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CHAPTER LVIThat there is no Habitual Knowledge in God

IN whatever minds there is habitual knowledge, not all things are known together: but some things are known actually, others habitually. But in God all things are known actually (Chap. LV).

2. He who has a habit of knowledge, and is not adverting to what he knows, is in a manner in potentiality, although otherwise than as he was before he understood at all: but the divine mind is nowise in potentiality.

3. In every mind that knows anything habitually, the mind’s essence is different from its intellectual activity, which is the act of attentive thought. To such a mind, in habitual knowledge, activity is lacking, though the essence of the mind itself cannot be lacking.113113For the idealist, this distinction does not hold between the essence and the activity of mind, or of any other substantial being. But in God His essence is His activity (Chap. XLV).

4. A mind that knows habitually only, is not in its ultimate perfection: hence that best of goods, happiness, is not taken to be in habit but in act. If then God is habitually knowing, He will not be all-perfect (contrary to Chap. XXVIII).

5. As shown in chapter XLVI, God has understanding by His essence, not by any intelligible forms superadded to His essence. But every mind in habitual knowledge understands by some such forms: for a habit is either a predisposition of the mind to receive mental impressions, or forms, whereby it comes actually to understand; or it is an orderly aggregation of such forms, 42existing in the mind, not in complete actuality, but in some manner intermediate between potentiality and actuality.114114This latter is the ‘habit,’ made so much of in the Nicomachean Ethics, according to which knowledge is a habit, and virtue a habit.

6. A habit is a quality: but in God there can be neither quality nor any other accident (Chap. XXIII): habitual knowledge therefore is not proper to God.

Because the mental state of thinking, or willing, or acting habitually only, is like the state of a sleeper, David says, by way of removing all habitual states from God: Lo, he shall not slumber or sleep who keepeth Israel (Ps. cxx, 4). And again it is said: The eyes of the Lord are far brighter than the sun (Ecclus xxiii, 28), for the sun is always in the act of shining.


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