To show their incapacity to prove God’s unity and the impossibility of two necessary existents both without a cause

Ghazali says:

The philosophers have two proofs of this. The first is to say, ‘If there were two necessary existents, the species of necessary existence would be attributed to them both. ‘ But what is said to be a necessary existent must either be so through itself, and cannot be imagined to be so through another, or it must be so through a cause, and the essence of the necessary existent will be an effect; and its cause then determines its necessity of existence. ‘ ‘But’, say the philosophers, ‘we understand by “necessary existent” only an entity whose existence has no connexion with a cause. ‘ And the philosophers affirm that the species ‘man’ is asserted of Zaid and of Amr and that Zaid is not a man through himself-for in that case Amr would not be a man-but through a cause which makes both him and Amr a man; and the plurality of men arises from the plurality of matter in which humanity inheres, and its inherence in matter is an efficct which does not lie in the essence of humanity. The same is the case with necessary existence in respect to the necessary existent: if it is through itself a necessary existent, it must possess this qualification exclusively, and if it exists because of a cause, it is an effect and cannot be a necessary existent. And from this it is clear that the necessary existent must needs be one.

To this Ghazali objects and says:

We say: Your statement that the species of necessary existence must belong to the necessary existent either through the necessary existent itself or through a cause is a self-contradictory disjunction, for we have already shown that the expression ‘necessary existence’ is obscure, unless we mean by it the denial of a cause, and so let us rather use the term which is really meant by it and say: To admit two existents without a cause, and without the one’s being a cause of the other, is not impossible. And your statement that what has no cause has none, either because of its own essence or through some cause, is a faulty disjunction, for one does not ask for the cause of a thing which is said to have no cause and to need no cause for its existence. And what sense is there in the statement that what has no cause has no cause either because of its own essence or through a cause? For to say ‘no cause’ is an absolute negation, and an absolute non-entity has no cause, and cannot be said to exist either by its own essence or not by its own essence. But if you mean by ‘necessary existence’ a positive qualification of the necessary existent, besides its being an existent without a cause for its existence, it is quite obscure what this meaning is. But the genuine meaning of this word is the negation of a cause for its existence, and this is an absolute negation about which it cannot be said that it is due to its essence or to a cause, such that the intended proof might be based on the supposition of this disjunction. To regard this as a proof is senseless and has no foundation whatever. On the contrary, we say that the meaning of its necessity is that it has no cause for its existence and no cause for its coming into existence, without there being any cause whatever for this; its being without a cause is, again, not caused by its essence; no, the fact that there is no cause for its existence and no cause for its being, has itself no cause whatsoever. This disjunction cannot be applied even to positive qualities, not to speak of that which is really equivalent to a negation. For suppose one were to say: ‘Black is a colour because of its essence or through a cause, and if it is a colour because of its essence, then red cannot be a colour, and then the species of colouredness can exist only because of the essence of black; if, however, black is a colour because of a cause which has made it a colour, then black can be thought of as being without a colour, i. e. as not having been made a colour by a cause, for a determination added to an essence through a cause can be represented in the imagination as absent, even if it exists in reality. “ ‘But’, it will be objected, ‘this disjunction is false in itself, for one cannot say of black that it is a colour because of its essence, meaning by this that it cannot be through anything but its essence, and in the same way one cannot say that this existent is necessary because of its essence, i. e. that it has no cause because of its own essence, meaning by this that it cannot exist through anything but its essence. ‘

I say:

This method of proving the unity of God is peculiar to Avicenna, and is not found in any of the ancient philosophers; its premisses are common-sense premisses, and the terms are used in a more or less equivocal way. For this reason many objections can be urged against it. Still, when those terms and the aim they intend are properly analysed, this statement comes near to being a proof.

That this primary disjunction is faulty, as Ghazali asserts, is not true. He says that the meaning of ‘necessary existent’ is ‘that which has no cause’, and that the statement ‘that what has no cause, has no cause, either because of its own essence or through another cause’, and similarly the statement ‘that the necessary existent is a necessary existent, either because of its own essence or through another cause’ are meaningless statements. But this is by no means the case. For the meaning of this disjunction is only whether the necessary existent is such, because of a nature which characterizes it, in so far as it is numerically one, ‘ or because of a nature which it has in common with others-for instance, when we say that Amr is a man because lie is Amr, or because of a nature he has in common with Khalid. If he is a man because he is Amr, then humanity does not exist in anyone else, and if he is a man because of a general nature, then he is composed of two natures, a general one and a special one and the compound is an effect; but the necessary existent has no cause, and therefore the necessary existent is unique. And when Avicenna’s statement is given in this form it is true.

And Ghazali’s words:

and an absolute non-entity has no cause and it cannot be said to exist either by its own essence or not by its own essence form a statement which is not true either. For there are two kinds of negation, the negation of a particular quality, proper to something (and this kind of negation must be understood in respect of the words ‘by its own essence’ used in this statement), and the negation of a quality, not particular to something (and this kind of negation must be understood here in respect of the term ‘cause’). ‘

Ghazali affirms that this disjunction is not even true of positive qualities and therefore certainly not of negative and he objects to thus disjunction by giving as ati example black acid colouredness. And lie means that now we say of black that it is a colour, either because of its essence or through a cause, neither alternative can be true, send both are false. For it black were a cause, because of its essence, red could not he a colour. just as if Amr were a man because of his essence, Khalid could not be cc man; on the other hand, if black were a colour through a cause, colour would have to be an addition to its essence, and an essence which receives an addition can be represented without this addition, and therefore this assumption would imply that black could be represented without colouredness, and this is absurd. But this argument, Ghazali is erroneous and sophistical, because of the equivocation in the terms ‘essence’ and ‘cause’. For if by ‘by its essence’ is understood the opposite of ‘by accident’, our statement that black is a colour because of its essence is true, and at the same time it is not impossible that other things, red for instance, should be colours. And if by ‘cause’, in the expression that black is a colour through a cause, is understood something additional to its essence, i. e. that it is a colour through a cause external to black, it does not follow that black can be represented without colouredness. For the genus is an addition to the specific quality and the species, and the species or the specific quality cannot be represented without the genus, and only an accidental additional quality-not the essential additional quality-can be represented without the genus. And therefore our statement that black is a colour either because of its essence or through a cause is a disjunction of which, indeed, one of the alternatives must be true, i. e. black must be a colour either by black itself or through an entity additional to black. And this is what Avicenna meant by his assertion that the necessary existent must be a necessary existent, either through its own special character or through an addition which is not peculiar to it; if through the former, there cannot be two existents which are both necessary existents; if through the latter, both existents must be composed of a universal and of a peculiar entity, and the compound is not a necessary existent through itself. And if this is true, the words of Ghazali : ‘What prevents us from representing two existents which should both be of a necessary existence?’ are absurd.

And if it is objected, ‘You have said that this statement comes near being a proof, but it seems to be a proper proof’, we answer: We said this only because this proof seems to imply that the difference between those two assumed necessary existents must lie either in their particularity, and then they participate in their specific quality, or in their species, and then they participate in their generic quality, and both these differences are found only in compounds, and the insufficiency of this proof lies in this, that it has been demonstrated that there are existents which are differentiated, although they are simple and differ neither in species nor individually, namely, the separate intellects. ‘ However, it appears from their nature that there must be in their existence a priority and posteriority of rank, for no other differentiation can be imagined in them. Avicenna’s proof about the necessary existent must be therefore completed in this way: If there were two necessary existents, the difference between them must consist either in a numerical difference, or in a specific difference, or in rank. In the first case they would agree in species; in the second case in genus, and in both cases the necessary existent would have to be composite. In the third case, however, the necessary existent will have to be one, and will be the cause of all the separate existents. And this is the truth, and the necessary existent is therefore one. For there is only this tripartite disjunction, two members of which are false, and therefore the third case, which necessitates the absolute uniqueness of the necessary existent, is the true one. ‘

Ghazali says:

The second proof of the philosophers is that they say: If we assumed two necessary existents, they would have to be similar in every way or different. If they were similar in every way, they could not be thought to be a plurality or a duality, since two blacks can have only a duality, when they are in two places, or in one place at different times, for black and movement can only exist in one place and be two at the same time, because they differ essentially. When the two essences, like the two blacks, do not differ and at the same time are simultaneous and in one place, they cannot be thought to be a plurality; if one could speak of two simultaneous blacks as being in the same place, any individual could be said to be two, although not the slightest difference could be perceived between the two. Since they cannot be absolutely similar, they must be different, but they cannot differ in time or in place, and they can therefore only differ in essence. But two things which differ in something must either participate in something or not participate in anything. The latter is impossible, for it would mean that they would participate neither in existence, ‘ nor in the necessity of existence, nor in being subsistent in themselves and not inhering in a substratum. But if they agree in something and differ in something, that in which they agree must be different from that through which they differ; there will therefore be composition in them, and it will be possible to analyse them in thought. But there is no composition in the necessary existent, and just as it cannot be divided quantitatively, so it cannot be analysed by thought either, for its essence is not composed of elements which intellectual analysis could enumerate. ‘ The words ‘animal’ and ‘rational’, for instance, mean that which constitutes the essence of man, namely, animal and rational, and what is meant by the word ‘animal’ when one speaks of a man is different from what is meant by ‘rational’, and therefore man is composed of parts which are ordered in the definition by words which indicate these parts, and the term ‘man’ is applied to the whole of them. ‘ This composition, however, cannot be imagined in the necessary existent, while duality cannot be imagined except in this way.

The answer is that we concede that duality can only be imagined where there is a differentiation, and that in two things, similar in every way, no difference can be imagined. But your statement that this kind of composition is impossible in the First Principle is a mere presumption, and where is your proof of it?

Let us now treat this problem in detail. It belongs to their well-known theories that the First Principle can as little be analysed intellectually as divided quantitatively, and on this fundamental truth, according to the philosophers, the uniqueness of God must be based.

I say:

Ghazali does not know the mistake which is in this second proof, and he begins to discuss with the philosophers the question to which they give a negative answer, namely, if one may introduce a plurality into the definition of the necessary existent. He wants to consider this problem in detail, since the Ash’arites allow a plurality in God, regarding Him as an essence with attributes. ‘ The mistake in this second proof is that two different things can be essentially different and have nothing in common but their name, in the case where they have no common genus, either proximate or remote, for instance, the term ‘body’, attributed by the philosophers to both the body of the heavens and the transitory body, and the term ‘intellect’ attributed to the intellect of man and the separate intellects, and the term ‘existent’ attributed to transitory things and to eternal. Such terms must be regarded as equivocal rather than as univocal, and therefore it does not follow that things which are differentiated must be composite. And since Ghazali, in his answer to this proof of the philosophers, limits himself in the way he has indicated, he begins first by stating their theory of God’s unity and then tries to refute the philosophers.

Ghazali, expounding the philosophical theory, says:

For the philosophers assert that God’s unity can only be perfected by establishing the singleness of God’s essence in every way, and by the denial of any possible plurality in Him. Now plurality can belong to things in five ways. ‘

First, to what can undergo division actually or in imagination, and therefore the single body is not absolutely one-it is one through the continuity which exists in it, which can suffer a decrease and can be quantitatively divided in imagination. This is impossible in the First Principle.

Secondly: a thing may be divided by thought, not quantitatively, into two different concepts, as for instance the division of body into matter and form, for although neither matter nor form can subsist separately, they are two different things in definition and in reality, and it is by their composition that a unity results, namely body. This also must be denied of God, for God cannot be a form or a matter in a body, or be the compound of both. There are two reasons why God cannot be their compound, first because this compound can be divided into quantitative parts, actually or in imagination, secondly, because this compound can be divided conceptually into form and matter, and God cannot be matter, because matter needs a form, and the necessary existent is self-sufficient in every respect and its existence cannot be conjoined with the condition of something else besides it, and God cannot be form, because form needs matter.

Thirdly: the plurality through attributes implied in knowledge, power, and will; if these attributes had a necessary existence, the essence and these attributes would participate in necessary existence and the necessary existent must be a plurality, and its uniqueness would be denied.

Fourthly: the rational plurality which results from the composition of genus and species. For black is black and colour, and blackness is not colouredness for the intellect, but colouredness is a genus, and blackness a specific difference, and therefore black is composed of genus and species; and animality is for the mind something different from humanity, for man is a rational animal, animal is a genus and rational a specific difference, and man is composed of genus and species, and this is a kind of plurality, and the philosophers affirmed that this kind also must be denied of the First Principle.

Fifthly: the plurality which results from the duality of a quiddity and the existence of this quiddity; for man before his existence has a quiddity, and existence occurs to it and enters into relation with it, and in this way the triangle has a quiddity, namely, it is a figure surrounded by three sides, and existence is not a component of this quiddity, and therefore the intellect can perceive the quiddity of man and the quiddity of a triangle without knowing whether they exist in the external world or not. z If existence were a component of the quiddity to which it is added, the fixation of this quiddity in the mind before its existence could not be imagined. Existence stands in a relation to quiddity, whether in a necessary inseparable relation, for instance, heaven, or in an accidental relation occurring after a thing’s non-existence, like the quiddity of man in respect of Zaid or Amr and the quiddity of accidents and forms which occur. ‘ And the philosophers affirm that this kind of plurality also must be denied of the First Principle. They say that the First Principle has no quiddity to which existence is joined, but existence is necessary to it, as is quiddity to the other entities. Therefore necessary existence is at once a quiddity, a universal reality and a real nature, in the same way as a man, a tree, and heaven are quiddities. For if the necessary existent needed a quiddity for its existence, it would be consequent on this essence and would not constitute it, and the consequent is something secondary and an effect, so that the necessary existent would be an effect, and that would be in opposition to its being necessary.

I say:

These arc the theories of the philosophers which Ghazali mentions on the subject of their denial of plurality in the Monad. Then he begins to show how they contradict themselves on this question. We must now first examine these statements which he ascribes to them, and explain the degree of consent they reach; we shall then investigate the contradictions of the philosophers which he mentions, and his methods of opposing them on this problem.

The first kind of division which, according to Ghazali, the philosophers deny of the First Principle, is the quantitative division, either in supposition or in reality. Everyone who believes that the First Principle is not a body, whether he believes that a body is composed of atoms or not, agrees about this. The proof of this is that the First Principle is not a body, and its discussion will follow.

The second kind is the qualitative division, like the division of body into matter and form, and this according to the doctrine of those, namely, the philosophers, who believe that body is composed of matter and form and this is not the place to discuss the truth of either of these theories. This division also is denied of the First Principle by everyone who believes that the First Principle is not body. As to the denial of the corporeality of the First Principle in so far as it is essentially a necessary existent, the discussion of this will follow later, when we give a complete account of the whole argument used in this matter. For as to Ghazali’s words that the necessary existent does not need another, i. e. it does not consist of anything else, but that body consists of form and matter and neither of them are necessary existents, for form cannot dispense with matter and matter cannot dispense with form-there is here a problem; for according to the philosophers the body of the heavens is not composed of matter and form, but is simple, and it has sometimes been thought that it is a necessary existent by its own essence; but this problem will be treated later, and I do not know of any philosopher who has believed that the body of the heavens is composed of matter and form, with the sole exception of Avicenna. We have already spoken on this question in another place, and shall discuss it still later on.

The third kind is the denial of the plurality of attributes in the necessary existent, for if these attributes were of a necessary existence, the necessary existent would be more than one, since the essence also is a necessary existent. And if the attributes were caused by- the essence, they could not be necessary existents, and attributes of the necessary existent would not be necessary existents, otherwise the term ‘necessary existent’ would comprise the necessary existent and that which is not a necessary existent, and this is impossible and absurd. And this is a proof which comes very near to being an absolute truth, when it is conceded that the ‘necessary existent’ must indicate an immaterial existent, and in such existents, which subsist by themselves without being bodies, there cannot be imagined essential attributes of which their essence is constituted, not to speak of attributes which are additional to their essence, that is, the so-called accidents, for when accidents are imagined to be removed, the essence remains, which is not the case with the essential attributes. And therefore it is right to attribute essential attributes to their subject, since they constitute its identity, but it is not right to attribute non-essential attributes to it, except through derivative words, for we do not say of a man that he is knowledge, but we only say that he is an animal and that he is knowing;; however, the existence of such attributes in what is incorporeal is impossible, since the nature of these attributes is extraneous to their subject, and for this reason they are called accidents and are distinct from what is attributed essentially to the subject, be it a subject in the soul or in the external world. If it is objected that the philosophers believe that there are such attributes in the soul, since they believe that the soul can perceive, will, and move, although at the same time they hold that the soul is incorporeal, we answer that they do not mean that these attributes are additional to the essence, but that they are essential attributes, and it is of the nature of essential attributes not to multiply the substratum which actually supports them; they are a plurality only in the sense that the thing defined becomes a plurality through the parts of the definitions, that is, they are only a subjective plurality in the mind according to the philosophers, not an actual plurality outside the soul. For instance, the definition of man is ‘rational animal’, but reason and life are not actually distinguishable from each other outside the soul in the way colour and shape are. And therefore he who concedes that matter is not a condition for the existence of the soul must concede that in the separate existences there is a real oneness existing outside the soul, although this oneness becomes a plurality through definition . This is the doctrine of the Christians concerning the three hypostases in the divine Nature. They do not believe that they are attributes additional to the essence, but according to them they are only a plurality in the definition-they are a potential, not an actual, plurality. Therefore they say that the three are one, i. e. one in act and three in potency. We shall enumerate later the reprehensible consequences and absurdities which arise from the doctrine that the First Principle possesses attributes additional to His essence.

The fourth kind of plurality is that which occurs to a thing because of its genus and specific difference; this plurality comes very near to that which belongs to a thing because of its matter and form, for there are only definitions for that which is composed of matter and form, and not for simple, non-compound things, and nobody need disagree about denying a plurality through definition to the First Principle.

The fifth kind of plurality is the plurality of essence and existence. Existence in the nature of things is a logical concept which affirms the conformity of a thing outside the soul with what is inside the soul. Its meaning is synonymous with the true, and it is this that is meant by the copula in categorical propositions. The term ‘existence’ is used in two senses; the first synonymous with the true, when we ask, for instance, if something exists or not, or whether a certain thing has such and such a quality or not. The second sense stands in relation to the existing things as their genus, in the way the existent is divided into the ten categories, and into substance and accident. When by existent is understood the true, there is no plurality outside the souks when by existent is understood what is understood by entity and thing,  the term ‘existent’ is attributed essentially to God and analogically to all other things in the way warmth is attributed to fire and to all warm things? This is the theory of the philosophers.

But Ghazali based his discussion on the doctrine of Avicenna, and this is a false doctrine, for Avicenna believed that existence is something additional to the essence outside the soul and is like an accident of the essence. And if existence were a condition for the being of the essence and a condition for the essence of the necessary existent, the necessary existent would be composed of the conditioning and the conditioned and it would be of a possible existence. Avicenna affirms also that what exists as an addition to its essence has a cause. Now, existence for Avicenna is an accident which supervenes on the essence, and to this Ghazali refers when he says:

For man before his existence has a quiddity and existence occurs to it and enters into relation with it, and in this way the triangle has a quiddity, namely, it is a figure surrounded by three sides, and existence is not a component of this quiddity, and therefore the intellect can perceive the quiddity of man and the quiddity of a triangle without knowing whether they exist in the exterior world or not.

This shows that the term ‘existence’ which he uses here is not the term which signifies the most universal genus of all entities, nor the term which indicates that a thing exists outside the soul. For the term ‘existence’ is used in two meanings, the former signifies the true and the latter the opposite of non-existence, and in this latter sense it is that which is divided into the ten categories and is like their genus. This essential sense which refers to the things which exist in the real world outside the soul is prior to the sense it has in the existents of second intention, ‘ and it is this sense which is predicated of the ten categories analogically, and it is in this sense that we say of the substance that it exists by itself and of the accident that it exists through its existing in the existent which subsists by itself. As to the existent which has the meaning of the ‘true’, all the categories participate in it in the same way, and the existent which has the meaning of the ‘true’ is something in the mind, namely that a thing is outside the soul in conformity with what it is inside the sou1, and the knowledge of this is prior to the knowledge of its quiddity; that is, knowledge of the quiddity of a thing cannot be asked for, unless it is known that it exists. ‘ And as to those quiddities which precede in our minds the knowledge of their existence, they are not really quiddities, but only nominal definitions, and only when it is known that their meaning exists outside the soul does it become known that they are quiddities and definitions. And in this sense it is said in the book of the Categories that the intelligible universals of things become existent through their particulars, and that the particulars become intelligible through their universals. s And it is said in the De Anima that the faculty by which it is perceived that a thing is a definite particular and exists is another faculty than the faculty by which the quiddity of the definite particular is perceived, b and it is in this way that it is said that particulars exist in the external world and universals in the mind? And there is no difference in the meaning of the ‘true’, whether it concerns material existents or separate existents. The theory that existence is an addition to the quiddity and that the existent in its essence does not subsist by its-and this is the theory of Avicenna-is a most erroneous theory, for this would imply that the term ‘existence’ signified an accident outside the soul common to the ten categories. And then it can be asked about this accident when it is said to exist, if ‘exist’ is taken here in the meaning of the ‘true’ or whether it is meant that an accident exists in this accident, and so on ad infinitum, which is absurd, as we have shown elsewhere. ‘ I believe that it is this meaning of ‘existence’ which Ghazali tried to den) of the First principle, and indeed in this sense it must be denied of all existents and a fortiori of the First Principle, since it is a false theory.

Having mentioned this sense of unity in the statements of the philosophers, Ghazali now proceeds to describe . the ways in which they contradict themselves in his opinion, and lie says:

Now notwithstanding all this, the philosophers affirin of God that He is the First and a principle, an existent, a substance, a monad, that He is eternal, everlasting, knowledge and knower and known, an agent and a creator, that He is endowed with will and power and life, that He is the lover and the beloved, the enjoyer and the enjoyed, that He is generous, and the absolute good, and they believe that all this is meant by the term ‘one’, and does not imply airy plurality. And this indeed is something very wonderful.

Now we must first state their theory clearly in order to understand it well, and then we shall occupy ourselves with its refutation, for it is an absurd undertaking to refute a theory before it is well understood. Now the central point for- the understanding of their doctrine is that they say that the essence of the Principle is one, and the plurality of terms arises only through bringing something in relation to it or through bringing it in relation to something, or through denying something of it; for the negation of something does not cause plurality in that of which it is denied, nor does the establishment of  relation produce a plurality. Therefore they do not deny the plurality of the negations and the relations, and it is thus their task to refer all the qualities mentioned to negation and relation.

They say that when God is said to be the First this means a relation to all the existents after Him. When He is said to be a principle, it signifies that the existence of everything else depends on Him and is caused by Him; it means therefore a relation to an effect. And when He is said to exist, it means that He is apprehended, and when He is said to be a substance it means that He is the being of which it is denied that it inheres in a substratum and this is a negation. When He is said to be eternal, it means that His non-existence in the past is denied; and when He is said to be everlasting, it means that His non-existence in the future is denied, and the terms ‘eternal’ and ‘everlasting’ are reduced to an existence not preceded nor followed by a non-existence. When He is said to be a necessary existent, it means that there is no cause for His existence and that He is the cause of everything else, and this is a combination of negation and relation: the denial of a cause for His existence is a negation, and making Him the cause of everything else is a relation.

When He is said to be intellect, this means that He is free from matter and everything free from matter is intellect, i. e. thinks its own substance, is self-conscious, and knows everything else, and the essence of God is such: He is free from matter and therefore-for these two expressions have the same meaning-He is an intellect. When He is said to be knowing, it means that His essence which is intellect has an object of thought, namely His essence, for He is self-conscious and knows His own self, and His essence is the known and the knower for all that is one, since He is the known in so far as He is a quiddity, abstract from matter, not hidden from His essence which is intellect in the sense that it is a quiddity abstract from matter, from which nothing is hidden; and because He thinks His own self, He is knowing, and because He is His own object of thought, He is an object known, and since He thinks through His own essence, not through something additional to His own essence, He is intellect, and it is not impossible that the knower and the thing known should be one, for the knower, when he knows that he knows, knows it because he is a knower, so that knower and known are in a way the same; although our intellect is in this respect different from the intellect of the First Principle, for the intellect of the First Principle is eternally in act, whereas our intellect is sometimes in potency, sometimes in act. And when He is said to be a creator, an agent and an originator and to have the other attributes of action, it means that His existence is eminent, from which the existence of the universe emanates in a necessary emanation, and that the existence of everything derives from Him and is consequent on His existence in the way that light is consequent on the sun and heat consequent on fire. But the relation of the world to God resembles the relation of light to the sun only in this, that both are effects, and not in any other way, for-the sun is not aware of the emanation of light from it, nor fire of the emanation of heat from it; for this is mere nature. But the First is conscious of Himself and is aware that His essence is the principle of everything else, and the emanation of everything which emanates from Him is known to Him, and He is not inattentive to anything that proceeds from Him. Nor can He be compared to one of us who puts himself between a sick man and the sun, for then it is the case that because of him, but not through his choice (although he does it consciously and not unwillingly either), the sick man is protected against the sun’s heat, and it is his body which causes the shadow, but it is his soul, not his body, which knows that the shadow is falling and is pleased about it. But this does not apply to the First: in Him the agent is at the same time the knower and the one that is pleased; that is, He is not unwilling, and He is conscious that His perfection consists in the emanation proceeding from Him. Yes, even if it were possible to assume that the man’s body causing the shadow were identical with the knower of the shadow, who is pleased with it, even then he would not be similar to the First. For the First is both knower and agent, and His knowledge is the principle of His act; and His consciousness of Himself as the principle of the universe is the cause of the emanation of the universe and the existing order; and the existing order is the consequence of the order thought of, in the sense that it occurs through Him and that He is the agent of the universe without there being an addition to His knowledge of the universe, since His knowledge of the universe is the cause of the emanation of the universe from Him, and His knowledge of the universe does not add anything to His self-consciousness, for He could not be self-conscious if He did not know that He is the principle of the universe, the object of His knowledge is in first intention His own essence, and the universe is the object of His knowledge in second intention, ‘ and this is the meaning of His being an agent. And when it is said that He has power, nothing is meant but that He is an agent in the way we have stated, namely, that His existence is the existence from which the powers emanate through the emanation of which the arrangement of the world is ordered in the most perfect way possible in accomplishment and beauty. And when it is said that He is willing, nothing is meant but that He is not inattentive to what emanates from Him and that He is not opposed to it; no, He knows that in the emanation of the universe His own perfection is attained, and it is permissible to say in this sense that He is satisfied, and it is permissible to say of the satisfied that He is willing; and His will is nothing but His very power and His power is nothing but His very knowledge and His knowledge nothing but His very essence, so that everything is reduced to His very essence. For His knowledge of things is not derived from things, for otherwise He would acquire His quality and perfection through another, and this is impossible in the necessary existent. But our knowledge is twofold: partly knowledge of a thing which results from its form like our knowledge of the form of heaven and earth, partly knowledge of our own invention, when we represent in ourselves the form of a thing we do not see and then produce it; in this case the existence of the form is derived from the knowledge and not the knowledge from the existence. Now the knowledge the First has is of the second category, for the representation of the order in Himself is the cause of the emanation of the order from Him. Indeed, if the mere presence of the form of a picture or of writing in our souls were sufficient for the occurrence of this form, then our knowledge would be identical with our power and our wills but through our deficiency our representation does not suffice to produce the form, but we need besides a new act of will which results from our appetitive faculty, so that through these two the power which moves our muscles and our nerves in our organs can enter into motion, and through the movement of our muscles and nerves our hand or any other member can move, and through its movement the pen or any other external instrument can come into motion and through the movement of the pen the matter, e. g. the ink, can move, and so the form is realized which we represented in our souls. Therefore the very existence of this form in our souls is not a power and an act of will; no, in us power lies in the principle which moves our muscles and this form moves the mover which is the principle of the power. But this is not the case with the necessary existent, for He is not composed of bodies from which the powers in His extremities originate, and so His power, His will, His knowledge, and His essence are all one.

When it is said that He is living, nothing is meant but that He is conscious of the knowledge through which the existent which is called His act emanates from Him. For the living is the doer, the perceiver, and the meaning of the term is His essence in relation to His acts in the way we have described, not at all like our life, which can be only perfected through two different faculties from which perception and action result. But His life again is His very essence.

And when it is said that He is generous, what is meant is that the universe emanates from Him, but not for an end which refers to Himself, for generosity is perfected by two conditions: first that the receiver of the benefit has profit of what is given to him, for the giving of something to one who is not in need of it is not called generosity; secondly, that the benefactor is not himself in need of generosity, so that he himself becomes a benefactor through a need he experiences himself, and anyone who is generous out of a desire for praise and approbation or to avoid blame seeks a reward and is not generous. But true generosity belongs to God alone, for He does not seek to avoid blame, nor does He desire a perfection acquired through praise, and the term ‘generosity’ indicates His existence in relation to His act and with the denial of an end, and this does not imply a plurality in His essence.

When He is said to be the absolute good, it means that His existence is free from any imperfection and from any possibility of non-existence, for badness has no essence, but refers to the non-existence of an essence or to the absence of the goodness of the essence. , For existence itself, in so far as it is existence, is good, and therefore this term refers to the negation of the possibility of non-existence and of badness. Sometimes ‘good’ means that which is the cause of the order in things, and the First is the principle of the order of everything and therefore He is good;’ and in this case the term signifies existence in a certain kind of relation.

When He is said to be a necessary existent, this existence is meant with the denial of a cause for His existence and the impossibility of a cause for His non-existence, in the beginning and at the end.

When it is said that He is the lover and the beloved, the enjoyer and the enjoyed, it means that He is every beauty and splendour and perfection, and that He is beloved and desired by the possessor of this perfection and the only meaning of ‘enjoyment’ is the perception of appropriate perfection. If it could be imagined of a single man that he knew his own perfection in comprehending all intelligibles, if he could comprehend them, that he knew the beauty of his own form, the perfection of his power, the strength of his limbs, in short if he perceived in himself the presence of all perfection of which he was capable, he would love his perfection and enjoy it, and his enjoyment would only be incomplete through the possibility of its loss and its diminution, for the joy which refers to the transitory, or to what is feared to be transitory, is not perfect. ‘ But the First possesses the most perfect splendour and the most complete beauty, since all perfection is possible to Him and present in Him, and He perceives this beauty, secure against the possibility of its diminution and loss, and the perfection He possesses is superior to all perfection, and His love and His enjoyment of this perfection are superior to all love and to all enjoyment, and His enjoyment cannot be compared in any way to our enjoyment and is too glorious to be called enjoyment, joy, and delight, for we have no expressions for such concepts, and using these terms metaphorically for Him, we must be conscious of the great difference, just as when we apply to Him metaphorically our terms, ‘willing’, choosing’, ‘acting’, we are convinced of the great distance between His will, power, and knowledge, from our will, power, and knowledge, and it is not impossible that this term ‘enjoyment’ should be regarded as improper and that another term should be used. , What we want to express is that His state is more glorious than the conditions of the angels, and more desirable, and the condition of the angels is more glorious than our condition; and if there were no other joy than in bodily desire and sex, the condition of the ass and the pig would be superior to the state of the angels, but the angels, who are separate from matter, have no other joy than the joy arising from the knowledge of their share in perfection and beauty, the cessation of which is not to be feared. But the joy of the First is superior to the joy of the angels, and the existence of the angels which are intellects separate from matter is possible in its essence and necessary of existence through another, and the possibility of non-existence is a kind of badness and imperfection, and nothing is absolutely free from badness except the First, and He is the absolute good and He possesses the utmost splendour and beauty; further, He is the beloved, whether anyone else loves Him or not, as He is the knower and the known, whether anyone else knows Him or not. And all these concepts refer to His essence and to His perception and to His knowledge of His essence, and the knowledge of His essence is His very essence, for He is pure intellect, and all this leads back to one single notion.

This is the way to set forth their doctrine, and these things can be divided into that which may be believed (but we shall show that according to their own principles they must regard it as untrue) and into that which may not be believed (and we shall show its falsehood). We shall now return to the five classes of plurality and to their claim to deny them, and shall show their inability to establish their proof, and shall treat each question separately.

I say:

The greater part of what he mentions in his description of the philosophical theories about God as being one, notwithstanding the plurality of attributes ascribed to Him, he has stated accurately, and we shall not argue with him about it, with the exception of his statement that to Him the designation of ‘intellect’ is a negation; for this is not true-on the contrary it is the most special appellation for His essence according to the Peripatetics, in contrast to Plato’s opinion that the intellect is not the First Principle and that intellect cannot be attributed to the First Principle? Nor is his statement that in the separate intellects there is potency, non-existence, and badness a philosophical theory. But we shall now return to his refutations in these five questions.