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“we should shape our opinions according to the pattern

of nature.”


Human nature itself is the source of what is

common to all human beings. Sin is derived through origin

not because concupiscence in the act of generation infects

the soul but because origin involves the human generation

in which human nature is transmitted. Men receive their

nature from Adam. Human nature is

this sort

of human

nature, and not some other sort, because of its origins in

the first parents. As an act of nature, generation itself is

the sufficient explanation of the unity of the concrete hu-

man race with Adam. For Aquinas, the concupiscence that

may be involved in the act of generation is not some sort

of sinful lust but simply the absence in nature of an order

that would have prevailed in the state of original justice.

Aquinas adheres strictly to this path in order to explain

the voluntariness of original sin and thus its truly sinful

nature. “So too the disorder which is in an individual

man, a descendant of Adam, is not voluntary by reason of

personal will, but by reason of the will of the first parent,

who through a generative impulse [

motione generationis


exerts influence upon all who descend from him by way of

origin, even as the will of the soul moves bodily members

to their various activities.”


Aquinas rejects explanations

that suggest that all men


Adam’s personal sin, or that


acted in

Adam, or were

represented by


ries without foundation in divine revelation. Original sin

is voluntary, not by the will of the individual agent, but by

the will of Adam. All men can be considered as one man

because all are one in that the nature they share is de-

rived from one source. Adam’s causality is limited, just as

the “sin” in original sin is analogous. “Adam’s influence is

9 ST 1a. 101, 1

10 ST 1a2ae. 81, 1