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CHAPTER XVIThat the End in View of everything is some Good

THAT to which a thing tends when in absence from it, and in which it rests when in possession of it, is the scope and aim and end in view. But everything, so long as it lacks the perfection proper to it, moves towards gaining that perfection, so far as it depends upon itself so to do; and when it has gained that perfection, therein it rests.533533It will be said, — An animal moves towards maturity and full strength: but therein it does not rest: it moves just as rapidly out of its perfection as it moved into it. Not quite so: there is what is called ἡλικία καθεστῶσα, ’settled age,’ like settled summer weather; and the more perfect the animal, the longer this settled age endures. The end then of everything is its perfection.534534One Greek word τέλος, means both ‘end’ and ‘perfection.’ But the perfection of everything is its own good. Everything therefore is ordained to good as to its end.

4. Things that are aware of an end and things that are unaware of an end are alike ordained to an end, with this difference, that things that are aware of an end tend to an end of themselves, while things that are unaware of an end tend to an end under the direction of another, as appears in the case of archer and arrow. But things that are aware of an end are always ordained to good for their end: for the will, which is the appetite of a fore-known end, never tends to anything except under the aspect of good, which is its object. 197Therefore things also which are unaware of an end are ordained to good for their end, and so good is the end of all things.535535Recent speculations on the ’subconscious’ have shown that conscious and unconscious action do not stand so widely apart as a superficial observation would conclude. St Thomas here, and often elsewhere, with Aristotle (see Physics, II, v, 2), bridges over the difference between them, arguing the operations of conscious and of unconscious nature to be both teleological. But is there an agent whose intention or contrivance extends throughout all nature? That is the argument of B. I, Chap. XIII, where ‘prime mover’ means at once ‘prime executor’ and ‘prime contriver.’


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