end; final cause

That for the sake of which the effect or result of an action is produced. There are many distinctions and divisions, of which only two are necessary for our purpose: the effect or result to which the agent is directed by the efficient cause; and the intention, or that which he principally and ultimately intends by his operation. The first is passive, the second is active. We are more concerned with the question of intention, as synonymous with end, especially in morality. In moral theology an intention may be actual, virtual, or habitual. It is actual if it is elicited immediately before the act is performed. and with reference to the same. It is virtual if its force is borrowed from a previous act of the will, which is accounted as continuing in effect (in virtue of the previous act). It is habitual if it once existed and has never been retracted. To be morally good an act must be inspired by an actual, or at least a virtual, good intention. A merely habitual intention (except in the application of the fruits of a Mass) is not sufficient for this purpose. because it may exist in an unconscious subject and is strictly speaking non-existent while the action is being performed. In moral theology there is also considered the last end of man. This last end is a final something, to the attainment of which all other actions are to be subordinated. According to moral theology the last end of man is the external glory of God, with the resulting happiness therefrom to man.

New Catholic Dictionary

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