On Aquinas’s view, a human being is a material object, a hylomorphic compound of prime matter and the substantial form of a human being. That form is capable of existing on its own, apart from matter; and it does so in the period between the death of a human being and the resurrection of his body, when that form configures matter again. The resurrection of the body is not a reassembly of bodily bits that had previously composed the body; it is more nearly a reconstitution of the substantial form with prime matter. Finally, after death some human beings go to heaven. In heaven, a human being is perfected, so that the true nature of a human being is revealed best in the condition of human beings in heaven. A human being in heaven sees God and is united in loving relationship with God and with all others who are also united to God. In this vision and union, she has the full perfection of her human nature and also her complete beatitude. I argue that for Aquinas a human being should be thought of as essentially relational in nature and flourishing.
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