Published online by Cambridge University Press: 16 October 2020
When St. Thomas asks whether human beings pursue ultimate purposes, most first-time readers suppose that he means whether there is a single ultimate purpose, the same for everyone, to which everything everyone does is in some way directed. Not yet. At present he is asking only whether ultimate meaning or purpose is in some way at stake in each human life – whether in this sense human life is meaningful. He is not asking whether each person has only one ultimate purpose. That question does not come up until Article 5. Even supposing that there is only one, he is not asking whether each person always acts with it in view; that question does not come up until Article 6. Even supposing that each person does always act with it in view, he is not asking whether every person pursues the same ultimate purpose; that question does not come up until Article 7.