QUESTION 15: OF CONSENT, WHICH IS AN ACT OF THE WILL IN REGARD TO THE MEANS
We must now consider consent; concerning which there are four points of
(1) Whether consent is an act of the appetitive or of the apprehensive
(2) Whether it is to be found in irrational animals?
(3) Whether it is directed to the end or to the means?
(4) Whether consent to an act belongs to the higher part of the soul
Article 1: Whether consent is an act of the appetitive or of the apprehensive power?
Objection 1: It would seem that consent belongs only to the apprehensive part
of the soul. For Augustine (De Trin. xii, 12) ascribes consent to the
higher reason. But the reason is an apprehensive power. Therefore consent
belongs to an apprehensive power.
Objection 2: Further, consent is "co-sense." But sense is an apprehensive
power. Therefore consent is the act of an apprehensive power.
Objection 3: Further, just as assent is an application of the intellect to
something, so is consent. But assent belongs to the intellect, which is
an apprehensive power. Therefore consent also belongs to an apprehensive
On the contrary, Damascene says (De Fide Orth. ii, 22) that "if a man
judge without affection for that of which he judges, there is no
sentence," i.e. consent. But affection belongs to the appetitive power.
Therefore consent does also.
I answer that, Consent implies application of sense to something. Now it
is proper to sense to take cognizance of things present; for the
imagination apprehends the similitude of corporeal things, even in the
absence of the things of which they bear the likeness; while the
intellect apprehends universal ideas, which it can apprehend
indifferently, whether the singulars be present or absent. And since the
act of an appetitive power is a kind of inclination to the thing itself,
the application of the appetitive power to the thing, in so far as it
cleaves to it, gets by a kind of similitude, the name of sense, since, as
it were, it acquires direct knowledge of the thing to which it cleaves,
in so far as it takes complacency in it. Hence it is written (Wis. 1:1):
"Think of [Sentite] the Lord in goodness." And on these grounds consent
is an act of the appetitive power.
Reply to Objection 1: As stated in De Anima iii, 9, "the will is in the reason."
Hence, when Augustine ascribes consent to the reason, he takes reason as
including the will.
Reply to Objection 2: Sense, properly speaking, belongs to the apprehensive
faculty; but by way of similitude, in so far as it implies seeking
acquaintance, it belongs to the appetitive power, as stated above.
Reply to Objection 3: "Assentire" [to assent] is, to speak, "ad aliud sentire"
[to feel towards something]; and thus it implies a certain distance from
that to which assent is given. But "consentire" [to consent] is "to feel
with," and this implies a certain union to the object of consent. Hence
the will, to which it belongs to tend to the thing itself, is more
properly said to consent: whereas the intellect, whose act does not
consist in a movement towards the thing, but rather the reverse, as we
have stated in the FP, Question , Article ; FP, Question , Article ; FP, Question , Article , is
more properly said to assent: although one word is wont to be used for
the other [*In Latin rather than in English.]. We may also say that the
intellect assents, in so far as it is moved by the will.
Article 2: Whether consent is to be found in irrational animals?
Objection 1: It would seem that consent is to be found in irrational animals.
For consent implies a determination of the appetite to one thing. But the
appetite of irrational animals is determinate to one thing. Therefore
consent is to be found in irrational animals.
Objection 2: Further, if you remove what is first, you remove what follows.
But consent precedes the accomplished act. If therefore there were no
consent in irrational animals, there would be no act accomplished; which
is clearly false.
Objection 3: Further, men are sometimes said to consent to do something,
through some passion; desire, for instance, or anger. But irrational
animals act through passion. Therefore they consent.
On the contrary, Damascene says (De Fide Orth. ii, 22) that "after
judging, man approves and embraces the judgment of his counselling, and
this is called the sentence," i.e. consent. But counsel is not in
irrational animals. Therefore neither is consent.
I answer that, Consent, properly speaking, is not in irrational animals.
The reason of this is that consent implies an application of the
appetitive movement to something as to be done. Now to apply the
appetitive movement to the doing of something, belongs to the subject in
whose power it is to move the appetite: thus to touch a stone is an
action suitable to a stick, but to apply the stick so that it touch the
stone, belongs to one who has the power of moving the stick. But
irrational animals have not the command of the appetitive movement; for
this is in them through natural instinct. Hence in the irrational animal,
there is indeed the movement of the appetite, but it does not apply that
movement to some particular thing. And hence it is that the irrational
animal is not properly said to consent: this is proper to the rational
nature, which has the command of the appetitive movement, and is able to
apply or not to apply it to this or that thing.
Reply to Objection 1: In irrational animals the determination of the appetite to
a particular thing is merely passive: whereas consent implies a
determination of the appetite, which is active rather than merely passive.
Reply to Objection 2: If the first be removed, then what follows is removed,
provided that, properly speaking, it follow from that only. But if
something can follow from several things, it is not removed by the fact
that one of them is removed; thus if hardening is the effect of heat and
of cold (since bricks are hardened by the fire, and frozen water is
hardened by the cold), then by removing heat it does not follow that
there is no hardening. Now the accomplishment of an act follows not only
from consent, but also from the impulse of the appetite, such as is found
in irrational animals.
Reply to Objection 3: The man who acts through passion is able not to follow the
passion: whereas irrational animals have not that power. Hence the
Article 3: Whether consent is directed to the end or to the means?
Objection 1: It would seem that consent is directed to the end. Because that
on account of which a thing is such is still more such. But it is on
account of the end that we consent to the means. Therefore, still more do
we consent to the end.
Objection 2: Further, the act of the intemperate man is his end, just as the
act of the virtuous man is his end. But the intemperate man consents to
his own act. Therefore consent can be directed to the end.
Objection 3: Further, desire of the means is choice, as stated above (Question , Article ). If therefore consent were only directed to the means it would
nowise differ from choice. And this is proved to be false by the
authority of Damascene who says (De Fide Orth. ii, 22) that "after the
approval" which he calls "the sentence," "comes the choice." Therefore
consent is not only directed to the means.
On the contrary, Damascene says (De Fide Orth. ii, 22) that the
"sentence," i.e. the consent, takes place "when a man approves and
embraces the judgment of his counsel." But counsel is only about the
means. Therefore the same applies to consent.
I answer that, Consent is the application of the appetitive movement to
something that is already in the power of him who causes the application.
Now the order of action is this: First there is the apprehension of the
end; then the desire of the end; then the counsel about the means; then
the desire of the means. Now the appetite tends to the last end
naturally: wherefore the application of the appetitive movement to the
apprehended end has not the nature of consent, but of simple volition.
But as to those things which come under consideration after the last end,
in so far as they are directed to the end, they come under counsel: and
so counsel can be applied to them, in so far as the appetitive movement
is applied to the judgment resulting from counsel. But the appetitive
movement to the end is not applied to counsel: rather is counsel applied
to it, because counsel presupposes the desire of the end. On the other
hand, the desire of the means presupposes the decision of counsel. And
therefore the application of the appetitive movement to counsel's
decision is consent, properly speaking. Consequently, since counsel is
only about the means, consent, properly speaking, is of nothing else but
Reply to Objection 1: Just as the knowledge of conclusions through the principles
is science, whereas the knowledge of the principles is not science, but
something higher, namely, understanding; so do we consent to the means on
account of the end, in respect of which our act is not consent but
something greater, namely, volition.
Reply to Objection 2: Delight in his act, rather than the act itself, is the end
of the intemperate man, and for sake of this delight he consents to that
Reply to Objection 3: Choice includes something that consent has not, namely, a
certain relation to something to which something else is preferred: and
therefore after consent there still remains a choice. For it may happen
that by aid of counsel several means have been found conducive to the
end, and through each of these meeting with approval, consent has been
given to each: but after approving of many, we have given our preference
to one by choosing it. But if only one meets with approval, then consent
and choice do not differ in reality, but only in our way of looking at
them; so that we call it consent, according as we approve of doing that
thing; but choice according as we prefer it to those that do not meet
with our approval.
Article 4: Whether consent to the act belongs only to the higher part of the soul?
Objection 1: It would seem that consent to the act does not always belong to
the higher reason. For "delight follows action, and perfects it, just as
beauty perfects youth" [*oion tois akmaiois he hora}--as youthful vigor
perfects a man in his prime] (Ethic. x, 4). But consent to delight
belongs to the lower reason, as Augustine says (De Trin. xii, 12).
Therefore consent to the act does not belong only to the higher reason.
Objection 2: Further, an act to which we consent is said to be voluntary. But
it belongs to many powers to produce voluntary acts. Therefore the higher
reason is not alone in consenting to the act.
Objection 3: Further, "the higher reason is that which is intent on the
contemplation and consultation of things eternal," as Augustine says (De
Trin. xii, 7). But man often consents to an act not for eternal, but for
temporal reasons, or even on account of some passion of the soul.
Therefore consent to an act does not belong to the higher reason alone.
On the contrary, Augustine says (De Trin. xii, 12): "It is impossible
for man to make up his mind to commit a sin, unless that mental faculty
which has the sovereign power of urging his members to, or restraining
them from, act, yield to the evil deed and become its slave."
I answer that, The final decision belongs to him who holds the highest
place, and to whom it belongs to judge of the others; for as long as
judgment about some matter remains to be pronounced, the final decision
has not been given. Now it is evident that it belongs to the higher
reason to judge of all: since it is by the reason that we judge of
sensible things; and of things pertaining to human principles we judge
according to Divine principles, which is the function of the higher
reason. Wherefore as long as a man is uncertain whether he resists or
not, according to Divine principles, no judgment of the reason can be
considered in the light of a final decision. Now the final decision of
what is to be done is consent to the act. Therefore consent to the act
belongs to the higher reason; but in that sense in which the reason
includes the will, as stated above (Article , ad 1).
Reply to Objection 1: Consent to delight in the work done belongs to the higher
reason, as also does consent to the work; but consent to delight in
thought belongs to the lower reason, just as to the lower reason it
belongs to think. Nevertheless the higher reason exercises judgment on
the fact of thinking or not thinking, considered as an action; and in
like manner on the delight that results. But in so far as the act of
thinking is considered as ordained to a further act, it belongs to the
lower reason. For that which is ordained to something else, belongs to a
lower art or power than does the end to which it is ordained: hence the
art which is concerned with the end is called the master or principal art.
Reply to Objection 2: Since actions are called voluntary from the fact that we
consent to them, it does not follow that consent is an act of each power,
but of the will which is in the reason, as stated above (Article , ad 1), and
from which the voluntary act is named.
Reply to Objection 3: The higher reason is said to consent not only because it
always moves to act, according to the eternal reasons; but also because
it fails to dissent according to those same reasons.