, the soul's knowledge is perfected. This is because the
intellectual operation of the soul has a natural order to external
things, as we have said above (Question , Article ): and so by the knowledge
thereof, our intellectual operation can be known perfectly, as an act
through its object. And through the intellectual operation itself, the
human intellect can be known perfectly, as a power through its proper
act. But in the second movement we do not find perfect knowledge.
Because, since the angel does not understand by turning to phantasms, but
by a far more excellent process, as we have said above (Question , Article ); the
above-mentioned mode of knowledge, by which the soul knows itself, is not
sufficient to lead it to the knowledge of an angel. Much less does the
third movement lead to perfect knowledge: for even the angels themselves,
by the fact that they know themselves, are not able to arrive at the
knowledge of the Divine Substance, by reason of its surpassing
excellence. Therefore the soul of the first man could not see the angels
in their essence. Nevertheless he had a more excellent mode of knowledge
regarding the angels than we possess, because his knowledge of
intelligible things within him was more certain and fixed than our
knowledge. And it was on account of this excellence of knowledge that
Gregory says that "he enjoyed the company of the angelic spirits."
This makes clear the reply to the first objection.
Reply to Objection 2: That the soul of the first man fell short of the knowledge
regarding separate substances, was not owing to the fact that the body
was a load upon it; but to the fact that its connatural object fell
short of the excellence of separate substances. We, in our present state,
fall short on account of both these reasons.
Reply to Objection 3: The soul of the first man was not able to arrive at
knowledge of separate substances by means of its self-knowledge, as we
have shown above; for even each separate substance knows others in its
Article 3: Whether the first man knew all things?
Objection 1: It would seem that the first man did not know all things. For if
he had such knowledge it would be either by acquired species, or by
connatural species, or by infused species. Not, however, by acquired
species; for this kind of knowledge is acquired by experience, as stated
in Metaph. i, 1; and the first man had not then gained experience of all
things. Nor through connatural species, because he was of the same nature
as we are; and our soul, as Aristotle says (De Anima iii, 4), is "like a
clean tablet on which nothing is written." And if his knowledge came by
infused species, it would have been of a different kind from ours, which
we acquire from things themselves.
Objection 2: Further, individuals of the same species have the same way of
arriving at perfection. Now other men have not, from the beginning,
knowledge of all things, but they acquire it in the course of time
according to their capacity. Therefore neither did Adam know all things
when he was first created.
Objection 3: Further, the present state of life is given to man in order that
his soul may advance in knowledge and merit; indeed, the soul seems to be
united to the body for that purpose. Now man would have advanced in merit
in that state of life; therefore also in knowledge. Therefore he was not
endowed with knowledge of all things.
On the contrary, Man named the animals (Gn. 2:20). But names should be
adapted to the nature of things. Therefore Adam knew the animals'
natures; and in like manner he was possessed of the knowledge of all
I answer that, In the natural order, perfection comes before
imperfection, as act precedes potentiality; for whatever is in
potentiality is made actual only by something actual. And since God
created things not only for their own existence, but also that they might
be the principles of other things; so creatures were produced in their
perfect state to be the principles as regards others. Now man can be the
principle of another man, not only by generation of the body, but also by
instruction and government. Hence, as the first man was produced in his
perfect state, as regards his body, for the work of generation, so also
was his soul established in a perfect state to instruct and govern others.
Now no one can instruct others unless he has knowledge, and so the first
man was established by God in such a manner as to have knowledge of all
those things for which man has a natural aptitude. And such are whatever
are virtually contained in the first self-evident principles, that is,
whatever truths man is naturally able to know. Moreover, in order to
direct his own life and that of others, man needs to know not only those
things which can be naturally known, but also things surpassing natural
knowledge; because the life of man is directed to a supernatural end:
just as it is necessary for us to know the truths of faith in order to
direct our own lives. Wherefore the first man was endowed with such a
knowledge of these supernatural truths as was necessary for the direction
of human life in that state. But those things which cannot be known by
merely human effort, and which are not necessary for the direction of
human life, were not known by the first man; such as the thoughts of men,
future contingent events, and some individual facts, as for instance the
number of pebbles in a stream; and the like.
Reply to Objection 1: The first man had knowledge of all things by divinely
infused species. Yet his knowledge was not different from ours; as the
eyes which Christ gave to the man born blind were not different from
those given by nature.
Reply to Objection 2: To Adam, as being the first man, was due to a degree of
perfection which was not due to other men, as is clear from what is above
Reply to Objection 3: Adam would have advanced in natural knowledge, not in the
number of things known, but in the manner of knowing; because what he
knew speculatively he would subsequently have known by experience. But as
regards supernatural knowledge, he would also have advanced as regards
the number of things known, by further revelation; as the angels advance
by further enlightenment. Moreover there is no comparison between advance
in knowledge and advance in merit; since one man cannot be a principle of
merit to another, although he can be to another a principle of knowledge.
Article 4: Whether man in his first state could be deceived?
Objection 1: It would seem that man in his primitive state could have been
deceived. For the Apostle says (1 Tim. 2:14) that "the woman being
seduced was in the transgression."
Objection 2: Further, the Master says (Sent. ii, D, xxi) that, "the woman was
not frightened at the serpent speaking, because she thought that he had
received the faculty of speech from God." But this was untrue. Therefore
before sin the woman was deceived.
Objection 3: Further, it is natural that the farther off anything is from us,
the smaller it seems to be. Now, the nature of the eyes is not changed by
sin. Therefore this would have been the case in the state of innocence.
Wherefore man would have been deceived in the size of what he saw, just
as he is deceived now.
Objection 4: Further, Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. xii, 2) that, in sleep the
soul adheres to the images of things as if they were the things
themselves. But in the state of innocence man would have eaten and
consequently have slept and dreamed. Therefore he would have been
deceived, adhering to images as to realities.
Objection 5: Further, the first man would have been ignorant of other men's
thoughts, and of future contingent events, as stated above (Article ). So if
anyone had told him what was false about these things, he would have been
On the contrary, Augustine says (De Lib. Arb. iii, 18): "To regard what
is true as false, is not natural to man as created; but is a punishment
of man condemned."
I answer that, in the opinion of some, deception may mean two things;
namely, any slight surmise, in which one adheres to what is false, as
though it were true, but without the assent of belief---or it may mean a
firm belief. Thus before sin Adam could not be deceived in either of
these ways as regards those things to which his knowledge extended; but
as regards things to which his knowledge did not extend, he might have
been deceived, if we take deception in the wide sense of the term for any
surmise without assent of belief. This opinion was held with the idea
that it is not derogatory to man to entertain a false opinion in such
matters, and that provided he does not assent rashly, he is not to be
Such an opinion, however, is not fitting as regards the integrity of the
primitive state of life; because, as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xiv,
10), in that state of life "sin was avoided without struggle, and while
it remained so, no evil could exist." Now it is clear that as truth is
the good of the intellect, so falsehood is its evil, as the Philosopher
says (Ethic. vi, 2). So that, as long as the state of innocence
continued, it was impossible for the human intellect to assent to
falsehood as if it were truth. For as some perfections, such as clarity,
were lacking in the bodily members of the first man, though no evil could
be therein; so there could be in his intellect the absence of some
knowledge, but no false opinion.
This is clear also from the very rectitude of the primitive state, by
virtue of which, while the soul remained subject to God, the lower
faculties in man were subject to the higher, and were no impediment to
their action. And from what has preceded (Question , Article ), it is clear that
as regards its proper object the intellect is ever true; and hence it is
never deceived of itself; but whatever deception occurs must be ascribed
to some lower faculty, such as the imagination or the like. Hence we see
that when the natural power of judgment is free we are not deceived by
such images, but only when it is not free, as is the case in sleep.
Therefore it is clear that the rectitude of the primitive state was
incompatible with deception of the intellect.
Reply to Objection 1: Though the woman was deceived before she sinned in deed,
still it was not till she had already sinned by interior pride. For
Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. xi, 30) that "the woman could not have
believed the words of the serpent, had she not already acquiesced in the
love of her own power, and in a presumption of self-conceit."
Reply to Objection 2: The woman thought that the serpent had received this
faculty, not as acting in accordance with nature, but by virtue of some
supernatural operation. We need not, however, follow the Master of the
Sentences in this point.
Reply to Objection 3: Were anything presented to the imagination or sense of the
first man, not in accordance with the nature of things, he would not have
been deceived, for his reason would have enabled him to judge the truth.
Reply to Objection 4: A man is not accountable for what occurs during sleep; as
he has not then the use of his reason, wherein consists man's proper
Reply to Objection 5: If anyone had said something untrue as regards future
contingencies, or as regards secret thoughts, man in the primitive state
would not have believed it was so: but he might have believed that such a
thing was possible; which would not have been to entertain a false
It might also be said that he would have been divinely guided from
above, so as not to be deceived in a matter to which his knowledge did
If any object, as some do, that he was not guided, when tempted, though
he was then most in need of guidance, we reply that man had already
sinned in his heart, and that he failed to have recourse to the Divine