QUESTION 96: OF THE MASTERSHIP BELONGING TO MAN IN THE STATE OF INNOCENCE
We next consider the mastership which belonged to man in the state of
innocence. Under this head there are four points of inquiry:
(1) Whether man in the state of innocence was master over the animals?
(2) Whether he was master over all creatures?
(3) Whether in the state of innocence all men were equal?
(4) Whether in that state man would have been master over men?
Article 1: Whether Adam in the state of innocence had mastership over the animals?
Objection 1: It would seem that in the state of innocence Adam had no
mastership over the animals. For Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. ix, 14),
that the animals were brought to Adam, under the direction of the angels,
to receive their names from him. But the angels need not have intervened
thus, if man himself were master over the animals. Therefore in the state
of innocence man had no mastership of the animals.
Objection 2: Further, it is unfitting that elements hostile to one another
should be brought under the mastership of one. But many animals are
hostile to one another, as the sheep and the wolf. Therefore all animals
were not brought under the mastership of man.
Objection 3: Further, Jerome says [*The words quoted are not in St. Jerome's
works. St. Thomas may have had in mind Bede, Hexaem., as quoted in the
Glossa ordinaria on Gn. 1:26]: "God gave man mastership over the animals,
although before sin he had no need of them: for God foresaw that after
sin animals would become useful to man." Therefore, at least before sin,
it was unfitting for man to make use of his mastership.
Objection 4: Further, it is proper to a master to command. But a command is
not given rightly save to a rational being. Therefore man had no
mastership over the irrational animals.
On the contrary, It is written (Gn. 1:26): "Let him have dominion over
the fishes of the sea, and the birds of the air, and the beasts of the
earth" [Vulg."and the whole earth"].
I answer that, As above stated (Question , Article ) for his disobedience to
God, man was punished by the disobedience of those creatures which should
be subject to him. Therefore in the state of innocence, before man had
disobeyed, nothing disobeyed him that was naturally subject to him. Now
all animals are naturally subject to man. This can be proved in three
ways. First, from the order observed by nature; for just as in the
generation of things we perceive a certain order of procession of the
perfect from the imperfect (thus matter is for the sake of form; and the
imperfect form, for the sake of the perfect), so also is there order in
the use of natural things; thus the imperfect are for the use of the
perfect; as the plants make use of the earth for their nourishment, and
animals make use of plants, and man makes use of both plants and animals.
Therefore it is in keeping with the order of nature, that man should be
master over animals. Hence the Philosopher says (Polit. i, 5) that the
hunting of wild animals is just and natural, because man thereby
exercises a natural right. Secondly, this is proved by the order of
Divine Providence which always governs inferior things by the superior.
Wherefore, as man, being made to the image of God, is above other
animals, these are rightly subject to his government. Thirdly, this is
proved from a property of man and of other animals. For we see in the
latter a certain participated prudence of natural instinct, in regard to
certain particular acts; whereas man possesses a universal prudence as
regards all practical matters. Now whatever is participated is subject to
what is essential and universal. Therefore the subjection of other
animals to man is proved to be natural.
Reply to Objection 1: A higher power can do many things that an inferior power
cannot do to those which are subject to them. Now an angel is naturally
higher than man. Therefore certain things in regard to animals could be
done by angels, which could not be done by man; for instance, the rapid
gathering together of all the animals.
Reply to Objection 2: In the opinion of some, those animals which now are fierce
and kill others, would, in that state, have been tame, not only in regard
to man, but also in regard to other animals. But this is quite
unreasonable. For the nature of animals was not changed by man's sin, as
if those whose nature now it is to devour the flesh of others, would then
have lived on herbs, as the lion and falcon. Nor does Bede's gloss on Gn.
1:30, say that trees and herbs were given as food to all animals and
birds, but to some. Thus there would have been a natural antipathy
between some animals. They would not, however, on this account have been
excepted from the mastership of man: as neither at present are they for
that reason excepted from the mastership of God, Whose Providence has
ordained all this. Of this Providence man would have been the executor,
as appears even now in regard to domestic animals, since fowls are given
by men as food to the trained falcon.
Reply to Objection 3: In the state of innocence man would not have had any bodily
need of animals---neither for clothing, since then they were naked and
not ashamed, there being no inordinate motions of concupiscence---nor for
food, since they fed on the trees of paradise---nor to carry him about,
his body being strong enough for that purpose. But man needed animals in
order to have experimental knowledge of their natures. This is signified
by the fact that God led the animals to man, that he might give them
names expressive of their respective natures.
Reply to Objection 4: All animals by their natural instinct have a certain
participation of prudence and reason: which accounts for the fact that
cranes follow their leader, and bees obey their queen. So all animals
would have obeyed man of their own accord, as in the present state some
domestic animals obey him.
Article 2: Whether man had mastership over all other creatures?
Objection 1: It would seem that in the state of innocence man would not have
had mastership over all other creatures. For an angel naturally has a
greater power than man. But, as Augustine says (De Trin. iii, 8),
"corporeal matter would not have obeyed even the holy angels." Much less
therefore would it have obeyed man in the state of innocence.
Objection 2: Further, the only powers of the soul existing in plants are
nutritive, augmentative, and generative. Now these doe not naturally obey
reason; as we can see in the case of any one man. Therefore, since it is
by his reason that man is competent to have mastership, it seems that in
the state of innocence man had no dominion over plants.
Objection 3: Further, whosoever is master of a thing, can change it. But man
could not have changed the course of the heavenly bodies; for this
belongs to God alone, as Dionysius says (Ep. ad Polycarp. vii). Therefore
man had no dominion over them.
On the contrary, It is written (Gn. 1:26): "That he may have dominion over . . . every creature."
I answer that, Man in a certain sense contains all things; and so
according as he is master of what is within himself, in the same way he
can have mastership over other things. Now we may consider four things in
man: his "reason," which makes him like to the angels'; his "sensitive
powers," whereby he is like the animals; his "natural forces," which
liken him to the plants; and "the body itself," wherein he is like to
inanimate things. Now in man reason has the position of a master and not
of a subject. Wherefore man had no mastership over the angels in the
primitive state; so when we read "all creatures," we must understand the
creatures which are not made to God's image. Over the sensitive powers,
as the irascible and concupiscible, which obey reason in some degree, the
soul has mastership by commanding. So in the state of innocence man had
mastership over the animals by commanding them. But of the natural powers
and the body itself man is master not by commanding, but by using them.
Thus also in the state of innocence man's mastership over plants and
inanimate things consisted not in commanding or in changing them, but in
making use of them without hindrance.
The answers to the objections appear from the above.
Article 3: Whether men were equal in the state of innocence?
Objection 1: It would seem that in the state of innocence all would have been
equal. For Gregory says (Moral. xxi): "Where there is no sin, there is no
inequality." But in the state of innocence there was no sin. Therefore
all were equal.
Objection 2: Further, likeness and equality are the basis of mutual love,
according to Ecclus. 13:19, "Every beast loveth its like; so also every
man him that is nearest to himself." Now in that state there was among
men an abundance of love, which is the bond of peace. Therefore all were
equal in the state of innocence.
Objection 3: Further, the cause ceasing, the effect also ceases. But the cause
of present inequality among men seems to arise, on the part of God, from
the fact that He rewards some and punishes others; and on the part of
nature, from the fact that some, through a defect of nature, are born
weak and deficient, others strong and perfect, which would not have been
the case in the primitive state. Therefore, etc.
On the contrary, It is written (Rm. 13:1): "The things which are of God,
are well ordered" [Vulg."Those that are, are ordained of God"]. But order
chiefly consists in inequality; for Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xix, 13):
"Order disposes things equal and unequal in their proper place."
Therefore in the primitive state, which was most proper and orderly,
inequality would have existed.
I answer that, We must needs admit that in the primitive state there
would have been some inequality, at least as regards sex, because
generation depends upon diversity of sex: and likewise as regards age;
for some would have been born of others; nor would sexual union have been
Moreover, as regards the soul, there would have been inequality as to
righteousness and knowledge. For man worked not of necessity, but of his
own free-will, by virtue of which man can apply himself, more or less, to
action, desire, or knowledge; hence some would have made a greater
advance in virtue and knowledge than others.
There might also have been bodily disparity. For the human body was not
entirely exempt from the laws of nature, so as not to receive from
exterior sources more or less advantage and help: since indeed it was
dependent on food wherewith to sustain life.
So we may say that, according to the climate, or the movement of the
stars, some would have been born more robust in body than others, and
also greater, and more beautiful, and all ways better disposed; so that,
however, in those who were thus surpassed, there would have been no
defect or fault either in soul or body.
Reply to Objection 1: By those words Gregory means to exclude such inequality as
exists between virtue and vice; the result of which is that some are
placed in subjection to others as a penalty.
Reply to Objection 2: Equality is the cause of equality in mutual love. Yet
between those who are unequal there can be a greater love than between
equals; although there be not an equal response: for a father naturally
loves his son more than a brother loves his brother; although the son
does not love his father as much as he is loved by him.
Reply to Objection 3: The cause of inequality could be on the part of God; not
indeed that He would punish some and reward others, but that He would
exalt some above others; so that the beauty of order would the more shine
forth among men. Inequality might also arise on the part of nature as
above described, without any defect of nature.
Article 4: Whether in the state of innocence man would have been master over man?
Objection 1: It would seem that in the state of innocence man would not have
been master over man. For Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xix, 15): "God
willed that man, who was endowed with reason and made to His image,
should rule over none but irrational creatures; not over men, but over
Objection 2: Further, what came into the world as a penalty for sin would not
have existed in the state of innocence. But man was made subject to man
as a penalty; for after sin it was said to the woman (Gn. 3:16): "Thou
shalt be under thy husband's power." Therefore in the state of innocence
man would not have been subject to man.
Objection 3: Further, subjection is opposed to liberty. But liberty is one of
the chief blessings, and would not have been lacking in the state of
innocence, "where nothing was wanting that man's good-will could desire,"
as Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xiv, 10). Therefore man would not have
been master over man in the state of innocence.
On the contrary, The condition of man in the state of innocence was not
more exalted than the condition of the angels. But among the angels some
rule over others; and so one order is called that of "Dominations."
Therefore it was not beneath the dignity of the state of innocence that
one man should be subject to another.
I answer that, Mastership has a twofold meaning. First, as opposed to
slavery, in which sense a master means one to whom another is subject as
a slave. In another sense mastership is referred in a general sense to
any kind of subject; and in this sense even he who has the office of
governing and directing free men, can be called a master. In the state of
innocence man could have been a master of men, not in the former but in
the latter sense. This distinction is founded on the reason that a slave
differs from a free man in that the latter has the disposal of himself,
as is stated in the beginning of the Metaphysics, whereas a slave is
ordered to another. So that one man is master of another as his slave
when he refers the one whose master he is, to his own---namely the
master's use. And since every man's proper good is desirable to himself,
and consequently it is a grievous matter to anyone to yield to another
what ought to be one's own, therefore such dominion implies of necessity
a pain inflicted on the subject; and consequently in the state of
innocence such a mastership could not have existed between man and man.
But a man is the master of a free subject, by directing him either towards his proper welfare, or to the common good. Such a kind of mastership would have existed in the state of innocence between man and man, for two reasons. First, because man is naturally a social being, and so in the state of innocence he would have led a social life. Now a social life cannot exist among a number of people unless under the presidency of one to look after the common good; for many, as such, seek many things, whereas one attends only to one. Wherefore the Philosopher says, in the beginning of the Politics, that wherever many things are directed to one, we shall always find one at the head directing them. Secondly, if one man surpassed another in knowledge and virtue, this would not have been fitting unless these gifts conduced to the benefit of others, according to 1 Pt. 4:10, "As every man hath received grace, ministering the same one to another." Wherefore Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xix, 14): "Just men command not by the love of domineering, but by the service of counsel": and (De Civ. Dei xix, 15): "The natural order of things requires this; and thus did God make man."
From this appear the replies to the objections which are founded on the
first-mentioned mode of mastership.