Choose a topic from Part 2A:

13. Election or Choice of Means

1. The will chooses the end and the means to the end in its particular acts. The intellect judges means as to suitability, but the choice or election of means is an act of the will.

2. Since choice or election is an operation of the rational appetite called the will, it cannot be exercised by non rational animals. Animals make sense judgments and act on them by instinct, which is an interior sensing power, an inner sense. But animals cannot know means as such, nor choose means in the light of understanding, for they do not possess understanding.

3. Man's last end or ultimate good is not subject to choice; man tends to it by necessity. Man's choice is limited to the field of means. Yet each means is chosen as a good or an end, but not as ultimate end. In choosing a particular end or good, the human will is actually choosing a means to the ultimate end.

4. The field of choice of means, the arena of human freedom, is the field of human acts. No man, according to Aristotle, chooses anything but what he can do himself.

5. And thus choice is limited to the realm of things humanly possible. Aristotle says (Ethic. iii): "There is no choice among impossibilities."

6. Choice, by its very nature, is free. A necessitated choice is not a choice at all. The compelling attraction of the last end of man, that is, the supreme good, removes it from the field of choice; man must will the last end for he cannot will unfulfillment. But no particular good or end is so perfect as to compel the will to tend to it. In every particular thing, the intellect can discern points or phases of attractiveness and of unattractiveness. Sin is evil, but it offers the sinner an apparent and ready satisfaction, that is, it is seen in the light of something good or desirable. And virtue is entirely attractive, yet it can be regarded as undesirable in so far as it exacts effort and is to be attained only by sustained and tedious labor. Thus in a particular choice, the will may go either way. This is what is meant by freedom of choice.

"Before a man chooses his confessor, he ought to think well about it, and pray about it also; but when he has once chosen, he ought not to change, except for most urgent reasons, but put the utmost confidence in his director."
St Philip Neri

* * *

"We must not be behind time in doing good; for death will not be behind his time. "
St Phillip Neri

* * *

"God commands not impossibilities, but by commanding he suggests to you to do what you can, to ask for what is beyond your strength; and he helps you, that you may be able."
St Augustine

* * *