Gods Pleasure and

And, as 1.89 hinted, one of those is joy, the attribution of which Aquinas argues for in 1.90, where he discusses it along with delight, end p.232


© Copyright Oxford University Press, 2006. All Rights Reserved or pleasure (delectatio), drawing this acute distinction between them: 'pleasure stems from a good that is really conjoined [with the one who is pleased], while joy does not require that. Instead, just the will's resting (iquietatio) in the object of its volition is enough for the defining characteristic of joy. That's why pleasure, in the strict sense of the word, has to do only with a good conjoined [with the one who is pleased], while joy has to do [also] with a good detached (exteriori) [from the one who is enjoying it]' (90.754). If both joy and pleasure are attributed to God, then, it will be 'clear that, strictly speaking, God is pleased by himself but enjoys both himself and other things' (ibid.)-

13 Aquinas's distinction between gaudium and delectatio seems not to be reflected precisely in our ordinary use of the words 'joy' and 'pleasure'; but if we were challenged to distinguish between them, I think we might very well do so along this same line.

Aquinas introduces joy and pleasure as 'passions that are not suited to God in so far as they are passions, although the defining character of their

species entails nothing incompatible with divine perfection' (90.749).

14 Later, in ST, Aquinas identifies joy as the species of pleasure 'that is consequent on reason', explaining that 'that is why not "joy" but only "pleasure" is applied to non-human animals' (IaIIae.31.3c), and identifying joy as 'the pleasure associated with the intellective appetite' (31.4c). If he were taking that line here, he would not be treating pleasure and joy as divine attributes on a par with each other.

I've mentioned some of the general grounds on which we can rule out attributing any passion to God: a passion occurs in the sensory appetite and involves bodily changes, while God must be immutable, incorporeal, and

without any aspect corresponding to the human sensory soul.

15 See 89.736, 737, and 738, where each of these three general grounds is presented.

So, as we've seen, the first step in applying Aquinas's relational method to justify the analogical, non-metaphorical use of the name of a passion in talking about God must be to identify in human beings some corresponding attitude in the intellective appetite, or will; 'for cognized good and bad are an

object of the intellective as they are of the sensory appetite' (90.750).

16 Aquinas of course recognizes that Scripture often uses names of passions in talking about God, and he discusses the metaphorical character of those ascriptions in 91.766-7.

Well, can we recognize in ourselves a state reasonably described as 'the will's resting in the object of its volition', a state that might plausibly be characterized as intellective joy? In keeping with my discussion of what I've been calling static volition—that is, our end p.233


© Copyright Oxford University Press, 2006. All Rights Reserved willing (usually dispositional^) what we already have or even are—it seems to me that 'joy' is a perfectly appropriate designation for the set of one's will toward something intellectively cognized as good and as present to oneself, whether or not that object is 'really conjoined' with oneself. 'Intellective joy' is an appropriate (if unattractive) name for the attitude that is bound to characterize anyone lucky enough to be in those circumstances.

As for identifying that attitude in God, we can begin by observing that God is, of course, 'supremely at peace (maxime contentatur) with himself, the principal object of his will [1.74], as having every sort of sufficiency in himself. Therefore, through his will he enjoys and is pleased by himself

supremely' (90.751).

17 See also SCG 1.102.843. We can add a little detail to this picture of necessitated divine self-satisfaction by considering the intellectively cognized goods with which a human being is most intimately associated, those that are immediately available to us as objects of pleasure and joy. Aquinas's paradigms of such goods are the very activities of the sensory and rational parts of the soul, all of which activities are themselves objects of intellective cognition. Some of those activities, he observes, are, considered just as such, 'actualizings (actus) or perfectings of the one whose activities they are: I mean intellective activity, sensing, willing, and the like. ... In that way, then, those actions of the sensory and intellective soul are themselves a good for the one whose activities they are, and they are also cognized, through sense [some of them] or intellect [all of them]' (IaIIae.31.5c). And, of course, one also cognizes them especially clearly as a good that is Yeally conjoined' with oneself. That's why pleasure arises also from those actions themselves and

not only from their objects' (ibid.).

18 Aquinas's description here of one's intellective attitude toward aspects of one's inner life strikes me as providing a good picture of the state of appetitive rest I spoke of in Ch. Seven, where I observed that volition in us isn't always directed toward the acquiring or achieving of something we don't already have. You couldn't exist as a person without the sort of inner life that is essential to personhood. Nor is this anything you could acquire or achieve. And yet the inner life that is essential to you, that isn't even clearly distinguishable from you, is, of course, something you want. This static sort of appetite, the wanting of what one already has or is, is what Aquinas identifies as appetitive rest, which is not to be confused with the cessation of appetite.

'But God has the supremely perfect activity in [his] intellecting [1.45] . . . Therefore, if our intellective activity is pleasant because of the perfecting of it, the divine intellective end p.234


© Copyright Oxford University Press, 2006. All Rights Reserved

activity will be supremely pleasurable to him' (90.752).

19 See also In EN VII: L14.1533: '[T]o each nature its own proper activity is pleasant, since it is the perfecting of that nature—which is why reason's activity is pleasant for a human being.'

We can, then, most reliably reason to, and most readily appreciate, the nature of God's contentment, his being supremely pleased by or at peace with himself, if we focus on his supremely perfect intellective activity as the aspect of himself that is the proper object of his intellective pleasure.

But considering only the intellective attitudes corresponding to passions and identifying appropriate objects of those attitudes doesn't yet give us a full warrant for attributing pleasure or joy to God. Some of the general grounds for rejecting divine attributes of that sort are circumvented by making those moves, but no such ground is more fundamental than the simple observation that nothing properly describable as passion—or simply passive, as even an intellective attitude might conceivably be described—is compatible with the divine essence that has already been shown to be actus purus (1.16). God 'is, therefore, active only (agens tantum), and in no way does passion have any place in him' (89.740). If divine pleasure or joy is thinkable, then, it must be identified with not merely an intellective attitude or set of will but with some recognizable act of will essentially associated with that attitude. Is the name 'joy' properly attached to some human act of will that can serve as the bridgehead from which to extend the use of that name to an activity that must be associated with the will of God?

Aquinas certainly thinks so: 'in connection with the intellective appetite, which is will, we find activities that are like activities of the sensory appetite as regards the defining character of their species, [but] different [from them] in this, that in connection with the sensory appetite they are passions because they are conjoined with a bodily organ [that passively undergoes change], while in connection with the intellective appetite they are simple activities' (90.750). More precisely, 'the pleasure associated with the sensory appetite occurs along with a bodily change, while the pleasure associated with the intellective appetite is nothing other than a simple movement of will' (ST IaIIae.31.4c). In my view, the only simple act of will that fills the bill which Aquinas draws up here for intellective pleasure is what I've been calling static volition—actively willing the continued being and the continued presence of end p.235

Kretzmann, Norman , (deceased) formerly Susan Linn Sage Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Cornell University, New York

The Metaphysics of Theism

Print ISBN 9780199246533, 2001 pp. [236]-[240]

the intellectively cognized good that is now conjoined with the wilier. In human willers, as I've been saying, such static volition is of course often dispositional, but so close to the surface that it takes no more than a question to bring it into consciousness, to make it an occurrent simple act of

20 Appropriate activating questions would, naturally, sound a bit stupid: e.g. 'Do you recognize your activities of perceiving and thinking as good to have?'; 'Are you pleased that you're a rational animal?'

However, in God understood as actus purus such static volition would of

course have to be eternally occurrent.

21 See also ST IaIIae.22.3, ad 3: '[W]hen love and joy and other [attitudes] of that sort are attributed to God and the angels, or to human beings in connection with intellective appetite, they signify a simple act of will together with a likeness of effect, without passion.'And see SCG II.1.854, where enjoying and loving are two of the four paradigms of God's immanent activity, along with acting intellectively and willing.

But can we confidently identify as pleasure or joy the simple act of willing the continuing presence of a good state of affairs—even a superlatively good state of affairs? What about satiety? What about boredom? In dealing with worries of that sort, Aquinas would draw on Aristotle.

[F]or a human being, nothing [that remains] the same is pleasant always. And Aristotle says that the reason for this is that our nature is not simple but composite and, in so far as it is subject to corruption, changeable from one thing to another. . . . And he says that if the nature of any thing that takes pleasure were simple and immutable, one and the same activity would be most pleasant for it. For instance, if a human being were intellect alone, it would take pleasure in contemplation always. And it is because God is simple and immutable that he is characterized by joy (gaudet) with a single, simple pleasure always—the pleasure he has in contemplating himself. . . . And pleasure that is devoid of movement is greater than pleasure that occurs in connection with movement, for what is in motion is in a state of becoming, while what is at rest is in fully actualized being. (In EN

22 See also In EN VII: L.14.1536. And see esp. ST IaIIae.31.5c, where part of Aquinas's basis for ranking intellective over sensory pleasures is the essential imperfection, or incompleteness, of the latter. An element of one's pleasure is one's being conjoined with what one cognizes as good, and in intellective pleasure that conjunction 'is more complete, because movement, which is an uncompleted actualization, is a feature of the conjoining of something sense-perceptible with one's senses. That's why sensory pleasures are not entirely present at once (totae simul). Instead, in connection with them something passes away and one anticipates something [else] for consummation, as is clear in connection with the pleasure of food and of sex. Intelligible things, on the other hand, are devoid of movement, which is why intelligible pleasures are entirely present at once.'

end p.236


© Copyright Oxford University Press, 2006. All Rights Reserved

On this basis it seems clear how pleasure and joy are to be attributed to God in that 'God is pleased by himself' and 'enjoys . . . himself' (90.754). The attribution of such reflexive pleasure and joy really is a corollary of our consideration of will in God: the eternal act of static volition that is eternal pleasure and joy in oneself must belong to the appetitive aspect of absolutely perfect being. But Aquinas's chapter on pleasure and joy concludes by claiming that God 'enjoys both himself and other things' (90.754). In what way and to what extent are other things part of the object of God's joy?

Every being capable of joy 'naturally rejoices in what is like it, as in something that is suited to it (quasi in convenient'!)— except per accidens, in so far as what is like it may interfere with its own advantage, as "potters

quarrel among themselves" [Nicomachean Ethics VIII 2, 1155a35

23 The Leonine editors cite Rhetoric II 10, 1388a 16. This correction is offered in Gauthier 1961: 51-2. Aquinas is conflating the two passages.

] because one of them interferes with another's making money. But every good is a likeness of the divine goodness [1.40] . . . , and God loses nothing for himself as a consequence of any good. We are, therefore, left with the

conclusion that God rejoices over every good' (90.753).

24 See also SCG 1.102.849: 'God has unsurpassable pleasure in himself and universal joy regarding all goods, without any taint of the contrary.'

The otherness of other things, then, contributes nothing at all to their status as objects of God's joy. His enjoyment of creatures is, inevitably, his enjoyment in them of manifold, partial manifestations of the perfect goodness that is the more precisely described object of his enjoyment of himself. This account of divine joy could disappoint creatures hoping for a God who might enjoy them for themselves, just as they are. Still, it's only this sort of account that strikes me as having any claim on plausibility. It provides a picture of divine joy over creatures that resembles, I think, the joy the finest concert pianist might take in a beginner's getting something right—joy like a sparking arc of recognition, the joy that is your seeing in someone else even just a glimmer of the kind of goodness you know best in yourself, and your willing that that glimmering goodness continue to be, and that that likeness grow stronger.

end p.237


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