Writings by Germain Grisez and Peter Ryan, S.J.
Edited By Peter J. Weigel
Man, the Natural End of
End here means purpose or objective, not extinction or last state; thus *end of man means the general objective of human action or the final purpose of life. Catholics believe that besides the natural reality God has given human beings through creation, He has offered them the further gift of a share of His own life. God gives this special gift within the soul by *grace. God is not only the source but also the end of the life of grace; its consummation is the soul’s enjoyment of God’s goodness in union with Him in heavenly beatitude, the *beatific vision. Hence the end that Catholic faith indicates is above human *nature. The achievement of this end transcends every ability naturally inherent in man, and the entire life of grace is *supernatural. Because the end of Christian life is supernatural, Catholic thinkers have wondered about the natural end of man. The problem is important for two reasons: (1) If God had created man without giving him grace, would there have been any end for human life proportionate to man’s abilities? (2) Since grace does not abridge what belongs to the natural reality of man, is there an end implicitly required by human nature that might help even Christians to direct their lives? This article presents a historical introduction to the problem, a summary of the state of the question among contemporary Catholic thinkers, and some suggestions for its resolution.
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