Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Fr. Jordan Aumann, "Beauty and the Esthetic Response"

[489] Proceeding from metaphysical principles and the data of psychology, we shall attempt to respond to some of the questions and problems proposed in the area of esthetics. Is beauty an objective or purely subjective quality of being? Does the definition of the beautiful necessarily imply a relationship between the beautiful object and the percipient of beauty? Is beauty a transcendental quality of being? Which human faculties are involved in the experience of the beautiful? What is the primary element in the esthetic response to beauty? We shall attempt to answer these questions by applying the principles of St. Thomas Aquinas, whose basic teaching has been variously interpreted by different authors, although in recent times there has been a greater effort to reach a consensus.

It is generally admitted today that the role of esthetics is to determine the nature and laws of the beautiful, wherever it is found, and to specify the human faculties involved in the creation and appreciation of the beautiful. Accordingly, there are three parts or aspects to esthetic investigation: metaphysics of the beautiful, psychology of the beautiful, and philosophy of art. Our investigation will be limited to the metaphysical and the psychological aspects, and to avoid the errors of subjectivism, we shall begin with a definition of beauty and a description of its essential properties.


A sampling of the descriptive definitions of the beautiful offered by classical and modern authors will illustrate the divergence of opinion concerning this quality of being. It will also give some indication of the precision and distinctions required in order to formulate an acceptable definition. Thus, beauty is "the splendor of truth" (Plotinus); "resplendent order" (Horace); a species of the good, with the distinctive qualities of "clarity and proportion" (pseudo-Dionysius); "the splendor of order" (St. Augustine); "splendor of form shining through proportioned parts of matter" (St. Albert the Great); "the aggregation of all the sensed qualities of an object" (Scotus); "multiple equality" (St. Bonaventure); "unity amid variety" (Mendelssohn and Cousin); "finality without an end" (Kant); "expression of an idea by a form" (Hegel); "the infinite presented as finite" (Schelling); "the goodness of an object so far as it delights the mind when known" (Kleutgen).

The best known definition offered by St. Thomas Aquinas is that "the beautiful is that which pleases when seen" (Pulchra enim dicuntur, quae visa placent).[1] However this is a descriptive definition of the effect (per effectum) of the beautiful; it is a psychological rather than an ontological definition. Fortunately, there are numerous other references to beauty in the works of Aquinas, and they provide an ontological basis for formulating a real definition of the beautiful:
Three things are required for beauty: first, integrity or perfection; ... and proper proportion or consonance; and finally clarity.[2] 
Beauty and goodness are identical objectively because they have the same basis in reality, namely, the form of a thing, and in this respect the good is esteemed as beautiful. But they differ logically, because goodness (being what all things desire) relates to the appetite, and therefore has the aspect of an end (since appetite is a kind of movement toward a [491] thing). Beauty, on the other hand, has a relation to the cognitive faculty, because things are said to be beautiful when the mere sight of them gives pleasure. Therefore beauty consists in proper proportion, because the senses delight in rightly proportioned things as similar to themselves... Now, since knowledge proceeds by way of assimilation and the likeness has to do with the form, beauty properly pertains to the notion of the formal cause.[3] 
The beautiful and the good are identical; they differ only logically. Since the good is that which all things desire, it is of th essence of goodness that the appetite be satisfied in it. But it is of the essence of the beautiful that the appetite is satisfied in the mere knowledge or vision of it. ... Beauty therefore adds to goodness a relation to the cognitive faculties, and hence that is said to be good which simply satisfies the appetite, while that is said to be beautiful, the mere vision of which pleases.[4]
St. Thomas thus perfects the teaching of pseudo-Dionysius, who had simply identified beauty and goodness. For the Angelic Doctor, however, beauty and goodness are objectively identical, so far as they inhere in the same being, but there is a logical distinction between the two so far as they relate to different faculties or powers (per respectum ad aliquid). To appreciate the Thomistic distinction it will be helpful to review the metaphysical principles of the good.

The essence of the good consists in the fact that it is something desirable, and a thing is desirable so far as it is perfect.[5] Therefore, concludes St. Thomas, goodness bespeaks perfection, and hence anything that has ultimate perfection is said to be good simpliciter.[6] Perfection is therefore the root and basis of goodness, and since a thing is perfect (and hence good and desirable) so far as it exists,[7] it follows that perfection and goodness are identical with the reality of actual [492] being. Nevertheless, in accordance with the statement of Boethius, "I perceive that in nature the fact that things are good is one thing; that they are is another," St. Thomas affirms that if a thing be considered in its primal actuality, it simply exists or has being; but if considered in its complete actuality, it is good simpliciter.[8] Hence it is clear that goodness, perfection, and being are objectively identical, but perfection bespeaks a given degree of actuality, and goodness refers to the aspect of desirability. Ontologically we would have the following priority: first, the form whereby the existing thing is a being; secondly, the effective power whereby the existing thing has perfection; thirdly, the aspect of goodness or desirability that follows upon the perfection of the existing being.[9]

But beauty is likewise identified objectively with being, perfection, and goodness; therefore beauty cannot be distinguished from goodness ex parte subjecti, but must be distinguished extrinsically. That is why St. Thomas states: "Pulchrum et bonum in subjecto quidem sunt idem, quia super eamdem rem fundantur, scilicet super formam, et propter hoc, bonum laudatur ut pulchrum. Sed ratione differunt."[10] To be more precise, beauty and goodness are distinguished from one another "per respectum ad aliquid,"[11] so that the concepts of goodness and of beauty necessarily imply some sort of relationship. As regards the good, St. Thomas clearly states that the precise relationship that constitutes goodness is a relationship to the appetite:
The essence of goodness consists in this, that it is in some way desirable.[12] 
Goodness properly relates to the appetite (goodness being what all things desire).[13]
For everything is good so far as it is desirable and is a term of the movement of the appetite.[14]
Beauty, however, does not relate simpliciter to the appetite or desire, but to the cognoscitive [sic] faculty, and it is precisely on the basis of this relationship that beauty is distinguished from goodness.
But beauty relates to the cognoscitive power, since things are said to be beautiful when the mere sight of them gives pleasure.[15] 
Beauty adds to goodness a relationship to the cognoscitive faculty.[16] 
Beauty therefore adds to goodness a relation to the cognoscitive faculties, and hence that is said to be good which simply satisfies the appetite, while that is said to be beautiful, the mere vision of which pleases.[17] 
The object that arouses the appetite is the good as apprehended, but if in the very apprehension it is seen as beautiful, it is received as both delightful and good. And so Dionysius says: "The beautiful and good object is beloved by all."[18]
Although beauty is distinguished from goodness by reason of the fact that beauty relates to the cognitive faculty while goodness relates to the appetite, this should not lead one to think that beauty is a quasi-truth, since truth also relates to the cognoscitive powers. In the expression, id cujus apprehensio placet (or the similar expression, pulchra enim dicuntur quae visa placent), St. Thomas is saying that while the beautiful does satisfy the appetite, it does not do so simpliciter and immediately but by means of the vision or apprehension of the beautiful. "Ad rationem pulchri pertinet quod IN EJUS ASPECTU SEU COGNITIONE quietetur appetitus.... Et sic patet quod pulchrum addit supra bonum quemdam ordinem ad vim cognoscitivam."[19] Thus, Maritain has stated that to delight by [494] means of apprehension is not only a property of the beautiful but it is the formal constitutive of beauty.[20]

We have already seen that beauty and goodness are objectively identical and ta the basis of the good, namely perfection, is likewise the basis of the beautiful. But the beautiful is directly and immediately ordained to the cognitive power, while the good is ordained to the appetitive power; therefore we now investigate the particular properties or characteristics of the beautiful which make it possible for the mere apprehension of beauty to provide delight.

As an entitative habit in the species of quality, beauty follows upon the form of an object, according to the Scholastic axiom: "Quantitas sequitur materiam et qualitas formam" [Trans. Quantity follows upon matter, and quality follows upon form.] It is therefore rooted in the substantial form of a being as in its subject, although in beings composed of matter and form it will be manifested chiefly in the accidental forms of that being. For this reason St. Thomas frequently speaks of the relationship of beauty to the formal cause and likewise of proportion and splendor or clarity as the properties which immediately relate to the cognitive power.

We thus arrive at the three properties or characteristics of objective beauty: perfection, wherein the beautiful is identical with the good; proportion and splendor, whereby the beautiful relates to the cognitive power. And since it is of the essence of the beautiful tat it delights the percipient through mere apprehension, it follows that two notions must be included in the definition of beauty: apprehension and delight. Yet, the apprehension of the beautiful must be seen as something distinct from the apprehension of truth; and the delight in the beautiful must be distinguished from the complacency of the appetite in the good. We may therefore define beauty as the perfection of being, shining through its proportioned parts and giving delight in the mere apprehension of it.



St. Thmas states that anything is perfect so far as it is in act and imperfect so far as it is in potency.[21] In his commentary on Aristotle's Metaphysics, he says that there are different ways of using the term "perfection": when a thing lacks none of its due parts; when there is neither excess nor defect in its powers of operation; and when it has attained its proper end or goal.[22] He further clarifies this division when in the Summa Theologiae he states that perfection is threefold: when a thing is constituted in its proper being (perfectio in esse); when it also possesses the faculties necessary for its perfect operation (perfectio in operatione); and when it attains to something else as its end (perfectio in assecutione finis).[23] Again, in the Summa, he speaks of perfection in slightly different terminology, specifying as first perfection (perfectio prima) that according to which a being is substantially perfect by reason of its form, and as second perfection (perfectio secunda) the attainment of the end, which may be either an operation as such (as the perfection of the harpist is to play the harp) or something distinct that is effected by an operation (as the end of the builder is to construct a house). But the first perfection is the cause of the second, because the form of a thing is the principle of its operation.[24] Finally, we note that in the treatise De Perfectione Vitae Spiritualis, St. Thomas divides perfection into perfectio simpliciter and perfectio secundum quid.[25] The first pertains to substantial perfection, as when an animal possesses all that is due to it as a member of its species, while the second pertains to the accidental aspects of the animal such as color, size, weight, etc.

The perfection of a being is the basis of its goodness[26] and since the good and the beautiful are identical in object [496] (secundum rem), both goodness and beauty can be attributed to a being in any of the grades of perfection; perfectio in esse, perfectio in operatione, perfectio in assecutione finis, perfectio simpliciter and perfectio secundum quid. Nevertheless, a being is good simpliciter only when it is fully actualized by reaching its ultimate perfection; prior to that, it is good in some respect (quodammodo bonum); and the same would be true of the beautiful[27]. Consequently, a being that possesses only perfectio prima is said to be beautiful in some respect or relatively; a being that possesses perfectio secunda is said to be beautiful simpliciter. And since beauty and goodness differ logically, it should be noted that the perfection of a being plays a different role in each case. As the basis of goodness, the perfection of a being attracts the appetite or desire to attain the goal or end, which is the good; as the basis of the beautiful, the perfection of a being stimulates the cognoscitive power to a contemplation of the perfection of the being, without any note of teleology or utility.


Having seen how beauty and goodness are immediately based on the perfection of a being, we shall now investigate proportion as an element of beauty, and in so doing we shall see that proportion is related to the unity of a being and is in a special way related to truth.[28] Note also that the element of proportion is also connected to the good, as St. Thomas asserts: "Although beauty and goodness are identical in the subject, because both clarity and consonance are contained in [497] the notion of the good, they nevertheless differ logically."[29] As regards proportion itself, Aquinas has this to say:
There is a twofold consonance in things. The first is in the ordination of created things to God, and [pseudo-Dionysius] touches this when he says that God is the cause of consonance so far as he ordains all things to himself as their end. ... For this reason the Greek word for beauty is kallos, which is taken from the word to call or to summon. Secondly there is consonance in things according to their relationship to each other.[30] 
Proportion is twofold. In one sense it means a certain relation of one quantity to another, according as double, treble, and equal are species of proportion. In another sense every relation of one thing to another is called proportion. And in this sense there can be a proportion of the creature to God, inasmuch as it is related to him as the effect to its cause, and as potentiality to its act; and in this way the created intellect can be proportioned to know God.[31]
Proportion therefore has to do with the relation of the parts of a being to one another, the parts to the totality, or the relation of the being to something else (ad aliud). In the first two senses St. Thomas speaks of the beauty of a body that is properly proportioned as regards its members[32], but since beauty consists essentially in a relation to something else (per respectum ad aliquid), the intrinsic proportion of a being constitutes its beauty only materially and predicamentally. Moreover, insofar as
beauty adds to goodness an ordination to the cognitive power, so it also adds to unity the ordination or extrinsic proportion of something else. Among the ancients the element of proportion was usually taken to refer to the objective, intrinsic proportion of being; St. Thomas, however, has added a new perspective by insisting that the proportion of the beautiful is to be understood in a psychological sense [498] as the relation of the beautiful object to something else, namely, the cognitive power. Hence, as the perfection of a being is the root of its goodness and beauty, and therefore of its desirability, so the intrinsic proportion of a being is an element that is common to both beauty and unity and is the root of the cognoscibility of a being.[33]

As a property of being, unity presents the being as undivided in itself, but the intrinsic proportion adds something to the note of unity, namely, the totality of the being and the proper disposition of its parts. For this reason there have been some who preferred to see "unity amid variety" as the essential characteristic of beauty. But this intrinsic proportion is more of a material and dispositive element of the beautiful, because the role of intrinsic proportion is to allow the splendor of unity to shine through the proportioned parts.[34]

As we have said, St. Thomas introduced the distinction between intrinsic or ontological proportion and extrinsic or psychological proportion.[35] The latter, existing between the beautiful object and the percipient, is objectively rooted in the object as such, but effectively it is in the percipient of the object, who perceives the totality of the being which is proportioned to the cognoscitive power. Evidently this extrinsic proportion presupposes the intrinsic proportion, which bespeaks a relation to the artist or the divine creator as efficient and exemplar cause; but the extrinsic proportion is teleological so far as it bespeaks a relation to the intellect of the percipient.

But the note of proportion, like that of perfection, is a relative and analogical concept, and hence St. Thomas speaks of "due proportion" (debita proportio), i.e., the intrinsic proportion that is due according to time and condition.[36] Nor can it be said that the extrinsic or psychological proportion [499] necessarily requires an actual relationship to a cognitive power in order that an object fulfill the requirements for the beautiful. This would lead to pure subjectivism, enunciated in the axiom: "A thing is beautiful because it pleases." In objects that are intrinsically proportioned there is at least the potentiality of giving delight on being seen, and this suffices for the proportion needed to classify the object as beautiful. Thus, St. Thomas says: "Beauty relates to the cognitive faculty, for beautiful things are those which please when seen. Hence beauty consists in due proportion, for the senses delight in things duly proportioned, as in what is after their own kind; because even sense is a sort of reason, just as is every cognitive faculty."[37]

Proportion is therefore an essential element of beauty; first, because all beings somehow express the unity that flows from intrinsic proportion of a thing, and secondly, because all duly proportioned things, as such, bespeak a relationship to the cognitive power, which delights in duly proportioned beings. Thus, extrinsic proportion leads to the delight of the cognitive power, while intrinsic proportion is the disposition of a thing's parts that enables the splendor of the form to shine forth.


The third element of beauty, which is splendor or clarity, is the formal or principal element of the beautiful. It is indeed the end or goal of all artistic production and creation.

Perfection and proportion, though they have an objective value as the manifestation of the goodness and unity of a being, are the dispositions for the clarity or splendor of a being. It should be noted that practically all the authors have mentioned clarity or splendor as an element of the beautiful: Plotinus: "splendor of truth"; St. Augustine: "splendor of order"; St. Thomas: "clarity is of the essence of the beautiful." Again, St. Thomas says: "Hence bodily beauty consists in this, that a [500] man has well-proportioned bodily members with a certain clarity of proper coloring. And similarly, spiritual beauty consists in this, that a man's conversations and actions are well proportioned in accordance with the spiritual splendor of the intellect."[38]

Splendor, like perfection and proportion, can be considered as a property of being in an objective or ontological sense or as an attribute of being that relates to something else (per respectum ad aliquid). Taken in the first sense it can apply to the substantial form of a being or to the accidental forms, whether entitative (color, size, etc.) or operative (human acts reflecting the light of reason). Radically, of course, splendor pertains to the substantial form, which is the source of all the accidents in a being,[39] but this ontological splendor does not necessarily imply a conceptual clarity on the part of the percipient, since many beautiful objects are not readily perceived by all.[40] It should also be noted that the degree of splendor in a being will depend to a great extent on the aspects of time and the condition of a being, as is the case with the elements of perfection and proportion. Hence the statement of St. Thomas regarding perfection likewise applies here: "Nothing prevents a thing that is not perfect simpliciter from being perfect in regard to time; thus, a boy is said to be perfect, not simpliciter, but with regard to the condition of time."[41]

The splendor that applies to the accidental qualities of a being is closely related to its perfection (perfectio secunda) and its intrinsic proportion, and all of these attributes can be considered as dispositions for the splendor of the substantial form to shine through the accidents. On the other hand, since the substantial form a being is known through the mediation of the internal and external senses of the percipient, a certain degree of perfection, proportion and splendor is required in the accidental characteristics through which the percipient apprehends [501] the beautiful being in its totality.[42] The splendor of a being does not refer exclusively to the substantial form nor does it apply only to the accidents, as some moderns would assert, placing the esthetic form of a being in the accidental qualities. Pertaining as it does to all the aspects of a being, the quality of splendor is an analogical concept and hence applies to a being in different degrees.

There are also correlations with the other elements of the beautiful when we consider the splendor of a being as related to something else (per rsepectum ad aliud). Perfection, as the manifestation of the goodness of a being, relates to the appetitive powers; proportion, as the manifestation of the unity of a being, relates to the cognitive powers; and splendor or clarity, which is an attribute of truth, likewise relates to the cognitive powers. Thus, perfection is the common basis for goodness and beauty; proportion links beauty with unity; and clarity joins the beautiful to the true, with the result that beauty is truly the manifestation of the plenitude of being. And it is precisely because beauty embraces the totality of a being that it is so difficult to distinguish it from the other transcendental qualities of being.

The importance of splendor as an element of the beautiful can be seen from the fact that while the perfection of a being bespeaks a relation to the percipient, this relation is to the appetitive powers, so that considered simply in its perfection, a being is in the species of the good. But the beautiful adds something to the good: the relation to a cognitive power.[43] Consequently, splendor or clarity is the point of distinction between the good and the beautiful, for the splendor of a being is a manifestation of its intelligibility and it also provides that special esthetic type of cognition that pertains to the apprehension of the beautiful (pulchrum autem dicatur, id cujus apprehensio placet).[44]


Beauty as a Transcendental

Some philosophers, especially among the moderns, place beauty among the transcendental properties of being, distinct from the other transcendentals. Others wish to list beauty as a quasi-bonum or at most a quasi-transcendental that flows from the good and the true. For Thomists there is a special problem because St. Thomas nowhere lists beauty as a transcendental property, nor does he expressly exclude it.[45]

Basically there are three ways in which beauty can be seen as having a transcendental quality, without positing it as a distinct transcendental property of being: 1) as a transcendental relationship between being and the cognitive powers; 2) as an actual and necessary relationship between all created being and the intellect and will of God; 3) as the relationship or adequation of beauty with the divine exemplar in which beauty exists formally and eminently. There is no difficulty whatever in asserting the transcendental aspect of beauty in the second two senses, for St. Augustine has stated that everything created by God has beauty.[46]

Our question, however, is whether beauty can be classified as a distinct transcendental property of being, that is, as a modality that immediately follows from every being, whether considered in itself or in relation to something else. In his [503] early writings, i.e., in his Commentary on the Book of Sentences, his treatise On Truth, and his Exposition on the Divine Names, St. Thomas faithfully follows the esthetic teaching of St. Albert the Great,[47] identifying the beautiful with the good to the extend [sic] that he stated: "Hence, whoever desired the good, by that very fact likewise desires the beautiful."[48]

However, later, in the Summa Theologiae, Aquinas distinguishes the beautiful from the good by reason of its ordination to the cognitive power, while good is related to the appetitive power.[49] In the sense that the good and the beautiful are identical objectively, in the subject of inhesion, it is true to say that "whoever desires the good, by that very fact desires the beautiful"; but so far as the good and the beautiful are distinguished logically, by reason of their being ordained to different faculties or powers in the percipient (the good to the appetite and the beautiful to the cognitive power), it will have to be in that respect of a relation to the cognitive power that beauty would classify as a distinct transcendental. The reason for this is that all the transcendental qualities of being are identical in the subject of inhesion; they are distinguished by something that they add to the concept of being. Thus, being, considered as good, relates to the appetite simpliciter and the modality of being under this aspect is called a tendential mode; being, under the aspect of truth, relates to the intellect simpliciter and the modality of being under this aspect is called intentional mode; but being, considered as beautiful, relates to both the cognitive power simpliciter and to the appetite secundum quid and consequenter and the modality of being under this aspect would be called the esthetic mode.[50].


By way of summation, let us consider again the relationship and the difference between the good, the true, and the beautiful. The good and the beautiful are identical in the subject of inhesion but they differ logically, so that the beautiful adds to the good a relation to the cognitive power. The good pertains to the final cause, while beauty pertains to the formal cause. But the beautiful is necessarily contained in the notion of the good, because "the perfection and end of every other power is contained in the object of the appetitive power, as the proper is contained in the common... Hence the perfection and end of each power, insofar as it is a good, belongs to the appetitive power. Wherefore the appetitive power moves the other powers to their ends, and itself realizes the end, when each of them reaches the end."[51] But in seeking the good, the appetite seeks possession of the good, while it is satisfied with the mere apprehension of the beautiful.

As regards truth and beauty, it should be noted that truth is defined as the adequation between the intellect and its object, so that the truth of a being consists essentially in a relation to other (per respectum ad aliud). Yet the relation is such that there is a threefold terminus to the actual adequation between the object known and the intellect knowing: the act of intellection, the formal concept in the intellect, and the object as known (esse cognitum) in the intellect.[52] Hence, the intellect becomes or is intentionally identified with the object known.[53] And the delight of knowledge consist [sic] in the very operation of the intellect and not in the object as such, as is the case of the delight in the good. Now beauty relates to the cognitive faculty, for which reason it is defined as that which pleases on being seen; but unless we want to identify beauty and truth, we shall have to verify a distinction between them and precisely in the adequation or relationship to the cognitive power. The following citations from the Summa Theologiae provide an excellent basis for the necessary distinction between [505] truth and beauty as related to the cognitive power:
Just as the good signifies that to which the appetite tends, so the true signifies that to which the intellect tends. However, there is this difference..., knowledge means that the object is in the knower, whereas desire means that the one who desires goes out to the thing itself which he desires. Thus the end or term of the desire, which is the good, is in the thing desired; whereas the end or term of knowledge, which is truth, is in the mind. Now just as good is in the thing in its relation to desire (so that the notion of goodness passes over from the desirable thing to the desire, in that the desire is called good when it is desire for good), so also since truth is in the mind as conformed to the thing understood, the notion of truth must pass over from the mind to the thing understood, so that the latter is also said to be true in that it has a relation to the mind. ... We conclude that truth is primarily in the intellect and secondarily in things, by virtue of a relation to the intellect as to their origin.[54]
The act of knowing is not an action going forth to something external, but remains in the agent as its actuation and completion.[55]
It is not the substance of the thing known that is the completion of the knower, but its likeness, by which it is in the intellect as the latter's form and completion.[56]
Although truth in our mind is caused by the thing, it does not follow that the notion of truth is to be found primarily in the thing... It is not the thing's truth but its being that produces truth in the intellect.[57]
The sensible actualized is the sense in activity, and the intelligible actualized is the intellect in activity. We have actual sensation or actual knowledge because our intellect or our senses are informed by the species or likeness of the sensible or intelligible object.[58] As good adds to being the notion of desirability, the true adds to being a relation to the intellect.[59]

We conclude from the foregoing that since goodness and beauty are identical in the object and only notionally distinct by reason of their relation to desire and to cognition respectively, the distinction between truth and beauty lies in the fact that beauty is in the object whereas truth is in the mind of the knower. Secondly, as regards the delight in the truth and in the beautiful, the delight in knowing is in the very act of cognition, whereas the delight in the beautiful is radically a delight in the perfection and goodness of the object and formally a delight in the natural appetite of the cognitive power. And this leads us to a consideration of the nature of the esthetic response to the beautiful.

Psychology of the Esthetic Experience

Having considered beauty in its ontological aspect, we shall now study the esthetic experience, which is to investigate the beautiful psychologically. Pulchra sunt quae visa placent,[60] but what are the cognitive faculties that apprehend the beautiful and what is the pleasure that follows upon this knowledge? It would seem that even if one admits that all things are objectively beautiful in some respect or other, either as a whole or in part, it does not follow that everything is capable of producing an esthetic response. This in itself poses no great problem, however, for it is also true that although all beings are good and in some respect desirable, not all beings are actually desired; and even among those things actually desired, some may stimulate a minimal and others a maximum degree of orexis [NB: The affective and conative character of mental activity as contrasted with its cognitive aspect; the appetitive aspect of an act; desire, appetite. (source:].

It would seem, therefore, that the esthetic experience requires a certain degree of perfection, proportion, and splendor in the beautiful object and that it also presupposes certain dispositions [507] on the part of the percipient; e.g., proper functioning of the psycho-physical faculties that apprehend and delight in the beautiful, and the cultivation of esthetic taste, especially as regards the fine arts. Moreover, it would seem that the proper object of the esthetic experience is the beauty of objects perceptible to the external and internal senses, not only because the creation of the fine arts (which are of the sensible order) are directly ordained to an esthetic reaction, but also because the so-called esthetic faculty comprises all the cognitive powers. Thus, the intellect has the formal and principal role in the esthetic experience; the internal and external senses are instrumental and secondary; the volitional appetite functions as an effect of the apprehension of the beautiful; the sensitive appetite is stimulated by way of overflow or redundance. Each of these propositions needs a brief explanation.

Esthetic Knowledge

According to the Thomistic axiom, "Pulchra sunt quae visa placent," the esthetic experience involves two elements: vision (knowledge) and pleasure (appetitive delight). As regards knowledge or vision, St. Thomas states: "Two things are required for both sensible and intellectual vision, namely, the power of sight, and union of the thing seen with the sight. For vision is made actual only when the thing seen is in a certain way in the percipient."[61] Now, all naturally acquired knowledge begins with the actuation of one or another of the external senses, since nihil est in intellectu quod prius non fuerit in sensu.[62] But not all the external senses concur equally in the perception of the beautiful; only sight and hearing can directly and immediately perceive sensible beauty because these [508] two senses are especially related to intellectual cognition.[63] Of the four internal senses (imagination, memory, common sense, and cogitative power), the common sense (sensus communis), the cogitative power (vis cogitativa) and the imagination play a special role in the perception of the beautiful because the common sense is the focal point of all sensible cognition, and the cogitative power is the link between sense knowledge and intellectual apprehension, and the imagination receives the phantasm of the singular being.[64]

It should be noted, however, that esthetic knowledge differs greatly from purely speculative or abstract knowledge, which produces, by abstraction of exclusion, the form of the being known. Esthetic knowledge would seem to be the result of abstraction by inclusion, similar to that used in attaining the concept of ens ut ens in metaphysics. The reason for this is that esthetic knowledge does not regard simply the quiddity or form of a being, but the plenitude of the being and precisely in its individuality. The beautiful object is known both in its totality and in its singularity, so that the union between the beautiful object and the cognitive power is the assimilation of the object by way of an informing union (unio per informationem). But here a difficulty airses, because St. Thomas teaches that the human intellect cannot know the singular primarily and [509] directly;[65] the object of the intellect is to know the form existing in matter, but not precisely as in that particular matter.[66] The intellect therefore always knows the quiddity of material things as immaterial and universal, yet esthetic knowledge consists precisely in the apprehension of the beautiful object in its totality and in its individuality.

We have already given an indication of a solution to this problem when we stated that there is a difference between speculative knowledge and esthetic knowledge, just as there is a difference between speculative knowledge and the practical knowledge required for the exercise of art and prudence. Recalling what we have said about the function of the external and internal senses in the apprehension of beauty, it follows that these senses suffice for a knowledge of the singular, as St. Thomas asserts in various places.[67] But how does the intellect know the singular as such? St. Thomas explains as follows:
The proper object of the human intellect, which is united to a body, is a quiddity or nature existing in corporeal matter; and through such natures of visible things it rises to a certain knowledge of things invisible. Now it belongs to such a nature to exist in an individual, and this cannot be apart from corporeal matter. For instance, it belongs to the nature of a stone to be in an individual stone, and to the nature of a horse to be in an individual horse, and so forth. Wherefore the nature of a stone or any material thing cannot be known completely and truly except when it is known as existing in an individual. Now we apprehend the individual through the senses and the imagination. Therefore, for the intellect actually to understand its proper object, it must necessarily revert to the phantasms in order to perceive the universal nature in the individual.[68]

John of St. Thomas[69] further explains the knowledge of singulars by distinguishing the two types of intellectual reflexion: in the strict sense, when the intellect reflects on its own operation, and in a wider sense when the intellect reflects on the singular object represented in the imagination. Hence, in the knowledge of the beautiful, the intellect has as its term the phantasm, and through the phantasm it knows the singular. Thus the esthetic knowledge differs from the speculative knowledge, wich [sic] has as its term the universal concept and is a discursive type of knowledge; it also differs from practical knowledge, which sees being as operable, under the aspect of morality or utility (prudence and art). Esthetic knowledge is therefore experimental, reflexive, and intuitive.[70]

To complete our consideration of esthetic knowledge, it is necessary to say a word about intuitive knowledge, characteristic of the apprehension of the beautiful. Hugon points out[71] that not any kind of knowledge suffices for apprehension of the beautiful, but it requires a vision or intuition by which the beautiful object is, as it were, comprehended. Now intuitive vision or knowledge can be considered under two aspects: as regards the comprehension of the vision and as regards the presence or union of the object with the cognitive power. St. Thomas affirms that the human intellect is capable of an intuitive comprehension when it grasps a truth without investigation or discursus, and this is possible in regard to both speculative and practical truth.[72] On the other hand, knowledge is intuitive [511] by reason of presence when the object known is united with the cognitive power by informing the faculty (per informationem), as happens in the case of the external senses.[73]

Applying these distinction [sic] to esthetic knowledge, we may say that esthetic apprehension is intuitive by reason of its comprehension because it contemplates the singular object in all its totality. It is likewise intuitive by reason of presence or union when the beautiful object is of the sensible order, because the external senses receive the sense impressions directly and immediately and also because the phantasm is immediately presented to the intellect.[74] Indeed, it is largely because of the intuitive character of esthetic knowledge that the beautiful is able to afford such delight, for we experience delight in any operation that is done with facility and in regard to an object that is properly proportioned to the percipient, as in the beautiful.

Esthetic Delight

Pleasure or delight in the beautiful is an integral part of the esthetic experience, and since delight is an operation of the appetitive faculty, we shall first consider thee [sic] division of the appetites and then the species of delight.

In general, an appetite may be described as the inclination to a desired good, although in a wider sense appetite can be attributed to all things, to all the faculties of the soul and to all the organs of the body, insofar as everything has an inclination to that which is proper to it according to its nature.[75] Thus, St. Thomas states that as natural things have existence by their form, everything has an aptitude towards its natural form, so that when it doesn't have it, it tends towards [512] it, and when it has it, it is at rest therein.[76] Therefore, the natural form of at hing is followed by a natural inclination which is called the natural appetite.[77] Accordingly, the division of appetites will be based on the types of inclination found in created things:
There is an appetite arising from an apprehension existing, not in the subject of the appetite, but in some other, and this is called the natural appetite. Because natural things seek what is suitable to them according to their nature, by reason of an apprehension which is not in them, but in the Author of their nature, as stated in the First Part (q. 6, a. 1 ad 2; q. 103, a. 1 ad 1 and 3). And there is nother [sic] appetite arising from the apprehension in the subject of the appetite, but from necessity and not from free will. Such is, in irrational animals, the sensitive appetite, which, however, in man, has a certain share of liberty, insofar as it obeys reason. Again, there is another appetite following freely from an apprehension in the subject of the appetite, and this is the rational or intellectual appetite, which is called the will.[78]
What is of interest as regards the delight in the beautiful are the sensitive appetite (passions or emotions) and the intellectual appetite (the will) and precisely so far as they follow upon the apprehension of the beautiful. Concerning the sensitive appetite, the following statement of St. Thomas is of primary importance for understanding the role of the emotions in the esthetic experience and, indeed, in human life:
Although some of the sensitive powers are common to us and to brute animals, in us they have a certain excellence through being united to reason; thus we surpass animals in the sensitive part by possessing the cogitative power and reminiscence, as stated in the First Part (q. 78, a. 4). In the same way our sensitive appetite surpasses that of the brute animals by reason of a certain excellence which consists in its natural aptitude to obey reason, and in this respect it can be the [513] principle of a voluntary action, and consequently the subject of sin.[79]
In order to understand in what manner the act of the sensitive appetite is subject to the command of reason, we must consider in what way it is in our power. Now it should be noted that the sensitive appetite differs from the intellectual appetite, which is called the will, in the fact that the sensitive appetite is a power of a corporeal organ, whereas the will is not. Moreover, every act of a power that uses a corporeal organ depends not only on a power of the soul but also on the disposition of the corporeal organ... Consequently, the act of the sensitive appetite depends not only on the appetitive power but also on the disposition of the body.
Now, whatever part the power of the soul takes in the act, follows apprehension, and the apprehension of the imagination, being a particular apprehension, is regulated by the apprehension of reason, which is universal... Therefore, in this respect the act of the sensitive appetite is subject to the command of reason. On the other hand, the condition or disposition of the body is not subject to the command of reason, and consequently in this respect the movement of the sensitive appetite is hindered from being wholly subject to the command of reason.
It also happens sometimes that the movement of the sensitive appetite is aroused suddenly in consequence of an apprehension of the imagination. Such movement occurs without the command of reason, although reason could have prevented it, had it foreseen.[80]
The sensitive appetite is also subject to the will: in execution, which is accomplished by the motive power. For in other animals movement follows at once the concupiscible and irascible appetites... On the contrary, man is not moved at once by the concupiscible and irascible appetites, but he awaits the command of the will, which is the superior appetite. For wherever there is an order among a number of motive powers, the second only moves by virtue of the first; hence the lower appetite is not sufficient to cause movement unless the higher appetite consents.[81]
 In man, therefore, the sensitive appetite is meant by its nature to be subject to the rule of reason and the command [514] of the will. As regards the particular passions of the sensitive appetite, it would seem that not all of them pertain to the esthetic experience, although we hasten to admit that in the fine arts it does frequently happen that the artist may arouse passions such as anger, hatred, sadness, etc., thus causing a catharsis or pathetic experience in the percipient. This raises the question of whether the scope of the fine arts is wider than that of the beautiful, but this question lies outside the field of our present investigation.

The beautiful as such, since it is identical with the good in the object but adds the notes of proportion and splendor, does not relate to the irascible passions,which pertain to the arduous good or evil, nor does it relate to the concupiscible passions of hatred, aversion, and sadness, for these latter are stimulated by the apprehension of evil. There remain the following passions as specifically esthetic passions: love, desire, and delight. How these three passions relate to each other is explained by St. Thomas:
The order of the concupiscible passions can be considered either in the order of intention or in the order of execution. In the order of execution, the first place belongs to that which takes place first in the thing that tends to the end. Now it is evident that whatever tends to an end has, in the first place, an aptitude or proportion to that end...; secondly, it is moved to that end; thirdly, it rests in the end after attaining it. And this very aptitude or proportion of the appetite to good is love, which is complacency in good; while movement towards the good is desire or concupiscence; and rest in good is joy or pleasure. Accordingly, in this order, love precedes desire, and desire precedes pleasure. But in the order of intention, it is the reverse, because the pleasure intended causes desire and love.
For pleasure is the enjoyment of the good, and this enjoyment is, in a certain respect, the end, just as is the good itself.[81]

Having seen that man is endowed with three types of appetite, (natural, sensitive, and intellectual), and realizing that for each appetite that attains its good there is a concomitant pleasure, it remains for us now to consider what constitutes the esthetic delight in the apprehension of the beautiful. Two things are required for pleasure or delight: the attainment of the proportionate good and an awareness of this attainment. And the second element is so necessary that St. Thomas asserts that "beings that lack knowledge cannot be said to enjoy pleasure or feel sadness."[83] This does not rule out the natural pleasure that follows upon the "connatural and unimpeded operation,"[84] of a faculty, for the knowledge referred to is simply an awareness of the pleasurable experience and not an antecedent knowledge. However, while the pleasure of the natural appetites regards the operation or activity as such, the pleasure of the sensitive and intellectual appetites regards the attainment of the good or end and requires a knowledge of this attainment.[85]

The pleasure of the sensitive appetite follows upon the attainment of the desired good as perceived by the senses and it is always accompanied by some transmutation in the body.[86] But the senses afford pleasure either by reason of knowledge or by reason of usefulness, and of all the senses, that of sight affords the greatest pleasure by reason of knowledge, while that of touch gives the greatest pleasure by reason of usefulness.[87] We have already seen that the beautiful is not related to utility but to the pleasure attained by reason of knowledge or apprehension. And since beauty must be apprehended to be enjoyed, the two senses that delight most in the beautiful are sight and hearing, since they are more closely related to reason and are therefore capable of providing a pleasure that [516] is more proper to the human being than the pleasure of touch, which, though more vehement, is common to all animals.[88] Thus, the pleasure experienced by brute animals is usually utilitarian, i.e., regarding the necessities of life, while man derives pleasure not only in these things but also by reason of the fact that the senses serve man's intellectual powers. So St. Thomas states:
The senses are given to man not only for the purpose of procuring the necessities of life, for which they are bestowed on other animals, but also for the purpose of knowledge. Hence, whereas the other animals take delight in the objects of the senses only as ordered to food and sex, man alone takes pleasure in the beauty of sensible objects for its own sake.[89]
But the pleasure that is most proper to man is spiritual pleasure, which accompanies or is consequent upon the operation of the intellect and will. Unlike the pleasure of the sensitive appetite, spiritual delight is not necessarily accompanied by a change in the body, though this may occur if the spiritual delight is sufficiently intense.[90] St. Thomas teaches that the pleasures of the intellect and the will are much greater than those of the sense order and the sensitive appetite, although the latter may be more vehement.[91]

To specify in particular the essential elements of esthetic pleasure, we think it is helpful to recall the teaching of St. Thomas on contemplation, because the esthetic experience, as we have seen, is a quasi-intuitive contemplation of the beautiful object, a visio delectabilis.[92] Moreover, we have seen that man is endowed with a threefold appetite: the natural, the sensitive, and the intellectual; therefore, we would expect the esthetic experience to embrace all the pleasures of those appetites [517], either as concomitant to the operation of the appetites or as consequent to the operation. So far as the esthetic experience results from a quasi-intuitive contemplation, the distinction made by St. Thomas concerning the delight of contemplation would seem to apply here:
There may be delight in any contemplation in two ways. First by reason of the operation itself, because each individual delights in the operation which befits him according to his own nature or habit... Secondly, contemplation may be delightful on the part of its object, insofar as one contemplates that which one loves, even as bodily vision gives pleasure, not only because to see is pleasurable in itself, but because one sees a person whom one loves.[93]
Hence, as regards the operation itself—esthetic knowledge—it is a quasi-intuitive vision or contemplation, the delight of which constitutes the formal esthetic delight. The reason for this is that the beautiful is that which pleases on being seen, and hence the beautiful is made present to the percipient by an act of cognition, and then the appetites experience the pleasure attendant upon the vision.[94] Thus, St. Thomas states: "De ratione boni est quod in eo quietetur appetitus; sed ad rationem pulchri pertinet quod in ejus aspectu seu cognitione quietetur appetitus."[95]

If the esthetic delight consists formally in the cognitive operation or the apprehension of the beautiful, it would seem necessary to conclude that the delight of the intellectual appetite, or the will, is something consequent upon the delight of the cognitive operation; that is, indirecto et consequenter. The proper object of the will is the good as such, and when the good is known, the will tends towards is [sic] as to an end and seeks to possess it or be united with it. But the beautiful is [518] apprehended by man's cognitive powers and the very act of apprehension affords the delight of the natural appetite of cognition. Therefore, the will does not tend to the beautiful as to its proper object, but it enjoys fruition and complacency in the beautiful as the good and the perfection of the intellect.[96]

As regards the sensitive powers, both cognitive and appetitive, they would also have a role to play in the esthetic experience, since all man's powers have a natural appetite or an inclination to that which is proportionate to their nature. And since delight follows upon the unimpeded and facile operation of any faculty, the natural pleasure of the smooth functioning of the sensitive powers, both cognitive and appetitive, contributes to the enjoyment of the beautiful. We would say, however, that the external and internal senses (i.e., vision, hearing, imagination, cogitative power, etc.) function instrumentally and that their delight is secondary, though concomitant, to the apprehension of the beautiful. It should be noted, moreover, that one may enjoy an esthetic experience when the beautiful object is not actually present but is recalled by the memory and contemplated in the phantasm of the imagination; and this is a reason why the operations of the sensitive powers do not pertain to the very formality of the esthetic experience. Nor can we deny the possibility of an esthetic experience when the beauty contemplated is entirely spiritual, in which case the operations of all the sensitive powers would not be involved.

Finally, the operation of the sensitive appetite (the emotions) is normally a redundance or consequence of the delight in the very apprehension of the beautiful, since we have already stated that the formality of the esthetic experience is found in the apprehension or vision of the beautiful, with the accompanying delight of the natural appetite of the cognitive faculties in [519] question. Therefore we would not, as do some moderns, restrict the esthetic delight to the stimulation of the pleasurable emotions. It is true, nevertheless, that in the creation of the fine arts, the artist frequently attempts to speak to the emotions and feelings of the percipient; it is likewise true that quoad nos the pleasures of the emotions are normally more vehement than purely spiritual delight.[97]

The esthetic experience, therefore, embraces the totality of the singular being in all its plenitude and the resultant delight enganges [sic] (or can engage) all the cognitive and appetitive powers of man, each one according to its nature and function. All of man's powers are thus united in their variety by means of the esthetic experience, which apprehends and delights in the perfection, proportion, and splendor that constitutes the beautiful.

Jordan Aumann, O.P.
Univ. a Sancto Thoma - Roma


1. Summa Theol., 1a.5.4 ad 1.
2. STh., 1a.39.8; cf. 2a2ae.145.2.
3. STh., 1a.5.4 ad 1.
4. STh., 1a2ae.27.1 ad 3.
5. STh., 1a.5.1.
6. STh., 1a.5.1 ad 1.
7. STh., 1a.5.1.
8. STh., 1a.5.1 ad 1.
9. STh., 1a.5.4.
10. STh., 1a.5.4 ad 1; cf. In de Divinis Nominibus, cap. IV, lect. 5.
11. In Psalmis, 44:2: "Pulchritudo, sanitas et hujusmodi dicuntur quodammodo per respectum ad aliquid."
12. STh., 1a.5.1.
13. STh., 1a.5.4 ad 1.
14. STh., 1a.5.6.
15. STh., 1a.5.4 ad 1.
16. In de Divinis Nominibus, loc. cit.
17. STh., 1a2ae.27.1 ad 3.
18. STh., 2a2ae.145.2 ad 1.
19. STh., 1a2ae.27.1 ad 3.
20. J. Maritain, Art and Scholasticism, New York, Scribner's, 1933, p. 128, note 1.
21. STh., 1a2ae.3.2.
22. Cf. In Meta, lib. V, cap. 18.
23. STh., 1a.6.3.
24. STh., 1a.73.1
25. Cf. also STh., 2a2ae.184.1 ad 2.
26. STh., 1a.5.1; 1a.6.3.
27. STh., 1a.5.1: "That which has ultimate perfection is said to be simply (simpliciter) good, but that which has not the ultimate perfection it ought to have (although insofar as it is at all actual, it has some perfection), is not said to be perfect simply nor good simply, but only relatively."
28. Cf. J. Maritain, Art and Scholasticism, p. 20.
29. In de Divinis Nominibus, cap. IV, lect. 5.
30. Cf. In de Divinis Nominibus, loc. cit.
31. STh., 1a.12.1 ad 4.
32. Cf. In de Divinis Nominibus, loc. cit.; STh., 2a2ae.54.4; 2a2ae.145.2. In this respect the beauty of material things has been described as the splendor of a being, shining through the proportioned parts of matter (intrinsic proportion).
33. Cf. J. Callahan, A Theory of Esthetic, Washington, D.C., Catholic University Press, 1947, p. 61; De Bruyne, Etudes d'Esthétique Médiévale, tom. III, p. 303.
34. Cf. Paredes, "Ideas estéticas de Santo Tomás," La Ciencia Tomista, 1911.
35. Cf. De Bruyne, op. cit., tom. III, p. 302.
36. Cf. J. Maritain, op. cit., p. 22.
37. STh., 1a.5.4 ad 1.
38. STh., 2a2ae.145.2.
39. Cf. De Wulf, Art et Beauté, p. 213; Paredes, art. cit.; De Bruyne, op. cit., tom. III, p. 307.
40. Cf. Maritain, op. cit., p. 23.
41. STh., 1a2ae.9.2 ad 1.
42. Cf. De Bruyne, op. cit., tom. III, p. 307.
43. Cf. STh., 1a.5.4 ad 1.
44. STh., 1a2ae.27.1 ad 3.
45. According to Maquart, beauty cannot be listed as a transcendental property of being in a strict sense because it does not follow immediately from the concept of being, but indirectly through the good and the true. But beauty is a transcendental so far as it relates to the intellect and will, which have all being as their object. Cf. Maquart, Elementa Philosophiae, Paris, Blot, 1938, tom. III, pp. 104; 126 ss.

Gredt classifies beauty as a quasi-bonum and not as a distinct transcendental (Elementa Philosophiae, tom. II, p. 29), but the following authors classify beauty as a transcendental: Maritain, Garrigou-Lagrange, Paredes, Grabmann, Krug, Sertillanges, Febrer, Moliner and Cory. Cf. also Kowalski, "De artis transcendentalitate secundum quosdam textus divi Thomae," Angelicum, 1937, tom. XIV, pp. 348-349.

46. St. Augustine: "Omnis corporea creatura ... bonum est infimum, et in genere suo pulchrum, quoniam forma et specie continetur" (PL XXXIV, 138); "nihil est enim ordinatum, quod non sit pulchrum, et sicut ait Apostolus, omnis ordo a Deo est (Rom. 13:1)" (PL XXXIV, 156).
47. Cf. De Bruyne, op. cit., tom. III, pp. 278 ss.
48. De Veritate, q. 22, a. 1, ad 12; cf. Maritain, op. cit., pp. 129 ss. St. Thomas also states in the passage from De Veritate: "Unde et eodem appetitu appetitur bonum, pulchrum et pax". For the enumeration of the transcendentals, cf. De Veritate, q. 1, a. 1.
49. STh., 1a.5.4 ad 1.
50. Cf. G. Phelan, "Beauty in Nature and Art," Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association, Washington, D.C., 1935, p. 175.
51. STh., 1a2ae.11.1 ad 2.
52. Cf. Gredt, Elementa Philosophiae, tom. II, pp. 45-46.
53. Cf. Maquard, op. cit., tom. III, pp. 250-251.
54. STh., 1a.16.1.
55. STh., 1a.14.4.
56. STh., 1a.14.5 ad 2.
57. STh., 1a.16.1 ad 3.
58. STh., 1a.14.2.
59. STh., 1a.16.3.
60. Cf. STh., 1a.5.4 ad 1; 1a2ae.27.1 ad 3.
61. STh., 1a.12.2.
62. STh., 1a.84.6.
63. Cf. STh., 1a2ae.27.1 ad 3; St. Augustine, De vera religione, cap. 30; De lib. arbitr., lib. II, cap. 16; Confessiones, lib. X, cap. 27; Vallgornera, Theologia mystica D. Thomae, q. 1, a. 1.
64. "In homine vero cogitativa operatur cum collatione et discursu quodam propter suam conjunctionem cum ratione. Et ideo dicitur ratio particularis... Adverte tamen ad quid praecipue inserviat hoc munus collativum cogitativae: a) sive ad invicem coadunat aliquam imaginem communem, quae comitatur cognitionem intellectualem universalem cum aliqua imagine singulari, et sic praeparat, una cum intellectu, judicium practicum: unde ad actionem praeparat; b) sive ad invicem coadunat plures imagines communes quarum synthesis, sic efformata, praeparat intellectionem universalem. In his diversis actibus syntehticis, cogitativa imagines, sive singulares sive communes coadunat, utendo quadam associationem sibi propria, secundum leges similitudinis et dissimilitudinis" (Maquart, op. cit., tom. II, pp. 228 ss.).
65. STh., 1a.86.1.
66. STh., 1a.85.1.
67. Cf. STh., 1a.86.1; De Veritate, q. 2, aa. 5, 6; q. 10, a. 5; In II Sent., dist. 3, q. 3, a. 4 ad 1; Contra Gentiles, lib. I, a. 65.
68. STh., 1a.84.7; cf. Contra Gentiles, lib. II, q. 73, a. 1; In II Sent., dist. 20, q. 2, a. 2; In III Sent., dist. 31, q. 2, a. 4; De Veritate, q. 2, a. 6; q. 10, a. 6.
69. John of St. Thomas, Cursus Philosophicus, tom. III, p. 331; cf. also tom. I, p. 701.
70. Marín-Sola describes experimental knowledge as distinct from speculative knowledge: "Scientia experimentalis autem est per connaturalitatem, per modum inclinationis, cognitio affectiva, nolitia experimentalis, per affinitatem, per modum naturae, per viam voluntatis, per contactum, per unionem, per amorem, ex intimo sui, per deiformem contemplationem, ad modum primorum principiorum, sine discursu, ex instinctu, cognitio absoluta et simplex" (La Evolución Homogénea del Dogma Católico, cap. V, sect. 5).
71. Cf. Hugon, Cursus Philosophiae Thomistae, tom. V, p. 139.
72. Cf. De Veritate, q. 16, a. 1.
73. Cf. STh., 1a.12.2.
74. Cf. De Veritate, q. 8, a. 9.
75. Cf. STh., 1a2ae.26.1 ad 3.
76. Cf. STh., 1a.19.1.
77. Cf. STh., 1a.80.1.
78. STh., 1a2ae.26.1.
79. STh., 1a2ae.74.3 ad 1.
80. STh., 1a2ae.17.7.
81. STh., 1a.81.3.
82. STh., 1a2ae.25.2.
83. STh., 1a2ae.41.3.
84. STh., 1a2ae.31.1 ad 1.
85. STh., 1a2ae.32.1.
86. STh., 1a2ae.31.4.
87. STh., 1a2ae.31.6.
88. Cf. STh., 1a2ae. loc. cit.
89. STh., 1a.91.3 ad 3.
90. STh., 1a2ae.31.4.
91. STh., 1a2ae.31.5.
92. Cf. Maritain, op. cit., p. 127.
93. STh., 2a2ae.180.7.
94. Cf. STh., 1a2ae.3.4; 4.1, where St. Thomas treats of the operation of the intellect as constituting the essence of happiness, and the role of delight in happiness.
95. STh., 1a2ae.27.1 ad 3.
96. "The intellect attains the vision of the beautiful as the executive power, but the will as the motive power, moving the intellect and enjoying the end attained." Cf. STh., 1a2ae.11.1 ad 1. "The perfection and end of each power, so far as it is a good, belongs to the appetitive power" (ibid., ad 2).
97. Cf. STh., 1a2ae.31.5.


Source: Jordan Aumann, "Beauty and the Esthetic Response," Angelicum 54 (1977): 489–519.

Notes: I omitted footnote one, which merely cited a number of early-to-mid 20th century Neo-Thomistic authors who have commented on the nature of beauty. I also reformatted references to the Summa Theologiae from the more traditional (Ia IIae, q. 31, a. 1, ad 1) to a more contemporary form (1a2ae.31.1 ad 1). Italics are original to the essay.

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