Russell Pannier St. Thomas Aquinas maintains that there is an ultimate end of human existence and that it consists of conscious union with God.1 Of course, Thomas follows orthodox Christianity in this regard. This claim, if true, is obviously of overriding importance for all of us, at least if interpreted in a sufficiently strong way. This paper seeks to clarify at least part of Aquinas's intended meaning. His analysis is extraordinarily complex and profound. Only a few aspects of it can be discussed here. I shall begin with an analysis of the necessary conditions Aquinas articulates for being an ultimate end and then move to an examination of the question, "To what extent is the ultimate end of human existence, as conceived by Aquinas, a unified end?" In the course of discussing the latter question, I shall distinguish four degrees of unity and argue that Aquinas can be plausibly interpreted as maintaining that the ultimate human end is unified in the highest degree. Some may challenge my assumption that there is anything here to be "clarified." In contrast to other aspects of Aquinas's thought (for example, his concepts of essence and existence), isn't his discussion 3:4 fall 2000
Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture – Logos: Journal of Catholic Thought & Culture
Published: Nov 1, 2000
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