Choose a topic from Part 2A:
1. Alone among earthly creatures, man is master of his acts. The distinctively human characteristic is the exercise of free will. Hence free will acts are human acts. A free will act is any thought, word, deed, desire, or omission which comes from a man acting with full knowledge of what he is doing, who is free to act or to refrain from action, and who gives the full assent of his will to the act. Only such an act is a human act in full perfection. Other acts performed by a man, but inadvertently, or without full knowledge, freedom, and choice, are indeed acts of a man, but they are not human acts. Since human acts are free will acts, and since free will acts are acts chosen and performed in view of an end or purpose or goal, it is evident that human acts are acts for an end, that is, acts done for the purpose of attaining an end. The common phrase for such acts is, "acts to an end," the word to meaning towards or in view of.
2. Now, it is true that all acts of every being are acts to an end. Every agent (doer, actor, performer) acts to an end. There is purpose in every activity. But only man, among earthly creatures, chooses or moves himself to an end by exercising freewill.
3. That which gives a thing its essential character is said to specify the thing. Now, what gives human acts their essential character is the fact that they are freely chosen for a purpose - an end to be attained. That which specifies any single human act is the end or purpose it seeks to achieve. Hence we say that a human act is specified by its end.
4. There is one ultimate end and purpose to be attained by human beings, and to this end all human acts tend.
5. The ultimate end towards which man tends in all his human acts is his crowning good, his ultimate and perfect fulfillment. This is a single end; man cannot possibly tend to several last ends.
6. Back of all his free will acts is man's drive towards supreme and universal good, wholly complete, perfectly satisfying. Even in his sinful acts, a man is seeking good, that is, satisfaction, although he is perversely seeking it in the wrong place. All individual choices, all separate human acts, areas steps (real or apparent) towards the supreme good, just as every step in every stairway is a step upwards. Whatever man freely wills, he wills to the last end.
7. All human beings have the same nature, that is, the same human essence equipped for normal human operations. Therefore all men have the same last end, the same ultimate goal. This last end is complete and enduring satisfaction or fulfillment; such fulfillment is called beatitude or happiness. But all men do not agree about the precise things in which their fulfillment and consequent happiness are to be found. Some think to attain the end by becoming rich, some by enjoying pleasures, some by exercising power, some by being praised and honored, and so on. It is as though all men were determinately set to reach a certain city, but were not all in agreement about the right road they must take to get there. In this case, surely, prudence suggests that the men of soundest and most studious judgment should be permitted to indicate the way.
8. All men seek fulfillment or satisfaction, that is, all seek beatitude or happiness. This is the subjective last end of man; it is to be in man as in its subject; for the subject of anything is that reality in which the thing resides or takes place. Now, the objective last end of man is the object which, when possessed, will give him happiness. The objective last end of man, the object he seeks to attain so that hemay have perfect satisfaction in it, is the infinite good. The infinite good is God. Man seeks God in all his human acts inasmuch as in all these acts he seeks what will please, and satisfy, and fill up needs and desires, and crown his human quest with enduring joy. In this, man differs from all other earthly substances, minerals, plants, animals. For, while all these things are the products of divine goodness and exist to reflect and manifest that goodness, they do not seek to attain the infinite good subjectively; only man does that. Hence man does not have the active concurrence of earthly creatures in his own ultimate quest of God and eternal happiness.
"This is the greatest wisdom -- to seek the kingdom of heaven through contempt of the world. "
Thomas á Kempis
* * *
"As the flesh is nourished by food, so is man supported by prayers"
* * *
"Many words do not satisfy the soul; but a good life eases the mind and a clean conscience inspires great trust in God."
Thomas á Kempis
* * *