Question 5 discusses “Goodness in General.” Before we can understand a “Good God” we must understand goodness in general. What is good? You’re about to know! If you haven’t done so already, make sure you have a basic understanding of perfections: do that in Question 4.


Goodness comes from a desire for a thing’s perfection, and all things that are actual have perfection of some degree. Anything that really exists has this perfection, thus “being” does not differ from goodness in idea. In other words, we can know of a thing without knowing it is good. So there is not a real distinction, but an ideal distinction.

“Idea” is prior to a thing because we form a word in our mind which corresponds to a thing we intend it to be. We only discover goodness after we discover the thing and determine it to be good. In other words, we know of the being before we know that it is good at all.

Every being, as a being, is good. Because all things are in some way perfect or contain some perfection, and perfection is desirable, and perfection is what we find as goodness, all beings are good. Being = some perfection = some goodness.

Goodness is the aspect of final cause because, as discussed previously, goodness is in things which have perfection. Perfections are desirable and thus are being sought which is akin to finality “in-view.” Thus, goodness has the aspect of final cause as opposed to other causes.

As said before, anything can be good so long that it is perfect because in this way it is desired. This goodness is ordered in a thing’s form and furthermore, a thing’s form in a things species. When a number, or given part of form is given to or added to this form, the species is changed; hence this follows as an order. Thus, goodness does consist of mode, species, and order.

Goodness is divided among either of the three but they are all different thing in their relativity to the appetite for the thing. If a thing tends toward another it is useful; if a thing for its own sake achieves its appetite completely, that thing is virtuous; but that thing which achieves its appetite to respite or rest, that thing is pleasant.


The keys are: 1) knowing what Goodness is, and 2) how virtue is thus defined. This is different from fundamental moral theology and is only discussing the goodness of things, not acts of the will. Bear that in mind.

Think now on God calling the created world “very good” in Genesis 1:31. More like, “completion in view” than, “wow, I did a fantastic job!”

As always, for more reading on Question 5, go here for the Summa.

Next we will look at the goodness of/in God.