Map of Life - Lesson 1

Map of Life: Chp 1 : The problem of life's purpose
Series 2: 2. Who is man? 3. The immortal soul
Catechism: Q1-10
Aquinas 101: Body & Soul
Aquinas 101: Powers of the Soul - a first look
Aquinas 101: Epistemology
Summa Theologica 1aQ1a1
Companion to the Summa - Chapter 12


What is man?

Man is the only creature which is both spiritual and material. He has a material body which is animated by a spiritual soul. Body and soul are co-principals of man. Animals, plants and minerals may each be said to have a soul, but it is usually called a "form" which is a philosophical word denoting "principal of unity" making the thing what it is. This was treated in a previous lesson:


What is man for? What is his purpose?

This is the same as saying, "How does man reach his perfection?" or "What is good for man?"

  • To know what is good for man, one must know what man is (four causes)
  • To know what man is, includes knowing what he is for (final cause)
  • To know what he is for, man has to be told by his Maker (by Divine Revelation).
  • Man has to be told by the Maker because

          (a) he cannot intimately and accurately discern his own nature

          (b) and even if he could, there is no evidence of his supernatural finality within in his nature

How can he know?

Therefore, for man to know his finality and how best to direct his life towards this finality (ie. live a morally correct life), he needs Divine Revelation.

The two crucial questions for anyone proposing a way of life for the good of man:

  1.       What is the purpose of life?
  2.       How do you know?

Only the Catholic Church can answer these questions satisfactorily. See Q1 & 2 of the Penny Catechism

See the discussion points at the end of the text.